Robot Commando


 

At-a-glance information:

Items  Robot Commando
Manufacturer Ideal
Location Hollis NY
Manufactured 1961

Left: The amazing Robot Commando.

Right: The "voice controller" that is the key to the operation of the robot.

 

Background and History

This is another great toy designed by Marvin Glass and his associates. It is a recent (2007) addition to The Collection and is very interesting.

You can find all manner of Japanese models (not working the same as this toy) and illustrations showing the missiles firing from the head of Robot Commando. Makes one wonder who inspired who, and which came first.

Nontheless, this wonderful toy hit the streets in 1961. It featured a fully functioning robot, move forward, turn right or left, and shoot "missiles", which were marbles, from his swinging arms and a rocket from a very neat hinged head.

All of this was controlled by a hand controller that is the weak link in this toy. For one, a knob is turned which connects to a geared wheel against a verticle toothed piece of plastic inside the controller. Turning the knob effectively moves the pointer assembling up the unit and activates various actions of the robot. The knob, and its movements, are connected to a wire inside a cable--a rickety version of your 15 speed bike brake, and said cable is connected to the robot.

On my very well cared for example, the gears are stripped out in the middle of the handset, so travel of the controller is a combination of turning the knob until it doesn't "grab" anymore, then pushing it manually towards the top when it will start to grab again. I bet many others have a similar wear problem.

Also, my slide on/off switch, which basically just pushes on brass contacts inside the controller, is loose and doesn't serve its function. One can carefully pry the top portion of the controller apart, which I did to peek inside. The bottom part is riveted and could easily be drilled open for complete restoration of the hand unit, a task I will look to sometime in the future.

Lastly, the "voice" aspect is really a contact plate right inside the mic. If you can align the brass surfaces close enough (and they are clean and make good contact) yelling into the mic makes temporary contact and the robot will do whatever you have the controller set to, but you have to keep talking/screaming to maintain that connection! Sure, it's better than the "voice" control of the Dick Tracy Copmobile, but not by much.

When I got mine, it did not work. I worked on the electrical motor and gears in a patented process I use for toy restoration (!) and now I have to say that almost all functions work, not perfectly, but very well for a 46 year old toy! I have to adjust the control wire to get it to do the very top function, "turn left", improve the hand controller and replace the string that goes up and connects to the eyes to make them move as he moves ahead.

 

Take me back home