The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » "Quality not quantity"? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2 [Next]
Dickens & Dave
View Profile
Inner circle
North Central Florida
1813 Posts

Profile of Dickens & Dave
Quote:
your group of figures is outstanding. Quality not quantity. Great collection.

I saw this posted in another thread and was going to comment there, but I did not want to detract from what that thread was about.
The quote was in response to a posting about a group of figures, most of which, if they weren't knocking on the 2000. door, they were close enough to wipe their feet on the welcome mat, more than likely, they were in excess of that mark.

This had me thinking I was in one of my guitar forums.
A common "battle" is always on between those who will only own and play a Gibson, or an American Fender, or some other high-dollar "boutique" guitar, and those who have no problem with the many lower-priced clones available. Those who play the high dollar guitars just blanket everything else as crap. Those who play the lower priced clones say the others are paying for a name, there's no need to spend 2 grand (or more) on a guitar.
Personally, I've always thought to each their own. My own experience - I've owned and played guitars on both end of the spectrum, and was able to get the sound I wanted out of a clone as easily as the higher priced "name" guitar.
Fortunately, most, like myself, know it's the skill the player brings to the instrument.

So what was all that about and how does it relate to vent? Because in the context of the thread, that statement showed a hint of the same type of attitude towards vent figures, one that I'm sure, many know about in the vent circles, but I am at least glad it isn't usually quite as blatant as it is in the guitar circles.
I know there are those who, if it isn't some vintage figure, or a carved figure, or a two thousand plus dollar figure that's going to take two years to be made, well, then anything else is just a toy - might as well be a vent doll from JC Penny.

Just recently I was talking with a couple of people about Lovik figures and how there's always been this undercurrent of an attitude towards his figures from some, usually either those building the "boutique" figures and/or those who favor them. I know this same attitude has been present towards some other lower priced makers as well, I think Lovik just stands out because he was able to get more figures out there.
And that, may be why I think the "boutique" builders have their biggest problem with Loviks (and others) - because he was able to produce and get their figures out there. His figures were an alternative for people who didn't want to take out a loan to buy a figure or wait forever for it to be made.

Now some could say the reason those "boutique" builders/buyers who have an attitude towards Loviks (and others) figures, is because they aren't the same quality - so okay, let's talk about that.

Artistically speaking, Lovik came up with his own designs, they were not just clones of earlier figuremakers. They had their own look, and from his earliest work to his last, you knew if you were looking at a Lovik.
Now granted, once he created a design, if he was doing it in wood, he probably duplicarved them, and all the molded ones, obviously that was a matter of casting more.
But the original designs took artistry to create.
And as far as using a duplicarver, or molding figures, he's no different from many makers, even the boutique builders when they are not building a custom order figure. And even on a custom figure, they are often starting with the same basic "mold" and then just making changes to make it "custom", that's why, like Loviks, their figures look like they come from that maker.

Then there's the figure mechanics. What is important when it comes to figure mechanics?
I would imagine most would share the same priorities I do when it comes to figure mechanics: Are they smooth? Are they quiet? Are they reliable?
I currently own a few Loviks, and have owned a few others in the past, and none of those priorities have ever been an issue with any of them.
Even his lower priced line I believe were called "Sidekicks", and if I recall correctly, only sold for about two hundred. I have one here, I've used as a quick-grab/practice figure. I've had him for more than ten years, he's never been in a case, sits out in the humidity of summer, dryness of winter heat, getting a little too dusty sometimes, and still, when I pick him up, even after very long periods of not being touched, everything works, and works smoothly and quietly.
How can it get any better than that?
I've had higher priced figures, where if they sat unused for a while, even in cases, when first getting them out, the mechanics feel somewhat sluggish from sitting.
And I have to admire his ingenuity, even with the "Sidekick", the parts are prefab, even the headstick, all designed to just go together quickly and easily.

So the Loviks have original artistry, smooth mechanics and are reliable - what else is needed to be a quality and usable figure? What could make a Lovik "less" than a figure costing many times the price? I don't know, I may be missing something.

Now I should make it clear, that in my "defense" (for lack of a better word) of Lovik's figures, it's not my intention to take away from the higher-priced figures.
I'm not trying to say they are asking too much for them. I used to build, mostly small figures and novelties, and even though they were smaller than "regular" figures, they still took a lot of time, maybe more because of either working in a tighter space or having to get creative in how it works. Each new design takes artistry, and even same designs reproduced take artistry, and they all take time, and generally speaking, the price you can get for them for the time put into them, leaves you making way less than a migrant worker. If someone has been able to gain a name and a following, and consequently, command a price that rewards them a little more suitably, great for them. If I had the disposable cash, I know there's a few I would have because I like their looks (right or wrong, that's my first priority when looking at buying a figure).
And for the buyers - hey, if that's the figures you like the best, feel the best working with, if you have and are willing to pay the price, great for you. Vent figures, to me, are a personal thing, you have to have one(s) that "speaks" to you (no joke intended) and feels right to you so it is easier for you to convincingly create the illusion.

Now believe it or not, there is a very important point to this little "dissertation", more important than "defending" lower-priced figures.
Personally, I don't care if someone else thinks my figures are total crap - not that I'm saying anyone has said that, I'm just saying it doesn't matter to me.
What does matter, what I would not like to see, is it being suggested to anyone, especially someone new to the art, that if they don't get one of the higher priced figures, well then, they are just wasting their time, they aren't taking it seriously. I wouldn't want them thinking they've GOT to have a carved figure, or a custom figure, etc., etc., in order to seriously practice the art.
What's important is getting a figure you can feel comfortable working with, that is reliable, one you feel you can create with and relate to in your efforts to create the illusion.
Vent figures, no matter what kind you use, are the ventriloquist's "instrument", and like I said about the guitars earlier, it's the skill the player brings to the instrument.
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Bob Baker
View Profile
Inner circle
1104 Posts

Profile of Bob Baker
Dave,

That's a fascinating and challenging post. The analogy to the guitar world is interesting, but since I don't know anything about that world, I can't comment on it. However, in my admittedly limited experience, I've not come across any puppet snobbery among vents. I don't know of anyone who judges a vent by his figure. Or the figure's maker, for that matter. It ain't the figure; it's what the vent does with it. Inexpensive figure or costly, all that matters is how the puppet and vent interact and entertain the audience. Period.

I can only speak about my own experience. My original figure (after my Juro Danny O'Day, of course) was a $300 Finis & Co., which I paid for by doing shows. He was all I had for almost 40 years. All my other figures I got for their looks; I agree with you that that's the most important characteristic for a figure. In some cases, I've seen a great figure for sale and thought I could create a good character for him/her. In one case, I had the idea for the character but could not find any stock figures that looked right. So I commissioned someone to work with me and create a character. I consider myself extremely fortunate that I was able to do that.

But when I see another performer, I couldn't care less who might have made their figure and how much it might have cost. I want to be entertained by great ventriloquism. I suspect this is true of most vents.

What do the rest of you think?

Bob
Servante
View Profile
Inner circle
1328 Posts

Profile of Servante
My original "Louie" was a reworked Jerry Mahoney. Lots of Celastic and wild fun fur hair, and we worked together for four decades. Then I spotted a Hartz figure who was a near-ringer for Louie, but was larger and carved from wood. I'd had Louie for so many years that people looked for him when I performed. The new Louie debuted a little over a year ago, and no one noticed. I have four 40-inch figures ranging in cost from $100 (an older Lovik living mouth considerably changed) to $1500.
Now, I can look at a family of Marshalls or Macks or Hartzes or...whatever and say, "Wow, quality!" And it's true. A family like this is impressive just for the display of craftsmanship and history. But the trick is that the figure must be able to "speak" to you...no matter who built it.
And I think people around here are mostly impressed because they know these histories.
Consider VentCentral...we're impressed because Dan has brough together all of that craftsmanship in one place. Or VentHaven. Some of those figures are tattered and shabby looking...but we revere them for their history.
But I've seen folks here praise homemade creatures, too.
It's about how you empathize with the character...how the character resonates for you...how s/he speaks to you, allowing you to speak easily for him/her.

-Philip
Ony Carcamo
View Profile
Special user
Manila, PHILIPPINES
610 Posts

Profile of Ony Carcamo
Jay Marshall made a legendary career with a white cloth glove and two buttons (Lefty).

It's not who made the figure or what it's made of but how the vent affects the audience with his performance with that figure/puppet. At the end of the day, the audience really doesn't care about the quality of our figures, but they'll always remember how they experience our show.
Ony Carcamo
PHILIPPINES

www.onycarcamo.com
Dickens & Dave
View Profile
Inner circle
North Central Florida
1813 Posts

Profile of Dickens & Dave
Quote:
On 2011-01-29 00:25, Bob Baker wrote:
However, in my admittedly limited experience, I've not come across any puppet snobbery among vents.

No Bob, fortunately, you won't see it much, as I mentioned in my post, it's not as common as it is in the guitar world - there, it is easy to find the brand/maker snobbery. In our little world, it's far from common or the norm, but it does exist. Although I will say, I've seen evidence of it fading, or else I just think it is because I was away from it for a while.
:stuckinbag:
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Wanlu
View Profile
Inner circle
Manila, Philippines
3058 Posts

Profile of Wanlu
I totally agree with Bob, Ony and Servante...

Ony's Jay Marshall example is the best!

Let me add Lamb Chops and Shari Lewis...

The puppet/ figure is a tool, it's not the act... but having a really dependable tool wont hurt.
And a dependable figure or puppet does not depend entirely on the maker but more on the user Smile
"The Old Path"
www.angdatingdaan.org

Wanlu's Affordable Puppets
http://wanlu.net/ventpuppets.html

Wanlu and his Puppets
http://wanlu.net
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
I've seen glimpses of it. Not so much against makers as particular figures. An ugly figure is an ugly figure.

Still, could you imagine what Achmed would be like if someone else originated the character with that figure? Definitely different. So it all boils down to the skill of the vent - not the maker of the tool.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
Matt_24
View Profile
Loyal user
208 Posts

Profile of Matt_24
David - wonderful analogy on guitars. I'm very familiar with the guitar world, as are a few of our members. I know that Dan is a long time guitar player/buyer. I've always preferred to own Gibson or Fender or Martin - but not because I didn't like the more inexpensive lines. In fact, I absolutely LOVE Blueridge Acoustic guitars. I don't own any guitars at this point in life, but if I were to buy a guitar just to play for fun - I would purchase a Blueridge.

BLUERIDGE made acoustics in the style of MARTIN acoustics that ran around $300. Well, the quality was so superb that now BLUERIDGE guitars can run up to a thousand or more for their high end model...which still isn't as pricey as a $14,000 Martin. Now - when it comes to electronics- it can be a different ball of wax. You run into the aspects regarding the quality of the electronics, pick-ups, etc, which translates to the sound coming out of the amplifier. The best thing you can always do is buy a cheaper body, etc, and if you're able - upgrade the tuners, pick-ups, switches, etc....and have an awesome guitar that is dirt cheap. But you'll STILL need a quality amp. I'd rather have an inexpensive guitar with a quality tube amp. I have a friend who repairs guitars for a living and he loves fixing up cheaper guitars into something great. He makes them play and sound like a dream.

Hey - my favorite guitar player and the man considered to be the best "rock" guitar player ever made his legendary Album Van Halen I with a $165 guitar that he built from scrap parts. Now, Fender sells replicas of this guitar for $20,000 each and they sell out. Go figure! Haha.

From a performance standard - I've seen many boring, sub-par ventriloquists with multi-thousand dollar Selberg figures. Guess what. They're still boring and uninteresting. I've seen Jeff Dunham pick up, perhaps the ugliest PAYES figure I ever saw (and I DO like Payes figures.....but not the one Jeff had..LOL) and have the room cracking up (myself included). A good vent can make anything talk - but it goes beyond that. A "good" vent also has funny material. In fact, that is a more important discussion than puppet snobbery I think. Are you funny? Do you have good timing? Can you tell a joke?

Look at Otto and George. George was made by a figuremaker in New York who made a lot of inexpensive figures. I want to say George Schindler - but that could be wrong. Anyhow, Otto has used George for 40 years...and that thing was as crude in appearance and function as they come. In fact, Otto now has a Selberg copy of George. David Copperfield bought the original George. Originally he probably sold for $150, but there is no telling what Copperfield paid, haha. Again, the point is...he made this crude dummy entertaining and a cult legend in New York comedy circuits. And yes, all he does is spit profanity and dirty jokes....but he's the best at it.

Anyhow, I've kind of wondered all over with this post - but I hope you get something from it. LOL
Steve at The Dummy Shoppe
View Profile
Elite user
479 Posts

Profile of Steve at The Dummy Shoppe
I totally agree. It is not the puppet/figure. It is the skill of the vent. Not knocking the puppet, but "Winston the Talking Turtle" is by any standard a pathetic little creation, yet in the hands of a Master, Winston turned in a literal million dollar performance. It is the heart and soul of the performer that makes the show.

Steve
http://www.thedummyshoppe.com
Vegasvent
View Profile
Loyal user
Phoenix
288 Posts

Profile of Vegasvent
I appreciate the analogy using guitars, as I have owned both. I have also owned low-end and high-end figures. Our society creates those differences between items that are less expensive toward the same type of item on the higher scale. What is the difference between a Timex and a Rolex? They both tell time. A Kia and a Rolls Royce? They will still provide transportation between point A and B and hopefully back. A Mobile home and a Mansion? You can live in both. There are such distinct dollar differences such as quality, workmanship, materials used, quantity made, collectibillity, rarity, who is using it, and so forth. The analogy wasn't about talent, it was the different makers. I've seen some funny stuff with a Juro and Lovik figure. But there is a difference in quality and design in comparison to a Selberg, or Marshall, or Dan Lavender etc. If you can afford it, would you rather have an item made on assembly line, or the same type item that is rare, handmade, maybe one-of-a-kind, with top notch parts, by a skilled craftsman?
Magical Phil-Kidzshow, LLC

"My Wife says that either all of my Stuff goes, or she does......" "Boy, I'm sure gonna miss her cookin'."
Matt_24
View Profile
Loyal user
208 Posts

Profile of Matt_24
Duane,

I think as a performer you must first decide on the voice, look, and type of character you want to use. Then order or find the figure that will work for your performance. If you are a collector, then you can collect, simply, whatever you love.
Dickens & Dave
View Profile
Inner circle
North Central Florida
1813 Posts

Profile of Dickens & Dave
Well put Matt.

Duane, I think you are heading for an "apples and oranges" discussion. Obviously, there's a difference between a mobile home and a mansion, or a Kia and a Rolls Royce, and those differences are painfully obvious, and the reasons for the price difference just as obvious. I'm sure we could name a lot of things where the differences are obvious.
But you lumping Juro, which all will agree are toys, and Loviks together demonstrates beautifully what I was saying about the undercurrent of attitude by some towards Lovik figures, which was a great deal of what the post was about.

As for what would I rather have, the assembly line or custom handcrafted - now we get to the other point of my post - it depends on what will do the job for me. If Selberg, or Lavender (we'll leave out Marshall, it's not like any of us can call Mr. Marshall and order a figure from him) were the only ones that made a figure that would work for me, then by all means, that is what I would get. Or if I were someone who having rare and one-of-a-kind was my priority, again that the choice is obvious. At the same time, I wouldn't have an attitude towards, and lump lesser priced figures in with toy dolls like Juros, or act like anything that isn't a custom one-of-a-kind isn't worth the time of day. But more importantly, and here comes again the other point of my post, I wouldn't want to give that impression to those coming into the art that a custom one-of-a-kind is what you've GOT to have.
Remember, the figures that Jeff Dunham is most known for (with the exception of Peanut) were all homemade.
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Vegasvent
View Profile
Loyal user
Phoenix
288 Posts

Profile of Vegasvent
No comment.
Magical Phil-Kidzshow, LLC

"My Wife says that either all of my Stuff goes, or she does......" "Boy, I'm sure gonna miss her cookin'."
Vegasvent
View Profile
Loyal user
Phoenix
288 Posts

Profile of Vegasvent
Nothing wrong with Loviks. No further comment.
Magical Phil-Kidzshow, LLC

"My Wife says that either all of my Stuff goes, or she does......" "Boy, I'm sure gonna miss her cookin'."
marshalldoll
View Profile
Special user
554 Posts

Profile of marshalldoll
Well guys I have to agree with everything. The puppet or figure is not what makes the act entertaining it is the ventriloquist. Without talent , practice and hard work the cost of the figure is irrelevent.

I do in fact play guitar and although I have some high end guitars, because of Matt, I have a Chinese Les Paul which is a fantastic guitar and can scream just like the real mccoy.

I also ride a Kawasaki Drifter motorcycle and it looks just like an Indian. I have pulled up to motorcycle gatherings and the Harley guys all pan the fact that it is a Kawasaki but when I ask them how often their Harley is in the shop the razzing stops. I then drive away with a smile.

I collect ventriloquist figures on all levels from the least expensive to the most expensive and I love them all and all have a place in the Ventriloquist Central Collection. I do have my favorites of course but all of them are my treasures.

I also dealt in antique clocks for 30 plus years and boy if there was a jealous bunch they were it. Always fighting.

The ventriloquist fraternity seem to be just about the nicest bunch. Everyone is there to try and help everyone else and when someone does get a new figure everyone else is happy for that person. That I fiund to be so refreshing. I myself have the best time when I am able to share my figures and what ever knowledge I have with everyone else. I just love this group of very special people.
Wanlu
View Profile
Inner circle
Manila, Philippines
3058 Posts

Profile of Wanlu
I agree with Duane's remark " No Comment" errr I mean with his next remark "Nothing wrong with Loviks"

No doubt about it, Lovik figures specially by Craig are collectibles and reliable tools for our craft.

And I also agree with last remark "no further comment" Smile
"The Old Path"
www.angdatingdaan.org

Wanlu's Affordable Puppets
http://wanlu.net/ventpuppets.html

Wanlu and his Puppets
http://wanlu.net
Dickens & Dave
View Profile
Inner circle
North Central Florida
1813 Posts

Profile of Dickens & Dave
Quote:
On 2011-01-29 18:24, marshalldoll wrote:
I also ride a Kawasaki Drifter motorcycle and it looks just like an Indian. I have pulled up to motorcycle gatherings and the Harley guys all pan the fact that it is a Kawasaki but when I ask them how often their Harley is in the shop the razzing stops. I then drive away with a smile.


Hahaaaa, I can relate. I've always been partial to Hondas, and when some Harley person has something to say, I just reply with, "my Honda will get me home".
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Matt_24
View Profile
Loyal user
208 Posts

Profile of Matt_24
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sySJL69sTB4

Check out this guy. He's using an old Lovik figure from the late 70's/early 80's. He's hilarious and his act would NOT be improved if that were a Selberg figure, or a McElroy figure because his talent gives that little dummy the funny character that we enjoy in the video. With that voice and skill and material - any figure he used would be pretty funny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8oMWxW0hl4

Look at Dick Weston's rather crude, home made figures...Aunt Martha and Clarence. Hilarious!
Ony Carcamo
View Profile
Special user
Manila, PHILIPPINES
610 Posts

Profile of Ony Carcamo
Those clips are great examples of quality performances. Thanks, Matt!
Ony Carcamo
PHILIPPINES

www.onycarcamo.com
Bob Baker
View Profile
Inner circle
1104 Posts

Profile of Bob Baker
Quote:
On 2011-01-29 15:18, Matt_24 wrote:
I think as a performer you must first decide on the voice, look, and type of character you want to use. Then order or find the figure that will work for your performance. If you are a collector, then you can collect, simply, whatever you love.


I think that's true much of the time. It's certainly what I did with Otis, my new African-American character. But at other times a figure strikes you, calls out to you, and you WANT it. That was the case with Archie P. Nelson. Bill Nelson sent me this picture:
Image


And the character was so compelling that I simply had to have him. I had never seen a character like that before, and I worked something out with Bill. Well, I've performed with Archie now about half a dozen times, and audiences seem really taken with him. I like to think it's his look plus the character I've created.

Regarding the rest of this thread, I think the take-home lesson is that everyone is different, everyone has different tastes, and, frankly, we tend to like what we have. Vent A has Loviks and loves them. Great! Vent B has Selbergs and would use nothing else. Fine! Vent C is a Hartz fan. Super! I'm partial to Nelson/Lavender. Good for me!

This is a really friendly, supportive group--more so than I've found on other vent and magic boards I participate in. And we like different things. So let's respect each other's likes and tastes, not turn up our noses at anything, avoid snobbery and reverse snobbery, and celebrate the fact that we, through our talents, are bringing laughter to lots of people. And that makes us special. [Boy, I hate that word, but we are.]

Bob
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » "Quality not quantity"? (0 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.28 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL