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May 4, 2022

The Interactive and Wearable Haunt Puppets of VFX

The Interactive and Wearable Haunt Puppets of VFX

VFX offers a full line of interactive and wearable puppets to help you promote, entertain, and scare your haunt’s guests. Today, we’ll hear from Patrick Voss about the company history and their 2022 products. Show Notes:...


VFX offers a full line of interactive and wearable puppets to help you promote, entertain, and scare your haunt’s guests. Today, we’ll hear from Patrick Voss about the company history and their 2022 products. Show Notes: https://www.haunt.news/vfx-puppets-haunt-2022

Transcript

Patrick: We got a lot of new stuff. We've got Putrid Pete Zombie, he's over here on the end there, and we've also got a version of him that's Pute Putrid Pete, and we now have Extreme Ride. So, we've got new rotted hands and shoulder, and exposed back, and we really grunged and ripped the clothes up really nicely. So, it's like this zombie has been wandering around for a while and he's really starting to rot, but he's still hungry and he will come after you.

Brian: Kind reminds me of the guy on Creep Show a little bit, but I like the way his face is falling off his skull.

Patrick: Thanks. Over there is Sammy the Slack Jaw Zombie. We have a separate jaw that's sewn on one side, and it's got magnets on the other side, and you're actually puppeteering his tongue. So is jaw and come off on one side, and you can wiggle them around and wiggle his tongue around. We got him, he comes in a full version or what we've got at the show today is a half version, and it's Extreme Ride also with guts hanging down.

Doug has been going wacky with bungee heads. We've got, I think, almost 50 different bungee heads here today. I think we came out with our lighted jack-o-lantern bungee last year. We got that at the show.

In our crate creatures, we have a Pepe the Chimpanzee, not scary, but we didn't have time to do a zombie version of them, which will be coming out.

 We've also got Clownt Dracula. Doug likes to take our zombies and turn them into clowns. So, he took our vampire and turned him into Clownt Dracula.

Illusion Boxes and Lunging Boxes. We've got that Jack in the Box with the first one that is enclosed, and when you open it, the head comes out almost, it's over three feet I think. Then we've got the Illusion Boxes. The Banshee Box, which we've had that for, I think, three or four years now, that's been a huge hit. It's lighted it on the inside, and it's a mirror effect, so it looks like an empty box from the front, and when you open it, the lighted banshee head comes out and screams. We also have a clown version of that, we call that the Fun House, and we came out, the other year, with the biohazard box. Which has, you can see inside of it, and there's a severed zombie had inside, and you can wiggle that around. And that one actually lunches out over three feet to.

Oh, this year we've got our Black Light UV Booth, first time we'd done this.

Brian: You guys have expanded, you've got like two aisles now.

Patrick: Yeah, and there's just, it's a big show and we want to have a big presence here. We always do incredible a Transworld, and so we expanded it. We actually have an area for our bungee heads and t-shirts sales, and to check out. We bought a black tent and made our UV puppets and props UV tent, which is looking pretty cool. At the other end there, we've got sound systems. We've got the Puppet Master Sound System, and the Minion Effects System, which if you don't know about those, go to our website VFXcreates.com. Because there's a lot you can do, they are very loud sound system, very small, compact, four inches by four inches by two inches, and what everybody in this industry likes, it's loud and that's a nice small one. We also have the PM Harness, so you can put a harness on and have your sound system on you and run around like a maniac in the haunt. We also sell a chainsaw version where it's got chainsaw sound effects, so you can run around and have chainsaw sound effects in the dark, and screams.

Brian: Well, I know you guys, I remember when you first guys came out. I mean, the way I look at it, I've been here, this is my 12th show, 13th show. Gore Galore is like the big puppets, you guys like small puppets, that's why I tell everybody. I'm like, because they're lightweight, they're easy to control, an actor can wear them all night.

Patrick: 10th year. Sally obviously is 10 years old today.

Brian: Now, is Sally one of your most popular sellers?

Patrick: She's like our icon. She was the very first one I did, and the next year we came back with Sally and Psycho the Clown, of course. We had a werewolf and a cob goblin scarecrow, and a half Zombie Bob, and that's when it just blew up. We've been going gangbusters ever since.

Brian: Once you see one it's like, " oh, I gotta have one of those!"

Patrick: We actually made a video, it's on our website, about the return on investment with our products. Because you can use them in your haunts, to entertain your queue line, and to take them out to other events for promotion, because they get so much attention. We've got a video on our website that basically kind of takes you through the different uses of them, how to use them in different ways to get your money's worth, because they are pricey, but they are quality products we spent a lot of time putting together, and we want them to last. Six Flags bought, I don't even know how many puppets from us, and they came back the next year. He said, "you guys make awesome products. They're really well-made, and they are folding up great." Which was like, thanks. He goes, "so, I don't need anything this year."

Brian: Well, it sounds like you're pricing yourself out. But, still, that one person's going to tell five other people, and they're going to see it and be like, "where'd you get that at?"

Patrick: It's really nice to have customers come back every year and go, "yeah, we bought a puppet five years ago and it's still going great and everything."

Brian: I'm allowed a fun question at the end. So, my question to you is, what got you started?

Patrick: I've always loved puppets, puppeting. I mean, when I was a kid I saw, it was on the Hudson Brothers Show, I don't know if you're old enough to remember that. It was the Hudson Brothers Comedy Hour. There was a character on there, and I can't remember his name, but he had his Australia emu puppet. So, he had this bird, and his hand was up, and it was the bird's head, the neck, and it was just this crazy thing. I think you can look it up online.

I was a kid and I love that, and my mom actually helped me make one, and that's what I was for Halloween that year. I've always been intrigued with puppeting, and the Muppets, and all that stuff too. I actually co-produced a puppet show a few years ago called Sockville.

Here's my backstory. I was doing all this stuff on the side for a haunted houses in the eighties and nineties, and I was building on haunted houses and designing and all that stuff. Then I had my corporate job doing graphic art and design, and they came in and said, "sorry, we're closing out of the department." I think I was the only one who was like dancing in my booth, and my cube, because I couldn't wait to get out of there.

I had a book of ideas, and I had this zombie puppet idea for like five years before that, and it was in my book. There are three things I pulled out of that book to try to put together for the Transworld Show. The other two went to the wayside and I got a Sidewinder Sally done, brought her to the show, and the concept was good enough that we ended up selling like, I think eight to 10 of them, and then went back and redid the whole thing, resculpted everything, and made a product, and mailed those out to those people. Those people, they were contacting me just going, "oh my God, this is amazing." You know, because it was like based on this prototype, and that kind of launched it.

 Then I hired Doug Shafer, and Doug came up with the Banshee Box and the Jack in the Box, and the bungee head. He volunteered at HAuNTcon to have his head mold for a demo, but he got his head mold and the silicone, so he pulled out one, he was like making a dead head, and he was like, "I think I'm going to make a bungee head." And I'm like, "oh wow. Is that out there? That's such a great idea." And he went online, could not find anything, and came out with a bungee head. And you could tell he hasn't stopped.

Brian: Can't go anywhere else for this quality of puppet. I think all your queue line actors should have one.