Wolfman Zapp (lost audio of animatronic character showtape; existence unconfirmed; early 1980s)
Wolfman Zapp is the name of the titular mascot character of the restaurant Zapp’s Bar and Grill. Created by the founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, Zapp’s Bar and Grill was the adult equivalent of Bushnell’s already famous restaurant chain, Chuck E Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre (Often simply abbreviated to PTT). Animatronics during this time period were often accompanied by showtapes, which contained programming information and audio for the animatronic character. Although the existence of Wolfman Zapp’s showtape is unconfirmed, it, along with video footage, has never surfaced of this character.
What We Know
Very little is known about Wolfman Zapp, his showtape, or his programming, leaving much to speculation. Zapp’s Bar and Grill, the restaurant that hosted Wolfman Zapp, is poorly documented online. Because of this, we have very little information as to how many Wolfman Zapp animatronics were put into production. According to Bushnell himself, there were five Zapp's restaurants. These included Tampa FL, San Jose CA, Dallas TX, Reno NV, and Boulder CO. It is unknown how many of these restaurants contained an animatronic.
Some speculate that Wolfman Zapp was a retrofit of an existing PTT animatronic, with simply the cosmetics changed. PTT was often known to use retrofitted animatronics, but one cannot confirm or deny that Wolfman Zapp was a retrofitted character with the evidence (or lack thereof) that has been provided. Some even argue that Wolfman Zapp was never even put into production to begin with, and was simply a prototype. However, a PTT Parts Manual from the early 80’s states otherwise, as it contains information that you would regularly see on mass produced animatronics from the time. Zapp’s Bar and Grill was considered an adult establishment, so one could theorize that his showtape could’ve contained adult humor. Although, this is purely speculation.
Fate of Wolfman Zapp
On July 22nd, 2015, members of the forum Retro Pizza Zone discovered that a user on Instagram had posted an image of what looked to be a dilapidated and run down Wolfman Zapp animatronic in the back of a truck. Although the Instagram post has now been deleted, many users were quick to screencap and archive the image. In it, one can see a PTT animatronic in extremely poor condition. One user was quick to notice that the cars presented in the photo were from the mid to late 1980s, possibly meaning the photograph was much older than once anticipated. There was much debate as to whether or not the PTT animatronic that was pictured was Wolfman Zapp, with no one coming to a definitive conclusion. With very little having surfaced of the elusive animatronic, the fate of him, and his showtape, are unknown.
- An Archived Article containing information on Zapp's Bar and Grill. Retrieved 11 Jun '20
- An interview with Bushnell where he gives information about Zapp's Bar and Grill. Retrieved 11 Jun '20
- A Pizza Time Theatre Parts Manual that contains information on Wolfman Zapp. Retrieved 11 Jun '20
- Retro Pizza Zone users’ first discovering the Instagram post containing the Wolfman Zapp animatronic picture. Retrieved 11 Jun '20