My First Animatronics Project: the Mechanical Thrashing Torso


Introducing the Mechanical Thrashing Torso! It was created back in my art student days as part of a haunted house attraction. It is a good example of what can be accomplished with limited experience, tools, and materials. The Thrashing Torso consists primarily of a segmented spinal column driven by a cable pull from a single electric motor. After 25 years it is still functional, though it has seen some maintenance and upgrades in that time.


Tools and Equipment Used:

  • Hacksaw

  • Electric hand drill

  • Drill press

  • Hand file

  • Bench vice

  • Pliers

  • Screwdrivers

  • Crescent wrench

  • Rivet gun

  • Tap handle

  • Taps

  • Drill bits


  • Extruded aluminum square tubing

  • Aluminum flat stock

  • Misc. fastener hardware (nuts, washers, screws, pop rivets)

  • Misc. springs

  • Misc. wire and connectors

  • .125” steel cable

  • PVC pipe

  • Salvaged chunks of electrical cord (rib cage)

  • DC motor

  • Power supply

  • Misc. brackets and “things”


This materials list is left pretty vague because a lot of scavenged materials went into this project and it was a long time ago.