Tag Archives: television

How I Got My Very Own Robot from “Lost in Space”

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:

key chain


AMR 06: About Men and Horror TV

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Just when you thought we’d never foist another one of our knuckleheaded escapades onto the unsuspecting public we unleash the sixth episode of our addictive little gabfest.

This time around Silvio joins us from AMR headquarters in Florida while we check in from the AMR Compound deep in the Pennsylvania forest to discuss horror movies, television, and horror television.

As always, it’s not about all men. Just us men.

Friendship Forged With Ketchup and Cameras

Some friendships are forged in pick-up games of basketball, neighborhood games of stickball or friendly games of tag.

Mine were cemented in crime scene photos.

I was about 13 and active in Boy Scouts. I was a mere Webelo at the time and we had to do some kind of photo essay for a photography skill award.

Or maybe I’m ascribing all of what I’m about to describe to the Scouts and I was just a goofy, demented kid with too much time on his hands.

Anyway, the idea was that each photo would depict some scene and all the frames in sequence would collectively tell a story.

So, naturally, I chose something that would involve guns, drugs and suicide. See previous comment about being a demented kid.

At the time, I was fascinated by all things cops on TV (“Adam-12”, “The Rookies”, “S.W.A.T.”), so I thought it would be cool to re-enact some kind of crime scene and photograph it.

Over time, my friends and I ended up doing three different kinds of photo essays (one of which involved ketchup for blood after the perp gets “shot”).

Another called for my friend John and I to portray drug dealers who flee the cops and then get arrested as they draw down on us.

In these dramatic photos, (see attached) John and I (in the black jacket) complete a drug exchange (note the paper bag) while Pedro and Jimmy keep us under surveillance and then bravely rid the streets of filth like us.

Cue dramatic music. Roll credits.

But my true Cecil B. DeMille moment came weeks later when I decided we would stage a drug-addled, suicidal John standing just inside a bedroom window of my family’s third-floor apartment.

We took the window screen off for dramatic effect. And, oh yeah, the window was open. Wide open.

But we needed a cop. Someone who projected authority and sympathy and who could be seen as realistically trying to talk John out of jumping.

So we befriended the new guy at school.

Enter Pedro.

I don’t think he could have been there more than a week when we broached him with this half-baked idea.

And, in a display of the kind of white-hot intellect that only 13-year-old boys are capable of, Pedro said: Sure!

Somewhere I have photos of Pedro wearing a cop-like windbreaker, hands outstretched, pleading with John to come back from the ledge.

And there’s John, looking back – eyes glassy and his hair disheveled, looking strung out from drugs. (We used my acne medication as a prop in one of the photos.)

Sadly, Detective Pedro fails and John “jumps” from the third-story window. I shot a photo from out the window of John sprawled on the sidewalk below – SPLAT! – with a squirt of ketchup near his head.
Translated from Spanish, Pedro would later tell his mom that day: “I guess that’s just how white kids play, mom.”

Fast-forward nearly 40 years.

The photos have faded but the bonds of friendship – and the over-the-top sense of adventure – have endured and remain as bright as ever.

P.S.: Did I mention that Pedro and I recently went on an Olympic bobsled ride at speeds of up to 60 mph?