He made the lady rise from the dead. He helped the mummy free himself from his tomb. And he gave the gorilla its “hot air.”

He’s Lou Nasti, owner of Mechanical Displays Inc. in Brooklyn. His studio is located just a few miles from Coney Island. Nasti’s career in animation goes back to 1965, when at age 19, he created a robot that captured the nation’s imagination. That year, his work was profiled in the March 20th edition of the New York Times. Guest appearances on the Tonight Show, To Tell the Truth, Soupy Sales and other TV shows soon followed.

“Not bad for a kid from Brooklyn,” Lou muses.

Lou took his first job with the architectural firm of Morris Bernard Adler, then moved on to work in the display department of A&S Department Store. After a stint in the armed forces, Lou returned to A&S, but was soon recruited by Al Bliss Displays of Long Island City. After a few years designing and creating animated figures for Bliss, Nasti decided to leave to open up his own factory in Brooklyn. Before long, business was booming, and he moved his operations to a 90,000 square foot factory in the Glendale section of Queens where he employed 63 people. But this forced him behind the desk more often than he preferred.

“I need to be visualizing, creating and building,” said Lou. “I had to go back to my roots.”

So Lou downsized his operation and moved back to Brooklyn in 1984, into his current location on Farragut Avenue.

Over the years, he’s been involved in a number of spooky projects, including three now defunct attractions: Hitchcock Manor in Wildwood, Brigantine Castle, and Nightmare Manor in Seaside Heights. (Nightmare Manor is now Stillwalk Manor, retaining at least one of Nasti’s stunts). His long list of accomplishments include the design, creation and installation of Lafayette, Indiana’s Rain Forest Car Wash in which patrons ride in their cars through the wash while being encountered by gorillas, elephants and other jungle animals.

The business of creating dimensional animated displays for merchandising and amusement is an unusual blend of art, craft, mechanics and imagination. There have been many such firms over the
years, such as Old King Cole (makers of Laffing Sal) and Animated Display Creators, both profiled elsewhere on this site. Though the latter are history, Lou Nasti’s Mechanical Displays carries on the tradition.
Nasti effortlessly mixes the merry and the macabre as his clients require. His studio furnishes Santas and elves for department store holiday displays while serving up screams for amusement park dark rides and haunted houses.