Figure Movements

I got to thinking about functions in ventriloquist figures and what movements have been done and what has not been done. I have gone over and over this in my mind and I just can’t come up with anything that has not already been done.

Just looking at my own collection of figures I can list the following , side to side eyes, self centering eyes, up or down movement eyes, crossing eyes all of these being done with levers, all around pendulum weight eye movement by movement of the head, raising eyebrows, lowering eyebrows, lever operated also the same function with weight movement, winkers, blinkers lever operated, wiggling ears lever operated, upper lip movement lever operated, stick out tongue lever operated, open mouth and stick out tongue together same lever, whistling effect by lever, mouth movement by way of pneumatics allowing you distance from the figure, fright wig lever operated, light up nose, wiggling nose lever operated, spitter, smoker, smoke out of the ears, crying eyes, hand shaker, crossing knee, kicking leg, walking and hat lifter. Quite a selection of functions but I also know of a few more functions that are not in my collection.

Ray Guyll produced a figure that the upper lip will raise on one side or the other to give the Elvis Presley style look, and it can also smile by pulling upwards at the corners of the mouth. Very ingenious lifelike movement.

So after reading this list of functions can you come up with anything that has not been done? Most of these functions have all been done since the 1920’s so nothing is new. Something interesting to think about.




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:

Copyright 2009 by Dan Willinger

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6 Responses to Figure Movements

  1. Nick Dosher says:

    Linoleum has smoke that comes out of the ears ,nose,and mouth.
    Also Robert McRay’s Special K has Glowing eyes.Or what about figures like Sally Anne and Rastus have articulated bodies alowing them to move there joints.Or figures controled by putting your hand inside there head like Podine Puffington.Im sure there’s more those are on the top of my head.

  2. LeeDean says:

    Kriket has 20+ control effects by lever, rod and string, including variable controllers for eyes, brows {other symmetrical feature), head, mouth {jaw string ball-bearing pulley}, fright wig, neck, shoulders, hips, erecting penis, arms with stops, elbows, hands, legs, knees, tapping, pidgeon-toed and clown-stanced feet. Also, wiggling bowtie, squirting flower, disappearing watch chain, patting hand on shoulder, glowing mouth and yoyo gimmicks. Additional effects not yet installed are slot middle finger for rude gesture and slot jaw with lower leather lip activated by hyperextended jaw string. He is a standing figure but can walk with shuffle and my favorite movement is shifting feet from clown to pigeon-toe stance.

    I have said before, there’s nothing new under the sun, every new way of doing something either a variation or combination of ideas. I thought my patting hand on shoulder was original, but read in your Historical Collection a piece that Berger used hand idea and too thought original with him only to find out had already been used by somebody else before him.

  3. Dan Leighly says:

    I would like to see a hand that can open and close, or hold an object, or moving fingers, and I have never seen a mouth that the lips pucker, like a kiss! That would be wild. Also, how about eyes that don’t just wink or blink, but squint. Dan

  4. Scott Bryte says:

    I have used a few features not on your list: all-round eyes controled by joystick, indiviually raising eyebrows, shifting legs (standing legs with lkateral movement allowing the dummy to lean) and detatchable legs (pants, shoes and all) that allow for a quick change between standing legs and ‘doll’ legs.

  5. Al Stevens says:

    One of my figures (built by me) will flip the bird (middle finger, left hand raises and lowers).

  6. Robert McRay says:


    Great subject, as the limits are only with the imagination. Personally, I love trying out unique mechanical configurations, as long as they don’t distract from the “character”. I recently completed a pretty complex configuration with the “Siamese Twins”, but as far as unique animations?… Hmmm.

    When I created “Howard” (for Ken Groves), I installed a set of false teeth that can be removed or replaced by one quick pull of the finger… For Marc Rubben, I gave “Cletus” a long, green booger, which can be pulled from the nose (gross?, naw…it’s hilarious… Who doesn’t love a booger?)… The dragon “Artemus”, has wings that can be expanded from the same controlling hand, inside the body cavity.

    It’s the challenges that keep these wheels turning.

    Love the site!


    I can’t wait to see Als, “bird flipper”… Love it!

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