Big Mouth Billy Bass
Big Mouth Billy Bass is an animatronic singing prop, representing a largemouth bass, invented by Gemmy Industries on December 16, 1998; sold beginning January 1, 1999; and popular in the early 2000s.
Gemmy (\ˈjem-ē\) is an American novelty manufacturing company, best known for its animatronic and inflatable characters. It is currently headquartered in Coppell, Texas. Founded in 1984, the company originally began producing ballpoint pens. Gemmy eventually ventured into novelty manufacturing, and in 2000, it achieved marketing success with the Big Mouth Billy Bass. Following that success, the company began predominately making animatronic figures focused on the Christmas and Halloween seasons. The company distributes product internationally, especially to the United Kingdom.
Design and features
The fish is made of latex rubber with an internal plastic mechanical skeleton. At first glance, the product appears to be a mounted game fish. The item was conceived by a Gemmy Industries product development vice president following his visit to a Bass Pro Shop. The mounted fish turns its head towards a person, wiggles its tail on the trophy plaque, and sings kitschy cover songs, such as "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin; and "Take Me To The River" by Al Green. Green claims he received more royalties from Big Mouth Billy Bass than from any other recordings of the song.
The singing mechanism was originally activated by a motion sensor and was designed to startle a passerby. Eventually, a button was added to activate it. There have been many variants of Big Mouth Billy Bass produced by Gemmy. These use different types of game fish and aquatic animals. Variants include: Travis the Rainbow Trout, Cool Catfish, and Rocky Lobster.
Spin-offs and other versions
On December 7, 1999, a special holiday version of the Big Mouth Billy Bass was released. The fish had a Santa hat on his head and a ribbon with a sleigh bell on his tail. An anniversary edition followed in 2014.[better source needed]
In popular culture
The success of the Big Mouth Billy Bass has led to a number of pop culture appearances, including product placements. Some of the device's notable appearances include The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and WALL-E.
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