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Preview: Axtell Expressions Puppets and Magic - visit

Axtell Expressions Puppets and Magic - visit

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Updated: 2016-12-17T03:20:43.890-08:00


Steve Axtell story by Stan Winston Character School


Mark Sawicki, special effects expert at the Stan Winston School of Character Arts interviewed Steve Axtell at Axtell Expressions.

Documentary on Steve Axtell (


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Axtell Expressions is located in Ventura, CA and makes amazing puppets, magic and animatronics for entertainers all around the world.   This documentary was made for by author Jeff Sengstack. 



MASTER OF THE PUPPETS by Tim Pompey and puppetry have become big business. Think Sesame Street. Think Terry Fator, who regularly appears at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Think Broadway producer and Tony award-winner Jay Johnson.But who do professionals like Fator and Johnson call when they want to design a new puppet? They call the man that many consider the best in the business: Steve Axtell, founder, president and creative director of Axtell Expressions.Axtell, whose warehouse is tucked away in an industrial section just north of the San Buenaventura Golf Course, has operated his puppet manufacturing site in Ventura for 30 years. Over that time, his business has grown from a small, part-time enterprise to become the Mecca for puppetry and magic. Entertainers, ventriloquists, magicians, even basketball players — if they’re in the business, they know where to find him.Axtell, who grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, has a long history with puppetry and magic. He started doing his own magic shows when he was 6, and credits his mother with teaching him to sew his first puppet. But his chief influence in becoming a professional puppet designer was Sesame Street.“I went to my aunt’s one day and saw Sesame Street,” said Axtell. “It inspired me to go home and make the Muppets.”One day, his proud father sent a letter and some pictures to Jim Henson describing his son’s talents. Henson was courteous enough to reply.“So I got a letter from Jim Henson saying I was talented but that I had to stop making the Muppets and make my own look,” Axtell explained. “That’s when I began to develop my own characters.”His breakaway moment came when he saw Don Post’s latex masks at the Disney World Magic Shop in the early 1970s. He went home and began to experiment with the combination of fur and latex, receiving encouragement and guidance along the way from adults such as his high school art instructor, Charles Casto.“I was gifted at creativity and my stuff was really crude,” said Axtell, “but I knew I wanted to make three-dimensional objects. I was smart enough to align myself with some really talented people. I had a mentor, Tony Bulone, who designed the original Barbie doll. He taught me mold making and guided my sculpture work, and eventually came to work for me.”Axtell moved to California in the late 1970s and met his wife, Suzie, while she was a home economics student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. They married in 1980 and opened Axtell Expressions in 1982.Axtell credits his wife with helping him to get started in professional puppet making. As he tells it:“She knew clothing construction and could make the bodies, and I could make the faces, so she encouraged me to go into our own business.”His first big break came when he invented the Magic Drawing Board, a blank white board that allows a magician to draw a face with a magic marker. When the face is drawn, a set of eyes and mouth magically appear. When the face is erased, the eyes and mouth vanish.“When I came out with this, it put me on the radar for magicians like David Copperfield and Harry Anderson,” he said.Today, Axtell Expressions does business in more than 80 countries. His product lines include animatronics, TV shows, instructional books and videos on ventriloquism and magic, and some complicated puppet wizardry that can be seen in films like Planet of the Apes.For Axtell, good puppetry has to do with a clear vision of the puppet’s character.“It’s about design,” he said, “knowing what a character is and should be, its backstory. By its look, it has to have a personality, and that’s what people like about our puppets. We give it an attitude that lends itself to that character.”The designs can be very technical and include pattern making, sculpture, drawing, painting, foam, fabric, animatronics and knowledge about how to turn latex into skin. In 2004,[...]



A great new on-line course for LEARNING VENTRILOQUISM!

Click Here for More INFO!

"LET'S GET VISUAL" - A NEW DVD from Steve Petra


"LET'S GET VISUAL" - A NEW DVD from Steve Petra


This will help you with your ventriloquist, puppet or magic show... Steve demonstrates the importance of making your show VISUAL and how to use the whole stage area with amazing simplicity and clarity!   Order this DVD today!

Axtell Hands-Free Animatronic Piano Playing Chimp


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To achieve this, you just need one of our Magic2 Characters with moving elbows like our Cheeky Monkey or Chimp, Realistic Chimpanzee or World’s Oldest Man!   The piano can be crafted by you or we can build one for you.   For those of you who already have one of these characters, you just need to add the unique character model setting that we will provide you for the transmitter so when you program it has the proper “piano actions”.    This is one of many creative things you can do with our amazing Hands-Free Characters!    More Info Here!

VBS Puppet Ideas 2011


Vacation Bible Schools are cranking up their planning.... Axtell Puppets make great characters that go with most any of the VBS Themes! CHECK IT OUT!

Dumbstruck Movie Contest


See the Dumbstruck Movie Facebook page for information on their Video Contest for Ventriloquists. Dumbstruck is a documentary about 5 ventriloquists and it features several Axtell puppets... releasing nationwide in select theaters. More information about the movie here.

New Mouse Puppet by Axtell Expressions



Check out this new little mouse here!

Extra Large Hands-Free Drawing Board (sneak peek)


This is a BIG 20x24" Extra Large Hands-Free Magic Drawing Board... coming soon! What do you think? Leave a comment!

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Dumbstruck a Documentary Movie about Ventriloquists


The documentary film DUMBSTRUCK is about to be released in some major cities in April and May.


It has been winning awards at lots of film festivals. It's a heartfelt charming documentary about the lives, hopes and dreams of 5 vents in our circle of friends. Dan Horn, Terry Fator, Wilma Swartz, Kim Yeager and Dylan Burdette.

Each Theater is giving away a FREE Axtell puppet at each of the opening day premieres.

Atlanta, GA Midtown Art Cinema,April 15

Washington, D.C. E-Street Cinema, April 22

New York, NY, Village Cinema, April 22

Los Angeles, CA Regent Theatre, April 29

Dallas, TX Magnolia Theatre, May 6

Indianapolis, IN Keystone Theatre May 13

Minneapolis, MN Uptown Theatre May 20

St. Louis, MO Tivoli Theatre May 20

Support the movie and tell your friends!

Steve Axtell Interview


Steve Axtell did an interview with Star Struck

New Background Music from Axtell Expressions


Arthur and Leslie Stead have done it again!

We have added 2 new CDs of TOP QUALITY Background music for your show!

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Check it out Now!

Custom Puppets / Custom Designed Professional Puppets


Axtell Expressions makes amazing custom puppets and custom animatronic characters for performers, producers and celebrities.

WaffleMan Doug
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Nina Conti - Ventriloquist in the UK
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More information on CUSTOM PUPPETS at

Hands-Free Magic Drawing Board


Here is the Hands-Free Magic Drawing Board by Axtell Expression!
Click for more information!

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Goose Puppet by Axtell


Axtell Expressions GOOSE puppet!
We are making a Goose Puppet - sneak peek!



A video tour of Axtell Expressions by Rocko the dog...

Enjoy the tour...CLICK TO WATCH

p-p-platypus Song Update!


P-P-Platypus video is going nuts on Youtube! In just a few weeks... 280,000 views and 2,500 comments. It's received 3 honors from Youtube for being a favorite video...

Please make this a "Favorite" and leave a comment!



P-P-Platypus Update


Okay it's officially gone crazy! Thanks to Charles Trippy and Smosh and thousands of others who have spread this video into the viral universe! Today we are over 190,000 views in just over a week! Tons of commenst and overwhelmingly positive about the video.

There are 5 or 6 P-P-Platypus fan clubs on Facebook, but only one is the Official one that I head up... Join today! Click the photo and the Platty will take you to the FanClub.

P-P-Platypus Song & New Puppet!


Here is the new Axtell Platypus puppet singing the P-P-Platypus song. More info at

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Sailing with Steve Axtell


Who knows where this sailboat will end up with Steve at the helm!


Feb 2010 Axtell eNewsletter


If you didn't get our eNewsletter here is a link to Feb 2010

TERRY FATOR is our Special Guest


We are pleased to have the one and only TERRY FATOR as our Special Guest next week on the Axtell Customer Forum. Tues - Thursday Feb 16-18. Come and ask Terry Fator questions about his career and the entertainment industry!

Terry Fator is the ventriloquist who won America's Got Talent and went on to become one of the most successful entertainers in Las Vegas! He is at the Terry Fator Theater located at the Mirage.

Here is the link to our special Forum site. Join us with your questions....