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Topic: Another vent figure question...
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (May 3, 2004 04:10AM)
Hi folks,

I really enjoyed reading what you all had to say on the best vent figures topic.
I have a couple of questions -
Firstly - I have never used a vent hard figure (only puppets)and as far as I can tell there are 2 types of mouth, 'The slot jaw' (with the lines on the figures face) and the mouth without the lines, where the figures bottom lip only seems to move.
It seems to me that the second would be more of an aid in creating the illusion of life as the face is more realistic. But, I would like to know your opinion and also the benefits and pitfalls you see in each type of mouth.
Secondly, I'm wanting to start off relatively inexpensively and I have been looking at the 40" Maher figures, in particular, Comical Clyde or Cody.
You can look for yourself here - http://www.maherstudios.com/profigures.htm#Professional%20Figures%20-%2040"

Has anyone had experience with these figures and if so how do you find them re- mechanics, workmanship etc.

I greatly appreciate your time and your help.

Many thanks
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (May 3, 2004 08:17AM)
I canít offer any opinion over the two types of mouth. I have always used a slot jaw figure. Frankly the audience knows that itís a figure and your animation of it creates the illusion of life. I think that the bottom line with jaw/mouth type is just a matter of taste.

I have a Maher 40 inch professional figure. My figure is a discontinued model. Look at the 40-inch Jerry and you will get an idea of what mine sort of looks like.

It is well made and works like a charm. The mechanics are smooth functioning and reliable. The levers are well set-up and easy to handle. Maher makes a good figure. All figures come with a round neck socket for ease of handling the head (pretty much the industry standard regardless of make), moveable mouth, and moveable eyes.

My figure has several of the all the options available. It has the side to side moving eyes that are self-centering, the winkers/blinkers, raising eyebrows, flapping ears, and the flat bottom so that it can sit without fear of it falling over (heís sitting on a box watching me type this!).

Interestingly the teeth and mouth have been carved in such a way that you can get a closed mouth, an upper teeth smile or a full (upper and lower mouth) smile. It only takes a slight movement of the controller to get the effects.

Right now he is gathering dust, as I am not doing any ventriloquism. If you are interested I could give you a good deal. You could have him for the base price of the 40-inch figure plus shipping. That means you are getting all the options at no cost.

I also have the old and beat-up (but still serviceable) travel case.

PM if interested.
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (May 4, 2004 06:01AM)
Hi Billy,

I have a Comical Clyde type figure, but I got it not as new. The seller said that he bought it direct from Craig Lovik, the figure maker, who used to sell the figure to Maher Studio. But I heard that Craig Lovik didn't make figure any more and also heard that his son still do it. Any way you can trust Maher Studio about their product, because they have very good reputation in ventriloquism business.

My figure arrived with stuck jaw, if I opened his mouth too wide. But after I sand it a little in the jaw area, it is OK now.

About slot jaw and living mouth. Most living mouth use a leather to cover the hole below bottom lips. This leather after aging, should be replace with another and of course need new painting patch also. And most of the living mouth figure is from paper mache, not wood or composite.

BTW Harry offer a good deal, if his figure meet your figure character in your mind.

Hope this help.


Budi Ha Ha
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (May 5, 2004 01:14AM)
Thanks to Harry and Budi Ha Ha for your respnses, they have both been very helpful.
By the way Budi, I love the Orangutan.

Message: Posted by: Budihaha (May 6, 2004 04:19AM)
You are welcome Billy!

Orangutan real habitat is in my country, Indonesia and one of the world endanger species. But my Orangutan is from Axtell http://www.axtell.com

If you consider to buy soft figure, please take a look to Axtell's figures. The audience love Axtell's figures just on their first sight.


Budi Ha Ha.
Message: Posted by: Jimeuax (May 8, 2004 11:58PM)
Hey Billy!--Howsit goin'?---In regards to the type that the bottom lip only moves---that is called "the living mouth type"----WELL the problem is---when you talk your jaw DOES MOVE and not just your bottom lip---look in the mirror---SO they are really not as realistic as the slot jaw-----cheers!--Jimeuax
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (May 11, 2004 08:19AM)
I have been a ventriloquist for as long as I have been a magician which is about 35 years. I have to say the slot jaw, in my opinion, is the best because it is easier for the audience to see the mouth move instead of just the bottom lip. If your audience is far back it will be more difficult to associate the voice coming from the figure with just a bottom lip movement and just like Jimeaux elaborated on you don't just move your bottom lip when speaking. You might also want to check out the line of MONSTER PUPPETS on our website at http://www.fabmagic.com

Best of luck to you.Rick Fisher
Message: Posted by: Boat (Jun 20, 2004 06:43AM)
Hi everyone

I have a cheeky boy type of head that I got in England many years ago. However, what I need is a body. Anyone got any ideas on where to get a cheap one?


Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Jun 20, 2004 08:03AM)
The Maher folks (link above) repairs and builds figures. They will probably build you or sell you a body for your figure. However, the body is so very easy to build compared to the head that you should just do it yourself. Hands can be bought unpainted from several sources.
Message: Posted by: Boat (Jun 20, 2004 01:56PM)
Thanks a lot, Harry. Do you know where I would find info on building a body? Books? videos? etc?


Message: Posted by: Budihaha (Jun 21, 2004 04:17AM)
The best figure making book, in my opinion, is Mike Brose's book, "Figure Making Can be Fun!" The website is http://www.puppetsandprops.com/home.html. Mike also sell vent figures parts, such as head, body, hands, feet, and so on.

If you need more simple book, Maher Studio have one. The title is Make Your Own Dummy.

Or you can try to read free figure making info from

Hope this helps.


Budi Ha Ha
Message: Posted by: Boat (Jun 22, 2004 09:48PM)
Thanks Budi for your help. I will check out those figure making books. The Brose book sounds good.

By the way I bought an Axtel bird puppet many years ago and it's till in A-1 shape. The audiences love it.


Message: Posted by: harris (Jul 16, 2004 11:10AM)
Over the years I have switched to soft puppets.

They don't last as long, but with care you can get many many years. I have bought duplicates for i.e. Nigel (Folkmanis right off the shelf).

"He" really helps sell the show.

I used to close with him. Now I open and close with him.

Last year, he found his nearly normal Grandfather.(Papa Charlie)

Rick, I really enjoyed your lecture for the S.A.M. Assembly 38 a few years ago.