I built this for Halloween 2008. I don't have any good build instructions
or photos but I will be pulling it out and setting it up for this year
(2009) so I'll try to take some photos and give a better description.
In 2008 I had a broken toilet that had to be replaced. I decided that I
just couldn't throw away the old toilet since it had so much potential.
The idea that I came up with was to have a pair of legs sticking out of
the toilet and rotating, as if the poor victim was being flushed down. I
wasn't sure that I'd actually get the legs to spin so I was willing to
settle for a static display if I had to.
My biggest worry was getting the right motor. It had to be powerful
enough to spin the legs but slow enough to give the right effect. I hunted
the thrift stores in the area every week. I finally came across a BBQ spit
motor that was perfect for the job. It was slow, strong and had a quarter
inch (approximately) socket at the end of the shaft.
The next task was to find a lazy Susan assembly. While I also wanted to
find this at a thrift store, I broke down and bought a new one at the
The rest, while sounding simple, was to cut a piece of plywood to cover
the bowl, mount the motor on the underside of the plywood, mount the lazy
Susan on the top side of the plywood, mount another piece of plywood on
the top side of the lazy Susan, run a shaft through that board to engage
the motor and then mount the legs on that. It was a pain in the butt. The
legs are just a frame built with PVC (did I ever mention that I love PVC
pipe). Added some foam to fill it out. Pair of old jeans and shoes.
I finally got it working and it looked pretty good. Unfortunaly, it only
worked well the garage. Once I got it out into the yard, where the ground
wasn't flat, I ran into some problems. The legs would wobble, causing the
lazy Susan to bind, causing the shaft to pop out of the drive. I ended
shoving some plywood under the toilet to get it more level. That did the
trick but I was worried about it all evening. This year I'll have to spend
some time to actually get good and level.
To top it off I put together a sound effects track with lots of gurgling,
yelps, water running and toilet flushes. I loaded this on to a crapy old
MP3 player, set it for repeat play and connected it to an old boom box.
If you need a non-synchronized, continuous play, effects or sound track
this is a great way to go.
It was completely unplanned but, this was just before the 2008 election, it
was right around the time that "Joe the Plummer" became famous. So my
story was that this was "Joe the Plummer". The most gratifying moment was
when a man came up and started laughing wildly. He told me that he *was* a
plummer and that's how some of his work days felt like.
posted at: 02:28 | path: /Projects/Halloween/ToiletTerror
| (989) 427-7176
Every Halloween I have the same problem. Power. I have no power outlets in
the front yard. I've been running power from the garage with a 100ft power
cord and then distributing is across the yard. I have to wind the cable
up and around the front walkway so that visitors don't trip over it. A
number of Halloween prop makers use pneumatics to run their props. That
would be cool but it is just out of my price range for the moment.
I did pickup a yard stake power distribution unit last year so I'll have
to try it out. Regardless, the front yard will be covered with electrical
posted at: 01:45 | path: /Projects/Halloween/Display
| (848) 254-0692
One key is: If you intend to build props, Halloween shopping is a year
Buy at the end of season sales - Halloween *and* Christmas. Christmas
decorations can be re-purposed for Halloween. (I think I like the term
"re-purposed") If you're going to make props and merchandise is on deep
discount, don't be afraid of buying something that is beaten up or might
be broken. You're only going to tear it apart (or break it) yourself. If
it's at full price but is obviously busted (I see this often at Big Lots),
always ask for a discount. You'll probably get 10% without question but
with the stipulation that you can't return it. This is win-win so don't
feel shy. You get a discount and the store sells something that they
otherwise couldn't sell. (don't expect to get a "broken" discount when
things are already on a "no returns" clearance)
99 Cent Store (now the 99.99 Cent Store)
I've mentioned on other pages that I like the 99 Cent Store and other
similar stores, like The Dollar Tree. You can pick up neat little things
there like costumes and masks. They always have some sort of blinky/noise
making thing that can be re-purposed. The skulls and the flicker candles
for the fence project came from the 99 Cent Store. I found "talking"
picture frames there. They are plastic picture frames that have digital
voice recorders in them. I bought several to tear apart to add voice/sound
effects to props. 99 cents each! They have laser "pet toys" (a laser
pointer). I bought several for a future laser "vortex" project. The Dollar
Tree has little stands for glass sculptures which have color cycling LEDs
in them. Lots of possibilities there.
My rule of thumb with Big Lots is to always hit the 99 Cent store first.
I'll find the exact same thing in 99 Cent that is more expensive at Big
Lots. Of course, that is for little stuff. The Big Lots stores around
where I live are really trashy. Lots of broken or scuffed up stuff. Seems
like a lot of brat kids with no adult supervision. If I'm looking for an
item that will actually work I have to pick one carefully. Unless I really
want something and I'm afraid that they'll sellout (which they can) I
won't buy until the clearance sales. I've missed some things that I would
have liked but nothing I couldn't do without. Then again, I'm a cheap
posted at: 04:30 | path: /Projects/Halloween/Materials
| permanent link to this entry
Halloween project builds.
Over the past several years I've been slowly building up an assortment
of Halloween props and displays. Every year I try to add something new
to the front yard. Our giant spiderweb, hung between two palm trees, has
become neighborhood Halloween tradition. People come back year after
year to take pictures of their kids in front of it and are always happy
to see that it is back up.
The spiderweb build was pretty easy but it has a great, and enduring,
effect. Included here are some other projects that I've either completed
or are in the process of being built.
I find it much more fun to either build something myself or take some
existing prop/toy/decoration/costume and repurpose it to my liking than
just buying a pre-built prop. Of course, I do have a number of pre-built
props just because I can't built *everything* from scratch. I just don't
have the time.
posted at: 03:30 | path: 240-642-7606
| permanent link to this entry
Simple static display. We had an old "My Size Barbie" doll that stands
about three and a half feet tall. Threw a kids cloak costume on it, some
skeleton gloves and a skeleton mask. Added a skull staff from a previous
year. Setup a caldron with a ultrasonic mister. The mister has color
changing lights to add an extra spooky effect.
posted at: 03:07 | path: /Projects/Halloween/Others