By the advice of Steve Boot I'm posting our new Ray Harryahusen Armature Kit on here. It's currently available but we have limited stock. Check here for full details: http://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/armacreature-professional-armatur...
Currently £99.99 while stock lasts.
Ray commented, “Throughout my career I had to design and sometimes built with the help of my father, all my own armatures. This kit is of superb quality and I would have gladly used it if it had been available”.
I imagine the cost to ship this to the U.S. would be pretty hefty.
The step-block ball joints look very good!
As shown assembled in a human shape, the blocks at the wrists are much too thick for a realistic human, and the hip block is too wide for that as well. (Best suited maybe to a Wallace style character?) The leg bones need to be in the centre of each leg, not on the very outside edge and poking through the skin, as I can picture these doing. But I don't know how tall that human armature is, it might be fairly small and you could use longer rods and make it much taller so it would be skinnier in proportion.
Using that photo of Harryhausen animating a skeleton could be misleading, since you need a very specific construction for a skeleton, where all the structure is visible, and this kit couldn't possibly fit. I don't think there is any kit armature that would work for that. So it's not the creature I would have shown on the packaging, I'd feature one where this kit could actually be used to build something like it.
I don't know how much assembly is required - if the balls are joined onto longer rods that can be cut to your own required length, I can see it being well worth it. Or if they are threaded and you screw in the rods yourself... but even then a bit of solder is usually needed to keep the rod from unscrewing during animation, Loctite often fails. Maybe it's just me, I've had more trouble joining rods onto balls than any other part of armature making, so if I have to solder the balls, I don't gain so much from getting a kit.
I also wonder about shipping costs, since I'm even further away in Australia. 99 pounds sounds very reasonable for that many joints - about US $160 - so if shipping isn't padded up with "handling" costs but is close to the actual postage required, it could be ok.
Shipping to USA and Australia costs approx £7.99 for this particular kit.
The picture of the kit shown stands 25cm in height. The joints lend themselves to being filed/shaped to make them thinner - common practice in the workshop with any 'off the shelf' joint. We are currently in the process of making up some new armatures to show how flexible the design is.
We are currently in the process of adding 2 new sizes of joint to the range of parts but they won't be available until early next year.
Hope this helps.
I have used one of these armature kits to upgrade my Pizza boy character from a previous shoddy armature kit. I have to say the kit is brilliant, the joints are smaller and hold much more tension between the plates. As Wes said, the joints lend themselves to customisation, and I did file down certain parts of the T sections and also the joints themselves to allow for a better range of movement. I enjoy the process of building puppets but armatures and metal work are not my strongest skill so being able to have a kit like this helps enormously! I had some parts left over after using the kit due to the design of my armature, so I ordered some more components and I am now working on the devil character. I will upload some pictures when its complete to hopefully show how versatile the kit can can be.
I hope this review helps,
The armature looks great along with all of your other pics - those wings are really good too! It will be great to see some animation!