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Panto dragon with cantilever wings.


Ynot
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OK - panto planning time again for January next year.

Sleeping Beauty - been asked for ideas on how to 'do' the dragon.

 

Needs to be impressive - fire-breathing was mentioned, but no - that ain't gonna happen on my small stage :)

 

We have less than 5 feet of wing space either side, not a lot of depth (stage front to back wall is just 24 feet) and no flying options. But we like to set ourselves a challenge.

 

We normally have a back-build, which forms the basis of the main set piece scene, this year will be the castle of Beauty's royal parents, and that can be up to 4 feet deep, and also masks the cast's cross-over from stage L to R.

 

I've thrown a few minor ideas around, but none will have quite the impact I'd like (or the director) so thinking a little harder I've pondering this:

 

The upper level of the back-build has a set of large doors, dressed as the castle interior on the front for the most part of the show - these open on cue to reveal the dragon 7 feet in the air, which could potentially be wheeled a couple of feet further downstage to overhang more, and then unfold a set of cantilevered wings and mobile head/neck.

Ideally it can't be more than about 7 feet tall but wing span - the bigger the better in the space we can use

 

Sounds ideal, and would look absolutely perfect IF I can get it to work, and either find or build the beast in question. :)

 

Which of course is where the BR hive mind comes in.

It is possible that someone else has had a similar idea and actually HAS a mobile dragon for loan/hire to an am-dram company - if that's the case then by all means get in touch!

 

Alternatively, suggestions on a postcard on how we might construct one .

 

The dressing of the dragon itself may be an easy fix as we have a local guy whose life has been spent (literally) creating monsters & dinosaurs (he's worked on Dr Who and the latest Jurassic movie for example) so with that in mind, it's the mechanics that I'll need to look at...

 

OK - open for ideas, guys...

:D

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How about two three section pantographs inside the wings. If they are each made of six two-foot long struts they should easily fit behind the set, will extend to almost six feet on either side and will droop appropriately. A couple of strings to make them extend and retract and the job is done. Some sort of concertina style covering will be needed.
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Also - if you still want fire breathing, you could consider a high power narrow beam LED lantern behind a very small (radio controlled?) fogger, so the par can beam illuminates the fog as it exists, giving the impression of smoke and flames.

We copped out on the visible dragon on a similar small stage. However for our recent 'Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew' we had two led PARS on out of sync red/orange chases through some fog and it was very effective for our dragon in a cave. Good luck with the visible dragon!

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How about two three section pantographs inside the wings. If they are each made of six two-foot long struts they should easily fit behind the set, will extend to almost six feet on either side and will droop appropriately. A couple of strings to make them extend and retract and the job is done. Some sort of concertina style covering will be needed.

Yep - some sort of pantograph is where I'm thinking of going.

 

 

 

 

Also - if you still want fire breathing, you could consider a high power narrow beam LED lantern behind a very small (radio controlled?) fogger, so the par can beam illuminates the fog as it exists, giving the impression of smoke and flames.

Similarly, yes - light behind fast dispersing fog is the plan.

 

 

 

 

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The official giant floating monsters that a certain well known Panto company use a lot are nowhere near as big or real as you think - a rats head and a paw that reaches out of the darkness is enough to make an audience swear blind they saw a complete 3D rat so don’t concern yourself too much with the details of your prop. A good head and some wings that flap out of a cloud of smoke is all you need.
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There are a few videos on’t net showing how the flying monkeys were done in Wicked. They have wings that appear to open out in a fashion that might be possible to scale up.

Certainly when I first imagined what you described in your first post, I saw a set of wings that each formed an upside down “v” shape. Hinges as they attach to the body and again at the top of the V. Some steel wires around the v top hinge will allow them to extend outwards as the wing lowers where it leaves the body. So the V flattens out in effect.

 

Not only will it look more “flappy” but it means no extending sections are needed. You can get wings twice as long as the available height. If you go a step further then you mount the wings so the whole arrangement can hinge forwards for storage. Now in their stowed position the wings can sit just behind the door laid for wards and as the dragon pulls out of the door they swivel to be upright - even more space saving.

 

No idea if the above works - I’d need to break out the Lego box. (Yes I use Lego for prototyping!).

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There are a few videos on't net showing how the flying monkeys were done in Wicked. They have wings that appear to open out in a fashion that might be possible to scale up.

Certainly when I first imagined what you described in your first post, I saw a set of wings that each formed an upside down "v" shape. Hinges as they attach to the body and again at the top of the V. Some steel wires around the v top hinge will allow them to extend outwards as the wing lowers where it leaves the body. So the V flattens out in effect.

 

Not only will it look more "flappy" but it means no extending sections are needed. You can get wings twice as long as the available height. If you go a step further then you mount the wings so the whole arrangement can hinge forwards for storage. Now in their stowed position the wings can sit just behind the door laid for wards and as the dragon pulls out of the door they swivel to be upright - even more space saving.

 

No idea if the above works - I'd need to break out the Lego box. (Yes I use Lego for prototyping!).

Interesting...

My brain's been pondering different design options for 3 days now (usually when it SHOULD be letting me sleep :( ) and the latest thought was on the extendable pantograph idea with some flexible 'uprights' which are pivoted on the panto connections onto which the wing fabric can be attached...

However, the inverted V does sound simpler and perhaps more achievable... With the bonus that with that framework it would be practical to backlight the wings (the pantograph would obviously show through if we did that)...

 

Hmmm...

Food for further thought

 

Oh - and I'll be modelling the ides with cardboard/balsa/whatever I can find, though not sure on the lego for this one - that's intriguing in itself :)

 

 

 

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Have a look at crop sprayers. A few on eBay at the minute and they come in all shapes and sizes. The boom setup designed for a quad or small tractor might prove a good starting point with all of the pipework and nozzles removed. They’re effectively a truss with hinges along their length to enable them to open out.
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  • 11 months later...

Finally got round to importing footage from the panto DVD - I'm quite pleased with how the dragon finally ended up.

Catch a video showing the best bits here

 

 

And for anyone who needs a dragon for this year's panto I've just listed it on Fleabay here :)

(Mods - proper free-ad going in a minute :) )

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