They appear in virtually every released game, and evolved over the years into a symbol of the Fallout franchise in general.
Vault Boy often appears in cross-promotions with other corporate products, such as with the Nuka Tapper holotape game, and was also to appear in some issues of the Hell's Chain Gang comic of Hubris Comics, but because of the Great War, the series was never produced.
In the Fallout games, Vault Boy is used to provide an iconic representation of almost all stats (perks, traits, skills, etc.) and items in later games available to the player character, being a generic representation of one's actions and survival, and also appearing in achievements and trophies for Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, as well as the mascot of the Fallout series itself. In appearance, he is a young male cartoon character with wavy blond hair, wearing a Vault jumpsuit. He most commonly expresses a wide grin but has been shown to make other facial expressions as well.
Relationship with the Pip-Boy
Vault Boy should not be confused with Pip-Boy, which is the name of the personal information processor used as a game interface in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, Fallout 76 and Fallout Tactics.
Made by RobCo, the Pip-Boy device has its own mascot shown on the plate of the Pip-Boy 2000 series in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout 76 (with pointy ears, red and yellow jumpsuit, red hair). In Fallout 76, the character was given the name Vault Boy 2000. The Pip-Boy 3000 model, created under a Vault-Tec/RobCo joint-venture, does not feature RobCo's own mascot.
While the name of the Vault-Tec mascot (round ears, blond hair, blue, and yellow Vault jumpsuit) is not present in the original games themselves, he was called Vault Man in the Fallout instruction manual. However, for some reason this name was forgotten - it was never used in any of the following Fallout content including games nor by any developers, only Vault Boy was used and became his real name.
According to Fallout developers Leonard Boyarsky (creator of the character) and Tim Cain, he was always referred to as Vault Boy or Fallout Boy, not Pip-Boy. The misconception stems from the fact that the developers of Fallout Tactics (Micro Forté) confused the two and called the Vault Boy - "Pip-Boy" (which even ended up being used also by Chris Avellone when he wrote the Fallout Bible).
The makers of Fallout 3 returned to the real name "Vault Boy" in the game itself, although confusingly enough he is still called "Pip-Boy" in the trademark legal documents.
The Vault Boy appears as a representation of almost all stats in all games and equipment in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. It also represented in Vault-Tec bobbleheads appearing in Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, and snow globes containing a Vault Boy appearing in Fallout: New Vegas.
He also appears in a Vault-Tec commercial on TV in the Fallout intro, in the "Leaving The Vault" Vault-Tec's video in Fallout 2, the What makes you S.P.E.C.I.A.L. public information video series in Fallout 4, and the You Will Emerge! educational film series in Fallout 76. He also appears as an actual person in a special encounter in Fallout Tactics, and in Shop-Tec interface in brown hair version in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
Vault Boy is, on some images or videos, accompanied by another Vault Boy who looks exactly the same but with black or brown hair, or with alternative Vault boyish things like creatures or items. On others, he is accompanied by Vault Girl. A black version of Vault Boy appears briefly in the "Leaving The Vault" video in Fallout 2, with his hair fashioned in a crew cut.
Behind the scenes
- The character was originally designed by Leonard Boyarsky, based partly on Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly board game, and then drawn for Fallout by George Almond for the first few cards and then by Tramell Ray Isaac, who finalized the look of the character as he is known today.
- Brian Menze was responsible for all new Vault Boy images in Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas and largely followed Tramell Ray Isaac's finalized style.
- Natalia Smirnova drew all Vault Boy images in Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76, and further animated in 4 and 76. Smirnova's Vault Boys are easily recognizable with a short and stout stature and beadier eyes.
- Fallout Tactics Vault Boys were drawn by Ed Orman.
- Leonard Boyarsky said about the first Vault Boy concept art that "this is the first ever drawing of the "skill guy" as I originally called him. I did it to show everyone what I was going on about. It was then given to George Almond, who did the first few initial cards (and began the progression from what you see in this pic to the final version). Tramell Isaac (T.Ray) then took over the cards and did the rest of them, finalizing his "look.""
- He also appeared in the 2002 action-adventure third-person shooter video game Run Like Hell: Hunt or Be Hunted (a game that was also made by Interplay), on candy bars called "PIP Boy Protein Bars™," with the Vault Boy Buffout addiction image on them.
- A Vault Boy bobblehead appears in id Software's RAGE, whose story is set in a post-apocalyptic world similar to Fallout.
- In Doom (2016), Vault Boy appears in the game as a part of the UAC's line of Marineguy toys, known, fittingly, as "Vault Guy."
- In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018), Vault Boy appears as a DLC Mii costume for the Mii Gunner, wielding an Alien blaster.
- A Vault Boy puppet appears in One Man, and a Crate of Puppets.
Real world merchandise and objects
- On Vault Boy and Pip Boy at No Mutants Allowed archive
- Hubris Comics terminal entries; Hubris Comics receptionist terminal, Press Release
- Interview with Leonard Boyarsky: I also came up with the idea/design for the “Vault Boy” and the “cards” (as I called them) showing him doing all the different things in humorous ways. By the way, he’s not the Pip Boy, the Pip Boy is the little guy on your Pip Boy interface. The Vault Boy was supposed to evoke the feel of Monopoly cards, and the Pip Boy was based on the Bob’s Big Boy mascot.
- Tim Cain in the Duck and Cover forum: p.s. Many people seem to think this is the PipBoy, but this is the FalloutBoy character. The PipBoy is the yellow and red caped character who appears on the pipboy device.
- Tim Cain interview on the Duck and Cover
- Fallout Tactics interview
- Vault Dweller's Survival Guide p. 58: "Above the character card (with the trademarked Vault-Man) are your character skills. If you have any spare skill points (any number above 000), then you can spend them on this screen to improve your skills (see Experience, page 5—21 for more information)."