(Close Window)
Topic: Need new Vent figure head
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Sep 21, 2011 09:23AM)
I bought a "Wubble" from Craig Lovik years ago. The latex in the head/neck have deteriorated. I contacted Keith Lovik but he returned only one of my several E-Mails.I contacted Steve Axtell and he said it needs to be replaced. He could do it but it would be very very expensive and advised to get a new figure.I have 2 of Steve's puppets but my physical condition makes it very difficult to operate them.So here is my question. Where can I get a vent figure that has the controls on the stick with a latex type head? I love Clinton Detweilers work but his figures are wood. Please help.
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 21, 2011 09:52AM)
Wow, you may have a problem there. I'm pretty sure that Lovik's Wubbles were pretty unique, I don't recall ever seeing any other latex figures with a headstick besides those.
While I knew a couple people who had them at one time, I've never got to look at one up close to see how it works, so I can even suggest how to maybe transfer the controls from that head to another.
Steve might have thought you wanted him to make a duplicate of the figure as it is - maybe ask if he could transfer the controls from your wubble head to one of his puppet heads, maybe just doing that wouldn't be as expensive. Can't hurt to ask.
And maybe contact Clinton, maybe he could do that, transfer the controls to one of the Axtells you have.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 21, 2011 10:44AM)

We have begun experimenting with some of what you are talking about within the world of soft sculpture, but I can tell you it probably would not work to try an transfer from one to another. I would think that the latex or soft controls have to be custom fitted to that charactor to work properly. We are not real far down the road having only been experimenting with just a couple, but there would definately need to be some serious modifications done to make it work.


Message: Posted by: CaptKirk (Sep 21, 2011 11:26AM)
Rev Bill: since it doesn't appear that Steve will be able to work his normal magic and help you out of this dilemma, I'd second the suggestion of contacting Clinton at Maher Studios and see what he can do or IF he can assist. I know he can work absolute wonders when restoring traditional vent figures but I don't know how much experience or expertise he has working with latex puppets. Once the rubber starts deteriorating,there's not much can be done to patch or splice it back into something acceptable as far as I know. Best of luck on getting your problem solved!!!
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 21, 2011 12:01PM)
Steve, obviously some modification would be needed, no doubt the headstick and controls were made for those specific heads, but it's about the only possible option I can think of since there is currently no one else, that I know of, that is making anything similar. I can't imagine it being too complicated a mechanism that might be beyond modification to fit another head. Of course getting something as close to the same as the old head as possible would help.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Sep 21, 2011 12:09PM)
Steve Axtell has Fred the Chicken with a headstick and another character also with a headstick. Maybe Steve can do the same magic with one of his human puppets. :)

As for Steve and Jet, I wont be surprised if they can make a soft puppet with a headstick... They really do great work!

Another soft puppet maker I recently got in touch with is Lunas Puppets. I plan to get one of their dogs. Interesting work! I'm not sure if they can help you, but it could be worth the try. :)
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Sep 21, 2011 04:30PM)
I E-Mailed the Dummy Shoppe not knowing that they were already responding to this post. Do they use the stick control on their soft head figures?
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 21, 2011 05:06PM)
I don't think they are now, according to his post above, they are experimenting with it.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 21, 2011 06:36PM)

I'm sure you have thought it through, but the real headache in such an endeavor is that with a traditional figure you are able to work off of a solid platform to mount your control devices. Soft on the other hand, by its very nature, has nothing solid to work from and therefore the head wants to collapse each time a control is manipulated. That was the biggest obstacle we encountered and even more than genetics may be why my hair is so thin on top until we figured out how to create a substitute solid platform for mounting our moving eyes about a year ago. Even at that, because the Vents hand has to be in the head, the "real estate" is extremely valuable and hard to come by. We have been able to do side to side moving eyes well. We can do blinkers well. We have not yet gotten to do blinkers and movers in the same head because the mechanical solutions we have discovered take up so much room that there is not room for the Vents hand inside the head.

I still lay awake at night pondering ways to accomplish this, and I am confident that we will eventually find a way. Just not there yet.

As to servo controls, we recently did a baby dinosaur for a customer using the $400.00 unit available from Luna's Puppets. It is a well thought out unit and works wonderfully for 360 moving eyes and blinkers. The hand space is a little tight, but it is workable.
My biggest concern is that (we did not find out until we were complete) the radio frequency that they use is now a major no-no with the FCC (or so I've been told by someone in a capacity to know) Some folks in Hollywood have been incurring a 12K fine/day for using said frequency. That is not something that I am willing to place a customer in the path of, so for now, we will not be using any more of that device.

The second problem is that the radio transmitter is the same type as you would use if you were at a Radio Controll field with an airplane. Much too big for stage work. Works great, but impossible to disguise. We got past the size issue because out customer is doing puppet stage work, not Vent, and could keep the radio down behind a curtain.

We are currently working with another firm with some tran/receiver devices that have eight channels and fit in the palm of your hand.
I see a lot of potential there, but a limited market because the electronics are going to run about 1,200 per puppet. In time as they become more cost effective, their usefullness will go up considerably.

Phew. . .I will shut up for now.


Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Sep 21, 2011 07:22PM)
I don't need blinkers, or any of the bells and whistles. I just need for his mouth to open and close controlled by a stick.
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 21, 2011 07:38PM)
Steve - I don't know about all those animatronics and stuff, but these wubbles that Rev Bill asked about, I'm guessing you're not familiar with them - they only had moving mouths, so there wasn't need for a lot of "real estate" for assorted different mechanics, just a mechanism to move the mouth only.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 21, 2011 08:06PM)
Ok. that's a no brainer. We've already done that on a couple, so that would be an easy fix. I'll work out something with Rev. Bill via email if he is so minded. You are basically just talking about a trigger mouth.


Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Sep 28, 2011 07:50AM)
Careful Bill, Steve is just itching to put some kind of automatic gizmo in a figure to complete his experiments, you may have to rename your figure Frankenstein when you get it back from Steve
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 28, 2011 08:51AM)
Rev. Bill,

The last comment smells a bit like a rat. So far among other things our "experiments" have produced some great results. Here is a short private video we did for the client, of a stick puppet that was done for stage work. His stick is intentionally quite long since he will be controlled from below the edge of a curtain. His name is "Professor Rat" though and not "Frankenstein" although that may disappoint some of our resident experts.



Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 10:04AM)
That's probably along the same lines as the Wubbles, except they were latex and the stick was shorter so you could have your hand in the body.

And what's wrong with Frankenstein? He was just misunderstood. :)
Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 28, 2011 10:13AM)
I'm sure it was just a joke.
As for wubbles...hey, wasn't there recently something about them over on Clinton's site. I've seen something somewhere recently.

Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 10:20AM)
I don't recall seeing a post about the Wubbles on Clinton's site, but my not recalling doesn't mean much....he might have mentioned it a post about an old catalog or a couple posts where he mentions Lovik.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 28, 2011 10:21AM)
I checked up through the beginning of last month and didn't find anything. Saw something somewhere, though. It's hell to get old and forgetfu...what was I saying?

Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 10:22AM)
I don't know, I forgot since I read it a second ago....
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 28, 2011 11:55AM)
Wubbles are what started this thread!! :)


Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 28, 2011 12:17PM)

Maybe that's where I saw it.

Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 12:56PM)
Why are Abbott and Costello coming to mind?
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 02:06PM)
Chuck Lyons sent me a picture of a Wubble for this thread;

Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 28, 2011 02:23PM)
Thanks Dave !
Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 28, 2011 04:43PM)
Okay, so...it's a rubber or vinyl puppet...but instead of a hand in it to operate the mouth, there's a mechanical framework, with a stick and a lever at some distance below. Hm. Interesting idea. One can almost see how to build something like that. So the advantages would be: Lighter weight than a standard vent figure...perhaps more flexibility of the face, depending upon the sophistication of the framework within. Hm. Interesting. Wonder why nobody makes these things any more.

Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 06:06PM)
I don't think you get any flexibility of the face, the control opens and closes the mouth, that's it.
I don't think they were overwhelmingly popular, they didn't last long in the catalog. People either want a figure with controls for the eyes, etc., or the want the flexible figure they can put their hand in and get more expression out of it (this is all generally speaking of course).
Now if someone could come up with one with a latex head and could have moving eyes, mouth, blinkers, and on a control stick, that might have more appeal, but I doubt that's really feasible.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 28, 2011 07:23PM)
You are on the right track Dave, only it will be in soft not latex. All the features you mentioned, moving eyes, mouth blinkers, eyebrows, possibly wiggling ears, are all coming soon to a maker near you. All on a stick. I am going to guess that withing 3-4 months we will have them available. That is nothing more than we have now, just everything will be controlled on a stick. For the old school folks that can't live without their stick, I think the possibilities are as big as your imagination. One thing we don't have now is moving eyes in the same puppet as blinkers. We can do one OR the other, but the space constraints have eluded us on both.
With the stick, space won't be as restricted.

I'll tell you more as it becomes available.


Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 28, 2011 09:16PM)
It sounds interesting, guess it's more feasible than I thought. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 28, 2011 10:19PM)
Yeah...I mean, I immediately began thinking about the Snap, Krackle and Pop rings you got in a box of cereal way way back when I was a very little kid. Each ring had a soft foam face. A bead below the chin could be turned, and the face with go through a series of grimaces...then combine that with the kinds of workings I've seen in prosthetic hands as well as mechanical movie "monster" puppets...and...hmmm. It could make for an interesting vent figure with a flexible face. Anxious to see what you've come up with, Steve. And, of course, keep Rev Bill in mind! :)

Message: Posted by: creativemac (Sep 29, 2011 12:55AM)
All I have to say is, "wubbles wobble but they don't fall down."
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Sep 29, 2011 04:51AM)
I am sure glad that I didn't get knocked out of this thread since I started it. You guys hit it right on the head. (latex head,soft,wood,doesn't matter as long as you hit it). I am excited about what the Dummy Shoppe has in the works for the future. I will just have to be patient. Thank you all for listening.
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 29, 2011 05:30AM)
Hopefully somewhere in there, someone is going to be able to help you out with your wubble.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 29, 2011 08:46AM)

Can you give us a little insight as to the most versatile setups on a stick. What finger is best for what control. We are assuming the thumb is the mouth. I know there is no set standard, but we would welcome input from everybody on the most popular arrangement.


Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Sep 29, 2011 09:14AM)
Jim just asked about this in the New basswood head carving thread, Keith had posted this;
"I asked Alan Semok to set up my new dummy the way I prefer, and he said that that would be no problem. I asked him how many prefer the different set-ups, and he told me that about 50% of his clients prefer to control the mouth with the thumb and 50% prefer to use the index finger. He also said that most Marshall figures were set up to have the mouth thumb-controlled."
So it looks like it could go either way. I've never been particular as far as buying a stock or used figure, but if I had one made for me, I would probably go with the thumb for the mouth.
Message: Posted by: Steve at The Dummy Shoppe (Sep 29, 2011 09:31AM)
Thanks Dave


Message: Posted by: Servante (Sep 29, 2011 10:17AM)
I've got figures set up both ways. Thing is, if you use two figures at once, it's good to have the control designed so it can be used comfortably with either thumb or finger, just in case the order of your routine changes. Sometimes that's a little tough if there are other controls as well.

Message: Posted by: damien666 (Sep 29, 2011 07:16PM)
The wubblrs heads (if I recall) moved in a strange way...
Didn't the TOP of the head move up and down while the jaw
Was static??
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Oct 9, 2011 04:46PM)
"Didn't the TOP of the head move up and down while the jaw Was static?? "
That is correct. Index finger control on the stick. The lower jaw moves very little. --Rev.Bill
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Oct 9, 2011 05:20PM)
I do not know how to fix latex vent figures. So tell me if this will or will not work. 1. lift up the glued wig from the back of the neck. It is coming loose anyway. 2. Make an incision thru the back of the head to get to the inside. 3. Fixate a "beanbag: type of material into the lower jaw to expand it to a fuller face look. Its kind of like what Marlon Brando did to play the Godfather. If you think this will work and you can do it let me know.--Bill
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Oct 14, 2011 08:05AM)
Does anybody have any response?
Message: Posted by: Dickens & Dave (Oct 14, 2011 09:17AM)
I sure wish I had one for you, but while I was generally familiar with what a Wubble was, I don't know anything about latex, other than once they were worn out, that was it. That's why I stayed away from anything latex, I didn't want to depend on one and then be without it or a way to replace it. I have a couple small latex puppets, also Lovik products, I use very sparingly since they can not be replaced.

I sincerely hope someone in here can come up with some answer for you.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Oct 14, 2011 09:20AM)
You know, Bill...I don't think it will work. I THINK I understand the nature of these wubbles: thin(ish) latex, right? Probably slush-molded. Latex begins to degrade from the moment it dries. Any cast-latex puppets I've had in the past I don't have any more, but I have dealt extensively in latex prosthetics and masks for theatre. They degrade and rot and begin to shrink over time. I MIGHT have one muppet-style latex puppet in a box downstairs. If I do, it'll be somewhere over forty years old. I should seek it out and see how it's fared. I have, however, had latex masks that have only lasted, perhaps, twenty five years or so before shrinking, rotting and going crispy around the edges.

If I haven't fully understood the composition of a wubble, I apologize. This must be very frustrating for you.