When These Robots Enslave Us, It'll Be an Adorable Enslaving

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

As a kid, I remember that a suspicious number of my toy robots seemed to originate from Tomy, which I always pictured as a sophisticated Japanese concern, headquartered in a gleaming steel building on, probably, a hovering island off the coast of Hokkaido.

I thought this because, unlike most toy companies, Tomy seemed to secretly long to be a real robot company. Sure, they had the usual little wind-up and remote control robots (and the less usual, like the owl-bot pictured here), but they kept sneaking into their line more and more sophisticated ones. This site gives a great rundown of the whole 70s-90s era Tomy Robot Army, so you can know just who your cute new plastic master is.


  1. We had hootbot and spotbot, and they did get a little imperious near the end. Good thing batteries are a single point of failure, or this story would have a sad ending.

  2. That’s no “owl-bot,” but a Hootbot. I’ve still got mine somewhere. Came with a plastic perch. It is awesome.

  3. Hootbot sucked… If the only thing you asked for for Christmas was Omnibot and then Santa brings you this piece of crap. I can still here it whirring around my parents’ rec-room floor.

    Grind, grind, grind, grind. Hoo! Hoo! Grind, grind, grind, grind…


  4. sad, sad. I take it none of you discovered the little circular removable hatch on HootBots base?

  5. Emily I understand how you felt, but you should never blame a cute robot because your human parents fault…

  6. Sigh. I still have my Omnibot, but sadly I melted the remote on top of the gas fire. I loved that little guy (even though I am still pissed I never got an Omni2000). The look of horror on the dog’s face when you switched the remote to ‘follow’ & he lurched towards her croaking ‘Watch out, I’m coming!’ was priceless. Poor dog, she hated that robot.

    Anyone know where I can score for an Omnibot Jr. remote? I suppose it wouldn’t be out of the bounds of possibility to make one, but I’d kinda like him to be complete again…

  7. Also, if anyone bought me a Big-Trak for Christmas, I would love them for everandeaverandever.

  8. OMG! OMG!

    I loved those robots growing up but they were bloody expensive. But, one Christmas my parents were able to afford a HootBot for me. I played with it until it fell apart.

  9. I received a Verbot for Christmas one year. The only problem was I had a speech impediment. (Well I still do, just not as bad.) Nothing smashes your self esteem like a misguided gift. :) “Stop. Stop. NO STOP! Left. Left. Turn left. LEFT! TURN LEFT!!!”

  10. My uncle got me a Hootbot one year. I loved it; my mom got sick of it and threw it away. I still miss that stupid thing.

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