The drop in head on a ventriloquist figure was used widely in the early style ventriloquist figures. The drop in style, if you don’t know what it is, means that the hole in the top of the ventriloquist body was made larger than the diameter of the neck on the ventriloquist head. This allowed the head to fall right up to his chin when placed into the body. This style was used by Len Insull, most notably, but others did this as well. The early Maher figures had this design and even the McElroy figures had drop in style heads.
The manipulation of a head with drop in was a bit cumbersome as you had to hold the head up at the correct height during performance and this certainly would tire your arm. Even the paper mache heads, which were lighter than basswood would become heavy after some time manipulating the controls and holding them at the appropriate height.
The McElroy brothers eliminated this problem by utilizing a cradle to hold the head. The cradle was attached to the body and worked like a gimbal on a ships barometer. I also had a Herbert Brighton figure that had a spring that stretched across the body and fed through an eyelet at the bottom of the head stick. This allowed the head to bob around in a very natural manner. I liked that verymuch because I could see you didn’t have to hold the head up you only had to do the levers.
Early Mack and Marshall figures had drop in heads but the head stick went to the bottom board and then was attached with a screw from the underside. This allowed for 360 degree rotation of the head but you could not lift the head up or down or side to side. It is amazing but this style lasted for many years before the advent of the ball and socket style but I certainly am happy the ball and socket came into play. So much more realistic with this style.
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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