Hacking a Robopet? Cool, definitely. Hacking a Robosapien? Very cool. Hacking a Robosapien V2? Fantastic - takes real chops. Hacking Santa Claus - hacking a full size, 5 foot tall, dancing, singing Santa? That's totally over the top!
Concealing the electronics in Santa's shoe
Even Maxwell Smart would be impressed.
Josh McCormick wanted to enter a local non-conformist art show, so he made an exploratory trip over to the Wal*Mart store and came back with a life sized animated Santa. It wasn't long before he figured out how it actually worked, and had a strategy for hijacking Santa's brains. Within a few days, with the help of a Parallax BASIC Stamp controller board he had Santa jumping to his tunes. He even figured out how to load up his new 'robot' with .WAV files that he had pre-recorded, and came up with a workable way to synchronize the audio with Santa's gyrations.
That would have been enough, more than enough, for most hackers, but Josh also went on to document the whole process and post it on the internet. His "Animated Singing Santa Hack" webpage (see link below) includes great photos (and one that's not so good), pin-outs, videos of Santa singing and dancing, his source code, and lots of other goodies.
Animated Singing Santa Hack - Josh McCormick's webpage
Hack A Day - Drunk Animatronic Santa - Hack a day post on Josh McCormick's Santa Hack