The Tin Woodman’s design was based very closely to on John Neil’s original drawings of the strange creature with spindly legs, a pail for a head, an a funnel for a hat – making it virtually impossible to be constructed in such a way that a Normal sized actor could be placed inside.
The original idea had been to employ the use of opticals and a marionette-style puppet, but this approach proved to be too complicated and expensive. So the crew was left with trying to concoct a Tin Woodman that would carry a small person in its relatively little belly, and still be able to walk and perform at least some basic movements.
It was not a major success. The small person – movie veteran Deep Roy – operated the head from a rod inside the torso, turning it left or right as necessary.
Minimal facial features were handled by radio-controlled servos that operated the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth. The performer also managed to manipulate one arm from inside, but there was little room for anything else – in fact, there was so little room, the operators legs actually hung down, out of the body and in plain view.
To combat this minor difficulty, diversionary tactics were employed; and in the few shots where the Tin Woodman ultimately appears, he is constantly blocked by another character in the foreground, so the dangling legs of the actor cannot be seen.
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