Custom Realistic Lion Puppets for Stage Production

A trio of highly realistic lion puppets created for a live stage show.

This project for a stage production called on our wide range of movie effects style skills, from sculpture and molding to fabrication and hair work. They wanted movie style realistic lion puppets and not simple costumes or plush style puppets.  We created two life sized lion puppet heads, four wearable paws, and one wearable full body life sized lion costume/puppet that could move about on stage with a perform inside/below him.  The performer of that lion puppet was actually Billy Barkhurst, who’s known for his work as Ernie on recent seasons of Sesame Street.

Weeks of work went into creating these lifelike lion puppets.  The stage show (for the massive “Forever Faithful Camporee”) featured large format video projection, so our lions had to look good up close. We worked hard to provide a near film level of realism and that meant custom-run FX quality hair (from our good friends at National Fiber Technology), resin teeth and claws, custom glass eyes, foam faces with moving mouths, and hand inserted whiskers and hairlines and more!

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Want to learn more about Rick Baker’s 40-plus-year journey as a special makeup effects artist?

Check out his book here!

Check out a video of how we made the puppets!
A few words from our client…

“Thank you so so much for the beautiful lions!  You did such an amazing job!  There were so many comments of how beautiful and lifelike they were!  The faces were amazing, from the eyes, mouths, teeth, whiskers, air brushing, gorgeous fur…..every detail!  Exceptional!  Better than expected? Absolutely!

And Tom, you were a delight to work with!  Great communication!  Loved how you gave us pictures on the progression of the lions as they were being created!  Couldn’t be happier with the lions or with the experience of working with you!  Hope we have the pleasure of working with you again!”

Betty Whitehead