Finding a good reception, I made another during the haunted house in 1991 and then came up with a few more of them in 1992. Finding continued approval, I got it in my head to create a whole haunt designed around these bodiless props where people could at least pause to observe them. (In most haunted house rooms, people are too busy looking for the place where the person working in the haunt will jump from to bother to look at props. The props are just window dressing.) So I conceived of a sort of museum with a hallway with pedestals on either side containing the props with little spot-lights highlighting them. At the end of the hallway would be another prop I had bought who I had learned from experience looked like an elaborate costume. My thought was that people would initially expect the prop at the end of the hallway to move and when it didn't, they would pause to examine the heads on the pedestal. To do this, I needed five heads (and one mask that looked like a head so that the haunt worker could hide behind/inside one of the pedestals. This was my first foray into 'fast' head prop production. You can see the line-up I used in the museum haunt in the photo below.
It was about this time that I started thinking about all the suggestions I was getting to go out and sell these things. People in the haunted house world really liked them and I had been approached by some folks with offers to buy them. So that was the next milestone for the HEDZ.
Before jumping into production, I wanted to see what the Halloween industry was about. Fortunately, one of the larger Halloween product shows took place in March of 1995, so I convinced my cousin to go to the event and see if there was potential for selling my products. I came up with a company name of Forrestial Enterprises, produced 1000 four-color flyers of the HEDZ line as of 1994 and visited the show. The response was positive and I thought it had potential. However, I needed pricing and in the process of getting it, I learned that the existing products were not very mold-friendly. Working with a fellow haunted house afficionado from the Wyandotte, Michigan Jaycees, I re-worked the most interesting HEDZ and created a batch of new ones. These formed the crux of my HEDZ line, as you can see in the excerpt of the 1996 flyer. With that, I rented a booth at the Chicago show and waited to see what would happen.
If this were a success story, the orders would have come fast an furious. Unfortunately, it doesn't usually work that way. Talking with some of the other vendors, I learned that new shops were often approached tentatively by Halloween prop buyers. Our small order list certainly bore that out! Knowing I'd have to put another year of coming up with new designs while focusing on this grisly subject, I decided not to continue trying to make a go of selling them commercially.
I did not give up entirely on making haunted house props, however. In fact, after the HEDZ line folded, I continued to make more and even refined my techniques so that I could different looks out of the final props. At right you can see a comparison of the typical polyfoam skull I used (he's sort of bluish) and one that had had many of the features shaved or resculpted which made the final head distinctively a product of that particular foam skull. The shaved areas are darker yellow. Note also the teeth. It was a welcome relief not to have to spend all spring and summer trying to come up with, produce and paint multiple concept and just be able to focus on one prop a year. In fact, you will find a graphical listing of some of the props that I have made by checking the Haunted House Art section of the main menu.
For more info on the individual HEDZ, please click here and you will be taken back to the top of this page where you can select the different HEDZ from the menu on the right side of the page.