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I am going to dress up as Beaker from the Muppets for Halloween. For those unfamiliar with the Muppets he looks like this:

It's Beaker

Basically I need to make a large mask/helmet that will fit over my head. The overall construction would be fairly simple where the hair, eyes, and mouth are concerned.

My issue is I don't know how I can control the mouth. I want it to be able to move without any obviously showing controls. Since I am against the method his mouth is normally controlled on the puppet I need to make it open somehow. Closing seems simple enough if I uses elastics to pull it closed again. I am unsure how I can get some sort of cord in place to pull it open without being seen.

In a perfect world it would be something that I could use without having to place my hands need my chest for a pull cord but I am not holding out for that.

  • Beaker has always been my favorite Muppet--great costume! – magerber Oct 5 '17 at 0:13
  • It has been an aspiration of mine for a while so I am looking forward to it. Seemed like a good excuse to ask a question. – Matt Oct 5 '17 at 0:17
  • I love Beaker too! Especially his green lab coat. I have a Beaker doll on my desk at home - he is awesome! Great idea. Good luck with the mechanics of his mouth. Just one more reason to miss Jim Henson, right? – user1798 Oct 10 '17 at 23:47
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As a basic strategy, you might consider having the elastic/spring hold the mouth open, and use something controlled by your mouth to close it when you close your own mouth. That way you could make him talk in a realistic way by simply opening your mouth each time you say a word, which of course you'd want to do anyway :)

As far as mechanism is concerned, a "string" (tensile member) of some sort might be easiest. My mind goes to a cable of the sort used on bicycle hand-brakes, where the cable runs through a housing. This would give you flexibility to position the actuator anywhere you wanted without having to worry about keeping the "cable" tight. The cables they use for gear shifters are lighter gauge and would still be plenty strong enough. Maybe you could adapt a set of costume teeth (maybe vampire type or something) to act as the actuator. That would fit in your mouth but still allow you to speak and you could maneuver them in and out of your mouth I expect without too much trouble, even without use of your hands.

Maybe the "mouth controller" end of the cable could just pull the bottom lip in when you close the teeth, perhaps with a coil spring (ball-point pen type, maybe longer) doing the needful to open the mouth on the return stroke.

  • I get how a spring would do it but how could I get an elastic to hold the mouth open – Matt Oct 5 '17 at 0:57
  • @Matt One way would be if you attached the bottom "lip" to a lever inside. Then pulling the lever up with an elastic band would open the mouth. This assumes there is an effective pivot point for the bottom lip. That would depend on details of its construction of course, you'll need to judge all that for yourself, but that might give you some ideas. – scanny Oct 5 '17 at 1:24
  • Beaker doesn't really "talk" – Not The Face Oct 5 '17 at 20:39
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    @NotTheFace He sings in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=VnT7pT6zCcA, which would require mouth movement. So yes, perhaps he doesn't form a wide variety of sophisticated words, but all the mechanics for talking would still be relevant, even if he only says "Meee-mee-mee" :) – scanny Oct 5 '17 at 21:05
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    I plan to do much meeping – Matt Oct 6 '17 at 2:49

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