Current Ventriloquist Makers

As it would happen I was chatting with someone the other day and we got on to the topic of figure builders today and how scarce they now are to find.

If you want to purchase a true wood carved figure there are very few names which I can mention. First is Conrad Hartz. Great wooden figures in the traditional style but only available when he feels like building which is not many per year. Then you have Brant Gilmer who will build a great wooden figure for you but I believe you must get on his waiting list which is now about 2 1/2 years. Then Tim Selberg offers wooden figures but I am not sure if you can get one from him any longer. Ray Guyll used to produce wooden figures back in the 1970’s but again I am not sure you could get one from him today.

Figure makers that use the cast method are more plentiful or are they??? Tim Cowles has let his web site drop and I have heard nightmares from people unable to contact him to get figures ordered a while ago. Please correct me if I am wrong. Al Semok “The Dummy Doctor” is on leave from building for quite some time. That is a shame… Albert Alfaro seems to have disappeared from sight but usually reappears a couple months prior to ConVENTion and then at ConVENTion usually has a fully stocked selection of figures.

Kem Poyner is also on leave due to health issues and no one seems to know when or if he will be building again. Mike Brose is now building figures but has discontinued the sale of kits. I again do not know Mike’s build time but I do not think it is very long. Dan Payes creates figures that are unique and really push the envelope but for the past six months or so he has not sold on eBay and has been doing custom work. Bill Nelson of course sells figures but are far and few between. Dan Lavender is an up and comer in the trade. Steve Eisenberg also is relatively new in the trade. Lee Dunn & Greg Claassen produce McElroy style figures but again on a very limited basis.

Steve Barry and Kenny Croes have both shown that they can build full professional figures and Kenny has even now joined forces this Braylu and his creations are being sold as castings. Steve made a full pro figure of ME which is a member of the Ventriloquist Central Collection and I treasure it because he blew me away with how he captured my likeness. Both of these builders do like to make conversion figures which are nice but I still treat them as such, conversions. Clinton Detweiler and Kevin Detweiler also make superior conversion figures.

So what I am saying is that the selection of figure makers out there today has become very limited. And you also may have to decide on the wait time for some of the makers to do a figure for you. Just some thought from a collector thinking out loud.

Dan
www.ventriloquistcentral.com

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Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2010 by Dan Willinger

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This entry was posted in Ventriloquism/Ventriloquist, Ventriloquist Central, Ventriloquist Figure (Dummy) Makers, Ventriloquist Figure Building, Ventriloquist Figures. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Current Ventriloquist Makers

  1. Oh boy, did YOU just open a bucket of worms.

  2. I must add a name to current makers of wooden figures which I completely overlooked and that is Pastor Scott Bryte. He make some very fine wooden figures and a great line of little wooden comical figures and he has a few of the currently for sale on the Ventriloquist Central Marketplace.

  3. LeeDean says:

    The artists are out there. The problem is the medium. All artists want to create the piece, sculptured one way or another. Marshall used the duplicarver to try to save time. I still think there is a way to stamp out the figure with a machine, just like some balsa wood fishing baits are made which in essence are little puppets, and not turned from a lathe or duplicarved. Once that 21st century machine is invented which with one fell swoop can stamp out a head, then hands and feet, then change out an attachment to gouge out inside of the head with one fell swoop, for room for internal workings and finishing by the artist, then you will see a brand new medium and a figure maker making many figures in short time.

  4. Hey Danny,

    Although is may seem like I have “disappeared from sight” the truth is I have been very busy designing a new line of figures for 2010/2011. These guys will be very unique. I tried really hard to make these figures very special. I will be hitting ebay, with the first design very soon. I stopped selling on ebay to focus all my energy on this new line of characters. God bless, Albert Alfaro Imaginarium Galleries

  5. Dan

    Nice article.

    I have sold some parts to most vent makers and I will say I am seeing more new dummy makers each day. Most do not interact with many of the vent forums so they are really unknown.

    The trends we see are more makers than ever before. I can say this is due to the popularity of Dunham and Fator and the information that is out there like this website and information by Al Stevens and Mike Brose.

    Informative blogs such as Vent into the Mic (Kenny Croes), Clinton Detweiler’s and the many others out ther (Sorry not to name them all), have helped new makers get into the trade.

    I’m excited with the trend and all the new dummy makers and playing a part in getting them started.

    Buzz James – Braylu Creations

  6. Steve Barry says:

    I am in constant contact with do it yourselfers who are making their own figures. One in particular is Danny Countess, accomplished actor and entertainer. He has completed a figure which I will be putting on my blog.
    The do it your self information is out there and there are many figure makers like myself who are always willing to help in any way they can.
    Buzz James of Braylu has the best options for the do it your self people. Check out his site.

    Steve Barry Gepetto’s Workshop

  7. Sid is one of the last of Jack Coates figures to be made, I bought him when I was 10 years old for $500. Wouldn’t trade him for the world. Am retired from a 28 year year career of travelling. Thinking about coming to the VentConvention again to check it out. I haven’t been since 1982, I miss the fun and want to see Mr. DeMar. As a child he was my mentor and came by each summer and kept me brushed up on manipulation etc. What a great man. Bill told me about Jack Coates and his figures, I am very honored to have one.
    Sincerely,
    Sindy

  8. Kenny Croes says:

    I’m now primarily building figures from castings rather than making conversion figures. My first two characters, “Elmore” and “Uncle Earl” are now available on my website, kennycroes.com. Typical turnaround time is 3-4 weeks. Two more characters, a Cheey Boy character and a grouch named “Mr. Winkle” will be introduced soon, both made from neoprene castings. Though I’m not yet a full-time builder (I still have a day job), I’m a constant and consistent producer and seller of professional-grade figures. So please add my name to the list of possible places for ventriloquists to go when looking for an “imaginary friend”. Thanks, Dan.

  9. Robert McRay says:

    I guess this is where I should point out that I am still alive, and so are BIGHEADS (at least that’s what people keep telling me)… Heh, heh, heh.

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