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 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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