Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dancing bookcase dolls

One of the more challenging and magical moments in Goodnight Moon, involved these dolls. 
Early in the show the dolls are taken off the bookcase and given to Little Bunny in his bed. About halfway through the show he places the dolls back on the shelf. Moments later the dolls magically start to move. 
To achieve the magic, both dolls were built with hooks coming out the bottom, that slipped into holes in the bookcase. 

As soon as they were placed on the bookcase, the run crew member backstage quickly attached hooks to the loops. 
To allow the space needed under the dolls, the majority of the books on this section of the bookcase were just bindings glued onto a piece of foam to hold them in place. 
The mechanisms within the dolls were difficult to photograph (pretty much impossible with all the fabric and stuffing surrounding the hardware). I figured a drawing might be an easier way to explain the way the dolls moved. 
The boy doll had wires in each arm The arm wires were attached to the wire going down through the bookcase, and a spring attached to the top of the dolls head. When the wire was pulled down it forced the arms up. When the wire was released the spring pulled the ends of the arm wires back and the arms went back down. 
What is not shown in the drawing is that the wire coming out the bottom is run though a piece of PVC to prevent it from getting snagged on anything. There are also too large dowel rods run from the seat of the doll all the way to the top of his head so that pulling the wire actually stretched the spring instead of just squishing the doll. 
The giraffe was rigged with a nodding head. A large trampoline spring was installed in his neck and heavy duty thread was sewn in from the font of his chin, though his body and down through his foot. when the wire was pulled from below, the spring was forced to bend and the giraffe nodded. When the wire released, the spring sprung back and the giraffe returned to it's initial position
I did have to insert some heavy bolts into the back legs of the giraffe to counter weight him. We were having problems with him tipping over when the string was pulled even slightly too hard. 

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