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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » AUTOMATIC EYES, anyone? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Ony Carcamo
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Are there vents here who own/use figures with automatic eyes?
Or to all who are familiar with this feature...
I have some questions:

I have just owned a 1960s Ken Spencer figure with automatic eyes (eyes move right when head tilts left, and vice versa). Of course, since this is the first time I handled a figure with this feature I'm still unfamiliar and uncomfortable using it.

Any tips in manipulating a figure with automatic eyes? (I know many McElroy figures have this feature.)

Thanks!

Ony Carcamo
Ony Carcamo
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tacrowl
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Ony,
Never worked with that type figure - but you may want to contact Ken Groves or David Pendleton. Dave has an original McElroy and Ken works with a replica - they may have some thoughts that could help you. You can find contact info on their web sites - just google them.
Tom
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Matt_24
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I owned a Brant Gilmer w/ automatic eyes. While a great novelty, they are impossible to manipulate in a manner that suggests realism.

If you watch the DVD movie "DUMMY" you can view a special feature with Jeff Dunham operating his Skinny Dugan McElroy and even at his level of expertise the auto-eyes just don't look realistic. Same with Ken Groves and his Gilmer McElroy style figure. Automatic eyes are just too bouncy and impossible to "totally" control, regardless of the hours put in.

But remember...it is ventriloquism and dummies. If the material is funny, and the manipulation is great (even with bouncy eyes) the audience will be entertained. When I see Dave Pendleton use Mack (who BTW I got to hold and play with for hours at Venthaven in 2004...what a great figure), or Ken Groves, or Dunham use their McElroys I am thoroughly entertained...

You want Bergen type realism (which we should all strive to achieve)...you only NEED stationary eyes.

Tips....practice, practice, practice, practice.....Good luck!
Wanlu
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Quote:
On 2009-02-09 06:50, Matt_24 wrote:
I owned a Brant Gilmer w/ automatic eyes. While a great novelty, they are impossible to manipulate in a manner that suggests realism.

If you watch the DVD movie "DUMMY" you can view a special feature with Jeff Dunham operating his Skinny Dugan McElroy and even at his level of expertise the auto-eyes just don't look realistic. Same with Ken Groves and his Gilmer McElroy style figure. Automatic eyes are just too bouncy and impossible to "totally" control, regardless of the hours put in.

But remember...it is ventriloquism and dummies. If the material is funny, and the manipulation is great (even with bouncy eyes) the audience will be entertained. When I see Dave Pendleton use Mack (who BTW I got to hold and play with for hours at Venthaven in 2004...what a great figure), or Ken Groves, or Dunham use their McElroys I am thoroughly entertained...

You want Bergen type realism (which we should all strive to achieve)...you only NEED stationary eyes.

Tips....practice, practice, practice, practice.....Good luck!


You sure know a lot about ventriloquism...very impressive views Smile

I may never attend the VentHaven ConVention...and perhaps never hold a McElroy figure Smile
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Wanlu
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Who used McElroy figures? I mean, who actually bought a new figure from the McElroys and used it in his act? I wonder how much they were worth then...were they more expensive than the Marshalls...I mean when they were sold as new not as collectors' items.
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Matt_24
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Bob Neller had Reggie Trickpuss
Rudy Vallee had Sally Ann, Ezry Snerd (belongs to Jeff Dunham), and Linoleum (belongs to Alan Ende).
Valentine Vox (one of them..LOL) owned Cecil Wigglenose
Dennis Alwood and Dudley
(the list is long)

.....generally ALL of the McElroy figures were purchased for acts because they cost about the same price as a car back then...just as expensive then as they are now!
Matt_24
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Wanlu,

I highly recommend taking the time to attend one convention. I'll bet if you attend you may very well get a chance to hold a McElroy figure! You just never know.

At my first convention I was able to play with a McElroy, Marshalls, Ray Guyll's "McElroy style" figure (Ray had him there), several Claassen figures (one McElroy style and one Nelson/Claassen).....It was loads of fun!
Ony Carcamo
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I have been enjoying my Spencer figure since I got him. I've researched a little about the automatic eyes, and you're right, Matt, they are not easy to manipulate.

I was lucky to get in touch with vent David Malmberg (who also uses a Spencer figure), who befriended Ken Spencer in the 1960s. Ken taught him the ins and outs of using the automatic eyes.

The automatic eyes effect is intended/designed to be used differently--not really to stare at something or somebody. But there are a couple of manipulation moves that David taught me (which Ken taught him) to take advantage of the automatic eyes. The moves are not really easy but they're quite effective and interesting.

TBecause of the automatic eyes challenge, this Spencer figure of mine is now my most favorite to use.
Ony Carcamo
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Wanlu
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Quote:
On 2009-02-09 08:19, Matt_24 wrote:
Wanlu,

I highly recommend taking the time to attend one convention. I'll bet if you attend you may very well get a chance to hold a McElroy figure! You just never know.

At my first convention I was able to play with a McElroy, Marshalls, Ray Guyll's "McElroy style" figure (Ray had him there), several Claassen figures (one McElroy style and one Nelson/Claassen).....It was loads of fun!




Thanks Matt Smile
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Matt_24
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I definitely thought the automatic eyes were a cool novelty on my Gilmer figure or I wouldn't have ordered them. They are entertaining and you can get some cool effects, but after owning figures that do virtually everything...I learned that all you need is a good moving mouth (like Mortimer) and the rest can be achieved through clever manipulation. Bergen proved that time and time again.

Another, just superb manipulator (and ventriloquist) who never gets mentioned much when it comes to great manipulation is Willie Tyler. I was just watching some vids of him yesterday and he certainly worked magic with Lester. Great vent!!
marshalldoll
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I have to jump in here and also remind everyone your figure is NOT alive therefore with the free floating all around eye movement your figure will remain a figure. In my opinion the eyes can float anywhere they want and it will be effective and keep the audience staring at the figure instead of the performer. Anyone that knows about magic knows that to make the trick work you must use misdirection and these type of eyes certainly give you that. It allows you to make the audience watch the figure instead of you!! I love the floating eyes in all of the figures I own that have them including my Spencer which is even a bit different than Ony's because in mine it is just the pupils that float. Really different. You can see him if you go to my figure collection and click on Spencer.
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Matt_24
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I definitely agree with Dan that the eyes will certainly provide a certain amount of mis-direction as far as the aspect of vocal illusion...BUT, if they are too loosey goosey and just bobbling all over, then it may appear that your figure is having a seizure. This might be more appropriately applied to the McElroy figures with all around eye movement.

I know that in the Gilmer figure I owned, with very controlled movements you could keep his eyes directed in the position you desired - but if you wanted to give any extreme jerks of the head to convey surprise or anything else...you knew that the eyes were going to go haywire.

All in all, the floating eyes are just plain cool....but LIMITING. Though, you can adjust your script to bring out the attributes of the floating eyes and eliminate any limitations of this feature. Common sense, I know...but thought I would add that.
Ony Carcamo
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After using my Spencer figure many times now in shows, I agree with you, Matt, that the automatic eyes are limiting--but surely cool! When, for instance, I'd like my figure to talk to one of the audience, it would be hard to do as you won't know exactly where the eyes floats.

The automatic eyes feature is best use if the dialogue is between the vent and the figure. But when you want the figure to STARE at an audience member, it may not be easy--but still, it's doable.

So again, as usual, I experimented. When I think I won't need the auto eyes feature I simply insert a very, very small piece of Blu-Tack at one corner of one eye--and presto! he gets instant stationary eyes, which I love to manipulate.
Ony Carcamo
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tacrowl
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Ony -
Would there be a way of creating an "eye brake"? If so, you could brake the eyes during a show, then free them up again to roll automatically. Think of how cool that manipulation would look!
Tom
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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