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

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Rockafire.jpeg

The Rockafire Explosion.

Status: Partially Lost

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[edit | edit source]

Debuting on August 14th, 1980, the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic show was Showbiz Pizza's primary distinction from other arcades at the time. In 1990, 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 title Release Dates Status Notes
ShowBiz Pizza Place Tape #1 August 14, 1980 Found
ShowBiz Pizza '82 Tape Early 1982 Found
Spring Shows '82 Spring 1982 Found
Best of Rock-afire Explosion July 1982 Found An early compilation tape featuring some of the Rock-afire's best hits of the time. This showtape was also used for a consumer study on how CEI can improve the show.
Tribute to Abbey Road October 1982 Found Often considered one of the best Rock-afire showtapes of all time and a monumental turning point for the RAE. It's also know for being Shalisa Sloan first show as Mitzi and Aaron Fechter's finale full show as Beach Bear. Also Rick Bailey's first show. (But not as Beach Bear)
Christmas '82 November - December 1982 Found Rick Bailey's first show as Beach Bear.
New Years '82 December 1982 Found
SPP Show Selector Tape #1 Late 1982 Found A showtape made for CEI first try at the Show Selector concept for Showbiz Pizza. (And the only documented time the Show Selector concept was ever used at Showbiz) The concept was only test at two locations in Flordia.
SPP Show Selector Tape #2 Late 1982 Found Another showtape made for the tested Showbiz verison of the Show Selector concept.
Crazy Colander Head Night February - March 1983 Found Produced as part of Showbiz Pizza's "Crazy Colander Head Night" event, which encouraged guests to wear colanders adorned with various decorations.
Best of the Rock-afire Explosion 1983 Part 2 March 1983 Found Another compilation tape with most segments recycled from Tribute to Abbey Road)
Country 1 June 1983 Found
Beatles White Album September 1983 Found Considered one of Rock-afire's greatest showtapes of all time.
Christmas 1983 November - December 1983 Found This showtape was used for many years during the holiday season.
Fatz Showtape aka 'Klunk Installation' 1983-1984 Found This showtape was used at locations that got Uncle Klunk. This tapes was for the other 2 stages while Klunk and the rest of his setup was being installed on Rolfe and Earl's Stage.
Uncle Klunk (Jeff Howell version) 1983 Found A demo tape CEI made for the executives at Showbiz to get a good idea of Uncle Klunk with Jeff Howell performing the voice of Klunk and Burt Wilson (Fatz's Voice Actor) performing the voice of Klunk's pet bird Click and everybody calling in on his talk show. Sadly for some reason the executives running Showbiz were disappointed with the demo and ask CEI to hire a professional company to make the audio for the show.
Uncle Klunk Show 1983-1984 Found Released to accompany the then-new Uncle Klunk animatronic, who replaced the Rolfe and Earl animatronic briefly. While the audio not made by Creative Engineering they still did the programming for this showtape.
Uncle Santa Showtape November - December 1983 & November - December 1984 Found Accompanied a retrofit of Uncle Klunk as Santa Clause.
Magic Night February 1984 Found Often considered the best Rock-afire Explosion showtape ever made.
Senior Citizens March 1984 - April 1984 Found Contains the theme for the 1984 World's Fair written by the voice actor for Fatz, Sun, Moon, and Antioch The 'Birthday Spider Burt "Sal" Wilson.
Trivia Night July 1984 Found
Country II October 1984 - November 1984 Found AKA The No Theme showtape
Country Klunk 1984 Found A special showtape of country-themed songs for the Uncle Klunk animatronic.
Top Ten Hits of 1985 February 1985 Found The only showtape released in 1985
Time Machine / Hits 1 March 1986 Found First showtape made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc. instead of CEI. Often called not only the worst showtape made for The Rock-afire Explosion, but the worst showtape ever recorded for any animatronic show.
Happy B-day Liberty June 1986 - July 1986 Found Made for 100th anniversary of The Statue of Liberty. It not only includes a Rolfe's animatronics retrofited into the Statue of Liberty, but also includes two seperate versions of the Statue of Liberty show. One made by CEI and another made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc..
Circus / Monkees July 1986 Found Contines two new shows (Tribute to the Circus and The Curly Shuffle) made by CEI (A rarity during the time this show was released) and a reused show (Monkees Medley from the Beatles White Album showtape)
Christmas Live November 1986 Found A showtape that was quickly made and sent out to all Showbiz Pizza Place locations by CEI without Showbiz Pizza Time Inc. permission as a way of rebelling against Showbiz's decision to start making showtapes on thier own. It also was made as gift to everyone who worked at the stores and the fans.
Westerns / Movies / R&R February 1987 Found Made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc.
Summertime / Westerns April 1987 Found Made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc.
Liberty '87 Edited June 1987 - July 1987) Found An edited rereleased of Happy B-day Liberty that only includes CEI version of the show.
Working / Summertime June 1987 Found Made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc.
Rock-N-Roll Classics September 1987 Partially lost Made by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc.
Homely for Christmas November 1987 - December 1987 Found
New Years '88 December 1987 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.
Yogi Bear Showtape 1987 Found This show saw the Rolfe DeWolfe (his puppet, Earl, was removed) and Looney Bird animatonics retrofitted cosmetically to become Yogi Bear and Boo Boo respectively. This showtape was made and produced by Showbiz Pizza Time Inc and had nothing to do with Creative Engineering, and featured the same unidentified voice actors for the Center Stage characters, while Daws Butler and Don Messick reprised their respective roles as Yogi and Boo Boo. On August 15th, 2020, the full audio was posted to YouTube by fan website ShowbizPizza.com as a part of their "Rock-a-Palooza 2020" event for the Rock-afire Explosion's 40th anniversary. The audio was preserved on a cassette by co-producer and scriptwriter Steve White and is complete with only a few seconds missing from the song "Every Breath You Take". The tape was created as a test to replace the Rock-afire Explosion characters with other licensed characters after Aaron Fechter, founder of Creative Engineering, refused to hand over the rights for the characters after Showbiz corporate tried forcing him to do so for free.
Cyberstar Segments 1988-1990 Found The first Rock-a-Fire shows to feature video playing alongside the animatronics. Programming was done by Showbiz Pizza Time and had several programming errors (mainly characters singing with the wrong voices), while audio was done by Creative Engineering.
The Rolfe & Earle Show 1990 - 1992 Found A four segment showtape consisting of just Rolfe and Earl. Made By Showbiz so that they could covert the other 2 stage into Chuck E. Cheese's Munch's Make Believe Band while still having a show that could play in the stores. Rolfe and Earl would be the last to be coverted over nignt after installing and retrofit the other Rock-afire characters into Munch's Make Believe Band.
Show Selector Showtapes 1990's Partially Lost These were used with the "Show Selector" to allow customers to pick from different segments on any of the showtapes. Throught many have resurfaced in recent years. There a few that are still missing.
Golden Showtape Collection Late 1990s Partially Lost Some shows, such as "Life is Highway" and "Runaround" have resurfaced and many shows from the Show Selector Showtapes were reused. However a few are still missing.
Showbiz Pizza Fiesta Showtapes 1980's Partially Found Featured at "Showbiz Pizza Place" and "Showbiz Pizza Fiesta" in Mexico. Various advertisements have also surfaced on YouTube. A record albums that had a few songs and skits from the showtapes that was sold at the restaurants has resurfaced and has been made public online in recent years. There's also a clip of them singing the spainsh song Bazar on a children TV show called Los Vip´s.
Talking Billy Bob Walk-Around Shows Early 1990's 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 two other ones (suspected to be Mitzi and Fatz) 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.

Looney Bird's and New Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes[edit | edit source]

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. The New Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes was an update verison of The Rock-afire Explosion (Then known as The Classic Rock-afire Explosion) now with the animatrioncs in the "Mijjins" style. The New Rock-afire Explosion was not as successful as The Classic Rock-afire Explosion as not that many shows was made or sold.

Title Released Status Notes
Looney Bird's Tapes Late 1990'S Lost These were produced specifically for the Looney Bird's chain of restaurants.
Misc. New Rock-afire Explosion Misc. Showtapes Mid-Late 1990's Partially Lost While there were new songs and skits made for the New Rock-afire, there were still some songs from older showtapes (epsecially from the Cyberstar era) from the Showbiz days and a lot of the newer songs from the Show Selector Showtapes use for the Classic RAE were reused for the New RAE. Through quite a few shows have resurfaced in recent years. There a few of them that are still missing.
Golden Collection Showtapes (New Rae verisons) Late 1990s Lost Like with the Classic Rae, the New RAE also got a Golden Collection Showtapes set.
International 1990's Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes Mid-Late 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:[edit | edit source]

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 at the Antioch Shopping Center in Kansas City, MO. Later, in 1981, the Wolf Pack 5 was removed from that Showbiz Pizza Place location, as the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic band had debuted earlier in August 14th, 1980 at the second location in Jacksonville, Fl, and became thier primary show.

Title Released Status Notes
The 1st IAAPA Showtape November 1978 Found This was the demonstration tape for the Wolf Pack 5 used at IAAPA convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The tape is also noted for also using the song Clap For The Wolfman by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who as a openering intro for this showtape.
The 2st IAAPA Showtape November 1979 Found This was another demonstration tape for the Wolf Pack 5 used at IAAPA convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike the 1978 demonstration showtape this show has features a narrator who has the same voice that would later used for Rolfe DeWolfe, a character in the Wolf Pack 5's successor, the Rock-afire Explosion. This would also be the same show along with The Hard Luck Bears that Bob Brock and his associates at Topeka Inn Management would see at the convention that impress them to the point of seeking out a contact for CEI to make animatronics for their new restaurant concept Showbiz Pizza.
Japanese Wolfpack 5 Showtape 1979-Unknown Lost The first Wolfpack 5 Show ever sold. This show was the same show that was used at the 1978 IAAPA convention in Atlanta, Georgia, but most likely had a new japanese showtape made for this show since it was set up and performed in Japan. It unknown what happened to this show and all that exist is a picture.
Misc Wolfpack 5 Showtape 1979 - Early 1980's Partially Found The Wolfpack 5 is known to have been sold to Amusement Parks and Theme Parks (Examples include Kings Dominion, Prymind Place, Italpark, Fame City, and Man and his World). Little information exists for the content of the shows. All that exist with Kings Dominion show is a clip for a TV commercial for the park from 1979 and a clip from the childerns tv show Romper Room. Olny a cilp of Italpark show exists. Only a small clip in a commercial is all that exists of Fame City's show. And only pictures exist of both Man and his World and Prymind Place shows.
Showbiz Pizza Showtape March 3, 1980 - 1981 Found This was an edited version of the IAAPA Showtapes made for Showbiz Pizza Place. It was split into six parts with new songs added, along with an intro and outro jingles, as well as an announcer and Queenie the Fox being edited out and her songs and lines being redone or dubbed over for Mini Mozzarella.
Beto Carrero World Introductions Unknown Partially Found 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. All that exists of this show is a video found by a fan who reuploaded it to Youtube.

Hard Luck Bears:[edit | edit source]

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 title Release Dates Status Notes
Original Creative Engineering Showtape November 1979 - Early to Mid 1980's Found This was the most widely heard showtape. The tape contains their most well-remembered personalities. This would also be the same show along with 1979 version of The Wolf Pack 5 that Bob Brock and his associates at Topeka Inn Management would see at the convention that impress them to the point of seeking out a contact for CEI to make animatronics for their new restaurant concept Showbiz Pizza.
Honey's Bear Bunch 1980-1990's Lost This was a retrofit of the Hard Luck Bears into a fully female band with lipstick, new outfits and almost all of characters have different names. This was the first Hard Luck Bears show ever sold and was the same show uses at the 1979 IAAPA convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was sold to Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina and was sponsored by General Mills. The contents of the showtape however remaines are largely unknown and has been lost since the show was revmoved in the 1990's.
Show Dos Ursos 1981-1998 Found A custom remake of the original Creative Engineering Showtape that was rerecorded in the portuguese language that was made for Playcenter in brazil.
Country Bear Picnic at Knobels Groves Mid 1980's?? Found A custom showtape made by CEI for Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.
Rockin' Billy and the Bearcats Early 1990's Found Another custom showtape made by CEI that was produced for the Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.
Blackpool Beach Park Tape 1980-1999 Lost The Hard Luck Bears were installed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. A single showtape was produced. This show would later be removed and sent or sold to Frontierland in Morecambe, Lancashire, England where it ran until 1999 when Frontierland closed.

On February 25th, 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!

Hard Luck Bears (Rock-afire Retrofit):[edit | edit source]

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.

Title 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:[edit | edit source]

Title Released Status Notes
Willy Wabbit 1976 Partially Found Willy Wabbit was the first character produced by CEI. He was made while Aaron Fechter was still working for Main Street Designs. He is known to have stood at the Orlando airport singing songs and doing little skits for the visitors and advertising the "Mystery Fun House". Very little information exists on the contents of his showtape besides what was seen in a news clip from 1976.
The Scab 1976 Lost The second character produced by CEI. He was a taking head (that used a Tor Johnson mask) with 4 movements. He was sold to DJ's Oyster Bar in Tampa, FL. It's unknown what happen to him or DJ's Oyster Bar.
Friendly Freddy's 1976 IAAPA showtape 1976 Partially Found CEI's first fully animated character. He would be used at a 1976 IAAPA convention and was mainly made for and sold to Magic World in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It's unknown what happened to the showtape that was used at this convention. All that exist is film footage shot by Aaron (Fechter) on 8mm sound film. Another Friendly Freddy animatronic was made for Gaslight Jamboree.
Friendly Freddy's Magic World Showtape 1977-1978 Lost This was the showtape used for a year at Magic World in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It's unknown what happened to this showtape as he was retrofited into General Cornelius Bearpatch with two new characters was added with the show now being rethemed and now known as The Confederate Critter Show.
The Confederate Critter Show 1978-1996 Partially Found The Confederate Critter show was CEI first show with more then one character. Produced in the 1978, the show was made for Magic World in Magic World in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with Friendly Freddy being retrofitted into General Cornelius Bearpatch and two new characters added to the show Colonel Stonewall J. Fox and Major Mosby Greyhound III. The show also includes interaction with a live actor portraying a Union Officer and would often have conversations with General Bearpatch and would comment on the various shenanigans that would occur. The show was removed when Magic World closed down in 1996. It has been said and confirmed by a fan that a former park employee in Tennessee now owns them, but wishes to remain anonymous. The only other thing that exist of this show besides behind the scecns photos at CEI before the show was shipped out and a 1979 bourches is a home video of the show from 1989 on Youtube.
Castle Dracula Dark Ride Audio 1977-2002 Found This was one of CEI's early animatronic shows, as well as their first Dark Ride. The audio was freely released online by CEI.
The Santa Claus Revue 1977-2006, 2010-2016 Partially Lost A christmas theme animatronic show made for Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. The original CEI ran until 2006. The show was remade with new animatronics made by Advanced Animation in 2010 using the same audio from CEI verison of the show and ran until 2016. While no full on clean audio from the showtape exist to the public there are videos of both verisons of the show were the audio is pretty clear enough where you could hear everything the characters are saying.
Bear Country Jubilee 1978 Partially Found
Gaslight Jamboree 1979-1989 Lost This was a custom show that was custom made for the vaudeville themed amusement park Gaslight Village in Lake George, New York that features Wolfman and Fats Geronimo from the Wolfpack 5 and Friendly Freddy in a 3 character show. The show was removed and auctioned to a family that owned a junkyard in Tennessee. The show was found and later sold to superfans Jack Tuner and Connor L. No showtape was found through. The only thing that is known about the showtape was that Aaron Fechter recalls that he programed the show on-site in the theater it would preform in.
The Moon Rockers 1985 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. All the
"Creepy Clown" Animatronic 1983 Unknown This obscure animatronic was only seen for a fraction of a second in a 1990s Creative Engineering demo tape. Although many believed that the showtape was completely destroyed,[3] sources who have worked with CEI have confirmed that the tape is not corrupted.[4] Due to this, the current status of this showtape is unknown; Although it has been found, further testing must be done by those at CEI to confirm that the tape can still be played.
Reginald J. Flootsnoot 1983 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.
Wizard of Oz Show 1983 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. The Tin Man was featured at the Orlando Looney Birds location.
Bubba the Shakespearean Gorilla 1981 Partially Found This animatronic was praised for his variety of sophisticated movements, as well as a charming concept. A few pieces of footage have surfaced online. However, it is unknown whether a full showtape was produced.
Dook and Mitzi 2.0 Prototype Shows 1983 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 for 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.

References[edit | edit source]