Animatronic Zombie Butler Build
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Beacon, NY

    Default Animatronic Zombie Butler Build

    Animatronic Zombie Butler Build
    Zombie Butler Build[/CENTER]

    Most of the materials I already had. I have tried my best to find out the prices for you. Anything with a * is what I bought just for this build

    * 1 Blucky Skeleton: $11 - $20 Dollars - Depends on where you find them
    * 1 Derby / Bowler Hat: - $6.99 on Amazon
    * 1 Tux: (I used a “Crypt Keeper” costume, I wanted a child by they only had teen size) $35 at Spirit Halloween
    Deer Motor: Found on Innovations for $8.99
    * Spray Paint: Valspar Satin Green Apple - Base color for body Home Depot $4.19
    Spray Paint: Valspar Clear Flat Indoor/Outdoor - Sealer / Coating Home Depot $4.19
    Spray Paint: Rustoleum Camouflage Paint, Brown - Dirt Home Depot $ 4.19
    Spray Paint: White - For eyes Home Depot $4.19
    Spray Paint: Grey - For distressing of clothes Home Depot $4.19
    * Paint: Createx Forest Green - Darkest layer for effect Hobby Lobby $3.21
    Paint: Createx Brite Green - Lighter first layer for effect Hobby Lobby
    Garden Wire - To move the head, Home Depot
    Great Stuff Foam: For dirt, Home Depot $6.99
    Plywood: For the Base, Home Depot
    Crayola Model Magic: For hands (I buy a bucket, about 22 to 25 dollars each bucket)
    Wire: for hands
    Wooden Dowels: One ¼” dowel for the arms and hands & One ½” dowel for the base
    * Plastic Doll Eyes: From Hobby Lobby by the bag
    Wooden Balls: w/ Flat Spot, from Hobby Lobby by the bag
    PVC Tubing: For arms
    Fence Caps: For shoulder and elbow joints
    Nuts and Bolts: To secure joints and PVC to joints
    “C” Shape Fastener: For running the wire away from the body
    Screws - T o secure “C” shape fastener
    Carpenter Screws - To secure wood box that hides the Deer Motor to the base

    Glue Gun - When don’t I use this!
    Air brush - For detailing and fun in general (not fun until your learn how to use it)
    Drill - For connecting PVC to fence Caps (power tools, yeah!)
    Saw - For cutting Plywood (More power tools)
    Knife - For use on the “Blucky”

    I got the idea for this display from a drawing I found on Dave Lowe’s blog of a display he wanted to build. Looking at it makes me smile because a zombie would have something like this happen to them (they have no cartilage or tendons to hold them together). So I thought “wouldn’t this be a great prop to make animatronic”. He would sit at the end of my driveway and greet the tot’s. I decided on the name Alfred from the butler on the old Batman TV show. Down the road he will have a tombstone behind him with a bat on it! Here is Dave Lowe’s Drawing that inspired my build:

    The Base:
    The base is the first part of my builds. To make them I simply use some available plywood and cut it in what ever shape you like. All but one of my displays use a base of plywood. To hold the my Blucky’s up I use a dowel. The dowel usually runs up the middle of the blucky.

    On the base:
    1) Drill a hold for the ground spike. (I secure all of my displays to the ground with a spike.)
    2) Drill a hole for the dowel: (I used a ½” dowel, you shouldn’t go smaller, but you can easily go larger)
    3) Insert Dowel onto base and secure: (I hot glue most of the time)

    Test Mounting the blucky:
    On this display the dowel if ran down the spine would come out between the legs and be visible. I’m not to keen on this so I decided to run the dowel up through his right leg, into the pelvis and up through the spine ending in the head (I trimmed the length of the dowel later). I found out that the leg with the dowel in just didn't look right so, I so I adjusted the right leg by cutting it open, allowing the top of the leg to move over to the socket area. I secured the cut with some monster tape (This will be hidden by the pants).

    Designing the moving arm:
    With the base made and a general pose set. It was now time for the biggest challenge, Figuring out how to make the head move on and off the neck smoothly. I was hoping I could get away with using the normal Blucky arms (I normally use a dowel that runs through the arm to give it strength). But I could not find a method of mounting the arm that did not require major modifications to the blucky and fabrication of joints, pivot areas, etc. I was stumped. So I thought I would work on just figuring out how to make the motor move the arm in the manner I wanted and that I would answer the question of what to build it with later.

    I tried posting on the forum asking for help on how to achieve the motion I wanted (arm moving the head on and off the neck). Someone suggested I work the problem backwards (on the motion) and think about pulling it away and using a spring to pull it back.

    With no clear method yet, I moved on again. I bought a wiper motor from Monster Guts with the lowest power setting and found out once I plugged it in that it moved waaay to fast for my needs. I decided to use an extra deer motor I have.

    With the motor settled, I then started playing around on a plywood board to test how to move the arms with levers. (I mounted the motor and the pivot points to the board). I tried numerous variations with no luck. I even bought a DVD (David Corr, Halloween Animatronics 1), looking for a way to make this work. I was stuck. I learned a lot, just nothing to help with this build.

    I was about to give in and make him a static display. But, before I did that I thought I would troll the forum. Sure enough I stumbled on a video of a display with two pirate zombies fighting. The first pirate would “Stab” the second, The second would then would lean back, he would return to the original position and do it again. The builder used a wiper motor and wire to control them. That is when I remembered the guy telling me to “work backwards”. (Light Bulb moment here)

    I knew that I could build the arm with weight on the elbow so it would always want to “fall away” on its own. Then, I could use a wire to simply pull the head back! I now knew just what to do. I made a mock up to test my idea, sure enough it worked just as I pictured it. Problem solved, now I could get to work.

    I decided to place the deer motor on the base (this would save me from hacking into the blucky). I measured the deer motor and built a little “cover” out of scrap plywood left over from the base. I then put the deer motor in it and mounted it to the base (to help hide it I covered one side in Great Stuff and painted it to look like dirt.

    Building the Moving Arm
    The arm is made from PVC. I used two fence caps (pictured below) to make the joints (learned this trick on the forum), one for the shoulder and one for the elbow. I made sure the elbow joint would not move (It pivots at the shoulder). The PVC is secured to the caps by drilling a hole through both and bolting them secure. To secure the shoulder, I cut an area out of the Blucky’s shoulder so I could insert a section of PVC that came out from the shoulder joint, I drilled a hole in the PVC and ran the support dowel through it. For added security, I tied the PVC to the shoulder of the blucky with more floral wire.

    Building the Hand
    My next hurdle was how to secure the hat and head onto the hand. The answer was to simply extend the length of the wires I use to build the fingers with. The wires run through the hat and into the skull (hot glue them of course).

    I like to use Crayola Model Magic to build my zombie hands. It is easy to work with and easy to pose. I believe that the hands can really take a display to the next level, they ad emotion and “realism” so I always spend extra time on them.

    1) All the parts of the hand. Finger Digits, Palm and wire. The arrow shows where I already slid a digit over the wire. Note: I use to make all the digit’s a different size, but now they are all generally the same size, I no longer worry about them all being EXACTLY the same size. The only ones now that are different are the end of the fingers.
    2) Two fingers are posed, to mount the fingers, you simply insert the wire into the palm.
    3) Back of hand view
    4) Palm view
    The gaps can be filled in with Model Magic or even hot glue (I do this a lot to secure them into place better)

    Mounting the Hand
    To mount the hand, I used a ¼” dowel. Insert one end of the dowel into the palm and the other into the arm (secure with hot glue). For the PVC arm, I had to play with it a little. I got the angle I wanted and simply drilled a hole for the dowel to pass through and hot glued it in place. In the picture below, the hand and arm are mounted. You can see the black box where the deer motor is mounted behind the right leg. Notice how the hat rides low on the head, to move it up and to secure it, I placed sections of Model Magic in the hat.

    Running the wire
    I used Floral wire, It’s dark and thin, making it hard to see. The wire runs from the motor up the backside of the blucky and enters a hole in the back of the neck. To keep the wire from getting caught on the blucky or the clothes, I used a “C” clamp (they are used to hold tubing down) with a plastic washer on the inside to move the wire away from the blucky. I attached this to the base of the shoulders, just below the hole in the neck.

    The wire then comes out the hole at the top of the neck (the hole is made by cutting off the tab that the skull would snap onto). To prevent the wire from cutting into the top of the neck, I hot glued a washer over the hole. From there it enters the skull through the existing hole. The wire goes up to and out the top of the skull in a hole made from cutting away the plastic ring used to hang it. It then comes out the hat and is secured using a large nail driven into the hat, model magic and finally the skull.

    This is how it works: When the deer motor’s arm is pointing up, the weight of the PVC and Fence Caps cause the elbow to “drop” downward (it pivots at the shoulder), The wire now acts as a stop, limiting how far the arm will “drop”. As the motor’s arm turns downward, it pulls the head back. By ending the wire at the top of the hat all the pressure of the pull is on the skull. The process then repeats itself

    Making the “Dirt” on the base
    I see my zombies as coming alive each Halloween. They come out of the ground and do their “thing” (Chef, Butler, Kid Playing, Grouch scaring the kids for bothering him, etc). So, to help show this I use Great Stuff to simulate the dirt from the hole they came out of (and it hides the base). I use Rustoleum Camouflage spray paint as a base, I then paint in some dark areas (fresher dirt). To add to the effect, I hot glue some rocks onto it. I might add some moss this time. I spray the exposed base Black to represent the hole he just came out of.

    Here are the spray paints I used on the build

    Painting and Detailing
    With all the building and testing finally done, now came my favorite part. Painting and detailing. I believe that good detailing can really add to the display and bring it to “life”. I wash my Blucky’s to remove any grease and grime (an old trick I learned from painting models as a kid) and sometimes I sand them so the paint has something to adhere to. (Note: I took apart the display to paint it and then reassembled it)

    I used Valspar Satin Green Apple Spray Paint for the base color on the body. I try to make my zombies different colors, this not only stops things from being redundant, but it adds a little character to them. When I detail, I detail in no set manner. I just do it as I go along. If I don’t like something I just spray over it and start again. I mainly use my airbrush (I will dry brush once in a while too).

    This is my first build in which I used two shades of color for the detailing. The first was Createx Brite Green, then I applied Createx Forest Green, which is darker. I like how this came out and will be doing it from now on.

    On the hands, I paint the joints not only to hide the wire or glue but for effect. I painted the wire ends that went into the hat black to help hide them better.

    Once I’m happy with the detailing and weathering, I clear coat it. I stumbled onto this great clear coat: Valspar Clear Flat Indoor/Outdoor. What is so special about it? Well if you use it just right, it will leave a very fine layer of dust on the Blucky and the surface dries just a little rough, with an almost crystal like surface. To me this just adds to the effect. The reason the left arm is not attached in the photo below is that the jacket would not fit if it was.

    Note: I seen on Dave Lowe’s Blog a neat trick. He uses Great Stuff to simulate the intestines. I have not done this yet, but I will down the road (it looks really good on his displays).

    Making the eyes
    I have done several methods for the eyes and I must admit I love the epoxy trick. But on this build I wanted something different. I went to Hobby Lobby and found in the doll section the Plastic Eyes pictured below:

    I figured as the head moves, they might roll around. The eyes themselves were found at Hobby Lobby in the wood section. They come with a flat spot on them perfect for the plastic eyes. Both come in packages. I painted the eyes white of course and hot glued them together. I cut out the holes in the skull and hot glued the eyes to it.

    Distressing the clothes
    I figure that once buried, your clothes must rot. Even if they don’t, ragged clothes only add to the effect. So I replicate this by cutting up the clothes. I dress the display and decided where or what I want to expose. Normally, I like to show a joint, some ribs and an arm and a leg. I then use a pair of scissors and Grab the fabric in a bunch and cut it, This make the cut uneven and more natural looking, if that is possible. I then take the clothes off and use Gray Primer Spray Paint on the edge of the cuts, this works really well and adds to the look of decay. I also use the Camo paint on the clothes, hey, he just dug himself out of the ground, shouldn’t he be a little dirty? On this display, I cut the bow tie off the shirt and hot glued it to the neck. I think it looks better that way.

    Final Assembly
    I put the clothes back on and mounted the left arm. I used a section of ¼” dowel to secure the forearm. I ran the dowel from the arm into the chest. I hid the dowel with the jacket. I used sections of the ¼” dowel, inserting one end of the dowel into each end of the arms joint and hot glued them together, same with the hand. The towel is just a section of the shirt that I cut off. To make sure the clothes don’t get moved around too much, I spot glued different areas.

    Finally, I let the display sit for a week and then go back and look at it and touch it up. On this build I will:
    Add buttons to the vest
    Adjust the left hand to hold a tray full of fake candy.
    I’m also looking at lowering the neck. This should allow the head to better “rest” on it and give the arm greater range of motion.
    I might also add some moss to the ground and onto him. - Did this today

    Sorry for the length. I just wanted to cover EVERYTHING
    Making the world a funnier place, one blucky at a time

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  3. #2


    Great tut. Can't wait to see this bad boy in action.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Sevierville, Tenn.


    OH wow thank you for sharing

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Lindside west virginia
    Blog Entries


    Great tut.Wow deer motors have really went up in price the two I have I paid around 5.00 for them.They are few years old.

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Charleston, SC

    Default Where is he?

    I was just wondering if you were going to post a video, or at least a pic of him dressed out?

    Sounds like a great idea!

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    SK, Canada


    Pictures? Videos? Anything?
    "Well it's a shouting match you want, eh? Well game on, AAAH, AAAH, AAH, AH, AH, AH, AA-I'M BEATING YOU!"
    - Adam West

  9. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Beacon, NY


    Animatronic Zombie Butler Build
    Here is a picture of the finished version, I made a few little changes, I added a plate with fake candy bars on it.

    Making the world a funnier place, one blucky at a time

  10. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Beacon, NY


    Animatronic Zombie Butler Build
    This should be the video of an eariler version.

    Making the world a funnier place, one blucky at a time

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Martintownl, Ontario Canada


    Love it love it love it!!!
    "Every night to me is Halloween......"



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