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How to make a puppet from the MR Animal Photo Replica

Discussion in 'Muppet Replicas' started by luther962, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. luther962

    luther962 Active Member

    How to make a working half-bodied stage puppet from the MR Animal Photo Replica Muppet.
    Converting the Animal poser is really quite simple compare to the Gonzo conversion that I did. If you know how to build basic puppets and have a little experience with hand tools and hand sewing, then you should have no problem converting this one. A lot of people have asked me if I recommend doing this. Well if you want your Animal Poser to retain its value as a collector’s item, leave it in its box in the back of the closet. If you want to use it as a puppet, than by all means, I recommend doing the conversion!
    The following information is given for reference only, and is not meant to be an inclusive step by step instruction manual for converting the poser to a working puppet. I have done my best to document all the steps that I used in the conversion process, but I am not a professional puppet builder, so there may be better ways of doing things than what is listed.
    1.) Cut the single thread that is used to keep the bowtie of his shirt together (2x).
    2.) Remove shirt and pants.
    3.) Turn Animal face down on the table.
    4.) Using a seam ripper, open the seam on his back, starting from the groin and working to almost the top of his head.
    5.) Place your finger, into the foam that makes up his body, and carefully separate the foam along the glue line.
    6.) Remove the 6 screws and the wire retainer clips from the plastic “sternum” and discard.
    7.) Remove the Poly-fill from inside his foam skull and discard.
    8.) Remove all the remaining screws from the back of the sternum. You should now be able to free one end of the wire that makes up his neck. Untie the cord towards the bottom of the puppet above where his legs are attached.
    9.) Using a wire cutter, find the center of the wire between his two arms and cut the wires, leaving plenty of excess.
    10.) Remove the plastic “sternum” and discard.
    11.) Remove the front piece of foam that makes up his body and discard.
    12.) Carefully fold back the lower plastic “hip” plate, and remove the 12 screws and discard.
    13.) Using a wire cutter, cut the wires in the center between his legs, leaving plenty of wire length to grab onto.
    14.) Grab his wrist on one arm. Starting with a wire towards the center of the bundle, use a pliers, and very firmly but gently, pull out the single strand of wire. Once you have one wire removed, repeat the process, until all strands are removed. Repeat the process for the other arm, and both legs.
    15.) Once the wires are all removed, slide the foam and fabric to expose the plastic straw. Grab the straw, and pull both pieces out of each arm and leg, being careful not to pull the foam out as well.
    16.) Carefully, without damaging the foam skull, use a long handle screwdriver to remove all the screws and retainer clips on both mouth boards.
    17.) Carefully cut the thread that makes the joint for the mouth board. Remove the lower mouth board and set aside.
    18.) Carefully cut the foam away from the top of the top mouth board, then you can go ahead and remove it. Set this aside. We will be using this as a template to make our own mouth board.
    19.) Using whatever material you like, trace the top mouth board and cut out the new one. (I use acid free matte board, the kind used at framing shops.) I will detail how I made the mouth boards, but you may have a better method more to your liking.
    a. I cut out two mouth boards the same size. Using spray adhesive, sandwich the elastic strap between the mouth boards, and glue them together.
    b. The lower mouth board has the same chord length (width) but has a smaller radius. On my poser this was about .875”
    c. I made the lower mouth board the same as the upper.
    20.) To make a simple but effective eyebrow mechanism, I held back his “eyelids,” and using a small .052” diameter drill bit, hand drilled a hole in the center of his eyebrow (where they come together above his nose.)
    21.) Poke the same drill bit up through the material from the inside of his head between his eyes, place a dab of gap filling CA on to the drill bit and insert it into the hole you just drilled.
    22.) I used a small Dremel buffing wheel, and glued that to the shank of the drill bit to finish the mechanism. (this makes it easier to operate than simply the metal end of the drill bit). When it is all done, the mechanism is invisible on the outside of the puppet.
    23.) Carefully align the upper mouth board, and using spray adhesive , glue the mouth board to the felt and foam as it was before the conversion.
    24.) Do the same for the bottom mouth board (make sure it is aligned properly).
    25.) I pulled out the old tongue and used that as a pattern to make a new one. I had to scrape, pick, and pull off the all the old tongue parts that were held on by some pretty good glue to get the new one to lay flat.
    26.) In order to get his mouth to close all the way, I had to make a new tongue out of thin 1/8” foam board form Hobby Lobby or Joann’s. It was kind of a purple color, and I just did a quick pass with some red spray paint to give it a little pop and glued it in place.
    27.) Using the Henson/ladder stitch, close Animal back up again all the way down to his legs.
    28.) Here is where you have to decide if you want a full body or half body puppet. All of my puppets that I use are half body, so I cut off his legs, folded the material and sewed in a short hem at the bottom. If you want a full body puppet, you will have to figure out how to do that on your own!
    29.) Put his shirt back on and re-sew the two ties in front.

    That’s all there is to it. Total time required was about 5 hours, and most of that was sewing!
    Follow the link below to see pics.
    http://s749.photobucket.com/albums/xx136/luther962/Animal Conversion/
  2. GonzoLover85

    GonzoLover85 Well-Known Member

    Kudos luther! You're truly braver than I am, I couldn't ever cut open my Animal.
    Looks great.. how about a video showing the end result in action?
  3. dmoss

    dmoss Well-Known Member

    Agreed! I love that you took so much time and care with him. I'd love to see him in action, too! :halo:
  4. luther962

    luther962 Active Member

    Thanks for all your positive comments. I'll take a video in the next couple of weeks so you can see Animal, Gonzo and the gang in action!
  5. TML

    TML Well-Known Member

    Do you have pictures of the finished puppet?
  6. junebug1972

    junebug1972 Active Member

    Any video of this?/

    I think this is super cool. Could you post the video or more photos of how to accomplish the final puppet? Thanks!

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