Casey Paquet says:
My buddy Allen and I had the opportunity last week to visit Creative Engineering, Inc. in Orlando -- better known as the birthplace of the Rock-afire Explosion, the animatronic band you may remember from Showbiz Pizza Place in the '80s. In an unassuming (and unmarked) warehouse smack in the middle of downtown sits a huge time capsule, once home to over 300 employees and now a relic of rotting robots and shattered dreams. The owner, Aaron Fechter, is the only remaining "employee" and a walk through the main floor and basement of the warehouse is like walking through a ghost town that was vacated in 1984, everything left just as it was the day the doors were closed.
Aaron was kind enough to give us a guided tour of the enormous warehouse, which was equal parts entertaining and depressing. The highlight of the visit was getting to see the Rock-afire Explosion (the very one that all of the original show tapes were programmed on) perform -- Aaron handed us a huge document containing all of the show tapes, letting us choose what we wanted to hear and playing us some of his favorites. I can't quite explain the surreal nature of the visit, seeing a robot band that I haven't seen in 20 years up close and personal is a bit unsettling, not to mention seeing parts of said band strewn about in various states of disrepair across thousands of square feet of dark warehouse.
For your viewing pleasure, I have provided links to a Flickr set of nearly 100 photos throughout both levels of the warehouse and a series of videos. I've done my best to let you know what you're looking at in the captions, so enjoy!
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects