Inside a Gemmy Santa Claus (Animatronic)

Christmas and Halloween displays are getting more advanced and larger every year and nothing says celebrate more than to see some characters moving and making noise!

So lets have a look inside at one of those singing and dancing Santa claus dolls that you have probably seen somewhere at a relatives house or maybe a store or restaurant at Christmas.

These things were available back in early 2000’s in North America at Walmarts and a handful of large box stores and were originally around $60.

The most well known brand was the Gemmy brand which has been making similar Christmas and Halloween animatronics for around 30 years.

Now there are a handful of versions of the dancing singing Santa Claus available and many people seek these things out in the used market on Ebay and similar sites.

Usually there is something that breaks in a 15 or 20 year old plastic big toy that is packed into a box every year after Christmas and tugged and knocked over by children and drunken relatives just about every year.

Gears crack from age or wear and tear, motors can die, foot switches can get loose, the electronics at the base can burn out.

The good ones are supposed to move the head and gyrate the hips while the song plays and the lips will move pretty close to the words that are sun…if it is not broken

Down here now are photos of a Gemmy Christmas dancing and singing Santa.

It works great. It sings about 10 tunes while moving its hips and head side to side with mouth moving to the lyrics and the arms move a little with the hips.

So we put on a Gemmy Freaky Geek Frank head since they fit identically into the same slot and it worked just as well. In a few minutes ….the head stopped going side to side. Frank would still move his mouth in that Franky exaggerated way and his eyes would still light up.

So we popped Santas head back on and took the ol coot apart.

Well….we knew that one arm was fixed by previous owner but I saw first that the belt was missing on one of the 3 or four belted motor areas. We turned him upside down and soon after found the perfect condition belt.

Now to put the belt back on as is…would have been very tight if not impossible…but we wanted to take off the upper body plastic shell anyhow.

Luckily it is a two piece shell that has about 10 easy to take out screws….but unforunately the arms are attached to the back shell so that had to come off together.

So we decided to take the neck mechanism off bysimply pulling out the 6 inch anchor rod that goes thru the neck mechanism and the front plastic torso shell.

Then popped the rubber belt back on and the head was back to normal going side to side.

But..I noticed that the horizontal plastic piece at the top which is anchored to the two metal vertical rods was broken at the two joining spots.

Old brittle plastic and an overly heavy head and upper body.

Just like the problem with the Robosapien V2 with the cracking hips from two much weight and too much back and forth movement with the gears…the plastic can’t handle the strain.

In Santas case it looks like some crazy glue might have been tried but did not work and at this point Santa has a hunced over look….more like how Santa would look in real life at about 500 years old! 🙂

So some way must be made to add a vertical bar from the top broken horizontal piece to the bottom…or replace the fragile plastic in many spots.

The plan is to give it moving legs or at least one with a new first time knee joint and add moving eyeballs to him and maybe make the mouth move more realistically.

It will get actual white hair and beard and it would be nice to put some latex skin on the face so you could see the eyebrows move and the chubby red cheeks move a bit.

It would be nice to give a chest breathing heave motion to Santa like the Castle Edwardian Butler has.

Perhaps moving fingers and a bag of toys that he could swing over his shoulder.

Then ….add some kind of Raspberry pi board or Nvidia Jetson Nano and figure out some AI so people could ask Santa for gifts for Chrismtas and he could say things like….”a Tesla! Geez I may be Santa but im not Elon Musk! HO HO HO….now get lost kid you’re bothering me. Now tell your dad Santa needs more coin for the reindeer and I am mighty thirsty…I mean like I could drink a bowling ball thru a straw right about now! 🙂

Used gears and motors can be found on the internet and most of the repairs are much simpler than fixing the small robotic toys.

And of course its not nearly as complicated as fixing a coocoo clock or swiss watch haa!

So we will put some pictures up here soon.

Eventually you will need to replace some gears in your Sana Claus robot.

You can buy the gears on line and this robot also needs a few small rubber belts.

Even the advanced builders like James Bruder often recommends making your own belts or obtaining belts that will work at the average hom hardware store while they are still around

Most belts can be found online or in many cases you can buy cheap belts at a Home Depot store or even use hair rubber bands to allow the gears to do their jobs.

James Bruton has made a pretty heavy duty robot dog and has used hi torque motors and some heavy duty belts.