BOULDER CITY (KTNV) — Every business owner is hoping for good fortune. But a Nevada Built business is literally making their own. That's right, they're creating their own good fortune inside a Boulder City workshop. It's fair to say the owner there, is no dummy.
Since 1987, Characters Unlimited in Boulder City has been turning the dummy business into a global business.
"We've shipped to South America, Europe, China, Russia," said Olaf Stanton.
"But mostly the United States and Canada are our main customers."
Among his cast of characters, the biggest of the big: Zoltar. A different version was first made famous in the 1988 movie "Big" starring Tom Hanks.
"We found out in 2006, there wasn't a trademark on a Zoltar machine, or really anything Zoltar," says Stanton.
So Stanton jumped at the chance to use the name and copyright it.
"Zoltar is here to tell you. You can believe it," said animatronic fortune teller, Zoltar.
The savvy business move leading to Liberty Mutual using Stanton's Zoltar in a recent commercial.
"We actually came out with a t-shirt which shows Zoltar riding away on the unicycle," said Stanton.
We took a tour of the Boulder City facility that Stanton runs, along with his adult children.
"This is like, almost like a museum feel to it, to some aspect," said Todd.
"Yeah, so nobody else really does what we do. We're making a high scaler character right now for the Hoover Dam. It's going to be a fortune teller and it'll be on the Arizona side," said Stanton.
Chances are you have likely spotted one of Stanton's creations at tourist destinations in front of places like souvenir shops and restaurants.
"If you're ever at Knott's Berry Farm, remember the guy in the jail cell that talked to you? That kind of simple thing sticks in people's minds and they remember it forever," said Stanton.
Using simple animatronics, molds...
"We're going to take this stuff here. Pour it in here. It's a latex material," said Stanton.
And sometimes wireless mics.
This Nevada Built business is using kitsch to ignite nostalgia for adults and create memories for kids.
"Especially now with video games and the way graphics are becoming so detailed, it's like a movie. How do you compete against that?" asked Todd.
"You know, we're not like the high-end animatronics where they pay a quarter-million dollars for a Disney-type animatronic," said Stanton.
BELIEVE IN THE PRODUCT
And Stanton has no plans on changing things up.
"You got to believe in your product and we truly do," said Stanton.