Masudaya's Robby the Robot


  Forbidden Planet (1956)
        In this sci-fi classic, a spacecraft travels to the distant planet Altair IV to discover the fate of a group of scientists sent there decades earlier. When Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew arrive, they discover only two people: Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), who was born on the remote planet. Soon, Adams begins to uncover the mystery of what happened on Altair IV, and why Morbius and Altaira are the sole survivors.

     One of the most remarkable characters introduced in this landmark, groundbreaking science fiction classic was the android "Robby".  Robby's design was a major advance on all previous screen robots in many practical and aesthetic respects. By comparison, the robot Gort, the menacing "interstellar policeman" from the film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was clearly a man in a robot suit, and its design posed several practical problems for shooting. Because it was made of flexible neoprene overall, similar to a skin diver's wetsuit, the props team had to fabricate two suits that laced up in order to keep the fastenings out of sight while filming Gort moving.  The Robby suit was constructed using a range of materials including metal, plastic, rubber, glass, and Plexiglas. The plastic parts were a pioneering example of the use of the then novel technology of vacuum-forming heated plastic over wooden molds. These parts were made from an early form of ABS plastic with the brand name "Royalite", a material mainly used at the time for making suitcases. The finished suit stands just over 7-foot (2.1 m) tall and was fabricated in three detachable sections: the legs and lower torso, the barrel-like chest section (which included the arms), and the highly detailed 'head'.


  The Masudaya Robot
         
       In 1984, the Japanese company Masudaya made two versions of this iconic robot- a 16 inch and 24 inch version.  They varied somewhat in the level of detail and were constructed from vinyl and clear plastic components.  In 1997, Masudaya reissued both versions of the robot with updated packaging but little change in the overall design, consruction etc.  We were fortunate enough to purchase a NIB 16 inch version and have been keeping in a cool, dark hiding place for safe keeping.  We contacted our friends at Starling Technologies who have a terrific plug and play lighting and sound system made for Robby (pictured left).  They have also done some amazing upgrades on the robot and provided the inspiration for me to move forward with this project.

     Our goal is give Robby a fresh paint job without dramatically changing his overall appearance.  Much of our efforts will be focused on the installation of the sound and lighting module while paying close attention to the detail on Robby's head.  His head is clearly the most predominant feature.  The finished robot will certainly make an impressive display.  
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