A few years ago, I got into Halloween and decided I wanted to make an animatronic figure to decorate my house with. I wasn't really good with electronics, so I used what my skills were to make the animated figure. I decided that my animatronic figure would be the Grim Reaper...
What you need to do this project is:
-Wood- You need to build the animatronic's armature out of something. Wood seems to work just fine. I used scrap wood that I had around the house.
-Small Oscillating Fan- This is what I used to animate the prop. The Grim Reaper would turn his head from side to side.
-Skeleton Mask- I found one at Party City on clearance for $2.99. It worked...
-Black Sheet- Dress up your Grim Reaper. I actually used a black tablecloth.
-Sickle- The Grim Reaper carries around his sickle. I made one out of a palm tree branch. Get creative.
Step 1: Build the Armature
I built the armature of my Grim Reaper mostly out of scrap wood. When I ran out of wood, I used some PVC pipe. Building the whole thing out of wood or building the whole thing out of PVC really wouldn't make all that much of a difference.
How exactly you build it doesn't make all that much of a difference either. All of this will be covered up, so as long as the frame holds up, it will work. An important feature of my design is to put a flat piece of wood at the top of the frame, where the neck would appear to be. This is where the fan will go, so it should have a stable place to sit. Build your armature accordingly based on how your fan will fit into the frame.
Step 2: Add the Fan...
I next added the fan to the frame. The fan should be resting on some stable surface. On my armature, it's a flat piece of wood. I secured the fan by taking 4 long wood screws and drilling them through the frame so they would come out just above the base of the fan, without going into the fan. This allowed the fan to be easily removed by unscrewing the screws, but it also kept the fan attached to the frame pretty well.
Step 3: Dress Up the Reaper...
All that's left is to dress up your Grim Reaper. I placed the mask over the cage of the fan. I put the sheet over the rest of the Reaper, and put my palm frond sickle in one of his hands.
Plug him in and play some creepy music and scare the trick or treaters with no problems!