Hitting the non-wildlife side of Intrigued hard this month. I have way too many projects waiting in the queue and need to keep pressing if I ever want to see above the waterline this year. Priority one is to at least get through the Halloween related posts before we get deep into setting up this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears. There are always at least two haunt projects in the works here which always draws one or two strange looks from the service people that come into the house for one reason or another. The regulars are used to it by now and some have even started giving me feedback on the finished props positioned around the basement. The new ones have a very worried look and waste no time getting their tasks done ha! Today I thought I would bring you the latest addition to the collection.
I call him Toxic Spidey and is an elaboration on a store bought skeleton spider my nephew and niece gave me for Christmas this year. They know my sickness, I mean affinity for all things scary. I am really fond of this new wave of props that have been coming out that focus on skeletal structures of smaller animals and insects. Note, they do give us quite the chuckle when they keep the cartilage features like ears – this spider is slightly truer to reality although thankfully larger than the ones we see out in our woods.
Hit the jump to see how this lifeless prop gets a brighter life.
I have been completely amazed at the quality of workmanship they put into these skeleton insects/animals. The bone structure is made out of thick but slightly pliable plastic. They are typically constructed in pieces and held together by small screws verses lathering with contact cement and rushing them out to the shelves. They can also have moveable joints due to the ball in joint designs. My spider was held together by 5 screws and disassembled into 4 major parts; head, legs, left abdomen and right abdomen.
In a surprise change, the head was actually a solid mold. I wanted to put lights in the eyes and expected to enter a cavity once I broke through the top layer of the eyes. Not a big problems as I just started rotating the bit around scraping away some of the brains.
To get more of the cavity opened up, I put a hole in the back and again scraped out more of the brains from this angle being careful not to push all the way through the head. This created quite the mess in the lab.
Needing to feed wires from the LEDs through to the abdomen, I drilled another hole into the neck that fit into the joint created by the two abdomen pieces. Now I finally had a way to add in the eye lights and snake the wires to the rest of the circuit.
In addition to the eye lights, there needed to be something to light up the abdomen itself. Just green eyes doesn’t really give it that toxic look. The next step was to wire up the full circuit – two eyes and three additional LEDs all wired in parallel to a 9V battery. Don’t forget to add a resistor to each LED to handle the voltage left over from the stated drop across a single LED (remember they are in parallel, so each LED is getting the full 9V). Ohms Law of V=IR will give you the required resistor size. I do run tend to run mine slightly hotter than usual so I can stay in that 200 ohm range (bought a ton of those in bulk).
This is the point where I ran into a bit of an issue. Initially just used wire wrap for the eyes because that area was so tight. Once out of the head, I swapped back to 22 gauge. Somehow, one of the two LED leads in an abdomen light touched blowing the LED. That usually doesn’t happen as I always shrink wrap all my connections (they hold up better to stress and makes them less vulnerable to rain). Since I had to rewire all those lights, just used wire wrap for it all – note, I used white for both positive and negative because I wanted the wire to blend in better with the skeleton – make sure you keep your positives and negatives identified. After all the effort to hide the wires, I ran out of white shrink wrap ugh.
Big design kudos to my wife. I was trying to figure out what to put into the abdomen to help reflect the light – slapping three LEDs in there would have been really weak. She remembered a project I did many years ago that used those glass disks/bubbles often seen for wedding decorations (link here). Grabbed a bunch of those that were left over and hot glued them into a shape that matched the abdomen cavity.
Next step was to hot glue the eyes in and then attach the LEDS (also with hot glue) to the underside of the glass bead stack. When I attached the battery, I almost ran down and kissed her it looked that good (cooler head prevailed ha). Looks mighty toxic to me!
Next task was to reassemble the spider. Carefully hot glued the beads into one side of the abdomen, fed the eye lights into the cavity, positioned the neck into the rib cage socket and then attached the other side of the enclosure. Perfect fit and the wires were nicely positioned out of direct view. Screwed the body onto the legs with the last two remaining screws and then held my breath as I attached the battery – ladies and gentlemen, we have a toxic spider.
Not the greatest shot from the side, but does give you a look at how the beads nicely filled up the cavity shape.
Quickly killed the lights to get the full effect. The light diffused a bit more in the image due to taking the picture in the dark. It does glow nicely, but you can make out the shapes of the glass beads inside – an abdomen full of toxic offspring waiting to be hatched.
Here is a shot from the side – again, there is more detail than is actually showing in the picture.
Ran down to show Linda how her idea came out – also wanted her to put a few shots on Facebook so her nephews and nieces could see the improvements. Time to test out the scare factor – this unsuspecting girl was all I could find.
As you can tell, she was catatonic with fear!
Her face frozen in a state of panic and utter disgust.
This is going to look great out on the trail along with the rest of the demon spiders that prowl the woods during our Halloween event. For probably 5 hours of work, mostly in hollowing out the head and having to wire it twice, this turned out to be a fun little project.
I’ll put the battery in a nice case to keep it protected. Will not bother with a switch on it as it is super easy to just disconnect the battery.
Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial on our latest prop. This is the second one of these skeletons I’ve updated (will feature the other one in an upcoming post). Super easy to take apart and with very little effort you’ll have a nice prop to scare the kiddies with for years and years.