Creative Engineering Inc. (partially found audio of animatronic character's showtapes; 1970s-1980s)

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Status: Partially Found

Creative Engineering Inc. is an animatronic company founded in the early 1970s. They are most recognized for producing the Rock-afire Explosion band that operated in Showbiz Pizza Place food chains in the 1980s. 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.[1]

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.[2]

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
Classic Collection Various Found Fan-compiled showtape collection with most of Rock-afires's earliest tracks.
Tribute to Abbey Road 1982 Found Contains many fan-favorite shows.
New Years '82 1982 Found Promotional showtape released in December 1982.
Tribute to the Beatles' White Album 1983 Found Considered one of Rock-afire's greatest show collections.
1982 Christmas Album 1982 Found
Crazy Colander Head Night Unknown Found Produced as part of Rock-a-Fire's "Crazy Colander Head Night" event, which encouraged guests to wear colanders adorned with various decorations.
1983 Uncle Klunk Show 1983 Found Released to accompany the then-new Uncle Klunk animatronic, who replaced the Rolfe and Earl animatronic briefly.
1983 Santa Klunk Show 1983 Found Accompanied a rare variant of Uncle Klunk dressed as Santa Clause.
Country 1 Unknown Found Album of country-themed Rock-A-Fire songs.
Country 2 Unknown Found Album of country-themed Rock-A-Fire songs.
Country Klunk Unknown Found Special album of country-themed songs for the Uncle Klunk animatronic.
Magic Night Unknown Found Contains many song covers, as well as rare "Letters to Looney Bird" segments.
1984 Senior Citizens 1984 Found Contains the theme for the 1984 World's Fair (written by the voice actor for Fatz, Burt "Sal" Wilson), as well as renditions of modern and classic songs.
Trivia Night Unknown Found Primarily contains covers, but also contains "Letters to Looney Bird" segments.
Homely for Christmas 1987 Found Contains a variety of covers.
New Years '88 1988 Found The longest Rock-a-Fire show tape, recorded in one continuous take. This showtape was created to emulate the feeling of a true "live concert" from the Rock-afire Explosion.
Cyberstar Segments Unknown Found The first Rock-a-Fire shows to feature video playing alongside the animatronics.
Show Selector Shows / Voice Clips Unknown Partially LostTape 1Tape 2 These were used with the "Show Selector" to allow customers to pick from different showtapes. Only some of them have resurfaced.
Showbiz Corporate Voice Shows 1986 Found These were produced by Showbiz Pizza Time and are widely regarded to be inferior shows to those produced by Creative Engineering Inc. These shows featured entirely different voice actors and simplified the character's personalities considerably. These shows were discontinued after outcry from customers, and after Creative Engineering apocryphally proved their worth with their Liberty Showtape (made to commemorate the Independence Day), which is considered to far-outshine the corporate-produced version.
Showbiz Pizza Fiesta Shows 1985 Found Featured at "Showbiz Pizza Place" and "Showbiz Pizza Fiesta" in Mexico. Various advertisements have also surfaced on YouTube.
Talking Billy Bob Walk-Around Shows Unknown Partially Found These showtapes were created to work with Creative Engineering's new talking walk-around (costumed characters) technology. Only a Billy Bob walkaround was produced, with another one (suspected to be Mitzi) having been in the works, but scrapped during it's construction. There exists a small sample of the show in action on showbizpizza.com, in which a performer in a talking Billy Bob costumer acts out a humorous skit with a standard Fatz Geronimo animatronic.
Yogi Bear Showtape Unknown Partially Found This show saw the Rolfe and Earl and Looney Bird animatonics retrofitted cosmetically to become Yogi Bear and Boo Boo respectively. Only the transcript and the instrumental track have resurfaced.

Looney Bird's and New Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes

Looney Bird's was a different restaurant to Showbiz Pizza Place. However, they largely featured the same entertainment, and are therefore included in this page.

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
Looney Bird's Tapes Unknown Lost These were produced specifically for the Looney Bird's chain of restaurants.
New Rock-a-Fire Explosion Misc. Tapes Unknown Lost Very little information is known about the showtapes from these shows.
Golden Showtape Collection/1990's Show Audio 1990s Partially Found Some shows, such as "Life is Highway" and "Runaround" have resurfaced. However, many others are still missing.
International 1990's Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes 1990s Partially Found Many of the 1990s showtapes were programmed in different languages for international audiences. "The Twist" and "Para Madura" have resurfaced in full. A clip from "Que Pasa" has also resurfaced in the 1994 Rock-a-Fire promo video. Many other shows are still missing.

Wolf Pack 5:

Created in 1978, the Wolf Pack 5 was one of Creative Engineering's first animatronic bands. 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.

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
IAAPA Showtape 1980 Partially Found This was the demonstration tape for the Wolf Pack 5. Unlike the fully-released Showbiz Pizza tape, this one is described as having more on-stage interaction between the characters. The tape is also noted for featuring a narrator who has the same voice as Rolfe DeWolfe, a character in the Wolf Pack 5's successor, the Rock-afire Explosion.
Showbiz Pizza Segments 1980 Found This was an edited version of the IAAPA Showtapes made for Showbiz Pizza Place. It was split into six parts, and added an intro and outro jingles, as well as an announcer.
Misc Wolfpack 5 Shows Unknown Lost The Wolfpack 5 is known to have been sold to restaurants other than Showbiz Pizza. Little information exists for the content of the shows.
Beto Carrero World Introductions Unknown Lost The Wolfpack 5 is known to have been present at the Beto Carrero World theme park in Brazil. They are known to have sung a sped-up version of "Sing A Simple Song" and talked about the stores inside the tent at the park.

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.

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
Original Creative Engineering Showtape Unknown Found This was the most widely heard show from this animatronic band. The tape contains their most well-remembered personalities.
Rockin' Billy and the Bearcats Unknown Found This showtape was produced for the Knoebel's Theme Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.
Show De Osos Unknown Partially Found This was a custom set of Spanish showtapes used at locations in Chile. Some footage exists online, but very little clean audio has surfaced.
Blackpool Beach Park Tape Unknown Lost The Hard Luck Bears were briefly installed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. A single showtape was produced.

On February 25, 2017, A worker at the Blackpool theme park has been 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 information!

Honey's Bear Show Unknown Lost This was a retrofit of the Hard Luck Bears into a fully female band with lipstick and new outfits. The contents of the show are largely unknown.

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.

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
Show 1 Unknown Lost This show contains primarily country covers with some character dialogue. It is known for sluggish and lazy programming.
Show 2 Unknown Found This show primarily contains country covers. It is considered to have poor programming and lazy voice acting.

Misc. Creative Engineering Shows:

Showtape / Showtape Collection Released Status Notes
The Moon Rockers Unknown Partially Found This was a retrofit of the Rock-afire Explosion. It is unknown how much of the show has been uncovered, but numerous clips of it exist on the physical releases of the Rock-afire Explosion Documentary (2008). It has been said that the show aimed to promote world peace, and was prompted by the rise of Cold-War tensions in the mid-late 1980s.
"Creepy Clown" Animatronic Unknown Lost This obscure animatronic was only seen for a fraction of a second in a 1990s Creative Engineering demo tape. A showtape for the Creepy Clown was discovered in 2015, but the audio was not recoverable. It is unknown if any other showtapes exist.[3]
Reginald J. Flootsnoot Unknown Existence Unconfirmed This character was completed and featured in at least one Creative Engineering demo tape, but it is unknown whether he was ever given a showtape.
Castle Dracula Dark Ride Audio Unknown Found This was one of CEI's first animatronic shows, as well as their first Dark Ride. The audio was freely released online by CEI.
Wizard of Oz Show Unknown Partially Found This was Creative Engineering's second dark ride. It was featured in the 1992 Creative Engineering demo tape. The Scarecrow is known to sing part of "If I Only Had a Brain", and the Tin Man is known to sing part of "You Gotta Have Heart". It is not known how many characters were programmed, although CEI still holds animatronics for Scarecrow, Tin Man, and a few Talking Trees. It is rumored that this show was featured at one of the Looney Birds locations, but this is unconfirmed.
Bubba the Shakespearean Gorilla Unknown Partially Found This animatronic was praised for his variety of sophisticated movements, as well as a charming concept. Two pieces of footage have surfaced online. However, it is unknown whether a full showtape was produced.
Dook and Mitzi 2.0 Prototype Shows Unknown Existence Unconfirmed Prototypes of these characters were produced and are recognized as being significant upgrades to their predecessors (with Dook being able to play a full drum kit, and Mitzi sporting new hip movements that drastically increased her range of motion. Footage of these characters showing off rudimentary movement has surfaced, but it is unknown if these characters were ever put to practical use. These characters are still in the Creative Engineering building, but have not been used in a long time.
Talking Head Shows Unknown Existence Unconfirmed These were one of Creative Engineering's earliest projects, featuring talking heads. Virtually no information exists, and it is unknown whether any showtapes were produced.
Lazlo the Fortune Teller Unknown Lost Lazlo the Fortune Teller was one of Creative Engineering's earlier works. It is believed to have used a showtape, but it has not resurfaced.
The Mijjins IAAPA Tape 1992 Partially Found The Mijjins were a line of animatronics rolled out by Creative Engineering that were featured in various locations. Creative Engineering's 1990 highlight reel features clips of the animatronics performing covers, but it is unknown how much of the show has been discovered.
The Jungle Juke Band 1983 Non-existent Pictures of the Jungle Juke Band, which contained a monkey, tiger, and hippopotamus were featured in a 1983 CEI Promo brochure. It was confirmed by a Creative Engineering employee that it, along with the Cosmic Combo, never materialized. It should be noted, though, that a mask for the hippopotamus character was prototyped.
The Cosmic Combo Unknown Non-existent This show was advertised as having five alien creatures. However, like the Jungle Juke Band, this show never got beyond a conceptual stage.
The Hannah Banana Shows late 2000s Partially Found This was a retrofit animatronic produced in the late 2000s for the "Hannah Banana" chain of restaurants in the UK. Only some of the shows, including a Christmas show, have resurfaced.
Mini-Billy Bob Showtapes early 1980s Existence Unconfirmed This animatronic was advertised in the early 1980s as being a forerunner to a full-scale mini Rock-afire Explosion. There exist a few clips of the animatronic in action, but all of them were shows that were already produced for the Rock-afire Explosion. It is unknown if any shows were produced solely for the animatronic.
The Confederate Critter Show 1970s Partially Found The Confederate Critter show was produced by CEI in the 1970s. Not much information is known about the content of this show, save for one video clip and a few photos.
Willy Wabbit Unknown Lost Willy Wabbit was the second character produced by CEI. He is known to have stood at the Orlando airport singing songs for the visitors and advertising the "Mystery Fun House", a place where other Creative Engineering Animatronics were in use. Very little information exists on the show content.
Friendly Freddy 1970s Lost This guitar-playing bear was the very first character that CEI built in the 1970s. He was last seen in New York in 2008 but has not resurfaced since. The content of his show is unknown.
Gaslight Jamboree Unknown Lost This show features Wolfman and Fats Geronimo from the Wolfpack 5 and Friendly Freddy in a 3 character band. Only a few photos of the show exist, with no video or audio resurfacing.

References