Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Clown

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Duckbutt

Active Member
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!
 
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Duckbutt

Active Member
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 ass 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
 
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PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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.
 

Duckbutt

Active Member
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
 
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Duckbutt

Active Member
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
 
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PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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
 

Duckbutt

Active Member
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 ..
 

PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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.
 

PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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.
 
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Duckbutt

Active Member
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
 

PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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.
 

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PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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
 

Duckbutt

Active Member
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.
 

PeeWeeFan

Well-Known Member
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.
 

billy baloney

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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!
 
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Duckbutt

Active Member
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.
 

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