What is the history of toy robots and why are we all so intrigued? July 09, 2017 17:36
What is the history of toy robots and why are we all so intrigued?
My first memory of a robot was from the 1980’s show Small Wonder. Yes, this gives away my age and I am guessing a lot of other Gen-Xers remember this odd sitcom well. The show was about a family where the father was a robotic engineer who modeled and created a robot after a human girl and then told everyone she was his adopted daughter. They went through all the fun ups and downs of family life like most thirty minute comedic 80’s sitcoms except V.I.C.I (an acronym for Voice Input Child Identicant, pronounced "Vicky"), the robotic daughter would pop up with a robotic voice always “almost” giving up her identity as the family would try to hide her from house visitors and neighbors and pretend she was a normal human girl. It was a strange but fun show looking back at it now but it peaked my interest in robots when I was around 10.
Now as co-owner of Kauzbots, a popular plush toy robot who has a “heart” for charity, I started looking into why so many of us have interest in robots and why robot toys are popular. I did some research starting with Wikipedia. It explains that the origin of robots started in the ancient world and during the industrial revolution and development of complex mechanics combined with electricity, machines could be powered with small motors. Robots making use of artificial intelligence didn’t happen until the 60’s. Well it goes on and on as we now in 2017 have “Roombas” that vacuum our floors for us and other robotics that will mow our lawns.
So, why do kids and adults still gravitate to toy robots? Why are they as or more popular now than when they first came out? A man named
Darryl (no last name listed) wrote an article on toy robots. The more research I did he sounded like he has his facts straight. Before WWII toys were mostly made in Japan and not of the best quality. Germany and the US started to develop more advanced toys. The experts agree that the first toy robot was a yellow, boxy and clockwork robot from Japan probably emerged in the 1930’s.
Later most toy robots were made in America. In the 50’s the trend was really becoming more and more popular and robot toys were the favorite of kids. Some of these were called Marvelous Mike, The Robot Dog, Z-Man, Big Max and the list goes on.
It sounds as if the robot toys of yesterday are experiencing a renaissance. Christie’s auctions off some of the older toys for upwards of 10-50k a piece. At the same time toy companies like Kauzbots is seeing no slow-down of kids loving robots old and new alike. I am guessing it was the same fascination I had of V.I.C.I, the “small wonder”. She was a girl but also a machine…and there were underlying questions if she could think on her own or have emotions or a heart? Now kids today have the same fascination. I think that is why Kauzbots have the popularity they do. These are robots with hearts and a mission for changing the world and that was the hope, fascination and dreams of all the kids playing with robots throughout time. Could they come to life and actually accomplish something? I love that Kauzbots accomplishes something special with each purchase
Take a look at Cruz, our Kauzbot on Amazon who is helping bring clean water to the impoverished.