Real or Stylized Hands On Your Ventriloquist Figure

I am always criticized by my partner and webmaster Steve when I do up videos and pictures of the figure’s hands for the Ventriloquist Central Collection.

You see for me the hands are an integral part of the whole for a ventriloquist figure. They should be original to the figure as the maker had intended. Of course I am talking as a collector and originality is a must for me.

Steve is always telling me, that’s the “collector” in me talking. He’s always saying the ventriloquists don’t care about the hands…they care about the movements and the headstick.

If you are a performer then it make absolutely no difference who made any part of the ventriloquist figure so long as the figure is complete and you can give the illusion that the figure is talking for itself.

But getting back to my original thought. I know that there are some makers that are doing hands in a cartoon fashion and for me this just does not make it.

The figure is supposed to be alive there fore would you want the hands to look real? A human has a thumb and four fingers so the figures hand should have a thumb and four fingers. Now if you are using a figure that is a non human this just does not apply.

Just the thoughts of a collector. (By the way, who’s right…Steve or me???)



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 2012 by Dan Willinger

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9 Responses to Real or Stylized Hands On Your Ventriloquist Figure

  1. Gary Koepke says:

    I think it depends on the head. Some makers are making cartoony like heads and therefore the cartoony like hands go well with it. Not sure they would look good with a classic type figure though.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Gary Koepke

  2. Terry Eliason says:

    As I am just starting my own collection, I prefer the more realistic hands, my first Lovik figure has the old style that are latex filled foam and are yellowed and cracking.
    Mynew figure(also a Lovik) has the regular composite hands and look much better.
    Maybe soon I will be able to get a Selberg and get the Cadillac of hands and feet

  3. LeeDean says:

    I prefer stylized hands and feet. After I had made Kriket head and body I was worn out with it all, and easy to settle on stylized hands and feet, simple cut lines on each suggesting separated fingers and toes. As a side note query real fast how many cut lines for hands. If your answer is four that’s wrong, because only three for fingers and thumb stands alone. With feet it is however four cut lines. I had to fill in one of the lines on first hand I did because realized too many fingers. Stylization is great to avoid broken fingers if separated like on the Charlie McCarthy hands, and pretty much in vogue with modern art.

  4. Leigh Basthemer says:

    I think they should match the figure. As a figure builder myself i can understand how difficult it is to carve hands out of wood, ears were very difficult for me to carve and sculpt. The audience does not notice the hands that much and probably the ears either. But if your figure has an arm rod or uses his hand for a magic trick to reveal a card or something it should match the figure, i believe.

  5. Philip Grecian says:

    Yep. Hands should match style of head. Cartoony head, cartoony hands. One of the shows I’ve done for over forty years now is for the kids at the neurological institute. years and years ago I got too close to one client and he bit off Louie’s finger. For the next several years I used stuffed hands on Louie…and it bothered me because they didn’t really match the head. They were safer for the audience at that particular show, but bothersome to the ventriloquist (and, I assume, to Louie as well). I eventually replaced them with some Mike Brose hands (which were more in keeping with Louie’s head and face) and then replaced Louie with a Hartz figure (for which I still feel a little guilty, as Louie remains in his case). So yeah, hands are important. Part of the whole picture. Never put a classic oil painting in a Woolworth’s frame…even if it’s not what the painting’s about.

  6. Ted Nunes says:

    Oh, I’d say the hands (and feet) do matter, and we (well, I) definitely want to see them. When I first got interested in ventriloquism as a child and began to get the Juro dolls as presents, I immediately noticed how they differed from the original characters as they looked on TV. The likeness of the faces was, of course, the first thing I noticed, but I was also aware of how, for example, the “real” Charlie McCarthy’s hands looked more articulated than the simple “doll” hands my Juro Charlie came with. That little bend in the thumb made a difference–caught my eye, anyway. (the cheapo hat and monocle go without saying.) Later, when I discovered the Maher catalogs, I remember being excited about the prospects of having a professional figure that, yes would have pro controls on a head stick, but I was also happy that it would have more “realistic” hands. (I got Buford Buckworth; his hands WERE nicely made–a big step up from Juro’s doll hands– but they weren’t exactly like Charlie’s, so I was a little disappointed.)

  7. Scott Bryte says:

    I’m sure that figure makers might prefer it if hands didn’t matter, because they can be very difficult to do well.
    The great illustrator Norman Rockwell said that hands are at least as expressive as heads, and tell every bit as much about a person as their face does.
    The shape of a figure’s hands, their position and their style should be matched to the head and to the personality of the figure. ‘Stock’ hands of any sort leave the character with less personality and individuality than a character that is designed as a whole (head, hands, clothing, hair, etc.)

  8. I agree that the hands should fit the overall style of the figure. That said, since I much prefer a stylized/cartoony look to figures, my vote is for stylized hands. I don’t like hands looking too real on a figure. For example, I like the hands that Conrad Hartz puts on his smaller bodied figures, and I like the hands that Scott Bryte made for the Corky figure that is part of the Ventriloquist Central collection. I also completely agree with Scott that stock hands usually don’t fit with a figure that is otherwise custom built. They usually end up looking like that just don’t fit right, either too large or too small.

  9. Michael Gabriel says:

    I have a Tim Selbrg figure and both the hands and the feet are hand carved wood. The left arm is capable of movement, it can raise and lower itself via a control inside the body. The left hand was carved to be in the position that has the forefinger and the thumb close together. This is the position yur hand is in if you were to describe something very small. The best way I can illustrate what I mean is to say this – think back on any film or TV show you have seen where a woman is trying to put down her old boyfriend and she will hold up her hand in that position and the implication is that he has a tiny uh, well, you get the idea. My figure also has a very realistic chest that is anotomically correct and it is made from a compasite material. In real life she would be a 36 D. You can see pictures of her on my FaceBook page

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