Robby sold for 5.3 million dollars.

Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,233
edited 2017-11-26 - 18:19:56 in Robotics


  • ercoerco Posts: 19,601
    I got outbid at the last second! Nice to see that classic Robby is still appreciated.
  • For a time in the 70s, Robby was almost destroyed, displayed in a museum but not protected against damage by visitors. It has been repaired numerous times in the decades later. I once met the man who owned it in the late 80s.

    I'd be curious what exploitation rights the new owner received for his $5.3 million. I think MGM (or its new parents) still owns the unique copyrights to the design of the robot, as part of its copyright of the original film. The new owner didn't buy the prop from MGM, but from the private owner. While the new owner can display the robot, I wonder if he can use the likeness of the robot for marketing purposes beyond any artwork related to its curation. IOW, no using the robot to sell a new brand of whisky, even though Robby is capable of synthesizing it.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,233
    edited 2017-11-26 - 20:07:53
    Interesting thought. In a sane world if I owned the original Robby and took pictures of him to put on the labels of my whisky bottles (Distilled in the highlands of Mercury) nobody would have claim on any of that.

    Copyright law is not sane though. So who knows how it goes.

    Robby and I are the same age. We grew up together. Always my favorite. I hope he has a good home.

    Edit: Hmm... thinking about it. If owning Robby gave one the rights to use his image then the rights holders would have kept hold of him tenaciously and he would be rotting in storage someplace or perhaps been destroyed. Rights holders don't much care about our cultural heritage if there is not a dollar in it.

    So maybe the insane copyright law is for the best in this case.

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,601
    edited 2017-11-26 - 21:57:39
    Also due to copyright laws, R2-D2 builders (who spend years making their scratch-built robots) can't charge for demos or make a dime off showing their bots. Lots of charity and hospital events.
  • For Robby, RD-D2, and other famous bots, common law trademark probably also comes into play, because the public will easily relate the robot to the movie or other property. This prevents someone from coming up with knock-off toys with these robots.

    Story has it that 20th Century Fox basically threw out the set pieces and props to Lost in Space when that show was canceled. Robot B9 was literally in the trash dump before someone fished him out. I'm not sure who, if anyone, has that robot now.

    We know that Paramount did the same thing with the original Star Trek set, throwing away tons of stuff that today would be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, they kept the large Enterprise model, and it's in the Smithsonian today.
  • Looks like B9 is in safe hands, privately owned by producer Kevin Burns.

  • TorTor Posts: 1,987
    Heater. wrote: »
    Some lucky bugger bought Robby from Forbidden Planet for 5.3 million dollars.
    I would have worded it as "Some lucky bugger sold Robby from Forbidden Planet for 5.3 million dollars". :)

  • erco wrote: »
    I got outbid at the last second! Nice to see that classic Robby is still appreciated.

    Sorry, I just had to have it.

    I love the control box. It looks easier to use than a tablet with an app.
  • I'll have to watch the movie again to see what the "Geneva Movement" control does. I dimly recall there were some momentary motions that caused a "clack" sound every time they moved. Was there a Geneva cam that operated the sax valves?

    I looked for a video on YouTube of Robby's various motors, but didn't find anything useful. Fred Barton's site doesn't have many pictures of his replicas.

  • Tor,
    I would have worded it as "Some lucky bugger sold Robby from Forbidden Planet for 5.3 million dollars".
    I feel you have it backwards.

    I'm guessing that whoever bought Robby has enough money that is he is only spending his pocket money on Robby. He still has a lot more.

    Meanwhile the seller get's the pocket money and has no more Robby.

    Who is the "lucky" one?

  • TorTor Posts: 1,987
    edited 2017-11-27 - 21:43:23
    I admit to be completely ignorant about Robby until recently - until threads about old shows started to appear on this forum when there wasn't enough Propeller activity to keep us busy. That particular show was never aired in Norway. Or was it movie? Same thing - not shown.
  • Robby the Robot first appeared in a major sci-fi film of the 1950s, Forbidden Planet. Unlike the majority of science fiction movies of the time, it had high production values, name American actors (Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, others), and a good script, based loosely on Shakespeare's The Tempest. It would have been "shown" in Norway in the 50s, and later. It was a worldwide hit. It's not on any free Internet streaming service that I know of, because the movie still makes money on DVD and paid streaming (Amazon, whatever.)

    The robot also appeared in other movies and some TV shows, even an episode of Columbo, but these aren't what made it famous.

    The guy that sold Robby has owned it from the late 70s/early 80s, and put a ton of money into it. It was his passion. I'm sure he's glad to have the money, but like Erco said, it was likely sweet sorrow to see it go.
  • I cannot believe that the Forbidden Planet movie was not aired on TV in Norway at some time. Perhaps your mum put you to bed before it was on that evening.

    I don't recall when I first saw Robby, I was very young. Like I said we were born the same year. I feel we have grown up together.

    Robby has inspired our dreams ever since.

  • be honest, that was quite before our time for some of us! :lol:
  • I'm sure that is true.

    I feel sorry for the Star Wars generation(s). They missed so much.

  • TorTor Posts: 1,987
    Heater. wrote: »
    I cannot believe that the Forbidden Planet movie was not aired on TV in Norway at some time. Perhaps your mum put you to bed before it was on that evening.
    I'm certain it never was. Of course TV wasn't operational in Norway until 1960 (testing started in 1954), and the number of programs shown were very limited for many years - most of the day there would only be a test picture (great for adjusting the TV, but that was all). And in my part of the country TV transmitters didn't come until 1966. There was only a single channel, and no transmissions during daytime (only evenings) until much much later. By then I'm sure nobody considered showing old programs from the fifties or sixties. In 1967 and onwards we children were stuck with Flipper, Skippy the kangaroo, and Daktari for "foreign" entertainment (I happened to se re-runs of all of those when I lived in Italy much later, I can't believe how horribly bad they are. We didn't notice back then. Terrible.) Later in the evenings there would be various imports as well, mostly from BBC, but no science fiction. I don't think SF was shown on TV in Norway until 1978 ( which was actually very good).

    But we *did* (and I'm very happy about that) get to see the full Apollo program! Directly, no less. The TV medium was supposed to be about informing the public, thus science and nature programs were always available.

  • Tor,

    Well I never. TV broadcasting in Blighty started in 1936. Even Finland got telly in 1957.

    Oh yeah, stuck watching Flipper, Skippy, and Daktari. What a waste of young life that was. Luckily we had Dr Who to make up for it.

    I used to sneak down at night and hide in the dark as my parents watched the news at 10pm. Way past my bed time. They used to shut down at 11pm or so, after playing God Save The Queen.


  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2017-11-28 - 17:52:33
    One of the best thing about early BBC broadcasts was the test card *music*. It's a bit of thing now, with broadcast and Internet radio specializing in mid-century jazz, lounge, exotica, and "bachelor pad" music -- a good example is Retro Cocktail Hour, from Kansas Public Radio (

    Here's a sampling from one of the BBC testcard tapes:

    Okay, some of this is pretty lame by today's standards, and was intended to be light, akin to elevator music. But for aficionados it's gold, collectible in the same vein as original Musak reels. There are some pieces by well-known BBC composers, such as Ron Grainer (The Prisoner), Laurie Johnson (The Avengers), and others.

    The US really didn't have an equivalent (for one thing, there isn't a government-sponsored TV broadcaster here). American test cards were either silent, or were accompanied with fairly standard fare, such as a scratchy recording of a Bach concerto.
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