Action Figure Speech

"Silence you insolent Dirtlings!" Unable to articulate its rigid mouth, the alien had to wave its claws about just to let them know it was talking.
Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space

When your character doesn't have lips or a mouth, or sometimes even any part out of which sound could possibly issue, in order to display the character is speaking, they will move their whole body around. Sometimes they just move once to indicate this, sometimes they're flailing wildly the whole time they're talking.

Named after, of course, the tendency to do this when playing with dolls and action figures, since their mouths have no moving parts.

Broader version of the Head Bob. If the character only talks through body language, see He Who Must Not Be Heard or Silent Bob.


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  • Speaking of not being very menacing (at all), there's the titular aliens from the 50's classic (and MST3K ep) Robot Monster. The Ro-Men, looking for all the world like a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a space helmet flailed around wildly while speaking.

     Live Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Wheel In Space", the Cybermen indicate they are speaking by rocking their entire upper bodies back and forth. Their air of menace rather suffers as a result.
    • The Daleks are prone to this at times. At its best, the rocking is barely noticeable; at its worst, it makes them look rather incontinent.
    • In "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy" the three Gods of Ragnarok indicate which of them is talking by raising and lowering their arms. Unlike the Daleks and Cybermen, however, the Gods have noticeably different voices.
  • The Adam And Joe Show featured Toymovies - parodies of films or television series acted out with toys so naturally this was used.
  • Most Tokusatsu shows, especially Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, do this with the heroes and the villains.
  • New Zoo Revue did this when their human size owls, frogs, etc. talked.
  • On Brum, Brum often shows he's either speaking or expressing some sort of wild emotion (such as enthusiasm, excitement or panic) by bobbing his suspension, making him rock on both sides. At other times he spins his crank, extends his front flaps, sounds his horn and "waves" by opening and shutting his doors.
    • The human characters in the show also utilise this trope, but Up to Eleven. Nearly all of the recurring human cast were Large Hams, with the notable exception of the museum owner. Brum's Signature Style was presenting the characters as mute while the narrator would say the dialogue, like reading a storybook aloud. Therefore it was imperative that the characters be as hammy as possible.

  • The character performers in the Disney Theme Parks. Though Disney eventually made elaborate puppet heads for certain shows.
  • Most Traditional puppets (without a moving mouth) bob up and down when they talk; for specific example, Kukla of Kukla, Fran and Ollie (Fran was a human and Ollie had a moving mouth).

     Video Games 
  • The video game version of The Phantom Menace did this whenever anyone talked. Including characters who were lying on the ground dying.
  • The models in Age of Mythology do this, though their gestures are actually rather sensible. Arkantos in particular spends a lot of time facepalming at Ajax's stupidity.
  • Movies made with Microsoft's 3D Movie Maker had all characters doing this, since the technology wasn't good enough in 1995 to allow lip syncing. Much Milking the Giant Cow action ensues.

     Web Original 
  • All the time on I'm A Marvel And I'm A DC. Then again, most of the cast are action figures...
  • Most all Machinima resorts to this in some way.
    Do we really bob our heads up and down all the time when we talk? God, that looks stupid.
  • Since nearly the entire cast of The Adventures of Mr. Gear and Clippy (with the exceptions of a few 'humanoid' characters) are a bunch of anthropomorphic objects with Invisible Anatomy, the characters tend to shake when they speak, though usually there are speech bubbles to let us know they're talking anyway. Mr. Gear sometimes even turns when he's not speaking, often at times during pauses in the dialogue (after which he will say something in response to Clippy's latest antics, or the villain's crazy behavior).
  • The EQUESTRIA GIRLS parody videos, which uses stock art and fan-art of the characters, has this.
  • The characters in Potter Puppet Pals are made to bob up and down and wiggle about when talking for comedic purposes, even though each has a very distinctive voice. This is made more visible by the puppets' arms, which are sewn to their bodies by the shoulders and flap around comically when the character moves.

     Western Animation 
  • Action League NOW!. Again, justified in that the cast is all action figures.
  • Some sketches on Robot Chicken use this (which is appropriate). Others will paste animated mouths onto the characters.
  • In Toy Story, Woody talks like this during a scene where Woody and Buzz are disguised as a drink cup and a burger box.