Predator Original Bio-Mask History

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
In the early 90s my mind was blown by an ad in the back of a magazine offering a replica Predator bio-mask. I never got the mask, but that ad was my introduction to a lifelong passion, hobby, and career revolving around movie props.

Nearly 30 years later, I have obtained a grail for our collection: the Predator’s original bio-mask from 1987’s Predator. If you have already looked at the pics you are probably thinking “that isn’t the Predator’s bio-mask!” If you are a bit of a Predator fan you might even be thinking “that is the bio-mask of one of those background Predators in Predator 2.” This IS the bio-mask Matt Rose sculpted in 1986 for the first film but it was not used in favor of the more generic (but now iconic) bio-mask which hid the facial structure of the creature for a bigger reveal at the end of the film. I like this first design better as it more closely matches the design of the rest of the Predator’s armor and weaponry. It is covered in greebles, giving it a complex and hi-tech look. Below is a bit of history about the bio-mask over the past 30 years.

Predator (1987)
This bio-mask was sculpted by Matt Rose (credited as art department coordinator: creature effects unit) in Nov 1986 and Painted by Screaming Mad George (credited as creature effects crew) in late Nov (immediately following Thanksgiving), 1986. It was designed to match the hi-tech look of the Predator’s armor and weaponry and uses greebles from the same model kits as found on those props. As Shannon Shea (credited as art department coordinator: creature effects unit) described it, the bio-mask was sculpted to be “intimidating, beautiful, and yet look somewhat functional” Richard Landon (credited as mechanical department: creature effects unit / puppeteer) describes it as being a “highly detailed mechanical sculpture, to look like armor, and an atmosphere filter, so the Predator could breathe.” Stan Winston studios describes it as a “mechanical interpretation of the creature’s face.” This description encapsulates why this bio-mask wasn’t used. According to Shannon Shea, Producer, Joel Silver “hated it instantly” and felt “Matt’s design ‘tipped the hand’ too much revealing what was going on underneath.” He, Silver, wanted mystery and a big reveal.

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(Left) Concept Art by Steve Wang dated ’86. (Center) Screaming Mad George painting the bio-mask in Nov 1986. (Right) Test Fitting bio-mask.

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The bio-mask with completed costume from Predator.

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The original bio-mask (left) compared to the final bio-mask (right) seen in the film.

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Upper Left to Right: Screaming Mad George (with final bio-mask), Brian Simpson, Emilio Gonzales, Richard Landon, Brett Scrivener, Ed Yang, Grant Arndt. Middle Standing: Shannon Shea, Jackie Tischner, Jackie Lancette. Bottom Kneeling Left to Right: Shane Mahan, Matt Rose (with original bio-mask), Stan Winston, Steve Wang

Predator 2 (1990)
I’d like to tell you my bio-mask was finally seen on screen at the end of Predator 2 when the “Lost Predators” make an appearance, but it is unlikely. It seems that there are two of this style of bio-mask, and the differences are only the SLIGHTEST bit of paint. The Predator known as the Guardian (or Gort to fans) wears the alternate bio-mask and is seen in multiple shots on the Predator ship. The bio-mask, as seen in the photos below, is easily screen-matched in these scenes.

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Bio-mask as seen in Predator 2 (sadly, NOT mine). Note that the lenses have been replaced with mesh.

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Bio-mask as seen in Predator 2.

Coolprops
Coolprops is a prop company based out of Japan who have brought a number of Alien and Predator products to market that were created using original filming assets. While unverified, it seems that Coolprops took possession of the bio-mask seen in Predator 2 and recast it for their 2013 “Guardian Predator Helmet” prop replica product. Planet Hollywood still had the original bio-mask at that time so it is very unlikely their product was based off the original bio-mask. I have one of the Coolprops masks and in comparing it to the original, there are the typical differences you would expect in a mass-produced replica prop; the paint is very one dimensional, most of the edges and details have been softened, some details have been rebuilt, some very small details are missing entirely. Don't get me wrong. It is a great replica, but there is quite a bit of difference between the replica and the original.

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(Left) Coolprops Guardian Bio-Mask marketing image. (Center and Right) Original bio-mask vs Cooprops replica bio-mask (repainted by Tom Spina Designs).

Planet Hollywood
The Predators that appear at the end of Predator 2 are often referred to as the “Lost Hunters.” This is supposedly because the costumes and masks for these characters were ‘lost’ after production. In the years following, many have surfaced in private collections. Because the original bio-mask does not seem to be the exact same item as is seen in Predator 2, it is unclear how it passed from the studio to private hands, but its first appearance was in a 1993 Butterfield and Butterfield auction:

Date: Mar 14th, 1993
Auction House: Butterfield and Butterfield
Description: Predator's Helmet from "Predator II"
20th Century Fox, 1990. Constructed by Stan Winston's Special Effects Company. The Predator helmet head mask is of fiberglass construction painted to simulate oxidized metal with mesh wire covered eye openings. Note: The Predator's Helmet was worn by one of the alien creatures that comes down to retrieve the dead body of the film's star Predator. Estimate $1,000 - $2,000


This bio-mask has been reported as being seen at the Planet Hollywood in Orlando, TX and most specifically, London when Planet Hollywood was located at Trocadero. There is also a report of it being spotted at Alien War, which was also located at Trocadero. In March 2003, due to flooding, Planet Hollywood was being remodeled and the bio-mask was given a new style nameplate and placed within a new casing.

The information in Plane Hollywood’s database reads:
PREDATOR'S HELMET USED IN THE FILM.
Constructed by Stan Winston's Special Effects company. The Predator helmet head mask is of fiberglass construction painted to emulate oxidized metal with mesh wire covered eye openings.


This is almost the exact verbiage from the Butterfield and Butterfield auction, which implies Planet Hollywood was the buyer and the bio-mask was been with Planet Hollywood from March 1993 to June 2018, 25 years!
One interesting change is that the helmet now has metal mesh over the eyes as opposed to lenses. It is unknown if the mesh was always there (but hard to see) and backed by lens material or if the lens material was removed and replaced with mesh.

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(Left) Image from Butterfield and Butterfield Catalog (Center and Right) bio-mask on Display at Planet Hollywood, London after 2003 remodel.

Profiles in History
Profiles in History held an “Icons &Legends of Hollywood” auction on June5-8, 2018. Many of the lots were previously owned by Planet Hollywood. The original bio-mask was lot # 1126. I called in a lot of favors, begging every Predator enthusiast I knew who even might consider bidding in the auction to not bid on this lot. They agreed and held to their word, despite temptation. There was only one bid; mine. I still can’t believe I own this piece of Predator history. It is by far, the most meaningful prop in my collection and closes a circle that started for me more than 27 years ago.

Date: Jun 7th, 2018
Auction House: Profiles in History (via icollector.com)
Description: “Predator” armored bio-helmet from Predator 2
(TCF, 1990) Original iconic signature bio-helmet worn by an Alien Warrior. Constructed of cast fiberglass and expertly painted and finished in weathered detailing to appear as alien forged metal. The 17 x 12 x 7 in. mask features black nylon mesh at the cut out eye holes to conceal an actor's human eyes while maintaining visibility during filming. Remnants of velcro and silicone caulk from production and previous display on the interior verso. Exhibiting age, wear and studio distressing. In very good to fine condition. $6,000 - $8,000


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(Left) Winning bid from icollector.com. (Center and Right) Photos from icollector.com.

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Additional photos taken at Profiles in History for the purpose of researching/verifying the helmet prior to the auction.

The Original Bio-Mask Today
I received the bio-mask this morning and want to share my findings and/or things that may not be obvious from photos.

  • The helmet is incredibly light, incredibly thin and incredibly fragile, especially around the edges.
  • The paint is far more detailed and nuanced than photos make it appear. In addition to the black base and knocked down silver/grey, there are gold tones, metallic green and iridescent purple. There is a LOT going on with the paint!
  • Many of the details on the helmet are painted a specific color. The paint and pattern aren't random. Sections/areas are specifically given a certain base and then it is blended in.
  • The details are very sharp but not all well formed. This was cast very quickly and there are a lot of details missing from air-pockets in the mold.
  • There is a lot of damage along the edges where the fiberglass is the most thin/brittle
  • The mesh lenses are fabric, not metal.
  • You can still see a lot of rake marks from the original sculpt.
That is about all I can think to say. I can't wait to get this properly displayed. Thanks for reading and enjoy the photos!

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Extended comments from members of the production

Shannon Shea (abbreviated)
First Person Monster Blog: Part 46: The Saga of THE PREDATOR, Part 2
When I returned to the studio on Monday morning [after Thanksgiving, 1986], I was surprised to see some new faces working there including Screaming Mad George who was painting a fiberglass Predator helmet that Matt had sculpted.
By now, I'm sure that most of you know that the iconic helmet or "mask" of the Predator underwent changes during the build. Yes, production had given us a piece of artwork that has been attributed by veteran VFX artist/designer/supervisor Alan Munro.
However, we weren't following Alan's design to the letter and so Matt sculpted the first mask to be intimidating, beautiful, and yet look somewhat functional.
On the day of the Los Angeles (technically, it would be Northridge, California) fitting, producer Joel Silver, director John McTiernan, and Kevin Peter Hall showed up at Stan's. We put Matt's original helmet on to show them. Joel hated it instantly. He said that part of the mystery of the Predator was that first he was "invisible" then next when we see him, he's wearing a mask, and finally he takes the mask off to reveal the face. Matt's design "tipped the hand" too much revealing what was going on underneath. Matt, Steve, and I didn't agree. We loved Matt's mask, but being professional, commercial artists, a new mask had to be sculpted AND FAST!

Richard Landon
The John McTiernan's PREDATOR page
We created two masks for the Predator. The producer Joel Silver looked at both with his director. The first one was a highly detailed mechanical sculpture, to look like armor, and an atmosphere filter, so the Predator could breathe. When Joel saw this busier mask, he said "I love it - we're going with the plainer one though. This looks like it could be what the creature actually looks like. We want the audience waiting from the first second they see him for that mask to come off." The director agreed fully.

Stan Winston Studios
Stan Winston School of Character Arts
Initially, the mask design was a mechanical interpretation of the creature’s face. To avoid giving away the look of the creature too early in the film, Stan Winston Studio changed the mask design to a simpler, more ‘tribal’ look.

Additional Reading
Features
Hunter — Predator
Guns and (Shea) Butter: An Oral History of 'Predator'
Stan Winston School of Character Arts
Stan Winston School of Character Arts
 

LunaticNic

Hunter
Absolutley a Grail Piece!
Thanks for sharing those great pictures! Will certainly help me when sculpting predator bio's and armor in the future :D
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
Marwan asked for some comparisons. Here is the Original P1 compared to George's excellent replica (cast from the original mold).

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Here is the Original P1 compared to my screen used Berserker. The biggest thing to note here is the difference in angle and size. The Berkserker is MUCH larger.
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Sorry for the crappy cutouts around the edges. Was in a bit of hurry.
 

Wreav

Elite Hunter
Community Staff
!!!!
These side by sides are amazing, you were completely right about the Berserker not fitting in well with the Gort/P1. Amazing photos!
 

LunaticNic

Hunter
I'd say the reason the "Evolution" doesn't show is that imo it could only be showcased in comparison to the screened p1 Bio since the Berserker Bio emulates characteristics of the simpler helmet.
Also, I'm guessing Berserkers different head shape didn't help, but still very interesting to see them side by side.
 

Wreav

Elite Hunter
Community Staff
It goes back to what Art said in his original post, they aren't meant to be together there was a film all about them going head to head with one another. Jungle Hunters vs Super Preds.
 

munson

Hunter
Awesome, didn't know you owned the original Gort bio and the paint-up is simply amazing! It's a very unique bio and I've always wondered where they would've added the tri-lasers in the mask. It's also interesting to note just how small the bio is on the P1 mask.
 

Rodewaryer

Young Blood
I find this to be a FANTASTIC thread! What a GREAT post Art! So, snippet from the peanut gallery.....I find the Cool Props replica to be just fine and I understand your comments etc about it perfectly but I would love to have one, it actually looks more metallic to me and though looking like a production item, it's still a great piece. However I have one....minor but burning question. What did the bio that Joel Silver 'hate' (but everyone else liked) actually look like?

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