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Topic: Having fun with a laundry basket (free B.O.B.)
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 27, 2004 09:58AM)
I was searching for something to throw props into after use since I seem incapable of putting things neatly back into my roll-on as I use them. I found a laundry basket for kids (in woolworths) that folds flat, but springs up to look like a big lion (frogs where also available). I thought it might be fun.
After about a month of using it I'm absolutely amazed it's success. Honestly, I've added carefully crafted and thought-out routines to my show that were nowhere near as big a hit as this flaming laundry basket!
Pratically it's great: it folds up flat and fits easily into the back of my box. Also I've found with my table to my right and basket to the left having 2 largish objects helps clearly define the stage area.
Almost every time I use it I come across a new bit of business to do with it.
Here's some of the bit's of business I have so far:

[*] If you have to set-up with kids around the popping up of the lion looks magical in itself
[*] All props get fed to the lion and after the first couple of tricks get put in there every time you have a prop to get rid of you can simply ask "I wonder what I should do with this?" and all the kids shout "Feed it to the lion!!"
[*]The lion can nip you, bite you, chew your arm off (or I suppose, but havent tried this yet, swallow your whole upper torso)as you feed it.
[*] You can put props in and flip them out as your arm goes in. This looks like the lion is rejecting the 'food'. Of course if you pretend not to see the objects flipping out you have another fun situation to play with.
[*]The lions mouth can slowly open as you walk away. You need to modify your lion (not a big job; pair of nail scissors and one snip(ouch))but once you do you can adjust the mouth to open or stay shut whenever you want.(This was a completely accidental discovery: after a week of using it a small part of the fabric ripped, causing part of the bendy steel rod in the mouth to come out a little at the back, originally I was annoyed that it had broken but then when I was using it the next day I closed the mouth and walked away and the kids started going bonkers,I turned to find lions mouth open...)
[*] The ears are on the top and tend to flop back. The great thing is that you can lean one forward and when you put the other one forward the first one automatically flops back. If you put both up they both flop back together. This is a nice follow up to "shut your mouth".."and hold those ears up straight".
[*]Before too many props go in you can push down the whole basket slightly and when you let go the whole basket will jump towards you.
[*]Any puppets or spring animals you use can be seen to get nervous as you approach the lion.
There we go, 10 minutes with a laundry basket by George. I hope someone else can have fun with it too.
I was getting such big reactions off the mouth opening the other day I could hardly believe it, I couldn't help looking up to the adults at the back,shrugging and mouthing "it's only a laundry basket" and they cracked up.
I had a toddler run up yesterday and stick his head in there. I got everyone to clap the brave toddler for being so courageous as to stick his head in the lions mouth .."as he goes back to his mum's lap because the lion might bite his nose next time". Which was great got a laugh, a clap for the young scamp and the message across to Mum (for at least.. ooh.. 4 minutes till she ran out of wine).
I have had one little upset though, in the first week of using it I hadn't really known what a big deal the lion was to the kids and thoughtlessly put Norman (Rocky) in there after I was finished and had one very concerned young 2 year-old led up to me after the show who was exceedingly worried about Norman.

Cheers George
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Aug 27, 2004 10:51AM)
George funnily enough I use something similar but it says jac the wizard and it has a picture of the wizard with his magic wand book of spells, etc. and that is a compressable laundry basket. I'd say to the birthday child I've brought my friend jac to show us all some real magic, and we look everywhere until we find he's not there but he's left his costume and his equiptment so I teach the child Jac's tricks. Works well for me. I think they are great.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 27, 2004 02:48PM)
Nice, Matt, does the laundry basket look like a wizard or just have a pic of a wizard on it?
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Aug 27, 2004 03:43PM)
Hi George, I use a pop up laundry basket to hold my ready made balloon models at a party, I had my name put on it by the same guy who did my car. I arrive with the balloons in a bin bag, popup the basket and empty the ballons into it. I then give the bin bag to the booker with the joke, that they get a free binbag with every show.

I didn't know about the ones in woolworths, the lion one would be perfect for me as I use the big lion puppet, If you don't mind can I pinch your idea?
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Aug 27, 2004 06:27PM)
No unfortunatly it would be really cool if it turned into the JAC the wizard at the end but its just got a picture of the wizard, the book of spells and the wands and stuff. Might look into it though, I've just thought I'd surprise kids and don't ever say I've got that for my washing! or something like that
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 27, 2004 07:12PM)
No problems, Clive that's why I shared the idea. I'm sure you'll come up with a lot of fun stuff with it and it'll be nice for Marmite to have a chum :).
I'm not suprised you guys are already using pop-up laundry baskets, I've a friend from Cork who spotted one and purchased it immediatly for his shows. There must be a gene in all kid's entertainers that sees a pop-up basket and goes hmmmmmmmmm. SI can't really take much credit for the lion idea either because I bet the same gene would've definitely had you picking up the lion if you came across one.
All the bits of business with it evolved naturally because it's just one of those objects ripe for that kind of stuff.
Matt, I like the way you've used your basket to routine the tricks. It's a nice lead in to your book of sm...spells.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Aug 27, 2004 09:56PM)
Great idea!

I love it!
Message: Posted by: triadsong (Aug 28, 2004 12:05PM)
Wonderful Idea! Now, if only Woolworth's would re-oen in the States!
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Aug 28, 2004 04:42PM)
Ive also use it with the visible magic painting the wizard picture. I only use it for birthday parties so I think I will have a look at the lion one.

You might end up having spring lion 'rocky's' if you don't becareful Clive. LOL
Message: Posted by: Jewls (Aug 28, 2004 09:20PM)
The connection you have with your audience is wonderful! I can tell they have a roaring good time. I always enjoy your posts, thank you for a smile after a long day of entertaining.
Message: Posted by: Brent Allan (Aug 31, 2004 11:53AM)
Does anyone know where in the US I might get one of those lions?
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 31, 2004 01:08PM)
I had a look for one on the net but had no luck. Maybe a more proficient 'googler' will have better luck than myself.
I'm probably going to nip down and buy myself a spare or two. When I do I'll see if I can find the manufacturers details on the packaging. That might help.
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Sep 5, 2004 09:19PM)
I work out of a brightly colored plastic tote, sitting on a tray stand. It really makes it easy to put props back where they belong and greatly reduces reset time between shows.

I used a suitcase table, years ago. It was just too awkward to get props from. There's a reason why so many performers would rather work out of a box than a set of shelves, which is what a suitcase table really is.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Sep 6, 2004 11:21AM)
Brent -

I was in a Canadian store on Friday, called The Real Canadian Superstore, and they had the lion laundry baskets (and other animals as well) for about $25 CAN.

I didn't check Wal-Mart yet, but it might be worth a look in the US.

- Donald.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 06:51AM)
I too would like to know a supplier stateside please.
Having some major logistic problems with set up organization and ditching of props.
Message: Posted by: stu-di-doo (Sep 19, 2004 06:28AM)
They are also selling a range of these at "Ethel Austins" here in the UK. Dog, cat, bear and frog.

They are actually called "pop up hampers" by a lot of manufacturers and a quick search on google brought up a lot of suppliers stateside. A couple I found even had wheels on the bottom. I sure they could be made to follow you around for part of the show!

Good luck in your search everyone!

Stu Di Doo
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 19, 2004 06:41AM)
Stu whats the price at Ethel Austins? My dog puppet could have a friend like marmite
Message: Posted by: rjsmith608 (Sep 19, 2004 07:58AM)
A basket like that would be great for switching things. Like the snake can. You can throw it in the basket and say wait I did need that for the trick. Or you could also make your own cloth covers with pockets to store props. David Ginn uses something similar but comes up to waist highth and he changes the cover for each show he creates to fit props he is using. I have been wanting one for years. I may break down and buy one and use it for my daycare show and just roll that on and my case and table.
Message: Posted by: stu-di-doo (Sep 19, 2004 04:38PM)
Hi Matt,

they were only 5 each! I think Clive picked up the lion one at woolworths for 10 or 12 when we were in Wolverhampton for Kidology.

Stu Di Doo
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 19, 2004 05:48PM)
I have found one small problem with the lion basket, it's a magnet for curious toddlers. it's only happened a couple of times and It never happened with my plain laundry basket.

but One even climbed in it when my back was turned. Luckily I was setting up at the time, and hadn't yet put any balloons in it.

Mum, as is always the case with these toddlers, watched with glee as her little angel played with the magicians stuff, not realising my bared teeth were not the result of a happy smile.
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Sep 20, 2004 04:03PM)
I've just been to my local "woolies" and they've got rid of them for christmas stock! She did say they will probably be back in January :(
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Sep 20, 2004 06:54PM)
Ha ha ha, Clive,
You're so right. I was just saying that today. The problem with the lion basket is, since you've created interest in it, all the kids want to look in it or play with it which kind of takes away from the fact that you want to use it to put all your props(/balloons) somewhere out of harms way.
Ah well, I'm sure we'll find ways to deal with it. In my first year of business I used a large hold-all bag and a fold-up table, when I switched to a roll-on style table I found that a lot of the kids wanted to see what was in it, which didn't happen when I used the bag. In time, that problem disappeared I'm hoping the same will happen with the lion, I'll find more ways of keeping the noses out of there and at the same time get more entertainment out of the prop.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 21, 2004 02:49AM)
Most branches of Woolworths are selling off hobby horses half price now 9.99 one of them is not a horse but alions head that growls/roars might be useful for sound efect
Message: Posted by: honus (Sep 21, 2004 10:22AM)
Anyone found these in the US yet?

An online search turned up nothing. Even Woolworths doesn't seem to sell them online.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Sep 21, 2004 12:58PM)
I saw them in "Budget DIY" ,today, there was a ladybird one there too.

There's quite a few on e-bay. I couldn't see the lion but I found the frog, a dog, a tiger and a very cool duck. Check it out.

No lion, but some more nice ones here (especially the rocket):

Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 22, 2004 05:06AM)
I have currently been using those colorful plastic buckets found at dollar stores. Problem is I run out of table space to put them on and if they are on the floor, they are open to "eye candy attacks."
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Sep 22, 2004 09:43AM)
What you can often do is use a roll on table as your main table and put your "dicth" bucket directly behind it. So from the audience view, your table blocks it and so it does not become a distraction for you and for the kids. I sometimes do this at my festival shows and it works quite well. It also keeps it out of reach of the children's hands. Just a suggestion.

Message: Posted by: magicpro12 (Sep 24, 2004 03:07AM)
Hi Folks,

I found a few places online that sell the baskets in the USA. I personally have not used these companies, but the prices seem fair. Hope this helps!

Link 1:

Link 2:
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 24, 2004 11:07AM)
I rember a childrens entertainer telling me to put DANGER DANGEROUS LIVE ANIMAL INSIDE across my puppet box maybe something like that on it? With my one I have a huge silk that goes over it to stop that happening.
Message: Posted by: honus (Sep 24, 2004 09:25PM)
Thanks magicpro12 . . . those look way cool!

Hmmmm . . . now thinking about a way to show one empty at the beginning and use it for a production at the end . . . .
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Oct 3, 2004 02:01AM)
If the ditch bucket is drawing to many curious kids, maybe you should get one of the black ones available for use for Halloween.
Message: Posted by: Bill Nuvo (Dec 23, 2005 07:08PM)
Great Idea. Glad I found it. Shouldn't be buried so I brought it back up!
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Dec 24, 2005 06:23AM)
I'd forgotten I'd posted this here. A year and a half later and I'm still using one. I found slightly smaller ones in Pound-stretcher for 5 each, a bee, a dolphin and a baseball one.

I still do the mouth opening gag (usually before I start the show to find out what kind of mood the audience are in). I don't doctor the baskets any more (it doesn't always work). I simply close the lid with my right hand with my left hand at the back, if you then push into the cloth at the back with your left thumb as you walk away it opens back up again.

If you want to keep the basket as a feature of the show but keep out little fingers afterwards, I've found a couple of clothes pegs over the opening stops the ld intruders.