Browse our database of helpful information and FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Guarantee: You can buy with confidence as we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee with our standard puppets and products. If you are not satisfied with what you receive return it to us within 2 weeks for a full refund of your purchase price (not including shipping). Custom or Customized products where you request specific colors, or additions, or changes, are not returnable or refundable of course.
Warranty: Our puppets and products are warrantied against defects under normal operating conditions. If they fail within 3 months to operate correctly and require repair, we will repair free within this period, shipping is not covered. After the period we have a repair fee.
For animatronic warranties, see the Animatronic FAQ section below.
Each of our puppets are hand-crafted and will differ slightly in color, fabrics, thickness, etc.
If you need a duplicate puppet that matches closely to an Axtell puppet you already own, you will will need to ship it to us. We will make every effort to match your new puppet to your existing puppet, but cannot guarantee an exact match. Many things are out of our control including available furs, fabrics, wigs, etc.
We ship directly to customers all over the world in over 80 countries. There are also some specialty dealers that also carry Axtell Products.
Axtell puppets are so lightweight you can carry 10 of them in one case! Some of the bird puppets actually can roll up and fit in your suitcase right with your socks, but we don’t recommend that. They also can be compressed a bit for short periods of time and do not require big strong cases with foam lining. Because they are so lightweight I like using the very affordable Seward footlocker trunks you can get a Walmart and Kmart and other discount stores. They look very professional with the vinyl covering (especially black) and the chrome or gold trim. Take a look. Thy are big so they will hold an entire show, some have rollers to help you tote it from the car I like to set mine on a fold out luggage rack when I perform. When the lid is lifted, it provides a wonderful covering while you put on and take off puppets. Also you can hang a Magic Drawing Board on the front of the lid with a little rigging. Here are some that are more expensive and probably better built. Seward also makes some very nice heavy duty ones you can find at Walmart… And some more variety here.
It’s not as common as it once was back in the 40’s and 50’s but one thing about history…it repeats itself! Many kids today have not seen a ventriloquist so that is a HUGE benefit to you if you want to learn vent and perform with puppets. It is amazing to watch their faces as a character comes to life in front of them. Television, which used to feature vent back in the days of Paul Winchell and Jimmy Nelson are now beginning to showcase ventriloquists again…but with an updated look and a modern style. Today television shows like Comedy Central feature comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, America’s Got Talent featured Kevin Johnson, Talk shows like David Letterman are now showcasing vents on a regular basis, Las Vegas has ventriloquists like the amazing Ronn Lucas, Broadway has ventriloquist Jay Johnson, and on and on. Magicians are also starting to learn what an Axtell puppet can add to their act. The AxTrax CDs are a great way to learn how to use a puppet in a routine and they provide the voice of the puppet until you are ready to perform the voice yourself. This is a very exciting time to be learning vent.
Big question and very important. In a word – “OPENER”. You’ve got to have a solid start for your show. Something that will cause them to pay attention to you and allow a few minutes of training them to follow your direction. If you study the great kidshow workers like Mark Wade and David Ginn you will read over and over how important your opener is. We have developed one of the best openers in the business for your show. It’s called “OFF the METER” and it will allow you to condition your audience to follow your direction, as well as build up their excitement and anticipation to such a level as many performers have never seen before. Watch this video and start controlling your audience.
If you draw with your right hand, you would order a RIGHT board. You hold it in your left hand but you draw with your right. If you draw with your left hand you order a LEFT board.
A rod arm allows you to control the arm movement of your puppet. If you have your right hand inside the puppet’s mouth, you can use your left hand to control the left arm of the puppet. We have several options for you.
An Elbow Rod extends out of the elbow of the puppet and lets you control the entire forearm of the puppet from behind. This is ideal for ventriloquists who are standing with their full body VENT puppet when performing. They are built into the elbow of your choice (left or right).
We also have an External Rod Arm which is an elbow rod that you can velcro around the forearm of your puppet (under cover of a shirt sleeve). The same elbow control extension would then be available to control the puppet with, but the rod is detachable.
A Wrist Rod is attached to the wrist of the puppet and allows control over the hand and wrist of the puppet. A wrist rod can be a simple wire rod that has a bend curled in the end to hold a zip tie. The zip tie is attached around the wrist of a light puppet. Heavier puppets require that the wrist rod is securely built into the puppet. Wrist rods are usually used with STAGE/TV style puppets, where the puppeteer is positioned underneath the puppet when performing.
You can also order many of our puppets with Human Arms. This is best for stage puppets (where the puppeteer is hidden behind or beneath the puppet by the stage). These are glove like hands where you put your hand into the hand of the puppet, so your fingers are their fingers. If your right hand is in the puppet’s mouth, your left hand would be in the left glove hand of the puppet. The right hand of the puppet could be stuffed, or another puppeteer could animate it with you. If clapping or complex coordination is needed between the hands, have the other puppeteer operate both hands.
Our products are hand-crafted to the highest standard and most are made to order. While it may only take a week or so to build your puppets, our current wait time for completed orders can vary greatly based on the many orders already in production.
We know its hard to wait but trust us…it will be worth it!
If you have questions on current wait time, email Customer Service.
Income & Marketing FAQ
If you have no experience at all start with one puppet…the one that excites you most. Learn how to manipulate it and give it a character. Check out our free ventriloquism starter instructions and begin learning vent, or if it’s a Bird Puppet or Magic Drawing Board check out our AxTrax performance tapes.
If you are an entertainer already, start with either a Bird Puppet/Bird Arm Illusion combination or the Magic Drawing Board or both. There are AxTrax tapes for both of them and they are guaranteed to blow your audience away. As you begin to get used to these products you will then start to expand your Axtell Character base and purchase other puppets with great confidence.
A very big …Yes, but you have to develop your skill! Most customers use our products to earn good money in very fun and unique ways. How much you can earn as an entertainer depends on your area, your competition, and your ability. You can get started doing birthday parties for as little as $25-50 and begin to work yourself up to big $2000 stage shows for major corporations. Who Hires? Company’s doing Christmas shows, churches, hospitals, fairgrounds, service organizations, corporate picnics, and city park and rec departments and more!
The most commercial shows feature a variety of skills like magic & ventriloquism. The key to success with your new show is to FIND A NEED AND FILL IT, so look around and see who is hiring in your area or who has the funds to hire if they knew you had a strong show available. The other key is UNIQUENESS. Try to be different than your competition. Perhaps you could add another skill like music or art to the puppetry or ventriloquism. Many of our customers have developed their skill with our products into full time careers, yet others prefer to just earn extra money on the weekends. What a fun way to bring home the bacon!
Latex Puppets Technical FAQ
Basically we sculpt the faces and hands in clay and make molds over them. Then a master of each part is poured and production molds are created. Quality latex molding compound is poured into each mold and dried to create the latex reproductions. Each part is cleaned up and prepped for painting. We then airbrush the detail and color onto the latex and finish it with the protective coating. The bodies are also painstakingly sewn and detailed and joined with the latex parts. Next we mix in some trade secrets, our talented staff, a dash of magic, and you have AXTELL EXPRESSIONS puppets! You can also see one of our new puppets in being made at our “In the Making” page. But the real magic comes only after they are brought to life by YOU our customers!
Latex is a wonderful natural rubber from trees in South America. It is blended with preservatives and thickening agents to create our special formula we call AxFlex. We cast our latex into our molds to create the wonderful elastic flexible expressive skin our puppets have.
Taking care of the latex is easy, keep the puppet clean by not touching the face (especially when putting it on your hand). Treat the latex surface with the 303 Aerospace latex protectant once every 3 months to keep the sun and ozone off the latex and prolong it’s life (but not more than every 3 months or it will build up and look dull).
As a precaution: Keep newspaper away from them, the ink can transfer to the latex easily, and wash your hands if you have handled coins, the copper from the pennies will transfer from your hands to the latex and can turn touched areas greenish.
You should be able to expect your latex puppet to last between 3 and 10 years if you take reasonable care of it. I have some that are over 25 years old. Like all organic substances it will eventually degrade because of ozone and ultraviolet rays. We have the highest quality ingredients in Axtell latex that makes it stronger and longer lasting than most latexes. Eventually your puppet’s latex will break down and you may need a head replacement. We help our customers by offering a very fair head replacement offer for Axtell puppets that you have purchased directly from us.
Some people perspire more that others and it’s perfectly natural….we are all different. If you find this to be the case for you, we have made an invention called a “Headliner” which is absorbent and also provides a soft fabric and foam lining for the latex heads. It slips inside a puppet’s head and can be removed whenever you want to dry it out or change it. They are very affordable. Other people have used talcum powder on their hands, or used a light cotton glove, but the headliner is a much easier solution and you can leave them right in the puppet’s head. They are not perfect for every puppet because of their shape. They work great in birds and animals with a protruding muzzle. However, they are not good for mouths like Storyteller because you need your fingers free to move the nose and eyebrow area.
Use mild diluted soap and water on a gentle washcloth and surface wash the latex, fur and fabric areas if they are very dirty. Rinse the washcloth with clean water and then rinse the areas that you washed, so the soap is gone. Blow dry with a warm (not hot) blow dryer. The acrylic furs might melt if the blow dryer is too hot.
Yes we do! Silicone is more flexible and will last longer than latex. It’s also great for working in environments where like hospitals where there may be latex allergies.
At this time, any Axtell puppet can be made in silicone for double the price.
Legal/Media Rights FAQ
You have the right to perform with your Axtell catalog puppet on stage and in media, but not to reproduce it in any other form…for example, you do not have the right to make toys that look like our characters. More information here….
Animatronic Systems FAQ
Most frequent questions and answers
EZ LIVE Animatronic System.
This system controls the character with a LIVE Remote Control Transmitter Radio. This system is not programmable, nor does it have Auto-Alive, MotorMouth or Vent Mode. It is an amazingly powerful entry level system that is upgradeable to the Advanced Magic2 System.
VENT Remote Control System.
This system will allow a ventriloquist to operate the puppet hands-free with a small remote FOB. You control the mouth and head turning while the body is moving with Auto-Alive. This system is not programmable and will not playback MagicTrax, but is fully upgradeable to the Magic2 System.
MAGIC 2 Advance Animatronics System.
This system contains all the full featured software and equipment to program and playback your own tracks, as well as perform LIVE with the Transmitter, or use a FOB (small handheld remote control) to control the character in VENT mode, or to use MotorMouth (speaking into a microphone to control the mouth of the puppet), has hardware based Auto-Alive (keeps the character moving as if alive between tracks and during VENT or MotorMouth modes, and is upgradeable to MediaStar for multi-character control during the same routine! ALSO upgrading to the MULTI-CHARACTER system with the addition of AXTELL VERSION MEDIASTAR allows for the syncing of up to 4 characters in a show! Put all of their voices on the same stereo sound track (no need to split the stereo) and then program each character separately. When you play back the show, your characters will interact and be in sync!
We have a new feature for the Magic2 System called Axtell Intelligence! This allows your animatronic to talk on it’s own without any programming. It can hold a conversation with your guests or audience volunteer. It is a separate system that plugs into the green Magic Box that comes with your Magic2 System. Check out this feature HERE.
This is also different technology from our Hands-Free PUPPET Systems (EZ LIVE, VENT & MAGIC 2) but still is in our family of animatronic products. It’s also our most affordable animatronic option! This is a universal base unit that you can put some puppets over. We have bottom entry and back entry designs for different puppets. The head automatically moves randomly left and right, and the mouth movement is triggered by an audio signal (microphone, mp3 recording, voice memo). No remote or complicated programming needed! It also integrates with our A.I system!
HANDS-FREE MAGIC DRAWING BOARD.
This is different technology but still is in our Hands-Free family of products. You can now program a Remote Control Drawing Board with the Hands-Free version! This will allow playing our MagicTrax made for the board with full programming and motion control….as well as controlling the board LIVE with the eraser!. This replaces the earlier Remote Control Board.
The Axtell Hands-Free Animation Control System is 12 months limited warranty on the circuitry and hardware for original owners only.
The character, face, body covering, servos, linkage, receiver and battery is 3 months.
The Transmitter Radio is 3 years.
The Netbook computer is 1 year.
Only parts and labor provided by Axtell Expressions are covered under the warranty during the term. Other costs such as shipping, import taxes, insurance, etc. are not covered or reimbursed.
We have full free tech support from our animatronics staff and quick turn around for any repairs needed.
Yes we call it AI ATTRACTIONS: Axtell Intelligence is incredible! Our characters can talk on their own and carry on a conversation, sing & tell Jokes. You need to have one of our Magic2 System Characters and then you purchase the AI option for it. Here is more information on AI.
We designed the Hands-Free Puppet Systems to have an upgrade path. You can start with the introductory system EZ Live, then you can upgrade to either the VENT or MAGIC2 system, VENT can upgrade to the Magic2 System, then MAGIC2 can be upgraded to Multiple Character control by adding MediaStar. The Magic2 System AND Easy-Talk system can also be upgraded to include A.I. (Axtell Intelligence) Check out this feature HERE.
Additional controls and options are being developed for these systems as we go along. You can check with Tech Support for more information on upgrades.
The Easy-Talk system and Hands-Free LITE (legacy system) and are not upgradable to the other Hands-Free Puppet Systems.
Yes we have a full custom character service. Our custom puppets are used by the top professionals in the business as you can see here on our CUSTOM PAGE. Custom characters are made non-exclusive unless exclusive rights are purchased. We can also turn any custom puppet into a unique animatronic character with our team of engineers. Any animation you can dream up, can become a reality with Axtell Expressions.
If you already have a Trademark branded Character we can turn it into an animatronic, or if you would like one developed by us for your show or business, email Steve and get it going!
There used to be many animatronic options years ago before computer graphics and virtual realty kind of shut down many of the great companies doing work in movies and entertainment. There are just a few giants out there at the top of the field doing amazing work. Our vision is to fill that gap and start a revolution of sorts…. so anyone who wants to invest in this business venture with high quality animatronic characters can finally afford to jump in! We think we have something special and here is why:
COST – Our system is amazingly low cost investment that can generate income for years to come. These professional high tech systems built by our team of engineers, not electronic toys! Once you realize how involved these are mechanically, and how “cutting edge” our technology is, you will be amazed at the low prices. it is actually the the first time in history that an animatronic line as powerful as these were made available at such a low price! Just a few years ago before we entered the scene, something like these would have sold for $50,000 to $100,000. We have spent many years and our team has invested heavily in their development to bring you cutting edge technology on a budget! It’s kind of a revolution! So they really are an investment…if you want to see the power of these characters, and can afford to invest in your business or show, you have come to the right place!
AMAZING AXTELL CHARACTERS – one of the strengths of our system is the Axtell Character designs. Audiences love them even before they speak! It is FAR more entertaining to see a whimsically designed character moving around and talking magically! Audience observation has revealed that people are more aware of design errors and bothered by animatronics that are trying to be realistic and lifelike.There is just something “off” and “not right” even “odd or weird”, and they focus on those instead of enjoying the show. When you move into the “character world” and abandon realism you open up the imagination of your audience and the fun begins! We have nearly 100 whimsical characters available and custom characters can be made just for you!
FEATURE PACKED with EXCLUSIVE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS-
PROGRAMMING IS SO EASY – Our system is packed with features including LIVE real time programming which saves you Hours and Days of time. Some other systems are so complex that you need a degree in computer programming to work it, and then just try to get some help! Some require each single servo channel action to be programmed with your computer mouse. We looked into these and tried them and it drove us crazy! We took the crazy out of it and created a system that is INTUITIVE and NATURAL! The process of programming is just as easy as operating the character in LIVE mode with the transmitter! It ROCKS and you will love it! Also with our system you see your real character reacting wirelessly in real time during your programming. Some other systems have a visual representation on a computer screen – you never really get what you want like that. Simplicity is the key to programming new shows and making money with these systems.
We also offer a recording and programming service at Axtell Expressions. All recordings, songs, programming or animation are non-exclusive unless exclusive rights are purchased for the tracks.
FLEXIBLE CONTROL – Some other systems require a computer to perform. Ours is optional. With our system you can play our special control MagicTrax® on a computer with a large display for cues if you want, or put them on an iPOD or any Mp3 Player… even a CD Player or cassette player. We can also create custom MagicTrax for you in our studio (your voices or ours) and we can email the finished mp3 to you. Then you just pop it into your system and watch it! Amazingly flexible!
WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY – You can set the character out in the open or on stage with no wires connected to it. You can control them from a hidden key FOB in your hand. Even the battery supply is hidden either inside the stand or inside the seat the character is sitting on. We do not use Infrared signal like your TV remote control where you have to be pointing directly at the receiver. We use Radio Control and 2.4 GHz for secure locked in wireless connection without interference. Our system is FCC approved and CE certified. Most other hand-made or hobby systems are not even tested, so you run the risk of illegally operating equipment which might cause problems with other wireless devices. You do NOT want that to happen! Play it safe with the Axtell system.
AUTO-ALIVE With our system Auto-Alive® automatically keeps the character moving and alive between tracks for as long as you want. Other system play a track and the robot stops dead. Oh and there are several auto-alives to choose from and can be custom made! They can look central, dominantly Left, or dominantly Right, move very slow and relaxed, or more active, etc.
DIRECTIONAL DOMINANCE – Say you want to stand on the right side of a character so you have programmed it that way…. but you change your mind and really want to stand on the left side now. You don’t have to reprogram! Just switch the dominance to the other side and the head movements of the character will switch sides just like a human would do! Other systems don’t do this.
SMOOTH MOVEMENTS – Our unique robot design and programming provides you with the smoothest movements available, our animatronics do not bang & jerk into extreme positions like SOOO many others. Even the transition when a MagicTrax ends, and Auto-Alive begins is engineered to be blended smooth and seamless so there is no noticeable change.
MOTORMOUTH – gives you microphone sound level control over the mouth movement of the character, and it’s not just open and close positions like other systems. Ours is VARIABLE and REALISTIC…. speak quietly and it moves just a little, speak loud and it opens big…. hold a long note of a song and it stays open just like you want! You can even connect an audio source to the MotorMouth jack without using a microphone. Auto-Alive provides the natural body motion during Motor-Mouth, so no programming is needed. In fact, you can create your own “split-track stereo recording” with music and sound effects with voice on one side, and voice only on the other side. Using a splitter you can send the voice only track to the MotorMouth jack and you have a fully animated character without ANY PROGRAMMING!
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – This optional AI (Axtell Intelligence) will work with the Magic2 System and Vent System because they have the green Magic Box (Animation Control System). See this feature HERE.
ELECTRONIC MENU CONTROLS – the system is packed with menu settings and parameters you can change such as blending amount, dominance switching, mouth opening range, auto-alive selection and so much more.
TECH SUPPORT – One of the biggest features of our system is our company! We provide great Customer Service and free Tech Support to help orginial purchasers with your system. We also provide a User Forum and full library of video tutorials and documentation for you! Second hand buyers will need to register and purchase the tech support package.
YES! If you are a variety performer such as a magician, ventriloquist, clown, juggler you can put your show on steroids by adding one of these characters to the show! We have heard from many full time performers who have seen BIG increases in their show bookings once adding a character. It really is that “something special” that can get you more bookings over the competition. Not only will your stage show see increased bookings but you can now strictly make money with the character too!
You can hire out the animatronic character and yourself as entertainment at events like Festivals, Concerts, Trade shows, Parties, etc. Based on the increase of traffic your character can generate you can charge quite a nice sum, depending on your area. One of the best ways to generate traffic is to hide yourself and operating the character in LIVE mode. You can have the character commenting on people watching them and strike up very funny conversations. they will come running from all over to see it in action!
Retail stores, malls, restaurants and theme parks can also generate much more business and word-of-mouth by adding one of these characters to greet your guest or present information. Imagine a Toucan greeting your guests and telling them about your events and specials!
It’s amazingly simple with our breakthrough technology. First you record the voice and create a sound track. Then you play that track and perform the character to that track with the LIVE Transmitter and it is captured on the computer. If you make a mistake you can stop and find a starting point anywhere in the track, replacing where you messed up. You don’t have to start over from the beginning with programming on our system! The Axtell Animation Control System will smooth out those edit points with it’s electronic blending feature during playback!
The program is saved into a special mp3 file called a MagicTrax. That file which contains both the audio and the synced animation data is played from any source (computer, iPOD, mp3 player) into our Hands-Free Animation System to wirelessly control the character! Don’t worry about how it’s done yet…. we have full tutorial videos, instructions, an owners forum and free tech support from our animatronics department!
Learn how they operate before you buy – Check the VIDEOS out here.
If you would prefer NOT to program them but want incredible entertainment, we can do that for you for a fee. Another option is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Axtell Intelligence system. Check that out HERE.
The audio sound comes from the mp3 player into your PA System. We did not pack tiny speakers into the character because the sound would be garbage. You need high quality audio for a great presentation. Your audience needs to hear the character well and will laugh louder and enjoy the show better when the sound is quality and loud enough to be heard well. Technically the audio is played from the Netbook or other mp3 player into our Magic2 Box, then from the audio out jack it plugs into your PA system. The box also wirelessly transmits the movement to the character…. it is amazing technology. Different sized crowds and environments require different systems.
No these are not like noisy pneumatic systems like you see at haunted houses or theme parks that slam and bam all day long. Our systems are smoothly animated with sophisticated servo motors and they need to be cooled by turning them off between periods of operation. On units made before 2016 we recommend 1/2 hour maximum on time, with 15 min rest / turned off cooling time. On units made after 2016 we recommend 3 hour runtime with 30 min off / rest time. Leaving servos on too long can cause them to overheat and they can burn out, so proper operation time is a must.When the system is turned on the motors are working, even if you are not moving the character, the motors are holding the character still and in place. Servos can be replaced and mechanics can be repaired if needed. We are excited to present the new longer lasting Hands-Free Animatronics by Axtell Animatronics.
Toggle We have instructions, a full library of video tutorials, a private Hands-Free Customer forum for owners to discuss technical issues and marketing ideas, and free Technical Support from our Animatronics Staff HERE.
The Transmitter Radio is 2.4 GHz so it can operate for greater than a mile away, but you would want to be closer to your character than that so you could hear the crowd and interact. The VENT remote FOB works within 30 feet, and the FOB to control the Netbook Computer MagicTrax is 150 feet! All of our wireless technology is RF (radio frequency).
Most of our customers have reported between 3 and 5 hours of running time from a full charge, however it depends on the age of the battery and the amount of use it gets during performances. The Puppet’s Power is a universal AC adapter for any countries wall power, however the Transmitter we sell in the USA has only a 110v adapter. A universal adapter is available to purchase as an option if you are also traveling overseas. If you live in a country that has a power supply different than USA you will need to use a power stepdown converter to convert your local power to 110v.
It’s more difficult than reading your watch, but it’s much easier than the other systems out there. If you are really technically challenged, get frustrated easily by details, and haven’t even set the clock on your DVD player…. you might just want to get one of our hand puppets instead of this…..BUT if you are up to a little learning and are excited about using some cutting edge technology to bring characters to life….. get this now! Performers in over 20 countries are using them now!
Remember, we have instructions, tutorial videos, a private owners forum, and free tech support to help you bring your dreams into reality with the Axtell Hands-Free Animatronic Systems!
The easiest system is the Magic2 with the AI option! This is SELF RUNNING. The character can carry on a conversation on it’s own. Check it out HERE.
OH YES we have a very excited user base and have them operating now in over 20 countries! Some are installations in stores and theme parks, but some are individual performers like these HERE!
First we will need a $2500 deposit to begin making your system. We have provided a BUY BUTTON on each system type which you can use to pay the deposit in our secure shopping cart system. Once you have paid your deposit, our Customer Service Department will contact you with follow up questions as to which character and what accessories you want to order. They will also work up a quote with shipping to your address.
CLICK on the character you like at the top of this page.
You can also contact our Customer Service directly with Questions or to make your deposit by phone:
Telephone 805 642-7282
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Servos are electric motors and they do have mechanical sound when they move. When you first get an animatronic character you may focus on the sound because you will probably be in a quiet room when you begin to play with it in your house. The sound however falls away when your audience sees the performance. Use background music and a sound system so the music & voice of the character is louder than the servo sounds.We have these systems all over the world performing for audiences and they LOVE them and don’t pay attention to the servos sound…. Entertainment trumps all that!