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News: Creative Engineering and the horrors of animatronics

by on June 25, 2008

A few people have linked to Creative Engineering’s arcade prototype Bin Laden Basher, simply because it’s silly. But this site really deserves digging through. First, let’s have some history. Creative Engineering was founded by a guy named Aaron Fechter. Fetcher actually created the Whack-A-Mole game, and then sold it to a carnival operator as a young man. That machine was found by Bob Cassada, who then copied it and copyrighted it. What did Aaron Fechter do? He co-founded a place called Showbiz Pizza in 1979, and bought more Whack-A-Mole machines from Bob Cassada than anyone else in the business. Amazing. Showbiz Pizza eventually became Chuck E Cheese, which as we know was started by Atari’s Nolan Bushnell when he purchased Showbiz Pizza. There’s more complicated stuff in that arrangement, but you can go here if you care. The important thing is that Fechter was an engineer and creator of animatronics. Horrifying animatronics. See here for some info and videos on the Rock-Afire Explosion, his most famous animatronic band. Now, without delay, check out this video of the special show created for Saudia Arabia. It is the most surreal thing you will see today (hopefully).

rock-afire.pngNext, you need to see Private Paul, dubbed the “world’s first robotic soldier.” This is an animatronic soldier created by Fechter for the U.S. military which tests the soldiers’ outfits for germ warfare and things. You must watch the video. First, the intro makes the following astounding statement: “Aaron Fechter and Creative Engineering Inc. look forward to the day that America will have robotic soldiers so sophisticated that they will be able to root out evil doers without risking human lives.” Because…of course…any enemy of America is inherently evil, and not human. The other amazing thing in the video is what comes after – a dancing Private Paul, against a snuff film-style white sheet backdrop, making disturbing motions to the tune of “I’m bad,” which I’m quite certain was sung by Fechter himself. I’ll explain why!

creativeengineering.jpgOne of Fechter’s later ventures is Loony Bird’s, a karaoke box with an animatronic bird, which I think was on a video screen only, but I’m not sure. Now, check out the videos. He’s got lots of videos of kids singing there, and says this: “If you’ve watched all of these clips and want more, let me know! I have thousands of adorable clips of beautiful children singing their precious, little hearts out, and I will add them as I get requests from people who have seen the ones already here!” That aside, be sure to watch this video of him demonstrating the product. Watch it all the way to the end for comments like “You kids remember the 80s?” He also explains the concept of how the machine will “really work” to a total of two people who are slowly backing away. It’s all quite amazing!

This brings us full circle to the Bin Laden Basher image. After seeing him in the karaoke video with his Hawaiian shirt, you realize that the man with no shirt in that image is in fact Flechter himself. He also peppers the website with comments about how the videos will stream on a 56k modem, in spite of the fact that he’s using RealPlayer 8, which is pretty new. You can also certainly imagine that he drew the company logo artwork. He just paints a picture of a troubled semi-genius trapped in the wrong era. Quite an amazing guy. Incidentally his warehouse is here, if you’re curious. He actually has several of the Rock-Afire bands new in their original cartons in this place – and you can just imagine a single man alone in a warehouse full of robots. Quite an image.


From → Museum, News

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