Noble Collection Bellatrix Lestrange Deatheater Mask


"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

We've got a new guest reviewer tonight - the Phrenologist! Yea, I don't know what the Hell it means either, and I'm to damn lazy to Wiki it. Anyway, take it away, PH!

There are some items, that when seen in a movie, makes my internal voice yell “Oh, I gotta have one of those!”.
The idol from RAIDERS, the Maria robotrix from METROPOLIS, the Samaritan from HELLBOY, THE MALTESE FALCON from a movie who’s name I forget, all of these caused that reaction. So did the Death Eater mask I saw in one of the Harry Potter trailers. Several months later I saw the film and learned that each Death Eater has their own specific mask. Although similar in theme each was significantly different. Of the “main” masks I liked that of  Bellatrix Lestrange the most. When I discovered that The Noble Collection (a Franklin Mint type company)  was producing a prop replica of her mask I was thrilled.
Then I received the mask.

Packaging: N/A
This item isn’t sold in stores, its only available through the Noble Collection catalog and website. It has no package to speak of. It is shipped wrapped in plastic in a plain cardboard box.

Sculpt: ***
While I’m 99% certain this was not cast from the actual prop, they did do a good job of sculpting it, the size seems correct and when I compare it to a frame from the film it looks very close to accurate. It would have been nice to have the 5 bars or grates over the lips to have been separate pieces. It should be noted that this mask is designed to fit a smaller female. If you have a large head, say that of a 6 foot tall, 297 lb male with a freakishly thick skull, it may not fit very well.

Paint - ***
They have done a reasonably good job here. There is little slop and despite a relatively complex pattern the lines are neat. The base coat give an appearance of real metal and they have used both a wash to bring out detail around the mouth and a spray to give it an aged look, both work effectively.

Construction: *
I must admit that the Noble Collection never states what the mask is made of either on their website or in their catalog. That said, I never in my wildest imagination expected the mask to be so poorly constructed. While I din’t actually expect the mask to be made of metal, I did expect it to made of artist resin, or fiberglass, or at least ABS plastic. 

The mask is made of vinyl. It has the thickness of a nickel. If you have a vinyl rotocast bank from Bob’s Big Boy that’s the material, althouth the Bob’s bank may be slightly thicker. The interior of the mask has a sturdy, inch thick velcro strip securely rivited in place to help the mask onto your head should you decide to wear it. It also has a female velcro strip on the top of the interior to attach to the display stand. The main problem is the materail they chose to construct the mask. Even though the mask iteself is very light, the material will start to wilt under its own weight. This of course has always been a problem with latex and foam masks, but its not an issue you would expect from a mask like this. Had it been constructed of a more rugged material this piece could last decades and still look new. Sadly, with the material they chose, it will start to show its age in only a year or two.

Accessories: **
This is an unusual case of the accessory being better constructed than the main item. The accessory is a display stand its its very well made. The Noble Collection refers to it as a “wood display”. Its actually made of  MDF or medium-density fiberboard, which is techically, wood. It is well painted, nicely crafted, features a metal name plate, and has a subtle designed silkscreened on it that compliments the design on the mask. The back features two metal saw tooth hangers, each securely held on by two screws each. The display actually weighs several pounds. The top part of the display features a “lip” covered with male velcro. This attaches firmly to the female velcro inside the mask and holds it securely. There is a serious design flaw though, the mask is only supported at the top of the head. Picture two latex masks. You display one on a styrofoam wig form and the other on an empty  paper towel tube. Both may diplay well at first, but over time you will see the mask diplayed on the tube become mishappen as the weight of the mask pushes down on itself and deforms over the tube. The mask on the wig form may also deform over time but not to the same extent, nor as quickly. The same situation is taking place here. The weight of the mask will pull down upon itself it it will deform. This problem could have been mitigated by having the lip be a half circle that followed the interior edge of the upper half of the mask, supporting the entire upper 2/3 of the mask. Another option would have been to have there be a “negative” form under the mask, made of flocked styrofoam or a ridgid plastic, to offer support in the way a plaster life mask offers support to a foam FX appliace on display. They certainly put thought into this display, just not enough. Oddly, the advertisements for the mask show it with a grey display. The one I received was black. I’m unsure is only black is available or if there are two versions of the display.

Value: *
At $95 plus shipping and hadling this is no bargain. Elope made a mask with hood that runs about $19, not good for display but comfy to wear or play in (my safety word is Pineapple). Corgi manufactures a mask with a voice changer wand that runs around $50, it is made of a thick plastic that will endure for a very long time. Neither comes with a wooden display. Either way,  both are far superior values to the Noble Collection version. I can’t help but wonder if the large, heavy display is included mostly to take one’s mind off the fact that they have just paid $95 for a mask of similar quality to those sold in an chain drugstore around Halloween.

Overall: **
This is sad not only because of where they failed, but because of where they succedded. The scupt is nice, the paint is nice, the base was a big step in the right direction, but the choice of vinyl and failing to take steps to offer support for the vinyl during display kills it. Had the mask been cast of a more durable material this would have been a home run, instead they struck out and I had to resort to using a sports metaphor.

Score Recap:
Packaging - N/A
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***
Construction - *
Accessories - ***
Value - *
Overall - **

Where to Buy -
If you're so inclined, Noble's website is the place to head. Or you could also search ebay for deals using Michael’s sponsor

Figure from the collection of The Phrenologist.

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