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Dollar Store tribute to Kong & O’Brien?

March 15, 2013

Always occupied with vicissitudes of life and I thought that I had already published this last month. Only now realizing that I did not ever publish this … WTF?! Here is what I forgot to post to SMW News last month ….

Did the Title grab your attention? So, I was roving my eyes in the toys section and to my astonishment, I said to myself “Holy S–t!” and saw an item called ‘Puzzle Links’. For the more hard core Stop Motion Harryhausen enthusiaats & practioners, here is photo below which I think you might figure out ‘why’ this SMW News topic title ….

For those general public or stop motionists who may not be into the deep history of the O’Brien’esque or Harryhausen’esque type Stop Motion art & craft, this may help you make the connection about the armature joints ….

Do you see it? The puzzle links use very similar joint design as in original King Kong Armatures which were used primarily for the spine. We Stop Motionists call these ‘Hinge Joints’. These joint movements are straight-linear which differs from ball joints in which its motion is omni-directional (ball joints). A ‘Hinge Joint’ is very strong especially for thick’ish heavy anatomy designed characters especially for large’ish stop motion puppets that have to push a lot of rubber.  O’brien in those days used somewhat advanced stop motion armaturing methods. IMO, I do not think O’brien actually invented these kinds of joints, but instead, in the 1900 circa, much consumer and machinery used mechanical methods as typical of the ‘Industrial Age’. My speculation is that O’brien or one of his colleagues may have seen some machinery using hinge joints and was an inspirational idea for using in stop motion armature fabrication.

I already know what you are thinking, “Can I convert these puzzle links for lightweight stop motion armatures?” The puzzle links are not under tension and they merely snap together. On the inside of each link unit there are hollow indentations, so the link/joint only locks into 6 positions. When joint does lock on an indentation, there is LOTs of play & slop. So ‘IMO’, they are not really suitable for serious stop motion work, however, for novelty purposes one can attempt to modify these plastic joints by grinding away the plastic protuding nodules (see image below), then drilling through joint’s center, you then insert 2-56 threaded mini-screw, and on other side use a 2-56 T-nut (cut-off the prongs) as a capture nut. You can then maybe just animate the Puzzle Joint figure ‘naked’ so joints can freely move and support its own weight ….

However, I also might be wrong in my opinion about not using these plastic toy joints. Patrick Boivin has done incredible stop motion with modified TOYS!

The name of the store here in  USA where I found these puzzle links: DOLLAR TREE STORE located in Dollar Tree USA and Dollar Tree Canada. Their online catalog only list some of products in store. The puzzle links items are not online and only in the store. Just remember, in general RETAIL or any products, if an item does not sell, it will be discontinued. They do NOT indefinitely carry the items. If one becomes obsessive in hoarding, I suppose that you could possibly contact the company’s customer service directly and inquire about placing larger quantity orders, so that you can satisfy your compulsion behavior ;) . The 12 digit UPC bar code # for the Puzzle Links is # 639277641335

Topics: How-to, Stop Motion, Stop Motion Armatures | No Comments »


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