Yes the quality is not like it used to be. I look at some of my old props built to last. New ones are flimsy do not holt up. Best example is fog machines my first on last years and now lucky to get 2 years at the most.
And there's a good reason why quality is declining. It's because costs keep going up, and more and more people just refuse to pay full price for props. They wait until 11/1 and buy them half off most of the time. So that prop that retails at $200 is going to sell at $100 on 11/1, which means the retailer is only going to pay about $60 for it, which means the manufacturer has to make it for about $40. How good a prop you think you're going to get for $40? Not very good.
Until people start paying full price or close to it for props, quality is gonna keep going down.
I think the quality of construction may be going down, but the amount of features and movement are going up. 10 years ago you would never see anything like a jumping spider or some of the animatronics of today that have many multiple forms of movement as well as different scripts they run through at such moderate prices. So these are not built to last, but they ARE built to get your attention.
just like almost everything else yes, the quality of store bought stuff has declined over the years :-(
but, people are still purchasing that stuff ... me included ... but relatively speaking, i think the prices haven't gone up as fast as the quality has gone down, so i thing that i'm getting more for my money than i used to ... of course, i modify everything i purchase anyways and i probably have more "disposable" $ than i used to as well, so,
My wife and I noticed that the spirit props this year are quite poor in comparison to the ones we bought the past 3 years. I was quite interested in the anamatronic zombie that looks burnt and you can connect fog to him as well for a smoking effect. We were pretty disappointed when we checked him out in store. It was also disappointing to see that at least half of the anamatronics in their displays had already quit working. wondering if they have changed manufactures this year.
Sadly, stores like Spirit are all too often the benchmark used to gauge prop quality. Comparatively, look at Distortions Unlimited, Unit 70, Midnight Studios F/X and some of the other high end prop makers and the quality is very much alive, albeit at a higher price. You do get what you pay for but good stuff is out there if you want to spend the money. Also, as mentioned building your own props, from tombstones to nice animations using solid readily available motors can be very rewarding and give you things no one else has. Look at the kits from forum member Diabolik. These are built to last for years, not just a season or two.
I have taken on the task to ad a few store bought things and make 1 project myself. Last year I made a Victorian fence with pillars. This year I am adding a skull arch and projection hologram in the window.
I think if you look at price versus quality from now and 10 years ago, you'll find that things have gotten better and worse. A $100 animatronic from 10 years ago (if you could even find one at that price) may have had 1 repetitive motion that was completely unconvincing. You can find some pretty awesome props for $100 now that have very good motion. Unfortunately it'll just be a plastic frame with a rubber head and some extremely cheap cloth woven around it, whereas the 10 year old prop would have been made from much better materials and look better when turned off.
I prefer properly Halloweenish props, and the high-end companies usually only do gore and shock value. Mainstream retailers have cool spooky stuff and some of it's really nice. Some of it has horrendous quality and falls apart after three uses, but most props can be improved by the consumer if they wish. Quality also varies by definition. While one person will love a campy, fun, Halloween prop, another will denounce it for cheesiness, saying that the concept it low-quality. It's meant to be seasonal, though, so if you're not making a hardcore haunted house, why does it matter?
Prior years I really wanted some of the animatronics you can find at Spirit. I backed off after reading some bad reviews. This year I found the Lunging Reaper at the Depot and I figured he looked so good, that even if he doesn't last long, he's still a decent static prop for $99.
Personally my wife has heard the same thing coming out of my mouth about props, Christmas trees and my biggest complaint is the toys. There were cheaply made toys when I grew up but its all garbage now. I have resorted at Christmas time to buying 20 year old toys still in the boxes in some occasions. Take the Ertl toys for instance, $50 for a plastic pice of crap. Even the $200 collectors editions are garbage. I didn't even bother buying any Halloween props this year besides a few items to dress up my own props. I'd rather spend $250 on a home built prop then pay $80 -$300 on a cheesie animated prop that is absolute garbage.
I went to Walmart this year to look for some of the animatronic props they carried a few years back... Now all you can get is in a 12"x12" box for $80... Seriously?? That's gonna last the month of October let alone next year... I went to spirit Halloween this year... Spent $40 per costume for the boys, killed me for what they got but they got what they wanted from what was available. Went to Walmart to buy a knife for one of the boys, wife taps me on the should, I turn around, same costume as the middle child's for $20.
My mother has some nice animatronic props she spent $150 a piece on that have lasted 3 or 4 years so far. Spirit Halloween I'd spend $200 for half that. I was impressed the first time I walked into a big Halloween store a few years back, I was so disappointed this year I just wanted to choke someone. The reason it's like this is because welive in a disposable age, stores would rather order a case of crap from China the know won't last the evening so you will come back next week and buy it again... Why? companies that used to make the good stuff have been run out of business or converted to making crap to stay alive.
Wife says my standards are too high... Maybe they are. I have bought a couple cheap masks this year for my props $25 or so, but I've spent $100 or $200 on a couple too, there is no comparison. The expensive masks... American made!!!
There are a lot of very nice, American-made, silicone masks that have come out over the past couple of years that are fantastic! But they also cost about $200-$400 since they are not mass produced. I started a business this year for custom made props, and they aren't cheap either. I've done three Creatures at $8,500 each. Most people aren't going to pay those prices but collectors will.
When it comes to the home haunter market, cheap and crappy is about all the market will pay for.
Some really good points (quality down in many cases, but different animations are up) in the discussion. To me, as Halloween decorating interest has grown, the non-hardcore haunters (like most here in the forum) are going to feel that the props that places like Spirit sells are going to be a waste of money. We have a much higher standard for the prop, what it will do, and how long it will last. The rest of the masses don't care. They want something they think is cool to buy so they can be a part of the Halloween fun. Spirit, for obvious business reasons, chooses to focus on the much larger market. Let's face it, they are the mega store for Halloween for most people.
Once you start building or modifying props, most of the Spirit stuff becomes less desirable. While I did buy the tall Pumpkin creeper from them last year, I primarily use them for inspiration (along with all the cool stuff I see here).
While the argument could be made that if they sold much higher quality stuff, the hardcore haunters would buy it, I believe the potential sales aren't going to outdo what they can get if they sell cheaper/mass market props.