The foam is a good idea. I had to make this in short order out of supplies around the house and tried using some springy stuff for the wrist but it was hard to get a consistent movement, so just made it rigid. Not a new idea, I know, but had fun with it.
I saw a fun one a few years ago for the 4th of July. It was a battery operated fan that would display animation of fireworks when the fan was running. The fan blades were a flex circuit with RGB LEDs that produced the animation. I wanted to say that it was a very cool toy, but that would be an awful pun even if it wasn't intended.
My kids had such a toy MANY years ago. You swung this paddle shaped object back-and-forth and it displayed your keyed in text using LED's. In the dark your eyes provided the persistence to make a stable image.
(My youngest is about to turn 39 years old... so this was quite a long time ago.)
Instead of pine, it might be better to use styrofoam. Seams the weight would waer on your wrist after a while. Another improment would be to use a spring steel joint between the handle and the "hand". That way, a little motion would set the hand into action with less strain on the wrist. Just a though for anyone concidering to build this.
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