Own Your Own Robby the Robot

Own Your Own Robby the Robot

Robby the Robot is a fictional robot and early science fiction icon, first appearing in the 1956 MGM movie Forbidden Planet.

Robby the Robot was a 7-foot (2.1 m) tall fictional robot originally created in the mid-1950s by MGM’s prop department.The initial design was sketched by Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, refined by production illustrator Mentor Huebner, and then turned into reality under the direction of mechanical designer Robert Kinoshita. The robot quickly became a science fiction icon in the decades that followed.

A special edition, life-size, fully animatronic remote-controlled version of Robby, the robot from the classic 1956 film Forbidden Planet is now available to buy. Standing seven feet tall, Robby is created from the same blueprints, molds, and templates used to create the original costume. Robby is made by renowned artist Fred Barton, the man commissioned to restore the original robot after its sale to a Southern California prop museum in 1970. Every mechanism is handmade of the finest materials, and this version is remote-controlled.


The robot is pre-programmed to deliver his famous lines from the original movie, and the remote control allows you to adjust the robot’s volume, track selection, and start and st op functions. Robby can also be prompted to move his computer relay assembly, rotate his servo-controlled head, spin his planetary gyro stabilizers, and rotate his scanners while his various lights flash. The integral audio system produces CD-quality sound projected from a directional speaker system in the head and synchronized with the neon tube lights (the sound system can be connected to a home theater system), and you can project your own voice through Robby’s sound system with the wireless microphone (included).

Robby’s electronic brain incorporates advanced microprocessor-controlled technology, and the body is constructed of rugged Fiberglas which will not warp over time like thermoformed plastic. All metals in the robot are machine-grade brass, titanium, and aluminum to ensure lasting durability and quality. Robby is signed by the artist and by designer Robert Kinoshita, and officially licensed by Turner Entertainment.


Robbie The Robot in 1970’s commercial for Starlog Magazine 

The “Robby” robot prop in Forbidden Planet was also used in The Invisible Boy (1957). It made several further appearances in other movies and TV shows over the next few decades, including episodes of The Thin Man and The Addams Family. While Robby’s appearance was generally consistent, there were notable exceptions, such as Twilight Zone episode “Uncle Simon” (1962), where he was given a slightly more human “face”. At other times, Robby usually retained the working gears inside his transparent dome, although the details of his “brain” and chest panel were sometimes altered; in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Robby’s head dome was used as part of a regeneration machine. Robby made few film appearances after the 1970s, but there is a cameo appearance in Gremlins (1984), where he can be seen standing in the background and speaking some of his trademark lines; he was also featured in a 2006 commercial for AT&T.

Robby walked on mechanical legs. Later robot designs by his principal designer Robert Kinoshita, such as Robot B-9 of Lost in Space, moved smoothly on motorized treads (Robby appears opposite Robot B-9 in Lost in Space episode #20 “War of the Robots”). In Forbidden Planet, Robby was operated by Frankie Darro from inside the robot’s body; Robby’s voice was provided by actor Marvin Miller.

Robby also appeared in the Mork & Mindy second season episode “Dr. Morkenstein”. Robby portrayed a robot named Chuck, whom Mork befriended while working as a security guard in the science museum where Chuck was on display. Chuck was voiced by Roddy McDowall. In 2004 Robby the Robot was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame. The early 1960s Gerry Anderson all-marionette science fiction TV series Fireball XL5 contained a robot character called ‘Robert the Robot’. He made a number of subsequent appearances in science fiction movies and television programs, usually without specific reference to the original film character.




In 1971 the original (1956) Robby the Robot suit was sold to Jim Brucker and put on display at his Movie World / Cars of the Stars Museum, near Disneyland, in Buena Park, California, where it was often vandalized by visitors. Robot historian Fred Barton was commissioned with restoring Robby to his original 1956 state while the robot was still on display at the museum; Barton used original duplicate replacement parts made for Forbidden Planet suit by MGM’s prop department.

It was, however, in a desperate condition once again several years later. The museum closed its doors in 1980, and Robby, along with his vehicle, original MGM spare parts, and shipping containers were sold to William Malone. Malone noted that Robby had once again fallen into a state of disrepair. Having built the first ever replica of Robby in 1973, Malone was able to carefully restore the robot prop to its original condition using additional spare parts which the original builders had stocked in Robby’s stage cases some 25 years earlier. The original Robby the Robot suit continues to reside today in Writer/Director William Malone’s collection; Malone is the world’s foremost collector of original Forbidden Planet materials.



Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, this is a special edition, life-size, fully animatronic remote-controlled version of Robby.

Robbie the Robot went on to star in a ton of movies, TV shows, commercials and other media. I mean this robot is everywhere. I daresay you won’t find a celebrity living or dead who’s made more cameos than Robbie.



About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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