Originally, figure sticks were made of tin, with
small bases folded of sheet tin, and with little upright clips soldered
to hold the base of the figure. A long handle was attached, so the
length would allow the figure to enter from one side of the stage and
exit to the other side, being operated from only one side of the
theater. Free standing set pieces used similar bases.
Many variations have been used! Some theaters even
have slotted floors to move figures from below! Some paper theaters
simply use a cardboard strip laid flat, with the figures glued to the
strip with flanges to front and rear of the feet or base. Creativity is
expected in this craft.
The objective is to be able to move the figures
with the least amount of eye distraction from the stick. However, the
sticks usually are visible! Some performers have developed more complex
sticks that can rotate a figure, so that the figure has a front and back
side, for a “left” and “right” movement. This allows the figure to enter
the stage, turn and exit without backing up across the stage. Mirrored
figures are included on some figure sheets for this purpose, and should
be glued back to back.
Check the ideas shown in the photos section at the
theater group at yahoo.com. You do need to join this group to view
their photos and other information, but the brief work in joining will
be worth the information available!
Model theater is still a craft with a personal
touch, and not a commercially driven field, so ingenuity is required.