Transworld 2018: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town!
By Noah Wullkotte
The annual Halloween & Attractions Show celebrates its 10th year of being in St. Louis, MO. The trade show was larger than ever with frightening animatronics, Christmas decor, and much more. This is a wild and crazy trade show with any type of product you could imagine. This will be our 11th year attending this massive gathering of ghouls. We can confidently say that Transworld has evolved big time. We noticed right away that there were more food vendors. There were mini donuts, deep fried egg rolls and more.
They’ve literally rolled out the red carpet for haunters this year and the sounds of air compressors, sirens and screams echoed throughout the convention center. One of the popular new products is Unit 70 Studios Pennywise animatronic which was at the Halloween Productions booth. The video of this bone chilling animatronic has been viewed on Facebook nearly 20 million times. This impressive prop is more or less a different take on the Krampus animatronic from Unit 70 Studios 2 years ago. It’s been altered to resemble a half clown, half spider version of Pennywise the Clown who has his grips on Georgie who had his arm bitten off. Hear Georgie scream in terror as he squirms.
I can’t say that there was a must have product at this year’s show. In previous years there was the claustrophobia tunnel, LED Spotlights, The Asylum Door, electric firecrackers and of course silicone masks. It was more or less the same old thing. The Dark Zone was a bit disappointing since a big section wasn’t lit up. Hazard Room Productions had problem after problem and just couldn’t get their animatronics working properly. Scarefactory had a mixture of props with most of them being illuminated with night club style lighting. Their new zombie brain toss game was unique, but I don’t see it being a big seller. I noticed right away that there were less and less companies offering CGI animatronics. Pale Night Productions had a few, but it wasn’t their priority. Their booth mostly consisted of Escape Room props,virtual reality and interactive animatronics.
A big issue with some of the prop companies was that many ran out of ideas. They relied too much on popular franchises such as IT, Disney’s Haunted Mansion, The Conjuring and more. Poison Props alone had 3 props inspired by different movies including Annabelle. There were some standout booths including the company Scare Products. Their booth was set up like a mini Wal-Mart full of severed limbs, blood, gore and more. Ghost Ride Productions was also quite impressive. Their characters are very realistic and I loved the rotten Porch Pumpkins they were selling. They were so damn cute.
(Here’s Froggy’s Fog’s ghostly booth at Transworld 2018.)
Escape Room City was slightly bigger than last year, but once again it was a ghost town. There were very few buyers walking through this area. There were more Christmas vendors compared to last year, but some of these Christmas companies are isolated from the haunt vendors. I’m happy that there will be a Christmas Show in 2019. The Christmas Lights and Events industry is huge and more haunts are organizing their own Christmas events.
There were definitely some cool booths at this year’s Transworld. Froggy’s Fog had glowing ghosts that moved up and down. They always seem to have one of the best looking booths and the best fog juice in the business. Their Laser Fog Swamp was a big hit last year. Every other haunt I toured seemed to have their own version. Gore Galore celebrated their 20th year of fear. Their small actormatronics were the highlight of their booth. Their new Goat Priest costume was pretty cool as well. There were plenty of mask companies including Immortal Masks which offers some of the most detailed silicone masks around. Their booth was massive and took up lots of floor space. Their glow in the dark masks were pretty haunting.
Distortions Unlimited has always been one of the most popular companies at Transworld and this year they seemed to have a little bit of everything including some Christmas props. There were evil elves, Santa, Mrs. Claus and even a snowman that blew snow out its nose. It was also the first time they showcased their Sleeping Giant animatronic at Transworld. It’s been around forever, but it’s still very impressive. They didn’t have anything groundbreaking, but everything they offer is high quality.
Skeletons and More is always a fan favorite. Who doesn’t love glowing skulls, skeletons, realistic candles, and chandeliers made of bones? Companies like Creepy Collection and Midnight Studios FX offer very detailed props that are wax museum quality. My jaw just hits the floor when I walk past their booths. I of course can’t forget about Nightscream Studios which has focused more on vacuform wall panels over the last couple of years and their sets are gorgeous. I loved walking through their booth that featured walls lined with skeletal remains, lanterns, stone, moss and even ancient statues. There are always smaller companies that don’t seem to get much recognition. The Gemini Company is one of them. They offer oddities such as two headed babies, mutated bird skeletons and things that will make your skin crawl. One year they even had a replica of the Elephant Man’s Skeleton.
Transworld is the largest haunt industry trade show of its kind with everything your sick and twisted mind can dream of. But they also have seminars, workshops, special events, parties, haunt tours and more. It took us a few days to explore the show floor and haunts are bound to find something they can use to enhance a scene. We’re excited to see what the show has to offer in 2019 since it’s promised to be the biggest ever with the addition of the Christmas Show. We’ll see you next time at Transworld, the show of shows!