Archive for the 'Robots' Category

Comic Book Store, 1980

Comic Book Store 1980

Another beautiful interior shot of a Bronze Age comic shop, this one from Flying Colors Comics. Let’s nail down the date. The best look I can get of the nearest comics is the Fantastic Four on the bottom shelf, three in from the far right. It’s FF #226, with a publication date of January, 1981. (Look for the hand of the Samurai Destroyer under the ‘sti’ of ‘Fantastic’.)

FF #226 Jan 1981

The newest book would be in full view, with back issues tucked behind it. Publication dates ran two to three months in advance, so we’re in October or November of 1980. Other than the FF, I spot Defenders #89 (pink cover) and, below it, #91 (yellow cover, same publication date as FF #226). Man, 1980. What a beautiful time to be a kid.

I’m not into DC, so I can’t identify any of the comics on the bottom rack in back of the store, but I do see, just to the right of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Coloring Book (more on that in a sec) at the top of the spinner rack, Starlog #39 (October, 1980), with Gil Gerrard on the cover.

Starlog #39 Oct 1980

Now, the spinner rack. The LoTR coloring book was part of the promotional campaign for Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 LoTR adaptation, as you can see in this sweet catalog at Plaid Stallions.

LOTR Catalog 1979

The version seen here (top right, by the weird lady’s head) and in the comic shop was originally published in 1978. An alternate cover version, seen below via eBay, came out in 1979.

LOTR Coloring Book 1979

To the left of the LoTR book you’ll see what’s become a cult item in the pop art world: the Space WARP Space Fantasy Color & Story Book (1978), published by Troubador Press. I want it badly.

We have Philip Reed and Matt Doughty to thank for the pics. See more at Reed’s Flickr.

UPDATE (11/22/13): Malcolm Whyte, who ran Troubador Press for 30 years, spotted more Troubador titles on the rack: Maze Craze 4 is just beneath the LoTR book; Larry Evans’ 3-D Monster Mazes is just beneath that; and two different Evans 3-D Maze Posters volumes (“huge fold-out jobs and complex!” Malcolm notes) are beneath that.

Space Warp 1978

Space Warp 1978-2

Space Warp 1978-3

Space Warp 1978-4

Kidmate: Conbots (1985)

Conbot 1985

Look, I know the stuff shooting out of the phallic robots is supposed to be sparks, but it doesn’t look like sparks, because the phallic robots are phallic, and if you switched the ‘on’ in ‘Conbots’ with two really similar letters you’d have what I keep thinking about every time I look at this thing: an ejaculating robot penis toy.

And the company that made it is called Kidmate?

Robots, Lasers & Galaxies: Avatar, Exceller, Exnon, and Radon (Imperial, 1984)

imperial toys robot warrior

imperial toys robot warrior-2

imperial toy avatar

imperial toy exnon

imperial toy robots

Radon is a radioactive element, so that’s kind of scary and cool, but Exceller? Nobody likes an overachiever. I wonder if Exnon comes from Xenon, another element. Switching the ‘x’ and the ‘e’ gives it a crunchier sound, and it’s easier for kids to say. I can just see some guy in a cheap suit looking at his kid’s chemistry textbook and rattling off names for his company’s knockoff robots.

Then again, Avatar is a pretty Hindu word meaning a god who comes to Earth and assumes human form. Too bad Jim Cameron’s shitty movie ruined it forever.

The art on the cards is smart and polished. The robots themselves are not, but they didn’t have to be. Notice the line at the bottom: “Scaled to play with all fantasy figures”. The kids could figure that out from one look at the package, but the parents (and grandparents, etc.) couldn’t. And knockoffs were what the parents brought home either (1) thinking they were the real deal, or more likely (2) as a stop gap measure to keep us from pestering them for the real deal, which was either too expensive, perpetually out of stock, or both.

There was a “battle beast” line in this series as well. I’m keeping an eye out.

Marty Toy: Mighty Taka-Kanaka (1984)

taka-kanaka marty toy

taka-kanaka marty toy-2

It’s not a Transformer, people. It’s a Change-Able Robot. Totally not the same thing.

1970 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog: The Robots Are Coming!



Mr. Brain “puffs real smoke”!

Rudy the Robot “walks like a man—he even swings his arms.” (Yes, but can he leave the toilet seat up on purpose to annoy his wife?)

TV Robot has a screen in his chest that “shows a revolving universe.” I might have to puff real smoke before fully appreciating TV Robot.

Space Robot can be programmed for 5 different actions. If one of those actions is launching himself into space, I want Space Robot.

Mr. Amaze-A-Matic lifts stuff and pushes it around. Boo.

Explo Robotron “walks a few steps and then explodes into pieces. Put him back together and turn him loose again.” Sounds like yours truly at work.

Gofer Robotron moves forward with his serving tray when you drop a coin in his head. Boo.

Cybernetic Lifeform Seeks Human Representation

Via Kropserkel.

Starcade Prizes: RB5X, ‘The Intelligent Robot’


The RB5X, which is apparently still being manufactured today, was the grand prize on quite a few Starcade episodes, though I’ve yet to see anyone win it. Originally retailing for around $3500, it goes for at least $2000 today (the arm will cost you another thousand or two). The kick-ass ad below is from a kick-ass site called Vintage Computing and Gaming (Scorched Earth, anyone? Yes, please).


The following clip is a news story from 1984 summarizing the state of robotics at the time. You’ll see the Topo robot and the RB5X in action, and you’ll hear the same kinds of pronouncements we hear from the A.I. crowd today—that robots will soon learn to think, provide security, do our household chores, become like part of the family, etc., etc.




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