Ventriloquist Figure Restoration And Repair

I have thought long and hard about writing this blog and after consulting with both my webmaster and my mentor in collecting I have decided I must breach this problem, it seems all of us in the ventriloquist world have to deal with, and that is……the time factor that we all must wait when we send off our beloved partners for repairs.

Now I am writing this because I took on this job myself and can say that without question these repairs on mechanics, for the most part, and re painting of a figure even with severe chips and gouges can be done in not a long time frame.

The Ken Spencer figure you all recently saw here on the Ventriloquist Central Blog, was an example of a figure that in the past I would have sent out to get repaired. The cost was not of concern, it was always the time frame waiting for its return that bothered me.

Now the Spencer’s blogs we spaced out over a couple of weeks but I can tell you he arrived to me on a Friday around mid day and I had his complete restoration done on Sunday morning. A true total of about 40 hours.

Now I wasn’t working straight for these 40 hours, there was quite a bit of lag time for the filler to dry, sanding, then primer coats and 3 coats of paint, then detail and blushing. So actual time I truly spent sitting at my bench working, I would guess was 15 hours.

So that being said I think that a repaint or mechanical fix should not be something that we have to wait weeks or months to received back from the pros. Granted they have more than one thing to work on at a time but if you are a pro, you certainly know how many items you have to work on and if you are so backed up why would you take on more that you know you can’t get to for months? This just doesn’t compute for me.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but I just had to air my thoughts out and I certainly hope to hear back from everyone both positively or negatively.


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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 2014 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst

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9 Responses to Ventriloquist Figure Restoration And Repair

  1. Austin Phillips says:

    My guess is the fact that the pro’s have been doing it for such a long time, the drive to rush it and get it done is not there. The small group of people who do top notch repair/restoration work understand that they are the people to go to, so they aren’t necessarily concerned with losing business due to time frame. Dan, you had the drive to repair and fix your own figure, to someone else who has been doing it for years and years, the drive isnt there to rush and get it done.

    There is also the fact that most people aren’t getting more than one or two figures restored in their lives period. The time frame probably doesn’t hit them as hard such as a collector like yourself dealing with dozens and dozens or restorations. I would probably take a guess and say when it comes to repair work, they take into consideration the figure owner, full time performer or collector. Performer figures might take priority due to the necessity of the time frame, where as collectors they are really REALLY refining the face, or whatever is being done, and take extra time to make it “showroom worthy.” Now this comes with the old saying, you can’t rush an artist, and that’s what these guys are doing, art.

    I definitely see both sides, don’t think repairs should take months and months by any means, but I also do understand that life happens, and the drive they had to pump out work like when they first started to please the customer, not necessarily hone their craft, is gone. So this is a hard one.

    This is just my 2 cents

  2. Curtis Jones says:

    On restoration, If you can do it with out messing it up, then by all means do it.

    I have redone some figures, wigs, paint and such, but I have a Mike Brose Kit sitting in my puppet room that I have not started, because of the time it takes and the fact that I work a job with weird hours. If you have the skills and the tools, then carry on.
    But don’t try to work on a Marshall or McElroy with little or no skill, that would be a horrible thing to waste.

  3. Kenny Croes says:

    I try to ascertain as accurately as possible the nature of the repair and/or restoration, then estimate a timeline for turnaround. If the estimate fits the vent’s timeline, then we move forward. If not, I recommend other builders/restorers. Meeting or exceeding the vent’s expectations in workmanship and turnaround is important.

  4. Bob Isaacson says:

    If you know your own talents & expertise & feel confident that you yourself can do the restoration to the “degree” you want accomplished , by all means go ahead. However, if you’re just “attempting” to restore, that may be a huge mistake; you may make errors that will possibly destroy the integrity of the figure. When seeking a true professional figure maker with a record of successful work; be sure you mention what time frame you have in mind for the completion of the work intended. If agreed upon, then get the terms in writing, with stipulations as to any consequences, if failure to deliver. Also try to get advice from others; as to who they might recommend.

  5. Tom conner says:

    I believe that any one who is in the business of building, restoring or repairing the mechanics of hard figures. Should be pretty efficient especially if they been at it for a while. Of course depending on the nature of the project time will vary. Also if it’s something they do full time for a living. With all that in mind I guess it depends on the type of business person they are. There must be good communication,they should be able to set a target date and meet it with a reasonable time frame.
    Because efficiency along with a good finished results makes for good business. So in my option, the bottom line is just how hungry they are. Can’t rush an artist,however when the project is not being worked on it won’t get finished by itself.

  6. bob abdou says:

    Hey Dan, sounds and looks like you did a great job, I’ll be mailing my Foy brown to you tomorrow, please have him back (original paint must match from 1941) by this weekend, thanks bob, I’ll pay COD:)

  7. Dan , sounds like many good comments. Here, s mine. When I recieve a figure for repair, I ask the time frame, first. However, I have different levels I place the repairs in. I generally are working on more than one figure at a time, this allows for drying times etc. All repair and new orders leave the shop, quickly. I for one will not wait the long time frames, you spoke of. I hope the vent community continues to work together, peacefully. I really enjoy all phases of ventriloquistism. We should welcome all interrested persons, to be vents or figuremakers.
    Charlie HOrner

  8. Richard Marcus says:

    I have a Jerry Mahony dummy that I got for Christmas in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s . I believe the head is made out of wood. There is a wooden dowel that comes down into the opening in the back to turn his head. It also has a string with a plastic ring on the end to make the mouth move. The string broke many years ago and I was just wondering if someone on here might do repairs like that and a ballpark figure what it might cost. I have young Grandchildren now and it would be fun to bring Jerry back to life. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  9. Ronald O Gray says:

    Hi, I have a Jerry Mahoney puppet possibly 50’s in need of restoration. Head has severe cracking and peeling . Body in good shape, no clothes. Please give me any information that would help. Thank you

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