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Human Candy Shovel
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Easiest way to do the drop panel is to make it look like a boarded up or bricked over window, that way you can put in a sill and inset it into the wall without it looking unnatural. Personally, I'd do several panels like that with different posters, so you can move between them and "relocate" the drop panel at the drop of the hat.

Also, a pop-up scare in one of the trash cans would be nice.

Another interesting barrel scare would be adapting the haunted shovel. If you don't know what that is, it is simply a baseplate with a shovel mounted on a hinge, with a motor to push the shovel back and forth. Mount it in a trash can and use like a scrap piece of 2x4 and it will seem like something is moving around in the trash can and banging things.

I also discovered a dog exercise call lure coursing - a bunch of spindles are staked into the ground and an electric motor with another spindle is placed in line with the spindles, then a line is run around all the spindles in a giant loop. A lure is attached to the line and runs around the circuit for a dog to chase. I thought it would be an awesome way to automate something like rats running across a hallway, especially if you could embed the line in the floor and drag the rat along, kind of like a San Francisco cable car.
 

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I haven't done my alley scene yet (2 different themes to reuse stuff--one Jack Ripper London like and the other an alley walkway between buildings) but have been collecting items for the past several years. Here's some of what I have in mind. Apart from various rats, I've held on to rinsed out soup cans that I'll rust out. An old metal garbage can and crates. A few months ago I bought two of the feral cat props from Halloween Asylum. Video of it is on their site. It meows and hisses and it's mouth moves and one of it's eyes lights up. Kind of skin and bones zombie like. Plan to add scruffs of hair to it I think. What's an alley with out some screeching cats to scare you? CostPlus World Market had these faux sardine chocolate fish tins that I'm reusing with some skeleton rubber fish bones i got off of Esty (a heads up from someone on HF). Figure the cats can be quarreling over food scraps and helping to create an uneasy mood. Low lying fog, from a manhole cover or street drains, would add to the scene.

I also have these metal post like lanterns that I'll add some flickering lighting to. They are on a pole and will be turned into old style street lamps.
 

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The only problem with a popup from a manhole cover is that it would be way easier for most people to build a raised sidewalk area with street drain at ground level than dig a hole the size for a manhole cover with prop down below. If you were only adding a pvc pipe with fog coming from it, it wouldn't require much digging to hide the pipe. More likely approach would be the street drain where the street drain could have fog coming out of it or even have an arm or tentacle reach out from it for a surprise.
 

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Here's something else I can share from my plans. When I was in HomeGoods a while back I found these canvas wall hanging murals marked down for clearance. If you've been in HG you may have seen some of these back in their stationery aisle. Picked up this one called "Escape" which is of fire escapes on an apartment building done in blues and greens. It's supersized at 3 feet wide by 6 feet high. (it's the first image pictured on the site). I thought I could dimly highlight it in blue or green light as a panel at the far end facing the ToTers in my alleyway and give some depth to the area and make it look more like an alley. It's an idea that one could paint as well if you're up to the painting. Thought I'd add a fence of some type in front of the hanging near the bottom of it, with trash at ground level to blend it into the haunt scene and have the panel not end so abruptly.

The company that did the one I bought is Lot 26 Studio. They have a number of cityscape scenes. Felt I got lucky with this one for what I wanted it for. They sell these prints on Amazon and such. My HG store sold it reg at 29.99, can't remember what the clearance price was but you'll find these wall decal hangings priced all over the place. I love the size of this one and it's probably a better looking image than I could paint on my own.
 

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Human Candy Shovel
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1,107 Posts
The only problem with a popup from a manhole cover is that it would be way easier for most people to build a raised sidewalk area with street drain at ground level than dig a hole the size for a manhole cover with prop down below. If you were only adding a pvc pipe with fog coming from it, it wouldn't require much digging to hide the pipe. More likely approach would be the street drain where the street drain could have fog coming out of it or even have an arm or tentacle reach out from it for a surprise.
I was thinking more of a foam and hardboard prop, a manhole cover made of foam with a hardboard bottom the mechanism can bang against, and a large piece of foam done up to look like a square patch of cement or pavement the manhole cover sets into. A MIAB mechanism can be made pretty compact with a short stroke, so the hole doesn't need to be that large. if the piston arm is made of metal and some bits of chain are added to manufacture the metal on metal sounds, the overall prop won't be too large or need to big a hole. A pop up on the other hand, you're right, it would be a nightmare to set one of those up under a manhole.

Sometimes the collar for the manhole cover is mounted above ground. A sewer line runs through the open space I am a trustee of. a concrete block protrudes from the ground, with a foot tall metal collar mounted to the top of that, holding the manhole cover. Next time I'm over there, I'll take a picture and post it.
 
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