To Paint or Not to Paint ??

Our good friend Ony Carcamo, from the Philippines, contacted me the other day and asked a very good question about a Ken Spencer Figure.

He recently purchased this ventriloquist figure and now it’s become an integral part of his show. I was happy to give him his answer and I thought this was great to share with all my readers. Ony agreed.

Here’s Ony’s email to me:

Hi Dan,

After using my Spencer figure (which I named KEN, as tribute to the maker) in more than a dozen shows since I got him, I felt that he is a keeper and I will perform with him for a long, long time. This is working vent’s figure, definitely a work of a master figuremaker, and has a great look! I was already comfortable with the automatic eyes and I have already seen its advantages.

Now here’s a dilemma many vents (or collectors) I’m sure have experienced.

After my “test” period of this figure, I found out that my audiences, kids and adults, liked him a lot. However there’s one comment I ALWAYS got from my audience:

Although he speaks our language… He doesn’t look Filipino! They said he looks like a foreigner!

This is mainly because he has a Caucasian (white) skin (of course he’s originally an American).

A typical Filipino has brown skin.

You can guess my dilemma now: To repaint or not to repaint!

As collector I know you prefer the original. As performer I want my figure to connect better with my audience. But though I’m not really a collector and more as a performer, there’s a “collector” in me that says I should let the original Caucasian paint remain.

The “performer” in me says, “Anyway you may need to repaint him many months or years later because you’ll use him regularly, so why not repaint him now so your audience can relate to the figure better?”

Honestly, Dan, this is a hard decision for me to make. And I still don’t have an clear answer until now.

This topic or repainting or not can also be an interesting topic for your blog, that’s why I thought of sharing my feelings with you.

Have a great day!

Ony Carcamo, Ventriloquist


My response:

Hi Ony,

The answer is quite clear!! YOU must repaint this figure. Remember I always say that if you are a pro ventriloquist then the figure is your tool of your trade.

In this case you want your figure to get across to your audience in the correct manner hence the cause for his change in appearance.

Yes this will devalue the Spencer figures collectible value but how much will he earn for you over the years? The collectible value has no impact here. You are not selling him you are using him. I say REPAINT !!!



Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. His collection of ventriloquist figures now numbers over 100 figures of which there are over 50 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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2 Responses to To Paint or Not to Paint ??

  1. Lee Dean says:

    Hi, Ony. A repainting would not necessarily include resanding. One could leave the old, probably oil base house paint, and apply different medium, one that uses different solvent. If ever restored, removal of the new should not take off the old with it.

  2. Ony Carcamo says:

    Thanks, Lee. I’m actually in the process of repainting him now. And so far I’m liking what I’m seeing. I’m duplicating the painting style of Ken Spencer, it’s as if he just used a darker skin color.

    Hope I do a great job!

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