Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Clown

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Duckbutt, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Per discussion in the bike thread, here is a new thread dedicated to gathering information on and reproducing the clown from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I'd like to eventually post measurements and materials for the base, body, mechanics, gloves, hat, and wig. The same polka-dot suit can still be found today, and made to look like the movie suit with minor modifications. The shoes should be relatively easy to mold, but the head will be the hard part (originally two vacuum-formed halves fused together). I'd like to eventually clone an whole new clown with swappable heads for the happy/evil faces.

    Some initial photos to start things off - first the movie clown:
    clown.jpg

    Happy face ..
    ishot-693.jpg

    Scary face!
    ishot-702.jpg

    Side view showing original hat (stuffed to stay pointing up)
    pee-wee-s-big-adventure-pee-wee-herman-744667_780_443.jpg


    Blu-ray screen captures of the clown scenes can be found starting with the following post:
    http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=241256&p=3739571&viewfull=1#post3739571

    Information on the Custom Displays company and the clown's inventor can be found in this post:
    http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=241256&p=3753077&viewfull=1#post3753077

    Tally ho!
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
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  2. BrownieICT

    BrownieICT Active Member

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    Dang it I may need one now! Haha! Creepy face one is awesome!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Some examples from the web - there really aren't a whole lot of specimens around.

    Later model clown doctored up with face paint and polka dot suit (Volo Auto Museum) ..
    Volo_Car_PeeWee-Bike.jpg

    Why Louisville store has a lot of photos of their clown on the web and Facebook ..
    554724_616901578337562_1107808050_n.jpg

    This was from an arcade on the east coast (described as 'mechanical clown that grabbed your * as you walk by')
    clown6_1.jpg

    clown6_2.jpg

    From the 'Clowning Around' episode of the 'Oddities' show (can be found on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e39CVBVkyrg)
    130100096995213329200501197_202ClowningAround.jpg

    From a coin-op / mechanical convention
    clown1.jpg

    Random one that got auctioned .. interesting color scheme
    clown2.jpg

    Random photo, I believe from some street faire or festival
    clown4.jpg

    From a guy's blog, he noticed in a Raleigh store window
    Blog-14.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  4. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Just to recap, the manufacturer of the clown was Marshal Moody. The company is still around, but it no longer produces the animatronic clowns. The motor is custom and made by Rex Engineering of Titusville, FL. The motor is still available. Part number is 097.
     
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  5. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Here are a couple shots from 'Night of the Comet'. I don't think this isn't the exact same clown from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure .. but it's curious to see it show up in two movies so close together (1984/1985). I'd love to know the story of how it ended up in these movies ..

    Good full-body shot ..
    picture-4.png

    Close-up - same puffed up hat, straighter hair. This is the only example of this color scheme I've seen so far (normally the older style ones are red/orange/yellow).
    picture-3.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  6. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    An identical suit can still be found today - look for 'Dots the Clown'. It has the same large polka dots, seam locations, elastic wrists, and double-ruffle collar as the movie suit. Maybe the collar used to come in black trim, but mine came with red trim. The pom-poms you get are random, so most likely will need to be swapped with the correct movie colors (green/blue/orange).

    dots-the-clown-costume-for-adult_1103443.jpg

    Here's a photo of my clown with this costume draped over so you can get an idea (it's way too much work to take the vinyl suit off just for one photo).

    DSC_8811.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  7. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Just thought I would add a couple pics that I found on the web. The first clown sold at an auction back in January. The other clown is interesting. It is from a parade photo. The outfit and face paint are quite different. It may very well be all custom. It could also be a different manufacturer. The neck does not appear to extend as far down as the other examples.

    auction-clown.jpg
    parade-clown.jpg
     
  8. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    What auction site was that first clown from? Hopefully not eBay, or I'll have to retool my search ;) If it was eBay and you have an item number, that would help

    The second one is interesting indeed. I would say it's a different clown, except that it has those same fat arching eyebrows (the most distinguishing feature of the face on these in my opinion). Who knows ..
     
  9. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The first pic is from liveauctioneers.com. I also thought the second clown could be different, but the two halves of the head appear to be joined the same way.
     
  10. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    As suggested, I started applying fiberglass to the inside of my clown head. Seems to be stiffing it up pretty quick. After I fiberglass it, I am thinking of putting a 3" plastic pipe down the center and then using spray foam (minimal expanding) around it to add even more stiffness.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
  11. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Got any photos to document as you go? Do you have access to a vacuum-forming machine?

    I had other props to paint today, but it is 94% humidity .. so I think I'll start taking my clown apart to document instead
     
  12. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'll try and take some photos. Applying fiberglass to the inside of the head isn't too exciting! I do not have access to a vacuum-forming machine, but I was going to either build or buy a DIY machine. I have been meaning to get one for some time now, and this would be as good a reason as any.

    As soon as I make some more progress on the head, I will take my clown apart as well. It will be interesting to see if the construction method remained the same for all the clowns.
     
  13. CynicalMormon

    CynicalMormon Member

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    Shouldn't have clicked on this thread.... really shouldn't have clicked on this thread.
    *shudders*
    :eek
     
  14. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Clown phobia? :B

    Here's a picture of my security system mentioned earlier
    IMG_1238.JPG
     
  15. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Mmmmm..........Spooky-y
     
  16. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Started documenting my clown. The entire wood structure is made of 3/4" plywood. The upper half of the clown is connected to the lower half by a pair of rods, which allows it to rotate back and forth. Image below of what I have so far. The mechanism and arms are absent. Those will take a little more time to draw up!
    clown_solid_model.JPG
     
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  17. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Any luck yet on the head?

    I started at the base of my clown, and am going to try to clone him from the bottom up. The base on mine is a mix of 1/2" and 3/4" plywood nailed together, and the fake grass stapled on (same fake grass you can find at Lowes / Home Depot). The older clowns had a slightly different base shape as seen above - instead of a big box, it's a smaller box with a larger flat top - so that's what I'm trying to make at the moment.

    Still TODO - find a source for the suit vinyl (not sure if the movie clown still has a suit underneath, but it's atleast needed for the hat), base wheels (possibly garbage can), and that old style hair/wig. I'd also like to order a couple motors since you found the part number.
     
  18. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The head actually had several cracks. So, I have glued all the cracks back together and applied fiberglass to the inside of the head. It now has its proper shape back and is very rigid. Next, I was going to place a 2" or 3" pipe inside and spray foam around it for additional support. The idea is that the pipe would support the weight of the hat instead of the head. Once I patch some chips on the surface of the head, I should be ready to repaint, laquer, and create a mold.

    I noticed the difference in the bases. I was going to visit WHYLouisville at some point and take some dimensions. My base is definitely not original.

    Most fabric stores carry Marine-grade vinyl. Should be easy to locate suitable colors. They may also carry the faux hair/fur. Since I have removed the hair from mine, I was going to make a pattern.
     
  19. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    It's so cool you guys started this thread, I've wanted a clown to display with my bike for a looong time, came close a few times, but haven't nabbed one yet, so it looks like I may have to build one, so this is right up my alley.
    I'm glad you were able to repair your weathered head P.W.Fan, and your idea of the extra support sounds good, Just be careful with that foam, because even the door and window "minimal expansion" foam still expands quite a bit, they recommend to spray 50% of the area, so I would practice before you tackle the head, otherwise you're liable to put several more cracks in it.
    Keep the updates coming, and post more pics!
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  20. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    I think the clown at Why Louisville has the same base as mine .. I can send measurements if you want to save the drive. I would be more interested in measurements of the older style base. I suspect the top piece the clown is bolted to is the same size, just the sides below are tucked in several inches.

    I agree the vinyl probably won't be hard to find. I am curious about the hair though - I haven't seen anything yet that has that same texture (hard to describe, but I recall that old style of fake hair being thick like cotton candy).

    Out of curiosity, why is your hat so heavy that it needs support? Mine weighs almost nothing, and just hooks onto the hair.
     
  21. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You're right! The base at WHYLouisville is the same as yours. I must have been thinking about a different clown pic. Measurements would be great though!

    I believe the vinyl is lime green, maybe lemon yellow, and classic red. The hair reminds me of a costume beard that we had as kids.

    My hat contains stuffing that makes it stand up. A wire from the hat went through the head and connected it to the head support.
     
  22. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Here's an image of my clown's head and the interior showing the fiberglass that I applied to the inside of it.
    Head.jpg FiberglassedHead.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

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  23. BrownieICT

    BrownieICT Active Member

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    Jesus that think is creepy! Lol! But awesome!!! Can't wait to see how it turns out. Coming along man.
     
  24. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Cool, keep the photos coming! I'm going to attempt to get my new base and atleast the clown's legs / lower half built this weekend (I'll send dimensions as promised too). I did find marine vinyl at the fabric store, although not exactly the right colors yet. The quest for 70s craft hair continues too ..

    Does your clown have a white plastic torso? I suspect all these newer clowns do. The older clowns seemed a lot thinner, I am guessing they didn't have this (in the Oddities episode linked above, you can see there's atleast no plastic on the back when they reach inside).
     
  25. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I looked on eBay for the marine vinyl. It appears to be a little cheaper than craft store pricing.

    My clown does have a white plastic torso. It's not in great condition though. I believe it is also in the wrong place. There is some evidence (stapled broken pieces) that it used to start at the shoulders. Now it starts at the waist. It's in pretty bad condition in general. I am thinking of replacing it with part of a circular plastic trash can.
    WhiteTorso.jpg
     
  26. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I added my center support and foamed the inside. I filled the head to about 2/3 full. When I came back an hour later, twice that much was sticking out of the neck! No damage to the head though. I trimmed it this morning and it looks pretty good. I will probably apply some fiberglass to the foam to seal it for molding purposes. Its nice and rigid now as hoped. I still need to fill in some minor chips with plastic repair putty and do some sanding.

    foamed_head.jpg
     
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  27. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    PeeWeeFan said:
    See, I told you, Ha, Ha, I'm glad it came out good, keep up the good work!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2015
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  28. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I had a local shop take a look at the vinyl outfit on my clown. To make a pattern from it and reproduce it, they quoted $400 (not including the cost of the fabric). Cost of just the hat would likely be around $80.

    Looking at the pics from the movie, the hat appears to be the same style. I'm still trying to figure out the colors though. Do you think they are red, green, and yellow, like the most commonly found clowns and the vinyl has just faded?
     
  29. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wow!, $480 plus material seems way too salty to me, there's gotta be someone else that would do it for less, it's a baggy clowns' jump suit for crying out loud, not a very complex pattern, is it really that necessary?, unless your're trying to restore the original clown, you're going to cover it up with the polka-dot suit anyway, seems like it's just added weight that will put undue stress on the motor and moving parts.
    The hat colors are probably the stock red, green and yellow they came with, that's faded from the California sun, but I just watched the Blu-ray and it sure looks like orange, green and yellow, with a red ball, maybe they made a new hat too, ya never know.
     
  30. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The $400 included the hat. If someone were to buy the vinyl hat alone, it would be $80. The vinyl suit isn't necessary at all. I was just curious and thinking about restoring mine to its original state. I'm sure the price is based on the fact the vinyl is hard to deal with.

    The hat is definitely the same style, but the more that I look at it, I believe it may actually be a non-vinyl fabric (which would be much cheaper to have sewn!). I'll have to watch the scene a few more times. The rim does look like orange though.
     
  31. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I was thinking the same thing about the hat, it doesn't look like vinyl to me either, and they definitely stuffed it with cotton or something to make it stand up
     
  32. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    These older model clowns had red/yellow suits with orange trim; the hats were orange/yellow/green. As far as I know, they are all vinyl since they're built for outdoor use. I can't remember if yours came with a hat, but mine and the others I've found pretty much have the exact same hat as the movie (except orange got replaced with red whenever the color scheme of the suit changed).

    I agree it probably makes sense to just replicate the hat and not the entire suit.
     
  33. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I've been discussing reproducing the head with some more experienced folks than myself, and they highly recommend rotocasting. If rotocasting were done, the head would be one complete piece, have better detail, and be much stronger. For those interested in a clown head, what is the approximate price point that everyone is willing to pay? I would be providing them in paint-ready condition.
     
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  34. BestBike

    BestBike Active Member

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    Hey, PWF: Rotocasting seems like the way to go to me as well. Wish I could play along … but … but … but … (I'm with Brownie) … THAT CLOWN FREAKS ME OUT! Love that DB got this thread going and you guys are sharing information back and forth. I enjoy checking in on you guys and again and am glad someone is documenting this thing.


    No interest in having a full clown or a full head but wouldn't mind having just the face. It would look cool painted up with the evil clown grin and hanging on the wall like a mask. (That's all the clown I could handle in my home.) Keep it up you guys. -- BB
     
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  35. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Based on feedback received, I will be able to offer heads for $180 (excluding shipping). So, they are comparable to a tiger siren. For the animatronic portion, I recommend the purchase of the lifesize animatronic Pennywise. They can be purchased for $200 online. They debuted just last year, so they can still be found. Entertainment Earth states they will have some available beginning in August. Pennywise has the same motions as the Pee-Wee clown (YouTube videos exist if you want to see it in action). The only exception is that instead of waving with the right hand, he waves with the left. Also, his light-up eyes and soundtrack would need to be deactivated. Pic of Pennywise animatronic below.

    Pennywise.jpg
     
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  36. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That's a cool idea. If you have one normal face and the evil face, it would almost look like drama masks. When the master tool is completed, pulling just the face off and making a mold should be easy enough (much cheaper too!).
     
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  37. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Seems like we're on the same page, I was looking at Pennywise and thought the same thing, I was going to post it, but you beat me to it.

    I wonder how hard it would be to convert it to a righty, and you'd have to get a new open hand for it
     
  38. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I was wondering about changing the handedness as well. As for the hands, I would simply replace both with white gloves. The ones on it probably just screw on/off. The shoes could either be painted yellow, or they could be replaced by yellow costume shoes. There are costume shoes on eBay that look identical to those on the Pee-Wee clown.
     
  39. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    I am almost done with my base and bottom half of the clown, I'll post a bunch of photos and measurements this weekend (it snowballed into a bunch of new tool purchases and taking my clown almost completely apart). I found some hand truck wheels that look pretty close, might order a set of those too.

    Do you know which motor on Rex Engineering's site corresponds to that part no. 97? I don't see anything with that part number listed, maybe you have to call them since it's custom. Any idea what their price is? I'll probably order two so I have a spare.

    Not sure if you have the original shoes, but they are also just hollow vacuum-formed plastic painted yellow. I'm going to attempt to make a mold and vacuum form a copy of the shoes, although you could certainly use costume shoes and be close (I'm trying to stay as close to the original as possible).

    I'm still debating whether the movie clown had the original suit on underneath. I mailed the prop master, but he didn't remember anything (except that they only used one clown for the shots - I also asked him if it was the same clown from 'Night of the Comet'). I suspect it would look too thin without the suit. But during the 'evil face' shots, if you do frame-by-frame, you can see up the waving hand's sleeve a little bit. The ruffles definitely aren't there at the wrist .. can't really tell much about the rest of the suit unfortunately.
     
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  40. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The motor is not on their website. You will have to call them. If I remember correctly, the price was $100 (before shipping).

    My clown does have its original shoes. Let us know how the vacuum forming turns out. I might be interested in a couple pair while you're at it. I did start buying some material to make a vacuum form machine, but not quite there yet.

    After looking at the Night of the Comet clown closer, I'm pretty sure the suit was non-vinyl. It just does not have the shine that the vinyl ones do. Take a closer look and see what you think. I believe the Pee-Wee clown is wearing a suit underneath, but the ruffles were removed.
     
  41. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Hard to say about that 'Night of the Comet' suit. I agree it looks like another material in the photos, but it's also seriously faded/weathered. Not sure why someone would go through the trouble of making the same suit/hat/ruffles in another material. It is the only example of that color scheme I've found yet though.

    On a side note, this popped up in my searches tonight - from a place in KY called Guntown Mountain:
    clowny.jpg
     
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  42. BestBike

    BestBike Active Member

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    Yep. That would interest me, PWF. I would be in for a set of faces if you could eventually make that happen. I'll keep an eye on the thread. Thanks. -- BB
     
  43. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That clown has seen some better days! It seems like the clowns that were actually used for displays/promotions suffer from cracked heads. If they saw sunlight, they fell apart. It's a shame that so much effort was put into making the suit weather resistant and then they used styrene for the heads. I should probably reach out to WHYLouisville and Guntown Mountain and see if they would be interested in buying a head, too.
     
  44. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Here are some reference photos of my clown and his outfit (in future posts I'll attach photos of the various sections as I'm disassembling him). Luckily mine is in almost new condition - I feel fortunate after seeing photos of so many trashed clowns!

    DSC_8824.JPG DSC_8827.JPG DSC_8826.JPG DSC_8825.JPG
    DSC_8832.JPG DSC_8831.JPG
    DSC_8828.JPG DSC_8835.JPG
    DSC_8840.JPG DSC_8841.JPG
     
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  45. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Here are some photos of my old base, and the new one I'm constructing (with the older style platform). The name 'ROB' was scribbled under the base of my clown - the only identifying mark on the whole clown besides the motor brand! It looks like there was a plaque or sign attached to the corner of the base at some point. This must have been common - you can see it in the movie (shot of the clown from above after his bike is stolen, front right corner), and in some other clown photos on the web.

    Dimensions of the top platform I'm making are 21x19. Bottom pieces are 17x6 and 17.5x6. All the plywood is 3/4" thick, although the platform and two of the sides on my original are actually only 1/2" thick (I adjusted dimensions to compensate). I did a couple versions with various dimensions and these seem to match the photos best. The height also matches my original clown, and gives about an inch of clearance for the wheels (the wheels are 5 inch diameter, 1 inch thick).

    Indoor-outdoor carpet from the hardware store. It's a shade darker than my clown, but all of the local stores only have the one color. I'd like to see about finding some that's a little brighter green (it's bright under the clown's shoes too, so I don't think it's just sun fading).

    DSC_8816.JPG DSC_8822.JPG DSC_8844.JPG DSC_8845.JPG DSC_8854.JPG DSC_8898.JPG DSC_8899.JPG DSC_8901.JPG
     
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  46. billy baloney

    billy baloney Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Duckbutt said:
    Yes you should, it's one of the nicest I've seen, did you find it locally or on the web?
     
  47. BestBike

    BestBike Active Member

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    Dang, DB. That looks like it just rolled out of the factory. Even though this thing creeps me out, I wouldn't have passed up one in that nice of condition. Great find.
     
  48. PeeWeeFan

    PeeWeeFan Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    What year is your clown? It should be on the motor. I am just curious how many years these were made. Yours looks to be newer than most.
     
  49. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    I got mine off eBay 3 - 4 years ago. Pretty tricky to find, since the search terms produce tons and tons of unrelated clown junk. I've got a bunch of complicated queries that I've checked every night since then, and I've never seen another one. I haven't told my wife yet, but I'll buy as many of these clowns as I can find ;)

    I'll check the motor when I get the plastic torso off - the only sticker I can see with the torso on doesn't have a date. Not sure if mine is newer year-wise, or just well preserved (maybe only used indoors). It seems like there are mainly three different styles - original as in Big Adventure / Night of the Comet, new facepaint/suit with original base, and new facepaint/suit with rectangular base (like mine).

    PeeWeeFan - I forget to comment awhile back - is your torso attached to the bottom of your clown? It should be stapled around the main body, covering the motor and mechanicals. Maybe someone repaired it and put it back wrong .. I remember yours looking a little pear-shaped in the photos.
     
  50. Duckbutt

    Duckbutt Active Member

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    Double-post .. regarding base dimensions ..

    My original base is 6" tall (5.5" sides, 0.5" thick top piece). The top is 21x19x0.5, the left/right side pieces are 19x5.5x0.5, the front/back side pieces are 20x5.5x0.75. You can see the way they're assembled in the photos above - front/back are sandwiched between the left/right.

    I kept the top on my new base the same 21x19, since the older clowns seemed to have the same amount of room around the feet. The wheels are 5" diameter, and you can see about an inch of clearance above the wheel in the photos with this style of base .. so I used 6" high sides instead of 5.5". I shrunk the dimensions of the side pieces so that there is 1" of overhang on all sides (I originally tried 2" but it was too much - 1" is just enough to cover the wheels, so is probably correct).

    Still trying to find the same kind of wheels as the originals. In atleast Big Adventure and Night of the Comet, they're a shiny metal and rubber - similar to the below but more reflective:

    Stocking-Carts-Replacement-Wheels-8-inch-by-1-58.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015

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