Welcome to my worklog where you can follow my progress from proposal to finished work.
TITLE: Wish Granting Machine Replica
DESCRIPTION: An animatronic kinetic art installation in the form of a coin operated “wish granting” machine. Functionally, the piece will operate as a coin operated game requiring player skill to shoot a coin into the figure’s mouth with the objective of earning a card dispensed at the front of the machine. Using photos and measurements of the original screen used prop, the piece will faithfully replicate the look and apparent operation of the prop as closely as is possible.
NOTE: This piece is not being made one-of-a-kind or limited edition. The number I make at one time is limited only by my shop space. As such, I may only make 10-30 in my lifetime or I could make more, should I receive requests. There is no per-determined limit for this piece.
TIMELINE: 4-5 months.
PRICE: $9375 + packaging and shipping.
SHIPPING: Unless otherwise requested, shipping will be done through North American Van Lines domestically and InXpress internationally. Accurate shipping will be calculated at the time of shipping, but quotes can be gathered once an address is provided. Estimates range as follows:
Includes $8000 insurance
Pallet + Protective Corners and Plastic Wrap = $100
Crate (optional) = $350
Domestic Shipping = $450-550
International Shipping = $ 950-1250
PAYMENT: Upon signature of the art commission agreement, you will receive and invoice for the first progress payment of 50% due for work to begin. A final invoice will be sent upon completion of the work for the remaining 50% plus packaging, shipping, any additional charges (if applicable), and sales tax (if applicable). Payments can be made by check or PayPal “Friends and Family”. NOTE: PayPal’s “Buyer Protection” terms stipulate that the service does not apply to “custom-made goods” (see terms here), therefore we will avoid using PayPal “Goods and Services” method as it would charge a hefty fee for Buyer Protection that does not apply. Instead, I will simply eMail you an invoice and you are welcome to choose paying by check or PayPal Friend and Family. Thanks for your understanding.
DIMENSIONS: 94” x 30” x 30” from the floor to the tip of the moon finial—subtract 3” from height if casters are detached.
The moon, dome, spades, and casters are each removable such that the piece can be exhibited in spaces with lower ceilings.
The crown, cabinet top, and figure will be able to be disassembled for easier storage and shipping, making the cabinet bottom 43” from the floor (with casters attached).
MATERIALS: Wood, metal, fabric, cast resin, acrylic, paint.
The cabinet’s rails and stiles are made from solid wood and panels from high quality plywood.
The figure, interior ramp assembly, molding, and dome are made from cast resin.
The figure’s costume will be made from both sourced and custom made fabrics, trim, and jewels.
The coin drop plate, card tray plate, hinges, and hand wheels are made from cast metals finished to appear like brass.
The windows are made from cast acrylic (if polycarbonate or glass is preferred, please discuss for an adjusted quote).
The painting and finishing will be done with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, crackling medium, gold acrylic, amber shellac, and a final protective top coat.
FEATURES: Every effort will be made to replicate the features of the screen used prop.
A false cloth wrapped cord and plug is attached to the side of the cabinet’s base to give the illusion of the machine being unplugged while it is on. Meanwhile, the real power cord can be found at the back of the machine.
All details (colors, textures, dimensions, figure shape, costume details, etc.) will match pictures taken of the original prop as closely as is possible.
Sounds will include a carnival theme resembling the song from the film (but not an exact match so as to respect copyright laws) as well as a breathing sound effect and mechanical relay sound effect that plays when lights turn on and off.
12V LED light tubes replicating fluorescent tubes are used for the game lights and overhead light. 12V LED lights are used for the eyes inside the head.
The bottom cabinet interior is accessible for servicing and to collect winning coins through locked panels at the cabinet’s rear. The upper cabinet’s interior (visible to the player) is accessible for servicing and collecting losing coins through a locked window. All locks are keyed the same.
The moon finial, dome, spades, and casters can be disassembled to reduce the piece’s height.
GAME PLAY: While the original prop was a puppet—not a playable coin operated game—this piece is designed to be played as a game while a faithful visual reproduction is given priority when choices must be made regarding functionality.
Servo and sound controllers by Gilderfluke, along with standard servos and LED light bulbs, are used to ensure reliability and serviceability. Gilderfluke controllers are used because they are robustly designed and fabricated to endure daily use for fifteen years in applications around the world such as theme park rides, fountains, haunted houses, and museum exhibits. Since no custom electronic components are used and standard parts are used wherever possible, this piece is effectively a customizable, upgradeable, serviceable animatronic installation with parts an components that can be sourced independently.
The player controls the ramp using two metal hand wheels. The hand wheels are each connected to an encoder that, communicating with the Gilderfluke servo controller, tells two servos to lift and twist the ramp. All electronics and mechanical ramp components are contained and protected inside a control box that can be easily be opened or detached and shipped back for servicing.
While the game is plugged in and not being played, the overhead lights remain on (there is no other attract feature), the red button is not active, and the hand wheels do not operate the ramp. A player must insert a coin to begin game play. Once a coin is inserted, it is stopped by a nano-servo arm and held in place on the ramp. Here, an IR break beam sensor registers the presence of a coin and activates a second nano servo to open a trap door under the coin insert such that no additional coins can be inserted to jam the machine (additional coin simply fall onto the play field and not returned to the player). The hand wheels become active (now allowing player to position the ramp), the figure’s eyes blink on, music plays, and the figure’s head rocks open and closed as a breathing sound effect plays. First, the upper left game light turns on with a mechanical relay sound effect—it reads, “Aim Ramp At Mouth”. The player must then rotate the hand wheels to position the ramp (left/right and up/down). Second, the lower center game light turns on with a mechanical relay sound effect—it reads, “Make Your Wish.” Third, the upper right game light turns on with a mechanical relay sound effect—it reads, “Press Red Button to Release Coin.” The red button is now active. The player attempts to time their shot such that the coin rolls down the ramp and into the figure’s open mouth. If successful, the player receives a card from the card tray. If not, no card is dispensed. In either case, the machine then turns off, ready for another coin.
The coin acceptor uses an IR break beam sensor to register any coin that fits (e.g., penny, dime, nickel, quarter). This design choice was made due to limited space such that a high degree of replica accuracy could be maintained.
Once a coin is inserted and registered by the IR break beam sensor, a trap door opens such that any further coins inserted will fall into the play field and not returned to the player.
REFERENCE: Working from photos and measurements of the original prop, color, texture, dimensions, and all other details will be matched as accurately as is possible.
To achieve the proper color and texture, several layers of paint and finishes will be used including Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, along with a crackle medium, amber shellac, and final protective coat of polyurethane.
Wherever possible, a high degree of replica accuracy will be maintained except when a detriment to stability, serviceability, and reliability. In these cases, liberties will be taken to ensure quality and minimize inaccuracies.
Some details of the prop in its current state appear to be repairs, so all research photos of the prop are cross-referenced with images from the film to ensure accuracy.
This piece is a replica of the film prop that originally included the words, “Zoltar Speaks”. However, the name “Zoltar Speaks” as it relates to a coin operated fortune teller arcade machine was trademarked after the film came out. It would be unkind and unlawful to describe this piece as Zoltar Speaks or to depict those words anywhere on the piece.
As such, I can create blank signage or signage with the words “Fortune Teller”, “Wishes Granter”, or “Make A Wish” in the lettering style depicted in the original prop. For signage with any other words, you must customize the signage yourself. If you need help customizing the signage, I am happy to guide you.
If you would like to purchase an official Zoltar Speaks machine, please contact Characters Unlimited.
Originally, a similar piece was commissioned by FAO Schwarz for exhibition in their store and at trade shows. The client had specific requests, so their piece differs in many ways from the work proposed here (game play, color, level of replica detail, texture). This piece can be found in the flagship FAO Schwarz store at Rockefeller Center, NYC.
The video below demonstrates the previous build commissioned by FAO Schwarz. While the work proposed here will be as described above, this video gives an approximation of what the piece will be like.
Coming soon …