This season, Lowes has introduced consumer-level pneumatic props (most commonly made for professional haunted attractions), and I purchased the “Ghostly Woman”. There’s pro’s and con’s but there was a tipping point for me.
The solidly-built metal framing will last many seasons.
Nicely styled with better than average outfit and details.
Easy to assemble with few parts (careful with those soft metal bolts!)
A great startle scare with jerky, unnatural motion.
Comes with great shrieking sounds that adds to the horror.
It has ports for external speakers and a step map (but neither are included).
The IR beam that sets off the prop is very responsive.
Pneumatic props are going to be loud with clacking from the structure itself, but mostly magnified by the required air compressor. Cheap ones run about $100 and loud as jet engines. Quieter ones range from at $200–$700 and as loud as your mother-in-law when your husband steps out of the room.
You will need to plan where to put the air compressor, and how to muffle the noise if you care about ambience (or neighbor complaints).
The prop is not rated for outdoor use unless you put it under a covered porch, and it's too heavy to move around (it has to be weighed down with included sand bags).
It's rather small and while the motion is startling, there's not much range of motion and looks like it's just shaking. It would have to be mounted higher (like on a porch or platform) to seem imposing.
Because of the violent movement, constant maintenance checks are required to safely run the prop. You don’t want the springs at high tension, bolts, or other parts flying off and hurting someone.
The speaker is housed in the control box not on the prop itself, yet the control box must be as far away as possible. You will need an external speaker to have the sound near the prop if that matters to you.
The control box also has the on/off button and the pressure gauge that needs monitoring, so it has to be easily accessible.
There are no lights on this whatsoever which seems like a huge penny-pinching oversight.
The value is not there for a simple startle scare. Between the cost of the prop ($358), a decent air compressor ($200), speakers, sound proofing, etc. you're looking at over $600. The animation is impressive, but not $600 impressive. Pneumatics are going to be tough sell for the every day haunter who will find it difficult to justify the expense, time, noise, and maintenance needed. If you already have an air compressor and have been rendered somewhat deaf by it, then this could be a good addition to your haunt arsenal. For my relatively quiet (but pro-Halloween!) neighborhood, I think this prop would be a noise nuisance.
A Note to Lowes: Yard haunters love Halloween, know the in's and out's of props, and shop your stores every year without fail. We would be your best ally in testing and improving your props and merchandise. Please consult us!