Bobby the Robot

I started work on a ventriloquist doll after seeing a show called Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge that aired on the Syfy channel. Unfortunately, the head went missing after I moved across country...

Here is what was completed:

After I created this video, I added eyebrows and the outside shell

I have been asked to provide instructions on how I created the head, so here goes: (Note: These plans are slightly different then what is in the video, and reflect what I would do if I were to rebuild it...) Here is a list of items that were used in the construction: This was a scrap build made up of a list of found items from around my house.

  • Eyes: Smallest Play-Doh containers - I have seen them on EBay. Example of can sizes. I used the smallest one seen in this video.
  • Eye wire connector: pop rivet (tightened but the "tail" is not popped off). What Is a Pop Rivet?
  • Jaws and Mouth Plate: 1x4
  • Neck/Handle: 1x2
  • Top Plate: 1/2" plywood
  • Mechanism: Sturdy wire hangers
  • Trigger: 1x2 cut to about 1/4" thick and 5" long
  • Trigger wire: Weed Trimmer filament.
  • The head was built to fit inside a one gallon jug that had windshield cleaner fluid in it. I bought mine from DollarTree, but I have seen the same jug elsewhere with various products in it. It's about 6" in diameter.
  • Various screws and other hardware.

(Note: To see larger images, right click and select view image.)

Pre Build

To make for easier and more accurate bends in the hanger wire I constructed a bending tool:


  • A scrap of 1/2" plywood (4" X 6" should give you a nice base)
  • 2 (two) 2 1/2" Finishing nails (any kind of nail should work, it just needs to be strong enough not to bend while bending the wire)


  • Pre drill two holes slightly smaller then the diameter of the nails in the board, so that the hanger wire just fits between them (make the nail holes near the center of the board)
  • Insert the first nail from the back/bottom of the board, and cut it off at about 1/4" above the front/top of the board
  • Insert the second nail from the back/bottom of the board, and cut off the tip to prevent stabbing yourself as you work with the wire.

Now on to the actual Head construction

All the parts:

Some assembly thoughts

  • I recommend that all holes be pre-drilled before assembly.
  • The holes in the Mouth Plate that the support wire runs though should be slightly larger than the wire to enable smooth mouth movement.
  • I used a cut off barrel of a stick pen for the Trigger Wire Roller
  • The rubber bands (or springs if you choose) should still be under tension when the mouth is fully closed.
  • Note that the Trigger is actually only attached to the Trigger Wire, it's stiff and short enough to keep it in place.
  • You might find it easier to attach the Trigger Wire to the Trigger first and then to the Mouth Plate.

I'm going to concentrate on providing assembly images

Pushing the lever right makes him look right, Left, he looks left. Pushing up on the lever moves the eyebrows and gives him a surprised look, down gives him an angry look.