Animatronic Wolf Head

Hi Folks.
If any of your visited my Facebook page you would have seen my main costume.. Marcwolf
Anyway - I was checking his for a upcoming convention and found that the foam inside of his head had perished.
Given the choice of either a full refoaming.. or build something more interesting.
As a great believer of Organic Mechanics  (Thank you Rick Lazzarini) I started to remake the head.
Here are some pictures of the lower and upper jaws.
He can move his tongue up and down, flex his upper and lower lip for speech simulation,  nose lips for sniffing, or snarling, and muzzle flaps.
All up there are 6 servo's controlling the movements.  Still to do is  eyebrows (2 servos) and ears (2 servos each)


Will post updated pics tomorrow.
Using a variety of off the shelf bits and pieces like sections of polypipe heat molded, paper clips, pro-poxy,  r/c stuff from eBay.. and a taxidermy jaw set I had.



  • Sorry to hear that the foam in the head had degraded on you.  Looking forward to seeing your updates!

  • Thanks Chris.  It was only upholstery foam (open cell) and he was over 8 years old and subjected to heat, sweat, general abuse from public etc.

    So he has lasted very well - a lot longer than other costumes I have seen. Plus he was my First - and we all learn from that *laughs*

    I've finished the upper and lower jaws now and currently planning the ear mechanisms.  I'll post more pics tonight.

  • Hi Folks.
    More pictures. I have completed the upper jaw mechs.

    Looking down on the top of the jaw with the main  nose hinge, and the two lip lifts for the snarls

    Lip snarl servo's with brass guide tubes. The blue servo on right is for the upper lip twitch used for realistic speaking parts.


    Nose raised (more than for a snarl which will be half this movement)
    The lower servo moves an arm with a roller witch lifts or lower the nose. It can twitch the nose rhythmically (breathing), move it up and down a little (sniffing) or then go for a full snarl lifting the lip fabric up from the upper teeth/gums.


  • Working on the underskull. Some time back I took a cast of my head and this has been great in making fibreglass shells.
    Here I am constructing a rough framework using aluminium to support the parts and fur fabric.

  • I am starting the work on the ear mechanisms.
    The ears will flick back and forth and also splay down. I think the combination of these two movement will give me a lot of expression.

    Now the white servo is what will flick the ears back and forth. This moves an armature of spring steel that will form the supporting core of the inner side of the ear.

    The black servo is a continuous rotation servo that will pull a string attached to the tip of the steel spring and so pull it down in an arc.
    Like an servo I need a feedback mech and the continuous servo does not have that.. So I am using a flex sensor (striped plastic on spring steep) to give me that.

    The only other movement I would add if I had time would be a way to rotate the ear..  I might still look at doing that as I only need an extra servo.


  • Very cool.

    Have you seen lip rigs that also open the lips a bit as the mouth opens and closes?

    This video is not the best example of the effect, but it was the first I could find.

    I'm thinking about doing something along those lines for my Skeksis, so as the jaw opens the lips open a bit as well.  Some great added motion without adding more servos.

  • Hi Chris.
    Yes - I have seen that and it's a great effect.

    I'm trying for a little more subtle.  Like this

    Except it seems that in this the face his has not been supported to the underskull that well and twists around.

    With your Skeksis project you are going heavily in to the Cad/Cam design area so I am not sure how easy it is to add servos etc 'on the fly'

    But I am really looking forward to seeing yours in action.
    Take Care


  • Neat progress thread! I would be lying if I didn't say I learned a new, more efficient, technique.
  • David BoccabellaDavid Boccabella Moderator
    edited December 2015
    Many thanks @Mickey March
    Likewise I have learned so much from other here too :)
  • David BoccabellaDavid Boccabella Moderator
    edited December 2015

    Hi Folks and a bit of an update on the project.. Yes I am still busy with it.

    I tried to use the metal frame from the old head and have since discarded the idea, so now I am making everything from Polypipe strips which is proving great re fabrication and flexibility of use.  It's so cheap to grab a section of pipe - cut it into strips - and then use the existing hole ridden parts as the template for the new parts.

    One of the big issues I have been trying to work through is the eyes.  Now in my old suit I used sections of prescription lens - so I had fantastic vision and could play catch, run etc.
    Yes - I am pretty blind without my glasses so I built a pair in.

    However with the new suit I wanted to use my animatronic iris's however that would mean that my vision would be blocked and made rather poor.

    How to get the best of both worlds.. However - why Not have the BEST of both worlds.

    So I am designing my head so that the eyes sections are interchangeable. For playing/running and high activity things I will slip in my hi-vis eyes with my prescriptive lenses..

    And for the 'showy' work I will have my animatronic eyes in. But that still leaves a vision issues.  However if I have a set of video glasses behind the animatronic eyes I can feed an image through there.
    However next question - camera placement. I have finally decided on a pendant where the main jewel/feature will have the embedded camera. This will place the point of vision on my chest. The pendant will be secured with magnet to keep it steady relative to the body however is walking around a set or convention I can tilt the camera down so see my feet and what I am stepping on.

    So... best of both worlds.  Now I have redesigned that section of the head to handle it I will post some more work progress pictures.


  • David BoccabellaDavid Boccabella Moderator
    edited December 2015
    Hi Folks.
    Been a bit quiet as it's been long days and short nights.
    However I have a video showing his ear mech and talk about a strip down for maintenance. Rick Lassarini spoke in his videos about the maintenance aspects so I am making sure my head CAN been maintained.
    My biggest issues is that I will not be on a set but ad-hoc in public venues where you get all sorts of punishments.

    Please CLICK image for Video :)


    Post edited by David Boccabella on
  • Great video.

    One thought on the camera.   With the camera on the body it will make looking around difficult, especially when it comes to things like looking at a specific subject.  (turning to look at someone or something)

    It would be great if you could find a spot on the head for the camera, but I know that might be difficult with all your other mechs.

  • HI Chris.
    Thanks for the observation. I think that most of the time I will have the real vision eyeplate in and only swap to the animatronic one for photo-shoots.
    I have tried to find a spot (other than shoving it up his nose :) ) where I could also have a central viewpoint. If worst comes to worst I can give him a headpiece containing the camera.. or stay with my original idea of having it on his chest. One advantage is that I can grab it and point it down for working with stairs and ramps.

    Many thanks
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