Starting a group isn't hard. Get the people together for a social and see who has space. If no one does, talk to local schools about renting a classroom. Most will. Especially if they already have a staff member at the school for another event. I setup a computer class for grandmas'n' pas to teach them about computers. Talked to the local school about using their computer lab. Said I'd pay them $10/attendee. School said not necessary. Arranged it on a day teachers had their meeting so no one had to come in special to open the classroom. Charged the attendees $10 and donated it to the school.
Moving props are scary. It wasn't until I joined CHC that I got into it. I still don't have an FCG. Not that I'm afraid. We just keep building cool props and I forget lol. Hardest part about pnuematic animatronics is welding. We tried wood and it just came apart. Some props we've made have even broken welds. But, that's just because Toby (Haunt31.com) runs his pnuematics all month long and gets hundreds of people each night.
Surround yourslef with people of different skills and collaborate. That's how we build a pnuematic prop in a single weekend for 18+ people. Each person has a job and we just factory line it. Toby understand pnuematics and has the sources for the supplies. I'm the sound guy. Another member is the microcontroller guy. One is awesome at welding. One has a machining shop. One has sewing skills. Etc.
We meet at the beggining of the year (either in person or through yahoogroup and discuss what to build. Each person is assigned a task (usually with 2 or 3 people working the same task to prevent "real life" from stopping that part). We set a date, collect money from everyone involved, parts are ordered and we gather and crank those puppies out. It's a very cool group. We also do social events and visit graveyards and haunted bars and hotels and the like.
Tuesdays are pretty easy. They've kinda GROANED on me .
Ooooh - I wish I was near Chicago!! The Haunt Club sounds like so much fun. I was hoping to start a Cincinnati Prop Builders group this summer - but we have no space at our house.... So it would rely upon a dry spell and tents in the driveway - or maybe a local church would let us use space. ha ha - like THAT would ever happen ("Oh by all means - feel free to use our Bible study rooms to build your skeleton, ghouls, ghosts and vampire devil props. Be sure to stop by and say hello to God on the way out!") LOL
Anyway - reading your list - sounds like you have some wonderful props in store for this year. I have yet to embrace the "moving parts" ideas. We rely upon the wind and fans at this point! hee hee. I may need your advice on the 'DMX" thingy. and light stuff. We also need to improve our lighting. We do have an FCG we put up in the garage window. Kids really love it. And last year we ran Hallowindow DVD's in the upstairs bedroom windows. It took some more complicated set up - but it looked awesome! Will love to see your paper mache pumpkins. That is another dream of mine. . .
Hope your Tuesday is groaning along nicely -- oops , I mean GOING along nicely!! Halloween 2010 ~ here we come! BOO!
*SIGH* not yet. I'm starting on paper mache pumpkins and all new solar powered lit-from-within-tombstones and a 3 axis skull. but, I'm having trouble staying motivated. I have a convention this weekend and that's my last excuse. Then I have to get serious. We'll see how much i get done. I'm also hoping to get some pvc ghosts made and maybe a floating lantern. Oh yeah! i do have a prop almost done. The Chicago Haunt Club got together and built some of the moving groundbreakers. I spent a lot of time developing the soundsystem for that and recording the soundtrack for it. It's looking cool. I need to get some paint for the latex head I bought for it and finish it up. Maybe I can get that done next weekend and finally get a pic of something up lol. If you want to see previsou years though, you can check http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v414/shadowopal/Halloween/ password is halloween .