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HIPPOPOTAMUS - Mechanical puppet.

Three- 48" long, submersible mechanical puppets.


Silicone rubber, fibreglass, glass eyes, and mechanisms.


Head turns, eyes and lids, mouth open wide, ear wiggle, nostril snort, & tail wag.



Available with Advance Notice.

Our Hippopotamus puppet was designed to especially feature the big mouth opening up wide, full of big teeth. The big mouth was very important, because we were advertising the debut of Coors Wide Mouth cans, with extra big openings. We approached creating the hippopotamus puppet by sculpting the full head and body in water based clay, then molding it in fiberglass, creating a core, the casting the skin in silicone rubber (chosen for its toughness and durability operating in water), and mounting the skin on a cable operated mechanical fiberglass core. The teeth and pallate, eyes, and ears were created and put in separately.


Our hippo puppet was made to match the size of a pygmy hippo that was also used in the Coors spot for the one shot where the hippo walks into the room. Pygmy hippos have different heads and smaller mouths than regular hippos, so the pygmy hippo could not be used for all of the shots. A quick cut from the walking pygmy hippo shot then featured our hippo opening up its mouth in full glory, and the substitution is not even noticed.


In the opening shots of the spot, our hippo is featured coming to the surface in a pond and opening up its big mouth. To achieve this surfacing hippo effect, we filled tanks in the body of the hippo with air, strapped the hippo to a weighted base plate on the lake floor with quick release mechanisms, and the hippo rose up and emerged up through the surface of the lake beautifully and perfectly every time.

PANASONIC - The director, Herb Ritts, wanted us to surprise Olivia Newton John and suddenly and unexpectedly bounce our rubber Hippo head up against her head. It got exactly the effect the director wanted, and we were very relieved that Olivia was a great sport about it, a real trooper.


COORS - This was the first of a few swamp jobs that we have worked on. At one point, when I had to lock the hippo off underwater, for his surfacing scene, I came to the rude and sudden realisation that I was scuba diving in water so muddy that it had absolutly zero visibility. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face, and I was very grateful that I had designed the underwater platform hookups and mechanisms to hook so simply, that I was easily able to set the effect up with my eyes shut.


PANASONIC 'Hippo' commercial. Herb Ritts, director.
also- COORS LIGHT 'Big Mouth' commercial. Sergio Piera, director.

Service from behind the scenes since 1980.

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