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Topic: Bird Arm Illusion
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 27, 2004 08:39PM)
I've been only using the Axtell Bird Arm Illusion for a year but it always gets a great response. It's now the most popular part of my show, but there are always some kids who want me to know that they know it's not a real arm or bird. Do others run into this and have suggestions for handling this?
Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Apr 28, 2004 09:46AM)
I also use a Vern puppet and arm Illusion in my kids show as my main stay character and have been for 8 years. It always gets a huge, huge reaction. I do a complete show with magic and vent and the kids always say that the bird was their favorite part.

If the child is so dead set on making everyone know that the puppet and the arm are not real then you give it to them straight. I look right at the child and say, "yes, you're right; he's a puppet." Then I have the puppet look at me and say "I am?"

This throws the kid off balance and ends the disruption right there. It doesn't do any harm to the other children's reactions from the puppet.

This is the only way to combat this that I have found that works fast and for sure. The child has no rebuttal to that.

This is a much better option then to let him continue to disrupt the show and egg the other children on into an anti-puppet session.

You may also want to invest in the animated arm illusion where the fingers move. I don't have this but it seems like it would add an extra dimension to the illusion.

Anyone out there use it?
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 28, 2004 11:39AM)
Thanks for the suggestion, Jimmy. It sounds like a good way to go. In my mind I'm not trying to fool them with the illusion. But it does help to sell the bird being alive.

I also do a magic act and do a routine with Vern and the Magic Drawing Board. They are always the favorites.
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Apr 28, 2004 01:43PM)
Where can you get one of these from?


Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 28, 2004 03:20PM)
Steve Axtell makes and sells them. He has a patent as well. Here's a link:
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Apr 28, 2004 04:01PM)

Thanks for the link. Just had a browse around the site and oh boy was I impressed.
The moving arm illusion looks awsome!

Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 29, 2004 07:17AM)
Yes, the moving arm is very cool. I have that one. I'd also recomend that if you buy the Vern puppet, buy the $149 latex version. I bought the $49 vinyl Vern to learn ventriloquism. When I started performing with it the response was so strong I decided to buy the latex puppet. I couldn't believe how much better it looks. You'll love it.

Message: Posted by: Roslyn (Apr 29, 2004 12:51PM)
I don't really do vent. I use puppets all the time, but never learnt how to give them a voice of their own. Are there any decent videos, dvds or books available?

Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 29, 2004 03:38PM)
Axtell has pre-recorded routines you can use that are very good. It takes a lot of patience and practice to get your timing in synch with the CD. I started learning that way, but decided my time would be better spent learning ventriloquism. It was worth it.

I like Steve Taylor's 3 tape set the best. Available from Axtell also.
Message: Posted by: Jimmy Vee (Apr 29, 2004 03:44PM)
I learned from a book... "Kolby King's Ventriloquism Made Easy." Not the best resoruce for vent but it worked for me! Lots of practice!

Everything Ax makes is a home run!
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (May 3, 2004 12:25PM)
Thanks guys,

Message: Posted by: Jimeuax (May 9, 2004 12:02AM)
Hey Jimmy V---I talked to you at Vent Haven last year with Fritz---anyway I agree you can't beat Axtell's stuff---That Kolby King book really has all you need to know it is just compressed---------cheers!----Jimo
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (May 10, 2004 12:24AM)
Don't forget about Maher Ventriloquist Course. Their Millenium Edition include Mark Wade's video or DVD.
Please check:

I learnt from older version of Maher Course.


Budi Ha Ha
Message: Posted by: wally (Aug 15, 2004 01:55PM)
Has anyone got the Axtells McCaw/ parrot, or have you seen it close up, whats your views, than you.
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (Aug 16, 2004 12:22AM)
I have seen it and tried it at IVA Festival 2001. It is very life like, but the consequences is the beak also small. You can manipulated the beak, but maybe not too convenient.

Hope this helps.

Budi Ha Ha
(Proud owner of several Axtell products)
Message: Posted by: muzicman (Aug 18, 2004 11:52AM)
I use the standard bird arm illusion. I have never had anyone yell out that it does not look real. The illusion is incredible. I am interested in the moving arm illusion but not sure if it is worth the asking price. The movement seems like it would be very minimal and not really noticeable by the audience. They seem like they are so fixated on the puppet and the routine that the hand moving slightly is not really a big deal. Actually, I find that kids today have an entirely diffent take on vent acts. Todays modern electronics and robotics is familiar to kids. They see a vent and automatically start coming up with modern technology as the method. It just doesn't have the "magic" it used to before all this technology stuff arrived. It's still entertaining, which is why I use it, but the younger kids are not as impressed because of these advances.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 18, 2004 12:23PM)
Consider the Arm (as wonderful as it is!) as merely your puppet STAGE. A puppet stage that is dressed as a castle is hardly taken for a real castle...it just doesn't matter...the arm gives just enough pause to rinkle the brow and draw a smile...in that it is perfection...no one who is taken by the fantasy of a puppet come to life will give a hoot. (unless it's an owl of course :) )

The moving fingers adds a lot but it then becomes more than your stage...it's another puppet!

That's pretty cool too!
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Aug 19, 2004 11:03AM)
I bought the moving fingers version because I thought it would enhance the illusion, but I never even turn it on. Save your money. You don't need it.

Message: Posted by: Magicusa (Aug 23, 2004 08:31PM)
You are right Oliver about the moving fingers version, I too think you should save your money on this one.

Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Aug 30, 2004 06:36AM)
Another point on the Bird Arm, I have seen some people use the Bird Arm just the way they get it without resizing it to match their other arm. They have one arm 4 to 6 inches shorter than the other and it looks silly. Take the time to make it match your other arm and position the fingers so that they look natural for you.

I thought the arm looked a bit fat and puffy and made a cast of my forarm using the gauze and plaster. Eventually I will replace it with a foam-rubber cast of arm and hand. The arm will have a tuxedo sleeve and the hand will be painted to match mine. That way I don't need to put on the cloth gloves.

The Compleat Sculptor (www.sculpt.com) has a great selection of mold-making and casting supplies. Another good source is smooth-on.com.

Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Aug 30, 2004 07:48AM)
Guys also remember to give the bird arm a purpose. Like holding a lease, or a cup of popcorn or some reason that it does not have to move . I have had one since it was first introduced and have just bought my second one. I hope to have a animated one soon. This is a great prop. Chuck Lyons
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Aug 30, 2004 10:59AM)
That's an excellent reminder, just like using a magic wand. Give the hand a reason to be still.
Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 1, 2004 12:33PM)
Oliver I also do this as a walkaround. When a child tells me he know hows it done I bend over to him and whisper, yes your right but many of these adults don't know how its done so keep it our secret. This seems to appease most of them and they leave feeling smart not tricked.
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Sep 5, 2004 08:17PM)
I've also resonded, "I know but don't say anything. He thinks he's real".

On a tangent: Does anyone know what kind of bird Vern is based on? If you wanted to tell the kids what kind of bird he is, what would you say?

Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Sep 5, 2004 08:40PM)
A Loony Bird of course!

(that was the name of my old show back in the early 70's. (The Loony Birds)

But it fits Vern to a T

Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 6, 2004 08:37AM)
Oliver I love that . I hope you don't mind if I borrow that like its great thank you.
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Sep 6, 2004 06:04PM)
I don't mind at all, Chuck. Feel free. One of the great things about this website is the sharing of ideas that can help us perform more effectively.

Message: Posted by: wally (Oct 14, 2004 12:36PM)
Hi, does anyone here have the Axtell mcaw, whats your views. thank you.
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (Oct 20, 2004 03:35AM)
Hi Wally,

I think I have answered your question in here (please look below your 1st post) and also in the other thread.

Or you need more opinions?


Budi Ha Ha
Message: Posted by: axtell (May 13, 2005 09:16AM)
Great posts! I appreciate how you share ideas and information. The Bird Arm Illusion is such a fun prop. I can't tell you how many people have been fooled by it. Hundred's of thousands! The Animated arm's finger movement is very subtle as it should be. To create the random movement, I held a parrot on my arm and my engineers recorded my real finger movements and then put that into the electronics. There can't be a lOT of movement because it tends to look really fake then. Subtlty is the key and you really don't need it. It was made because of the overwhelming requests we got for one that moves. If an audience member stares at the hand and the finger moves a little bit, they are further confused. It's just another level of magic.

Further we have a whole new batch of AxTrax routines on CD! These are called AxTrax Wide open because each routine has 5 character voice options! Just pick a voice, pick a puppet and now an entire library of routines is available! More at http://www.axtell.com/axtrax.html