Nothing is more satisfying than giving trick-or-treaters a good fright and then watching them run away in terror. Well; maybe not run away, but this gag will produce a good startle every time!
There are a variety of ways to make a dropping spider Halloween prop, but a remote control spider allows you to drop it unexpectedly and on cue, which achieves the best results.
You will need one electric RC (radio controlled) car with remote. Your choice of car is important; you should get a cheap 1-channel forward/reverse model that is always “on” (running forward); the remote control only makes it go in reverse. Size is also something to consider and the RC models which take four AA batteries work very well – the car must be strong enough to wind up the spider’s string, but not so large that the motor noise gives it away. Although a remote control allows you to operate the spider from anywhere, the gag may also me rigged with a hard wired control button.
A length of very strong string – your spider is bound to get whacked or tugged on…
1 small universal power supply – this is optional, but it saves on batteries which can be difficult to change when your prop is installed.
1 spool of twin lead light electrical wire – to run power from an outlet to the prop.
1 spider prop – your choice of design, but don’t get something too heavy or fragile; an eight inch rubber spider works great.
Duct tape or strips of fabric
Remove and discard the body of the RC car. Solder wires to the car’s battery terminals and connect them to the power supply so you don’t have to mess with batteries. Observe polarity and set your universal power supply to the correct voltage. Pry a drive wheel off of the axle so there is about a ½” gap between the wheel and the frame of the car. If the wheel is too loose, apply a drop of super glue. Tie one end of the string to the car’s axle, making sure that it doesn’t slip around the axle. Tie the other end of the string your spider. To do this, you must first find the spider’s center of balance, then pierce the spider and run the string through and tie a big knot. You want the eight legs to hang down in a decorous fashion.
Affix the RC car to the ceiling directly above where you want the spider to drop. You can use strips of fabric or duct tape and attach it with plenty of thumb tacks. Make sure that the axle of the RC car is parallel to the ground or the spider’s string won’t wind correctly. Note that duct tape conducts electricity; don’t let it come into contact with the circuit board or the car’s RC antenna as this will adversely effect its operation. The spider will likely be swatted and get swung around during operation, so make sure it is sturdily affixed to the ceiling and there are no entanglements (such as webbing, etc) in its swing arc.
Plug in the power supply and the car will run forward, winding the spider’s string around the axle and holding it up until needed (it may be necessary to trim the string to length). Pushing the remote control button puts the car in reverse, dropping the spider on an unsuspecting trick-or-treater – way too much fun! By quickly pushing and releasing the remote control button, you can cause the spider to hang motionlessly in space; release the button and the spider returns up to the ceiling until called for again.
It is useful to employ a distraction so the trick-or-treaters don’t hear the car motor and become forewarned; playing a commonly available spooky music Halloween CD is effective at covering up the motor noise.
Note that I have used the same old remote control car and universal power supply for about eight years now (from Radio Shack originally) and it has never failed. The car’s motor stays “on” all night long and doesn’t seem to mind and the universal power supply gets warm, but everything keeps working! The dropping spider is a very simple but highly effective Halloween prop and is always a big hit with the trick-or-treaters!