Billy Bob Talking Walkaround

From Cheese-E-Pedia

Billy Bob Talking-Walkaround at Fun Time Pizza in McAllen

The Billy Bob Talking Walkaround costume was a unique walkaround product by Creative Engineering.


The development of this head began around 1985 with the first prototype. Many crucial revisions were made after, and it entered the market in 1990 at a price of $9,400. While it was a brand new concept to FECs, the concept of a talking walkaround with pre-programmed signals had already been invented by Ken Forsse, the creator of Teddy Ruxpin, and William Munns years prior.

Few customers purchased this product, with the only restaurant chain proven to have purchased it being Fun Time Pizza in McAllen, TX (1800 S Main St #890) and in Carrollton, TX (2625 Old Denton Rd). Creative Engineering tried pushing this product without success by creating a brochure[1] and making several appearances at IAAPA conventions with the costume[2] in the following years. Because of said response, very few were ever produced. There were only about 10 finalized heads built with only two known to be left today: one in Creative Engineering's costume shop and one in a private collection. Other talking walkaround characters were planned, like Mitzi and Fatz, but these concepts never made it out of the constructed prototype stage, presumably because of the lack of success of Billy Bob.

Design and Technology

In terms of design, The Billy Bob Talking Walkaround costume was essentially a normal Billy Bob Walkaround, but with a standard latex mask and added electronics. The head and the rest of the costume were reused from the Billy Bob CEI Walkaround. The only available area of vision were through the mesh eyes.

Billy Bob was animated using servo controllers. This head had two movements: mouth and eyelids. Both eyelids were on the same servo. To send the pre-programmed signals to the costume in accompaniment with a Rock-Afire Explosion showtape, radio frequency signals were sent to a receiver worn inside the costume by the performer.

Prototype Version

Creative Engineering's objective with this prototype head was to test if they were able to make this sort of technology work, and fit it inside a standard walkaround head. This prototype was much different from the final revision. The head was controlled by pneumatics instead of electronics. The animation was the same, in that it had the same movements. Each movement runs on a small pancake cylinder. A standard Billy Bob mouth plate and eyelids are reused. There was no radio wave signals or receiver in the costume. It is believed that for testing purposes, an airline was ran from the head, through the costume, and connected to the Classic Rock-afire Billy Bob animatronic mac valves, or some sort of other condensed, alternative valve source. The test of the costume ran off of the Rock-afire show data. Improvements to the mask were made after this prototype. Only about the upper half of the mask was supported by plastic, while the finished version was completely plastic to add stability. This prototype head is a one of a kind. It still exists today in the hands of a collector, and is undergoing restoration.