Monday, March 19, 2018

ROBOB: The Story of Atomic Robot Bob by Eric L. Dana (Excerpt 1)

“Deadly Planet 1954
(Forbidden Planet or Planet Bur [Planet of Storms] quasi-pastiche, first film appearance)  Make a trailer?

Tagline: “A Weird Journey To The Furthest Reaches Of Outer Space!  A Strange And Forbidding Place Where No One And Nothing Are What They Seem!  Can They Escape The… Deadly Planet?”

In 1952 a screenplay was being shopped around to various studios in Hollywood to very unenthusiastic reception.  Planet of Death was unlike anything Hollywood executives had ever seen.  Written by newcomer Dean Shah, it was a familiar enough tale but told through the setting of an outer space adventure.

The crew of the interplanetary space saucer BR-549 led by Captain Hanno receives a distress beacon originating from the distant, previously unexplored planet, Exxilon 1.  The crew is ordered to land on the planet, investigate the source of the signal, and report their findings back to Earth.  Upon landing on the planet, they discover the lone survivor of the Icarus Party, Dr. Hephaestus .  The Icarus Party was a colony ship of doctors, scientists and engineers presumed to have been lost in space when all contact was lost with them twenty years earlier...

(Blog Edit: Full plot synopsis in the book 😁 )
Each of the studios admitted that it was an impressive concept, but the executives believed it was financially impractical to bring to the silver screen and passed on the project.  All, that is, except Majestic Pictures.  Majestic was primarily a B movie and serials studio, but studio head Michael T. Snidely was keen to expand the studio’s output with hopes of becoming a more “respectable” organization.  Snidely was impressed with the script and the passion of the writer, and his faith in the project led to Majestic taking a big financial gamble.  Until that time, most science fiction films were thinly-scripted, B movies rushed into and through production.  This production would be unlike any Majestic had produced before.  This film would be a million dollar, full color epic motion picture.

In 1953, planning and concept art was produced under the watchful eye of both Snidely and writer Shah, who was brought on board to assist in seeing his vision, now titled Deadly Planet, brought to life.

The design and construction of the film’s robot character was executed by T.M. Lindsey, an eccentric artist/engineer/inventor known for creating unusual items utilizing (then) relatively unknown techniques and materials.  The robot’s design was very cutting-edge at the time and the name RoBob was attributed to his mispronouncing the word “robot” during his first programming session.  Snidely and Shah were so amused by the idea that it was inserted into the film and the name and “joke” were retained throughout most of RoBob’s film and TV appearances.

In 1954, Deadly Planet was released to mostly positive reviews and respectable box office returns, but was not a huge blockbuster.  The unusual “downer” ending is usually blamed for the film not being more successful since audiences were used to stories where the hero got the girl and lived happily-ever-after.

More to come...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I’m not ashamed to say that I have been fascinated with RoBob (or Atomic Robot Bob, as he is more commonly known) since I was a child.  The first time I saw RoBob was, like many, on Friday nights during the never-missed episodes of TV’s “Saucer Patrol” and late night movie re-runs.  But the story of RoBob is not the usual, straightforward tale of a simple movie prop.  From his creation for the motion picture “Deadly Planet” to the less than stellar productions of Alan Irwin, to his recent comeback, RoBob experienced the ups and downs that many human actors face throughout a career in Hollywood.

In the coming months I will be posting (with the author’s kind permission) excerpts from the forthcoming book “RoBob: The Story of Atomic Robot Bob” by Eric L. Dana, as-well-as some of my own research into RoBob’s past.

As with most things, life sometimes has a way of interrupting, so I will post things as I am able to and appreciate your patience :)

Monday, December 11, 2017

As the vision for the RoBob project is finally starting to gel, it has grown into a desire to create an entire world or back-story.  A call-back to the sci-fi films and TV shows of the 50s and 60s.  Though before my time, it seems to have been, perhaps, a more innocent time when kids could still tune in for a sense of wonder and to fire their imaginations.  As the Arts and creative thinking are increasingly marginalized in favor of what I feel is social or societal programming, most modern entertainment strikes me as overly market-researched and inspires little to no thinking or imagination; just consumption.  I hope to try to overcome that to some degree with this project.  So I will be developing a fictional back-story for the RoBob character alongside the factual one.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

After eight years of constant delays and near total RoBob inactivity (and a job loss in 2016), I am hoping that 2018 will finally see some actual progress on RoBob.

Sadly, vac-forming the larger components is likely out of the question.  The person who was supposed to help build the large vac-form machine frame turned out to be as unreliable as everyone else I've tried to work with in Pensahola.  So I will likely have to do fiberglass, which I HATE doing but that's about my only other option.  Oh well, live and learn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Robby Ornament II

Well, I got the following unfortunate response from Hallmark today:

"The way that the Keepsake Ornaments are displayed with sound and motion on are how the ornaments actually are.

Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks again for letting us know.


Hallmark Consumer Care"

Which means for some unknown reason, the Robby ornament will have the terrible, phony sound clip instead of an actual 'Forbidden Planet'/Marvin Miller sound clip. Very disappointing.

For the rather high price of $18.50 for this ornament, I would have expected better. Although the sculpt looks quite nice (some minor inaccuracies, no big deal) the lack of authentic sound clips makes it less of a tribute to a SF movie classic and valued collectible and more of a cheap, just-knock-something-out-to-make-some-money product to me. I expected better quality from Hallmark but I suppose that is naive of me these days.

Will I buy one? Heck yeah! Will I buy more than one? Only if they're real cheap after Christmas. I would rather Hallmark drop the crappy sound chip and thus, the price, so it isn't the over-priced and contrived piece that is apparently is.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Robby Ornament

Hallmark has announced that they will be releasing an excellent-looking ornament of one of the inspirations for RoBob, Robby!

I am very excited by the looks of this release but am not enthused about the sound clip sample on Hallmark's website. It appears they are replacing Marvin Miller's wonderful voice with.....someone not as good. I have asked Hallmark if they will use an actual sound clip for the ornament but have not gotten a direct reply as yet. We'll see...

Vacuform it is!

I've talked to a local man who is willing to trade my sculpting skills for his welding skills and so, at some point after his impending wedding, we will build a vac-former large enough to do the pieces for RoBob. Now the engineering/drawings can begin...