IT’S like something straight out of a Tim Burton film: a forgotten museum full of outdated animatronic characters, all lovingly handmade yet no longer fashionable, sitting&nbsp;packed away and gathering dust. Their creator, having reached retirement age, is downing tools and closing his workshop doors. But with no staff members to take over the business, his creations will all be put on the scrapheap unless he can find some like-minded individuals to breathe life back into them. Moving Mannequin Magic is an Oakville-based production and repair workshop for animatronic characters. Once a busy hub of activity, the workshop is home to hundreds of robots, mannequins, costumes and sets - all of which will be disposed of unless someone claims them. Owner and creator, Chris Green, wants to give away almost the entire contents of his workshop. But there’s just one catch: the recipients must be based in the Hawkesbury, and Mr Green must be satisfied that his characters will be used for a worthwhile cause. In its heyday, Moving Mannequin Magic was the go-to business for animatronic characters, and highly-detailed Christmas and festive displays featuring moving parts. “We used to do the displays for 35 shopping centres when business was big,” Mr Green told the Gazette. However, when more shopping centres began renting their space to shops instead of putting it aside for Christmas displays, Moving Mannequin Magic needed to find an alternate avenue of business. “Fifteen years ago, when the shopping centres cut back, we set-up our property as a tourist destination for bus tours of senior citizens. It was a yesteryear tour called The Wonderful World Of Animation,” said Mr Green. But eventually, the buses stopped coming, and now Mr Green’s characters are locked away, inanimate - a gold mine for those who are so inclined. “It’d break my heart to see them all go to the tip,” he said. Animatronics and the characters in his workshop have been Mr Green’s life for the past 40 years. The bits and pieces he plans to give away would be suitable for a variety of uses, but they would all need restoring. “What we’re supplying is the characters themselves, but they’d need to be refurbished for a technical use,” he said. “It would really only be limited by the imagination of the people involved in the project, but we need people who are genuinely interested. I’d like it to be a community thing. “My dream is to give them to somewhere like Pioneer Village so they can continue to entertain people, as well as to a local technical college so they can help students learn about animatronics and how to build systems.” The Moving Mannequin Magic workshop is full to the brim with interesting finds, from fully-functioning characters to half-formed creations. Everything from soft-faced robots to solenoids are up for grabs, as well as a busload of mannequins and mannequin parts, and a variety of theatre props and sets, including an entire Aladdin scene built for Richmond Players. Perhaps the piece with the most colourful history is Jojo Ivory, an animatronic character and Ray Charles lookalike who sings and plays the piano. Jojo was the first robotic character in the country, purchased from the US for $100,000 in 1982 by the owners of a Kings Cross bar called Jojo Ivorys - which is where the character got his name. Jojo was a fixture at the bar and entertained the crowd for years, before being acquired and fully-refurbished by Mr Green. “The club is where the cons used to meet. We were going to take him back to the city for the Underbelly series but they ran out of money,” Mr Green said. Mr Green’s favourite character - one of the only pieces he plans to keep - is a dog named Dusty D Dog who sings and plays the guitar, which Mr Green created in the 1990s. “I’ve had the most fun with him. He’s been to every state in Australia, as well as to Singapore,” he said. He also has plans for a bear that talks like Yogi and lives in a tree stump: he hopes to give it away to Bear Cottage. Mr Green has been working on animatronic characters since the 1970s, when he fell into the field by chance. “I had moved from one job to another and nothing grabbed me but then when I went into animation I loved it,” he said. “I had to learn fibreglass, welding, metal fabrication and more. When I was working on something I’d be in the shed for 18-hour days.” To build a character, Mr Green would start with a structural frame, then ‘flesh out’ the face and body. Costumes were then designed and fitted, music and singing was recorded and finally, movements were programmed. The process took several weeks, and sometimes months. Most of the characters at Moving Mannequin Magic were manufactured from the ground-up by Mr Green, save for a few he acquired and then refurbished. Now, all they need is a bit of love to bring them back to life. Phone 4572 3724 to enquire.