Remember monkey bars, those pipe construction in old-time playgrounds that provided hours of climbing fun and more than a few childhood injuries? Remember the excitement of finally being able to climb to the top and stand there, high above everyone else? Recall the thrill of hanging upside down and hoping your legs didn’t give out, plummeting you to the ground head first? Or the creepiness of climbing with a dress on?

SatEveningPost1959
The Saturday Evening Post cover, 1959. Girls only got to watch then!

BWmonkeybars

I have to build a miniature set of monkey bars (also called a jungle gym) for The Birds. The most memorable scene in The Birds is the gathering of crows in the playground next to the Bodega Bay School. They gather on the playground structures, especially on the jungle gym.

JungleGymMelanie Playground

Usually when I build something like this which is not available as a pre-made miniature (I searched everywhere for one), I research the object and try to gather as many images of it as I can. With the white picket fence, I even found an actual fence that I could use to take measurements.  The problem is, there are almost no monkey bars left in this country. They have been removed in favor of safer, less child-denting climbing structures. Here is a jungle gym being dug up in a playground about to be renovated.

monkeybars copy
An old jungle gym or monkey bars.
digging-up-the-jungle-gym
Good bye, monkey bars!

I was able to find some plans online for building a jungle gym but it wasn’t similar to the one in the movie. It did, though, provide some proportions that are helpful.

junglegymblueprintcopy

My first attempt was to try to replicate the pipe and connector construction of a real old-fashioned jungle gym. I was able to find brass miniature connectors but they were too large scale.

connectorsize connectors corners

handforscale

Well, the wood idea was a disaster. Two days of trying to drill holes into dowels and threading smaller dowels into them just left a pile of sawdust and many broken pieces.

drilling2 drilling

Now what? Maybe a 3D printed jungle gym…