Tag Archives: Fictional Robots

Life-sized Planet Robots made in the UK

Shawcraft_LogoAndy 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!

Shawcraft_SAM_1408His 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.

Shawcraft_WalkTalkToyThe 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.

Shawcraft_T4They 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.

Shawcraft_build1It 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.

AdventuresInScienceFictionLate 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.

Advertisements

The first “I, Robot”

ComicBook“It certainly caught my attention. Two months after I read it, I began ‘Robbie’, about a sympathetic robot, and that was the start of my positronic robot series. Eleven years later, when nine of my robot stories were collected into a book, the publisher named the collection I, Robot over my objections. My book is now the more famous, but Otto’s story was there first.”
Isaac Asimov

I must confess that I had never heard of Eando Binder before. When I heard the phrase “I, Robot”, my first thought was of the famous story by Isaac Asimov and his three laws of robotics. One person I asked thought that perhaps I was talking about a new robot to be made by Apple following on from iMac, iPod, iPad and so on. Another mentioned the film starring Will Smith which was based on Asimov’s robot detective stories.

AudioBookIt was not until I noticed a short audio book, available from Audible, entitled I, Robot, that I realised there was a story with that title published much earlier than Asimov’s.

Amazing_Stories_January_1939Eando Binder was not one person, but two brothers by the names of Earl and Otto, “E and O” Binder, who initially wrote science fiction stories together. Their first story about the robot Adam Link, was published in the January 1939 edition of Amazing Stories.

Extract from I, Robot by Otto Binder (1939):
I will begin at the beginning. I was born, or created, five years ago. I am a true robot. Some of you humans still have doubts, it seems. I am made of wires and wheels, not flesh and blood. I am run by electrical power. My brain is made of iridium-sponge.

My first recollection of consciousness was a feeling of being chained. And I was. For three days, I had been seeing and hearing but all in a jumble. Now, I had the urge to rise and peer more closely at the strange moving form that I had seen so many times before me, making sounds.

The moving form was Dr. Charles Link, my creator. Of all the objects within my sight he was the only thing that moved. He and one other object, his dog, Terry. Even though I had not yet learned to associate movement with life, my attention was pinpointed on these two.

AdamLink-bookIt is a very good story, and, unusually for the time, the robot is sympathetically treated and not regarded as some kind of monster. However, Adam, the robot, is wrongly accused of murdering his creator. The collected Adam Link short stories are available from Amazon as a Kindle book.

OuterLimitsOtto Binder’s story was used as the basis for two episodes of The Outer Limits, both titled “I, Robot”. The first from 1964 and the second from 1995. Leonard Nimoy appeared in both versions, but as two different characters.

“To anyone fond of the robot story in science fiction, Adam Link is of extraordinary interest. The robot-with-emotion has rarely been handled so well.”
Isaac Asimov

Collecting movie stills – 3 – Lost in Space

OK, I know this version of Lost in Space wasn’t actually a movie, it was a television series . . . but it sits rather nicely in my collection, and there is some interesting connected trivia to read below. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes in total, between 1965 and 1968. Here we see the robot, who was the star of the show for me, with young actors Angela Cartwright (as Penny Robinson) and Billy Mumy (as Will Robinson).

Angela Cartwright was born in Altrincham, Cheshire, England in 1956. She is perhaps best known as a child actress for her role as Brigitta Von Trapp in the film The Sound of Music (1965).

In 1998, Angela made a cameo appearance as a Reporter (number two) in the film Lost in Space. She still works as an actress today, alongside her successful career as a photographer. Official website.

Billy Mumy, known as Bill today, was born in the USA in 1954. He works as an actor, voice over artist and musician.

He occasionally still goes into space, and doesn’t get lost any more. For example, from 1994 to 1998 he appeared as Lennier in the TV series Babylon 5, and in 1998 he played the part of Kellin in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Official website.

Angela and Bill have been working on a book together which will be out soon, entitled Lost (And Found) in Space, which includes 200 pages of personal remembrances of their years filming the series, and is packed with rare and never before seen photographs. Book website.

City Scape Wide Desktop Background

There will be a 50th anniversary reunion for four of the Lost in Space stars on 23rd to 25th October, 2015 at Chiller Theatre. Official website.