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Topic: Insull/Felix
Message: Posted by: James Arnott (May 8, 2008 08:27PM)
Just wondered if any of you guys use/own any Leonard Insull figures (sold through Davenports Magic, London) or Geoff Felix dolls, who still works in Len's style? And if so what you thought.


Message: Posted by: tacrowl (May 9, 2008 07:29AM)
I do not, but you may want to contact Dan over at Ventriloquist Central -

He collects and I believe he has a couple Insull pieces.
Message: Posted by: James Arnott (May 9, 2008 09:59AM)
Am a collector myself, and have some of their work, just wondered what peices of their work had made it out of England and how you guys rate them.


Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (May 12, 2008 11:04PM)
My first professional figure was an Insull that my father ordered for me from Davenports back in about '73. It took a long time for him to arrive, and I believe he was one of the last figures Mr. Insull made. I named him Willie McPherson. He was a great looking figure and very well made. The mechanics were very smooth and quiet. He incurred some damage at the hands of my nephew. I sent Willie to Clinton Detweiler for repairs (broken eyes and a dented nose) and repainting, and also a new wig. I wasn't a collector, Willie was a working figure, so I wasn't concerned about keeping him 'original'. He came home with somewhat toned down paint, more appropriate to the small rooms and backyards I performed in. Plus he had a new dark red wig and handpainted eyes. I was really happy with his new look and I added a little red goatee and he became a more grown-up figure since I was about 18 by this time. I lost him when the roof caved in on a storage building during heavy rains back in the early 90's. I still regret having put him in storage. Anyway, he was a first rate figure. You won't see Insull's in use too much these days, as many are in the hands of collectors, plus there is a bias towards the soft puppet and slot jaw type hard figure in the US. My figure Henry is a slot jaw type. There's a pro vent from Florida, Brenda Stelzer, who uses an Insull figure named George Henry.
David Pitts
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (May 13, 2008 01:18AM)
There are several Insulls in Ebay right now...just a few months ago, I was bidding on one that got sold for less than $500 only...lucky winner :)
Message: Posted by: John Chapman (Jun 21, 2008 06:31PM)
Greetings from New Zealand.

James, I currently have 3 Insull figures. Well, Insull heads - as they didn't tend to ship bodies to this side of the world.

I've always just been fascinated by vent dolls since I was a kid - tried to make them, buy them etc.

My first Insull I bought 10 years ago from an old guy who was a vent doll builder in New Zealand for many years. All I knew was that it was a Davenport, as this was stamped on the base of the neck. I formed a good friendship with this old chap, and he encouraged me to build some of my own figures. That's a different story. Anyway, Pat had found this Davenport head in a terrible state and repaired and repainted it. Movements: both lips, eyes, eybrows, eyelids. Also a smoker fitting, but no moving ears. Here's a picture of Charlie:


A year or so ago I bought a handsome figure from Australia, in very nice condition with moving lips, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, and ears. Also has crying and smoking fittings. His name is Johnny, and is a real charmer!

Recently I acquired a 3rd figure from a local auction site in NZ. It was from the stock of a long since defunct Magic Shop here in NZ. The paintwork was incredibly clean, but the back of the head had been cut away and lost (behind the hair line fortunately!) and one of the winkers didn't work. I took a mould from the back of my first Insull's head and managed to replace the back of the new one. The winker unfortunately was unrepairable - I consulted Geoff Felix about this and he agreed best to leave it. The original hair was pretty much gone, so I gave him a new wig and called him Archie. Archie has the standard Number 2 movements: both lips, eyelids (well, eyelid now!), eyebrows, eyes, and ears.

Here's Johnny and Archie:


I met Geoff Felix in 2003 - I was holidaying in London and decided to go and knock on his door. Spent a thoroughly interesting hour or so talking vent dolls and Insull. He had many of his heads on display, and they're all first rate. Unfortunately it had cost me all my savings to pay for the holiday, and I really wasn't in a position to buy anything from him.

Message: Posted by: Daveandrews (Jun 21, 2008 07:17PM)
Geoff Felix is a very nice person and willing to talk 'puppets' ad infinitum. For those who don't know, he is very highly regarded world wide having worked with, among others, Ronn Lucas.


Message: Posted by: John Chapman (Jun 21, 2008 08:47PM)
Here's a good example of Geoff's that was on UK Ebay recently. No takers sadly:

Message: Posted by: John Chapman (Dec 12, 2008 02:14AM)
Any more Insull/Felix figures out there? I'd love to see them!
Message: Posted by: marshalldoll (Dec 14, 2008 11:13AM)
I have owned and sold many of Len Insull figures and the are a very fine product. I think of the paper mache type figures his were the best with the best looking faces. I currently have a fully loaded cheeky boy, 2 original pocket figures and an original toby jug in my collection.