Controversy over the size of ventriloquist figures is a constant item of discussion. The standard for most figure builders is a 40″ tall figure but there is nothing that puts that in stone.
The performer has to decide the type venue he or she will be performing in and the size of the figure will then be apparent. You certainly would be hard pressed to do walk around for hours with a full size figure. And on the other side of the coin it is very difficult to perform on stage with a very small figure.
I know that there will be some controversy when I say this but for me I happen to like the full size figures best but that is because I am a collector but I have them , in the collection, in just about every size and I like them all so for me it just really doesn’t matter. I say get the size figure that fits your particular needs.
What’s your favorite size?
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Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan 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. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2015 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst
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I love my small Marshall (Rickie Tik) figure. He is originally around 34″ but I now use shorter legs and arms, making him around 30″. He looks more “cartoony” which I like. Perfect for walk-around gigs.
Do I use him on stage? Of course! I use him even for 500-600 audiences. Marshall figures’ mouths open really wide so it movements can still be seen from afar. Now for audiences bigger than these, most venues provide big screens in the venue, so figure size is not an issue.
Remember, Jeff Dunham regularly uses his very small Little Jeff figure in all venues he performs in, thanks to the big screens.
i like the larger figures for a couple of reasons. 1) as a maker I find it a lot easier to get my big hands inside to do the mechanics. Have made smaller figures and it’s just more difficult. Requires smaller eyes which are harder to get ones that are well made.2) I think a bigger figure just has a better stage presence. With a larger figure the audience is more apt to be looking at the figure than your lips
Chipper (my main figure) is 32 inches but It adds to his character because im so large that he has a Napoleon Complex.
I’ve always liked anything between 37-45″. I mainly perform on the stage, so I look for a lot of stage presence and something very easy to notice.
As some folks know, I build a lot of 34″ figures. I started my vent-building career by making conversion figures, which led me to sculpt and build my own line of 34″ figures. When fielding criticism of smaller figures, I always point to Sherry Lewis and her stable of characters. Lambchop was basically a sock puppet. I’m sure Ms. Lewis performed in many large venues during her amazing career. The size of her puppet was irrelevant to her level of success. I contend that it was the life she breathed into the character that made her famous.
I also make and enjoy 40″ figures. I agree with Dan Lavender that after working on 34″ figures, the inside of a 40″ figure’s head feels like an aircraft hanger. But smaller figures are viable, well-suited for any size venue. and sometimes more affordable. The most important reason to by any figure large or small is that one can imagine the biography, voice and personality that figure might possess.
From the very small like Tommy Knotts , to the very large , I love them all, and they all have their place. But when it comes to installing mechanics, I agree with Kenny and Dan that bigger is better.