Concept Unification was the process at ShowBiz Pizza Place whereby Rock-afire Explosion stages were converted to the 3-Stage Munch's Make Believe Band format during the early 1990s. In addition, ShowBiz Pizza Place locations would be converted to Chuck E. Cheese's, while still retaining the "Where a Kid Can Be a Kid" jingle and slogan.
Following the merger between Pizza Time Theatre and ShowBiz Pizza Place, the combined company maintained the two restaurant brands simultaneously for several years. Each continued its own stage shows and sold different merchandise. However, in the latter part of the decade, difficulties between Creative Engineering and ShowBiz began to arise. In 1988, Aaron Fechter, the founder of Creative Engineering and creator of the Rock-afire Explosion, stated that the fallout between his company and ShowBiz arose when ShowBiz asked him to sign away the licensing and copyrights to the Rock-afire Explosion, which would have allowed ShowBiz to cut production costs on the show, such as the manufacture of future shows and royalty payments to Creative Engineering. Fechter refused, both on the grounds that ShowBiz offered no monetary compensation for the rights, and because Fechter had hoped to make a cartoon series based on the band.
Due to the difficulties with Creative Engineering, which owned The Rock-afire Explosion, ShowBiz Pizza Time opted to replace The Rock-afire Explosion with a different stage show. To that end, ShowBiz test marketed the use of licensed characters, ultimately deciding to test Hanna-Barbera's Yogi Bear and Boo Boo at three ShowBiz locations for one year.
The company ultimately decided to initiate a process called "Concept Unification", in which all ShowBiz Pizza locations would be remodeled into Chuck E. Cheese locations. The remodel included the elimination of all Rock-afire characters from merchandise and advertising, and the retrofitting of the Rock-afire animatronics into a new show called Munch's Make Believe Band, featuring the Pizza Time Players. Unused animatronics and props were either sold to other restaurants or destroyed.
Concept Unification began in 1990 and occurred sporadically at ShowBiz locations for the next two years, with the final ShowBiz being converted in 1992 (some sources state that the conversion lasted until 1993). As Concept Unification began at each location, the right and center stages of the Rock-afire show were shut down, leaving only the Rolfe and Earl characters operational. During this period, the characters performed "The Rolfe and Earle Show" (sic), featuring the voices of ShowBiz employees imitating the characters. The two ran a highlights reel of old Rock-afire shows, and hinted at the coming Chuck E. Cheese themed show. "The Rolfe and Earle Show" was the final Rock-afire show produced for ShowBiz Pizza Place. After Concept Unification had been completed on the center and left stages, Rolfe became Chuck E. Cheese, while Earl was completely removed.
The term can also be applied to Pizza Time Theatre locations, which had the Balcony, Rocker, and C-Stages; these stages were converted into 1-, 2-, and Road Stages in the 1990s. The former PTT animatronics were redressed to resemble their 3-Stage counterparts during the transition, and rearranged so they would be in the same left-to-right order as on a 3-Stage.
Several ShowBiz locations disagreed with Concept Unification and became independent chains such as Circus Pizza and Billy Bob's Wonderland, among others. All had full support from Creative Engineering, and either went out of business or were reacquired by Chuck E. Cheese corporate and subjected to the Concept Unification process.
In a process lasting approximately one week, the stages were converted from The Rock-afire Explosion to Munch's Make Believe Band. The stage conversion was first performed on center stage and stage left, followed by stage right on the last night of the conversion. During the conversion, the restaurant would run the one-stage "Rolfe and Earle Show" showtape.
- Playthrough of the Rolfe and Earle showtape, ensuring that the Rolfe DeWolfe and Earl Schmerle animatronics are in the best working condition possible. This check was required to be completed no later than the Wednesday morning prior to the Sunday where installation would begin.
- Firm scheduling of the installation of the neon Chuck E. Cheese sign with Heath Sign Company.
- Removal and destruction of all props on center stage and stage left.
- Removal of Fatz' keyboard from the stage, and disconnection of all air lines that feed to the characters on center stage and stage left.
- Removal of all cosmetics from characters on center stage and stage left.
- Removal of all animatronics from center stage and stage left.
- Removal of all carpeting, floor lighting, and backdrops on center stage and stage left, and cleaning the stages.
- Closure of obsolete hardware access points, and opening of new hardware access points for animatronics on center stage and stage left.
- Installation of new carpet, floor lighting, and scenery on center stage and stage left.
- Reinstallation of animatronics in new locations on center stage and stage left.
- Reinstallation of the keyboard.
- Installation of the Wink.
- Application of cosmetics for Helen Henny, Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, and Munch Jr. on center stage, and for Pasqually and Pizzacam on stage left.
- Exchanging the brown eyes in Rolfe's animatronics with the blue eyes in Beach Bear's animatronics, giving Jasper brown eyes and giving Chuck E. blue eyes.
- Exchanging of the old front panel of the keyboard with the new front panel.
- Removal of all cosmetics from stage right.
- Removal of all props and scenery from stage right.
- Removal of all animatronics from stage right.
- Removal of carpeting from stage right, and cleaning the stage.
- Painting the 2x4 header on stage right black.
- Installation of new carpeting and backdrop on stage right.
- Installation of star on stage right.
- Reinstallation of Rolfe & Earl animatronic on stage right.
- Installation of the large screen TV on stage right.
- Exchanging the old "right arm assembly" containing the Earl animatronic with another right arm for Chuck E. Cheese.
- Application of cosmetics for Chuck E. Cheese on stage right.
- Installation of the two small televisions above center right.
- Repositioning of lights on light bar, and installation of helicopter light.
- Replacement of the old EPROM with the 3.3 EPROM in control room.
- Adjustment of air pressure, light positions, and VCR.
- Installation of Chuck E. Cheese neon sign on stage right.
|Rock-afire character||CEC character|
|Billy Bob||[Not used]|
|Mitzi Mozzarella||Helen Henny|
|Beach Bear||Jasper T. Jowls|
|Fatz Geronimo||Mr. Munch|
|Rolfe DeWolfe||Chuck E. Cheese|
|Earl Schmerle||[Not used]|
|Moon||Moon [Not changed]|
- ^ a b c d The Rock-afire Explosion. Dir. Brett Whitcomb. Connell Creations, 2008.
- ^ The Rolfe and Earle Show (Cyberstar) Show Tape Review
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Concept Unification Installation, Part 1". ShowBiz Pizza Time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXCrVNEwGxM. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i "Concept Unification Installation, Part 2". ShowBiz Pizza Time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1do6KJVkkH0. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Concept Unification Installation, Part 3". ShowBiz Pizza Time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx8UZ5xyh34. Retrieved 2013-01-09.