Another example of promotional work was for a publicity company in Leeds who were doing an advertising campaign for a large company. They wanted 3000 little men on springs that would wobble down a pole, (like the woodpecker toys that peck their way from the top of a metal pole to the bottom). Having submitted the design and costing’s to the company I heard nothing from them for several weeks and had just about written the job off when I received an official order through the post. They gave me a lead time of about 6 weeks to manufacture, pack and deliver them to their warehouse in Leeds. Luckily a wood turner had recently moved into an adjoining workshop to mine and he had just taken delivery of a computer controlled copy lathe. With 3000 of these little fellas to make he was working 16 hrs a day for over a week making the main body for them. I purchased 3000+ small wooden balls to make the heads from. The big problem I had was getting the springs and metal rods in time to meet the deadline as I could not find a supplier who could deliver these components within the time specified. In desperation I purchased 3000 of the woodpecker toys from one of my toy suppliers who imported them from a Dutch company and I cannibalized them to get the parts I required. The shortened beaks off the woodpeckers were used for the noses and the metal rods and wooden bases kept to use again. The bodies of the woodpeckers were split in half to release the springs. The 3000 little men now had to be hand painted and the heads were mounted on 3 mm dowel and also hand painted. There were quite a few people involved with this work, My former wife, my son and daughter, a chap from along the road who worked part-time for me and his wife and daughter, the woodturners wife and myself all sitting around tables painting them. It took us two weeks including working right through the Easter Holiday to meet the deadline. We bought a black feather bower and plucked all the feathers out to make the hair plume and spent hours sticking them all in, while my son and I packed them in heat sealed clear film bags and boxed them all up. I delivered them to Leeds a day before the deadline, only to be told that their customer had put back the date by nearly 6 weeks and we needn’t have rushed to get the job done. I was a bit annoyed that they hadn’t told me because it had cost me more in wages to meet their requirements and I could have done more of the work myself. But what the heck the job was done and on time and we did have some fun overcoming all of the problems the job threw up.
Below are several pictures to give you an idea of what 3000 little men look like on the workbench.
I think the worst thing about this job was that they had to have a glum expression on their faces and it would have been much more fun to do if they were smiling, but that’s what they wanted.