Many times you hear folks (builders) say that their figure has a head lock. What is a head lock? Of all the figures that I have in the Ventriloquist Central Collection I have only one figure that has a true head lock and that figure is my very early Shaw figure.
(If you click on this link it will take you to the Shaw figure and check out the picture)
Let me explain the head lock on the Shaw. On the bottom of the head stick is a screw, Located on the bottom board of the body is a metal clip that opens on one side, you place the head of the screw into a slot and then close the clip. This is an actual head lock. The head can not be removed unless you reopen the clip.
When the figures went from attaching through the bottom board like Mack and early Marshall figures, and went to ball and socket a new way to secure had to be used. Frank Marshall secured the head stick by stapling a cloth covered rubber band to the bottom of the head stick and then tied it to an eye hook on the bottom board.
Today’s makers use two eye hooks, one on the head stick and one on the bottom board and then use a rubber band. This works but if you know anything about latex, it does break down. So I have found that the type of rubber cloth covered cord, like Frank Marshall used, is still available. You can find it in the hair section of your local drug store. They are cloth covered bands that women use to pull back their hair and they are the perfect size. I have used them on my figures in the collection and they are far superior to rubber bands.
Now I did skip, but do want to mention , the McElroy Brothers. The used a cradle which had a long ;pin the slid inside the figures head stick and when you placed the head stick onto the pin you slid it down at 90 degrees and then when it is all the way down onto the pin you turn the head forward and it locks onto the pin. The cradle inside the body is then locked with the rubber cord to the sides of the body from a ring which is located on the bottom of the cradle.
So there you have it as far as head locking for Ventriloquist Figures.
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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The cloth/rubber will wear and break after awhile if kept in the locked position, and as I have a standing figure that also shuffles there is much front and back, side to side movement of control post in order to move both head and body. After several cloth/rubber breakages decided to try coil spring, which so far has worked very well (size and strength of coil and other springs available at any hardware store). The spring works better in that regard, where head kept locked, only drawback being sound of metal to metal, remedied by plastic tubing on either the hooks or spring ends, or both. Even a knee figure is helped by either the wrapped rubber (like the round one found on old file folders before they went to ribbons) or the coil spring because it gives added life to the figure, the force of movement of the head being channeled down into the body. I’m pretty sure that Clifford Guest used a figure with headlock or tiedown in place. How tight vent wants it is a matter of preference. I do know The Great Lester did not like it because in 1955 at Pittsburgh IBM convention in trying out my Davenport for use in the stage show there (ultimately employing a Marshall figure) he remarked, “What’s this!” and jerked the head upwards and uncoiled that spring permanently. I too had an out of body experience, as I did not like that as worked so hard to install it, and which still prefer.
Should the headlock be removed when using the dummy