Well folks, today we officially close out the Halloween 2017 blog series. I wanted to get this done before Christmas arrived and thanks to a quick check with the calendar it looks like I am coming just under the wire. To be honest, there is a good reason for the delay thanks to trying to wrap up all the prep work on another series I’ll be introducing very soon – as a foreshadow, if you do not like birds you are going to be seriously disappointed. I’ll try to break that up a bit with some other topics, but I am not going to pull punches on that – it is going to be hard uppercut of feathers coming your way.
Hope I didn’t scare you with that foreshadowing, because I’m saving the nightmares for THIS:
Yes folks, it is the second part of the legendary Trail of Tears Haunted Trail. In the last post I took you through the first part of the trail (link here). I purposely broke that post off at the point where the trail content delves deeper into hell. Just in case you are new to the trail, my friend in haunt, Paul, and I set the trail up to be scarier the farther you go along the trail. This gives parents and the faint of heart the opportunity to drop tail and head back for the safety of the house. As with the previous post, I am going to let you enjoy the photos we took right before tear down (about 2am) rather than go into much detail. Rain was coming fast preventing us from really taking the time to get the good low light camera out – luckily we were able to make a quick run through with the cell phone and capture what we could,.
My brother Ron got me the smoldering ghoul below. It comes with a fogger attachment to give it a real burning effect. I still need to pick up a fogger for next year, but it looked sufficiently creepy on its own!
Hit the jump to see and read a bit about the rest of the props on the 2017 Trail of Tears Haunted Trail.
My graveyard searcher had a few issues when it made its debut last year. Those were addressed over the course of the year along with finally getting a lantern (picked it up from Home Depot). That lantern was super light so didn’t put any stress on my moving arm linkage – it also had a built in spooky sounds making it the perfect addition. Worked perfectly throughout the night. Next year I’ll be adding a sound module to it.
Did I mention it moved hehehe?
It seems like the key to good animatronics is the SECOND year. The issues we encountered with last year’s new animated decorations were addressed in the off season. Those all worked great this year. Unfortunately, some of the new additions for this year suffered some failure points that will need to be corrected for next year. The dancing zombie had its clothes get caught up in the motor linkages sometime over the course of the night. Ron noticed it was bound up and thankfully cut the power to it before it burned up the motor. Frustrating due to the amount of time that was spent to get it to this point (tutorial link here). Hoping most of the guests got to see it working when they went through the first time.
.. .and then there is the new clown that ended up being a design on the fly element. Brad and I were working on putting the other Posies together and we noticed there was an extra frame. Hmmmm – after a couple of looks at each other we quickly went into creative mode and came up with this.
Nothing like two more months of therapy to get over that nightmare – holy crap. Brad came up with adding the bat. Thanks to the post Halloween clearance sale at Spirit this year, I was able to pick up one evil looking bat prop for next year. The original idea was to have her taking a swing at the severed head in the hand of Hugs the Clown. Last minute decision to spare our guests that horrific scene and opted for the more socially acceptable pose.
My first Posey (version 1.0 with no movable joints) was back on the trail this year. For version 1, this decoration has really stood the test of time. Ron thought of casting the red light on it to amp the scare factor out of the park.
The new signature piece for the 2017 trail. This prop ended up consuming a tremendous amount of time to get built, prepped for the trail and even posed a bit of trouble getting it to work once we got it out there. The motor wire came off in the transport and didn’t want to go back – then we experienced a splitter failure that cut power to that part of the trail. I have NEVER had a splitter go bad in my life. Basically a few wires encased in solid rubber – how could that possibly go bad. The good news is we got everything fixed. This was also the first prop that had the full sound experience thanks to a Nano and an MP3 shield module. That worked well until sometime late in the night. Will investigate why we lost sound during the off season. Also need to make a few adjustments to the design to make it more store worthy.
around and around, the nightmare never stops.
Did I say 2 months of therapy — waaaay off, this alone will keep a psychologist’s kids funded through college.
… and then there’s Hugs the Clown. Even though we forgot to light up the eyes (they were green), this big guy ended up being a favorite for the night. Ron said a number of people were getting selfies by it which kind of tells you something about my friends. I have to admit, this particular prop came out exactly as I had envisioned it while out on a rather long run one day. Did I mention my 2-3 year old great niece thought the trail was funny… her mom and dad should keep an eye on that one.
Next up the new Soul Crusher Demons. Now, we did remember to get the eye lights turned on for these props. Last year I made a Posey corpse that was sans appendages for a zombie attack scene. When we were staging the trail, this corpse ended up being set near where the Demons ended up being placed. After putting the Demons up, one look over at the corpse and it was obvious what had to happen.
Never noticed until processing the pictures for this post, but the High Priest Soul Crusher had a disturbing green tint to it.
That was a pleasant side effect of putting the Soul Crusher Deity across from it. That had green eyes that produced the effect above. Ever wonder what happened to the appendages of the corpse sacrifice. Well, wonder no more.
Another new Posey based prop for the trail. Those new foam chest plates really worked well.
One of Paul’s props once again took their proper place on the trail.
This dude wasn’t working right last year – think it was one of two sensors that was acting flaky over the course of that night (other being the howling wolf). This year all of the sensors were dead on – nice job Ron … now if I could just get him to work up the schematics so I can share with all of you hehehehe.
Going my way!?!
For something that doesn’t look that evil in the light, Paul’s skeleton prop takes on a completely different feel out on the trail.
… add in some old school tint to the shot and good luck getting to sleep that night.
More of Paul’s props clearly amping up the scare factor for the back half of the trail.
The raising skull was new for 2017. Saw this at Menards and well, there wasn’t much convincing that it needed to be added to the collection. One problem was the price. When it comes to price points for my decorations, I am always willing to wait it out. Sure enough, this dude went on sale before the big day and he came home with me.
He starts about 2 feet off the ground. When our sensor is tripped (you can see that on the left side of the prop), it lights up, emits a spooky sound bite and then begins to rise up.
Guessing it comes up about 2 more feet and even turns left and right. The mechanics were so intriguing that I removed the fabric from the base so I could see how it worked – once again those clever commercial prop people were able to carry this out thanks to those tiny DC motors and a pulley. Will be replicating that mechanism on some of my new creations next year.
Even more props from Paul’s impressive collection.
Hmmm what is everyone looking at?
Ah, the flaming pumpkin. Paul manages all of this. He carves the pumpkin, brings the kerosene and the rest is pyro goodness.
Big thanks to Billy for getting a good picture of the pumpkin this year. This is our definition of a lighted pumpkin. Everyone sees something different, but I immediately saw a headless horseman riding a horse coming out of horned devil pumpkin. You can see more flaming pumpkins images from our 2015 trail (link here).
Wow, Paul has a lot of cool hanging props.
Truer words have never been written.
This Posey frame got a burned out zombie look.
Okay, this is Paul’s amazing contribution to the animatronics this year. He built this prop himself (many of our guests went away thinking this was purchased pre-built). Nope, he built the frame, got the mask and clothes to replicate the Herman look and then took it to the next level.
Herman would rotate at the hips AND the head at random times and random degrees. Totally awesome – thanks to his tutorial I am now in possession of the servos he used and dying to get in the lab and put them to good use. Nice job Paul, can’t wait to see what moving haunts he brings to the trail next year
Until then, I’ll leave you with his new scene for this year – the HAUNTED CHRISTMAS. Hard to tell, but the snowman was covered in webs and spiders and Santa… well…
Santa was Chucky Santa. Think about that in a couple of days when Santa is coming down your chimney … or rather Chucky Santa.
Alas, all things come to an end. The coming rains forced us to stay up late tearing the trail down. Can’t complain though since we were in t-shirts for the party in middle of October. We were bringing the last of the props that were not rain proof up around 3:30am and it was just starting to rain. Thank god Ron convinced me to forego sleep and get that done – it ended up raining for 4 days straight preventing Paul and I from getting the rest of the trail torn down until it subsided – made for quite a soggy mess getting the last of those props off the trail.
While Ron and Paul were helping to get as many items as we could packed up that night, they stumbled on the largest Timber /Wolf Spider I have ever seen on our property. That arachnid was damn big. They were gracious enough to let it go unharmed – after all, we were invading his home that night, not the other way around.
Here’s a close up for those suffering from arachnophobia. I could soothe your fears and tell you this is the only time we have encountered a creature next or even in our props… but that would be a lie. When you build a haunted trail through the heart of a large forest, you can expect to see some interesting things.
Over the next couple of weeks, all the props are torn down and stored away. This is the reason I pay soooo much attention to the storeability during the design phases on my projects. I want it to take up as little room as possible… so I can continue to add to the collection of course. That sigh you just heard, came from my Linda.
There you have it – another successful year of scaring our close friends and relatives. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together next year – bigger, scarier and unless I get some help… probably more demented. Thanks to everyone that came and experienced the trail. Keep your calendars cleared for next year’s offering.
In case you are curious, this year’s trail stats (just my decs – Paul’s would add to this):
40 9V batteries
194 AA batteries
6 AAA batteries
6 C batteries
5 wiper motors
one badly dented tailgate