Building an MST3K Tom Servo Replica

Quote of the Day

Price has no meaning without a measure of the quality being purchased.

— W. Edwards Deming. I have had this lesson reinforced many times.


Introduction

Figure 1: MST3K Cast with Tom Servo Highlighted.

Figure 1: MST3K Cast with Tom Servo Highlighted.

I have a great fondness for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). As I have mentioned in other posts, I spent many hours with my young sons watching Joel Hodgson, Tom Servo, and Crow watch movies on the Satellite of Love (Figure 1). While it has been off-the-air for many years, there is a move afoot to bring MST3K back on Kickstarter right now.

I do have a favorite character on the show – Tom Servo. I consider him one of the best characters in the history of television. In some respects, he plays a similar role to that of Bender on Futurama, with a dash of Zapp Brannigan.

Apparently, my fondness for Tom Servo is shared by many others, including my son's girlfriend. My son decided to build a Tom Servo replica for her as a Christmas present. He asked me if I could help with the painting – in an earlier time, I did quite a bit of car painting.

Figure 2: Our Completed Tom Servo Replica.

Figure 2: Our Completed Tom Servo Replica.

In this post, I will provide some photographs I took during our build effort. These photographs do not constitute detailed instructions on how to build the unit, but you will see the general idea.

Our Tom Servo  is working puppet. His head is on a turntable that can be rotated by turning a small PVC pipe in his base. His mouth can be opened and closed by pulling on a wire that we ran from his mouth down into the base.

My son acquired most of the parts for this build from an ebay store ran by Bob Bukoski. The kit had all the hard to find components, and we supplied all the paint, masking tape, etc.

The only thing I would change was our use of Testor spray paint, which was recommended. That paint runs like no paint I have ever sprayed before. I was able to adapt my spray technique, but it was still way too easy to run that paint.

A Few Photographs

Figure 3(a) shows the candy dispenser used to make Tom's head. Figure 3(b) shows the base of the candy dispenser from the kit after  I have removed most of the black handle that is used to open the dispenser's mouth. Only a tiny corner is left.

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Figure 3(a): Carousel Snack Dispenser (Source). Figure 3(b): My Modified Snack  Dispenser.

Figure 4 shows the modification made to Tom's head that allowed us to open his mouth using a wire.

Figure 4: Modification of the Candy Dispenser To Open Its Mouth By Pulling a Wire.

Figure 4: Modification of the Candy Dispenser To Open Its Mouth By Pulling a Wire.

Figure 5 shows the fully assembled and painted head mechanism. The mouth is controlled by a wire that is running through the PVC pipe.

Figure 5: Tom's Head Assembly.

Figure 5: My Son Holding Tom's Head Assembly.

Figure 6 shows a PVC T-coupler that was modified to fit into Tom's head (Source). This is similar to the one that was in the kit – I forgot to take a picture of it, but this one is similar. The modified T-coupler was hot melt glued into Tom's head for the PVC pipe to mount into.

Figure 6: Altered PVC T-Coupler That Mounts in Head.

Figure 6: Altered PVC T-Coupler That Mounts in Head.

Figure 7 shows a side view of the model.

Figure 6: Side View of the Assembled Tom Servo.

Figure 6: Side View of the Assembled Tom Servo.

Conclusion

This was a fun exercise. I hope my son's girlfriend likes her Tom Servo. I am now trying to talk my son into working with me on a Raspberry Pie project.

I will finish this post with the Tom Servo Theme Song.

 
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