June 7-9 was the annual Rocky Mountain Haunters Gathering. This year we signed up to make several new animated props, as well as some fun, crafty art projects.
Mason Barton led a class in how to make his “Nibbler” art project. Mason provided the Nibbler kits for $10 each and my boys and I had a great time being creative and unique with each of our Nibblers. Hover over each picture for a description.
Joe Marquez and Karen Christensen led a prop build to make an animated prop of what they called the Twerking Ghoul. I prefer to call it the Crouching Ghoul. The kits cost $120. I was unable to take many pictures since I was busy building the prop, but I stole some from some of the other Haunters that were there.
Blaine Young led a prop build to make an animated Monster-In-a-Box. The kit cost about $100. He did all of the welding and put together the mechanism. We were expecting to have to put the mechanism together, but he did all of the work. The mechanism will be installed inside a box or inside our casket to make it look like something is trying to get out.
For Halloween this year I am dressing as a Ghostbuster. The khaki flight suit, the grey elbow pads, the belt with fobs, gadgets, and gizmos, black gloves, etc. are all part of the uniform. But what really makes a Ghostbuster a Ghostbuster is the Proton Pack. Now, I didn’t have $800 to $1,000 to spend on a full-size proton pack kit, so what were my options? Spirit Halloween released an 80%ish scale version of a Proton Pack this year. The shape and detail are actually pretty good considering it is an inexpensive ($70ish) toy version of the “real” thing.
With a little more money and a little bit of time the Spirit Halloween Proton Pack can be made to pass as a convincing proton pack. Here is what I did to mine:
First, I updated the lighting in the pack to have the correct rotating red lights on the cyclotron and the chasing blue lights on the power cell. I added red lighting gels and a GBfans.com lighting kit. I soldered the new lighting into the existing battery pack and left the original lights and sound effects in place.
Second, I removed the old decals with the heat from a hair dryer and masked off anything that should not be painted black. I cut a MDF motherboard for the backpack to attach to and to add some weight to the pack (it is very light). I hot glued some wood blocks inside the pack for the motherboard to be screwed to. I even added a Dixie cup holder V-hook to replace the cylinder knob to attach the wand to the pack. I used hot glue to add weld patterns to several areas to make it look like the originals.
Next, I painted everything with a Matte Black spray paint. I wasn’t too careful and there are some drips, but this is a Halloween prop, so it didn’t need to be perfect. In hindsight I would have waited to install the lighting effects until after painting it.
I then removed all of the masking tape and attached an Alice pack frame to the motherboard using black zip ties.
My Spirit Halloween Ghostbuster Proton Pack was now ready to add the finishing touches. I bought an upgrade kit from a member of GBfans.com on eBay for most of the cosmetic upgrades. The yellow tubing for the ion arm, the brass ion arm, the 80% scale cyclotron ribbon cable and cable clamp, various screws, the red and green tubing for the thrower wand, the white circles for the N-filter, and the black split loom over the green cable. All of these parts can be purchased separately, but it was convenient to buy them all from one source. This is what the upgrades look like installed without any other modifications.
The last step was painting the pack to look weathered and used and to apply the decals. I went with a heavily weathered look because the form of the Spirit Halloween Proton Pack was so sharp and rigid. I used Testors model paint: silver, gold, black, orange, and red, for weathering and for the buttons and lights.
I then applied all of the new decals including many that were not included on the Spirit Halloween Proton Pack originally. It took several hours to cut out and apply the decals. The decals can be downloaded from the GBfans.com website. I printed mine at between 80% and 83% of the original size. I added black paint to weather and dirty up the decals.
I wrapped the hand grips on the thrower with black electrical tape. I added a piece of gray foam pipe insulation with black zip ties to the Alice frame.
I couldn’t be more happy with how this turned out. I had planned on using a small iPod Touch Nano and a Bluetooth speaker attached to the motherboard to add all of the correct sounds, but ran out of time. Maybe in the future I will add those.
PS A friend of mine 3D printed a LifeGard II prop for me to wear on my belt.
One of the problems that I needed to find a solution to with our graveyard fence was that the 2’x2′ plywood bases caused the lawn underneath to die each year. I petitioned my friends in the Rocky Mountain Haunters group for help in solving this problem. Their answers ranged from fertilizing before setting them up or after I take them down, to moving them around every few days to keep them from damaging the grass underneath. The best solution was to use PVC pipe underneath the columns to keep them an inch or so off the ground, so the only damage would be small lines in the grass instead of a 2 foot by 2 foot square. I removed the plywood bases and screwed 1 inch PVC pipe on the bottoms. It works great!
Strong winds blew down our Halloween graveyard fence on October 20th and caused damage to the fence columns, finials, and busted the second skeleton sentinel for the second year in a row. I knew that I needed to find a solution to keep them upright in the strong winds we get here in Spanish Fork. The bottoms of my columns are solid wood. Again, my friends in the Rocky Mountain Haunters group helped solve this problem. I cut a square out of the solid block of wood on the bottom and drove T-posts into the ground through the center of each column. The fence is now secure from the winds.
2016 was a great year for prop building at The Never Moor.
This year we focused on adding more tombstones to our graveyard since our new home’s yard is three times the size of our old yard. We added about 20 new tombstones and props to our haunt. My kids really helped me A LOT (you’ll see in the video). Our costume theme for this year were characters from the Harry Potter books/movies.
Thank you to Jason Hogan, another member of the Rocky Mountain Haunters, for giving us 14 tombstone blanks. We covered and sealed the foam blanks with Stucco Patch, then painted with gray exterior primer, and then flat black and white exterior paint. My wife cut vinyl epitaphs with her Silhouette that turned out amazing.
I won a Free singing pumpkin animation today on Facebook! I chose “Dead Man’s Party” to add to the other 8 animations that we have for our Pumpkin PATCH and the Boo Brothers singing pumpkin concert.
Since the Halloween of 2013 we have included these singing pumpkins in our graveyard haunt. I often get asked if I animated them. I am not the animator, but John Nielson who manages the Halloween Fun and Christmas Magic Facebook page IS the talented animator behind the Disneyesque Singing Pumpkins that I use. He also has Singing Snowman animations and animations that you can project onto a wall, your garage door, or other flat surfaces. Check out his website and his Facebook page to find out how you can add your own singing pumpkin concert to your Halloween haunt.
For the head movement, modify the rear eye hooks so there are two side-by-side rather than just the one in the middle. You will see where to attach the strings to the top of the head and back/bottom of the neck by watching the video.
My 8 year old son helped me build this project in our spare time. We started it in June and finished it just in time for Halloween. We had a great time building it together.
↓ Here is an instructional video showing some of the steps we took to get our Cloaked Flying Crank Ghost (FCG) to have the movement that we achieved. ↓
I wanted to add two new characters to our haunt this year. A male and female ghost dancing in the graveyard. Kind of a tribute to the dancing ghosts in the Disney Haunted Mansion, but that look more like the Hitch-hiking Ghosts. I sculpted the faces with paper mache clay over the course of several nights. The girl’s face went through several different versions until I felt like she “went” with the guy.
I wanted to make some of the details of my tombstones “pop” more under the black lights that I use in my haunt. I opened a yellow highlighter and soaked the fluid-filled cotton stick with water to make a kind of paint to brush onto the tombstones. Once the highlighter fluid/ink was dry I hit those spots with a flat clear spray paint to seal it.
On Sunday, October 24th, there was a terrible storm that came through and damaged several of my tombstones and “power washed” a lot of the paint off of my fence columns. The wind and rain were fierce. I was really frustrated and upset, but was relieved to find that an anonymous neighbor of mine found the missing tombstone pieces and returned them to my house. Thank you to whoever found them. Here are some pictures of the aftermath of the storm.
The Dimmick Family's Haunted Halloween Maze located in Spanish Fork, Utah