10) The child butcher with the blackened eyes was no doubt a hoot in his day. Audiences probably crammed into the huge musical halls of Liverpool and London to hear such classic catchphrases as: “Pound of bacon, Mrs Lovett?” and “I cut his bloomin’ throat, officer.” The gaze of the ventriloquist himself speaks of some terrible deal he has struck: the scary puppet will keep quiet about some unspeakable shame of the puppeteer in return for the doll's continued fame. We don’t know what happened when they stopped being famous. But we haven’t seen the puppeteer around lately.
9) The ginger troll. Part troll toy, part replication of a ginger child with a turned-up nose, it’s hard to imagine what its designers were thinking. Maybe they had all just been made redundant and were taking their revenge on the company. What kind of routine could you perform with this doll, apart from very dark ones that speculated on the reason for her terrified, sideways glance…?
8) The gentleman monkey. “Good day to you sir, I am the gentleman monkey and I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Please permit me to buy you a drink. What is your pleasure? A scotch, eh? Excellent. Oh… Oh dear. I appear to have left my wallet at the hotel. How blasted unfortunate. I don’t suppose you could lend your way to lending the gentleman monkey ten of your English pounds…?”
7) The weird Leaving Las Vegas set-up. These scary puppets are a bit reminiscent of the Nic Cage/Elisabeth Shue film, this one. The bloke with the cracked head, the rheumy eyes and the Hitler combover is definitely punching above his weight with the little lady. Even his outfit is appalling – someone’s just wrapped a bandage around him and then shoved a bit of black felt on to represent a bow tie. His pervy stare says it all. Her vacant look suggests some kind of addiction. She needs a sugar daddy. She’s found one.
6) The Vietcong outfit child. There was clearly a gap in the ventriloquist doll market for creating a child with baggy black overalls, a missing hand and a foot wrapped in sellophane and sadly somebody got there before we did. Dreamily he remembers the past, the playing fields of his youth.
4) This is Mack, the no-nonsense WW2 soldier scary puppet. Killed at Anzio, he has risen from his grave to come and stand outside your window. He wants to give you a man hug, but his grip will be an unrelenting steel vice from which no retreat can be made.
3) The siblings from beyond. “Good evening, father. Did you come home to play?” That is what they would all say in unison as you walked back into your cottage in the woods, having believed you’d just buried their evil little souls in a snowy field. They would be sitting by the fire, their flickering silhouettes playing on the wall.
2) The devil. Kids these days, eh? So soft, so easily “freaked out”. All we did was slip this harmless chap into a child’s bed, remove the lightbulb from the room and wait for the kiddie to come in, just as a gag, really, but the little blighter only went and screamed the blooming house down! Admittedly they were a little extra frightened by our sudden appearance from behind the doorway, dressed as a First World War British soldier with a clown’s face, and yes you could add that we didn’t actually live there, but kids today, I mean they’re nervous wrecks!
1) The killer mod. Worldly and lethal, this looks like one of those 55-year-old London geezers still trading on their past glories as frontman of a moderately well known early 80s band. But he’s bitter. Oh yes, this is one bitter scary puppet. You see, after getting through two audition stages for The Style Council in 1983 he was cruelly rejected at the final hurdle. Now he stalks the streets of Soho in the rain, dressed in the same clothes he wore that day... Look at that mouth. You will make conversation in a pub just off Charlotte Street one January evening before bidding him farewell. Silently he follows you out into the icy wetness, a chuckle escaping that bitter slash of a mouth as he draws the stiletto knife from behind his carnation and whistling his number four UK hit brings it down time and time again, whispering “Weller” with every stab…