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Creative Engineering Inc. is an animatronic company founded around 1974/75. They are most recognized for producing the Rock-afire Explosion band that operated in Showbiz Pizza Place restaurant chains in the 1980s and early 90s. 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

Debuting in August of 1980, the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic show was Showbiz Pizza's primary distinction from other arcades at the time. In 1989, however, Showbiz Pizza made the decision to remove the Rock-afire entertainment from their restaurants via a process known as "Concept Unification" as Aaron Fechter refused to give Showbiz the trademarks to the Rock-afire characters. This involved Showbiz retrofitting the existing stages with cosmetics to make the show appear as if it were "Munch's Make Believe Band," starring Chuck E. Cheese, who was also owned by the company thanks to their 1984 acquisition of Pizza Time Theatre Inc. Despite being Creative Engineering's most successful product, many Rock-afire showtapes have gone missing.[2]

Title Released Status Notes
Classic Collection 1980-1982 Found Fan-compiled showtape collection with most of the Rock-afire's earliest tracks.
Tribute to Abbey Road 1982 Found Contains many fan-favorite shows.
New Years '82 1982 Found Promotional showtape released in December 1982.
Tribute to the Beatles' White Album 1983 Found Considered one of the Rock-afire's greatest show collections.
1982 Christmas Album 1982 Found Includes the Rock-afire's takes on classic Christmas songs as well as a few non-Christmas songs that would later be reissued in future showtapes.
Crazy Colander Head Night 1983 Found Produced as part of the Rock-a-Fire's "Crazy Colander Head Night" event, which encouraged guests to wear colanders adorned with various decorations.
Uncle Klunk (Jeff Howell version) 1983 Found Demo/test audio CEI made for executives 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.
1983 Uncle Klunk Show 1983 Found Released to accompany the then-new Uncle Klunk animatronic, who replaced the Rolfe and Earl animatronic briefly. The audio not made by Creative Engineering (but they still did the programming) as Showbiz decided to give Uncle Klunk a more goofier and stupid-sounding voice rather than keeping Jeff Howell's more serious yet comedic approach to the character.
1983 Santa Klunk Show 1983 Found Accompanied a rare variant of Uncle Klunk dressed as Santa Claus.
Country 1 1983 Found Album of country-themed Rock-A-Fire songs.
Country 2 1984 Found Album of country-themed Rock-A-Fire songs.
Country Klunk 1984 Found Special album of country-themed songs for the Uncle Klunk animatronic.
Magic Night 1984 Found Contains many song covers, as well as rare "Letters to Looney Bird" segments. Often considered the greatest Rock-afire Explosion showtape.
1984 Senior Citizens 1984 Found Contains the theme for the 1984 World's Fair (written by the voice actor for Fatz, Burt "Sal" Wilson), as well as renditions of modern and classic songs.
Trivia Night 1984 Found Primarily contains covers, but also contains "Letters to Looney Bird" segments.
Showbiz Corporate Voice Shows 1986-1987 Found These were produced by Showbiz Pizza Time (with some assistance from Creative Presentations Inc, another animatronic company) which are widely regarded to be inferior shows to those produced by Creative Engineering Inc. These shows featured entirely different voice actors and simplified the character's personalities considerably. These shows were discontinued after outcry from customers, and after Creative Engineering apocryphally proved their worth with their Liberty Showtape (made to commemorate the Independence Day), which is considered to far-outshine the corporate-produced version. To date, the only voice actor from the corporate tapes who has been positively identified is Joe Conti, who voiced Rolfe DeWolfe.
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.
Homely for Christmas 1987 Found Contains a variety of covers.
New Years '88 1988 Found The longest Rock-a-Fire showtape, recorded in one continuous take. This showtape was created to emulate the feeling of a true "live concert" from the Rock-afire Explosion.
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 erros (mainly characters singing with the wrong voices), while audio was done by Creative Engineering.
The Rolfe and Earle Show 1990-1992 Found This show was the final ever produced for the Rock-afire Explosion at Showbiz Pizza Place, and was used during Concept Unification, when the band was converted into Munch's Make-Believe Band and the Showbiz and Pizza Time Theater brands phased out in favor of the modern Chuck E. Cheese's as it stands today (the company was still known as Showbiz Pizza Time Inc. until 1998). The quickly slapped-together tape only used Rolfe and Earl as they announced the band's replacement and played Creative Engineering-made Cyberstar shows. The pair had the same voice actors as the 1986-87 corporate tapes. This is universally considered the worst Rock-afire Explosion tape ever, especially by fans who see it as an insult to the band and demonstrated Showbiz's utter contempt for anything they couldn't own.
Showbiz Pizza Fiesta Shows 1980's Partially Found Showtapes created for "Showbiz Pizza Fiesta" in Mexico. Several songs have surfaced via a record album titled "Show en tu Casa" while one is partially found on YouTube. Those include but aren't limited to: Tema de Billy Bob (a parody of Cocorito by Timbiriche), a cover of El Raton Vaquero (by Cri-Cri), Las Mananitas (birthday song), Cuidarlo A El (to the tune of We Are the World), and a cover of Bazar (by Flans). Two advertisements have also surfaced on YouTube.
Show Selector Shows / Voice Clips 1990's Partially LostTape 1Tape 2 These were used with the "Show Selector" to allow customers to pick from different showtapes. Only some of them have resurfaced.
Talking Billy Bob Walk-Around Shows Unknown 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 another one (suspected to be Mitzi) 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

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.

Title Released Status Notes
Looney Bird's Tapes Unknown Lost These were produced specifically for the Looney Bird's chain of restaurants.
New Rock-a-Fire Explosion Misc. Tapes Mid-Late 1990's Lost Very little information is known about the showtapes from these shows.
Golden Showtape Collection/1990's Show Audio 1990s Partially Found Some shows, such as "Life is Highway" and "Runaround" have resurfaced. However, many others are still missing.
International 1990's Rock-afire Explosion Showtapes 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:

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. Later, in 1981, the Wolf Pack 5 was removed from Showbiz Pizza Place, as the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic band had debuted earlier that year, and took over as the primary entertainment.

Title Released Status Notes
IAAPA Showtape #1 1978 Found This was the first demonstration tape for the Wolf Pack 5. Unlike the fully-released Showbiz Pizza tape, this one is described as having more on-stage interaction between the characters. This tape is notable for an introduction which features an excerpt of "Clap for the Wolfman" by The Guess Who with commentary by Wolfman himself plus instrumentals of songs that would later be updated by "Clutch" (see below).
Entertainment 1980 (IAAPA Showtape #2) 1979 Found This was the second demonstration tape for the Wolf Pack 5. It's almost identical to the first IAAPA tape but with improved instrumental tracks by the band "Clutch" as well as some lines of dialogue cut. The tape is also noted for featuring a narrator (Aaron Fechter) who has the same voice as Rolfe DeWolfe, a character in the Wolf Pack 5's successor, the Rock-afire Explosion.
Showbiz Pizza Segments 1980 Found This was an edited version of the IAAPA Showtapes plus new, exclusive content made for Showbiz Pizza Place. This showtape had 6 segments, and added an intro and outro jingles, as well as a different announcer. Mentions of Queenie the Fox were replaced with Mini Mozzerella (as Showbiz insisted on having a mouse like character in their establishment) and new dialogue was recorded to stitch pre-existing and newly recorded songs together.
Misc Wolf Pack 5 Shows Late 1970's - Early 1980's Lost The Wolf Pack 5 is known to have been sold to amusement and theme parks. Little information exists for the content of the shows but it's speculated that most utilize tracks from the IAAPA showtapes.
Beto Carrero World Introductions Early 1990's Partially Found The Wolf Pack 5 is known to have been present at the Beto Carrero World theme park in Brazil in the early 90's. They are known to have sung sped-up versions (caused by a damaged tape-deck) of "Sing A Simple Song" as well as "Banana Hill" and talked about the concessions around the tent they were located in at the park. Only one piece of raw, low quality footage has resurfaced on YouTube with no clean audio of these intros currently in existence.

Hard Luck Bears (Country Bear Jubilee):

Another early Creative Engineering animatronic band, these characters were installed in a wide variety of venues, primarily theme parks, but also having permanent residence in other venues.

Title Released Status Notes
Original CEI Showtape (Country Bear Jubilee) 1979 Found This was the most widely heard show from this animatronic band used at IAAPA, Calaway Park, and several others. The tape contains their most well-remembered personalities.
Carowinds' Honey Bear Bunch Family Reunion 1980 Lost This was a retrofit of the Hard Luck Bears revolving around a family reunion theme, turning several male characters from the original show into females, that operated at the Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, NC during the year 1980. It's unlikely if this showtape will ever surface as it ran for only one operating season before becoming the "Phantom of the Opry" reusing the bear characters.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Hard Luck Bears Show 1980 Lost The Hard Luck Bears were installed at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. A single showtape was produced that ran from 1980 up until the early 90's.

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!

Playcenter's Show Dos Ursos 1981 Found A Brazilian Portuguese dub of the original CEI Showtape produced especially for the defunct theme park Playcenter São Paulo. Key differences from the original English show to this variant are the character names, the instrumental track for Pete and Repeat Thornsberry's introduction, the mentions of Smitty's Super Service Station being changed to focus on Repeat's dead chicken, among others. The showtape was used from 1981 up until 1998 when a flood destroyed the animatronics and props, causing the show's closure.
Country Bear Picnic at Knoebels Groves Early 1980's Found This showtape was produced for the Knoebels Theme Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. The show revolves around the Hard Luck Bears being chosen to play for the annual Country Bear Picnic with musical numbers and shenanigans ensuing. Like the illusive Blackpool showtape, this show reuses gags from the original CEI tape that are present in this.
Rockin' Billy and the Bearcats Early 1990's Found This showtape was also produced for the Knoebels Theme Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the final showtape the park's show utilized until the show's closure in 1995. Billy Wilbur and his brothers along with Pete + Repeat and Mama Granbags (Miss Trixie) + Gooney Bird perform a medley of popular tunes from the 50's in a comedic fashion.
Show De Osos Unknown Partially Found This was a custom set of Spanish showtapes used at the theme parks Mundomagico (now defunct) and Fantasilandia (both located in Chile). Some footage exists online, but very little to no clean audio has surfaced. Many of these shows range from the original CEI show (supposedly according to one source; either the original English version or a Spanish Dub was used) to random Spanish songs.

Hard Luck Bears (Rock-afire Retrofit):

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:

Title Released Status Notes
Willy Wabbit 1976 Partially Found Willy Wabbit was the very first character produced by CEI. He is known to have stood at the Orlando airport singing songs for the visitors and advertising the "Mystery Fun House", a place where other Creative Engineering Animatronics were in use. Very little information exists on the show content. Only one clip from a news report has surfaced of him as well as a couple of photos.
Castle Dracula Dark Ride Audio 1977 Found This was one of CEI's first animatronic shows, an animatronic of Dracula that spoke to guests outside of a castle themed attraction. The audio was freely released online by CEI.
Friendly Freddy 1977 Lost This guitar-playing bear was an early character that CEI built in 1977. The content of his show is unknown, but a clip of him has surfaced on YouTube recently, however struck down by Aaron Fechter himself after it was posted.
Talking Head Shows 1977 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.
The Santa Claus Revue 1977 Partially Found Produced for the Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire around 1977, The Santa Claus Revue was one of CEI's early stage show productions. In the mid-late 2000's, the animatronics were replaced by those from another company, Advanced Animations, but retained the original showtape. The show in general has been decommissioned since the mid-late 2010's and no clear audio of the showtape is avaliable. Despite this, amateur home video recordings ranging from 1992 to the 2010's are avaliable on YouTube including most if not all of the show itself.
The Confederate Critter Show 1977/78 Partially Found The Confederate Critter show was produced by CEI in the 1970s. Not much information is known about the content of this show, save for one video clip and a few photos. No clean audio is currently avaliable.
Gaslight Jamboree 1978 Lost This show features Wolfman and Fats Geronimo from the Wolfpack 5 and Friendly Freddy in a 3 character setup. Only a few photos of the show exist, with no video or audio resurfacing. The animatronics themselves have been saved by Jack Turner and Connor Lenchinsky despite this.
Bear Country Jubilee 1978 Partially Found The Bear Country Jubilee was Creative Engineering's initial answer to Disney's Country Bear Jamboree, in which a cast of bears performed downhome country music and told jokes. Currently, only about a minute of the show's introduction featuring the characters of Pierre the Bear and his friend Waldo has surfaced online in low quality.
Bubba the Shakespearean Gorilla 1981 Partially Found This animatronic was praised for his variety of sophisticated movements, as well as a charming concept. Two pieces of footage have surfaced online. However, it is unknown whether a full showtape was produced. No clean audio is currently avaliable.
"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.
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.
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 cancelled dark ride attempt based off L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz stories and the 1939 MGM film adaptation. 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. Some of these animatronics have appeared alongside Bubba the Shakespearean Gorilla at the Looney Bird's Orlando, FL location as an interactive show before being put into storage at CEI.
The Cosmic Combo 1983 Non-existent This show was advertised as having five alien creatures in a galactic-like atmosphere. However, like the Jungle Juke Band, this show never got beyond a conceptual stage. It can be speculated that this show was an early incarnation of what would later become The Moon Rockers.
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 as well as a head frame.
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.
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.
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 Hannah Banana Shows late 2000s Partially Found This was a retrofit animatronic produced in the late 2000s for the "Hannah Banana" restaurant located in the UK. Only some of the shows, including a Christmas show, have resurfaced.
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.

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References

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