Along with my vintage and reproduction robots and space toys, there are the harder to categorize ones, which I will not try to categorize, and thus I will put them in the Assorted Category, even though I just said I wasn’t going to try to categorize them. This is why I don’t work for a think tank.
Some I picked up just because I liked them, some I have because they were given to me and some were so utterly strange, intangible and weird that I just had to have them.
So, here you go.
My wife got me this for my birthday. It’s manufactured in France and is very, very odd. A punch-drunk tin-litho robot? Look, the French may not get much right. The Maginot Line and Gerard Depardieu come to mind. And don’t even get me started on their 2010 World Cup team. But they absolutely nailed this one.
Oh, and they also nailed this one, too.x
This was an animated television series which aired on Fox from 1999 to 2001. Apparently, it was based on the 1995 comic book penned by Frank Miller (you know 300 and Sin City Frank Miller?). I'm assuming he didn't write the exceptionally lame theme song. Anyway, Big Guy apparently was an American Robot and Rusty was a Japanese robot brought together to fight yet another reptilian creature intent on destroying Tokyo (do they ever run out of those?). I didn’t know any of these factoids when I bought this. I just thought they were cool and I just had to have a robot named “Rusty.”x
Before Brad Bird directed “The Incredibles,” he directed this 1999 animated gem of a movie. Based on the 1968 novel “The Iron Man” it takes place in 1957 at the height of the Cold War. The movie kind of teared me up (but if you ever bring that up, I'll totally deny it.) This toy was a surprise because I didn’t think I had bought any Iron Giant stuff and had been kicking myself mightily because I loved the movie and now it’s almost impossible to find Iron Giant collectibles. Apparently, I’m not a complete moron.x
Yes this is a vintage toy, but it goes here because it’s delightfully strange. Mr. Rembrandt is an artist robot (duh, if he was a certified public accountant robot, he'd be called Mr. Goldstein or something). Functioning much like a mechanical Spirograph (look it up kids), you put the multi-color pens in the four slots at his base, put different cogs inside of him that make him move in different patterns, switch him on and watch him create. I haven’t showed my employer this yet, for fear that he will see how easy I am to replace.
The Holdraka Rocket, is made in Hungary and based on a vintage design by the Japanese. It’s a friction toy that rolls horizontally on wheels, and when the nose hits an obstacle, it rears up vertically, revealing stairs and an astronaut in the now open hatch. It’s gold and has a red star on it. Very Iron Curtainy. Pogot is a Russian-made plastic robot based on about a hundred other old-school Japanese designs. I bought it because I really liked the box and the design on the front of the robot. The design has a very Russian Futurist feel to it. Don’t know what Russian Futurism is? What exactly did they teach you in school, anyway?
Apparently, the guy who wrote the “Miss Spider” series of books decided that wasn’t annoying enough. So he wrote Nova’s Ark. I really didn’t know this was a book. I liked the design of the robot and his dog. After I read a synposis of the plot, I’m glad I was blissfully ignorant of the back story. But, here are the cliff notes anyway: Nova goes to a field trip at the Space Center. He accidentally takes off in a space ship and is stranded in outer space. After months he crashes on a barren moon.The next day he creates his dog Sparky 2 (there was a Sparky 1 back at home) out of reclaimed parts from the ship. Then he creates a whole menagerie of animals. He creates an elephant that blares a help signal into space. His father hears it, tries to rescue him and crashes on the moon. They save him, using a part from each of them. In his travels Nova has discovered a new form of crystal energy and is hailed a hero when he returns home. Blah, Blah, Blah… Where's Dr. Suess when you need him?x
So, you’re an engineer assigned to design the ultimate star craft. You are banging your head against the wall, when suddenly inspiration hits! What makes more sense in the vacuum of space than having a craft with helicopter blades? Brilliant! It’s a space ship and a helicopter! Everybody slaps you on the back extolling your brilliance. You get a government contract, become a lobbyist and retire as the Father of the Helicopter Space Ship. Check out what this amazing intergalactic science team is currently working on.x
I have no idea who these guys are. They look very cool, but if you put a gun to my head and said, “Name those robots!” I'd have to pull the trigger myself. The boxes they came in are completely in Japanese and the only Japanese I know is, “Sushi,” “Sensei.” and “Hello Kitty.” I’m pretty sure I bought these in Little Tokyo in downtown L.A. when my kids were taking karate classes on the third floor of a shopping center at the site of an abandoned bowling alley. If they were still taking classes there I could ask one of the shopping mall patrons who these guys are. Unfortunately, most of them only speak Japanese. So, the way I figure, if I go back there and ask somebody, if one of the robots is called Sushi, Sensei or Hello Kitty, I’m in business.x
I believe this one was made in Taiwan and is a really cheesy knock-off of the original Japanese-made Dino Robot. The head opens up to reveal a dinosaur (well, monster in this case.) This one was probably made in the 80’s. Metal House just came out with a reproduction of the original Dino Robot, which is much larger, made of metal and opens up to reveal a dinosaur that SMOKES. If I had the money, I’d buy one of those in a hearbeat. Instead I have this sad, sad thing, that may or may not have come from this newly discovered planet.
You know something is wrong when the toy looks mortified. This robot knows it is riding a completely lame vehicle. And just look at the front of the car. Even the car is sad to be itself (I’ve always imagined that if GM cars had faces, this is how they'd look.) Is this the best vehicle design the future can offer? The Pacer 3,000? Yet another Rocket USA product, this is a rather small toy (if I were dsigning this, I’d keep it small, too.) However, I like this sad robot because it makes me laugh; just not necessarily in a good way.
I really don't know how to classify this toy. It’s kind of a space toy that runs on a game board. Only it’s not really a game board, but a tin-litho figure-eight track in outer space. So, maybe it’s more apt to describe it as a tin-litho space demolition derby toy. But there’s only one spaceship, so it can’t be that. All I know is that you wind it up and it goes around the figure-eight track. Then it stops and you wind it up again and it goes around the track again. It’s a space toy that’s fun for the entire family ... if your entire family has OCD.