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Old 20 August 2017, 09:14 AM
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Mouse Chuck E. Cheese's animatronics may take a final bow

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chuck-e...e-a-final-bow/
Quote:
The kid-focused pizza chain is updating a handful of restaurants with open kitchens and toned-down colors, as well as one striking omission: the animatronic animals who play music and entertain families.

{ snip }

What will happen to the animatronics in the chain's other locations? That depends on the results from the seven revamped locations. [CEC Chief Executive Tom] Leverton noted that the company has a "strong hypothesis" that it will eventually shift its focus to the live Chuck E. performers instead of animatronics.
Brian "All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain" B
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Old 20 August 2017, 05:06 PM
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I used to frequent my local Showbiz Pizza Place to eat and watch the "animatronics" (which is technically a trademarked Disney term for their brand of robotic characters). I stopped going when Chuck E. Cheese took it over. I'd heard they re-used (or at least, re-costumed) the Showbiz characters for a time, but I never went back to confirm it.

I remember Showbiz tried really hard to get more customers into the restaurant by doing things like installing a control booth in the show/dining room so kids could interact with one of the characters, but it didn't seem to help. They also didn't do much to improve their pizza.

I don't remember ever setting foot in a Chuck E. Cheese. I don't know which robotic characters are in danger of being relegated to the scrap heap, so this news doesn't really affect me.

The creator of the Showbiz characters, though, has a YouTube channel and has a nearly complete set of the "Rock-a-Fire Explosion" band--minus, AFAIK, Rolf, Earl, Looney Bird, and Billy Bob. Every so often he posts reprogrammed characters and new videos for songs they probably wouldn't have allowed at the restaurant.

~Psihala
(*Still has her official Rock-a-Fire Explosion "Gee, Our First Album" record, as well as two or three singles.)
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Old 22 August 2017, 05:14 AM
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I've never heard of Showbiz, but DGD attended a BD party of a classmate at a CEC location last spring. To be honest, I'm amazed they're still in business. The only animitron character at this location was CEC himself acting as a DJ, introducing various acts and songs that were then played on a very large screen TV. They also had a live human in a costume that came out to interact with the kids and pass out free game tickets. That was very popular.

The animitron puppet was actually pretty crude by modern standards. I can understand its demise. This sort of stuff isn't cheap. Without looking it up, I have to imagine the CEC business isn't nearly as big as it once was in earlier times, and I'm sure their pockets aren't nearly as deep as they may have once been.
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Old 22 August 2017, 07:23 AM
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Chuck E. Cheese has had financial problems for a long time: they've had a bad reputation regarding the quality of their food for decades and video arcades really peaked in the 80s. And then after they started serving alcohol they got a reputation for fights breaking out.
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Old 22 August 2017, 03:04 PM
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Even as long ago as the late '90s I don't think Chuck E Cheese had a very good reputation. Or maybe it depended on which one. Anyway we were visiting friends in the Washington DC area and my kids, who had only heard about Chuck E Cheese wanted to go to one. Our friends though were pretty negative about it and told us not only would it not live up to the hype but we'd be lucky not to get food poisoning. I've no idea if they were exaggerating or not but they convinced us not to go .
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Old 26 August 2017, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
.....and video arcades really peaked in the 80s.
They had no pinball machines in the arcade. How dare you call it an arcade with no pinball machines?
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Old 27 August 2017, 01:51 AM
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Eh, that deaf, dumb, and blind kid has forever ruined pinball for me.
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Old 22 August 2017, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
I've never heard of Showbiz, but DGD attended a BD party of a classmate at a CEC location last spring. To be honest, I'm amazed they're still in business.
Summarizing a Showbiz article on Wikipedia, Showbiz and CEC had an intertwined history. Showbiz was founded by an individual who signed a huge franchise agreement with the company that owned CEC. Over a short period of time, he became concerned about competition from others with better robotic characters and walked away from the agreement.

After CEC went bankrupt in 1984, Showbiz and CEC merged under the Showbiz parent company name, but remained separate restaurants until 1992, when all the Showbiz restaurants became CEC, at which time it became CEC Entertainment. It was bought by someone else in 2014. [/end paraphrase]

Showbiz was mostly concentrated in the mid-west. They had restaurants in MN, but may not have had one in your area.

Quote:
The animitron puppet was actually pretty crude by modern standards. I can understand its demise. This sort of stuff isn't cheap. Without looking it up, I have to imagine the CEC business isn't nearly as big as it once was in earlier times, and I'm sure their pockets aren't nearly as deep as they may have once been.
Yeah, even at Showbiz they were crude by today's standards. The characters could basically turn their heads, open and close their mouths. blink their eyes, and move their arms. Other than the additional motion of rocking back and forth a little, that was pretty much the extent of their movement. In the 1980's, it was a step above what one might have found at a large amusement park, and certainly better than the singing characters at Wall Drug, but no one would have compared the Showbiz characters to anything you'd find at a Disney park -- even at the time.

~Psihala

(Here's a sample):


It says it was captured in 1995, but I don't see how based on the history above.)

Last edited by Psihala; 22 August 2017 at 05:31 PM.
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