Robot Trump has landed in the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom. And while nearly everything involving our current Commander in Chief has proven controversial, one wouldn’t expect the Disney theme parks to end up in the middle of a Donald Trump kerfuffle. And yet they are. Their newest animatronic has been almost universally panned and is the subject of ongoing ridicule, not so much for what he says, but for how he looks.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains an update from sources within Disney)
Let’s take a gander at the animatronic from Attraction Magazine:
Many viewers have compared the Trump animatronic to Hillary Clinton in stature and composition. Some supposing that Disney had built a Hillary animatronic, assuming that she would win the election, and ended up retrofitting it to look like Donald Trump. One visitor likened the look of this machine to Roger Ebert, and many more think it looks like actor Jon Voight. Opinion on the look of this robot is nearly universally negative. But why?
We reached out to some experts in the field to find out what makes a successful animatronic tick and look for clues on why this one misses the mark.
According to our expert:
“The Donald Trump figure has a few very obvious features that cause it not to look like Trump. First, the skin doesn’t seem to be adhering properly to the underskull, which looks like it’s causing distortion to the silicone face. This is not uncommon for figures with expression in the face and is tough to get around. The face’s coloring looks off as well, too pale and not enough of the signature orange look. The teeth are also off, with only the bottom teeth visible over a pretty weak lower jaw/chin, which is off-model from the real Trump. In the same way, the mouth movements aren’t convincingly moving the skin like a real person would, and there seem to be some functions missing that would sell the illusion.
At the same time, the eyes look odd, they diverge too much and aren’t focused. From a figure finishing standpoint, the hair is the wrong color, too grey and not orange enough. The costume is sloppy and fits poorly, which is a challenge because you want to avoid fabric rubbing on painted silicone, yet the gaps on the jacket collar are unrealistically large across the shoulders, which look too flat and broad. The body and arms move very well and are programmed exceptionally well. The hands seem to have had a few issues, with many videos showing them not moving at all. The thumbs don’t seem to have enough range to sell the “thumbs up” pose, and the pinkies seem to have issues consistently moving. The hands also don’t have a finger splay, which would add greatly to hand poses. Overall, it seems like all the big issues are in the face, which is, of course, a major part of it, but from an animatronic standpoint, it’s still an impressive character—the programming of the body and arms is exceptional.”
The Trump facial sculpt is the latest in a series of poor lookalikes for the presidents. From what I understand, Trump is almost certainly a digital scan of the real president, which was somewhat poorly altered. It takes a huge amount of skill to manipulate a digital scan for animatronics and it looks like whoever worked on Trump was unable to make the adjustments necessary to create a realistic final sculpt.
Disney is famous for their animatronics, which is why this one is so jarring to look at. It makes matters worse that the person being portrayed is the leader of the free world. All of which has made this character the butt of jokes from the late-night comics – Some of whom are STILL making fun of this figure nearly two weeks since it was revealed.
Jimmy Fallon takes a stab:
Seth Meyer is STILL showing the Trump animatronic nightly:
Even Madame Tussauds, the wax museum folks, made a jab at Disney last week when they posted a photo of their Trump (on the left) next to Disney’s:
ME AT THE START OF 2017 VS ME NOW pic.twitter.com/ydZsTNNAjT
— Tussauds Orlando (@TussaudsOrlando) December 19, 2017
For reference, here’s the actual Donald Trump (below). Who did it best?
So, who built this Animatronic Trump? I’ve seen several sites mention that they think it was built by Garner Holt Productions. But I’ve been able to confirm that they had nothing to do with the figure. And that’s a shame in my opinion as GHP has recently unveiled the most advanced human animatronic head ever produced. They could easily fix this figure or upgrade it to the new state-of-the-art.
Here’s a video the folks at Garner Holt posted this holiday season of their newest figure. The eyes, expressions, even skin texture is astounding. Why not have the current president be at least this real? The technology exists.
Whether Disney produced this figure internally or outsourced it to a vendor, they did have full creative control. Considering that Disney generally unveils their new presidents in time for 4th of July, this one was already many months overdue. They had plenty of time to make it look perfect. So why didn’t they? Curious to say the least. Even the most casual observer can see that this figure has problems. And perhaps that’s what Disney decided to go with. Just perhaps, this is a subtle jab at an unpopular president.
UPDATE: A well-placed source within the Disney Company contacted us to comment on the Hall of Presidents. According to the source, the primary reason for the delay in the opening of the attraction was a major renovation and upgrade of the theater, including screens and sound system, including associated show control systems.
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