Advertisements

Tag Archive: Robby the Robot


Back in September here at borg.com we predicted the November Bonhams auction of Robby the Robot and his “space chariot” from the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet would hit the $1 million mark and we even entertained the possibility of a $10 million sale.  Yesterday the hammer fell at $4.5 million at Bonham’s “Out of this World” auction of entertainment memorabilia and with the addition of a buyer’s premium resulting in a final sale price of $5,375,000, Robby and his car became the highest movie prop lot ever to sell at public auction.  Technically a costume that doubled as a prop, Robby the Robot also became the second highest sale price for any piece of entertainment memorabilia to sell at public auction, eclipsed only by the 2011 sale by auction house Profiles in History of the iconic Marilyn Monroe subway vent dress from The Seven Year Itch, which sold for $5.52 million including buyer’s premium (yesterday Bonhams and the mainstream press, including The New York Times and CBS, mistakenly claimed Robby’s sale surpassed the Monroe dress price, but their reports neglected to factor in the buyer’s premium for the dress–a fee the auction house charges bidders based on a percentage of the hammer price, and the Monroe dress had a hammer price of $4.6 million).  The Robby the Robot costume/prop was used in dozens if not hundreds of appearances over the decades, including in key episodes of Lost in Space and The Twilight Zone.

Still, top prop honors is nothing to sneeze at.  The sale of Robby and his car nudged from the top spot the sale of the 1966 Batmobile from the 1960s television series, which sold for $4.62 million in 2013, including buyer’s premium.  The rest of the pantheon of prime public auction screen-used prop and costume sales includes one of two original James Bond Aston Martins from Goldfinger ($4.6085 million/2010), one of the falcon props from The Maltese Falcon ($4.085 million/2013), Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses ($3.7 million/2011 and $807,000/2006, respectively), Sam’s piano from Casablanca ($3.4 million/2014), the Cowardly Lion suit from The Wizard of Oz ($3.1 million/2014), Von Trapp kids’ costumes from The Sound of Music ($1.5 million/2013), Steve McQueen’s racing suit from LeMans ($984,000/2011), and one of four pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz ($666,000/2000).

In the science fiction genre, the artifact to beat was another robot–an R2-D2 that was pieced together from several screen-used components, which sold this past June for $2.76 million, and a Back to the Future III DeLorean time machine sold for $541,000 in 2011.  Robby easily nudged these props aside yesterday.  Would the sale price have been the same without the space car?  You’ll need to track down the anonymous telephone buyer to get the answer to that question (the four final bidders all dueled it out via phone bids), although you might keep an eye out at Paul Allen’s Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, as this is the kind of high-end prop he has purchased in the past.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Robby the Robot.  He’s probably the only robot who has his own “Actor” page in the Internet Movie Database.  In the history of robots he is probably the most significant and the most game-changing robot of all time.  In the world of science fiction, few came before who achieved such fame, but many would follow.  Most who created the robots that came after–call them droids, androids and variants like fembots or even cyborgs, like the Terminator T-800, Cylons, and Cybermen, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and K-2So and BB-8–all can point back to Robby as inspiration and a critical step in the evolution of robots in cinema.  Robby would become a household name as a co-star and the focus of publicity for Forbidden Planet in 1956 (the classic sci-fi take on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), and would go on to have guest appearances along with B-9 in Lost in Space, two episodes of The Twilight Zone, and all sorts of classic TV appearances (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hazel, Dobie Gillis, The Addams Family, Columbo, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy), and later he can even be spotted in the movies Gremlins and Clueless. 

As pop culture is concerned, there is likely no single, intact, tangible piece of entertainment memorabilia in science fiction that compares to the robot prop itself, which doubled as a costume worn by Frankie Darrow and voiced by Marvin Miller.  The word “iconic” was created for the likes of Robby the Robot.  So no wonder our heads began to spin when it became public this month that the actual robot from the groundbreaking science fiction film Forbidden Planet was going to hit the auction block this year.  And unlike most auctions of original, screen-used, Hollywood memorabilia, Robby the Robot is being sold with a host of original materials used with the Robot throughout his incredible run, and from the auction photos it appears his light-up electronics are still functional.

Bonhams is the lucky auction house that will sell off Robby later this year, presented by Turner Classic Movies.  The auction house posted preview images from its catalog (expected to be available sometime in October) and it’s clear each accompanying production item in the photos could have been auctioned off separately in its own right.  All we know so far is the listing itself and photos, with no idea of the auction estimate or any other details that may be released, including its provenance:   “Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, together with Robby’s car, his alternative head, his control panel, and original MGM packing cases.  Also 2 rings for his head, 2 additional arms with pinschers, a stand, a harness, another part for the stand.”

Continue reading

borg-label hall-of-fame-label

Masters of the Universe.  Red Dwarf.  Mortal Kombat.  And we revisit Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Let’s start this year’s borg.com Hall of Fame ceremony by talking a little about who is NOT in the Hall of Fame who might come close if borgs were more loosely defined.  We still haven’t included the non-organic: like automatons, androids, or robots.  Think Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation before he met the queen in Star Trek: First Contact–despite his perfectly life-like appearance.  For the bulk of the series Data was always an android, not a cyborg.  He’s just a highly advanced C-3PO–until First Contact. 

Droids from Star Wars, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robot B-9 from Lost in Space or Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, the Autobots and Decepticons of Transformers, the police force of THX-1138, Box in Logan’s Run, the perfectly human appearing kid-like star of D.A.R.Y.L., the several automatons of episode after episode of The Twilight Zone, Beta in The Last Starfighter, Tron and Flynn and the other microscopic, human-like bits of data in Tron, Hellboy II’s Golden Army, the future Iowa Highway Patrolman in Star Trek 2009 (we assume he’s just wearing some police safety mask), Rosie the maid in The Jetsons, Hogey the Roguey from Red Dwarf, Marvin the Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, X-Men’s Sentinels, Lal and Juliana Tainer from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the title character of CHAPPiE, or Iron Giant, despite their human-like or bipedal nature, none are actual borgs because they lack biological matter, living cells, or the like.

The same applies for the robotic hosts in Westworld–Michael Crichton’s original was clear these were merely automaton robots and we’ve seen nothing from 2016’s HBO series to show that has changed (even the NY Times got it wrong).  Which explains why The Stepford Wives aren’t on the list, or Fembots, either from The Bionic Woman or the Austin Powers series, or the Buffybot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So who’s in?

Here is Round 4, the twenty-eight 2016 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order, some from 2016 and others from the past, bringing the roster count to 134 individuals and groups:

First up is Time, yep… Time itself.  From Alice Through the Looking Glass, a powerful Father Time-esque human/clockwork hybrid who rules over Underland–

borg-hall-time

From George Lucas’s original Force-wielding character as envisioned by Mike Mayhew: Kane Starkiller from Marvel Comics’ alternate universe story, The Star Wars:

kane

The Major, from 2017’s Ghost in the Shell:

major

Max Steel got his own movie in 2016:

max-steel-movie

Steel hails from the Mattel action figure who received multiple super powers due to an accidental infusion of nanobots:

max-steel-toy

Cave Carson from the update of the classic DC Comics comic book series spelunker, the new series Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye:

cave-carson

Although he was a charter member of the borg.com Hall of Fame, Darth Vader returned in Rogue One, providing some new images of the classic borg:

borg-vader

More of our inductees, after the cut…

Continue reading

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

If those words mean nothing to you, it’s about time to get caught up on the classic sci-fi series Lost in Space, a series that, in its own way, rivals the original Star Trek and the Twilight Zone and even today surpasses in storytelling a lot of 21st century sci-fi series.

Although it still is not available via Netflix on streaming video, the 1960s sci-fi series Lost in Space is available in DVD season and boxed sets and via Netflix on DVD and two episodes per day are airing Mondays through Thursdays on the FamilyNet HD cable channel.  The series has never before been seen in such clarity and color and the HD channel appears to be showing the episodes in their original uncut versions.

Making its debut in the 1960s only a few years before the moonshot, this sci-fi classic showcases the adventures of the Robinson family, who find themselves adrift in outer space when their mission to colonize the last frontier is sabotaged.  It’s good in part because it is an adaptation of The Swiss Family Robinson, a classic adventure novel (and one of the better Walt Disney adaptations, called Swiss Family Robinson).  It also was a good Gold Key comic book–the first incarnation of the idea.  Take the same story and drop it in the future and an entertaining series was born.  Lost in Space consists of 82 episodes and aired from 1965 to 1968, with season one in black and white.  The science looks good because it reflected some forward thinking by NASA at the time, including great spacesuits and realistic spacewalks made well before the C-131 Samaritan zero G jet was used to mimic weightlessness by Hollywood as used in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13.

The third season episode “Condemned of Space” aired today.  It was one of two episodes that featured Robby the Robot, one of the most famous sci-fi robots ever, who originally was featured in the classic sci-fi film Forbidden Planet.

Why is Lost in Space different from other sci-fi series?

It’s got a great theme song by none other than the great soundtrack composer and Boston Pops conductor John Williams (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park).

The opening credits alone were ahead of their time, whether you’re viewing the original black and white or the revised color introductions in later seasons.  In season three look for a round forming symbol later used (intentionally or not) for the Imperials in the Star Wars trilogy.

The ship, the Jupiter 2, featured a crew before its time, half men and half women.  Although there are several gender role issues you might frown a bit at today, like the fact that the youngest daughter Penny isn’t the whiz kid, and instead her little brother Will, the genius kid scientist, seems to talk down to her all the time, and both girls tend to be featured in emotional themed episodes.  But sometimes even Penny gets to be the voice of reason and save the day.  Again, ahead of its time.

The cast didn’t phone in their performances, especially the evil Doctor Smith, who when he wasn’t evil he served a comic relief, allowing the kids to teach an adult lessons in kindness, ethics, and morality in several episodes.  Jonathan Harris’s performances as Smith were so passionate and over the top that he often stole the show.  He’s a little Mad Murdock from A-Team, a little Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica.  The rest of the cast included Guy Williams (Zorro, Bonanza) as Dr. John Robinson, June Lockhart as Dr. Maureen Robinson (Sergeant York, Lassie, The Drew Carey Show)–yes, a woman as a doctor on TV in the 1960s!–Mark Goddard as Major Don West (The Detectives, Johnny Ringo), Marta Kristen (My Three Sons) as Judy Robinson, Billy Mumy (Twilight Zone, Babylon 5), and Angela Cartwright (The Sound of Music, Logan’s Run) as Penny Robinson.  And don’t forget the great B9 cybernetic character “The Robot” with flailing arms and blinking lights.

Monkeys in space!  Penny had a companion chimp named Debbie.

Star Trek made use of red, yellow-green, and blue as the main Starfleet shirts, but Lost in Space stretched the bounds of TV sets’ color dials (remember those?) with its secondary colors and showed a vision of the future (ahem, the lift-off occurs in the future year 1997) with corduroys and velours.

Kids got to be smart and not the ones making mistakes–Will Robinson was the obvious idea behind Will Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Adventure and fantasy in space–long before Star Wars was the greatest space fantasy of all time, Irwin Allen made Lost in Space bridge a look at our future with action and adventure stories.  it’s hard not to compare the Salt Vampire and Gorn of Star Trek with every creepy creature the Robinson’s met stranded on various planets.

The only drawback for some viewers may be the dated clothes, the gender roles, and some melodrama, especially from Doctor Smith.  But if you can put that aside Lost in Space is a fun series that is still watchable more than 40 years later.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

%d bloggers like this: