No matter where you go in this big blue marble there’s a good possibility that you’re going to run into a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” museum. In Florida alone we have 4 attractions that house Robert L. Ripley’s fantastic finds and oddities. For nearly 90 years people all over the world have flocked to see the strange and unusual, but where do all the pieces come from?
Recently, we were invited to tour the art department located in Ripley’s main headquarters in Orlando, Florida to find out. Our trip behind the scenes was guided by Art Department director Barry Anderson, a man who is no stranger to the unusual. Any good Romero fan should recognize Barry’s work on Day of the Dead and other films such as Jeepers Creepers, Oliver Twisted and the ’07 remake of Hairspray to name a few. For the past 14 years Barry has been the head artist, putting his creative mind to work as the Ripley empire spread out to the great beyond. Check out Mezco Toy’s interview with Barry and for more information of his work outside of Ripley’s head on over to Central Florida Effects.
The Art Department we visited is where all the great wax figures come to life. Each human oddity that a Ripley’s museum houses come from this very studio. This may not have been very interesting if each “Bug Eyed Man” and “Vlad the Impaler” were exactly the same. To the contrary, every member of the Ripley family has a different look from location to location; sometimes even the head sculpts vary along with the clothing, paint jobs and hair. Odds are you’ll never see exactly the same head in each attraction.
The strange and unusual aren’t the only things that are birthed from this location. Celebrities are also spawned here. There were many Angelina Jolie heads floating about. It was a Tomb Raider’s dream come true. Good thing her face mold was kept high up on a shelf so the plump nerds couldn’t get to it. They’d just have to settle for the head of Barbra Streisand or Herman Munster instead since those were lower to the ground.
We’re very grateful for Barry and Ripley’s for allowing us to gaze behind the curtain. If you haven’t already been to a Ripley’s attraction then you should definitely click here to find one near you.
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