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For Halloween, I build huge props (steam train, pirate ship, etc) in my yard.  In 2010 it's a steampunk drilling machine from the center of the earth.
For Halloween, I build huge props (steam train, pirate ship, etc) in my yard. In 2010 it's a steampunk drilling machine from the center of the earth.
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    1. Peter Montgomery Creator on


      Thanks so much for both the kind words and the donation. You know, there is a ton of information out there on the web on how to make props. The really cool thing about a lot of Halloween props is that they are supposed to look "bad." In other words, Halloween props should be old and weathered, chipped and broken. If you're not confident in your skills, this gives you the freedom to plunge in anyway because it's hard to say that something is "wrong" when it's supposed to look decrepit!

      If you're interested, start with something small, like some tombstones. The shapes are simple, the techniques for carving the lettering is well documented, and it gives you a chance to practice basic paint techniques for aging, texturing, and weathering.

      Here are 2 very good links with "how to" info on making tombstones:

      Go for it!

    2. Kathy Clarkson on

      Hi Peter,

      Great stuff! Happy to contribute to a fellow Halloween lover with greater skills and motivation than I possess! I love to decorate and I think I do a pretty good job, but it's all store bought stuff. Haven't taken that next step into construction yet. Maybe now that I've discovered this site it will help light a fire under my behind. Good luck from the East Coast!

    3. Peter Montgomery Creator on


      I created my entire animatronic system (both software and hardware) from scratch. I have been through a few generations of the system to get to what I am running today. When I started, there really was nothing you could buy off the shelf, except for systems aimed at (and priced for) professionals. I wanted to do professional level work, but needed to build the system myself to do it.

      Check out this page...

      ...on my site for more details, including a 12 page section on the building of the Talking Raven.

    4. Peter Montgomery Creator on


      Thanks for the donation!

      If you read click the "My Halloween Maina" link on my SoCalHalloween site... can read story that will sound very familiar to you. I have been along the same path of starting small, building bigger, and ultimately getting into "themed" shows. It seems like a lot of kids grow up wanting Halloween to be as cool as they hoped for as a kid. As you know, it just takes a lot of drive (and begging friends) to make it happen.

      I checked out the Wompedy site, and it looks like you did some really cool Halloween displays. Hopefully you'll decide to do it again some day.

    5. Stephen on

      This looks incredibly cool. What kind of control software do you use to control the animation, lighting, audio?

    6. Daniel S Dunnam on

      Your set pieces look super great. I'm reminded of stuff my friends and I used to do in Dallas. Much like you, I did it for years on a smaller scale dreaming of something bigger and inching my way there until finally in the late 90's "Extreme Halloween" was born. For several years the confluence of factors came together and my longterm vision was realized. Each year a theme, Alien Landing/Hillbilly Death Swamp/1940s Mental Hospital for the Criminal Insane/etc., then an elaborate front yard setup. There's a write up about it, and some videos on this site. Sadly not as many as I'd have liked. Digital cameras and stuff weren't what they are now back in 1997 or whatever. Anyway, good luck! and

    7. Peter Montgomery Creator on


      Thanks for the help. It all counts toward getting this drilling machine made.

      Regarding reference materials, there aren't specific things I have to recommend. So much of what I have learned has either come from just trying things, or from working with people who do. However, why don't you contact me by sending me an email using the "Questions or Comments" section of my website...

      ...and let me know in more detail what you're trying to accomplish. I might be able to provide some more helpful information that way.

    8. Michael Manchester on

      Hi Peter, I wanted to show my support with a modest donation. I'm interested in these kinds of displays. No doubt you've picked up a lot of skills over the years. Any reference materials you can recommend for someone who wants to learn more about these techniques. There's a diorama that I want to build and I have a few books but they're pretty dated. Thanks again and best of luck. Michael Manchester

    9. Peter Montgomery Creator on

      James and CB,

      I really appreciate the help! CB, Here's hoping your blog post will drive some donors.

    10. Missing avatar

      CB** on

      I created a post on my blog about your project. Hopefully more donation will follow.

    11. Missing avatar

      James M on

      I have been a fan ever since I came across your talking raven. I am glad I can help your efforts to bring my favorite holiday alive. Keep up the great work. I hope to see the display in person some year.