Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hands-free bird puppets by Axtell Expressions

Check out this amazing "hands-free" remote-controlled puppet. A very small remote control is used to open and close the bird's mouth. Another button turns the puppet's head to face the audience or the ventriloquist. It even has a sort of "cruise control" mode in which the bird moves about in a subtle but lifelike manner, allowing the puppeteer to focus on other things or to work with multiple puppets at the same time.

Here is a link where you can learn more and see a full show featuring the Axtell Expressions hands-free bird puppet.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex on sale

Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex
This remote control Tyrannosaurus Rex was selling for $199.95 and is now $129.95. It has some pretty cool features.

From the toy description:
This is the animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex that responds to noise or touch with over 100 different sounds and expressions, providing children with an interactive prehistoric pet. An internal system of servos, gears, and sensors form a biomechanical skeleton that delivers natural movements under a realistic reptilian skin. T. rex's eyes move, his tail wags, and he takes lifelike strides as he autonomously explores his environment. If he walks into a wall or furniture he will backtrack and growl at the impediment. Petting the back of the dinosaur's head elicits a grateful roar and calling his name prompts him to turn his head and walk toward the noise. A bone-shaped remote control has an "attack" button that prompts him to lunge forward and growl; pressing "guard" turns him into a sentry that scans a room for intruders and erupts with a hearty roar; pressing "prank" might cause him to release an ear-ringing belch.

Here the link for this Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amazing animatronics and mechanical costumes

John Nolan Films
I urge you to pay a visit to the John Nolan Films web site where you can see a gallery of amazing special effects projects including animatronics and mechanical costumes.

Here is the gallery of images showing various animatronics and here is their demo reel showing video of animatronics in action.

[ Thanks Bre! ]

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900
Here is a restored store-front attraction depicting a fortune teller. The automaton was made in Germany around 1900. For the last 40 years, it has been in the foyer of a mansion in Newport, RI.

From the eBay description:
The hands and arms move up and down in a lifting motion (for the picking up of display cards that were supplied by the renter of the automaton), along with the head nodding left to right. Another charming feature is the body articulating up and down. Additionally, the eyes move in unison, as though following you, and the mouth and lips purse as if it were speaking to you. All movements are synchronous and very smooth.

Here is a link to many more images and a very extensive description of this window display fortune teller automaton.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mechanism for animatronic mask in latex and foam

F.X. Déco is a French company who creates video, sets, masks, make up, figures, costumes, prototypes, models, and animatronics. Shown here is a the exposed mechanism for mask done in latex and foam and animated with radio-controlled servomotors.

See more fabulous creations by F.X. Dé on their web site.

[ Thanks Karin! ]

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

BotBrain Animatronic Head Kit

BotBrain Animatronic Head Kit
The BotBrain Animatronic Head kit lets you build a fully functioning animatronic head which can turn left and right, move its eyes and eyelids, and change its mouth expressions. Sensors allow the robot to react to changes in the environment.

Here's a link to the BotBrain Animatronic Head

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Animatronic singing and talking Elvis bust

Animatronic singing and talking Elvis bust
This animatronic Elvis bust depicts The King in his 1968 Comeback Special glory -- leather jack, sideburns, and all. The robot moves its mouth, eyes, and head as it sings eight Elvis tunes including 'Love Me Tender', 'Hound Dog' and 'Jail house Rock'.

It has something of a watchdog feature too. Infrared sensors hidden in the jacket detect motion, and trigger animatronic Elvis to speak famous catch-phrases when someone passes by. Put this in a dark room and you could really freak somebody out with this thing. I'm freaked out just writing about it.

Here is where you can learn more about the Animatronic Singing and Talking Elvis.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Scaretaker Motorized Animated Halloween Prop

Scaretaker Motorized Animated Halloween Prop
Check out "The Evil Scaretaker" a life-sized animatronic Halloween prop.

The Scaretaker's body shakes while he glares at you menacingly. His jaw moves up and down, as does the jaw of the head he is holding! The lantern in his hand is powered by two AA batteries, but the rest is powered by a 9V wall adapter. The figure is hand painted and stands approx 5 1/2 feet tall. Nice details on the clothes, it appears.

Set this thing up with a basic motion detector and a prerecorded message and you've got one seriously scary greeter for you front yard or entryway. Imagine seeing this guy all of a sudden in a dark hallway.

Check out Scaretaker Animated Prop

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Still Time to Order Halloween Costumes & Props

Fright Catalog - Halloween masks, costumes, props, and decorations
A vast selection of costumes, masks, & decorations for Halloween may be found at The Fright Catalog.

They have a huge array of motorized animated props and full-fledged animatronics if you want to have THE scariest house on the block. Consider it an investment -- one that is likely to pay off in years of fun. That's far better than most investments can offer these days.

Visit The Fright Catalog's Halloween Central while you still have plenty of time for shipments to arrive before Halloween.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Animatronic "Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill"

This video of an Pet Store/Grill Restaurant mashup uses some of the most clever, funny, and thought-provoking animatronics I have ever seen. I had never considered mechanizing and animating a hot dog. Remarkable work.

Banksy's Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill is in New York's West Village on 7th Avenue between West 4th and Bleeker Street.

This enchanted Village Pet Store/Grill comes to us from The Wooster Collective via a post on

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October Means Halloween & Animated Props!

Halloween is the favorite holiday here at The Automata / Automaton Blog. To kick things off, shown here is an affordable animated ghost prop that flies back and forth on a cable, waving his arms, and shrieking. The 3 foot tall ghost has posable arms and comes with a 25 foot cable for indoor and outdoor use. The ghost is set it in motion when it detects sound. EEEEK!

Check out all of Amazon's animated Halloween decor.

If you are thinking about costumes -- and now would be the time -- they are offering free shipping on Halloween costume orders over $25.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mechanical Haunted Bookshelf Halloween Prop

Motorized Haunted Bookshelf Halloween Prop
Here's a clever, subtle Halloween or haunted house effect in which books on a bookshelf move in and out as if on their own.

Product Description
Spookify your library shelves with this haunting collection of books. Books move forward and back on a black wooden base. Requires AC power. Sizes and titles of books will vary. Bookshelf is also available in white!

Visit Fright Catalog to see their huge selection of animatronic Halloween props.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Great Video of Giant Spider, La Princesse

This footage of the enormous mechanical spider recently on the move in Liverpool, England was filmed and edited by Giselle Leeb.

Watch the giant spider of Liverpool arrive at the city hall, wake up after a sleep and, in a nice bit of dramatically sped up footage, crawl up a building to rest.

La Princesse was created by a French company, La Machine, as part of the Liverpool European Capital of culture programme.

[ Thanks Giselle! ]

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Giant Mechanical Spider on the Move in Liverpool

Giant Mechanical Spider Spotted in Liverpool
Obviously, I've been busy if I missed this on the web a few days ago. Check out this giant mechanical spider that crept down the streets of Liverpool, England. I don't have an adjective in my vocabulary to describe how amazing this is as an artistic and technical accomplishment.

Here is a link to a flickr set of photos that captured the event.

[ Found via Make blog, who credits the BBC coverage. Also found via the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre blog coverage. ]

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Got Remote Controlled Animatronic Zombie?

I hate to be behind on things like this, but I feel duty-bound to report it to you anyway with Halloween coming up. Yesterday the illustrious featured this animatronic zombie.

I never thought I would say this: you can own your own remote controlled zombie, powered by 2 12-volt batteries and 4 motors. In addition to pulling itself around, it groans, screams, and talks via an on-board sound system.

Get all the gory details on the Dead Fred Zombie Chaser at Fright Catalog. Yikes!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Documentary about Animatronic Band

Here is a video trailer about a documentary (or perhaps 'rockumentary') about the life and times of an animatronic band. As far as I can tell, this is for real. It looks genuinely interesting.

To learn more about animatronic creations, check out the book Animatronics: Guide to Holiday Displays.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

A History of the Quest to Make Mechanical Life

Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical LifeOriginally published in the United Kingdom as Living Dolls, this book will be fascinating to those interested in the history of automata. As suggested in the subtitle –– "A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life" –– the author explores the motives of people who have made automata, androids, and robots through the ages.

This is a very well-researched account of humankind's ongoing efforts to simulate, emulate, and duplicate living things in mechanical form. A rich intellectual and cultural history, this book provides a context for understanding why automata have been created in the first place.

This book was included in my Kircher Society Essential Library of Automata list.

You can search inside many pages of Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Lifeon

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Animatronic Frankenstein Machine Comes to Life

This elaborate animatronic Frankenstein scene depicts the monster coming to life. Frankenstein's monster shakes violently as he is jolted to life, then he bolts forward unexpectedly. It comes complete with integrated sound and an air compressor to power the monster.

Imagine having this in your house on Halloween! Sadly, not all of us have $7000 to spend on a huge, detailed haunted house prop. Perhaps, though this can serve as inspiration for a small scale automaton or encourage you to make your own animatronic holiday displays.

Visit The Fright Catalog online for this and other animatronic Halloween props.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Video of Boston Dynamics Big Dog Robot

I posted earlier this week about an impressive biomimetic insect robot. I've also posted in the past about Big Dog. Here is more video of this impressive four-legged robot.

The video is a bit long, but I encourage you to watch at least as far as when the robot slips on ice. You will immediately recognize its efforts to stay upright as pure biological motion.

I expect soldiers will have robotic mules based on this design running next to them in a few years time.

I must credit BoingBoing Gadgets for bring this to my attention.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Pleo, The Automomous Animatronic Dinosaur

Pleo is a animatronic baby dinosaur. Pleo is programmed with sets of complex behavior routines that are triggered in responds to different stimuli. This give each Pleo something of a unique personality.

Pleo has a impressive sensory system. The robot's sensor array is made up of a color camera, two sound sensors, two infrared sensors, 14 servos, 106 gears, eight touch sensors, an orientation sensor, and four foot switch sensors.

The animatronic dinosaur is responsive to light, sound, and touch making more autonomous and interactive than most robotic toys on the market.

The creator is a famed inventor Caleb Chung, who insisted that Pleo's bio-mechanical skeleton and servos deliver natural movement. Watch this video clip and I think you will agree he has succeeded.

Pleo is the Winner of the prestigious Nuremberg Toy Innovations Award.

Check out Pleo - The First Animatronic Dinosaur.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Deluxe Arcade Style Animatronic Fortune Teller

Zoltar is an animatronic fortune teller housed in a wheeled cabinet made of oak with birch veneers, painted trim, and three panes of tempered glass.

The full-size figure bust is detailed with a handlebar mustache and beard, a gold head wrap, gold shirt, paisley vest, and jewelry.

When you to approach him, Zoltar acknowledges your presence. Once you insert a quarter, Zoltar nods his head up and down, his crystal ball lights up, and he sweeps his hand back and forth.

Zoltar then delivers one of 16 different spoken fortunes and dispenses one of 23 different printed fortunes in the form of a paper card dispensed from the front of the cabinet.

Check out Zoltar the Animatronic Fortune Teller at Hammacher Schlemmer.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Horror & Halloween Animatronics

Alligator has an entire section dedicated to animated horror and Halloween automata or animatronics. From the home page navigate to "Halloween Props" then "Animated".

They offer 75 items ranging from a simple spinning motor for animating your own Halloween props ($16.99) to a 12 foot animated flying saucer ($29,000.00). Fair warning: some of this stuff is pretty gory, but they are horror props after all.

Shown here is an AMAZING realistic alligator automaton. It may set you back $8,900.00, but I ask you: how much should the power to send someone into cardiac arrest cost?

Completely realistic alligator lunges forward to snap at your guests. The high speed, 5 foot forward movement and opening mouth will startle the most brazen. Includes a powerful monitor amp, cassette player, and tape of fierce alligator sounds. Requires AC power and 100 psi air compressor. Industrial strength, and extremely durable.

Visit to check out all of their horror themed animatronics.

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