Making figure's arms moveable

Question: I'm interested in making my figure's arms (or arm) movable. Would you have any
information or photos of how this could be done? Also, this blog is a ventriloquist's blessing, keep up the great work! Bill Bantel - "class of 06".
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From Mr. D: The most common (and in my opinion, most effective and practical) method of making a figure's arm move is by the use of an elbow/arm rod on the figure's arm, next to the ventriloquist. I don't have any instructions, but I use a 3/8-1/2" diameter dowel rod inserted into the arm at the elbow and secured to the figure's hand (unseen) at the wrist. About 4-5" of the dowel (painted black) extends outward beyond the elbow (through a hole in the clothing) to act as the "handle" used to manipulate the arm. Next time I have a request for this feature, I'll try to remember to take a photo.


  1. Anonymous9/20/2010

    A steel rod bent like a "7" inserted through side and arm top run length of arm into hand works. Even a stiff coat hanger will do. LD

  2. I seen this question and thought I would add a bit of advice, What Mr. D. said about the Dawell rod works great, That is how I have been renovating soft Puppets, But I also Find a Sergical hose, Just bigger then the rod, Place the rod in it, cut it off Just short of the Rod,take out the rod, then take one endof the hose, Put a dab of Super Glue in it, smash it down and hold until dried, making the end flat, Take a large eyed needle, take 8 lb. fishing string, find the middle of the arm, slice a cut along the outside of the arm, Paralelle 3 inches or so, Shove all of the padding in the upper are, because these soft puppets have very little, This will buff up the arm, to make it look and act more realistic, then Put the stick inside Hose with the glues side down inside the arm, With a soft Puppet I shove it all down into the middle of the palk, then sew the Hose that is flat to the inside of the Palm, cant see, it because if the Fishing string, on the hard figures, you may have to secure it to the outer arm, inside, Then stuff all around the stick plactic hose, Packing it as you go, then Then take out the stick, Bend the elbow in turn over and begin to hand sew, from one side to the other and back again, making that part flat, where the hose is and the cut, secure it back to the other side, and around the hose, making sure that you go threw the edge of the hose all around it,. to secure ut to the arm, you could also use super glue on the outer edge of the hose to secure it to the Puppet arm, I usually, do both. This will make it possible to take out the stick and put it back with out having stuffing problems, I have painted the outer part of the stick white, then dipped it in liquid red rubber, twist it around and making it look rough, to make it appear to look like bone, and blood tissue in the end, Not recomended for small children, But funny with a skit, My boss twisted my arm to make me come out here, Vent, Did it work? Figure- Not until I heard it snap, then you can hold it up to view, or come up with your own skit, there are many ways to do that, Thanks, and I hope that helps,

    I can send photos if interested. Bill

  3. Anonymous9/20/2010

    Would be very interested in seeing the photographs, as I also believe in both hands moving if possible.


    Doug Cape Town South Africa.

  4. Anonymous9/21/2010

    I find a strong rod on the wrist moves better. ( muppet style)

  5. I didnt like the Rods on the wrists, I have over a dozen I will sell to you, if interested. As I changed all of the ones I had to Dowell rods.
    About the moving hands. If you want this, you may consider, making a larger figure, there are remote hands avalible, hard to find and expensive, there are also Battery operated hands, I used these before, no Rights hands are made, but you buy 2 left hands, then take the parts out on one of them, buy a right hand and place it in that hand, The fingers move around, But beware there is noise that also comes with this procedure, and the movements are repeated over and over, Have Fun. Bill

  6. Anonymous9/21/2010

    Simple is best. There is no need to move fingers, most people look at the face anyway.

    What I like about the rod to the wrist is you can control the movent while your hand is well away from the figure and next to your waist.( it is easier with latex light hands)

  7. How many times have you seen a very profeshional figure, and the face, even the torso is built realistic, then you have those short, small hanging arms, Yes, A finger or too moving every once in a while will make the show much more interest9ing and appealing then those short thin arms with those little stiff hands,
    Now want to know how to get your figure to Shake with fear, when he gets nervous? Bill

  8. Frankly, if people are spending time watching the fingers on the figure, the act itself probably needs some work. I met a ventriloquist whose figure had lost all the fingers on one of its hands - they had broken off. He used the figure that way for several months before his busy schedule allowed time for me to repair the figure. During those months, few, if any, in that vent's audiences ever noticed the missing fingers ... they were too captivated by the act.

  9. I have noticed Willie Tyler lately in some YouTube videos with a Lester, whose arms move outward together as a gesture as in "Here". Not sure if they move separately or not. Was wondering are these operated with some kind of bar attached between both arms in the body or possibly a electronic device?

  10. I can speculate, but I don't know. I do know it's probably simpler than anything people first think of (I'm ruling out electronics).

  11. Anonymous9/22/2010

    Dave Robison

    Moving outward arms are done simply by having a wire running in the arms, then through a small hole into the body. Both wires are tied to string and to one ring, which the head stick runs through.

  12. I would have to agree with Mr, D. That a really good Ventriloquist doesnt need movible hands and other fancy gadgets. I just answered someones question, I do it becausee I am not very good, and I like to tinker with things.
    I like the unusual. Yes Iseen some pritty bad ventriloquists, and I couldnt keep interested in the shw because of it was so bad, then those tiny arms and hands do stick out like a sour thumb. My sugestion Like Dentons Im sure is to practice, Practice , Practice, hen know one will notice the sour thumbs. But you got to admit, making the figures arms lift and move around does make the show more interesting. Bill