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The Birth of Balloney

This page goes through how Billy was created.

Marc Tyler of Animal Firm was kind enough to provide a video showing the construction of the original Billy Baloney. The images below are from that video. The Billy images that appear on this site are from a store bought puppet and not made from the custom built puppet shown on the images below.

Marc stated the shapes for Billy were built with a flat patterning method. Steve Sleap constructed the head, limbs and body out of 1/4 inch thick micro-cell foam called L-200. The head was laminated over with lightweight fiberglass.

Marc Tyler carved the jaw and built the ventriloquist mechanisms, Steve Sleap painted Billy, and Lynette Johnson made the costume. Marc Tyler explained that Steve Sleap did the lion's share of the work on Billy while Marc concentrated on Randy.

Sadly, Steve Sleap has since passed away. We thank him for the fine work he did on this and many other projects.

Steve Sleap working on the head.
Steve Sleap

Marc Tyler poses with the newly constructed Balloney man.

Marc Tyler poses with the newly constructed, some say "hatched" Billy Baloney.

Plaid is Billy's favorite color.

Steve Sleap looking over the sketch and swatch samples of plaid for Billy's clothes.

The word "concept gives Billy a headache"

Early concept drawing of Billy Baloney. Not sure who came up with the initial drawings.

More concepts

More concept drawings of Billy Balloney. You'll notice his head has that destinctive pear shape.

You thought Billy has a big head now?

Marc Tyler with the newly constructed Billy and the initial build of a puppet started from a sketch that was too large. The new correctly sized Billy had to be constructed over a weekend.

He loves his shoes

Billy's shoes and pants next to an early sketch. Billy is very happy with his shoes.


Close up of Billy's new jaw.You'll notice he was built with a tongue. That allows him to speak on his own.

Hot Head

Steve Sleap treats Billy to his first Hollywood style blow dry.

Billy gets some freckles

Steve Sleap paints some details on Billy's new head. Billy Balloney is well known for his freckles.

Don't forget the freckles!

Billy in the midst of having his head constructed. Hopefully they remembered to put some brains in there somewhere.

At last!

Steve Sleap checks out the newly constructed Billy. This original version looks slightly different than the one available at stores for purchase.

I know you are, but what am I?

Steve Sleap tries out the newly constructed Billy Baloney puppet.

Sir Balloney

Billy is alive and well. On the video he's showing the viewer around the studio and complaining about various things.

Arrgh! Can't - breathe!

Billy is prepared to ship. Not to worry, Billy is very good at holding his breath. Especially when he wants something he's told he can't have.

Randy sketch

Early Randy sketch. Randy was a trouble-maker on the set of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.


The newly reconstructed Randy. The original marionette, carved in white pine by Wayne White, had been stolen in New York. This was to replace that marionette.


The "Cowntess" gets some minor repairs. The "Cowntess" was one of the regular characters on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.