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.