1972 — Fuel Efficient Car
1976 — Whac-A-Mole
A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a large, waist-level cabinet with five holes in its top and a large, soft, black mallet. Each hole contains a single plastic mole and the machinery necessary to move it up and down. Once the game starts, the moles will begin to pop up from their holes at random. The object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player’s score. The quicker this is done the higher the final score will be.
1977 — Hard Luck Bears and Wolfpack 5
1980 — Showbiz Pizza Place and The RockAfire Explosion (Showbiz Pizza bought out what is today Chuck E. Cheese)
The business was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1980 by Robert L. Brock, owner of Brock Hotel Corporation. At the time, Brock was quite successful as one of the largest franchisors in the Holiday Inn hotel system. Eighty percent of ShowBiz Pizza was owned by Brock Hotel Corporation. The other 20 percent was owned by Creative Engineering, Inc. which was responsible for producing theanimatronics show ShowBiz used: The Rock-afire Explosion. In 1982, the company moved its headquarters to Irving, Texas. In 1984, ShowBiz Pizza purchased the assets of Chuck E. Cheese’s (C.E.C) after it declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They then proceeded to change the name of the company to ShowBiz Pizza Time, Inc.; however both restaurants continued operating as separate entities.
Production of the programming and audio for the show was done in-house by Creative Engineering, Inc. in Orlando, Florida. All Rock-afire shows were produced completely in-house, with Creative Engineering employees not only manufacturing the characters, but also writing and performing their songs and skits.
Unlike other animatronic shows of the early 1980s, the Rock-afire Explosion was designed to be life-sized, with most of the performers being about the size of an average adult human. Additionally, Fechter implemented the use of latex masks for the characters’ faces, as opposed to the rubber and styrofoam masks common in animatronics of the time. The latex masks were designed to fit over various movable parts on the characters’ faces, permitting them a range of facial expressions, including smiling and the raising of eyebrows. Fechter also implemented computer programming that permitted some of the characters to move in rhythm with music, making it theoretically possible for them to play actual instruments.
Several Rock-afire performers went on to careers of their own: Shalisa James is currently a member of the a cappella group Toxic Audio, while Burt Wilson is now better known as Bubba “Whoop-Ass” Wilson, a member of the The Monsters in the Morning radio show. Both Rick Bailey and Jeff Howell are still active as musicians in the Orlando area.
In the 2000s, spurred by the growing online Rock-afire fan community, Fechter reunited some of the Rock-afire performers and began to program shows set to fan-requested songs. Videos of the performances—posted to YouTube upon completion—are credited with helping to further revive interest in the group and ShowBiz pizza, and spurred individuals who owned their own Rock-afire bands to begin programming new shows themselves.
1982 — Anti-Gravitry Freedom Machine Research Began
1985 — Miniature Billybob Animatronic Doll
1992 — The New Rock-afire Explosion
1995 — Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine
1997 — Looney Bird's Children's restaurant, Orlando, FL
2000 — Mesmerizer Arcade Game which morphed into ICE's Wheel of Fortune arcade game
2003 — The Starlauncher
2005 — RockAfire Explosion resurgence
2008 — the RockAfire Explosion documentary
The Rock-afire Explosion, a documentary about Chris Thrash, Aaron Fechter and the remaining Rock-afire Explosion fan base, was released at film festivals and special screenings around the United States in the fall of 2008. Written and directed by Houston filmmakers Brett Whitcomb (Director) and Bradford Thomason (Writer), and produced by Jason Connell, the film has been featured in many reviews and made a November 2008 appearance on Last Call with Carson Daly. It was released on DVD on September 29, 2009 by Connell Creations.
2010 — Hydrillium alternative fuel research begins
2014 — Present Day Creative Engineering
Creative Engineering is still in operation, with Fechter as its President and sole employee; Fechter sells both new and unused animatronic equipment in addition to giving tours of the facility. In 2008 he sold one of the last two unused Rock-afire shows to a restaurant in Jordan; the final show has yet to be sold.
In October 2011, Aaron Fechter released a video on YouTube of the first new Rock-afire Explosion song since 1984, entitled “I Ain’t Gay”, and announced the possibility of a second album.
On July 30, 2012, Aaron Fecther released an original song featuring Rick Bailey, voice of Beach Bear, titled ” Sittin’ Too Long”.
2013 - Renewed interest in the Rock-afire Explosion from the gaming market is gained with the release of the independent horror game, Five Nights at Freddy's. Inspired by The Rock-afire Explosion and Showbiz Pizza.
2016 - The Rock-afire Explosion are featured prominently in the major motion picture relase: Keanu. A recreation of the Creative Engineering warehouse was created for a key scene in the movie, complete with Creative Engineering robotics, Rock-afire Explosion characters and the Rock-afire
2016 - A brand new arcade game is created — Bashy Bug!
The RockAfire Explosion can be booked for shows around the United States, as well as booked to record custom songs, or songs by request. Click here to book >>