Introduction

This document describes how to build a professional ventriloquist figure by using the head and hand casting kits available from Mike Brose's Puppets and Props. We call the figure Fred. He was named by Mike's wife.


For years ventriloquists wrestled with decisions about where to get our figures. Here were our choices:

  1. Buy a stock figure and have one that looks just like those used by others who made the same selection. That's a time-proven tradition. Charlie McCarthy, Jerry Mahoney, and Danny O'Day are stock figures that carried their ventriloquists to fame.
  2. Pay the big bucks and have a figure maker design and build a custom, one-of-a-kind figure. If you have the money and trust the creative decisions of someone else, that's a good solution.
  3. Build a figure and live with the product of our artistic limitations. Many ventriloquists work successfully with home-brew dummies.
Those were our choices for years. Now there's another one: Build a figure from a kit that features professionally sculpted head and hands.

Sculpture is the hardest part of making a figure. The head and hands of the figure you build reflect your artistic skills. This first hurdle prevents many ventriloquists from building their own figure. Either they doubt their skills or know definitely that they can't do it.

The head and hand casting kits from Puppets and Props solve that problem.

Building and installing the mechanics are the next obstacle and painting the character is the third. This web site shows you how to do those things, how to build a body, find and fit a wig, and outfit your figure in a snappy costume.

In other words, there's no longer a good reason for you to put off making and enjoying your own ventriloquist figure. And, along the way, you'll have some fun doing it.

But, you ask, won't my figure look just like those other ones made from the same kit? No, it won't. Everyone makes different choices about eye color, hair style and color, flesh tone, dress, and so on. And, besides, they aren't selling these kits by the thousands--not yet, anyway. You'll be the only kid on your block, maybe even in your town, with a full-sized professional, high-quality ventriloquist figure made from this kit.

To see a rogues gallery of figures made from the kit, click the following link.

Rogues Gallery

An essential resource for this project is Figure Making Can Be Fun, by Mike Brose. Mike answers many of your questions and gives alternative approaches for building ventriloquist figures, including several ways to sculpt a head, make a mold, cast the head, build the body, and various options for control mechanics.

Throughout this document I'll refer to pages in Mike's book where you can get more information and details. This document describes one way to build Fred. Mike's book is more general giving you more options. I can't emphasize it strongly enough: Don't even think about building a ventriloquist figure until you read Mike's book.

Throughout this document, I refer to the character being built in the male gender because that's what I'm building. He's Fred, to me. But the kit is not restricted to a male character. With the right wig and facial painting (and perhaps some strategic body modifications), Fred can be Freda. It's awkward to always be saying "his or hers" and "he or she," so Fred is Fred in this document.