I don’t even know how else to describe this. Some sort of recreational prosthetic device like stilts I guess. These spring-steel or fiberglass devices attach to the wearer’s feet and ankles, providing them with an extra segment of leg and of course, increased height.
There is an interesting version called "Digilegs" that you must see to believe.
Chinese’ or ‘Peg Stilts’ are strapped onto the foot and ankle, sometimes all the way up to and including the knee. Lightweight and known for the ability to let the performer run or trot, change direction and even skip rope. These are‘hands-free’ devices, unlike pole stilts which require the use of both hands and arms.
Performers whom wear these must keep moving pretty much continuously or risk falling over. Some form of momentum is the key to not falling over. Peg stilts made from fiberglass or lightweight spring steel came around in the year 2004, marketed for recreational and extreme sports use. Contractors and painters often use a form of peg stilts too, for reaching heights otherwise not attainable.
In France, sheep herders would stand guard over their flock while wearing stilts which gave them an increase field of vision over greater distances. Fruit farmers use modern aluminum peg stilts when pruning and harvesting the fruit of their orchards. Stilts have been a common useful tool for hundreds of years, having evolved from devices used to cross swampy ground or rivers. Even Hollywood has used stilts for creating motion picture monsters and aliens where height and non-human proportions were required.
For a Bouncy Set of Peg Stilts, Automotive Coil Springs
Image via Wikipedia
I have even seen automotive coil springs used this way too, to provide the sprinter with an amazing gait. The add-ons give the wearer the ability to sprint in leaps of ten feet or more. A very tight and secure ‘boot’ attaches to the wearer’s feet and a hard thick rubber sole would be attached to the other end of each coil, for non-slip traction.
Creative Costuming Using Stilts
I have seen similar devices made from the leaf-spring of old automobiles, attached at an angle the vertical shin of the wearer to suggest articulation. There, the intent is probably the same; for height and running speed but mostly for visual impact.
This leaf-spring custom stilts shown below is truly bizarre. The horse hooves are what makes this truly unique. Watch the video below and decide for yourself.
Digilegs stiltsYouTube Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx6ej0Vh7HE&feature=player_embedded
The angular long bone extension, using horse anatomy as a guide, would be equivalent to the cannon bone on the horse. That is the longest part of a horse’s leg, the bone between the ankle and the hock. This long angled bone providesshock-absorption for the horse during trotting and running, and probably performs a similar function in these stilts as well. In horses bred for longer cannon bones, greater shock-absorbency and a smoother gait (as well as a gentler ride of the jockey) is known.
In the prosthetic device if this ‘cannon bar’ is either spring steel or fiberglass, it too would provide a dampening shock-absorbing effect when running, walking or jumping. I wonder if the wearer can actually run or stride effectrively in this device though. Walking up stairs is probably easy, but walking down those same stair must be nearly impossible and forget about elevators!
With those hooves attached it looks slightly heavy and clumsy to wear. I would expect to see uses for these in the near future in Hollywood movies at least.
Coming Soon to Hollywood?
Image via Wikipedia
The fur outer coverings definitely make it look like a creature from Greek Mythology, Pan perhaps? I know some people in the science fiction convention circuit that would love to have a set of these for costuming purposes, cost not withstanding. Anyone willing to pay $1000.00 for a custom-made ‘Storm Trooper’ armor that they will only wear a few times per year probably would not hesitate to add something like this to their collection. Just think of the parades, costume parties and public appearances one could use these for. Some sort of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ creation. Can you just imagine the local newspaper delivery boy prancing up the sidewalk slinging periodicals and daily circulars while wearing a set of these? He will have no fear of that vicious neighborhood dog I bet!