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...