I have talked about the length of head sticks on ventriloquist figures before but I had a couple inquiries about the long head sticks recently so I thought I would touch on it again for those new to the Ventriloquist Central fold.
Back in the early days of the Knee figures they were made with head sticks that went all the way through the body and attached to the bottom board of the body. This meant that the bottom of the neck was flat and the hole in the shoulder board was large enough for the head stick to fit through but not the neck itself.
It would rest on the shoulder board, sort of. In reality there would be a space of maybe 3/8th of an inch between the bottom of the neck and the shoulder board. This would allow for the head to rotate in a 360 degree or circle.
The ventriloquist could spin the head or turn the back of the head to the audience which did create some comical effects.
Most of the early makers both American and English used head sticks like this.but by the turn of the 1930’s makers were starting to shorten the head sticks and using a new and improved style called ball and socket. This style came into vogue and the long head stick fell by the wayside
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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
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Something should be said for balance. Not all heads are the same weight. The type of headstick, oak, walnut, or other wood or material, its size namely how big around and how long are important considerations to keep the head from being top heavy. Of course a metal weight could be added at the bottom of the stick to get that balance so that on slight tilt of head it wants to stay there at rest and not drop all the way down.
I meant this to apply to ball and socket heads only, not the drop through heads.
For what it’s worth, I still prefer the longer neck with head-stick going all the way to the bottom inside of the body with the longer neck going into the body. The ball-and-socket neck is just too short for me. The fact that my figure, Larry, has a longer neck inside the body makes it possible and fun for him to extend it when he goes for a higher note when singing, or gets excited, or lower his head in embarrassment, even almost gives the appearance of a shrug. Also, the bottom of the head stick has a large roller ball-bearing that allows full, free, and quiet movement of the head. The inside of the body has a hard, lined bottom that allows easy gliding. Works like a charm. Just my opinion, especially since my son’s figure, Cody, has a ball and socket so we can actually compare the two styles.
I also prefer the longer headsticks, mainly due to the balance thing. When I first began making figures, I made the ball and socket sort, using a rubber band or a spring to connect the stick to the bottom of the body. But in the last few years, I’ve begun making longer headsticks, which rest on the bottom of the body. I just find the necessary stability is easier to achieve with a longer headstick. I’m not saying that longer is any better than shorter, and I’m sure both have positive and negative to them. It’s just what I personally prefer.
I didn’t realize the early figures had “floating” heads. This intrigues me, because “rubbing” between the neck and the body is always an issue, and I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce friction. I might have to experiment with this!