October 04, 2007

THE DEAD AND THE RED


Here we have plastic skull and devil heads which were originally stuck atop containers of candy and sold to children. Man could not conceive of a more effective way to trivialize the concepts of death and evil.

To be accurate, the products in the photo were probably made from candy topper molds, but these were sold together and marketed as knick knacks to hang from your hot rod's rear view mirror. Here's an artist's rendering as it appeared in a 1967 comic book ad...


And here's a look at the twosome from a 1959 novelty supply catalog...


But the nifty thing about this diabolic pair is that the little horned guy was the basis for one of the coolest props from one of the coolest shows in television history...


A Twilight Zone episode called Nick of Time centered around an eerily accurate coin-operated fortune teller known as The Mystic Seer. The bewitching mechanism lures a fresh faced Willam Shatner into a maddening obsession...

The winking imp gave the machine a real sense of personality, and the rubber head easily bested Shatner's acting. From what I've read, the Twilight Zone prop guys sculpted their own latex head based on a Halloween candy dispenser. If you've heard enough and find yourself anxious to build your own Mystic Seer, then simply follow these instructions.

11 comments:

Travis said...

Kirk-

Have you seen the Sept. 29 entry on "Stuff from the Park" blog? He features "dark ride" material from Disneyland, and from what I can see, that dark ride was to include items identical to Phantasmagoria, obvious;y from the Tracy catalog. Vultures, giant rats, etc. Also, the cars features look virtually identical to Phantas'. Check it out!

http://matterhorn1959.blogspot.com/

Sparkle Plenty said...

1) Wow! These would definitely look right dangling from the rearview mirror of an Ed "Big Daddy" Rothmobile.
2) The devil head's very neat center part kinda reminds me of Shemp Stooge's hair.
3) I got as far as "Dremel tool" in the directions for this and bailed. I'd shoot my eye out.

Travis said...

Well, I didn't read hard enough- Disney hadn't ever considered a Tracy ride- the site just showed a vintage catalog.

David said...

This is a fantastic bit of trivia! Great job Kirk.

The reproduction of the Mystic Seer is excellent. But why, oh why did that guy make the devil head white? From the BW pic you can clearly tell the the head isn't white.

Yeah I'm a nerdy stickler for details like this.

Dane said...

Your opening paragraph is hilarious. And while I always was more of a Spock girl, a young William Shatner is a wonderful thing. That face!

Max the drunken severed head said...

What a great blog entry-- a real blast from the past, man!

I haven't thought of those skulls and devil heads since junior high school, when I owned a pair.

And I loved seeing that TZ prop being recreated.

Kirk D. said...

travis- hey, thanks for the post. That's an amazing catalog. Makes it seem like Bill Tracy must have purchased his stunts from several sources. The buzzards are certainly the same. I've been told he also used some skulls from funni frite in the phantaz. Makes me want to know more about the construction process.

sparkle-
1. agreed
2. ok
3. put on some goggles and get back to work.

david- I wondered the very same thing because the guy is obviously into details. BTW is your blogger profile access turned off for a reason? I was trying to see which david you are :)

thanks dane. I'm sure Shatner would agree with you. More so than anyone else.

Max- I sure wish they were still making stuff that cool when I was in Jr. High.

Dan said...

Hey all, I'm the "guy" into details that made the replica Mystic Seer you linked to on my site http://www.b9robotresource.com/devil-head.htm

If you've ever been on the Disney Tower of Terror ride you will notice on display in the library you pass through while in line, sitting on top of a book case, a Mystic Seer. The base box is red and the devil head is an off white. I figured, if those colors are good enough for Disney they are good enough for me. Whoever designs those Disney rides are really into details. Hope you enjoyed my replica.

Dan "It is quite possible" Livingston

Anonymous said...

$6.00 for a dozen devil's heads?! What a bargain! I only wish they sold things that cool in bulk now.
- Millie

Kirk D. said...

Hi Dan- Welcome, and thanks for the explanation. I figured you had your reasons. I hope our little critique didn't bother you because your work is amazing. The first thing I thought when I got my devil head is "I should build my own mystic seer!"
and that's as far as it got because I'm not capable of such a feat. Color me envious.

Millie- Their not half as cool, but at least orientaltrading.com and ustoy.com are still churning out the bulk plastic stuff.

Dan said...

Hey Kirk,

No Problem, I love to see comments about my stuff. On occasion I check out where my traffic comes from and your blog has generated quite a bit for me.
Thanks,
Dan