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How we build it

materials and Motors

Over the years we have experimented with a multitude of different materials to build our displays. Below you will find charts with very basic ratings showing the pros and cons of using different materials to build displays. Some good reference books for display building ideas are Animatronics by Edwin Wise, and 507 Mechanical Movements by The Naval Education and Training Program; They offer foundational items that you can build on over time, as I have, to make your display better every year. My choice materials are mdo plywood primed with kilz then paint with behr paint for large backgrounds or createx airbrush paint for details and highlights. I also use medium duty motors primarily with low RPM that cost anywhere from $60- $170. I also like to clear coat frictional items with u-pol clear spray. i use a number of anchoring systems such as rigid EMT, rebar, horseshoe camping stakes, etc. to keep the wind and thieves away from my displays. 

Display MaterialDurability RigidityFInishCostWeight

Particle Board 1/2"278$heavy

MDO Signboard988$$Low

Exterior Plywood 1/2"786$$medium

Coroplast (Corona) 10mm979$low

Sheet Steel 0.065869$$heavy

Sheet Aluminum 0.0801069$$medium


A/C Motor Rotisserie($$greatgood

A/C Motor medium duty geared($$$58

D/C Motors ($$85

D/C Servos ($85


DurabilityFinishCleanupCostContainer Size

Ceramacoat Paint acrylic brush on (Craft Store)5410$2oz+

Water based latex (BEHR equivalent at Home Depot)9910$$qt/gal

oil based paint (Craft Store)993$6

Createx airbrush paint AUTO(TCP$2 oz+

Artist Heavy pigment waterbased paint(Aaron Brothers or Art supply)941072 oz+