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Freak out trick-or-treaters this year with high-tech Halloween animatronics

The best Halloween animatronics are the ultimate tool for a spooky atmosphere. With motion sensors, touch activation, remote starters, and LED lights, your costume party guests and trick-or-treaters will be in for a fun night of fright.
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Written by Sherin Shibu, Contributor on
Reviewed by Emery Wright

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it's time to decorate. Ditch your run-of-the-mill paper decorations and invest in some animatronics to make your house the spookiest on the block.

You make ask, what are animatronics? They are lifelike robots created solely for entertainment, and are often used in movies for special effects. You can level up your holiday decor with animatronics, creating a fun, festive, and in this case, scary scene. 

The Halloween animatronics below can make your home seem deeply haunted or simply Halloween-spirited, depending on your preference. ZDNET experts chose the best Halloween animatronics based on price, special features, and overall aesthetic.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • AAA battery-powered
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • LED lights, bulb included
  • Adjustable
cons
  • Batteries not included
More Details

Tech specs:

  • 6' H x 2' 6'' W x 7'' D
  • Weighs 1.5 lbs
  • Moves, speaks, and lights up
  • Needs 3 AA batteries

Wally the clown makes my heart pound in fear with just one glance. Wally is a gruesome animatronic, with flashing red eyes and an evil smile. Plus, he holds a doll in hand, combining two common fears -- clowns and dolls -- for the price of one! You can adjust his arms into a position that indicates "come closer" or straight up for a more playful position. 

Not only does the clown's body move, but he also laughs and "speaks" four surprisingly lengthy phrases: 

  • "Hey, you look familiar. Maybe because I've been hiding under your bed!"
  • That's it, come closer. I've got something for you, and it's not a balloon!"
  • "Oh, did I scare you? Good. You taste much better when you're scared."
  • "Good, run away. I'll catch up with you later in your nightmares!"
Pros & Cons
pros
  • AA battery-powered
  • Includes candy bowl, adapter, and instruction manual
  • Compatible with remote activator
cons
  • Batteries not included
  • Chair not included
More Details

Tech specs:

  • 54" H x 15" L x 17" W
  • Weighs 6 lbs
  • Moves and makes noise
  • Needs 4 AA batteries

This scarecrow is the perfect porch-sitting animatronic for Halloween. Children are in for both tricks and treats this year! Guarding a bowl of candy, the motion-activated scarecrow looks up quickly and cackles when someone reaches into the bowl -- it's an absolute jump scare. The scarecrow's clothes, hat and face are textured for extra spooky detail. Whoever braves his cackle and grabs some candy anyway is truly worthy of a treat.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • AA battery-powered
  • Five feet tall
  • Material: Heavy duty plastic
  • Non-toxic and safe materials
cons
  • Batteries not included
More Details

Tech specs:

  • 6' H x 2' 6'' W x 7'' D
  • Weighs 1.5 lbs
  • Moves, emits sound, and lights up
  • Needs 4 AA batteries

This five-foot-tall candelabra moves across flat surfaces and changes direction with bump-and-go technology when it hits a wall. With adjustable sound, you can switch the noise on or off depending on the indoor vibe you want. The Floating Candelabra seems person-like when it moves toward you, but luckily the candles are actually LED lights. Who controls the motion of the candelabra? It seems as though it moves wherever it pleases.

The gargoyle skull at the center of this decoration is creepy enough to be the centerpiece of your Halloween party. Add a fog machine, and you've set the scene for a spooky night.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • AA battery-powered
  • Six feet tall
  • Three spoken phrases
  • Stand included
  • Bendable limbs
cons
  • Not the scariest
More Details

Tech specs:

  • 6' H x 43'' W x 26'' D
  • Weighs 3.5 lbs
  • Moves, speaks, and lights up
  • Needs 3 AA batteries

This animatronic cackles, rotates, and her eyes flash white -- what more could you want in a Halloween decoration? The Talking Witch doesn't look that frightening, but the fear factor is all in her voice. She has three phrases:

  • "Eeeheheehe, beware!"
  • "You're not really scared, are you?"
  • "I would go back if I were you!"

Functional indoors and outdoors, this animatronic includes an optional plastic stand so you can create a broad Halloween display. Even though mounting accessories aren't included with the purchase, you have the option to hang her in trees or on porches for full effect. 

Her arms bend too, and at six feet tall, she is greater than life-sized. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • AA battery-powered
  • On/off switch
  • Magic ball lights up three colors
  • Fun phrases
cons
  • Mouth doesn't move
  • Indoor use only
  • Batteries not included
More Details

Tech specs:

  • 20" H x 19'' W x 16" D
  • Weighs 1.8 lb
  • Moves, speaks, and lights up
  • Needs 3 AA batteries

"My advice to you is... if you're too open-minded, your brain may fall out!" This fortune teller cracks jokes with a creepy laugh. Her eyes flash red and the crystal ball changes colors from purple to blue to green in her hands as she rotates and cackles.

If a five or six-foot-tall animatronic takes up to much space for you, this fortune teller will do the trick. She's less than two feet tall and perfect as an indoor decoration.

What is the best Halloween animatronic?

Wally the Clown is ZDNET's top pick for Halloween animatronics because it delivers long-lasting value and adds a creepy feel to your outdoor decorations. Wally is tall and combines two common themes, clowns and dolls, for the double the fear Halloween enthusiasts love.

Halloween animatronic

Price

Height

Features

Wally the Clown

$121.99

6 feet

Moves, speaks, and lights up

Sitting Scarecrow

$109.99

4.5 feet

Moves, speaks, and lights up

Floating Candelabra

$99.97

5 feet

Moves, emits spooky sounds, and lights up

Talking Witch

$63.07

6 feet

Moves, speaks, and lights up

Fortune Teller

$59.99

20 inches

Moves, speaks, and lights up

Which is the right Halloween animatronic for you?

Do you want an animatronic that doesn't speak at all? Go for the Floating Candelabra. How about a smaller animatronic (less than two feet tall) that moves, laughs, and talks from an indoor space? The Fortune Teller may be in your cards. Each of the animatronics on this list has a specific use that can make one more right for you than another.

Choose this Halloween animatronic

If you want…

Wally the Clown

Two fears in one

Sitting Scarecrow

To scare trick or treaters with motion-activation

Floating Candelabra

A animatronic that doesn't speak

Talking Witch

A tall indoor/outdoor animatronic

Fortune Teller

An indoor animatronic for a small space

How did we choose these animatronics?

With Halloween, decorations are a matter of personal preference. Do you prefer a magical cackling witch, a moving candelabra, or the ultra-scary clown? ZDNET's top five picks for Halloween animatronics includes an option for everyone. And each decoration has potential to liven up the holiday -- to animate it, if you will. 

We analyzed customer reviews, product ratings, features, and overall engagement to narrow down this list. And of course, price is always a factor.

Can you put Halloween animatronics outside?

It depends. Some animatronics are designed for indoor use only while others can weather the elements while retaining functionality. Most animatronics on this list are marketed as suitable for indoor and outdoor use, but it's not a bad idea to place them on a porch for rain protection so they'll last a few years. 

Are Halloween animatronics waterproof?

While many Halloween animatronics are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, they're probably not going to withstand the elements forever. Their decorative purpose could be thwarted by inclement weather. Err on the side of caution and cover any animatronics you purchase before a rainstorm. 

What is the most expensive Spirit Halloween animatronic?

Spirit Halloween stores will start popping up near you before the Halloween season, and the most expensive animatronics available right now are priced at $349.99. There are more expensive animatronics out there of course, but unless you're filming a movie and need a frightening, life-sized animatronic, why pay more?

Are there alternative animatronics worth considering?

There are many cool animatronics on the market that didn't make the top five. Here are three impressive animatronics that receive ZDNET's honorable mention: 

Editorial standards

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