Robot

Robot Doodlewash by Charlie O'Shields

After thinking about clockwork in yesterday’s post, it made me think of wind-up robots I loved as a kid so I doodlewashed one. This particular robot is not one I own yet, but it’s one I really like and I’m hoping Philippe will see it and put it on my Christmas list.

This particular model is the Sparkling “Mike” Walking Tin Robot. According to the name one must assume that although his name is Sparkling he prefers to go by his more pedestrian nickname of Mike. And he likely doesn’t want to boast, but he did earn his given name because real sparks shoot out of the hole in his chest while he walks.

When I was a kid, these robots had moved on to their remote control counterparts which lacked a lot of the charm but boasted more features. The robot I did own in the 80’s was a little programmable robot who went by the name of Robie Junior and was born at Radio Shack.

Robie was notable for being able to follow you around everywhere you went while carrying a tiny butler’s tray. So he was really less of a friend of more slave labor that you didn’t have to pay for once you shelled out the money to buy him the first time. Unlike most butlers, though, Robie had a “bad” mode which made him run off saying “catch me!” This was always a rather sad game since little Robie moved slower than a turtle.

I was excited when I saw the ad, because it said he would bring you things like candy, or inexplicably… pencils. I was hoping he would prefer candy, but I was disappointed to find out that you actually have to put the candy on the tray yourself first, which defeats the whole purpose of having a robot slave in the first place.

Equally depressing was that he was only a child. Robie Sr. was unaffordable, but looked more like Junior’s grandpa so I can only imagine he moved even slower. This would make the game of “catch me” even more ridiculous, but at least make the role of butler more socially acceptable.

Eventually, Robie Junior began to collect dust as he outwore his welcome. I’m sure he didn’t mean to be a disappointment, but he was truly the worst butler I could have imagined. Like many of these treasures I had back then, Robie is still somewhere in my mother’s house. I feel bad sometimes thinking about that little tiny butler waiting in a box somewhere, but I then I remember his service record, and I just can’t bear the thought of employing him again.

So I’m sure that “Mike” would probably also just be a waste of money, but since he only claims to walk and shoot sparks, the expectations aren’t as high. And if Philippe were to actually buy him for me, he’ll likely just sit on a shelf spark free and collecting dust. In the end, perhaps it’s better to simply love the “idea” of robots and save the money to spend on a proper housekeeper.

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you'd like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
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29 Comments
  1. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    R2D2 would approve ; )

  2. We’ve been promising ourselves a Roomba for a few years. A robot that does the vacuuming – at least that’s a step in the right direction!

    • Author

      Lol…that’s awesome, Lindsay. Hopefully those robots do a better job with household chores than Robbie Junior did!

  3. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Hahaha! Poor little neglected robot…you made him so cute!

  4. Jacob 2 years ago

    I love Mike – he looks so cool! You need to make sure you get him… double telepathy required, just to be on the safe side! 😉

    Your story about Robie is hilarious – gotta love the 80s and its hilarious gizmos. I think I have a vague recollection of my brother, who grew up in the 80s, having some kind of robot friend, although by the time I can remember it was probably long since cast aside and more than likely broken.

    I suppose the closest I ever got to a robot myself was the Furby, which was rather a different story altogether.

    • Author

      Thanks for the telepathy! We’ll see if it works!! 😉 I also had an R2D2 my mother wants me to take back with me when I visit in December. Hehe… But I never had a Furby!! They look cool! Philippe had the very first one that came out though!

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        Fingers crossed!

        I had the first Furby too! I never really got the idea of looking after a robot – it should be the other way around, no? And it had a terrifying stare and made creepy noises! Apart from that, it was wonderful.

        I expect they’re much snazzier now!

      • Author

        They do seem a little terrifying even now! Lol And still high maintenance! Hehe

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        Yes! Keep your distance! You’ll be much better off with Mike.

  5. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    You have such a creative “spark” Charlie! Love your Doodlewashed Robot! ❤️ Looks better than a toy! 😊🎨⚡️

    • Author

      Thanks so much Jill!! ❤️😃 I really do kind of want Philippe to buy me this one! But for now…I can always collect him in a doodlewash! 😉👍🏻

  6. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    What a wonderful rendition of your Robot Mike. It’s fun to remember our favorite toys from long ago. I had a Revlon Doll (before Barbie was made) that l loved. My mom made all of the dolls clothes, including a fur coat made of rabbit fur. Thanks for the fun post Charlie.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! ❤️😃 That’s so cool! My mother made clothes for dolls that she collected. But never a fur coat! How fancy! I bet it was lovely!! 😉

    • Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

      Sharon, I loved all the clothes that my mom and grandma made for Barbie. The fur coat sounds so luxurious! Wonderful memories! 💜💖💚

  7. jmnowak 2 years ago

    The closest I came to being a robot, was at discos, when I used to do the robot dance…you know, jerky arm movements, almost the Michael Jackson moonwalk. I loved doing that! lol.
    Love your watercolour. He looks quite friendly. How big is he?

    • Author

      It’s truly a shame that YouTube wasn’t around in those days!! I would have loved to have seen that Janina! 👍🏻😃lol Thanks!! This guy is about 8″ tall and 3″ or so wide. He’s just on my wish list right now as I haven’t gotten Philippe to buy him for me yet! 😊

  8. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    Mike is adorable! I like how you reasoned with yourself, I need to do that more. We had a dinosaur that spit out marbles, clearly manufactured at a time when there was no concern for safety or holes in the wall. Last time I saw him, he was in the back of the gardener’s pick-up truck. Best to put all this in the sketchbook!

    • Author

      Hehe… That dinosaur sounds awesome!!! Haha! And sooooo dangerous!! 😳 Yeah…the sketchbook is an easier place to store whims. That said, I still kind of want Mike!! 😊😊lol

  9. kirkistan 2 years ago

    Funny stuff, Charlie. I always wanted a robot when I was a kid as well. Love the drawing, it’s that that retro, past-visions-of-the-future look.

    • Author

      Awww thanks Kirk! That’s a great way to describe the look. Robots today are still pretty high maintenance …except for maybe a Roomba.

  10. Love these old retro looking robots! My brother collects them so I have fun adding one to his collection every now and then.

  11. […] Philippe made us some soup. I actually did get a robot whose eyes sparkle like I wanted (not the Sparkling Mike I doodlewashed a couple months ago, but one that’s just as cool!). This, however, […]

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