Chuck E. Cheese Proof of Concept Prototype (Animatronic)

From Cheese-E-Pedia

The Prototype at CheeseVention 9 in 2012.

The Chuck E. Cheese Proof of Concept Prototype (also potentially being instead of Rick Rat) was an animatronic created by Harold Goldbrandsen and his team at Fantasy Forest Manufacturing in 1977 to demonstrate the concept of animatronic characters to Nolan Bushnell.


Initial Hiring

During Pizza Time Theatre's conception, Gene Landrum, manager of the Atari Restaurant Operating Division, would begin calling through the entire IAAPA directory looking for the manufacturer for their animated puppet design. The only company to respond would a small mascot costume fabrication company titled Fantasy Forest Manufacturing. Despite the company having prior experience with mechanically animated figures, they had none with pneumatic animatronics or puppets, Harold Goldbrandsen figured he would learn as he built them.[1][2]

The animatronic would begin development likely as soon as Fantasy Forest was signed on, being used as a proof of concept to show Nolan Bushnell their potential, and likely as a way to greenlight the funding for the creation of the entire cast.


During the early stages of conceptualization, the main character of the Pizza Time Theatre restaurant would evolve from its initial incarnation as Rick Rat to the finalized Chuck E. Cheese design. Despite there not being an exact clear timeline for when this proof of concept was built, it seems to be in a vague area in-between these two concepts. The design takes full inspiration from Rick Rat, but might have been completed likely around the time that the Chuck E. Cheese name was copyrighted and used by the company, especially as the Rick Rat name was never copyrighted itself, meaning it did not stick around for long outside of referral to the original costume mascot.[3]

The animatronic would be incredibly simple, only having three movements of limited complexity. The entire shell of the head and body would also be glued to a wooden backboard, making his body completely static. This would carry onto the later Winchester Chuck E. Cheese V1 animatronic, but over time Fantasy Forest would become accustomed to the creation process and would become more bold with each bot's complexity.[4]

After Use

After the bot's initial unveiling to Nolan Bushnell and his team, Harold Goldbrandsen would take the bot home with him to keep. The bot was never intended to be put in a Pizza Time Theatre store, and was simply for a simple proof of concept. The bot would stay with Harold for the coming decades, never having ever been mentioned or seen in articles detailing Pizza Time Theatre's early history.

CheeseVention 9

For the first time ever the bot would make a public appearance at the CheeseVention 9 Chuck E. Cheese fan convention in 2012 alongside its creator. This would be the only time the bot or its creator would appear in public to show off their legacy with Pizza Time Theatre. By this point the animatronic would be extremely deteriorated, losing its left eye, teeth, and generally being more dirty than its original debut.

Current Whereabouts

After CheeseVention 9, Harold Goldbrandsen wouldn't have any further contact with the community, though still owns the bot to present day. It is unclear what the bot's current state of deterioration is, or if Harold might have any photos of the animatronic back when it was first created in its pristine working condition.


The design would be the first ever iteration of Chuck E. Cheese ever, mainly taking inspiration from the Rick Rat Walkaround. This heavy reliance on the costume's design and shape would forever influence the character's design for decades to come.

The mouth shape was almost an exact copy of the shape from the walkaround, being a long snout with saggy cheeks. The head also copied the triangle shape of the costume's head, alongside its smaller eyes. Two distinctive differences from the costume however was changing the ears to stick up and out higher, and making the nose smaller.

Two designs on the animatronic taken from Rick Rat would not carry on to other iterations, the first being Chuck's tan eyelids. Later iterations would portray his eyelids as either grey or light blue. The other would be his pink stomach. Every other iteration of Chuck E. Cheese going forward would instead keep a grey furred stomach.

Multiple parts of the design are unclear what they originally were due to deterioration, notably being the eyes and teeth. No pictures of the bot having teeth have been found, making it unclear their original size and shape. A misunderstanding has spread around about one of the images of the bot having his left eye visible[5], though this is an optical illusion created by an aluminum rod behind the eyehole. The bot's right eye is in-tact, though multiple pictures show it in various positions, making it unclear where its default position is. The pupil in the right eye also had an odd rectangular bar sticking out from the general circular shape, making it either a unique pupil art-style, or that the pupil seen was the backing for the true pupil design that has fallen off from deterioration.


Despite never seeing the animatronic move, pictures of the internals with all the cylinders still intact allows the movements to be determined.

  • Eyelid Close[6]
  • Mouth
  • Right Arm Raise