This is my very small and humble robot collection so far. All of these robots have been bought on EBay over the past two years, some in working condition and some not. If you’re on a budget and have a little technical know-how to look for robots that can possibly be fixed, as these can usually be found for a fraction of the price of a fully working example. All of these four robots are now in fully-working order.
You might see some familiar robots here, as the Tomy robot range was particularly popular in the 1980s and Horikawa is a huge name in vintage robots.
SH Horikawa Radar Robot
Firstly is this, a SH Horikawa Radar Robot. As you can see there’s a little wear and tear on the silver parts. It works perfectly, came in the original box (which has some amazing box art!) and it looks great on display too! I love this particular robot because if I’m thinking “robot”, then I’m almost certainly thinking of something like this.
New Bright Toby Jr
This second robot is a Toby Jr, this one’s made by a manufacturer called New Bright of HK. There’s quite a few to be found on EBay currently and it looks like nobody wants them, which is a shame! That said I picked up one that wasn’t working for a next to nothing, cleaned the connectors and it’s good as new! Toby Jr’s pretty big, battery-powered and a bump-and-go robot in typical ’80s style. Some variants I’ve seen blow smoke circles, mine just has a voice box that beckons “I AM THE ATOMIC ROBOT! PLEASE GIVE MY BEST WISHES TO EVERYBODY”, which oddly alternates with laser sounds.. mixed messages eh?
Tomy Dingbot & Chatbot
Tomy made a whole range of “robots” during the early to mid 80s (just before my time I’m afraid!). I’ve bagged myself a couple of these lately on EBay. You can see the whole Tomy range over at The Old Robots Website.
First of my Tomys is ‘Dingbot’. This robot might look familiar as it draws distinct parallels with characters like ET and definitely more recently, WALL-E. Dingbot’s another bump-and-go, stopping in his tracks once in a while to have a little chatter to himself and move his head from side to side. My Dingbot is boxless and missing his map! – An accessory he would have had to begin with and held.
Here’s the second of my Tomy robots. This one’s called ‘Chatbot’ and he’s a remote control robot that allows you to record messages on an internal magnetic disc. Made during the 80s too, you’ll instantly recognise hints towards his unique function in his design (just look at the eyes! – certainly representative of ‘the cassette age’). With the remote you can make Chatbot head forward, do a reverse with a turn (used to change direction) and there’s a playback button for your recordings to have Chatbot “speak”. This robot was a bargain. Seriously, a bargain. I picked him up fully working aside from the fact he wouldn’t play any sound. That seemed to be a deal breaker for a lot of buyers but the problem was soon fixed and now it works well and even has the original box and instructions to boot! There’s a video of one of the original advertisements just below the photo of my Chatbot.
If you’re looking for something similar to any of these then don’t be afraid to buy to refurbish. You can sometimes get a great bargain that will fix up easily, and at the very worst you’ll get a great looking ornament to bug your girlfriend.