Making Monkeys and Apes!

Making Monkeys and Apes!

Published by Jim Boulden on 2nd May 2017


Monkeys and apes are two of our favorite creatures to create.  They are so expressive and interesting.  In the past 35 years, we've made just about every monkey there is.  Here are a few examples along with types of construction techniques.


This is an animated Langur Monkey that swings and animated all day long inside a convenience store in Canoga Park, CA.  Here's a face close up:

Here is the frame build:

The upper "hand" actually covers up the connection with the steel tubing running horizontally.  This is a pneumatic figure with head, face, arm, and leg movements.  There are no electronics inside, just those thin air lines.  The air lines were disguised inside the long tail.  This animated rig hangs from one arm, and was installed in 2008 and is operating still today.


Here we see whimsical "Golden Monkeys" designed and built for The Bellagio Las Vegas,  These monkeys have bendable, aluminum armature inside to hold a pose.  In these photos, we see these monkeys hanging in the bamboo, at the venue.

Weight is a big issue when building these figures.  By keeping them light, they could hold just about any pose at all.


Of course, the first step is to do some research:

Here is Jim playing with a live chimp.

Then we pulled out the hand molds and started making feet, hands and heads with a latex skin and power-net backing.

Here's the adult chimpanzee face.  Animal Makers offers three sizes.  This is the male adult.  There is also the female adult and the youth versions to choose from.

Painted highlights and lowlights are added to the skin areas.  Hair is applied by punching method around the outside of the face and blended with the fake fur that comes up to around 2" away.  The rubber parts created in the art department are blended with the fake fur pattern.  The chest area shown below will get 2" of punched hair as well.

Here we see final assembly and color being added.

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