Animatronics

Chilren enjoying halloween animatronics show

At one time I was involved in creating animatronic figures with two friends. We worked the entire month of October after regular work (We worked until 4 AM some mornings, got 1 hour sleep, and worked an 8 hour day. This was repeated almost every day) used parts and pieces from junkyards, dumps, etc and built an Elvis whose hips wiggled, his head turned, and he spun a guitar. He was dressed exactly like Elvis and Amy Phillips, the artist of the group, painted him up to look just like him too. Robert Morris, the mastermind and financier of the project, did all the electrical wiring. I was responsible for getting all the mechanics to work. Here are some of the figures and animals we created:

Elvis

  • A small motor moved his head left and right. His head was formed by layering Plaster of Paris over Robert’s head and then removed (the procedure is another story for later)
  • A sewing machine motor was used to make his hips wiggle.
  • An automotive electric door lock was used to make his right leg pivot left to right.
  • A small motor made the guitar spin.

Elvis

A witch

  • She stirred a black cauldron.
  • The cauldron was on top of sticks that looked like they were burning.
  • Cats were made from crumpled up newspaper and located near her.

Witch

Witch

Vulture

  • The mouth on the vulture moved.
  • The neck extended and retracted.
  • The vulture was hidden behind a door that would open and the vulture would come out. this was accomplished using a modified garage door opener.

Vulture

Dragon

  • A clay form was created for the head and a fiberglass skull crafted from it.
  • The skull was covered with liquid latex purchased from a large special effects supplier in Hollywood.
  • The mouth moved, the eyes rolled and smoke blew out its nose through small tubes.
  • The dragon was hidden inside a large wooden egg I built and the egg would crack and open, revealing the dragon inside.
  • The dragon’s tail wrapped around the egg and by using cables and springs, was able to wag. the tail was also covered in latex rubber.

Halloween animatronics

I have saved the dragon head all these years!

4 Responses

  1. Wow… I had forgotten how much work that was! I had the easy part. 🙂 You and Robert were brilliant! You certainly had the imagination to see these things in action long before they were even built. Your talents always amazed me. Hope things are very well for you, ol’ friend! Amy

    1. WOW Amy. long time no see! It is great to hear from you. It was hard work but extremely fun. You are too modest; you made our crap look real nice!

      1. Those were fun times. I honestly have never done anything artistic since. You’ve become quite the artist though I see! Terrin and you are writing books now too… so cool! Are you on Facebook?

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