The Eye Of The Ventriloquist Figure Builder

A lot of questions come to me about the fact that builders of ventriloquist figures take inordinate amounts of time to build figures for customers and I am not going to disagree with them. I myself having been in the antique business, most notably antique clocks, have always used repairmen to fix and or restore old clocks. That includes both the mechanics and wood workings.

The folks that do this work are craftsmen for sure but as the proceed and develop their skills you can actually say they become artists. When they get to that level, an artist, that is when it takes the longest to get an item done. You see as they become better and better they see more and more of the flaws and they must eliminate them. Now to us lay people we may never see these imperfections that they see but they are there.

A case in point is what I have heard from Ray Guyll and from Steve Hurst who was there at the time. Ray was repainting Danny O’Day for Jimmy Nelson and Steve was working with Ray and when it was done Ray asked Steve what he thought and Steve said it was GREAT!! Ray shook his head and started all over. To Ray it just was not right. Steve said Ray repainted the head over and over and over again before Ray was satisfied.

So when you go to one of the preeminent builders and it takes months and months and maybe even years to get your figure you must remember what I have just said. Now I must confess that it takes much longer in the Ventriloquism World than in any other business that I have ever been involved in for repairs. If you ask me why that is I unfortunately can’t answer you, it just does.


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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:

Copyright 2013 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst

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3 Responses to The Eye Of The Ventriloquist Figure Builder

  1. Mike Palma says:

    One reason is that the majority of figure builders also have full time jobs. It is very difficult to make a living just building ventriloquist figures. There are a few who are full time figure makers and do make there living making these figures and also a few who are retired are are able to dedicate more of there time, but I think the majority of figure makers also work some type of full time job and by the time they get home they have to find that extra time to dedicate to making figures. I think this the more likely reason it takes so long to get a figure made. And trust me, figure makers make figures because they have a passion for the art, not because of money. If you beak down the amount of time plus supplies, the figure maker usually make below minimal wage.


  2. Ben and MJ says:

    You’ve raised a good point, but the builder is also a business and should understand the reason for the success of that business are the ventriloquists. In a lot of cases payment is expected up front (or at least a sizeable deposit and regular payment after) and whilst most of us appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into creating a good quality figure, paying for something and then not knowing what is happening with the order can be very disconcerting.

    Many of the complaints that have been shared with me have been from ventriloquists who have ordered and paid for their figure only to be left in the communication black hole not long after. Of course no-one expects daily emails or phone calls from the builder, but if a vent customer makes an enquiry about the progress of their order they at the very least expect a response, often that doesn’t happen. Orders that they have been told may take 3 to 6 months stretch out to a year or longer and no word is offered by the builder (who has accepted payment) to their customer.

    Agreed a figure builder is an artist and they need to make a living, but so too is the ventriloquist waiting for their order to be fulfilled. Good customer service won’t hurt anyone.

  3. Colin Williams says:

    Dan I couldn’t agree more. Before people critise or get disappointed they should speak to somebody with the finished product. Ray Guyll made a Mort figure for me several years ago and it is absolutely 100% perfect in every way. Although I didn’t have to wait and extremely long time. it was well worth it for the love and care that Ray takes with his figures. Yes Ray is a genuine artist and I’m sure that nothing leaves his workshop unless he himself is 100% satisfied. If there is a better figure maker on this planet, I sure would like to meet him!

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