Feb 4

Bert the Farting Hippo

Posted by Matty

This title probably requires some explanation. Chances are, you stopped by the website to see baby pictures, or maybe something that Nanc knitted.

You will be disappointed by this post. Sorry. But now, curiosity should be gripping you. You need to know. Even though you think that fart humor is base and juvenile, you are drawn to click the ‘read more’ link below. It’s not about farting anymore.

Making Laughter and Good Spirits

Let’s go back just a little bit. Nanc’s Dad wasn’t feeling so well, and was in the hospital for surgery just after Evie was born. He’s on the mend and is feeling much better now (thanks for askin’).

Nanc was pretty concerned, and so we decided to send him a get-well gift. Sure, we could have sent a flower bouquet or a fruit basket, but that didn’t seem quite right.

Then we came up with a great idea. While we were visiting her folks in November, they got us hooked on watching NCIS. It’s probably like CSI, and all those other shows, but we enjoyed it. And so did they. It’s on in syndication, and they watched several episodes while we were there.

I sense that you’re getting impatient. “Where is the flatulence,” you find yourself shouting at the computer. Hold on. I’m getting there. Patience is a virtue, you know.

So anyway, one of the characters on NCIS is Abby, the wacky, goth forensic scientist. And Abby has a stuffed hippo named Bert that -you guessed it- farts when you squeeze him. Bert is a minor supporting character, and has shown up in around a dozen episodes.

So, yes. I was going to make a farting stuffed animal for my FIL. I searched a bit on the internet, and found out that the real Bert didn’t actually fart. They just added the raspberry noises in during editing. [sigh] This was going to be harder than I thought.

From here on down, is a project log of the build. Would it be weird to call it a plog? If you’re not interested too much in the how, you can skip the rest of this and jump to the videos and pictures.

The Farting Hippo Plog

See? Now it’s official. I dare you not use plog as an efficient replacement for “project log.” I bet you’ll start using it all the time in your own life when… referring to… your …own …project log. Well, damn. I guess you probably won’t use it all that much. It’s still a good word, in it’s own right.

Ve Haf Vays of Making You Vart

I figured there were two ways to make a stuffed animal fart; electronic and practical. I could put a little box with sensors, and a prerecorded fart noise. Typically, my gadgety-ness gets the better of me, but not this time. I wanted something practical that wouldn’t need batteries.

That’s when I came across the idea of using a self-inflating whoopee cushion. In case you’re a little behind the times in whoopee cushion technological advances, a self-inflating whoopee cushion (hereafter referred to as SIWC), is similar to it’s flat cousin, except that it has a spongy foam inside, and a small hole in the center to allow air to refill the cushion once it has been -how you say – deployed.

Gatherin’ Parts

Evie had just been born, and I knew that I couldn’t do this alone. Neither of us wanted to leave the house, due to a raging case of baby fever. Luckily, we got a little bit of help from our friends.

The last time Nanc and I were at IKEA, we played with some giant stuffed hippos, and thought about getting one for the soon-to-be-arriving baby. But we didn’t. So, we asked Angi to stop by and pick up a stuffed hippo. “No, wait,” I said, “buy three!” Why three? I have no earthly idea. Angi was super-nice and picked up three hippos and dropped them off at our house the next day.

This left the SIWC (You forgot already? It’s an acronym for self-inflating whoopee cushion). The only place I could think of that would have a SIWC in stock was Froggie’s. I’ve written about Froggie’s before. It’s a magical store down on Knox-Henderson, where I often purchase PEZ. Anyhow, I called, and they (of course) had SIWCs. So, we asked Aubyn, who lives near Froggies, if she would stop buy and pick up the SIWCs for us. (We didn’t use the acronym though, since I just invented it). She graciously said that she would go to Froggie’s on this mission of mercy. Lo and behold, a few days later, I was holding a bag containing 3 SIWCs.

At this point, I figured it would be a quick and painless operation to open the hippo, drop in the cushion, and sew it up. I was wrong. If I hugged the hippo, I could squeeze the air out of the cushion, but there were no farty noises. Just a whoosh. I thought about it. the way that a SIWC works in it’s intended purpose is that you put it on someone’s chair, and they sit on it. The SIWC works best when it is compressed between a slab of chair, and a slab of butt.

Enter the Fart Box

In my head, I pictured a cross between a SIWC and fireplace bellows. We started calling this the fart box. I quickly built several prototypes, most of which didn’t work. After a while, I got something that worked, and slowly refined it. (By slowly I mean slowly over the course of an hour or two. We did still have a newborn at home. I don’t want you to think that I slaved over this for weeks. I had bigger fish to fry.)

I ended up making the fart box out of cardboard. I briefly considered wood, but decided that would be asking for trouble to put wood inside of a stuffed animal. Cardboard was a plentiful ingredient in our house, and should be more forgiving if you hit it the wrong way.

I was happy when I got the fart box to squawk out faux gas 75% of the time. Just like in life, sometimes the farts are silent. Depending on how you squeezed the fart box, sometimes it just wouldn’t go.

The other problem that I had to overcome was re inflation. As I mentioned earlier, there was a small hole in the center of the SIWC, which was how the cushion re inflated. Because my fart box covered up this hole, the cushion couldn’t inflate. I tried putting holes in the fart box directly over the hole in the cushion, but this reduced me to around a 50% fart success rate, because some times you would squeeze the fart box, and all of the air would just push out of the re inflation hole, making the unsatisfactory swishing noise.

I resolved this by making a few holes in the fart box, slightly off-center from the re inflation hole in the SIWC. This way, the re inflation hole was covered when pressure was applied, but air was still allowed back in when pressure was released.

Final Fartistry

Once the fart box was finished, I prepared the hippo for surgery by carefully ripping out a seam on the underside. I inserted the box into the hippo and seamed Bert back up with a slip stitch. He looked as good as new. I originally wanted to anchor the fart box to a specific location in Bert’s gut, but Nanc looked at me like I was crazy and told me I was overthinking it. She was probably right. The box moves around a little bit, but not too much.

I’m not completely happy with the fart box. Since it’s sort of like a bellows, it only works on the flat sides. In a perfect world, I would build my own SIWC that is shaped more like a 2-liter bottle, and then it could be squeezed (squozen?) from almost any direction. I digress.

I finished Bert off with a leather-studded collar from a local costume shop, and packed him into a box with a get-well card and some NCIS photos that I found online.

A Warm Reception

Nancy’s Dad received Bert when he came home from the hospital. By all accounts, he was pretty tickled to receive the gift. He called Nanc and when she answered, he blew a big, wet raspberry. He even sent me a thank-you email, (and I don’t think he writes too many emails).

Um. So that’s the writeup. A few weeks late, but it’s finally written up before I forgot all of the salient details. Evie will love her Bert 2, and I’m not certain what I’m going to do with Bert 3. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and a shockingly fast build.

5 Responses to “Bert the Farting Hippo”

  1. Jen da purse Ho Says:

    I can’t believe it took this much thinking to get this accomplished…but BRAVO!! Matty you are awesome. 🙂

    and thank you for the plog. 🙂 which one is going on ebay? 🙂

  2. Cathie Says:

    I’m theeenking u should have foregone revealing the secrets (thru plogging) of how to make a stuffed hippo fart… It’s going to be next Christmas’s rage product, you know. Did you at least apply for a patent? Maybe perform the implant surgery on the remaining hippo and auction it? I’m pretty sure you could seal the deal on Evie’s college fund with the proceeds…

  3. Niko Says:

    A thousand thank you’s! My gf’s favorite show is NCIS, and u guessed it – her favorite character is Abby. Finding a “Bert” has plagued me for over a year…until I found ur blog. Thankfully there is an Ikea within 3 hours and Spencers close by. Now just to bribe my sister to sew and I’m in business. Again – thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. Jeff Says:

    An easier, louder and more reliable fart box would be an electronic (recorded) one. The sounds vary and you can keep the remote external for a fart from across the room or imbed the remote.

  5. GeVeBe Says:

    You could also try: http://www.fartinghippo.com