<< Previous Topic | Next Topic >>Return to Index  

Hands-Free Puppets / Animatronic Puppets (PART 1)

November 4 2007 at 8:05 AM

from IP address

COMING IN 2008!......"Hands-Free Puppets!" T.M. by Axtell

Animatronic puppets for your show! Both for Vents and Non-Vents! We have been working with an animatronics expert to bring you this amazing new concept!

For Ventriloquists, imagine an Axtell puppet you can secretly operate by remote control from a distance! When you are not operating it, it stays "alive" and watches your show!

For Magicians and non-ventriloquists, imagine having a talking & singing Axtell character with you, entertaining on stage! (pre-recorded custom voice and synched movements all pre-programmed for you). While on stage it stays "alive" and watches your show, but when you want to trigger the next push a tiny secret remote control button and it springs to action!
Lots of AXcitning surprises coming you have come to AXpect!.

If you are interested in these Animatronic me & let me know ..... steve (at) axtell . com

This message has been edited by axtell from IP address on Jun 20, 2008 9:54 AM
This message has been edited by axtell from IP address on Dec 14, 2007 9:01 PM

 Respond to this message   

I want one please :)

November 5 2007, 5:42 AM 

Hi Steve,

I want one of those

Maybe...a duplicate orangutan for my I can switch it to the animatronics figure after a vent act...and make it watch the next part of the show or something like that

That's really cool stuff Steve.





November 5 2007, 2:55 PM 

So, is this going to be like a sophisticated Teddy Rupskin?

I also wonder about the amount of control we will have over it. Can I manipulate it live? Does it use a CD and a special code to perform pre-recorded movements? If so, will I be given the tools to pre-record my own movements to my own audio?

Will we be buying a mechanism that can be put in any puppet, or will we be buying a new character with all the gizmos in it?

Steve at least has one thing down: He's darn good at getting a buzz going!

PS: Steve, I'm still waiting for a hand puppet with moving and blinking eyes. Will this technology finally make my dreams come true?

Tony Borders

Live puppets

November 5 2007, 6:50 PM 

Actually, I thought the puppets were already doing all the work themselves! I just have to bring an Axtell out and the crowd is glued. Personally, I'm afraid of a strike if you give them their own controls. I would be reduced to being the designated driver!

And Rob, I could swear that one of the Divas winked at me the other day.



Remotely Excited

November 6 2007, 7:29 PM 

Well.... take a peek at this and you'll see what we're doing here....


Questions Answered:

November 6 2007, 7:35 PM 

The VENT model can be manipulated Live like a Hands-Free Puppet.

The MAGIC model is pre-programmed. You would control when it goes into it's next bit. A show would contain 10-100 bits. Whatever you require. You could use AxTrax.....record your own bits for the character....or write them and we will record them. We program the character and ship it to you!

The voices can be recorded by you, but the motion system is proprietary and we need to do that for you...we will provide that service.

You can choose from our puppet line (or we can create a custom character) and we build it into them. You don't just by a robot and put the puppet over it. It's much more involved than that.

I hope we are also good at delivering more than "buzz". We also deliver a great product and solid support and customer service on our stuff. We are here for you!

PS - we can put blinking and moving eyes in now. We often do. It's a custom thing but yes, the robots could also have that.....but it can get pricey.


Wanlu Orangutan

November 6 2007, 7:37 PM 

Yes could do that switch in your show. There would be a noticeable difference in how it moves of course....the human arm and hand is more sophisticated than any assembly of servos could ever be. Our God is amazing! That said, we have some new technology that is far better than some of the animatronics you have seen in the past. I will let the videos speak for themselves. They will be up soon!


David Welzman

I'll Ask it----what is the approx cost

November 20 2007, 5:32 PM 


OK so what are you charging for it- approx




November 20 2007, 8:51 PM 

It will be the most expensive and valuable product we've made to date. We are trying to keep the critters under $5,000. I'll have more info on that soon.

Videos will be shot next few weeks!



November 26 2007, 6:10 AM 

Let me ask all of YOU some questions about these Remote Control Puppets.....

1. What programming would you like preset in the character when you receive it?

2. How would you most likely use this in your show?

3. What characters in our line are the most interesting to you to think about being on stage with you besides the Toucan and Chimpanzee?

4. What other features do you hope they will have?


My top 5

December 6 2007, 6:44 PM 

Im guessing that a lot of vents will be interested in hands free...


That's my top 5


Hands-Free Update

December 28 2007, 7:23 AM 

We had an unfortunate Forum hiccup and lost some posts. We have updated the web page for the Hands-Free puppets and separated the VENT and MAGIC versions into different pages. Here is the layout right now:

HANDS-FREE overview (including behind the scenes stuff)

Remote Control VENT puppets -

Remote Control MAGIC puppets (programmable characters for non-vents)

We hopefully will finish up development and post the prices by year end.



December 30 2007, 1:38 PM 


What an amazing product, I guess dreams can come true!

Here is my 3 1/2 cents worth:

1. What programming would you like preset in the character when you receive it?

If I were to purchase a hands free puppet I would like to have the ability to control it both remotely by an assistant and/or have the magician/vent use the small hand held remote control device to control the puppet. It sounds like both of these are available options, I just wasn't sure if the puppet would be wired so that it could use either format.

I would also like to have the puppet(s) maintain their unique characteristics, such as dragon smoke and movable wings on the dragon, or the turtle's ability to have it's head go into its shell.

I would like to see the puppets be programmed for more than one routine, if possible.

2. How would you most likely use this in your show?
If purchased I would use the hands free puppet along the lines of a side kick or straight man.

3. What characters in our line are the most interesting to you to think about being on stage with you besides the Toucan and Chimpanzee?

I would like to see the following puppets hand free (Listed in level of interest):
* Dusty Dragon
* Laughin' Louie
* Leonardo Lion
* Gator
* Jack-O-Lantern - Puppet would be seasonal, so this could effect sales volume.
* Snowman - Could become animated when you put his hat on like Frosty, although there may be some copyright/trademark issues here. This puppet would also be more seasonal and thus take more time to recoup the cost of the puppet.

4. What other features do you hope they will have?
* Eye movement. (Left/Right, Up/Down, Open/Close)
* If it is not too much to hope for - some facial movement on puppets with latex heads.
* Maintenance program for the robotic hardware. (for a fee)
* Ability to have the puppet reprogrammed for new routines. (for a fee)
* Fairly quite mechanical operation.
* Maybe there could be different pricing options based on the level of robotics the puppet contains.

I really like the Auto-Alive feature and the optional headset microphone to control the mouth.

I am really looking forward to these puppets.




Feature Packed

December 30 2007, 3:33 PM 

Mike...thanks for the very thought out post! All of what you have requested will be possible with our system! In addition I just posted an updated overview list. I'll put it here for you to see all the features. Please folks...ask your questions here and I will do my best to answer them.

OVERVIEW of the Entire Program (subject to change).


Use the key fob to control mouth and 2 head positions.
Use the key fob to turn on Auto-Alive (automatically moves from a chip)
Does not have an mp3 player and cannot be programmed.
Will cost less than the Magic Verision


Has 3 different MODES to operate in:

a. MagicTrax from the Mp3 player (programmed by Axtell as in our videos)

b. MotorMouth Mode. Playback voice recordings you make and mouth moves.

c. Total Control Mode. Operate the joysticks for total control.

MagicTrax Mode:
MagicTrax run off an mp3 player and are special Axtell encoded mp3s that have specific animation synched to voice. They can contain music and sound effects like in our demo videos. They are arranged in order in the mp3 player playlist. Axtell Expressions Studio burns the animation to the MagicTrax mp3 file. We will have many free ones available for download, and will offer a service to make custom ones with your name....or you can record your own voice and we can add specific moves to the character for a fee. Auto-Alive (random movement) is burned into the end of each MagicTrax mp3 for 10 extra minutes, so you don't have to turn it on or's always there at the end of a bit. If you need more than 10 minutes, you can add it into the playlist. When you are ready for the next bit, you just advance to the next mp3 in the playlist with the tiny transmitter key fob.

MotorMouth Mode:
You can record an mp3 with voice only on the left track, and on the right track you can have music & sound effects. Switch the Control System to MotorMouth mode, and hwne you play it back the mouth will be moving in synch with the voice you recorded on the left track. All the other servos will move using "AutoAlive" which is a chip with some presets for Left Center and Right dominanace (depending where it is standing). MotorMouth Mode enables you to impulsively record a bit in your own voice, and immediately play it back with full animation on your own without Axtell involved in the production. You can advance to the next MotorMouth track with a key fob. You could have a whole list of MotorMouth recordings in a playlist for your whole show with synchronized mouth movements as long as the body moves can be random. (You don't have to use the MagicTrax Mode unless you need specific actions from our programming. )

Total Control Mode:
You can control the joysticks for specific movement for any of the servos whenever you want to. You could have an assistant off stage operating the character live and even providing the voice with a microphone. You don't need to use the programming at all. You can also have the operator wear a headset microphone plugged directly into the Hands-Free control system and when you have MotorMotor mouth mode selected you can speak into the microphone, and it will trigger the mouth to synch up to the sounds you make! This frees the operator's hands for just the other servo movements...without having to move one for the mouth (but you still can if you want to).

Other Features and Options are coming out like synchronized VIDEO programming (use a TV or display monitor with the character for song lyrics, powerpoint, sales presentations....Different switches (toe, ankle, belt, back, etc.), moving wings, blinking eyelids, moving eyes etc.

All the above is subject to change as we finish up development. There may be some things that would cause one or more features above to be combined, or need to be explained differently but that's where it's kind of standing at this moment in time.


Re: Feature Packed

December 30 2007, 7:27 PM 

How much!?

Prices coming

December 31 2007, 8:46 AM 

I am waiting on my costs and when I have those from all the suppliers I will post the official prices and also the introductory prices!



January 2 2008, 12:51 PM 

hi all,
happy new year.
my name is denis coffey. i'm from dublin ireland.
i m a puppeteer. i works all over ireland.
i,m interested in expanding my the monment i'm useing
sunny puppets with great suscess. i hope to here from you soon
i' very interest in the animatronic and remote puppets for both my adults and kids shows. yours denis.



Remote Puppets with Irish accents

January 2 2008, 8:25 PM 

Hi Denis...

The beautiful thing about these is that you can record your own voices for the programming! Irish accents will not be a problem! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi!


time scale for puppets to be built

January 4 2008, 11:49 AM 

Hi Steve great new product,
what is the approx time scale for a build for a hands free puppet,
lets say i was going for the toucan?



Remote Timeline

January 4 2008, 12:04 PM 


We will begin to take orders in Feb so depending on how many orders we get at that time, we will establish a waiting list and begin to fill orders. We will try to have some built up by the time that happens of course.

We can't start the waiting list yet, or take any money because we are not 100% with all the details of the components and the final prices.

Thanks for your patience and as soon as we have the prices and the buy buttons, we will make the announcement.

The last minute additions that are causing our delay are WELL WORTH the wait! You won't believe the final system!



hands free puppets

January 5 2008, 2:10 PM 

A few questions I would like to know about the hands free puppets - The puppet and the remote control - I take it that they have rechargeable batteries. How long do they take to charge and how long do they last in performance? Considering the puppets are going to be quite expensive, what kind of warranty do they come with? Also, do the puppets come with a stand or storage case or would you have to buy them separately?



Wild questions

January 5 2008, 3:13 PM 

The Rechargeable batteries should last 2-3 hours from a single charge. We are testing that now. They are cleverly stacked in the stand so you don't see them!

The stand is included.

We are looking into cases now. I'll have more information soon.

While they still cost a lot, we are bringing the price of these (animatronic characters) down from $25,000 or for what you are getting, they are finally affordable. This is top tech animatronics folks....I hope you can see it. This is a revolutionary idea....a paradigm shift! My buddy Ron has figured out how to get the cost of animatronics way down...and he looked around for the best characters available and he came to Axtell. It's a great game...and you are the winners!

Thanks for the questions! Ask more...we're in this together.



January 8 2008, 11:16 AM 

Did I read this right? That the batteries are 25,000 but will be a bit less? What am I missing here? or is this a mis-type and we're talking 2500 for the hands free vent puppet


Not $25,000 anymore....

January 8 2008, 11:22 AM 

Chris no not the batteries...what I am saying is that animatronic characters of this quality usually cost $25,000 or a lot more. We are bringing the prices way down below $5,000! It's a revolution in the animatronics world with this new innovative technology!

Tony Borders

Deal on batteries.

January 8 2008, 5:26 PM 

I have some batteries at home I am willing to sell for only $250 apiece. First come, first served.

highly charged conversation

January 8 2008, 6:18 PM 

now above everybody should know this isn't the place to sell your old batteries. : )

There is something really cool about the rechargable batteries in our Hands-Free Remote Control Puppets. They are hidden in the top pole of the collapsable stand! They last for 3 hours and their is a universal charger for them for any country.




January 8 2008, 10:02 PM 

I'm so glad that is cleared up. After years of talking with hobby shop/rc control owners I had given up on getting something like this done. I want at least the second one, youcan toucan.


Magic or Vent?

January 9 2008, 9:14 PM 

By "Second one" do you mean the Magic version of the Toucan, or the Vent version of the Toucan?




Magic Chimp Video

January 11 2008, 11:40 AM 

I've added a sneak peek video at the chimp - just a rough head test..not fully covered.


Posolutely Fantabulous

January 11 2008, 9:57 PM 

I am disappointed that the price will be so high. I will still put one on my wish list though. I do have a couple of questions: If I were to purchase the Magic Puppet can I also use it as a Vent puppet... can I stll controll the animatronics without keying up the next prerecorded script with movements? I think this would be a big plus for getting in those ad libs from time to time. Is the memory (pre-recorded scripts and movements) stored on some type of memory card so that more than 1 bit can be saved and used in different shows as needed? Will the puppet be simple enough for the average computer user to learn how to program the movements...perhaps something like Vox Proxy where certain animations can be clicked and added to the slide show (Power Point) and of course sound can be added as well. Each new slide would be kind of like a new bit as you press the fob for the next segment of your show. I feel as though, owner programability with a simple, user-friendly, choose-click-and-drag type of interface, (Or something equally as intuitive) would be expected for the "Ball park" price you have shown us. A complete new show may sometimes have to be written in 1 to 2 days, or even overnight, which would cancel out the possibility of sending a puppet in for re-programming. What would be the cost of a re-program?
Thanks, J.B.

Posolutely Fantabulous Answers

January 12 2008, 6:10 AM 

Good questions JB....I'll take each one here (all technical is subject to change in development):

"I am disappointed that the price will be so high. I will still put one on my wish list though. "

We haven't announced the prices yet. : ) Don't forget that we are bringing the price for this high level of animatronic character down from $10-$25,000 or more. We have figured out a way to finally bring the costs down so that many more performers can afford them (under $5k!)

"I do have a couple of questions: If I were to purchase the Magic Puppet can I also use it as a Vent puppet... "

The internal structures are very different between the two types of Hands-Free Puppets: Vent & Magic. We are hoping to have an upgrade to the magic, which would be to add-on the Vent version. The Vent will cost less than the Magic version, because it does not involve the Hands-Free Magic Control System. There is nothing automated about the Vent, just a real-time controllable vent puppet.

"can I still control the animatronics without keying up the next prerecorded script with movements? I think this would be a big plus for getting in those ad libs from time to time."

With the VENT you have all the real time control from a keyfob without any automation.

With the MAGIC you have several choices: Automation from MagicTrax coded mp3s .....MotorMouth automation from audio only mp3s you record yourself.....Real Time Total Control from the joysticks on the Hands-Free Magic Control System. You can still have real time control for adlibs by using the joysticks on the control system, however you would need to match the voice, or record your own MotorMouth tracks. The control system can be anywhere on stage where you can hide it, or you can have it off stage being controlled by an assistant. The assistant can either advance to MagicTrax or go real time. Since the MAGIC keyfob controls the mp3 player, it requires the addition of a different keyfob transmitter and another receiver in the puppet, to upgrade and add the VENT to the MAGIC. We are considering this upgrade option, but its not final yet. Many things are still being finalized right now.

" Is the memory (pre-recorded scripts and movements) stored on some type of memory card so that more than 1 bit can be saved and used in different shows as needed? "

Your MagicTrax and MotorMouth mp3s are stored on the mp3 player. Your computer sees the mp3 player as a removable drive so you just drag them on, but you can store 500 songs 4 min each on the 2 gig space. You can have a backup on your computer, CDs, etc. You can organize the mp3s into playlists for different shows and have multiple options available to you. It's up to you.

"Will the puppet be simple enough for the average computer user to learn how to program the movements...perhaps something like Vox Proxy where certain animations can be clicked and added to the slide show (Power Point) and of course sound can be added as well. Each new slide would be kind of like a new bit as you press the fob for the next segment of your show. I feel as though, owner programability with a simple, user-friendly, choose-click-and-drag type of interface, (Or something equally as intuitive) would be expected for the "Ball park" price you have shown us."

We are making it as simple as possible and that is VERY important, especially with busy stage performers in mind. You will have some self programming options like MotorMouth (automatic synched mouth movement to your recorded audio tracks & automatic Auto-Alive with preset positions. Other options are being considered. The "MagicTrax" are very complex and programmed by Axtell Expressions in our studio. Many will be made available, and included free with the Puppets. More info coming soon.

"A complete new show may sometimes have to be written in 1 to 2 days, or even overnight, which would cancel out the possibility of sending a puppet in for re-programming. What would be the cost of a re-program?
Thanks, J.B."

You don't need to send the puppet back to have it re-programmed, or to add additional programming. We can help you with new MagicTrax mp3s all via email. We send you the new mp3s and you drag them into the mp3 player on the Control System. You can also record your own tracks, email them to us and have us add custom programming to your recording. Our custom studio services will be $75/hr for writing, music, voices and animatronic programming, if you want to use us. More info coming.

I appreciate the well thought out questions. Please ask more..clarity is important.


VOTE for your favorite Hands-Free Character

January 16 2008, 12:43 PM 

Help us prepare for production by voting on your favorite character & style....Take our poll on the HANDS-FREE Page here

Animated Dragon?

January 22 2008, 2:32 PM 

I would love an animated baby dragon to have sit on my shoulder when I go to the Renaissance fair! When will you have one of those?

on the shoulder

January 22 2008, 7:47 PM 

Hi Silly Poet....

We will be making our Dusty Dragon Puppet as a hands free puppet probably in April or May. Email me about your shoulder puppet question...I've had some ideas there too.



January 25 2008, 8:55 PM 

We're getting closer! The electronics are nearing completion! We shot some more video of the chimp in action today...we should have it up by the middle of next week! It's amazing!




Chimpanzee is going monkey!

January 29 2008, 7:11 PM 

Okay folks....a big moment has come! Please go to our Hands-Free web pages to see the new video of the Chimpanzee Puppet!




Tony Borders


January 29 2008, 7:33 PM 

Just checked out the new chimpanzee video.

WOW! I'll even say it backwards! WOW!


January 30 2008, 2:12 PM 

What can i say!!!
This is unbelievable.
This is what i dream for (for years)

Are the puppets available for use in Europe (Netherlands)
with 220 Volt?

Thanks for the info


January 30 2008, 8:56 PM 

Yes the power supply, charger and adapter will all work in all countries! Ron my technical director has done a great job of this!


romote control only?

January 30 2008, 9:14 PM 

i love it but i already have a bird puppets with the fake arms. will i be able to purchase just the mech inside to fit the bird puppets i already have to save cost? plus it the stand optional?

Tony Borders

Two Toucans

January 30 2008, 9:35 PM 

AX-tually, since you already have a toucan you are set to really wow the audience. You can have the puppet in a regular skit and then bring him offstage and make the switch. You then bring out the remote control toucan on a perch (have him moving a little as you bring him out) and set him in place. They will think it is the same bird!

"A bird on the stand is worth two on the fake arm." Isn't that an old saying somewhere?


You have to make the eyes blink and maybe look around

January 30 2008, 9:58 PM 

Steve, you and your team make beautiful, artistic, items.

To really complete the great work you have done, you really need to have the Chimps eyes open and close and probably move left, right, up and down.

For a few grand they DEFINATELY should open and close.

He looks great so far.


January 30 2008, 10:56 PM 

Are here already prices??



The eyes have it

January 31 2008, 9:42 AM 

Blinking Eyelids and Moving Eyes are indeed an upgrade you will see available in the future. We will probably also offer it as a retro-fit upgrade for those that buy it without at first. We'll see. UGH! many, many options!


Remotely Possible

January 31 2008, 10:13 AM 

Daniel, no...they are totally different, and we need to build it into a new puppet. The puppet "skin" is a very small part of the cost, but the bodies are a little different in design. The stand is not optional because the bird needs to be mounted to the stand in order to be connected to the batteries (hidden inside the stand pole!) and because it uses it as a foundation for the moving back and forth of the new body leaning. Look again at the Toucan WINGS video to see the new awesome body leaning that is now standard!!!



Toot your own Two Toucans Today

January 31 2008, 10:17 AM 

Right Tony.... this will be a common way to use a puppet first, and then when it comes to life on it's own after you put it away. For BEST results order the two puppets at the same time, so they look identical...same freshness, age, exactly the same painting, etc. Once you spend the money to get into the Hands-Free, a little more for a perfectly matching puppet is worth it (if your old puppet looks too different).


Total Programming System

January 31 2008, 11:30 AM 

Just a note to let those of you who are really technical and want to be able to fully program your own characters....we will have that available in an optional system!


Tony Borders

eyes moving

January 31 2008, 2:37 PM 

Wow. I'm beginning to think it might be easier just to get a real chimp and teach it to talk! So many things to think of! That's what I like about the forum. So many ideas come in.



HELP!!! Your ideas needed!

February 3 2008, 12:30 PM 


Please either post or email me ( ) with types of statements, reactions, bits, jokes, etc. you would like to have in your Toucan or Chimpanzee. We are recording and programming starting this week and we might put many of your suggestions into the characters as a pre-programmed feature for all to have. Examples are

Introductions (not using your name of course)... think of creative ways to do this.

Finales - Goodbyes - Outros (fun ways to end your show with the character)

Song ideas (we might even produce the music free for a few of the first ones!)

Bits of Biz - like the 3 part hungry / popcorn bit I did with the Toucan.

Magician's assistant - Waving a wand - saying magic words -

Tricks - mind reading bits - picking out a "random card", etc.

Reactions to your show - Things like "Oh Wow! That as a Great Trick!", "Oh that was reminds me of a story..."

Funny Poems - Limericks - special occasions


Now's your may have to pay for it later! Thanks!


Hands free puppets question.

February 5 2008, 9:15 PM 

How durable will the hands free puppets be for packing, traveling and doing shows in close quarters? Any idea how long a hands free puppet should be expected to last, if properly cared for? What kind of maintenance would be required?


Durable Remotes

February 6 2008, 8:28 AM 

They will come with a normal use 1 year parts and labor warranty from the builder Ron Palmer. He will also give full phone tech support free. We will create a user forum so people can discuss ideas and technical questions too. Right now we are beta testing them and working out all the bugs, so the units will be reliable and durable. Having said that, they are electronic machines, so rough handling, falling to the ground, getting kicked, car wrecks, etc. could harm them, and void the warranty. In those events Ron would still be able to repair them at a fair price.





February 7 2008, 12:44 PM 

And now....the moment we've all been waiting for... Prices for the Hands-Free Remote Control Puppets are up at

Also read the Overview to answer questions about the 3rd optional system "LIVE".


CHIMP video comments

February 8 2008, 6:50 AM 

I got this email from a customer and I thought I would share it to help clarify what you were watching. The video is at

Q At the opening, when you cut to the full body shot, the Chimp was rocking around and then looking off to his left with a kind of upward stare - just reminded me of my son after caffeine... full of energy and looking the other way when I talk to him!

A Ha! Live chimps are like that...I've worked with them before. But the programming is totally controllable. He can just sit there and look over at you...or go spastic. It's up to the the programmer. Get the programming system and you can create the moves. That was all done by live control so someone was pushing the joysticks around in that video. I will have MANY more demo videos to show how you control things. By the way on the VENT Chimp, the moves you have with the fob are the same as Toucan. Head rotate two preset positions, mouth, and auto-alive. In the auto alive mode he will look around (just like the Toucan) and will have added movements, body rock, head up and down, head tilt. Not too much of this because it's passive. We have to keep it very simple for the vent version because you are alone on stage with the keyfob.

Q I work with my right hand, so when you did the Toucan, that registered to me because I could see him on your left, where I would probably place him. On the video, you went through and showed us which directions he faced so we could see the pivot from Vent to Audience, how he talked and moved when interacting with the vent and the auto-alive mode so we could see it in action. I liked that demonstration!

A Yes I don't actually have a demo puppet of the vent chimp in my hands the video of the chimp is just the LIVE version with Ron moving joysticks. It did simulate a good idea of the incredible range of moves you can get.

Q With the Chimp, he was by himself most of the time, and when he looked off to the left, the range of movement amazed me, but I got the feeling he was turning his back on me! (I guess I should go to therapy...)

A That was just one video. Any control you have with the Toucan you will have with the Chimp (except wings!).
I'm very glad to get your perceptions because others are probably thinking this too.

Q Can the Chimp be made to pivot and look where we want similar to the Toucan? On the auto alive mode, is he looking all over, or is he looking mostly at the vent? (Again similar to the Toucan.)

A In Auto-Alive it has 3 settings for dominance. LEFT - CENTER - RIGHT. You pick one. He will dominantly look that way (at you)...just like the Toucan.

Thanks for taking the time to respond on these questions! I know how busy you are with this release and really appreciate the customer service!


February 8 2008, 2:22 PM 


You asked for funny liricks and text for the hands free
But you can send me an empty puppet because the people here don't speak englisch

So if thise is holding shipment ??

Just send m an empty one




Holding up progress?

February 8 2008, 2:28 PM 

Very good Henk. No it is not holding up shipment. We are doing the recording of these programs only during the technical development phase.

We can also put any mp3s we create up on line for simple download.

Yes you are correct that because of the language issue you will not need programming. You can record your own voice with MotorMouth feature, or fully program your own movements with the upgrade to full programming.

We will not delay making them available because of the programming. I promise.



Price problem

February 10 2008, 6:00 PM 

I too am disappointed that the prices are so high. While I understand that there has been a lot of time, money and effort poured into developing these. And I understand that they are tremendously unique. But it looks that I will have to forgo any purchase for the near future.



Value of the investment

February 10 2008, 7:45 PM 

Yes it is a lot of money and it might be too much to invest in at this time, but please realize we have just brought your cost of this type of animatronics down from over $25,000 to under $5,000! That's radical! Only Theme parks and businesses could afford them before now. Now individuals stage performers can have one!

Plus to help you out further, we have put a big discount on it for a limited time. We are doing this to thanks those of you who have invested time in helping us with ideas and to get many of them out there working so we can report back! Once these are out there for a few months you will begin to see the many different ways they can be used to make money. I know a few people that are considering leaving their careers to begin a second career using these Hands-Free puppets. I'm not kidding.

We will continue to keep the great ideas rolling.... don't worry, if this line is too expensive, we will have something else that you can afford like our other 65 puppets! Something for everyone.




Remote Updates

February 17 2008, 5:17 AM 

Several updates on the Remote Site. Enjoy! Check all the pages....even the new one.

MAIN PAGE (New Overview with pictures at bottom)

MAGIC PAGE (new information & photo)

VENT PAGE (new info and photos)

LIVE PAGE (all new)



VENT Toucan

February 20 2008, 11:44 AM 

For those of you that are VENTS we have updated photos from a VENT get together showing the VENT Toucan.


February 23 2008, 1:49 PM 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Two new features added to the MAGIC VERSION!


Now you can flip a switch on the Control System and use the same fob to control the puppet in the VENT MODE. (The moves in this mode are just like the VENT version). Those of you who have asked for the features to be combined will be thrilled! We will still offer the less expensive VENT version for those who do not want the extra program & play features.


For those situations where you need to have a panic button. Press this button and your puppet will turn to you even in the middle of a MagicTrax routine) and says "Pssst....come here....then he whispers something to you). This will save you on stage in many situations where a kid may ask the puppet something, or the crowd is too noisy to hear the pre-recorded routine. You can basically use this panic button to interrupt your show, and walk over to the puppet - let them whisper something to you - then you can tell the audience what he just said! For example: A kid at a birthday party says "Hey is my birthday and I'm 8. How old are you?" (Hit the Panic button.) The MagicTrax or MotorMouth routine stops, he turns to you and says "Pssst....come here, I need to talk to you". You walk over and put your head near his mouth and he begins whispering..."pppsssss slsssss psussssst" You then tell your audience, "sometimes he is a little shy. He was asked how old he is, and he wanted you to know that he is also 8 years old! Isn't that cool?! Okay now sit back and enjoy the rest of the show." There will be hundreds of uses for this - it's a real life saver. We will program 3 different whisper routines, so it doesn't sound the same each time you hit the panic button.

This adjusted the price a tiny bit on the Magic...but gives you both the VENT and the MAGIC in one for less than $100 with the Introductory offer, and the Panic Button is like a free insurance policy for any situation!

I'm so excited about this! We are on the downhill side of the development and will soon be testing the features in real stage situations. We anticipate the VENT will go on sale before the MAGIC version.

Also check out this photo of the Toucan placing an order at McDonalds!

Stay tuned!



February 23 2008, 3:49 PM 

Clinton Detweiler and Ed Casey have fun with the Toucan ordering lunch at the Denver McDonalds.

Tony Borders

Sound output?

February 23 2008, 4:52 PM 

You've probably answered this, but..

Will the remote control puppets have an ability to be hooked directly into a larger sound system for larger venues, or even for video work. I'm assuming they will have an audio out.



Sound off

February 25 2008, 11:29 AM 

There are no speakers in the puppets.

For the MAGIC there is an audio cable coming out of the Hands-Free Magic Control System. You can connect this directly to your sound system. There is not any audio output from the's from the control system. If you operate the MAGIC in it's "live" mode, you can use any wireless mic & PA (like the one we well sell as an option) or your own, to provide the voice over the sound system.

For the VENT there is no audio output. You as a ventriloquist would be using a microphone to do the voice with your regular set up. Alternatively if you want to use the MotorMouth feature we have recently added to the vent you can plug an mp3 player (with pre-recorded voice) into the input jack of the puppet to move the mouth. Use a Y connector so the left channel goes to the puppet and the right channel with the audio goes to your sound system.

The LIVE system comes with a wireless microphone and a portable PA speaker set up. You can talk into the mic for the voice of the character. MotorMouth can move the mouth of the puppet along with your talking so you don't have to move a joystick for the mouth if you want one less thing to think about.

Hope this helps. Ask any questions to help clarify things for everyone!


optional characters

February 25 2008, 9:02 PM 

Steve, After the Toucan and Chimp, what is next, and when will they be released? thanks,

Please release me....

February 27 2008, 5:25 PM 

Well Mark....I can't tell you when yet, but we are gaining on it! There is light at the end of the tunnel for the release of the first 2 characters. The others will follow after that as people begin to order different characters in our catalog as Hands-Free Puppets. Some orders for sure will come in for the Dragon, Parrot, Rat, Storyteller, Wildthing and others. As we work them out for one customer, we will add them to the offerings. Excited?


Very excited

February 29 2008, 12:19 AM 

I already sold several shows with the new bird. The first one is sold in juni so i hope the are availabel soon.

My booking office is very enthousiast.

Keep us up to date Steve


Do you know when the eye movement may be ready?

March 4 2008, 8:26 PM 

The puppets look GREAT!

Do you know when the eye blinking and moving(Will they move left/right and up/down as well as close?), will be ready?

Also, will you have BOTH arms moving instead of just the one?

Just suggesting, not comlaining. I love your work guys!



Steve. :)

March 4 2008, 8:28 PM 

The puppets look GREAT!

Do you know when the eye blinking and moving(Will they move left/right and up/down as well as close?), will be ready?

Also, will you have BOTH arms moving instead of just the one?

Just suggesting, not complaining. I love your work guys!




Sold out & shifty eyes

March 4 2008, 8:54 PM 

Henk...I'm not exactly sure when they will be available but hopefully before June! We have not announced a date yet but we are working hard and fast on them!

Jim, we are holding off on the blinking eyelids and moving eyes and will reserve those for custom character projects. We don't want to delay the release of these first puppets and we need to keep the price of these first two very low like they are so LOTS of them get out there and in use. We need critical mass (lots of people using them) so we can build this into the industrial revolution we have planned! Later more expensive options will become available as the market matures and the needs clarify.

Also another issue is that when we add more features like two arms, eyelids and moving eyes we need to use bigger and more expensive transmitter with more channels. It's not a problem in the future if you have a bigger budget but we want to release these at a very low price to start with and still keep them FEATURE PACKED!



March 7 2008, 9:09 PM 

Gary Hunter, a TOP cruise show ventriloquist from Florida is performing at the Magic Castle this week and he drove up from Hollywood to see our shop. He got to check out the Hands-Free Toucan and Chimp....he was blown away. He is talking about getting two Toucan (or is that TWOcans?) and possibly a back up band of chimps! Mark Truman a local magician / vent was also there and he was filled with excitement over these....the ideas were rolling! Fun day...


Stand-Free Chimp & Hands-Free Cases

March 10 2008, 7:04 AM 

We have developed a battery powered seat for the Chimp and other non-bird Hands-Free puppets, so they can be animated anywhere - even off the stand!

Also we will offer transportation cases pictured here ...

a first view of the tocan

March 19 2008, 12:28 AM 

to all,
I was with gary hunter when he visited ax to see the bird. steve took us back to the studio where we were treated to a wonderful deomstration of what steve has created for all of us. First, the puppet is beautiful. i kept finding myself stroking its chest and back just to feel how soft and flexible its skin is. when steve put the bird in "auto alive" mode, i thought for sure he had stolen it right out of disney's tiki room!
he then went on to show us both the vent feature and then the magic version. guys, this thing sways from side to side, pivots on its stand, bowes down and leans back! its head can move every which way and the mouth works quickly and QUIETLY! in fact the whole bird is very quiet.
you can work it live or program the entire routine into it and let it carry itself. you can work with it and then kick it to auto alive and go on to something else. When you are ready or do someting else on stage, you can trigger the bird to respond to you and then go back into a conversation or back to auto alive.
I was supposed to be at work the entire time i was there, but i ended up spending 1.1/2 hours watching this bird perform. if you can't get it now, put it on your list!
Its on mine, (right after i finish my 1966 chrysler imperial "green honet" black beauty car that i am 4 years into!)
Sorry steve, but the wife wants the drive way back! (how rude!)

Life is full of compromises

March 19 2008, 7:43 AM 

Mark thanks for your comments and first hand observations! I understand the sensitive negotiating you have to do with the wife when it comes to getting a Hands-Free character. You are getting off easy with having to rebuild a car from scratch! You would not believe the stories coming in! The beauty will be with the pay off....all the extra cash coming in from what you do with it.



March 27 2008, 8:46 AM 

Hai Steve,

Can you give us an aprox. time when the hands free puppets will be available??


Time and Time again....

March 27 2008, 10:31 AM 

Right now it looks like late April or Early May for the release of the VENT and LIVE versions....

Late May or June for the release of the MAGIC version.

This is just a guess. It could be later. I can tell you it is progressing VERY well and the line is going to be more than any of us expected!



Live interraction with your audience

March 29 2008, 8:08 AM 

On the Magic Cafe there is a discussion about our characters and the interraction you can have with a live audience. Some have just come back from seeing the Disney World attraction "Monster's Inc Comedy Floor" it's a real time interraction with cartoon comedy characters on the screen interracting with the audience members. They were comparing it to our line... so I posted this reply I will share with you here.

Yes! It's great to see forward thinking contemporary entertainers! It's's Now! Disney sees the value in investing millions in attractions like this Monster's Inc. Comedy Floor, Recycling Robot walk arounds, all it's audio-animatrionic attractions, etc. and other parks do too, because it entertains and brings people back. This area of entertainment is VERY commercial. And this real time interractivity with your audience can easily be done with the Hands-Free puppets with the VENT version (or MAGIC: vent mode) by a ventriloquist... or LIVE version (or MAGIC: live mode) by an assistant off stage, or by you out of view.

This is where you can make a ton of money at events, trade shows, theme parks, etc. Seeing a cartoon, puppet, robot, inatimate object interracting without human control evident (even though there has to be somewhere) is absolutely fascninating and entertaining to both kids and adults. For those of you who are vents you already know this, but add to that the blow away impact that the puppet character is not being touched by you and it amazes even more.

For those of you who are not vents - learn! It's worth the investment in effort especially now that you are getting into our awesome characters. Until then, you can use the amazing MagicTrax in MAGIC mode and have the routines programmed and recorded and then you could offer an upgrade / add on to your show for an extra charge, (or free bonus to your good customers), of an interractive time with your Hands-Free puppet character after the show. Go off stage, switch it over to LIVE mode and start moving the joysticks around real time. "Is he/she gone yet? Oh good because I wanted to talk to you alone...wasn't that a great show? Did you know I can do impressions?...Hey I think it might be somebodys birthday here today....see the kid in the blue shirt in the back, I can tell by that big smile, he's in love...." Answer questions of the kids, do the interractive joking around just like you are talking about with the Monster's Inc. Comedy Floor show.

For those of you who would like to see a bit of interraction with the Monster's inc you can see it here from a phone camera on Youtube...

Just to help broaded your understanding of the line a little more... With the MAGIC it is also possible to have your songs pre-recorded and programmed with MagicTrax and then switch to LIVE for interractivity between songs, then back to MagicTrax. If you are working live, you might already have read that you can have the mouth set to MotorMouth and whatever you say into a mic (or from any audio source like an mp3) can move the mouth of the puppet. So while you are in live mode, the mouth can trigger off your voice, leaving your hands on the joysticks to operate head tilt, head turn, body lean, arm, wings, etc.

Never before has there been a better time for our Hands-Free puppets. In a world of sophisticated tech loving audiences, interractive shows, rabbit police putting the squeeze on live animal use, the ever expanding exposure of comedic characters in commercials, animations, television & movies, the growing popularity of ventrilquism (our puppet was just on Oprah with Terry Fator by the way)....and our technology bringing down the crazy prices of animatrionics from $30,000 to less than $5000! Wow!

We are on a revolutionary journey here. I can't wait to see where it all goes!


Major progress

April 5 2008, 2:02 PM 

We have semi-final prototypes next week we will be showing at the Magic Castle! We are getting closer!


Maigic Castle Update!

April 10 2008, 3:28 PM 

Last night I took the Toucan down to the Magic
Castle to show a few magicians in a private room,
but was such a hit, it went directly
into the Palace show (the big room) and the
Toucan opened the show by introducing Ken
Scott. The crowd reacted great to the new
character. I was operating it from the front row
of the audience with a tiny keyfob. I've got
some photos here and

The staff at the Magic Castle asked us if we
could build a Hands-Free Owl puppet as a
permanent animatronic installation to warm up the
crowds in the Palace room. Oh yeah. A full
time puppet at the Magic Castle. Good for all of us!

New video of RC Live Chimp

April 19 2008, 10:54 AM 

Here is a video of Ken Scott carrying the LIVE CHIMP into a motel lobby while Ron operates it from outside the door. You can do this with the LIVE version....or the Live Mode in the MAGIC version.



Chimp Video

April 25 2008, 9:38 AM 

Hi Steve,
I don't suppose you can show a video of the Chimp doing a routine like you did with the Toucan is there.





April 25 2008, 5:25 PM 

I was watching the clips of the chimp and toucan....WOW! The looks on the kid's faces was priceless and the motel with the chimp...LOL. Great work!!

No one was on the chat I thought I would swing by the forum. Glad I did.


Closet Vent


useful for a 8 hours of work per day?

May 4 2008, 4:23 PM 


i'm thinking of using this kind of puppet in a museum in a looping presentation. So the puppet should be working about 8 hours a day ;p. Can I expect the puppet to last several years? are the servomotor liable enough? or is this utilisation too intensive? what will it cost to change a servo?




Hands-Free All Day

May 5 2008, 12:41 PM 

We will have an AC adapter available so they can be plugged into a wall.

It could be made to turn on with a motion sensor. That way it doesn't run for the full 8 hours.

Servos can be replaced inexpensively yourself, or we can do it.


Re: Hands-Free All Day

May 6 2008, 12:59 AM 

thanks for your response, i got some other questions. You will give the exact reference of the servomotor then? You said that their replacement is inexpensive, is it below 100$?

For this usage, I will be interested in video sync, when do you plan to release this option, or do you know a way I could adapt the animatronic to video sync.



May 6 2008, 6:23 AM 

This will be another option that is more advanced. Once we have the basic units out, we can offer the video synch upgrade. It is not part of the entry level program. The servo information and other technical data will be available with the instruction sheets and Ron will give technical support to the owners of the Hands-Free system.




May 24 2008, 10:52 AM 

We made some big progress yesterday. Ron met with my team and we designed the back of the Toucan to open for easy access to the in-bird control panel. (Chimp's is done). This is where you can adjust many of the menu driven controls on the VENT because it doesn't use the Hands-Free Control System. The Magic Toucan and Live Toucan will have some other adjustments inside the bird separate from the Hands-Free Control system so the back control access is very important for pre-show setups and making cool changes in the behavior of the characters.

Also the keyfob control is working flawlessly....we dumped the original technology which comes standard in basic fobs, in favor of something new that is far more instant and reliable with repeated use. That means the keyfob transmitters are much more valuable now as they are custom built, not off the shelf. Don't loose it...but if you do, they can now be ordered separately and "married" to your character instantly. The fob buttons will also have more functionality than we thought possible. For example on the VENT (and Vent mode of the MAGIC) the head turn left and right used to be controlled with one button. Push it goes left - Push again it goes right. Now you have two side by side buttons. Push and let go of the left button and the head turns left. Push and let go of the right button and the head goes to the Right position. (Both of these positions are pre-set by you so if you have a bigger audience you can widen it. If you're performing in a living room you can narrow it!) But what if you want to look at someone specific in the audience? Now you can push and hold the left button and instead of moving fast to the present position, it moves slower until you let go. Push...move...stop. Now it's looking at Billy in the middle. Push the right button and moves slowly toward the right...let go, it stops. (Just a preview of the great stuff coming)... it's worth the wait folks!

Sorry I'm probably giving out too much information....

The programmer is working around the clock, the puppets are being built, the mechanics are being !@#embled.... are you ready????


O Yes

May 26 2008, 5:37 AM 

O Yes
I'am ready...
My audience is ready....
I booked the first shows.
I believe it's going to be my best friend hihi


Re: O Yes

June 20 2008, 1:59 AM 

Hi, Steve,

do you have any news? Should we be able to order before august?

Please use PART 2 of this thread.

June 20 2008, 9:55 AM 

Please use Part 2 of this thread. Part one is now locked.

Current Topic - Hands-Free Puppets / Animatronic Puppets (PART 1)  Respond to this message   
  << Previous Topic | Next Topic >>Return to Index  
Find more forums on RoboticsCreate your own forum at Network54
 Copyright © 1999-2014 Network54. All rights reserved.   Terms of Use   Privacy Statement  
VISIT THE AXTELL CUSTOMER SERVICE PAGE includes customer photographs and the AXTELL Learning Center