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Robby The Robot

Updated on August 28, 2013
Robby The Robot Parts
Robby The Robot Parts

Originally Robby the Robot was going to be in one of my Top 10 Robot Lists. However, I did not feel that he should be assigned to only one list. Robby the Robot is more than a famous robot from a movie or television show, he is an independent character who has transversed into film, television, commercials, and literature. Robby the Robot is a star in his own right. He has made it into many of the Greatest Science Fiction character list, often times beating out flesh and blood human actors. In fact, IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) has Robby the Robot listed as an actor on their site. How many robots can say that?

The Beginning

Robby the Robot would make his first appearance in the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet. The movie would have a 3 million dollar budget and Robby would cost a whopping $125,000.00 to construct. This film would set a new standard for science fiction films and catapult Robby the Robot to iconic status. The talented Marvin Miller provided the voice and helped bring to life Robby’s personality and dry wit. The following year, Robby would go on to star in The Invisible Boy. He then branched out into television and commercials, while still maintaining a film career.


In 2004, the Robot Hall of Fame, which honors robotic technology, added Robby to their list of remarkable robots and secured his place in history. He is now among R2-D2 and the Mars Exploration Rovers. Robots on this list have not only pioneered the scientific innovation of robotics, but also inspired people for what may be yet to come.

Robby The Robot Blueprints
Robby The Robot Blueprints

Designing Robby

Although it is Robert Kinoshita who often gets credit for Robby’s design, lIke most thing in Hollywood, one person did not create Robby the Robot. Albert Arnold Gillespie originally brought Robby to life through a sketch, Mentor Huebner then polished up his design and finally Robert Kinoshita oversaw the final construction.

Robby was created for Forbidden Planet but the name “Robbie” the Robot was used in the 1935 Doc Savage novel The Fantastic Island. This book written by W. Ryerson Johnson and Lester Dent had Robbie look like Doc Savage, so he could be used as his decoy to fool villains. “Robbie” was later used in Isaac Asimov’s first positronic brain robot story. Originally this story was published in Super Science Stories magazine under the title Strange Playfellows, but would be republished under Asimov’s original title Robbie. This story about a robot nanny and its connection with the girl he cares for, explores the humanity or robots.

Three Laws of Robotics

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  • A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Asimov was very influential in the creation of Robby the Robot and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics were incorporated into Robby’s programming. These laws were first written down in Asimov’s short story Runaround, which he wrote in 1942.

Robby the Robot’s height varies between 6’11’ to 7’ 6” and he weighs in at almost 300 lbs. Although there might be slight changes to his physical appearance between his different projects (Hollywood stars are known for their plastic surgery) several traits remain constant. Robby is cylindrical in design. He was able to move his bulky frame with long bubbly legs. His short arms, with three stubby fingers, were almost like the Tyrannosaurus Rex. His coned shaped head was made of a clear material, so you could see the gears turning and lights flashing as he functioned. There is also a square panel with two large circles located on his chest.


The most dramatic changes to Robby’s appearance would be made to his head.

Iconic Robby The Robot
Iconic Robby The Robot

Iconic Look

This is the design that most people have in their head when they hear Robby the Robot. The two scanner rings rotating on his head, the left side pointing up in the air pointing up and the right side sticking out the side. These scanners have made Robby’s silhouette unmistakable. The large clear dome used for the top of his head exposing his spinning gyros, wig-wags and blinking lighted mechanical brain all brought life to this inanimate object.

Robby The Robot With one  Scanner Ring
Robby The Robot With one Scanner Ring

One Scanner Ring

Sometimes Robby is depicted with only his left, upright scanner ring. Everything else if very similar. Although, sometime the size of the clear dome may be smaller and higher up. These changes are minute, but to fans they can be HUGE!

Rod Serling and Robby the Robot with humanoid head
Rod Serling and Robby the Robot with humanoid head

Humanoid Head

Early on in his television career, Robby was given a more human looking head. A metal cylinder, that looked much like a tin can, had a circle speaker for his mouth and rectangular slits for his eyes. For some unknown reason Robby was also given eyebrows. This was an obvious attempt to make him appear more like a person. His head could have been a helmet for a suit of armor. However, the motionless expression only took away from his charm, much like botox takes away an actor’s ability to use facial expression to show emotion.

Evil Robby The Robot
Evil Robby The Robot

Evil Robby

Robby is a lovable robot and was often cast as a good guy. Most of his “evil” roles were because someone or something was controlling him. However, there were times when Robby played the villain. By the 70’s it was hard for people to envision Robby as a menacing robot, so he would often change his appearance to create a more threatening look. The large glass dome was minimized and more metal was added to give off a stronger and more durable image. A large circular eye in the center of the head gives the viewer a more terrifying impression. It makes it appear as if nothing can escape this robot’s attention. The opening slit underneath the eye for its mouth only adds to the mystery; what is hidden inside?, is there some deadly weapon waiting to be deployed?, or does it serve some other deadly purpose?

Robby The Robot Pinup Art
Robby The Robot Pinup Art

Pinup Art

Robby’s pop culture status has made him a popular Pinup subject.

Models

As any Hollywood star, Robby can be found hanging around beautiful women. He would often have photo shoots with Hollywood starlets and models.

Robby The Robot Photo Shoot
Robby The Robot Photo Shoot
Robby The Robot Publicity Shots
Robby The Robot Publicity Shots

Below are my 10 greatest robot lists from film and television.

10 Best Movie Robots

10 Best Television Robots

10 Best Androids

10 Best Cyborgs

If you enjoyed this article on Robby The Robot, click on the links below to learn more about his career.

Robby The Robot Films

Robby The Robot Television Shows

Robby The Robot Commercials

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    • Geekdom profile image
      Author

      Geekdom 2 years ago

      Cool. Perhaps you will want to check out my top 10 robot lists as well and tell me your thoughts.

    • sarcasticool profile image

      sarcasticool 2 years ago from New Zealand

      I love this, excellent! I have him at number one on my Top 10 Robot List here on Hub pages :) https://hubpages.com/entertainment/My-Top-10-Robot...

    • Geekdom profile image
      Author

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      I was also amazed at the size of the movie's budget and the price tag on Robby.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 4 years ago

      Love Forbidden Planet, i am amazed it had that mega budget though at the time it was made, cool hub.

    • Geekdom profile image
      Author

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Thanks.

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 4 years ago

      Very cool post and yes, one of the most recognizable 'celebrity' robots ever

    • Geekdom profile image
      Author

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Thanks! It is always fun to write about these amazing characters, but it means a lot when fans of the subject being discuss enjoy it.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

      Probably my favourite movie robot, nice article Geekdom.

      Forbidden Planet is my no.1 fifties sci-fi movie and I watched it again quite recently, one of my first hubs was about that movie. Love the publicity stills with Anne Francis.

      Voted Up and Awesome.

    • Geekdom profile image
      Author

      Geekdom 4 years ago

      Thanks for the votes! I checked out the picture...AWESOME!

    • LagunaAlkaline profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago from Camas, WA

      Wow! I am SO happy I found this hub. My boyfriend and I went to Seattle in the middle of this Sci Fi thing and found him. http://www.flickr.com/photos/62519336@N07/85886470... He freaked out. I didn't know who he was until now! Thanks! Rated up and interesting!