Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rock-afire Explosion

From Wikipedia: The Rock-afire Explosion was an animatronic robot band that played in Showbiz Pizza Place restaurants from 1980 to 1991. The show was created and manufactured exclusively for Showbiz by Creative Engineering, Inc. in Orlando, Florida. In later years, the show was sold to other restaurants and entertainment centers. The characters in The Rock-afire Explosion were various animals ranging from a dog to a gorilla. They would perform medleys of classic rock, pop, and country music, as well as original compositions.
The stage was designed to be life-sized. Unlike many small novelty animatronic shows, the Rock-afire was designed to take up the entire length of the showroom. The stage was split into three sections, with the band in the center section and other characters on the two side sections each with separate curtains. Differing from their main competitor (Chuck E. Cheese's), the characters could mimic playing real instruments and had realistic facial expressions due to the use of latex masks (as used in Disney animatronics) as opposed to fabric and foam. The show also used a large amount of props and stage lighting effects which heightened the amount of perceived movement on the stage.
The "Break-Up"

ShowBiz Pizza Place was similar to (and competed with) Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, another restaurant chain that was popular in other parts of the United States. When "Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre" filed for bankruptcy in 1984, ShowBiz Pizza bought the company.
The corporation maintained the two restaurant chains simultaneously for a few years. Each continued their own stage shows and merchandise. However, relations between the company that owned and programmed The Rock-afire Explosion, Creative Engineering, and ShowBiz soon began to cool. In fact, ShowBiz began toying with the idea of replacing The Rock-afire Explosion with licensed characters, such as Spider-Man or Garfield, and three locations actually retrofitted the robots at stage left into Yogi Bear and Boo Boo [1] (it is unknown what, if anything, was done to the other two stages at the aforementioned locations although it had been witnessed that Yogi and Boo Boo interacted with the band members on the center stage).
The company ultimately retrofitted the Rock-afire Explosion robots into a new show called Munch's Make Believe Band (featuring the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre characters), and reverse-engineered the programming of the robots themselves. Eventually, the ShowBiz restaurants themselves were converted to Chuck E. Cheese's locations, in a process called "Concept Unification." The company had decided to shift its focus away from animatronics and more towards video games, food, and quality of service.

Documentary site


Blogger Four Dinners said...

Robots and Pizza.

The world just gets weirder and weirder....

4:17 PM  

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