All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Once a week, I would meet with my partners, KISCOM, later called, The OBB, to kick around ideas. Some of these attempts to second guess the toy industry should have been kicked out. Others seemed worthwhile at the time, or, at least, worth a try. In the week that followed, I would do some drawings. Or, if drawings didn’t seem to be enough to demonstrate the concept, I would make a model. Then, KISCOM would take product out and try to sell it. “Robo Bear” was one of those ideas, destined to be thrown against the wall, in the hopes that it would stick.
So, I bought a suitably sized bear, and installed everything but the kitchen sink. If Robo Bear happened to resemble a character in an already outdated movie, Robo Cop, the similarity was not accidental! Like his cyborg inspiration, Robo Bear’s eyes were a series of red LEDs that constantly moved back and forth horizontally, in the narrow window of his helmet. The photo below, a time exposure , shows them as a line of dots, when, in reality, one saw only two animated points of light at one time, moving quickly. The effect was quite dramatic. He also had a Ray Gun, and a Flashlight in his tummy. All these effects were accompanied by appropriately dramatic sounds, whistles, zaps, and loud explosions!
According to the book of projects, my partner Noah recently gave me, Robo Bear got some attention. But, in the end, he came home to me, to become another exhibit in the Land of Lost Toy’s Hall of Infamy.
I also came across a series of preliminary drawings. For reasons I can’t remember, or explain, only three of the five were colored. “Robo Puppy,” “Robo Monkey,” “Robo Kitty,” “Robo Bunny,” with his little carrot weapon, and an early visualization of “Robo Bear.”
And so, poor Robo Bear remains in a state of suspended hibernation, waiting for the day when all Teddies will become robotic. From what I see in the news, lately, that time won’t be far away.