I have collected latex masks since the mid-1980s. At one time I had well over one hundred rubber creatures but as times have changed, and the amount of display space has dwindled, I have decided to be more selective in what I collect. Two of my favorite types of creatures have always been aliens and werewolves but with both, I have always been very selective. I have a vision in my mind of how these masks should look and if they do not meet a certain criteria, I am not interested.
I love werewolves. I love the mythos behind them and visually, they are just scary. I have always been partial to the vertical type of werewolf, such as seen in the films THE HOWLING and DOG SOLDIERS. Unfortunately it has been difficult for me to find werewolf masks that stand up to my standards. Thankfully to some time spent scrolling Facebook, I came across a werewolf mask that really stood out to me. It’s name? Wolfie.
To say that artist Paul Hoepner of Hoepner FX is a talent is an understatement. I immediately starting chatting with him and it wasn’t long before I commissioned him to do this mask for me, but in grays instead of browns. Paul loved the idea and started working immediately. One of the things I liked best about working with Paul is that he kept me posted, in pictures, every step of the way. It was great to see how this piece developed and became the creature it is today.
Though I love the brown version of Wolfie, I have always been a huge fan of the Gray Timberwolf mask that Don Post Studios did in the 1970s and 1980s, so felt that this would be a nice tribute to that piece. As more and more pictures came in, it was obvious that Paul and I were on the same page and had the same vision for Wolfie. The detail in Wolfie really stood out when I saw the latex pour. Even though much of this piece is covered in hair, no detail was spared in this sculpture.
By providing constant updates, it allowed Paul and I to communicate, both in him making suggestions or me wanting to make changes. One of the things that makes werewolf masks more expensive than others is of course the amount of hair needed to create the look. Hair work on a mask is a skill in and of itself and it done wrong, can ruin the overall look of the mask. I was very happy to see that Paul was also a master of hair work.
As Wolfie developed, I fell more and more in love with this mask. Interestingly enough, Paul then contacted me asking my opinion on the addition of blood, something I was already considering. I quickly agreed to the idea and waited for the piece to be finished and shipped. When ready to ship, Paul provided all tracking information and it arrived safely and on time.
When a new mask arrives, I am always hesitant to open it. What if I am disappointed? What if it doesn’t stand up to my high expectations? As the box opened I immediately noticed the wonderful smell of fresh latex, something only a mask collector can relate to. I was not disappointed and the final piece far exceeded my expectations.
I took some time to to really study every inch of Wolfie. First off, the latex pour was very thick. When a piece is this big, thick latex helps it to support itself and maintain its shape. I already knew the sculpture was amazing but seeing it in person totally blew me away. The paint perfectly accentuated every crease. The mouth was large filled with plenty of teeth and if real, this werewolf would do some major damage.
The hair work is also top notch, with a nice combination of dark and light grey hair. The blood was just enough as well. It was ghastly but not over-done to the point that it took away from the amazing details. Lastly, Paul used UV reactive paint on the eyes, something that will definitely look scary as hell in the dark.
My experience buying Wolfie from HoepnerFX was a great one. To keep in touch as he did making sure I was satisfied with every part of this mask’s creation was so much appreciated. Though I understand mass-produced masks will never have this level of care from the artist, private artists should learn from how Paul does business.
If you are looking for something new and original to add to your collection, do not hesitate to contact Paul through his Facebook page, HoepnerFX. The attention to detail is second to none and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.