As you can see above, the cost of a ventriloquist dummy is very expensive! The first and most important decision is a cost-benefit comparison of making the dummy and buying the equipment (including an electric or hydraulic motor, sound box, and other components). There are various techniques for creating a convincing ventriloquist dummy, and the different methods will differ depending on whether you want to produce a performance model (usually an acrobatic dummy) or an acrobatic prop. A general rule to follow, based on an assumption of no significant differences in cost of equipment between both versions, is that a performer would only incur an additional $150 or so (less than 1/2 of the cost of a full-size prop) in the price of the ventriloquist dummy. As I explained in last month’s newsletter article on the cost of creating an acrobatic dummy, it is very easy to make a fully-functional acrobatic dummy that costs less than $10.
The first step in determining whether the cost per prop you need to buy is the same as or better than an acrobot/stuntman-type, is to figure out how much weight you need per prop (based on your desired “dummy body weight”). You can also use this figure to compare the cost of buying a prop from each model, to see who will likely pay more for the better performing prop. The main thing to keep in mind, of course, is that you use a “cost-benefit” calculus, NOT a cost (or profit) one. That means, no matter how cheap an acrobot, you’ll have to use a bigger prop and the higher cost to make said prop will be a percentage point higher, or even be higher! This means that if you are purchasing a prop for performance, you want to use a better quality prop and spend less, not more.
Let’s make the decision a little easier for future reference: you want the best performing prop, so the best performing prop is the lowest cost to make. This would lead you to a choice between a full-size prop, or a half-size prop. As mentioned above, if making a full-size prop is not an option, you will want to buy a prop with a slightly larger body than you need (or your body weight), so that you will not have to use a bigger prop and cost more.
For the ventriloquist, the most economical way to make the
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