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This animatronic CatNap is predictably creepy

Arduino TeamMarch 12th, 2024

Poppy Playtime is an interesting horror video game — or rather, an episodic series of games — that puts players into the eerie toy factory of fictional company Playtime Co., where they find that the company’s characters are alive and quite aggressive. A big part of the game’s appeal is the creepy character design, with the eponymous Poppy being just one example. But they’re all scary, as Jaimie and Jay of Wicked Makers proved when they built this life-sized CatNap animatronic.

The Wicked Makers aren’t strangers to this game, as they previously built an eight-foot-tall Huggy Wuggy. Their CatNap animatronic isn’t quite as tall, but it is still huge. And it is a faithful recreation of the monster seen in-game. It can move its head side-to-side, and its body sort of sways like a real, breathing creature’s would. It even breathes glowing red fog to represent the in-game sleeping gas formulated for children.

As usual, that vast majority of the work here went into constructing the animatronic’s skeleton, body, and head. It is a masterful mishmash of PVC pipe, wire, foam, clay, and fabric. But the real magic comes from the movement, which is possible thanks to the use of an Arduino UNO Rev3. That controls the torso’s wiper motor via a relay, the servo motor that moves the head, the LEDs for the eyes and smoke, and the smoke machine.

To simplify the animations, the Wicked Makers turned to Bottango software. That’s free and made specifically for controlling animatronics. It makes programming and uploading animations easy, so the Wicked Makers can alter CatNap’s behavior whenever they want.

The result is just as terrifying as it is impressive.