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Deathwing
03-27-2013, 09:38 PM
What was the first commercially available animatronic to the haunt industry? Was Distortions electric chair the one that really kicked off the market? I know people were doing pop ups like "trash can traumas" way back so I'm thinking what was the first one sold?

Jake

damon carson
03-28-2013, 01:50 PM
As far as im aware. And trust me there is always someone on here to prove you wrong! LOL! But I would think most people would agree the Distortions Electric Chair was the very first animatronic sold to the haunted house industry. I heard that it shook so violently that they had many problems with the actual latex head getting thrown off the body! I guess you can call that an added scare to one lucky group! Ha ha!
Damon
www.frightmasters.weebly.com

Darkangel
03-29-2013, 02:19 PM
I know that I started seeing that Distortions electric chair before Scarefactory was even around. I wouldn't be surprised if that piece was close to its 25th anniversary since hitting the market.


DA

robert
03-29-2013, 02:31 PM
Our haunt bought one of the first electric chairs and Alien Queens offered by Distortions. Yes, the chair ripped it's own head off and we then we added a harness to hold it on.

Slain
03-29-2013, 03:09 PM
I helped the Jaycees buy the first electric chair that distortions offered. Washing machine motor on the back. It almost seems primative now a days but it would still work. They did have to replace the body because it ripped the neck. It was one of the best things I had ever seen... I believe it was about $13000 back then.. That was over 20 years ago..

Gore Galore
03-29-2013, 03:50 PM
I think this is a great thread.

I have rebuilt a couple of the electric chair bodies for customers.
The ones I rebuild are still in operation.
very strong motor animation. and not direct drive but pulleys. That is a sign of proper engineering. If the body gets stuck it doesn't burn up the motor.

I am surprised Larry hasn't gotten in on this thread yet. I know he has done his research as far as this topic goes.

I would really like to know more.
We have been in business for 15 years so we have some serious history in haunting, and I know that I was looking at Distortions animations for almost a decade before I started a business.
We regularly invested in distortions masks for the haunt.

Deathwing
03-29-2013, 04:05 PM
Thanks Kevin yeah I hoped it would be a bit of fun and nostalgic and get some conversation started!



Jake

Infoamtek
03-29-2013, 04:15 PM
There was a company back in the '80's (now defunct and I don't remember their name) that advertised animatronics in Fangoria. I wish I had my old issues still.

Dman
03-29-2013, 06:54 PM
The first audio animatronics that used air and electric that I saw at Transworld were sold by John Denley at Boneyard Productions. The animatronics were made by Eric Princz, John was the exclusive seller of them. I remember the Casket Vampire, Johnny Revolting Electric Chair, Witch stirring the cauldron, Organ Player, Waldo and a sitting Guardan. The next year, Larry brought the Werewolf in the shipping crate and then others. There was a company I think the name was FearTech?? that made early animatronics but they weren't at Transworld.

Hope this helps,

Dan Augusto
Owner Tombstone Productions
Owner Monster Mash Scream Park

drfrightner
03-29-2013, 07:50 PM
The first show I went to was in March 1994... yeah I know I'm old. When I first went to the show Distortions did not sell any animations, mostly props and masks. The first official animations was supplied by a company called VP Productions... they sold an electric chair 'sparky', Mr Howl and many others. Probably one of the haunts to utilize all of this was Spookyworld or Hartfords Haunting Happenings.

Another company selling animations was Eric Prinze was selling them through John Denly and again mostly animations that talked like skeletons that had creepy speeches. There was also Jim Grevious who also brought some animations and he sold them through Cinema Secrets... he had like a talking head, a wall of moving body parts, but NO ONE had anything like scary it was mostly talking skeletons and stuff.

A couple years later Distortions brought their motorized Electric Chair it was not air driven... but what it did do was sell 100's of copies and this inspired an entire haunt industry wave of vendors. The following year to Distortions Electric chair our company brought the first yes our company very first... air driven animation meant to scare customers. We brought an Attacking Werewolf, some pop up animations, zombie that lunged out of a wall and a couple other things.

The following year to us bringing these animations and do very well was the first year Scarefactory showed up with the Corpsepulalater or however you spell it. That same year Ghost Ride brought like a kicking animation, Distortions brought some animations like an alligator and some other stuff.

This is how it started... from there Scarefactory sort of took over the whole animation business, although many people brought and sold animations including us we brought a flying demon to all kinds of other things. We got more into building whole attractions and other companies got more into building animations.

Larry

MDKing
03-29-2013, 08:08 PM
Great thread! I think our industries' history is very interesting! It's great to see how far companies like Distortions and Scarefactory and others have come.

Allan

drfrightner
03-29-2013, 08:30 PM
When you talk about how far people have come... I remember my first booth at TW I was selling a video I weighed about 160 pounds. LOL

Since then we've built about 15 dark rides including Spiderman, Garfield the Cat, Ghostwood Estates, and many others, we've done projects all over the World, worked on iconic brands like James Bond, Incredible Hulk, to you name it. I never in a million years could have imagined doing all of that... I never imagined we'd be featured on so many TV shows, and have built and supplies more people in this industry than any other company when you factor in videos, magazines and everything else. We've sold products to over 30,000 customers. This I would have never imagined. I have to admit being inspired by the first TW show I visited, Spookyworld was another... I've had the privilege to watch this industry grow and grow big.

Larry

drfrightner
03-29-2013, 08:33 PM
Read this article here:

http://www.hauntworld.com/featured_article/history_of_the_haunted_house_industry

MDKing
03-29-2013, 08:52 PM
It has been great seeing great vendors grow so much and it's even better to see so many folks treating this as a business and not a hobby!

Allan

Gore Galore
03-30-2013, 06:18 AM
Do many people remember our first year?
Kind of hilarious but you have to come from somewhere.

IN 1999 we had 1 booth in the dark zone. Yes, I said 1.
It featured:
-2 corpses mounted on giant columns with giant skulls sitting atop them.
-2 GIANT back back rod puppets "Cranky" the giant robot, and "Spooky Ernie" dressed as a cowboy.
-a whole bunch of severed heads
-AND the "TORTURE BOXES" severed heads in motorized contraptions. These were a big hit for us for many years.

WOW, what fun!
I will dig out some pics in a moment and post them.

Gore Galore
03-30-2013, 06:28 AM
Here are 5 pictures from the early days.
I dug these out last summer just for old times sake so this is the perfect time to share.

1. Transworld 1999
2. transworld 2000 showing a new corpse called "Blubbo" and "Zang the Destroyer". Our NEW 15' back pack rod puppet. And again, we only had 1 booth.
3. our second full size animation "Dizzy Lizzy". Yeah, it is a dead ballerina. Her body spins while her head stays stationary. pulley driven heavy duty gear motor.
4. A version of one of the torture Boxes we called the "Ralph bucket"
5. Nefarious from Stage Fright Studios and Cranky doing battle in 1999

So much fun!
And how things have changed.

Gore Galore
03-30-2013, 06:46 AM
Hahaha,
here are more flashbacks for me.

1. A picture of me assembling Wraiths. I am not sure of the year but I think early 2001 or maybe 2002. The "Wraith" was the first giant Costume. Inspired by the creatures in "Time Bandits".
2. "Lestercution". I think this was our first full size animation. Actually, Dizzy Lizzy was the first because I built the first one many years earlier for the Civitan haunted house. But then reinvented it for our product line.
3. "Mummy's Crypt" our first FULL size air powered animation. The first air powered prop we had was a torture box called "Hammer head Box" which was a severed head getting smashed with a hammer over and over.
4.ALL our Back Pack rod puppets getting ready to perform at a Chicago halloween event we were hired to entertain. I think 2001.
5. This one is pretty funny. I was walking around in a Dragon warrior costume and this mother just hands her baby to me so she could take a picture. LOL. that was pretty trust worthy.

Thanks for letting me share!
And more importantly!
thanks for supporting our company and helping us grow. Without you the buyer, We are nothing!!!!!!!

robert
03-30-2013, 03:19 PM
When you talk about how far people have come... I remember my first booth at TW I was selling a video I weighed about 160 pounds. LOL

Since then we've built about 15 dark rides including Spiderman, Garfield the Cat, Ghostwood Estates, and many others, we've done projects all over the World, worked on iconic brands like James Bond, Incredible Hulk, to you name it. I never in a million years could have imagined doing all of that... I never imagined we'd be featured on so many TV shows, and have built and supplies more people in this industry than any other company when you factor in videos, magazines and everything else. We've sold products to over 30,000 customers. This I would have never imagined. I have to admit being inspired by the first TW show I visited, Spookyworld was another... I've had the privilege to watch this industry grow and grow big.

Larry

I remember meeting Larry when he was the new kid on the block at Transworld who said................. "I'm going to make it big in this business". And the rest is history. That was when we were all still making it up as we went along.

And I remember the first Gore Galore booth as well.................... and a lot of other booths that are no longer with us.

drfrightner
03-30-2013, 03:54 PM
I love those old photos... we need MORE! Who have all left us can anyone dig out some names? I can think of a few Elm Street obviously, Cinema Secrets really because they use to be almost nothing but haunted houses and now they are totally something else. There use to be like 5 to 8 companies selling whole haunts and they all went out of business. We need photos of the first 10 years. Larry

robert
03-30-2013, 05:21 PM
Even Universal Studios had a booth one year during the shows heyday. It was a few rows down from Denley's Boneyard Productions. That was a trip.

casketvamp2
03-30-2013, 09:27 PM
Heres pics of Stage Fright Studios Quagmire. A very cool piece. It had a very creepy soundtrack.
My first Transworld show was 1995. I'll look through my photos and start posting.

casketvamp2
03-30-2013, 09:34 PM
Dan is very correct. Eric Princz of Creative Design and Engineering was the first to make talking skeletons and special effects (this was waaay before CGI). His Magic Mirror effect was very cool. I still have Mirror and I know Larry had one in his Darkness attraction a while back.

casketvamp2
03-30-2013, 09:35 PM
Stage Fright Studios.

casketvamp2
03-30-2013, 09:37 PM
Stage fright promo card

casketvamp2
03-30-2013, 09:42 PM
VP Productions

robert
03-31-2013, 12:32 AM
I always thought John D's Boneyard Production's Dracula figure in coffin pulling the stake out was very cool. Even to this day.

drfrightner
03-31-2013, 02:49 AM
Eric made all that stuff... John was just like the salesman for everything. Wow you really found some great photos there... I had most of those animations made by Eric. All great and I wish I still had them. Larry

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:16 AM
I still have my casket vampire (hence my screen name). I still recall the first time I saw it at Transworld back in '95 I was so blown away.

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:17 AM
Eric made all that stuff... John was just like the salesman for everything. Wow you really found some great photos there... I had most of those animations made by Eric. All great and I wish I still had them. Larry

Larry. I have lots of pics from Transworld during 90's.

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:19 AM
Eric's site

Www.creativedesignonline.com

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:41 AM
Heres my Casket Vampire from the creative talent of Eric Princz...

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:44 AM
Magic Mirror by Eric Princz

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:45 AM
Witch by Eric Princz

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:46 AM
Heres another from my collection....This is the moaning head from VP productions....

casketvamp2
03-31-2013, 10:49 AM
Yes another raritie from my collection....Here's the creepy talking clock from Stage Fright Studios!! Ive always love the contorted face on this piece!