Steve, the webmaster, and I were having a conversation about mechanics and it really became a conversation that I wished we had recorded for everyone to hear but since that didn’t happen I have to write about the conversation. We have conversations of this nature quite a bit and have differing opinions because I point out the collector’s point of view while Steve, being a ventriloquist, points out the ventriloquist’s point of view.
Mike Robinson came over the weekend and picked up his Terrance figure, you saw the video on Sunday, and he was manipulating Terrance and you can see how the weighted eye function works. With the movement of the head the eyes move from side to side. There is no control except that they move with the direction that you push the head stick, right or left. The head stick is attached to a cradle that allows movement in any direction. I know Mike was having some difficulty finding the sweet spot where the eyes remain centered. It does take some practice.
I told Steve about that and he immediately said that was why he didn’t like that set up and uses self centering eyes in all the figures he builds. He worked with Ray Guyll for quite some time and got to play with Ray’s creation called Kirby (a McElroy style figure), now in the collection of Bill Nelson, so he is familiar with the weighted eyes and confirmed that it is almost impossible to know where the eyes are looking. Dave Pendleton uses his McElroy figure all the time in performance and he has the control of the eyes down but he will tell you it has taken him a long time to learn how to control them.
The standard side to side movement with self centering adapted to them gives you the ability to have the figure stare directly at any audience member but then of course move them as the performer desires.
Unfortunately there are not many performers who use the weighted eyes so it is hard to get opinions, but I hope some of you readers will chime in and let’s see if there are some opinions related to this setup.
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 2009 by Dan Willinger
NOTE: You may use this blog article provided you run it with the bio box intact. Please email a copy of your publication with the blog article in it to: email@example.com