WINSTED — A few months ago, special effects and makeup artist Tyler Green’s outlook for his business was grim. Restrictions set amid the COVID-19 pandemic affected his art classes for children, which are held in his studio at Whiting Mills in Winsted. Once restrictions were eased, students slowly returned, but financially the studio was in trouble.
That was in May. Today, Tyler Green FX Studio is making and marketing a Monster Kidz Box, a kit for children to make a custom horror mask that closely resembles Green’s own design. “I’m like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” he said. “I was on the verge of shutting the studio down forever.”
“I couldn’t do makeup,” he said “For my industry, that has been a real blow. Hollywood was shut down. It was looking pretty bad.”
But with an investment and the help of his partner and boyfriend Anthony Videira, and other friends and family members, Green’s creativity has found its way into the Halloween season with the Monster Kidz Box. “It’s a monster in a box,” he said. “We launched it at the end of July, and they’re going like crazy. I first went to the Silly Sprout (children’s store) on West Street in Litchfield, and (they) just jumped on it.”
The Monster Kidz Box is green and purple — nostalgic colors reminiscent of Nickelodeon and “Goosebumps” stories, his favorites as a kid, Green said — with a 3D design of a green monster with scary, staring eyes and labels showing the soon-to-be artist the mummy, zombie or vampire queen they could create. Inside is a hollow Plasticine head, paints, props and prizes for the project, as well as a link to video tutorials with Green himself. The kit sells for $49.99.
The kit is intended for ages 8 and up, but younger children have successfully made their own masks. “The cool thing about this box is that everything you need is in there,” Green said, opening a Monster Kidz Box and showing the contents, which included fact cards about mummies, a keepsake keychain and other treasures. “The parents absolutely love this design. It’s selling very well.”
Selling the box in Litchfield, his home town, is significant for Green. “My focus was bringing this to my community,” he said. “I’m doing a workshop at the community center, with a live makeup demonstration. And several corporations have contacted me to purchase them for their employees, for Halloween. Since I can’t do a live demonstration, we can do a virtual demo of the boxes.”
Green is filling the orders himself in his own fulfillment room, packed with all the materials needed to ship the kits through the mail, his choice, he said. “I’ve always loved manufacturing, and I’m not new to it,” he said. “It just feels right to do it this way. If anything came out of this pandemic, ‘think outside the box’ was so true. It just works.”
“I might need help soon, but for now I love it,” he said, about filling orders himself.
Halloween celebrations are likely to be muted and small this year, based on the pandemic’s restrictions for large gatherings. “Parents are worried and want to make sure their kids have something fun to do,” Green said. “And the best part is, this doesn’t end with Halloween; I’ve already got designs for a Christmas Kidz Box. It can go all year long.”
One Christmas mask in the works is “Krampus,” a grumpy, scary goat monster. “He’s a real thing,” Green said. “He comes for the bad kids. ... The kit will have an educational component to it, just like the Halloween masks. I’m going to make two limited edition masks, too, with only 100 each, and see how that goes.”
Green is grateful to his partner, Videira, and his brother Alec Green, for helping launch the Kidz Box. “I give Anthony a lot of credit,” he said. “He’s an amazing graphic designer. He did the boxes on his iPad, and made sure it was kid-friendly; we got a copyright for it so it can’t be duplicated. He also does the images for the stickers and the cards.”
“Alec was in charge of production, and added a higher level of quality to the video,” Green said. “The videos are high-end productions, with great sound, close-up views. People said it was like a real TV show.”
Green was a contestant in SyFy’s “Face Off” contest, and was the season 6 finalist and all-star semifinalist. His career includes makeup work in film and television and teaching his skills to other artists around the world. Green, 34, is the owner of Creative Genius LLC, and an inventor of consumer gadgets and accessories. Among many other products, he conceptualized and developed the Wonderband Systems, an intricate intelligent concept for gripping items, with applications in multiple industries.
His enthusiasm for the Kidz Box, he said, started in July after the first boxes sold. “I didn’t sleep after we launched,” he said. “I never questioned whether it was going to work. I’m such a visual person that, when I start creating something, I can already see it on the shelf. The box is exactly how I pictured it.”
This weekend, Green is presenting one of his monsters at the MakerFest at the Connecticut Science Center. The center’s MakerFest is intended “to expose local families to local innovation and craftsmanship and inspire to create and build with their own hands,” according to the website. For information on that event, visit www.evensi.us/ct-makerfest-connecticut-science-center/386922564.