Friends, it should come as no surprise to any of you by now that I’ll talk about the Rock-afire Explosion at the drop of a hat. While ShowBiz Pizza is of course a cherished memory for me, thanks to the numerous video games that fed a vidiot like myself – it was in fact the Rock-afire Explosion – Creative Engineering’s delightful animatronic band that holds a special place in my heart. So much so that I found that myself devoting an entire episode of the Diary of An Arcade Employee to that fabled arcade – if you find yourself with some extra time on your hand – perhaps you might give it a listen?
As I’ve already said, the reason we are still talking about the Rock-afire Explosion is because of the work of Creative Engineering. The blood, sweat, and tears that creator Aaron Fechter and his company put into the characters truly paid off – and as a result they obviously transcended their original purpose. I have mentioned on the Diary Podcast as well as on the Retroist in the past about my first encounters with the Rock-afire Explosion – it wasn’t just the kids that were being entertained by the likes of Billy Bob’s gentle nature and humor. The adults were perhaps surprised they were captivated by the cover songs provided by the Rock-afire Explosion too. Not only did Aaron Fechter and his staff create the band, they also provided the music and voices to the characters – Fechter in fact voiced Billy Bob, Rolfe DeWolfe, Looney Bird, and Earl Schmerle to name just a few.
Fans young and old are finding that magic still exists in that animatronic band from Creative Engineering – case in point this 2017 Maker Faire video by Norman Chan of Adam Savage’s Tested. This short segment spotlights the work of a young man named Jack Turner – who with the help of his Father was not just learning how the animatronics for some of the characters worked but restoring them as best he could.
In closing out this article, I would quibble over his statement about Chuck E. Cheese purchasing ShowBiz Pizza. As it was in fact the other way around. As I understand it, due to ShowBiz Pizza Time Inc. attempting to buy the Rock-afire Explosion from Fechter and his obvious refusal to hand over his rights – the decision was made to rebrand everything to Chuck E. Cheese as they owned the characters.