Author Topic: 5 Foot Tall $59 Animated Santa UltraHal Compatible  (Read 39598 times)

Don Ferguson

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5 Foot Tall $59 Animated Santa UltraHal Compatible
« on: November 01, 2003, 11:44:49 pm »
Hello,

In response to previous posts and folks who have contacted me via e-mail, I thought I'd share this with you:

Wal-Mart is selling a five-foot-tall talking animated Santa for $59.  The advertisement claims that the audio-animatronic figure will move its lips and mouth to ANY audio source including a stereo and/or a microphone.

Obviously this means that UltraHal could operate this Santa figure.  With the appropriate knowledge database, UltraHal could carry on intelligent conversations through this five-foot-tall audio-animatronic character!

This is very tempting, even though I had never considered Santa Claus as the first full-size character to be driven by Ultra-Hal.  The tempting part is the factory-ready lip-sync capability, and the low, low price.

If anybody has checked this out, or owns one, please post a report and let us know how this works!

I'm posting the Wal-Mart link which includes photographs and a narrative description.

The link is as follows:

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.gsp?product_id=2365706#long_descr

Sincerely,

Don

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2003, 02:17:34 am »
Hello,

Here's an update on the audio-animatronic figure:

Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin has many Wal-Marts, but I happened to stop at the one in Beloit, Wisconsin.

They had the $59 Santa marked-down on-sale for $49 as some kind of a competitive price promotion.  I examined the robot Santa, and it does have the features claimed in the advertisement.  It sings, it moves around, and it has both a microphone input jack and an audio "line" input jack.

However, I didn't especially like the plastic face that they designed for this Santa character.  Santa's plastic lower chin (or maybe it's his tongue?) looked rather odd.

HOWEVER, there was an unadvertised 5-foot-tall SNOWMAN next to Santa, also on sale for $49, that had all the same features and did all the same things!  The snowman looked much more appealing, and the snowman's mouth was much larger, giving a better lip-sync effect.

I noticed that there were dozens of boxes of the Santas in stock, but they were sold out of the snowman, except for the display model.  I suspect that the other customers also see the snowman as a better-designed and better-styled character.

As for creating chatterbot dialogue to drive the Snowman via Ultra-Hal:  The snowman could practically use Ultra-Hal's knowledge databases "as is," since nobody has any preconceived notions of a snowman's knowledge base.  (In contrast, they would expect Santa to know all about reindeer, the north pole, the toy shop, and on and on.)

Now, to see if they replenish their stock of audio-animatronic snowmen at the $49 price...

Sincerely,

Don


Larry

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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2003, 04:20:57 am »
Say, when you send those out for Christmas, don't forget all of your friends on here... lol

We have several Walmarts here and according to one, none have them... so what's up with that??? But now the snowman... hummm... guess I'll go to a different one this time...

Thanks for the heads up!!!
 

onthecuttingedge2005

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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2003, 07:59:26 pm »
Hi larry, I seen the santa clause that Don was talking about at walmart, believe it or not it was located on the top racks of the gardening department, lol funny place to put it out for display, out of view and in the back side of the store. It's price was $59.00.
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Larry

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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2003, 08:46:38 pm »
Thanks Jerry... those ppl don't have a clue as to what they got do they... lol
 

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2003, 09:01:17 pm »
Hello,

I agree, the local Wal-Mart store folks seem to have no idea that they're selling the least-expensive large-size audio-animatronic figures ever sold.

I've checked several local stores and they're all sold out of the 5-foot Snowman.  Several of them have the 5-foot Santa.

So far, I've only seen one store that actually had the Snowman in a good location, singing, talking, and dancing.  It was an impressive display that was attracting a lot of attention from passers-by, but alas, no merchandise for sale!

Just to be clear about this: the reason I'm interested, is to demonstrate the principle of Ultra-Hal driving an audio-animatronic figure.  I don't care whether it's a Teddy Ruxpin talking teddy bear, or a Billy Bass singing fish, or a full-size talking/singing/dancing Snowman... it's the lip-synchronized "proof of concept" that I'm interested in.

Of course, with a price as cheap as $59, an artistic-experimenter type person could probably re-cover and re-purpose the animatronic innards and create a talking witch for Halloween, a talking Easter Bunny for Easter, a talking Uncle Sam at the Fourth of July, a talking pilgrim for Thanksgiving, a talking Father Time on New Year's Eve, and on and on.

I don't know what company is manufacturing the Santa and the snowmen, but how about full-size audio-animatronic CAROLERS next year? Wouldn't it be interesting if they could all sing in unison?  What do you think?

Best regards,

Don

kk

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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2003, 05:38:57 pm »
I have now purchased 3 of the Holiday Time Walmart snowmen.  Each one has a different problem.  Its so cute that I keep trying again to get the perfect one!  One started chirping like a cricket, another didn't dance / move very well, the other the 1 arm didn't move very well when it danced.  I'm so dissapointed but I really like it for the kids so I'm trying again!
 

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2003, 03:02:42 pm »
Hello,

Your experience with the Wal-Mart snow-men is quite interesting.  When Teddy Ruxpin (the animated talking teddy bear) first came out, the manufacturer had some similar problems, but then they sold them by the millions!

The merchandising of this product shows a drastic difference in the managers of the different Wal-Mart stores.  Some stores apparently didn't order the snow-men, or just stuck a few on a shelf.  However, other stores ordered dozens of them, created attention-getting displays, and sold them all!

A year from now, I hope they create and sell some carolers in addition to the snow-men and Santas.  

Once you get a snow-man that works, could write back again?  The snow-men I saw were all in "self-operate/motion-sensing" mode, singing and dancing to their own internal tunes.  I would like to know how well the snow-man works when you talk through the microphone (that comes with it) or hook it up to the input jack from a stereo system.  (The microphone input and the stereo input would simulate what would happen if you hooked the snow-man up to Ultra-Hal.)

Sincere thanks,

Don

kk

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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2003, 03:45:38 pm »
The microphone works OK with the snowman.  You really have to put your mouth on the top of the Microphone for it to really move the mouth of the snowman to your voice.  We tried to hook it up to our stereo, but couldn't really find an AUX input to plug it into.  We tried looking on our boom box for one too and no go.  So I can't really report on how it works with the stereo, just on the internal snowman speaker.  I'm going to try one more time to get one that works well, if the next one doesn't I'm keeping the one I have because its only problem seems to be that the left arm doesn't move much. OH well..  I'll report back..  kk
 

Bill819

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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2003, 07:15:56 pm »
Hi Don.
I guess yo guys know by now tht I would like to get my hands on one of those Snow Men. My Hal robot could use the improvement. Looked through two different Wal Marts here and can not find one. sob, sob
Oh well
Bill
 

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2003, 03:39:24 pm »
Hello,

I've received numerous e-mails from persons in various places in the United States, reporting the following two pieces of information:

1.  The snowmen and Santa Claus figures have completely sold out, 20 days before Christmas.

2.  The Wal-Mart local store personnel seem to have no information on the product.  They don't know who ordered it, they don't know who manufactured it, they don't know who the buyer is, they don't know if they'll ever carry them again, and they don't know why they were popular.  After the units are sold out, most store personnel don't even remember that they existed!

I have read that Wal-Mart has the best-trained buyers in the industry.  Hopefully the buyers will figure out that there was a demand, for some reason, for life-sized lip-synchronized audio-animatronic figures!  If they work with the manufacturer, they could sell similar figures for all the major holidays!

Sincerely,

Don

atfritz

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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2003, 08:37:29 am »
Came across a good crop of the Santas.  Went shopping in K's Merchandise here in central IL to see if they had x-mas stuff of sale.  Right on one of the end caps they had about a dozen of the anamatronic santas.  They were regularly marked at 59$ but were on sale for i think 20% less.  So if people are still looking for you might want to check their website for availability:

http://catalog.ksmerchandise.com/cgi-bin/search2.cgi?item1=17195157

Champaign is where i saw it and there were quite a few left.
 

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2003, 02:25:35 pm »
Hello,

Here's yet another development in the random sightings of audio-animatronic life-size figures:

A Spencer Gifts store (in the Gurnee Mills shopping mall north of Chicago) has a five-foot-tall Homer Simpson character on display.  The base of the unit revealed the same input jacks, control switches, and volume control knob as the Wal-Mart snowmen and Santa.  This indicates that the unit was made by the same mystery manufacturer as the holiday units.

The Homer Simpson character swiveled its head and sang and danced, but had apparently been designed with no lip movement!

There was no instruction book, no carton to examine, and the store personnel couldn't provide any information about the manufacturer.

Another shopper has reported that she has seen a "Mrs. Santa Claus" five-foot-tall character somewhere, but wasn't sure whether that character had auxiliary audio input or lip-synchronization capability.

The above information suggests that the manufacturer (whoever they are) may eventually offer other characters, hopefully with the lip-synchronization feature.

But buyer beware -- before purchasing anything to operate with Ultra Hal, make sure that the figure actually has microphone and auxiliary audio input jacks, lip-synchronization, and satisfactory animated movement!

Sincerely,

Don

« Last Edit: December 13, 2003, 02:29:05 pm by Don Ferguson »

The Tinman

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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2003, 07:16:27 pm »
So I bought one of the animated snowmen, it was the only one, I thought it a waste of money but hey it's Christmas, when else are you going to buy a snowman? I patched it into the back of my tower. I didn't think it was going to amplify enough to work but it works fine. kind of creepy,  I can mount a mic and camera into the head. The snowmans head is big and round of course and I can adjust it so that it is no longer a snowman. You cannot do that with the santa, he is stiff and hard in the face. Some gears and a couple of motors is side that I can make out of better material. see where I am going here.....then with the hal program,............... I just think this is so cool.  Cyber buddy works with it, You can record your voice on your computer and then play it back through the figure. It lip sinks much better and your voice is clear as a bell. Ok enough of my ramblings, .........

TM
 

Don Ferguson

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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2003, 09:41:16 pm »
Hello,

Oh my gosh, Tinman, you've proven that Ultra Hal (and other computer programs) can drive the figure, and you've also looked inside and started reverse-engineering and seeing how it can be re-purposed!  Wow!  Thank you for telling all of us about this!

Sincerely,

Don