Characters Unlimited is a local business with international clients. They recently completed a special project for a customer in Atlantic City: the world’s largest Zoltar (seen above)! The fortune telling character is more than 10 feet tall and weighs about 950 pounds! It towers over everything else on the production floor and will be a spectacular sight in its new home.
Olaf Stanton, the company owner, grew up in Wisconsin Dells, WI, a famous tourist attraction in the Midwest. He learned the art of constructing static characters from his stepfather, and upon his graduation from college, he moved to Boulder City and began Characters Unlimited in 1987. Olaf, along with his wife, Krishun, and the family’s two cats, would travel the West and sell their characters on the road. The business’s motto is “Making Your Place an Attraction” and that’s exactly what their characters do. During their early years, Olaf began developing the animatronic characters the company is most well-known for. In 2006, the company became the exclusive manufacturer of Zoltar fortune telling machines.
During this period, the couple welcomed three children: Calandra, Karina, and Gunnar. All have worked for the family business ins some capacity and Karina and Gunnar are currently with the firm. Growing up, they saw their parents’ hard work and enjoyment and they plan to carry on the business. Gunnar will be traveling to the East Coast to install and set up the new Zoltar machine, while Karina continues to work with her parents managing the office and store.
In addition to Zoltar, the company has a range of other characters they routinely manufacture. They also do custom work, like the talking elk at our local Elks Lodge! The elk has be programmed to recite the Elks Creed. Some of the company’s other creations can be found around town at places like the Coffee Cup, Lake Mead Marina, Southwest Diner, Boulder City Company Store, the Western Mexican store, as well as various locations across southern Nevada. Don’t be surprised when you see the Zoltar image being used in slot machines at local casinos. They also have a series of mini Zoltar kits, t-shirts, stickers, mugs, hats, and more which can be purchased online by clicking HERE.
Olaf told us that his company has been in its current location on Foothill Court for almost 25 years now and they currently have a number of employees who help them manufacture their products. The process of creating the largest Zoltar took approximately three months to complete with Gunnar explaining the build is 1.55% of the average Zoltar machine. You can see in the picture above that it’s quite a large machine, compared the typical machine (pictured behind Karina and Gunnar). Each character is handcrafted and built to the customer’s unique specifications.
They also build character penny machines and on a recent visit to the shop, employees were sorting a box of pennies, choosing the newest and brightest pennies for the machines! These machines stamp an image on the pennies for customers to take as souvenirs of a visit. In addition to character penny machines, you can also try your luck with the Love Tester or Strength Tester machines. The manufacture of their various products are limited only by a customer’s imagination. Just take a look at the online catalog HERE! There are all sorts of static and animatronic choices that successfully make any location an attraction.
The company is active in the community as well. They have sponsored or donated to various local non-profit organizations over the years, like Boulder City Little League. You also see them at every parade, including the most recent Damboree, where their float is always one of the most popular ones along the route.
Characters Unlimited can be found on Instagram HERE, Facebook HERE, and Twitter HERE. For more information about the company’s products and pricing, click HERE. Zoltar maintains his own Instagram HERE and Facebook HERE.