In today's Halloween market, or more specifically,
props, originality is a must for survival.
Companies must strive to re-invent themselves, or in
some cases, invent themselves by coming up
with fresh, new ideas that the public has not seen
yet. Everybody has seen the "trash can jumpers"
and the "electric chairs". The same thing after a
while can become stale and get left behind in
today's market. Unit 70 Studios
one such company that has approached this
problem head on and solved it with new and
products for the haunt industry.
Unit 70 Studios was founded in January 2003 by Bo Bruns and is based in Columbus, Ohio.
Originally, Bo had wanted to get into the Hollywood special effects, but while in college,
majoring in a degree for computer animation, he discovered the Halloween industry. The demand for
fabricated creatures, rather than computer generated creatures, in this industry appealed to him.
He then began working for a local prop company while still in school and was promoted to
artist of the company, where he remained for several years. After getting married, Bo decided
it would be in his best interest to branch out on his own; hence Unit 70 Studios.
Unit 70 is ran by Bo Bruns and Steven Keegan and occasionally a handful of friends who help them
with production. When I asked Bo about how well they had been received at the Chicago TransWorld
show, he said that they had been "very well received" and even made mention of the fact that they
are quickly outgrowing their production facility and are needing to find a larger facility for
their company. "We are almost all filled up for taking orders this season". Even with the need
for a larger building, I'm sure they couldn't be happier with the response that they have gotten
from this industry in the short time that they have been around.
Uniqueness is something that sets Unit 70 Studios apart from other companies in this business.
Many of the props offered in their premiere line are fresh and new to this industry. I asked Bo
what he aims for when he comes up with concepts for new products and he explained, "We try to think
of ways to create a scare that's totally unexpected. Like with "Koi"; nobody expects this huge
serpent to be in a flower pot. We aim to fit a prop where you wouldn't normally fit one to create
the best scare possible."
In the beginning of this article, I talked about the new and innovative products being offered by
Unit 70 Studios. Below, you'll get a chance to familiarize yourself with some of the impressive
animations and props. So without further hesitation, here's a glimpse of what's "fresh off the
slab" at Unit 70 Studios.
This creature stands 13 feet tall until it is activated. When it is activated, it leans forward,
lowering it's head, staring at you eye-to-eye. It then begins shaking it's head violently and
roaring. This prop is truly larger-than-life.
This actor-operated prop features an Egyptian mummy resting in a crate. When activated, the mummy
lunges out at the viewer, it's mouth opens and it's arms are outstretched, as if trying to grab
the viewer. The legs bend and the character pivots at the waist to give a full range of motion.
A corpse rests in a crate until activated. Once activated, the character begins walking towards
the guest. The character walks a length of 8 feet and features leg/foot movement, waist rotation
and arm spring, which give it a very realistic walking motion.
These life size skeleton "statues" stand guard in your haunt, armed with a spear. They feature a
flame "gag" in the top of their head and can be used as still statues, or can be operated to
rotate approximately 90 degrees to "follow" the guest. This prop is very effective when two of
them are used as a pair to "follow" your guests' every move.
An ordinary looking flower pot holds a horrifying surprise for the viewer. As the guest walks by,
a slime covered serpent lunges out of the pot, ready to devour the guest.
Not just limited to animations, Unit 70 offers still characters as well. These still characters
are life-size, at about 6' each, come with a stand for display and can be posed in various
positions. The still characters come in many of the styles offered with the animations, such as
"Fangol", "Belmont" (both pictured), "Osirus" and "Chainsaw Charlie" to name a few,
as well as three static characters which aren't used with any of their animations that include an
old man, a
female body on a 'slab' and a pirate skeleton (All pictured below).
In addition to these products, Unit 70 is also working on a line of realistic weapons/accessories
made from foam-filled latex. This line of accessories include items such as hammers, axes and chainsaws. Not
only do they look incredibly realistic, but they are much safer than traditional accessories and
very lightweight as well. These products will retail for around $30. In the works right now is a
full lineup of Halloween masks to be released early this summer. The first mask under development
is a menacing two-headed creature, resembling something out of a twisted sideshow. Hopefully,
the masks, as well as the weapons/accessories line will hit retail Halloween stores this Fall.
With staying fresh and on top of things seemingly being the determining factor whether a company
will survive or go under in this business, Unit 70 Studios seems to be up to the challenge. With
their premiere lineup for 2003 and even more products in the works, we can only wait and see what
new and horriffic products they bring to the table in the future. There is no denying the fact
that Bo and Steven have the talent, creativity and ability to deliver top quality, high-impact
scares for this industry. If they continue to deliver fresh new concepts for the haunting
community, I can see Unit 70 going far in this industry. But, only time will tell what the future
holds for this talented group.