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Thread: First commercially available animatronic?

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  1. Default First commercially available animatronic? 
    #1
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    Aug 2011
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    393
    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
     

  2. Default Yes 
    #2
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    Feb 2004
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    Mexico, Missouri, United States
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    3,271
    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
    Damon Carson
     

  3. Default  
    #3
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    Oct 2007
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    Virginia
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    1,587
    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
     

  4. Default  
    #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    175
    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.
     

  5. Default Electric Chair 
    #5
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    Dec 2007
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    360
    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..
     

  6. Default  
    #6
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    Abcynthiana
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    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.
     

  7. Default  
    #7
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    Aug 2011
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    Thanks Kevin yeah I hoped it would be a bit of fun and nostalgic and get some conversation started!



    Jake
     

  8. Default  
    #8
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    Aug 2003
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    Guatay, California
    Posts
    515
    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.
     

  9. Default First animatronics at Transworld 
    #9
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    Aug 2003
    Location
    MA
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    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
     

  10. Default  
    #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
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    9,181
    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
     

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