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Jan. 27, 2023

Trends in consumer-grade animatronics with Morris Costumes

Trends in consumer-grade animatronics with Morris Costumes

Founded in 1960, is a wholesaler distributing tens of thousands of Halloween products. Over the years, they’ve become known for animatronics, and they debuted several new models at this year’s retail show. The...

Founded in 1960, Morris Costumes is a wholesaler distributing tens of thousands of Halloween products. Over the years, they’ve become known for animatronics, and they debuted several new models at this year’s retail show. The Halloween & Part Expo, held every January, is where Halloween retail stores go to buy for the upcoming Halloween season. For Haunters, the trends at this show are key because they determine what your customers will see in stores this fall. Today, we’ll discuss the new technology trends in consumer-grade animatronics and whether the pending recession will impact Halloween with Sean Morris. Support for this episode comes from Gantom Lighting and Controls. See what you’re missing with a free demo. Subscribe to the Haunted Attraction Network here.


Founded in 1960, Morris Costumes is a wholesaler distributing tens of thousands of Halloween products. Over the years they become known for their animatronics, and they debuted several new models at this year's [2023] Halloween Party Expo.

Sean Morris: My name is Sean Morris and I'm with Morris Costumes, and we are a wholesale distributor of a lot of items, but Halloween animatronics are our main display, at least here at this show.

Philip Hernandez: What are you excited about this year?

Sean Morris: So, we have just come out with quite a large line of, what we feel, are some of the hottest new moving animated pieces on the market. We've brought several out that are just at some amazing prices, and quite a few of them were some new servo motors that have multiple movements, as far as the head, that just brings an uber realism to them.

Philip Hernandez: Is that what you think sets it apart? extra motors in the head, basically?

Sean Morris: Yeah, I think we just have some just stand out pieces from that standpoint, yeah.

Philip Hernandez: Do you have any specific ones? 

Sean Morris: Some of the top ones we're excited about is our new Carnival Barker, which is right here in the middle of our booth. Our new servo Witch, which is up there. We've also got what's called the Inferno Scarecrow, which just has a very violent arm movement, which is sure to scare everybody.

Philip Hernandez: Tell me about the Carnival Barker, that one seems very advanced.

Sean Morris: It is. It has the new servo motor in the head, which makes him actually do three or four new movements out of it. Also, it has the new eyes that we've digitized, which look like animated eyeballs which is new technology to us. This one we've actually programmed with a Morris Costume saying stuff like, "step right up to catch your Morris Costume pieces," but he has another saying, which comes with a production line.

Philip Hernandez: So, it's really the digi-eye plus the head movement.

Sean Morris: Digi-eye plus their new servo movements in the head.

Philip Hernandez: Let's talk a little bit about trends because you do this wholesale show, but you also do the haunt stuff and you know a lot of the haunters really well, but you also know the retail. So, talk to me about what you guys are seeing from the trend side.

Sean Morris: I will say, the pieces are becoming more lifelike. In comparison to when these first came out, not only has the price come down on them drastically; when animated props first came out, the cheapest animated prop you could get was $1000, even at wholesale pricing. That's something that we've tried to relay between haunters and the end consumer. The end consumer doesn't understand that this is fairly inexpensive in the realm of animated pieces. Yes, the original parts you were lucky if you had two motors, now they're getting into four and five separate motors per item, which just creates more of a realism to where eyelids start to move, mouth almost has facial expressions. This one actually is looking up and down and side to side while moving the mouth, and the eyes are opening and closing. So, they're a lot more impressive.

Philip Hernandez: The end user, or the end consumer, is seeing much more advanced movements in stuff at their local party store. Is that impacting the haunts at all?

Sean Morris: What I hope is that, at least for a lot of the haunt guys, and particularly a lot of the guys that Transworld that are custom making stuff, I think it gives them opportunities to up their game and really make it more impressive to where people almost getting a Disney like experience where they can have in their living room. I think it's impressive. I think kids now are going to have a way better childhood than I did growing up because the pieces actually look real. It just opens your imagination for bigger and better things.

Philip Hernandez: Let's finish up with a little bit about pricing. There's a lot of concern right now with all of Halloween because Halloween is a discretional thing. A lot of the end consumers purchase Halloween with disposable income and discretionary income, and so there's a lot of talk about recessions, prices, inflation, and all that kind of stuff. What are you seeing?

Sean Morris: Very optimistic and bullish on this year. We feel that we're on the back end of the recession portion. One of the things is, at least in the Halloween industry, Halloween over the years has trended to be basically recession-proof. I think that there's a lot of things that come about in Halloween. One, people are spending the money on themselves, it's not like Christmas where they have to go out and buy something for others. Also, it's a great escape for people. So, even if the economy was to get worse, people then get to set all the bad and the negativity aside, it's one night where they can let their imagination go wild. They can be somebody that they're not, it gives them a reason to go out and have a good time.

Philip Hernandez: So, it's escapism.

Sean Morris: Escapism, yeah. While they may trend down, necessarily, on the dollar amount that they're spending across the board, even then, we've not seen that as a trend over the last 60 years that we've been doing this as a company. So, that doesn't concern me. But I really feel like we're on the back end of this as an economy.

Philip Hernandez: It's January, but it's been strong so far for you all.

Sean Morris: So far, we've done great at this show, and I've already reprinted orders twice, which we weren't expecting, and at least from our standpoint, I don't see that.


Sean MorrisProfile Photo

Sean Morris

Owner of Morris Costumes