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What's your budget and DIY skills? I haven't done the dog yet, but I did make this Caretaker using various parts and ideas I gleaned online. The head was sculpted by someone who posts here, I believe, though I did the paint job you see on my figure. I can tell you how I made mine, if you like. I am working on plans for the dog, but don't have anything solid in mind yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What's your budget and DIY skills? I haven't done the dog yet, but I did make this Caretaker using various parts and ideas I gleaned online. The head was sculpted by someone who posts here, I believe, though I did the paint job you see on my figure. I can tell you how I made mine, if you like. I am working on plans for the dog, but don't have anything solid in mind yet.

WOW, what a great job! AND it moves too!
YES, I have STRONG DIY skills, The MOST important piece is his head, that's tough to find!
HOW can you help?
John
 

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Hey John,

I'll hook you up this evening. The head is the most expensive piece here. There are cheaper options, but I REALLY wanted the right Caretaker vibe and while I am very crafty, I am NOT a sculptor. Likewise, for the other bits, there's "more expensive but easier" and "less expensive, but takes more time and skill" approaches. I'll try to convey to you what I can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey John,

I'll hook you up this evening. The head is the most expensive piece here. There are cheaper options, but I REALLY wanted the right Caretaker vibe and while I am very crafty, I am NOT a sculptor. Likewise, for the other bits, there's "more expensive but easier" and "less expensive, but takes more time and skill" approaches. I'll try to convey to you what I can.

YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!!! ;- ) Thank you so much!
I can build anything so dont be afraid to send me big plans!
 

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Alright... I'll start with an overview and then you can maybe hit me up with specific questions. I don't want to belabor any points that you don't need.

I think you're starting where I was... I wanted a HM Caretaker, more or less. That is, I wanted something that people would recognize as the HM caretaker if they were fans, but I was not worried about 100% accuracy. If you are, I'll point out where you can make changes if you want.

The head: This was an important detail for me since it sort of sells the character. Initially, I planned to get a wig head and then try and sculpt the caretaker's face on it. But I am not a sculptor and did not have high hopes for this! Another option was to get a decent "old man" latex mask and put it on a head, with some decent glass eyes, but again, that wasn't really the look and feel I was going for. I ran across this head on eBay. It's pricey for sure. But after I added up cost for materials and the fact that I'd probably screw a couple up on the way, I decided t take the plunge. Word of warning.... the paint job on the listing is WAY better than the one that my head came with. I mean, it wasn't awful, but it was far more basic. I wound up giving the head a complete repaint. Still, the head sculpt is outstanding, IMO. Haunted Mansion Caretaker Head Prop, !!!D23, Disneyland , Disneyworld | eBay

The frame: I've made PVC framed bodies before, and it's not hugely difficult. There are a number of approaches. In my case, I was deciding on the pose I wanted and the animation. I started thinking I wanted him posed as in the Mansion, with his hand resting on the shovel. In this iteration, only his head was going to turn. My wife suggested that since he will be something of a focal point, more noticeable movement would be nice, so, pull torso it is. The body frame can be modified to support either, easily enough. One challenge for PVC body frame is that PVC joints are usually only available in 90 or 45 deg elbows. If you look, you can find 22 deg fittings too. But the point is it really limits the poseability of the frame. In the past I've cut and glued PVC to get custom angles, but this is a PITA, and you are stuck with the pose once you have it, more or less. Still, is cost is an issue, that's a possibility. Instead, I went with Spiderhill Prop Works Spider Joints. Look here: Spider Joint-SJ-1

I use those at the shoulders, elbows, and forearms. You can use them on the hips knees and ankles too, but I did not need them, and I'm not sure that's a great idea depending upon the weight of your figure.

Spiderhill also offers animation hardware, like the windshield wiper motor and the DC speed controller. You can source all these parts yourself and save some bucks, but I would up buying their prop turner. Compact Prop Turner 2-CPT-2

If you have a few extra bucks to spare, you can order their Watchman kit. Animated Watchman (Basic Kit)-WATCH-2 Basic It has all the basic parts, though to build it the way I did requires 6 Spider Joints, instead of 4. The basic kit includes all the coupling hardware (but only 4 Spider Joints), and the real time saver is that the wiper motor is already mounted on an aluminum plate. I didn't go that route, but kinda wish I did, because I wound up basically copying their design and saved maybe $40. If you decide to take a crack at yourself, they offer some free plans! The basic watchman plans I modified are here: https://www.spiderhillpropworks.com/assets/images/Halloween Prop Plans/NEWWATCH2.pdf. But they have other designs worth looking at for inspiration. If you just wan the head to turn, you put the slip cross fitting at the neck. so that just the head turns. I did that design initially and can give details if that's the way you go. For the full torso twist like I did, just use the plans as they are. I modified the lengths they used to get proportions I liked better. I also added a Spider Joint in the forearm as a means of attaching the hands and refining the pose. I also later added spider joints to the ankles to better keep my figure as vertical as I can (the ground where he will be is slightly sloped). But that's not necessary if you ground is flat.

I used pool noodles to bulk up the arms and legs, and to add "trapezius muscles" This just takes a little imagination and and some glue and duct tape! The body is mostly bubble wrap and duct tape. Again, a little trial and error to get something that fills out the clothes acceptably. I used LOSTS of duct tape once I was happy with the shape.

Hands: Three possible routs here. 1) Sculpt your own. 2) Expensive but excellent silicone hands from a specialty shop. 3) modify cheap latex "halloween hands." 1) I knew I could not make convincing hands myself. But this is still and option if are good at that, or if you want to have him wearing gloves. I decided I didn't want that. 2) If you search for "poseable silicone prop hands" on Etsy, a few options pop up. These are awesome. And expensive. But a great option if you have the bucks . I chose Door Number 3. I bought some cheap stuff latex "halloween hands" on Amazon. They were around $15 as I recall. The exact ones I used are not there now, but there are some that are similar. I cut these at the wrist and pulled out the polyfill stuffing. I then made a sort of skeleton hand out of coat hanger wire. I fit this into the hand... with the wire finger going into the each finger. I then fill this with RTV silicone rubber (about 3/4 of the way). https://www.amazon.com/Silicone-Mak...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

After that has nearly set up, I push in a piece of Schedule 40 1" PVC into the wrist/hand and fill it up almost to the top and let it set up. I can give some tips on this process if you got this way. Once that's done, I painted the hands and mounted them. The fingers are now poseable and you can make them wrap around the bail of the lantern.

Lantern: I used one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Yinuo-Candle...uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

They are battery powered, but I used a battery adapter to avoid having to replace batteries too much. Like this: https://www.amazon.com/your-orders/...pmentId=TvH1LfXfY&packageId=1&asin=B0956BP2PL

The shovel was salvaged from an old prop that is not longer available. A real shovel would be way too heavy. Something like this would do, but there are often quite a few options when the season rolls around. https://www.halloweencostumes.com/scary-gravedigger-shovel-48-prop.html

The clothes just came from a local Goodwill. They were weather with a mix of gray and brown spray paints and given several heavy coats of matte clear coat to offer some measure of weather resistance.

I think that's the basics.... ask any questions you might have.
 

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This is the best Caretaker 'How To" EVER. Thank you. I rotate themes between Mansion, POTC, and Ghostbusters. This year is Mansion and I've gathered all the clothes and a couple hats. I was debating how I wanted to tackle the body, head, hands. Your details and advice is wonderful. I agree with both of your, the face absolutely sells it. Probably end up buying one, as I lack that type of skill.

Thoughts on the hat? In some years is been a sort of train conductor hat (Adult Navy Blue Engineer Train Conductor Hat Cap With Black Vinyl Brim | eBay) and other years seemingly extra tall baseball cap.
 

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This is the best Caretaker 'How To" EVER. Thank you. I rotate themes between Mansion, POTC, and Ghostbusters. This year is Mansion and I've gathered all the clothes and a couple hats. I was debating how I wanted to tackle the body, head, hands. Your details and advice is wonderful. I agree with both of your, the face absolutely sells it. Probably end up buying one, as I lack that type of skill.

Thoughts on the hat? In some years is been a sort of train conductor hat (Adult Navy Blue Engineer Train Conductor Hat Cap With Black Vinyl Brim | eBay) and other years seemingly extra tall baseball cap.
The hat seems like a weird kind of shako.... like a band hat almost. Something like this, but softer.... https://www.bandshoppe.com/~/pir/products/32630/32630_4.jpg

If you really want "ride accuracy" that's the direction I'd head. I did not need 100% ride accuracy, so I didn't sweat that.

I've seen people use a flat/snap cap and that can look good. I SERIOSULY considered a Victorian-style "mechanic's cap." This isn't exactly like one, but close and I think would look pretty great. I almost chose this. Jaxon Herringbone Wool Blend Fiddler's Cap (Medium) Charcoal at Amazon Men’s Clothing store

I ran across the cheap costume top hat that I wound up using on Amazon and I loved it. In my "story" the Caretaker thinks he's dressed kinda "fancy" as is appropriate for his position. It's very shabby, of course, but that's part of the charm. Here's the top hate I bought. Amazon.com: HMS Men's Bell Topper Hat 8 Inch, Brown, One Size : Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The hat seems like a weird kind of shako.... like a band hat almost. Something like this, but softer.... https://www.bandshoppe.com/~/pir/products/32630/32630_4.jpg

If you really want "ride accuracy" that's the direction I'd head. I did not need 100% ride accuracy, so I didn't sweat that.

I've seen people use a flat/snap cap and that can look good. I SERIOSULY considered a Victorian-style "mechanic's cap." This isn't exactly like one, but close and I think would look pretty great. I almost chose this. Jaxon Herringbone Wool Blend Fiddler's Cap (Medium) Charcoal at Amazon Men’s Clothing store

I ran across the cheap costume top hat that I wound up using on Amazon and I loved it. In my "story" the Caretaker thinks he's dressed kinda "fancy" as is appropriate for his position. It's very shabby, of course, but that's part of the charm. Here's the top hate I bought. Amazon.com: HMS Men's Bell Topper Hat 8 Inch, Brown, One Size : Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry
==================
AMAZING descriptions for the hats, THANK YOU!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright... I'll start with an overview and then you can maybe hit me up with specific questions. I don't want to belabor any points that you don't need.

I think you're starting where I was... I wanted a HM Caretaker, more or less. That is, I wanted something that people would recognize as the HM caretaker if they were fans, but I was not worried about 100% accuracy. If you are, I'll point out where you can make changes if you want.

The head: This was an important detail for me since it sort of sells the character. Initially, I planned to get a wig head and then try and sculpt the caretaker's face on it. But I am not a sculptor and did not have high hopes for this! Another option was to get a decent "old man" latex mask and put it on a head, with some decent glass eyes, but again, that wasn't really the look and feel I was going for. I ran across this head on eBay. It's pricey for sure. But after I added up cost for materials and the fact that I'd probably screw a couple up on the way, I decided t take the plunge. Word of warning.... the paint job on the listing is WAY better than the one that my head came with. I mean, it wasn't awful, but it was far more basic. I wound up giving the head a complete repaint. Still, the head sculpt is outstanding, IMO. Haunted Mansion Caretaker Head Prop, !!!D23, Disneyland , Disneyworld | eBay

The frame: I've made PVC framed bodies before, and it's not hugely difficult. There are a number of approaches. In my case, I was deciding on the pose I wanted and the animation. I started thinking I wanted him posed as in the Mansion, with his hand resting on the shovel. In this iteration, only his head was going to turn. My wife suggested that since he will be something of a focal point, more noticeable movement would be nice, so, pull torso it is. The body frame can be modified to support either, easily enough. One challenge for PVC body frame is that PVC joints are usually only available in 90 or 45 deg elbows. If you look, you can find 22 deg fittings too. But the point is it really limits the poseability of the frame. In the past I've cut and glued PVC to get custom angles, but this is a PITA, and you are stuck with the pose once you have it, more or less. Still, is cost is an issue, that's a possibility. Instead, I went with Spiderhill Prop Works Spider Joints. Look here: Spider Joint-SJ-1

I use those at the shoulders, elbows, and forearms. You can use them on the hips knees and ankles too, but I did not need them, and I'm not sure that's a great idea depending upon the weight of your figure.

Spiderhill also offers animation hardware, like the windshield wiper motor and the DC speed controller. You can source all these parts yourself and save some bucks, but I would up buying their prop turner. Compact Prop Turner 2-CPT-2

If you have a few extra bucks to spare, you can order their Watchman kit. Animated Watchman (Basic Kit)-WATCH-2 Basic It has all the basic parts, though to build it the way I did requires 6 Spider Joints, instead of 4. The basic kit includes all the coupling hardware (but only 4 Spider Joints), and the real time saver is that the wiper motor is already mounted on an aluminum plate. I didn't go that route, but kinda wish I did, because I wound up basically copying their design and saved maybe $40. If you decide to take a crack at yourself, they offer some free plans! The basic watchman plans I modified are here: https://www.spiderhillpropworks.com/assets/images/Halloween Prop Plans/NEWWATCH2.pdf. But they have other designs worth looking at for inspiration. If you just wan the head to turn, you put the slip cross fitting at the neck. so that just the head turns. I did that design initially and can give details if that's the way you go. For the full torso twist like I did, just use the plans as they are. I modified the lengths they used to get proportions I liked better. I also added a Spider Joint in the forearm as a means of attaching the hands and refining the pose. I also later added spider joints to the ankles to better keep my figure as vertical as I can (the ground where he will be is slightly sloped). But that's not necessary if you ground is flat.

I used pool noodles to bulk up the arms and legs, and to add "trapezius muscles" This just takes a little imagination and and some glue and duct tape! The body is mostly bubble wrap and duct tape. Again, a little trial and error to get something that fills out the clothes acceptably. I used LOSTS of duct tape once I was happy with the shape.

Hands: Three possible routs here. 1) Sculpt your own. 2) Expensive but excellent silicone hands from a specialty shop. 3) modify cheap latex "halloween hands." 1) I knew I could not make convincing hands myself. But this is still and option if are good at that, or if you want to have him wearing gloves. I decided I didn't want that. 2) If you search for "poseable silicone prop hands" on Etsy, a few options pop up. These are awesome. And expensive. But a great option if you have the bucks . I chose Door Number 3. I bought some cheap stuff latex "halloween hands" on Amazon. They were around $15 as I recall. The exact ones I used are not there now, but there are some that are similar. I cut these at the wrist and pulled out the polyfill stuffing. I then made a sort of skeleton hand out of coat hanger wire. I fit this into the hand... with the wire finger going into the each finger. I then fill this with RTV silicone rubber (about 3/4 of the way). https://www.amazon.com/Silicone-Making-Translucent-Platinum-Casting/dp/B099NX8X1L/ref=sr_1_4_sspa?crid=2M3ITUI8ZHRAL&keywords=RTV+silicone+rubber&qid=1651802799&sprefix=rtv+silicone+rubber,aps,99&sr=8-4-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExVVYzNU9BS1Y5WVo5JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwODEyOTg1MVFLSEZGMEc0ME8zVCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjg5NjU2MUNGT0hMR1RITjZBSiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

After that has nearly set up, I push in a piece of Schedule 40 1" PVC into the wrist/hand and fill it up almost to the top and let it set up. I can give some tips on this process if you got this way. Once that's done, I painted the hands and mounted them. The fingers are now poseable and you can make them wrap around the bail of the lantern.

Lantern: I used one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Yinuo-Candle-Vintage-Flickering-Operated/dp/B083BFT1JW/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=36L8QY41HO4DT&keywords=LED+flame+Lantern&qid=1651803020&sprefix=led+flame+lantern,aps,104&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUE3Sk1YNFVVT1RYSjQmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA5MDY3MTMxSVpJNTZVT0RMMjFCJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA4NDAzMjRTMDYxVDk0Tk45REgmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

They are battery powered, but I used a battery adapter to avoid having to replace batteries too much. Like this: https://www.amazon.com/your-orders/...pmentId=TvH1LfXfY&packageId=1&asin=B0956BP2PL

The shovel was salvaged from an old prop that is not longer available. A real shovel would be way too heavy. Something like this would do, but there are often quite a few options when the season rolls around. Scary Gravedigger Shovel Prop

The clothes just came from a local Goodwill. They were weather with a mix of gray and brown spray paints and given several heavy coats of matte clear coat to offer some measure of weather resistance.

I think that's the basics.... ask any questions you might have.
===============================================

Ok, you went way overboard for all of us! I AM SO IMPRESSED! THANK YOU!!!!!

Yes, I do agree if you want it to look great AND function properly you have to spend money.
I have plenty of time so I'll source them all out piece by piece.
I'm sure I'll have questions along the way. I'll take pictures at every stage and send to you. ;- )
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok people, with the amazing DIY advice from HauntedHoosier,
I sourced out all the accessories on Amazon so here ya go...

Conductor Hat -

Solar Lantern -

Rubber hands -

Green Scarf -

More info to come....
 

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HELP.... anyone know where I can find or build the Haunted Mansions CARETAKER & DOG?
Its for my Haunted Mansion Graveyard ! THOUGHTS?
Everyone has given you great advice for the caretaker (we did many of the same things) but no one has addressed the dog. This is not perfect but we are giving this a try this year.

We purchased a bony dog on amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00XW8LW4A/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and then we are covering it with a light fabric with some fur that we got from our local JoAnn fabric. We did add some painted eyes (ping pong balls) to fill out the face.

We also added a shaker to give the shaking feel of the pup. Vibrating Prop Shaker Motor

As soon as finished will provide pictures.
 
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