The Rock-afire Explosion is an animatronic show created by Aaron Fechter and his company Creative Engineering out of Florida, often considered to be one of the greatest animatronic bands of all time. First featured in ShowBiz Pizza Place family entertainment centers between 1980-1992, they are now found in very few locations.
The Rock-afire Explosion provides examples of:
- The Artifact: Beach Bear's cross-eye movement was a leftover from his Dumb Jock persona.
- Awesome, but Impractical: In the "Gee, Our First Album!" cover photo shown above, Beach Bear has a Gibson Les Paul, but in the actual shows a fake guitar resembling a combination of a Fender Swinger and other obscure '50s-'60s electric guitars was used instead, likely because the Les Paul would damage his arms.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The band had several differences in their early years.
- Notably, Fechter also voiced Beach Bear, who was portrayed as a Dumb Jock back then with a voice to match, as well as Mitzi, who had a shrill, Minnie Mouse-esque voice.
- Dook had a completely different outfit.
- Fatz and Dook's names were spelled as "Fats" and "Duke", respectively. The current spellings were adopted in 1981, likely for trademark purposes.
- Excluding the birthday segments, the first showtape didn't have any interaction among the three stages, nor did the Rock-afire Explosion members themselves have any spoken skits (though an unused version of the "School Days" skit had the center stage characters interact with each other, with the plot being the Sun trying to convince Fatz to go to school, leading to the aforementioned song).
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Among the center four:
- Fatz: Melancholic
- Mitzi: Sanguine
- Beach Bear: Phlegmatic
- Dook: Choleric
- Grand Finale: Locations featuring the band ended with a best-of show hosted by Rolfe and Earl (voiced by different actors due to Creative Engineering not being involved in this show) while the animatronics underwent changes to be turned into Chuck E. and his friends.
- Take That!: In the third segment of the 1982 New Year's Eve showtape, Mitzi tells a bad joke. After the group argues about it, she can be heard saying "Well, what did you expect? I got it from Chuck E. Cheese!". Also doubles as Hilarious in Hindsight, given ShowBiz Pizza's buyout of Chuck E. Cheese's that ultimately led to the infamous Concept Unification process.
- That Syncing Feeling: This skit for ShowBiz Pizza in the 80s involved Rolfe claiming he would be singing a tribute to Frank Sinatra, to the dismay of his sentient ventriloquist puppet Earl. But Rolfe simply lip-syncs to a record of Sinatra's song "Witchcraft," and Earl notices something screwy when the record glitches...