offer a lot of additional features than 1960’s toys could
ever muster. Anyone remember the Furby frenzy of 1998?
Two of my ex-Mattel pals, Caleb Chung and Dave
Hampton created the “Must-Have” hot Christmas toy. It’s
admirably clever in many ways, both mechanically and
electronically (Figure 15).
Furby moves its eyes, mouth, ears, and body using a single
motor with gears and cams. Simple sensors and electronic sound
made Furby one of the first interactive toys and gave the illusion
of learning and “AI.”
From my perspective, the big game-changer was Wowwee’s
introduction of RoboSapien in 2004, when a hundred dollars
bought a walking, talking, fully remote controlled robot (Figure
16). My friends and I would have sworn that we had died and
gone to heaven if we had seen that robot back in 1970.
The other edge of this sword, however, is that a more
realistic robot requires less imagination from kids, so attention
spans get shorter and kids keep expecting more. An astounding
variety of robots from Wow Wee and other manufacturers has
ensued, but I credit RoboSapien with starting it all and setting the
bar so high. Thank you,
So, that’s a quick
look at various functional
vintage robots in my toy collection. I hope that helps to answer
I left out so many popular robots; I didn’t even touch on the
Zeroids or Robby, so maybe we’ll come back another time to
Meanwhile, keep on building and collecting, and send your
questions to me at email@example.com. SV
Figure 14. Figure 13.
SERVO 11.2017 13