Being in California definitely has its advantages. One of those rare opportunities occurred yesterday (Sunday evening 9/6/09) that I would not have been able to take advantage of had I not been in the area. I was asked (with little warning) to have dinner with Bob Kinoshita (The designer of both Robby the Robot and the Lost in Space Robot). A rare opportunity indeed for not just a few weeks ago Bob suffered a mild stroke affecting his left leg. He is doing better now and for someone 95; amazingly sharp and articulate. He says his trick to living this long was to drink 2 ounces of apple vinegar everyday. We talked about the construction of the B9 Robot and of Robby the Robot. He wanted to know if I had a name for my B9. Of course, keeping with the same irony style of the show, Neanderthal Ninny came to mind but so did so many others like Cackling Cacophony (my favorite) but I said no, just Robot! He laughed. Bob told me how he hand made the bubbles and how he was able to replicate the same shape and size even though they were done by hand. He said “…they weren’t hard to do at all if you knew what you were doing and had a lot of practice at it”. I didnt know he actually made any part of the robots. I just thought he designed them. Bob then went on to ask how many people were in the B9 group. When I told him over 500 and that some were as young as 7 he was very happy!! He said he also wished there was a Robby group as well and that its a shame there wasn’t one.
He really liked the art work on my T shirt and wanted a copy so I will send him and Mike Clark a shirt. I’ll also send him a copy of the build off artwork that had both Robby and the B9 on it. Bob then started talking about Robby the Robot. Bob said when he designed Robby, in regards to his mouth, “The neon rows were to come from the outer edge toward the center as he was talking, not on and off like the Lost in Space Robot neon”…..”but they didn’t listen to me when they were making Robby”. Also “they didn’t do a very good job putting him together. They were sloppy and I had to check their work allot”. Bob then then asked me something….. “Do me a favor, when you work on your Robby please make your neon work the way I intended it to”. I told him I would and I would make him better than what he is currently. He said “great”. Later on he went on to say “There was 1 scene I wished they had extended [in Forbidden Planet]……the scene where the cook (Earl Holliman) was getting drunk with the Robot). I really liked that part…..oh well” and we then went into a number of design issues that weren’t done correctly in the Krell laboratory. Like the spinning tubes that measured the IQ – the inner tube spacing was suppose to be 1″ apart not 2″ which was how they were actually built. The intended effect was a moire’ pattern however that was not seen on the screen because of the error in construction….things of that nature…then we turned back to the B9 robot again……and those pesky rubber legs…oh boy …that was a tale. Bob was glade we (the club) had fixed those pesky legs. He hated them. “It made the robot look cheap”. Originally the robot was never intended to have a human occupant inside because they knew it was dangerous. A sudden stop or turn could result in disaster if anyone was inside so they tried to get the robot to respond and move the way they wanted to without anyone in it but it just wasn’t good enough. That’s where Bob May came in. They needed an operator who could bring that robot to life.” I was truly amazed at Bob’s attention to detail and recall. Truly an enjoyable evening, one I will never forget. Many thanks to Mike Clark for making this happen. Oh, bytheway…..be on the Lookout for Robot Memories on DVD coming soon. Mike was delayed getting that out because of previous commitments but that is all in order now (per Mike Clark)!!