Yes, I know I’m hard to impress, but most of the props at Transworld are aimed at the professional haunt crowd and, I’ll be honest, often I have very little interest in a lot of “pro” haunts because they don’t look that much different than your typical backyard haunt, they’re just held in a commercial building instead of a garage. I want to see a lot better than that.
Okay, granted, I’ve got some pretty high standards, but there are two things in the coverage of Transworld that really didn’t help. First, and most traditional, the animatronic props are frankly really, really fake looking for the most part. If you look at some of the displays, the props move in a very jerky motion, they bounce around and don’t move naturally at all. Electronic props are often very loud and you can hear all of the servos whir with every movement. Air-powered props are even worse and I really don’t understand why these companies don’t quiet their air props. It can be done, you just wrap the valve in cloth and duct tape to muffle the noise, but every single air prop I saw, it was PSSSST! PSSSST! It downed out the sound from the convention floor, you could hear props from other booths at the other end of the venue! I’d never want anything like that at my haunt, it would ruin the ambiance!
Second, the move toward digital projection scenery and effects. Now I have nothing especially against digital effects but when that’s all a haunt is, when it’s just a bunch of TV screens with images on them, I stop being interested. Haunts, like movies, can’t just be a bunch of special effects, they have to have actual actors, actual effects, there has to be reality to it, otherwise you might as well stay home and watch it on TV. In fact, that’s something I’ve been critical of with home displays for years, lots of people are foregoing physical effects and just setting up a projector to show scary things on their walls. Sure, the first couple of times you see it, it might be cute, but afterwards, forget it. I can see limited usefulness for digital projection scenery, but if there isn’t someone really jumping out at me, never mind, I’m going home.
A third problem, although it really isn’t new so I’m not going to blame Transworld or their vendors, is that virtually all of the rubber or silicone masks that they make just look fake. Yes, I know they are, but they’re just a piece of rubber on your head and they look like it. Over time, some vendors have done some really nice work with high-end silicone masks that cost an arm and a leg and while they look better, they still look like a hunk of rubber. Commercial masks, and even most commercial props including the stuff at Transworld, the paint jobs are typically awful. On those rare occasions that I actually buy a commercial prop and don’t just make it myself, the first thing I do is pull out my airbrush and redo the paint from top to bottom. It’s not hard, it doesn’t take much time, it isn’t expensive but it has to be done by someone who cares and has a little skill and maybe the Chinese who are painting these things have none of that. That is a problem. But the props that are made, including the ones costing thousands of dollars at Transworld, mostly look like they were painted by a bored 4 year old. If I’m paying that much for a prop, I shouldn’t have to take it home and redo it again myself. That’s what I’m paying them for.
If you’ve got about 9 hours to waste, I’ll give you the first video (of 17) that I watched and you can go on from there. Really, it’s just going from vendor to vendor, seeing what each of them have, some of it is really interesting, some of it isn’t, there were parts where I jumped ahead because I really didn’t care what was going on, but even so, it’s a lot of time to take to see a trade show in this much detail. Hope you enjoy!