Creative Engineering Inc. (Lost audio of animatronic characters; 1970s-1980s)
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Creative Engineering Inc. is an animatronic company founded in the early 1970's. They are most recognized for producing the Rock-afire Explosion band that operated in Showbiz Pizza Place food chains in the 1980's. Other than the Rock-afire, Creative Engineering manufactured several other animatronic bands/retrofits for their own shows. Many showtapes/segments of showtapes have never surfaced online or have since disappeared.
The Rock-afire Explosion
Debuted in 1981, the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic show was Showbiz Pizza's primary distinction from other arcades at the time. In 1989, however, Showbiz Pizza made the decision to remove the Rock-afire entertainment from their restaurants via a process known as "Concept Unification". This involved them retrofitting the existing stages with cosmetics to make the show appear as if it were "Munch's Make Believe Band", which was also owned by Showbiz Pizza. Despite being Creative Engineering's most successful product, many Rock-afire showtapes have gone missing.
-"Classic Collection" (FOUND) The fan-compiled showtape collection, the Classic Collection contains most of the Rock-afire's earliest tracks. It is available here.
-Tribute to Abbey Road (FOUND) Released in 1982, the Tribute to Abbey Road Showtape contained many fan favorite shows. It is available in it's entirety here.
-New Years '82 (FOUND) A promotional showtape released in December of 1982. It is available online.
-Tribute to the Beatles' White Album (FOUND) This showtape was released in 1983, and is considered to be one of the greatest show collections the Rock-afire ever produced. It is available online.
-1983 Christmas Album (FOUND)
-Crazy Colander Head Night (FOUND) Part of the Rock-afire's "Crazy Colander Head Night" promotion, these showtapes were produced in to coincide with the event. They are available online.
-1983 Uncle Klunk Show (FOUND) Audio released to accompany the new Uncle Klunk animatronic released by Creative Engineering to Showbiz in 1983. It is available online.
-1983 Santa Klunk Show (FOUND) Part of the rare "Santa Klunks", this audio is also availible online (it should be noted that the "Santa Klunks" are Uncle Klunk's that are outfitted to look like Santa Claus.)
-Country 1 (FOUND) A collection of songs released by the Rock-afire that were mostly country themed. It is available online.
-Country 2 (FOUND) Similar to Country 1, Country 2 also contains many country themed songs. It too is available online.
-Country Klunk (FOUND) Keeping in style with the other country showtapes, Uncle Klunk was given a country showtape collection of his very own. It too is available online.
-Magic Night (FOUND) This showtape contains many covers, and also includes the sparsely used "Letters to Looney Bird" segments, which were used as precursors to the main song. It is available online.
-1984 Senior Citizens (FOUND) This showtape contains the theme for the 1984 World's Fair, which was written by Fatz Geronimo's voice actor; Burt Wilson. It is also remembered for its creative renditions of modern and classic songs in various styles. It is available online.
-Trivia Night (FOUND) This showtape contained primarily covers, but also utilized the aforementioned Letters to Looney Bird skit. It is available online.
-Homely for Christmas (FOUND) Released in 1987, this showtape is remembered best for wide variety of quality covers. It is available online.
-New Years '88 (FOUND) This was the longest Rock-afire show produced. Released to coincide with New Years of 1988, this show is renowned for the fact that it was recorded in one long continuous take, something in which the characters mention repeatedly.
-Cyberstar Segments (FOUND) These showtapes were unique in that they were the first (and practically only) Rock-afire shows to have video accompanying the animatronic band. Many of the videos that played alongside the animatronics are able to be seen on the showbizpizza.com Youtube Channel, and the clean audio is available online.
-Show Selector Shows/Voice clips (PARTIALLY LOST) These particular shows were used alongside the (then) newly introduced "Show Selector", which allowed costumers to select whatever showtape they pleased. Many of these shows are available online, but many of them have yet to surface.
-Showbiz Corporate Voiced Shows (FOUND) In 1986, Showbiz Pizza tried their hand at producing their own showtapes for the entertainment they housed. These showtapes were critcally panned for their poor voice acting, seemingly unfinished programming, and overall lack of quality. After numerous poorly received shows, they gave Creative Engineering the rights to producing shows back. These are all available online.
-Talking Billy Bob Walk-Around Shows (LOST) One of Creative Engineering's less successful projects, the Talking Billy Bob costumes were unique in that the costume's mouth was synced up with the shows audio, which could allow an entertainer to seemingly "interact" with the characters on stage. A brief example of this product in action is available here, but not much else is known about the other tapes produced for it.
-Yogi Bear Showtape (PARTIALLY FOUND) Another one of Showbiz Pizza's attempt to seize control of the Rock-afire, these shows were to utilize the new Yogi-Bear and Boo Boo retrofit. Not much is known about the project, but a transcript and instrumental track of the show has surfaced online.
Looney Bird's and New Rock-afire Explosion showtapes
-Looney Bird's Tapes (LOST) Some shows were produced specifically for the Looney Bird's chain of restaurants, but have yet to surface online.
-New Rock-afire Explosion Misc Tapes (LOST) It is known that some shows were produced to function with the New Rock-afire Explosion, however, none have surface online.
(It should be noted that Looney Bird's was a different restaurant to Showbiz Pizza Place, however, they largely featured the same entertainment, and are therefore included in this category.)
- UPDATE* as of 2/27/17 there is 7 new showtapes someone has discovered and is going to upload.
Wolf Pack 5:
Created in 1976, the Wolf Pack 5 was Creative Engineering's first animatronic band. In 1980, Bob Brock approached Creative Engineering about installing their entertainment into the then unnamed Showbiz Pizza Place. Later that year, the Wolf Pack 5 was installed in the first Showbiz Pizza location. Later, in 1981, the Wolf Pack 5 was removed from Showbiz Pizza Place, as the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic band had debuted earlier that year, and took over as the primary entertainment.
-1980 IAAPA Showtape (LOST) This showtape was used to demonstrate what the Wolf Pack 5 was really capable of. It has been described as having more characters onstage interacting. A small snippet of this show can be found online.
-Showbiz Pizza Segments (FOUND) In 1980, at the request of Bob Brock, the IAAPA showtape was edited for usage in Showbiz Pizza restaurants. It was split into 6 parts, contained an intro and an outro jingle, and a new omniscient announcer, who would often poke fun at the characters. These shows are available online.
-Misc Shows from other venues (LOST) Due to Creative Engineering not having the Wolf Pack 5 directly associated with Showbiz Pizza Place, some bands were sold to outside venues. It's unknown what the content on these tapes would've been, other than Wolfman saying "Oh, Yeah!" at the beginning of Banana Hill.
It should be noted that the Showbiz Segments are the only clean audio rips to resurface online.
Hard Luck Bears:
Creative Engineering's second animatronic band, these characters were installed in a wide variety of venues, primarily theme parks, but also having permanent residence in other venues.
-Original Creative Engineering Showtape (FOUND) The most widely heard show from this animatronic band, this one contains their most well-remembered personalities. The show audio can be found here.
-Rockin' Billy and the Bearcats (FOUND) This showtape was produced for the Knoebel's Theme Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. While the animatronic band there has since long been removed, the showtape audio surfaced recently, and can be found here.
-Show De Osos (SEMI-FOUND) One of the few foreign Creative Engineering shows, this band was shipped off to Chile, along with a custom set of Spanish showtapes. Footage of the band has surfaced online, and very little clean audio has surfaced. The footage can be found online.
-Blackpool Beach Park Tape (LOST) Blackpool Pleasure Beach had a Hard Luck Bears show installed for a short period of time, and a single showtape was produced for it. Not much is known about the contents of the tape, and little speculation has occurred.
UPDATE 2/25/17: A worker at the Blackpool theme park has stated to have the show in its original quality. He said it included a quick and rushed character introduction, but with deeper voices than the CEI original promo tape. They sang a song called "Feet Nailed to the Floor" and included the same Pete/Repete gag from the promo tape, many other songs from the CEI show were featured in this tape as well. It is known they would sing "Mama don't allow no guitar playing in here" and another song called "The Blackpool Belle" Thanks to Lukas for this new inormation!
-Honey's Bear Show (LOST) Undoubtedly the strangest showtape to have ever been produced, the Honey's Bear Show was notorious for retrofitting the Hard Luck Bears into a fully-female band, complete with lipstick and brand new outfits. Footage supposedly containing the clean audio had surfaced online, but has since disappeared. It is unknown what the contents of the show were. All that is known for certain is that Billy Wilbur's retrofit had a high-pitched voice.
Hard Luck Bears (Rock-afire Retrofit):
This was one of the many Rock-afire retrofits to have been produced over the years, and was installed in the 3 Gulliver's themed parks. The characters in this show have all been retrofitted to appear more country-esque, and very little of the show remains unchanged.
-Show 1 (LOST) This show contains primarily country covers, as well as some character dialogue. This show is notorious for it's sluggish and lazy programming. No known clean audio has ever surfaced.
-Show 2 (LOST) Much like Show 1, this show is also composed primarily of country covers. It is also known for its poor programming and lazy voice acting. No clean audio has surfaced.
Videos of this show in action exist, but no clean audio has ever surfaced online.
Misc. Creative Engineering Shows:
-The Moon Rockers (PARTIALLY FOUND) One of Creative Engineering's many other side projects, very little audio from this show has surfaced. Most of it can be found in this clip of the band performing in a CEI Demo tape. It is unknown if the master tapes still exist, or if there were any more shows produced for the Moon Rockers.
-"Creepy Clown" Animatronic (COMPLETELY LOST?) Seen only for a fraction of a second in one of the 90's Creative Engineering demos, the "Creepy Clown" animatronic was well known for it's unsettling appearance and ambiguity. Not much is known about the animatronic itself, and even less is known about the showtape that runs it. It is reported to exist, but since it was unable to be played, it is likely to be completely lost, as once the tape was discovered no audio could be recovered. At first it was thought to be the tape player, but after playing another CEI Tape, it worked. The existance of other copies of this tape is unknown and likely will never surface online as this Creepy Clown was not even remembered by it's creator/CEI founder, Aaron Fechter, until it was rediscovered in 2015. (Needs Citation)
-Reginald J. Flootsnoot (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) Another one of Creative Engineering's singular animatronics, this character is best known for the fact that he is a common landmark in CEI tours. Not much is known about him, other than that he is a complete character, and was seen once in a Creative Engineering demo tape. It is unknown whether or not this character was ever programmed.
-Wizard of Oz Show (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) Creative Engineering's first (and so far only) dark ride, the Wizard of Oz show is remembered for it's brief (yet prominent) appearance in the 1992 Creative Engineering demo tape. In it, the Scarecrow sings a small portion of "If I Only Had A Brain". Later in the demo, Tin Man sings a snippet of "You've Gotta Have Heart". It's unknown whether or not the rest of the dark ride was ever produced, as Tin Man, Scarecrow, and a few Talking Trees are the only two remaining animatronics from the ride still in Creative Engineering. The clean audio of this show has yet to surface online.
-Bubba the Shakespearean Gorilla (PARTIALLY LOST) One of Creative Engineering's singular animatronics, Bubba was praised for his variety of sophisticated movements, and charming concept. Only 2 pieces of footage and 2 official photos of him have ever surfaced online. It is unknown whether or not Bubba had a full showtape, or was merely a demonstration of Creative Engineering's design capabilities.
-Dook and Mitzi 2.0 Prototype shows (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) In 1983, Creative Engineering produced 2 of what would've become mass-produced "2.0" animatronic characters. The Dook 2.0 animatronic was never officially given press, but he was alluded to a numerous amount of times in a numerous amount of media. Mitzi 2.0, on the other hand, was officially announced at the 1983 "Save the Colander" Telethon, in which a demo reel was shown of Mitzi 2.0 actuating her various movements, and performing a very rudimentary dance. However, that was the last we ever saw (officially) of these characters. Their showtape programs (which likely only held very basic programming and diagnostic information) have yet to be confirmed to exist, let alone be online.
-Talking Head Shows (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) One of Creative Engineering's earliest products, the "Talking Heads" were just that; talking heads. But that's just about all that's known about them. It's unknown what they said, who was built, when they started making them, and whether or not any shows from them still exist.
-Lazlo the Fortune Teller (LOST) Another one of Creative Engineering's earlier works, Lazlo was a fortune teller. It's unknown how he worked, but it's safe to assume he also ran off of a showtape. The whereabouts of this show, however, are not known, and it is unlikely it will ever be available online.
-The Mijjins IAAPA Tape (LOST) In 1992, a demo tape was released showing the Mijjin animatronics, Creative Engineering's newest creation, performing at the IAAPA. However, the contents of the show are largely unknown (there were many covers, though), and it is unknown what the purpose of the display was. No further assets of the showtape have ever surfaced or have even been mentioned, which makes it unlikely that it will ever surface online.
-The Jungle Juke Band (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) One of a few "mystery" shows Creative Engineering advertised about, yet never actually produced fully, the Jungle Juke Band was "unveiled" in the 1983 Promo Brochure CEI produced. The band is advertised as having 3 members; a monkey, a tiger, and a hippopotamus. It is likely that all of these characters were simply retrofits of the preexisting Rock-afire Explosion characters, but not much information has surfaced about the band. It's unknown whether or not the band ever had a showtape produced for it.
-The Cosmic Combo (EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) Another "mystery" show, this show was advertised as having 5 alien characters, 3 of which have been speculated to be Rock-afire retrofits. The remaining two were likely to be original character mechanisms. It's unknown whether or not anything materialized from this concept, or whether or not a showtape was produced for the band.
-Hannah Banana Shows (FOUND) Sometime in the late 2000's, Creative Engineering produced a retrofit animatronic for the "Hannah Banana" chain of restaurants in the UK. Footage of these shows has surfaced, but not with the actual retrofit performing. The clean audio has been spotted on Radio Showbiz and has been made available online.
-Mini-Billy Bob Showtapes (LOST/EXISTENCE UNCONFIRMED) In the early 1980's, Creative Engineering had the intention of creating a mini Rock-afire Explosion. It's unknown whether or not any of the other characters were produced, but it was known that a mini Billy Bob was produced. The character were able to use the same program signals the standard size Billy Bob used, but it was also advertised as being able to tell stories. It's unknown whether or not any stories were actually recorded, as Billy was never sold, as the final products reportedly all had bad motors that burnt out extremely quickly.
-Confederate Critter Show (LOST) This show is an early CEI show from the 1970s with 3 characters. Not much is known about this show besides it's strange concept and a few pictures of the band that has surfaced online. No audio or footage of this show exists and is likely to be completely lost due to the band not being in CEI.
-Willy Wabbit (LOST) This character stood for many years at the airport in Orlando, Florida where it would perform many different songs for the visitors. This was CEI's second character and not much info about the character is available online. These showtapes are likely to be lost forever as the character is no where to be found in CEI.
-Friendly Freddy (LOST) The first character built by CEI in the 1970's was Friendly Freddy, a guitar playing bear. Not much is really known about the character. In 2008 his last known location was in New York. No audio of his has surfaced online and may never, but the current owner of the character may have the show/shows along with the character, although this is unknown.
-Gaslight Jamboree (LOST) Not much is known about this show, other than it had the Wolfman and Fats Geronimo from the Wolfpack 5 and Friendly Freddy in a 3 character band. Only a few photos of this show exists online and no videos or audio has yet to be recovered.