I’ve always known that I wanted to make things; always intrigued by Jim Henson films and stop motion animation. I knew that I wanted a career in making, and after a quick Google search for prop making, I found the BA (Hons) Modelmaking course at AUB. Finding a course like this was perfect for me, and who doesn’t want to go to a university near the beach?
During my third year at AUB, I created the semi-viral Jammie Dodger monkey. It’s crucial to note that this was a recreation of a puppet used in a previous advert made by the Burtons Biscuit Company. This helped a lot with the research for my project. As the advert was fairly old, it was a bit of a mission finding and contacting the companies that worked on the original. But after a lot of emails, I got through to a company called Animated Extras. This company specialises in creating animatronics for TV and film and were the ones responsible for creating the original Jammie Dodger monkey. They were extremely helpful and supplied lots of reference images for the inner workings of the monkey.
I used the SolidWorks software, provided by AUB, which allowed me to visualise the animatronic’s movement before making. These reference images and CAD allowed me to create a very creepy-looking animatronic.
After creating the animatronic, I moulded and cast the face using a very flexible silicone, allowing the monkey’s face to move. Luckily, I had prior experience using this silicone when making a basilisk sculpture for a brewery and tap room called Brew Monster. There were a lot of failed casts, a lot of testing and breaking, but I eventually got the animatronic to be robust enough for use.
I wanted to make my entire final major project Jammie Dodger-themed, so when it came to designing and making the controller, I knew the controls had to be mini-Jammie Dodgers. Luckily AUB have fantastic CAD software and access to a very high-end SLS 3D printer, which allowed me to create these.
That’s pretty much where the making ends. Quite a simple yet effective project, and I assume that’s what led to its odd rise in popularity on TikTok. It’s safe to say I was definitely caught off-guard by the monkey’s unforeseen popularity, but very grateful for all the nice, weird (some a little too weird) and wonderful comments left on the post.
The monkey also got a lot of attention at the annual Modelmaking show, New Blades, which in turn resulted in several job offers and connections. I was, and still am, very grateful for the running of the New Blades show. It’s an amazing experience meeting and making connections with fellow modelmakers. The 4DModelshop do an amazing job of organising this event and it’s definitely worth a visit! (The free bar is nice as well…)
After the success of the monkey and graduating from BA (Hons) Modelmaking at AUB, I’m working full-time making exhibition models and doing some freelance work on the side for various companies.