Why replica skulls over real skulls for your Haunt?
Skulls are iconic and are practically a requirement for haunted houses.
When it comes to human skulls, replicas are the obvious choice since real ones are hard to come by and extremely expensive.
But what about animal skulls?
They’re easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and you can get a variety of species for different looks.
There are three main problems with using real animal skulls in a haunt and we’ll start with the biggest: Durability.
Real bone is incredibly fragile.
Thinner areas around the top of the cranium and the upper pallet are prone to getting crushed and it doesn’t even take that much force. Over time, bone degrades and becomes even more brittle. It’s very common for old bone that hasn’t been taken care of to start to split and crack even without being in a high traffic space.
Real animal skulls are also not solid and are prone to losing pieces, especially the teeth.
You’ve probably seen cow skulls missing the nose and coyote skulls with missing teeth. They may look cool, but they’ll just continue to lose sections and teeth until there’s very little recognizable bone left.
Replica skulls are cast with resin, an incredibly durable two-part plastic. When they are cast, the whole cranium including the teeth are cast together. There’s no chance of losing pieces over time because it is all one solid piece.
Resin also won’t become brittle over time and isn’t prone to cracking simply through age. The resin that we use is stable up to 125℉ so even outdoor haunts will have no problem leaving replica skulls up all year long.
Photo by Erin Murphy of the Panic Mechanics
Solid cast resin can also be cut, sanded, and drilled which brings me to the second major issue with real bone: Theft.
When in a haunted house where attendees can reach them, real skulls have a tendency to get up and walk away.
Actors can also be perpetrators when it comes to disappearing skulls.
Skulls are super cool, that’s why we want them in our haunts. That’s also why people who go to haunts want them and why those people sometimes have sticky fingers…
If you’ve ever tried to put a screw through an animal skull to mount it, you’ve probably had it split, crack, or break right through. Many professionally mounted animal skulls are attached using wire, glue, or a metal piece that goes into the opening at the back of the skull allowing the skull to hang.
These methods will certainly work, but aren’t very secure considering the amount of traffic going through a haunted house or trail.
Resin skulls can have a pilot hole drilled right through them so you can mount them to any surface with a screw or bolt. Because they’re solid and very durable, they can also be strapped to anything with wire or string, even costumes! You can really wrap them tightly without having to worry about them collapsing under the pressure.
Resin also takes very well to glue for added security. Lightly sand the surface to expose the raw resin through any stain or finishing and super glue will chemically bond to it.
Photo by Michael McCann from the Panic Mechanics
Finally we come to the third problem with real animal skulls: Legality.
There are very specific laws around owning animal parts and they vary from country to country and even from state to state.
Most farmed and nuisance animals are perfectly legal to own. Hunted animals vary, and even if it was hunted legally in one state doesn’t mean it’s legal to possess its parts in a different state.
You can take a look at the various statutes for each state here and see what animal parts are legal to possess where you are.
Or you can get replica skulls and never have to worry about the legality of having them!
Since replica skulls are resin, it’s the same as owning anything else made of resin or plastic.
You can have as many or any species you want, anywhere in the world!
Photo by Erin Murphy from the Panic Mechanics