Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Return to "The Holiday Store"

Belinda and I and most of the "Halloween people" we know have been visiting all the stores in our area to peruse this year's Halloween offerings. I will say most of the big corporate stores got their stuff out early, some of it good, maybe a little more that was not so good.

One of our most fun stores to visit though, we found a year or so ago and have tried to keep in touch with it's owner, Tom Campana. "The Holiday Store" is a good distance from our house, but we've found it worth the drive to escape the same poor quality props and masks that with few exceptions seem to return every year to most of the corporate retailers.

This year our friends Gene and Evelynn made the trip with us, the first stop on a planned day of horror.

The staff at The Holiday Store take great pride in how things are displayed
Still my favorite little corner of the store, the checkout area with it's display cases

During our first visit to "The Holiday Store" we weren't quite sure what we were looking for and had made the mistake of believing it was one of those temporary box stores such as the Spirit store franchises. As we departed our vehicles on this trip, it was Evelynn who remarked that the business was smaller than she thought it would be. Coincidentally this was the same conclusion I made on our first trip. "The Holiday Store" is located in one of those non-descript roadside industrial warehouse complexes that so many businesses use now to keep their overhead costs down. The 'plain building" look ends on the outside however!

A mummy stands guard at the digital effects video display

Stepping through the entrance door of "The Holiday Store" feels like Halloween...
There are no bright florescent lights, no shiny display fixtures and no shelves of inventory boxes. Everything is on display under carefully placed ambient or color LED lights. It has the feel of a Halloween "museum", an eclectic collection of Halloween goods, and Tom Campana and his staff take great pride in how things are displayed. There are Halloween props, masks and decor from floor to ceiling.

Some quality interior decor items are also at the store.

If your just looking for masks or some decorations for your front door and don't mind if your neighbors have the same ones, this is not the store for you. If your looking for unique quality items, or creating a character for your haunt that your guests likely have never seen, "The Halloween Store" is where you go. It has the largest quality collection of masks I have seen in any walk-in store this year.

Who doesn't need a standing goat character for their haunt?
Kind of a Disney feel to this mask - great quality

"The Holiday Store" does a significant amount of it's business at it's website but the nostalgic feel of going to an independent business where the staff enjoy what they do, and love Halloween, is a winner with me.  I have no doubt we'll be making another trip this season.

Little bit of something for everyone
Our friends and ourselves spent a solid hour plus looking through the items for sale at the store. Every inch of space in the retail area is used to display different props masks and Halloween curios.  It seems like the longer you are there, and the closer you look, the more little Halloween treasures you find hidden. We went there looking for a specific mask, we left with two masks, three shrunken heads and some creepy finger extensions. I don't recall what our friends Evelynn and Gene bought but I know they found the mask they wanted and left with several bags of merchandise. All in all it was a great way to start our day of horror followed by some barbecue lunch. Another post on our day of horror is forthcoming.

Still not a fan of clowns but they did have some cool looking clown masks
At the time of our visit, owner Tom Campana had just come off vacation and was still in the process of receiving new products. Most of the store's inventory is from independent U.S. manufacturers and artists. Very little that I have ever seen is the typical mass produced stuff from ( insert Asian country name here). If he doesn't have it, he usually has good connections for getting what your looking for and his prices have always been reasonable.

The Holiday Store is located at 301 Commerce Court, Winterhaven, Florida 33880.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When It's Technical Stuff, We Call On "Mr. Scott" For The Answers

Every few posts I mention the fact of how many new friends we've made on this escalating Halloween journey  that is "Shingle Creek Manor". There are a whole lot of folks that go all out for Halloween and they love nothing more than spending time during the year talking shop with people of like minds. Every once in awhile though, we meet some "non-Halloween" people whose passion for their art inspire and motivate us to keep working and improving on what we do. Such is the case with Scott Fensterer.
Scott Fensterer and Belinda at his "Face Off"season premier party
We met Scott about a year or so ago working at the 'Reynold's Advance Materials' store in Orlando.
It didn't take many store visits and a class or two to realize this guy really knows his stuff! As an added bonus, he doesn't just go through the motions of doing his job, he's really passionate about what he does. Though his passion is not strictly Halloween make-up and special effects (we forgive him), his acquired skills at character make-up recently won him a place on the current SyFy Network season of "Face Off"!

It was our honor to be included in his "Face Off" season 9 premier party and get to see our new friend accomplish one of his major career goals. This last Tuesday night we watched episode four and got to see him win his first challenge! We are so happy to see our friend on this wild ride and wish him the best of luck!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Dork Pig"

Wanted a wild boar prop for the Florida swamp look of our planned walk thru haunt. This was my first time sculpting and using WED clay. Belinda got his eyes looking good for me and you can always count on your spouse to be your sharpest critic.


Due to some strange and goofy looking variations while trying to sculpt and mold the lower teeth, he got dubbed "Dork Pig". Named after the hilarious Bill Engvall comedy set "Dorkfish". Check it out on Youtube if you haven't seen it before, funny stuff!

Next step is making a mold. Not looking forward to this part...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

First Halloween Retail Sighting 2015

Generally the At Home Store is the first to get it's "Halloween"retail" goodies out in our area.  Others, such as Michael's and Hobby Lobby get some "Fall" stuff out in July, but I'm not sure I've seen any Halloween stuff out this early except from the At Home Store.

This year "Cracker Barrel" wins the first Halloween retail sighting for 2015!





Friday, July 10, 2015

Fun Mail Day

Not much haunt or Halloween prop making been going on. Florida has been exceptionally hot so far this Summer. That kind of hot that just saps the energy, and inclination to do anything constructive, right out of you. Well, that's my excuse anyways, " it's too hot". "
It's like Africa hot, Tarzan couldn't take this kind of heat" ( Biloxi Blues-1988).

Aside from the heat, ( did I mention it's been hot?) it was however a fun mail day! The Mail Person brought us some Halloween stuff! We got our final Distortions Unlimted, "Monster of the Month", and the last of the parts we needed for our " corpsed skull with glowing eyes" project for the Florida Haunter's Social at the end of the month!


Admittedly, this was the least favorite of the " monsters" we got from Distortions over the last 9 months, but for people into the retro 1950's alien monsters, it's a fun piece. Besides, a least favorite mask in the mail is better than a bill any day.

The skull with electronic eyes is one of the "make and take" classes taught by William "Dr. Terror Eyes" Ramsay. The parts needed, vendors, and instructions are available on the Florida Haunters Facebook page for those inclined to build one that don't live in Florida or are not attending the annual Florida haunter's Social in Ocala, FL.

Corpsed skull with glowing eyes from William Ramsay
We have a couple of fun comitments the end of this month that I hope to post about but other that, just trying to stay out of the heat. Who would have expected a Summer in Florida to be hot?!




Thursday, July 2, 2015

2014 Haunter's Video Awards

Another exciting year for Shingle Creek Manor! Two awards from the 2014 Haunters Video Awards was a bit unexpected and overwhelming but we're grateful none the less. Thank you to Chris and Jeff Davis of Davis Graveyard, and of course all the judges, for their work putting this together again this year.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

More Hearse Envy

Still can't say as owning a hearse would be one of life's dreams (unless maybe it was really vintage, like pre-50's) but this does seem to be the year I've come across some beautiful classic hearses.

"Bonepeicker with a beautiful mural across the front and the rear door.

While walking through the parking lot at "Halloween Extreme", I came across "Bonepicker" a Cadillac Hearse owned by horror author Owl Goingback . Seems appropriate if your a horror author to drive a hearse, and this one should turn some heads.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Halloween Extreme 2015 - Mystery Box Challenge

"Halloween Extreme" returned this year, along with  the "Spooky May-hem" Convention in Orlando. Kind of nice to have a convention close to home especially since Transworld pretty well wiped out our "mad money" for the year.

I won't say there was anything at "Halloween Extreme" that I haven't seen at other haunter conventions, but  I did get to spend time once again meeting a whole bunch of people with similar Halloween and haunter passions.

One of the more fun things, that I didn't get to watch at the last Halloween Extreme, was the "Mystery Box Challenge" sponsored by Ghostride Productions . I was pretty sure I'd be out of my league from the photos we saw of the teams frantically working on their props at the previous Halloween Extreme. After watching this year... I was right.

The Mystery Box Challenge consisted of a maximum of three people to a team. Each team was given some identical materials that had to be included in building a Halloween prop. This year it was half of a face, half a skull, half a brain some turkey feathers... you get the idea. Those materials had to be included in the finished piece. The rest of the materials were available to be pulled out of a huge pile of random junk. The teams had 30 minutes to make their work of art.

This years winning prop "Remnants of Jack Sparrow" from Team "Moe's Halloween"

Each team came up with a name and then picked a last minute name for their finished prop. First place was $200, second place was $50 and third place was $25. Most of the people who entered I knew from the Florida Haunters so it was a bit extra fun watching friends in panicked action.


Second Place was "Reluctant Vine Creature" from Team "Eerie Acres Cemetery"
In the end, last year's Mystery Box Challenge winners, Ant and Lleana Petrone of "Eerie Acres Cemetery" , were unseated by Maureen Perez's team "Moe's Halloween" Both winning props and the other four team props were pretty darned impressive, especially when you consider it was accomplished in 30 minutes.









Tuesday, April 28, 2015

3rd Annual Dead With Dave Home Haunter Awards


Once again David Dankanyin of "Dead with Dave" and the DWD Crew posted their annual "Dead with Dave Home Haunter Awards" show. This was the third year for the show which is described as "an awards show for home haunters by home haunters". 

This was our second year entering and although we didn't win in any of the categories against some of the very talented competition, we were humbled to receive a couple nominations for "Best Haunt Video" and " Best Static Prop". These haunter competitions are really a lot of fun off season and we're very appreciative of all the work, time and money people like Dave spend to put them together. 

Thanks to David Dankanyin and the Dead with Dave Crew, and congratulations to all the winners this year!



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Neighborhood Talk

"Missing Finger Productions" work mobile
Well, if the neighbors didn't already talk about the strangeness of our hobby, As of last week, I'm pretty sure they talk now..  We had some visitors from  "Missing Finger Productions" stop by the house for some non-Halloween related activities. Well, okay, actually, there was some  Halloween talk with owner, Kevin Koch, while the ladies did some "Paper Dove Gifts" jewelry transactions.

Rear of vehicle seats one comfortably
The talk in our somewhat reserved neighborhood would be the Missing Finger Production's  vehicle parked in front of the house, a classic Cadillac Hearse. Oh,  and it was complete with casket... empty as far as I know.



The hearse was certainly a show stopper. While I have no desire to personally own a hearse, like most guys I appreciate all classic cars and this one was in beautiful original condition. I believe he said it was a 1972 Cadillac. Sometimes I do have to remind myself the 1970's were over forty years ago...

"Missing Finger Production" is a part time prop making business for Kevin Koch. His full time job is a school teacher. I am pretty certain when I went to school none of my teachers had a hearse parked in the teachers lot.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Monster Mallet

We haven't done very much for character development at Shingle Creek Manor  except for the evolving "Niethra" Voodoo witch which will get some costuming upgrades this year.

I've been chastised by "Niethra" and some haunt friends that I would much rather watch the trick or treaters and keep the foggers, lights and sound system in check as get costumed up. I can only congratulate my critics on their perceptivity...

Unfortunately, the evolution of Shingle Creek Manor and the lack of nearby friends with our same particular Halloween obsession is going to require me to work on my monstery-ness this season and suit up.

As luck would have it we obtained the potential weapon for said new monster during our recent trip to Transworld . At the "Haunter's Hangout" raffle we won a massive mallet hammer from Asylum Props! While it wouldn't have been my first thought for a weapon I do have to admit it is really cool.


Even cooler, Richard Teachout, owner of Asylum Props said it was cast from an actual old carnival mallet used by the carnival workers big enough to wield the thing. It was used to drive the three foot stakes holding the carnival tents. I'm all about a design with a history... dark carnival actors and clowns would love this thing.

The texture detail and paint of the mallet is amazing! Think I have to age the newer looking handle though...
Special thanks to Richard Teachout and "Asylum Props" for his donation to the "Haunter's Hangout" group. Make sure to "Like" the Asylum Props Facebook page and tell Richard hello.

Receiving our Asylum Props Sledge from Jwal Twisted Seed at Haunter's Hangout, Transworld!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Transworld and The Black Plague

Seems like we've been planning on attending Transworld's Halloween and Attractions trade show pretty much since we started building Shingle Creek Manor. Each year something usually kept us from it, but this year we were able to make the drive to St. Louis  and had a few great days seeing all the cool new Halloween toys manufacturers had to offer. It was everything I was led to believe it would be and then some!

Lots of creatures roaming the showroom floor. Belinda had a few laughs with this guy.
Couple of my favorite vendors, although it would be impossible to pick any one as my favorite, everybody had something good to offer:






Of course we also got to meet up with some friends from Haunter's Hangout, and even met a few that up until Transworld we had only socialized with on the internet. The Haunter's Hangout folks had a nice rest up  area and meeting place on the showroom floor. We tried to say hi to as many as possible but there was just so much to see on the showroom, we did miss quite a few.

Distortion's Unlimited Frankenstein helping me locate vendors on the map.
All in all a fun week until the last day when I managed to catch the Black Plague, or at least what I expect the Black Plaque would feel like. Luckily the worst of the fever was after the two day return drive home but it did cut our trip short by a day. This one has taken me quite a while to get over and as of today I still get exhausted just walking across the room. I wasn't the only one that got this crud though from the Facebook posts I've read. I guess it could have been worse had I gotten sick the first couple days at the convention.

Face Off's Nix Herrera showing off some of his amazing airbrush makeup
I'm not sure we will ever spend the money to attend Transworld again but it was a fun experience and a massive congregation of monster and horror imagination that has to be seen at least once by anyone who loves Halloween and or horror.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Lightning Cosplay

A friend recently shared this amazing photo of "Lightning Cosplay" modeling one of her recently made costumes, and advertising her new book Lightning Cosplay - "Horns and Headdresses".

Photographs property of Lightning Cosplay

I downloaded the digital version for a bit over seven dollars to take a look at how she was making the detailed horns and the antlered headdresses that you can see on the Lightning Cosplay website portfolio.

The digital book is well worth the few dollars and gave me a great introduction to using thermoplastics such as Kobracast and Worbla. While we have dabbled in some other modeling and casting materials,  I've never even heard of these materials which she writes are very common materials used by Cosplayers.

Photographs property of Lightning Cosplay

The book is well written with great step by step photos and of course photos of the beautiful headdresses she has created. After reading it, I definitely want to get some of these materials to experiment. Check out her website or Facebeook page. Even if your not interested in creating your own headdresses, the photos of her creations are certainly Pinterest worthy!

As of this blog date she is currently sold out of horns on the Lightning Cosplay Etsy site but states that she creates and sells them fairly regularly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Appreciation of the Deliveryman

Sometimes I do have to wonder what the ladies and gentlemen from the various delivery services must think goes on at this house.

We've received some unusually labeled boxes from the postal services over the last few years; packages marked from "The Skeleton Store", a rather ominous looking package from "Halloween Haunt Sauce" labeled "poison", with skull and crossbones stickers, and the last few months have included our labeled "Monster of the Month" boxes.

Distortion's Unlimited "Monster of the Month"

I suppose the've seen it all though, they never give us weird looks or ask questions. Besides, they might be more disturbed if they knew what was actually in some of the boxes...

January's "Monster of the Month" the severed head of a vampire.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hogwart's Gargoyles

I really have to appreciate the imagination of J.K. Rowling combined with the creativity of Universal Studios. These are amazing sculptures.

Entrance to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry


Friday, February 6, 2015

Owl Post

Did a little exploring in Hogsmeade yesterday, the end of a dismal rainy day that turned out rather nice by the time I made the drive. If your not a Harry Potter fan, Hogsmeade is the fictional wizard village of shops. This was really my first time to explore Hogsmeade on the Adventure Island side of Universal Studios Theme Park.

Hogsmeade street of shops
Rather liked the storefront design of the Owl Post Post Office
The Owl Post is the method of mail delivery by the wizards using, you guessed it, owls. You can buy stationary, cards, journals etc. in this store. It's a neat feature that you can mail your letters here and get the official Owl Post postmark. From what I learned though, you better bring a stamp because a sheet of ten of the official Harry Potter stamps are $15.

All the roof tops and businesses are covered with snow and ice  per the book
If you just want the Owl Post postmark though, to the right of the storefront is a cart where you can buy a postcard or whatever paper good you want and they will stamp it with the post mark for you.

I pilfered this photo from the internet, mine wasn't quite this clear
Thought it would have been a nice touch to have the owls animated in the window but they were just stuffed owls
Really have to appreciate how they made everything old looking, note the water stained ceiling. At least I think that is an intentional detail and not an actual water leak...
Owl Perches. Those boxes on the left are wands. There are lots and lots of wands in Hogsmeade. 
Self explanatory

Maybe I will post a few other images of Hogsmeade , Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley in the next few weeks before the weather gets to hot and the Universal Studio's crowds get bigger. I thought the Owl Post and getting the postmark was sort of a hidden gem for the HP fan that you might not otherwise pay attention to.