Andy Shaw makes fantastic ‘life-sized’ robot replicas which are inspired by 1950s Japanese toy robots. His company, Shawcraft, also makes replica petrol pumps for your classic garage, games room or living room which can be used as storage cabinets, or even a cocktail bar!
His robots are produced from purpose-built moulds and are designed for strength and simplicity. Where possible pigmented gelcoat is used, making the robots durable and resistant to scrapes and knocks.
The ‘Planet Robots’ are stunning, standing five foot eight inches tall, in gleaming black and red – just like the original Japanese tin toys. The original toys were made by Yoshia KO of Japan in the late 1950′s and were an unlicensed copy of Robby the Robot, star of the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet.
The toys were made in several colours and versions, the most popular being black and red with clockwork walking action and sparks shooting around the interior visible through acetate ‘windows’.
The Shawcraft Planet Robots can be supplied in any colour combination although only the black/red version is pigmented gelcoat. They can be specified with either three fingered hand or replica claw.
Just like the original the chest plate and face grill are finished then added to the robot giving a crisp, clean joint. All arm and leg joints are well defined so the robot looks real.
They can be supplied as a static prop or with flashing lights in the dome ‘ears’. They can also be ordered with a voice, activated by passers-by, and with intermittent head-turn and flashing ‘voice light’. A radio-controlled walking version is also available.
I asked Andy when his interest in robots arose. “At four years old, back in 1967 when my Gran gave me a black and red clockwork Planet Robot.”
When he was 11, he wrote to the BBC for a copy of their Dr Who Dalek plans, which had been printed in the Radio Times. He began building a Dalek immediately then realised the plans were wrong. So he used the Dalek neck section as the torso of his first large robot.
It takes a couple of weeks to build a Planet Robot and they are in great demand. I have occasionally seen them for sale on eBay, so I asked Andy if he has many in stock, he said, “yes, I build them for stock, but they always go before I can make a second!”
If you would like to see his robots out in the real world, they can be seen at a travelling exhibition called ‘Robot’, and they are often seen at art galleries and universities. They’re also at Randy’s Toy Shop, USA*; Metropolis Toys, Burton on Trent; Celestial Toy Store; a barber shop in Essex; Uncle Sam’s diner.
Late next year they will be at Neil Coles Adventures in Science Fiction, a new science fiction museum opening in Allendale, Northumberland.
Finally, I asked Andy how long he thinks it will be before we have domestic servant robots, or robot butlers, in our homes … and would he want one?
“Domestic robots are just about seven years away I reckon. I think they’d have been here now if the global economy hadn’t been shafted by the greedy useless parasitic financiers. I embarked, at four years old, to develop and build a domestic robot for myself. Oh yes, I want one.”
You can contact Andy Shaw by email or visit his website to see more examples of his work.
See also Pikore page.
*If you have an original Japanese Planet Robot toy with missing parts, Randy’s Toy Shop specialise in making replacements. They’re not cheap, but how else are you going to repair one of those rare toys? Prices from their catalogue (click here for website) Antenna, $55; Hands $35 each; Roller wheels $25 each.