Steel Wool PAX Booth 2023 Animatronics & Props
This year I was hired by Steel Wool Studios as a Creature Designer & Fabricator, and as my first large project I was given the opportunity to build some animatronics and props for our PAX West booth!
First was the Eclipse Animatronic, I wanted to make sure the biggest character we'd have on display would be able to interact with folks passing by- We ended up giving him the ability to talk (through pre-recorded VO) (thanks kellen!) aswell as a jumpscare that could be activated by a booth employee with a secret controller.
As for the build, I went off the original Eclipse sculpt, edited it, and added the components needed to make it a functional animatronic, which I then 3D printed, filled, sanded, and painted! A few of the other parts of the character were fabricated from scratch, specifically the hat and neckpiece, which were patterned out and sewn by yours truly.
I wanted to make sure any detail that could be seen through the vent opening was accounted for- the inner endoskeleton behind the face and arm shells are all there!
The final animatronic has a tilting head, voice reactive eye LEDs, 18 individually moving teeth that are also voice reactive, and (most importantly) his tapping fingers that lay on the vent frame!
I really wanted those fingers to make their presence known once activated (accounting for the fact he would be in the middle of a super busy con floor) , so while the vent itself is made of wood, I learned how to work with sheet metal for the outer frame so we could get that authentic- loud tapping noise to really freak people out.
Which worked out perfectly in the end!
Bringing Eclipse to life was super fun- but there was still a few more things to be built for PAX!
The second prop I built was Mr. Cupcake, who would be on display inside the Toy and Joy machine that was rethemed in collaboration with Rachael Kleban, who did the amazing art and signage on display in the machine!
Initially the Cupcake was only going to be a stationary prop with glowing eyes- but the idea grew into something a bit more! The final prop has the ability to emote with both eyes and eyelids individually to emote in a few different ways for that extra layer of intractability.
The prop on the first game's design, with the exception of the glowing eyes and candle- I just figured it would look really nice on the final prop (and it did!)
The paint was applied using different methods for each part to get the different effects, the frosting part of Mr. Cupcake was painted in layers to get a textured feel and the base was airbrushed. I really wanted to experiment on what effects would best translate the original model's textures into the real world!
Giant shoutout to Collin Topolski who runs the Ruckus Room Arcade, he offered the machine to us to retheme and his expertise getting the machine working properly was invaluable!
In the weeks leading up to PAX I built the last few props we'd have on display, with the biggest being the Circus Baby animatronic!
This build was done pretty fast, she contains full eye/eyelid movement as well but we ended up making her look a little more withered for PAX with a left broken eye.
I also included eyelights similar to the Cupcake to replicate the way she looks in the first location for her debut game: Sister Location!
The biggest part of this build for me was getting a ton of that tiny detail in the endoskeleton wires to really pop and make it come together- I'm happy with how everything came out in the end though considering a bulk of the work (aside from the printing) was done in about a week!
While Circus Baby was being built, I also built some extra scale props from FNaF Security Breach: RUIN that were to be put on display, so the focus with these was getting as much interesting detail and texture into these builds as possible, since guests would be spending a good chunk of time looking at them while in line for the PAX demo!
Those props were the V.A.N.N.I mask, the Freddy and Roxy talkys, and the Faz-Wrench!
The Talkys were made to look as if they were found in the sinkhole from the RUIN DLC, so they were airbrushed, hand painted for the detail bits, and then withered intensely to make them look as interesting and accurate as possible! I also made a clean looking version we had signed by Scott Cawthon, creator of FNaF, that was used in the giveaway we had at the booth!
The Faz-Wrench went under a similar process, but less withering. The idea was to make it look used but pretty well maintained, so you can still see some stains and other details on it.
I also included some lights that can be turned on via the access panel on the back!
And finally, my favorite of the bunch, the V.A.N.N.I mask!
This prop was the most tedious, and was also done the quickest! The main part of the Mask was done in a similar manner to the Cupcake, with texture being the most important part- It was done with airbrushing for the eyes and mostly hand painting the white and brown textured colors onto it .
After some light withering, staining and clear coating, I painted the back part of the mask a metallic black and then individually put in each of the textured octagons lining the inside.
The extra "metal" parts were added after that, I did end up going through some different iterations for the lens piece, which I ended up making more glass-like in the final build.
After all the small details were done and secured, everything was shipped out to seattle with the booth and set up for display during the con!
I was also given the opportunity to perform with both of my Freddy suits (Classic and Glam) throughout the days of the con, so the booth really came to life with all the animatronics hanging out around it!
It was an honor to be a part of such a cool project and bring all of these iconic pieces and characters to life-This was an amazing learning experience building so many varied things and running them for days straight, I'm very excited to keep fabricating even crazier stuff in the near future!