It was with a tinge of sadness and nostalgia that I read of the death of the creator of Robot from TV’s “Lost in Space.”
As a kid, I was a huge fan of the somewhat hokey but for its time, very cool sci-fi series. It had aliens, a pretty set of sisters and, most of all, Robot.
Robot, whose lesser-known name was B-9, was a friend to the Robinson family and a great thorn in the side to the scheming Dr. Zachary Smith.
Robot was authoritative, had personality and all kinds of cool tools hidden inside its hardware. You have to remember that this show aired more than a decade before George Lucas brought us C-3PO and R2-D2.
So imagine my absolute delight when a few years ago I spied in a Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog a fully operational, 6½-foot-tall remote-controlled replica of Robot!
Here is a partial catalog description:
Every detail of the original robot is faithfully reproduced from original archival molds, patterns and blueprints. It is made from fiberglass, acrylic, aluminum, and steel parts, including its rotating torso and radar head, flashing lights, animated ear sensors, and clawed arms.
The robot has a 240-watt audio system, and speaks 511 pre-recorded phrases performed by Richard Tufeld, the original voice of the robot from the television series (including such familiar phrases as “Danger Will Robinson!”)
As we used to say as kids: This thing was so BOSS!
And it could be mine for only $24,500!!! Yes, you read that right.
Even though I knew it was so beyond my reach, I was in love with the idea of getting this.
Remember the kid from “A Christmas Story” who pines after that air rifle? “You’ll shot your eye out!” Well, that was me about Robot.
I told my wife and my sons (only half-jokingly) that I really, really, really, really wanted this. I had not coveted something so much for Christmas since I was 10 and I wanted (and got) the GI Joe Mobile Support Unit.
One day, I call the house and I hear this ruckus in the background.
Crinkling of plastic. Things banging. Excited voices.
And then laughter. Gales of laughter from my wife, and my sons, who were then about 14 and 9.
I am like, WHAT is going on?
Well, it turns out that Meg, bless her, lit on the idea of BUILDING a Robot to surprise me.
Inspired? Yes. Well-conceived? Well…
She went to a craft store and bought an easel, some slender pieces of balsa wood, some large sheets of poster board and other materials.
It turned out to be such a lost cause that Meg and the boys could do nothing but dissolve in laughter.
When she told me about it later I could only admire and applaud the thoughtful effort.
But she never did forget about my Robot wish and eventually did get me very own.
It’s a key chain and it stands 3½ inches tall: