Best Buy had a great idea: Use Puppets!

The Character Shop creates a smorgasbord of Rod Puppets for extensive Christmas '16 Campaign.

For the 2016 Holiday Season, Best Buy's Ad Agency, Grey, came up with a huge package of 14 spots. It was like a giant Christmas present that kept on giving! The driving concept was that, since Best Buy was making shopping and shipping so easy, it's as if...everyday items came to life and made your life even easier. This resulted in scenarios such as: a Turkey basting itself, Nutcrackers who make breakfast for you, Christmas Trees that bring themselves home, Poinsettias that babysit, Mistletoe that's got your back, and Robots who make small talk for you.

Grey's Ad Agency hired Harold Einstein, owner of the Production Company "Dummy", because of his wit, his style, and his incredible enthusiasm and respect for the Agency brief. Harold comes in and makes everything funnier and better. He also once again tapped Rick Lazzarini and The Character Shop to create an incredible variety of puppets to bring home the message(s).

First up: A hilarious spot featuring Nutcrackers who are giving it their level best to give a helping hand in the kitchen. Given that Nutcracker's brains are the size of peas and made of wood, least their hearts are in the right place!

The Nutcrackers were equipped with servo-powered jaws and head pivots, with the rest of the movements of the arms, etc articulated by rods, and ultimately, a talented team of TCS Puppeters. VFX Geniuses iat the Mill hit the magic "erase" button and POOF! No more visible rods, rigs, wires, or Puppeteers!

Next: It's the HOLIDAYS, people! You've got places to go, things to meet, and people to do! You're preparing that sumptuous meal for a huge gathering...can you really afford to baste the turkey every 10 minutes? No, the answer is: You can't. That's why we invented the self-basting Turkey. So turn the lights down low, turn on some Barry White, and slip into something comfortable, because it's about to get a in here...

The Turkey puppet was molded from a real (real tasty!) Turkey, then cast in soft, translucent silicone. It was then painted to look a deliciously done golden brown, and rods inserted in the wings and legs. A special basting syringe was also equipped with a rod and a remote squeeze bulb, sending glistening juices running down the breast and thighs...excuse me a moment. I need to catch my breath.

And hey; those Holiday Office Parties. The Mistletoe. That's just a bunch of uncomfortable yuck waiting to happen. USUALLY. Not this time, kids. Sentient Mistletoe, in the hands of The Character Shop's Ninja Puppeteers, detects a threat and MOVES OUT. No need to thank us; it's our job:

The Mistletoe was a hybrid of custom-cast and painted silicone tendrils, for that rubber-leggy look, and high quality synthetic Mistletoe. 3 TCS Puppeteers had to coordinate and rehearse their moves with great precision, so they didn't get their lines (or legs) crossed.

You and your wife are out gift shopping for Junior. Junior's at home with a fresh plate of home-baked cookies. But you're not worried. You've got a special security system, courtesy of The Character Shop:

Once again, the crafty craftsfolk at TCS melded together high-end synthetic Poinsettia leaves with custom silicone stalks, to allow for the movement desired. TCS Lead Puppeteer Rick Lazzarini designed the slapping leaf to be padded; no sense hurting the other talent!

The Future is here. We have robots to vaccuum our floors, to clean out our gutters. But what we really need is a Robot that listens to Uncle Joe's tall tales. Look at 'em go, all day long. Fine with me; I got a game to watch!

The Robot was fabricated primarily from scratch; the arms and torso were from another robot TCS had in stock, and were incorporated into a new design, with Rod operation of the head, arms, and body, and Radio Control of the eyebrow flippers, voice control of his "voice gauge", and infrared control of his display lights.

Finally; we save the best for last. Why fight the crowds, why trudge down to a flea-bitten parking lot with surly attendants and half-brown trees? You didn't plan ahead did you? Well, now, that worry is a thing of the past. We give you: The Traveling Christmas Tree:

The Tree started out as a high-end artificial tree, but the Elves at TCS soon rigged it to have arms! And a hat! And a...face...kind of! Also to sway, to shuffle, to locomote, by means of special controls and dolly, later erased in Post. The idea was to elicit the world-weariness and shambling, but good-at-heart sense of John Candy in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", or "Uncle Buck". It's a great example of how The Character Shop imbues inanimate objects with personality, grace, movement and...character!


Whether you're a Producer, Art Director, Prop Master, or Production Designer, you can have incredible animatronic creations for your Production. Need incredible imagination and technological wizardry for your Film, Television Show, or Live Event? Contact The Character Shop at 805-306-9441 or lazzwaldo at!


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