Video: mechanical centaur legs let you walk like a horse
By Loz Blain
June 23, 2009
Ever wished you were a 7-foot tall semi-centaur with the body of a human and a horse's legs? Er, me neither. But there's plenty of people out there who do, and Seattle-based fantasy artist Kim Graham has come up with a killer Halloween costume that makes you 14 inches taller and gives you uncanny-looking equine legs and spring-loaded cloven hooves. The effect is quite amazing, and even a bit sexy - or, maybe that's just the admirably proportioned Ms. Graham; check out the video after the jump. A set of Digitigrade legs like these can be yours for under USD$1000.
The myth of the Centaur, historians believe, originated from the first few times the Minoan Greeks came into contact with the fierce and incredibly talented horsemen of the central Asian steppes. Imagine never having seen a man riding a horse before, then suddenly being confronted with a raging army of born horsemen, controlling the animals as if by telepathy, swinging swords and firing arrows while thundering along the plains on horseback. It's no wonder some strange stories started circulating about these fearsome half-man, half-horse creatures.
Either way, Kim Graham's Digitigrade legs do a very good job of making your human legs look like horse legs, bending forwards at the "heel" and adding a good 14 inches to your height.
Graham has recently added a spring loaded cloven hoof that adds to the realism of the effect, and once the mechanics of it are covered up with some furry material, the visual effect is quite unnerving.
Graham says most people take about 10-15 minutes to get used to the legs - or about 15 seconds for snowboarders - and they're comfortable enough to wear for around five hours - although wearers experience fatigue in different muscles to normal walking. They can handle most terrains, but steep hills and stairs can get a bit hairy.
Seems Kim Graham might have pinched the idea for these centaur legs from Visual Effects Supervisor Greg McKee of Australia's Wild Things Animatronics. Greg's worked on a number of film and TV projects including Babe 2, The Matrix, Farscape, Peter Pan, Racing Stripes, Star Wars Ep III Revenge of the Sith and many others, and he wrote in to tell us:
"That thing is based closely on leg extensions developed for the Farscape TV series episode 7 "DNA mad Scientist" that have been viewable on my website for a number of years."
Here's a video of Greg's device in action, you be the judge.
Our apologies Greg.