Those two identical looking zoned-out fellows above were photographed at the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 8. The picture was first posted on the Popular Mechanics website. In quick succession that day, it showed up on YouTube, www.elvismatters.be, and then www.elvisnews.com, which is where I discovered the photo.
The ElvisNews.com text read: “The Wowwee Company will release a ‘living’ Elvis head, under an official EPE license. The robot version of the Comeback Elvis can sing 8 songs, has 30 quotes and a karaoke function. You can turn off Elvis’ voice and with the included microphone, you can hear your voice coming out of the head. The company says the final release will look a lot more realistic. Release date – summer 2007, estimated price $349.”
Below the ElvisNews.com text was an arrow to click on and watch the one-minute YouTube video of a reporter at the electronics show talking about the ‘living’ Elvis heads. Well, he was talking, but Elvis wasn’t. The head moved around slightly as a real one would during conversation, the mouth formed several positions as though pronouncing words, and the eyes moved (very realistically, I must admit.) But, there were no songs or quotes.
It appeared to me that the folks at Wowwee rushed a prototype to the show, but it couldn’t do any of the audio things promised. Even worse, it didn’t look like Elvis. Just having Elvis hair and the black leather ’68 Comeback Special shirt is not going to cut it. I checked out the company’s website, and there is not one word about this new product. However, they had blurbs on their big hit toys Robosapien and Robosapien Jr. (who dances to his own music, moves forwards and backwards, bumps off walls, spins, has light-up eyes, and makes funny sound effects.) It sure seems like one big leap in technology to go from Robosapien Jr. to what is promised for the Comeback Elvis head.
ElvisNews.com allows comments by their registered readers, and the Talking Elvis Head article prompted 58 responses within two days. By far, the majority of them were negative – some real negative. This was not surprising, because there’s a group of EPE-haters out there just waiting for some new thing to complain about, and this riled them up big time.
Some of the responses were:
“This defies belief.”
“Come on – a freaky Elvis impersonator head.”
“Just another pointless disrespectful ploy to make money.”
“This latest product is literally digging the bottom of the trash bin.”
“That enough people would be stupid enough to buy it for $349 is simply impossible to believe. I’m actually stunned.”
Of course, there were a few folks who liked the idea:
“Personally, I think that in this product we are looking at the future. I think it is fantastic and I expect the technology, when perfected, to be used in future productions of ‘Elvis In Concert’ and ‘Cirque du Soleil.’ New technology is the way to go for Elvis. The model featured is only a prototype, but just imagine a few years down the line.”
And some folks showed their sense of humor:
“Why is this more crappy than any other Elvis souvenir out there?”
“Perhaps they have plans to license some company in China with a doll that breaks wind to 'Love Me Tender'.”
“And if they can make the head sing “Dominic” I think they might have a hit.” ('Dominic' is the song about an impotent bull from the movie Stay Away Joe.)
I though it was interesting that many people offered their opinion on who the Elvis head really looked like:
Uncle Jesse of Full House
Goran Visnjic of ER
So, what is the official Elvisblog position on the talking Elvis head? I think the idea is a little weird, but I like it. Or at least I would if they absolutely get Elvis’ face right. That should be something they can accomplish. I don’t think I would fork out $349 of my money to buy one, but if I ever came across one at a theme park arcade, I would gladly stick some bills in the dollar slot to hear him sing “Hound Dog” and say lines like “Play it, James” and “I don’t sound like nobody.”
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net