There’s More than One Way
to Skin this Cat
We will start off with detailing the steps needed to
hack an already built prop in order to bend it to our needs.
We will tear into an off-the-shelf prop and look at the
required steps to alter it, so that we can control its
movements and its audio track.
The second example will start with a plastic skull kit
and add in the components to allow it to move its jaw in
sync with your audio track, as well as to have the ability to
move in three axes. Even if you have no interest in
displaying a bare skull, I’ll show you how we use them as a
base to create some extraordinary characters.
The three-axis talking mechanism from Monster Guts is
designed to fit inside the plastic skull which becomes an
anatomically correct platform on which to sculpt.
The final project will explore a method for building a
structure on which a mask can be attached. It will use the
Actobotics components available from ServoCity to simplify
the build. However, if you are interested in a more DIY
project, check out the model designed by Halloween2Go at
This is where I got the original project concept, and I've
constructed several of these that I am currently using in my
display. The Actobotics parts greatly simplify the build,
eliminating the need to construct all the necessary
components from scratch. You can simply order the parts
One of the most popular projects for the Do-It-Yourself prop
builder is constructing a character that has the ability to talk
using a selected voice track. You can then take it to the next
level by adding the ability for the head to move in three axes —
to rotate, tilt, and nod. These characters can then be utilized in a
wide variety of situations: to greet customers in a store; to
educate and give information at a museum exhibit; to entertain
guests at a school carnival; to be used as props in a Halloween
or Christmas display; or to demonstrate a product.
We're going to look at several different methods to
By Steve Koci
36 SERVO 08.2015
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD!
Giving your characters a voice
and some head movement