MIB Worm Guy Puppet Restoration

Restoration of a MIB worm guy created for the 1997 Sci-fi adventure starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

We have been fortunate enough to get a chance to work on several of the MIB worm guy puppets created by Rick Baker’s Cinovation Studios, so when this puppet arrived to our studio we felt very prepared for the task. This was absolutely a group effort which required the talents of quite a few of our restoration artists and sculptors to get him back to his original state. This poor worm guy alien prop had seen better days. He was missing his head and both of his arms as well as displaying typical signs of aging on the foam latex.

Our first task was to sculpt a replica of the head, we were lucky enough that this piece came in as a pair with another worm alien from Men in Black in need of restoration.This gave Steven the perfect source of reference to sculpt the replacement head. We did not mold the fragile head from the other alien (as that was much too risky to the rare and valuable film prop). Steven sculpted the new head freehand using the other as a 1:1 reference.

While Steven was sculpting the head, Megan began patching and repairing the worm’s body. Because the puppet has articulated joints, this can put stress on the material over time. Patching those areas can not only improve the aesthetics of the piece but it can help to strengthen the remaining material. Once the patching on the body was completed we created a stand for the worm which would help support his body and keep some of the weight off of is more delicate joints.

Our client asked us if it was possible to add a coffee cup to his hand to add a bit of humor to the piece, normally we would be very wary of this because of the stress it would put on his joints, but since we were adding on new arms we were able to account for the additional weight. Steven and Pat sculpted and installed the replacement arms and also created a lightweight coffee cup complete with faux coffee (no doubt Viennese Cinnamon!).

When all of the repairs were completed we began the paint matching for all of the new areas of material. Rick Baker’s crew’s subtle and intricate paint schemes are one of the reasons his creations are so amazing, but it definitely can be more challenging to replicate these. Luckily Maria and Melissa have become experts at the worm aliens’ paint jobs, so the worked together to get both of the worms looking like they had on set 20 years ago.

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