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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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We've used mechanized dummies in our displays in the past, and I've always put them together. I like to create something life-size (or larger-than-life) rather than spend $ on something diminutive. But they've become readily available, not too costly either. How many here have them?
 

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Movement is sooooo much better than static props. Here is the first one I made a few years ago.......

This was while he was still in development.....



Then a couple years ago I built an electric chair. Again, this video was made while in development.....



I recently put together this coffin pop up for use this year...........



The first 2 props are triggered off home built motion sensors. The coffin jumper is triggered with a push button for now. Hope to have it automated for next year.
 

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Hell, I have everything all sizes, mannequins, mechanized, shiatsu, animatronics, home made, etc

Pain with Mannequins, they don't store well! same as mechanized, as you can't undo them. That is why you will never see a PumpkingRot or a MonsterMud Reaper at my haunt, they take huuuge space.

The nice thing with Animatronics, they ussually are compact and easily to assemble, same for home made props, I use lots of poles and chicken wire to make the bodies.

Also, think of weight, the more heavy the prop, the harder to store, as light boxes, can be easily staked.
 

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I have so many life sized animatronics I rotate them out on different years.

I use them in various displays such as my pit of hell, the witch's coven, the executioner and guillotine scene, man in a box, zombies etc. I really have to take stock this year!

With careful placement they can really add a scare factor or fun factor to your haunt. The kids love them!

Funny story...I had the over 6' tall executioner on my verandah, a little boy ran up and stomps and yelled at him saying "I'm not afraid of you! I'm not afraid of you!" and of course his stomping set off the executioner! He took off like a shot! His dad brought him back up the house (he didn't get his candy yet!) to show him it was ok. I usually have my hubby, one of my sons and another tall lad in costume. You never know what is real and what isn't real here. The movement and the voice of the prop was a perfect scare for a few kids that night!
 

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We have quite a few life-sized props... Mr Bones, our robotic pirate skeleton, his first mate (new this year) steering his sunken ship, Electric Chair Man... plus some smaller scares, like Jack (the rat) in a box. Check out our YouTube channel, as we have videos of all of them posted.
Storage is a huge concern with these bigger props, though, since you can't easily dismantle them. We at least took some of that into consideration when we built the ship steering skeleton prop... the wheel and skeleton come off the base so they can be stored seperately.
 

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The Big Kahuna of Fright
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Discussion Starter #6
Very little response here, I'm surprised more people aren't going the animatronic route. Our experience has been, they are the hit of the display.
 

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Soccer and Lacrosse Dad
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I think it really depends on the type of display people try to achieve We have several animatronics dispersed through our display. They range from store bought animatronics to homemade motorized props and this year I will be adding a few pneumatic props as well.
Either my wife or I TOT with our children so I like the interaction and enterttainment he animatronics provide.
 

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Well, not many people can afford them, remember, most are in the hundreds, even on special. I do agree, most are hits too in my haunt. Many also frown appon them, as THEY ARE COMMERCIALISED and NOT UNIQUE as HOMEMADE props. That is why I have a good mix, of homemade props, and store bought props. Also, I try to add things to my animatronics sometimes, making them unique too.

I think I am reaching my count of animatronics in the 20s this year. I am slowly assembling them.
 

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We've chosen not to have any actors in our haunt and rely solely on animatronics. I build my own as I enjoy the challenge and know my neighbor won't have the same prop. This year we'll have over 40 moving props or projections.
Storage of all of them can be a problem but I build them so they can be disassembled to take up as little space as possible.
Careful shopping can keep the costs down but it certainly is a huge factor. Learning how to design and build my own controllers has saved me a ton of money. I couldn't afford to run them all if I had to buy off the shelf controllers.
You can see many of our props on my YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/halstaff?feature=mhee
 

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I've built about 10 animatronics over the years. I started with the simple trash-can trauma (a one-cylinder pop-up) and built a couple of those to pop up from behind things.
This year I've got a pop-out eel (Elvis) with a spitter installed, a thrasher pirate, animated clams, at least one of those pop-ups - still putting stuff out...and one I've worked on for a while - a 5 axis tentacle ...

If you have the time they are not that hard to build - they might cost more than the Spirit type props but will outlast them by decades.

My pop ups were kits I bought. Not counting the compressor to run them they were very close to Spirit pop-ups prices.
 
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