Lost in Space Remco Robot
If you were growing up in the late 60's and Lost in Space was
your favorite TV show chances are at some point during the
years 1966-1970 your parents put a REMCO Lost in Space
Robot in your Christmas stocking. If this is the case, reflect
for the moment on what happened to that Robot. Was it thrown
out once it stopped working? Did your younger brother or a
cousin inherit it? Perhaps you soon tired of the toy and
put it back in its box along with it's original instruction
sheet. With help from your mom you put it away in storage in
the top cupboard of your bedroom. Many years later when
you are packing your bags to leave home for the first time
you find the toy still in pristine condition in the top cupboard.
Wishful thinking but unlikely! You are probably one of many who
owned one of these Robots and you're probably kicking yourself
now for letting it go or allowing your little brother to
disembowel it. In this "Featured Collectible Section"
we look at this toy, arguably one of the most enigmatic
television toys of the 60's.
Long before Lost in Space memorabilia became a sought after
commodity, toy robot collectors were already actively building impressive
collections of robot and space toys. Much of their attention was
drawn to the beautifully crafted and shaped Japanese toys
with their blinking lights, buzzing sounds, clever and startling
automated antics and the decorative appeal of their colorful
and intricately detailed tin lithography. At this time there was
little or no interest in American robots which were viewed as
being inferior in quality and less imaginative than their
For many years the REMCO Lost in Space Robot was neglected by Robot
collectors. It seemed to embody all that
was unappealing in American robot design. Instead of
the colorful and detailed tin lithography and battery operated
wizardry of Japanese toys, the REMCO robot was predominately plastic
and most of it functions, with the exception of the forward movement,
were manually operated. Instead of the flashing banks of lights in the
chest and head of the original, children had to be content with a
single blinking chest light. It did not speak and unlike many
Japanese Robots, it had no offensive capability. It didn't even
swing its arms up and down. You had to do that yourself manually by
moving levers protruding from a slit at the back. In fact, all
other functionality such as steering and torso movement was manually
controlled. The only thing the toy could do under its own steam was
move forward courtesy of its flimsy battery powered motor. Heck, it
wasn't even Bump'n'Go! The toy's color didn't help either.
It came in a ghastly range of color combinations, even all black!
During the 60's some enterprising children, disappointed by their
Robot's color, even went to the trouble of painting it silver.
All to no avail. It just didn't make the grade with kids.
Ironically, the first American Robot toy, Ideal's Robert
the Robot, produced some 12 years earlier in 1954, had more to offer.
The latter was controlled remotely and could also talk! Any wonder
kid's gave the REMCO Robot the thumbs down after soon tiring of
its limited functionality? The toy seemed only a shadow of the
incredibly advanced TV character it was supposed to be based on, which
leads to perhaps the biggest gripe. The toy only vaguely
resembled the robot from the TV series. It displayed none
of Robert Kinoshita's wonderfully balanced original design.
It was so out of proportion, the dome head in particular, that
it looked almost like a charicature. Evidently the makers made
no attempt at accuracy and nowhere is this more obvious than
in their treatment of the Robot's track wheel arrangement.
Here they cut costs by opting for stickers with the Lost in Space
logo pasted onto both sides. This is a common practice in
today's cheap toys but in 1966 it was still a relatively new
cost cutting trick.
In fact, the appearance of the toy was so bad that one really
feels compelled to ask "why?" Did they think kids
were so stupid that they wouldn't notice the difference? Was
the design merely a cost saving measure? One possibility
is that the toy designers based their toy on one of Kinoshita's
earlier Robot design specifications. Kinoshita had offered Irwin Allen
several different Robot designs. One of these was a shorter
robot with a smaller dome. This view is consistent with the fact
that the packaging of the Robot shows a Robinson photo from the
pilot period (ie. with no Dr. Smith or Robot). A more cynical view
however would point to REMCO's poor track record of not really
placing too much emphasis on accuracy on any of their TV toy
tie-ins. There are many examples one could site here. Consider
Remco's 1968 "Land of the Giants Space Sled." There was no Space
Sled in LOTG. This was merely a repackaged "Supercar" from 1962.
Another good example also from LOTG was the "Space Ship Control Panel."
Here REMCO saved thousands of dollars in re-tooling by using it's
highly successful "Firebird 99" car dashboard rebadged with LOTG decals.
Yes it still came with a car steering wheel!
For many years, fueled by growing international demand, prices
of the Japanese tin robots skyrocketed while lack of interest in
American robots kept prices of homegrown mechanical men fairly subdued.
Today we have come full circle. Not only is there now
substantial interest in early American Robots but the enigmatic
REMCO Lost in Space Robot is a very sought after collectible
commanding as much as four figure sums for mint condition
examples in favored color combinations. Some collectors actually
consider the REMCO Robot to be a center piece of their Lost in Space
The toy has several claims to fame. First, it was the only 1960's
toy based on the Robot from the TV series. Its other claim to fame
was that a modified version of the toy was actually used as a prop in
an episode of Lost in Space: "The Mechanical Men" from the second
season. This episode featured an army of about 50 REMCO robots minus
the Lost in Space logo sticker and spray painted silver. The leader of
this army of tiny robots was spray painted purple. The robot army lays
siege to the Jupiter 2 campsite after proclaiming the Robinson Robot
as their prophesied leader. It has been reported that following the
shooting of this episode that Irwin Allen gave away these prop "toys"
to children of production crew and actors who visited the set.
In retrosect, the fact that REMCO Industries Inc. managed to secure
the rights to produce a Lost in Space Robot, comes as a surprise. Unlike
its competitors, Ideal and Marx, the company had little experience in
producing toy robots (at least not to the author's knowledge). Founded
at the end of the forties, REMCO was remembered for it generally
unremarkable and conventional product line throughtout the fifties.
An emphasis on bigger more imaginative items in the sixties saw
a shift to a wider range of toys, including battery operated toys. Popular
REMCO toys produced from this period include the Barracuda Sub (1962)
and Mighty Matilda Atomic Aircraft (1962). The 1966 Lost in Space Robot
came on the tail-end of this diversification. Interestingly REMCO had a
hand in two other classic Lost in Space toys from the 60's, the Lost
in Space Helmet & Gun set (1966) and the Lost in Space 3-D Action Game
(1966). The second half of the 60's saw the fortunes of REMCO take a
nose dive, the company finally selling out to Azrak/Hamway in the 70's
following a huge string of losses. Incredibly Azrak/Hamway known as AHI
was to produce an equally inaccurate Lost in Space Robot in 1977,
this time with Bump'N'Go action.
In general design terms, the 1966 REMCO Lost in Space Robot at first seems
hard to classify. Is it a skirted robot (legless for those
unfamiliar with toy robot collecting terminolgy), or a walking Robot?
The leg section design does seem to suggest that the toy does indeed
have two separate legs. This appears to be consistent with the first
early Robot from the TV series where he actually was seen to walk
in the early episodes, as opposed to rolling on tracks in
later episodes. But functionally, there seems to be no option but to call
this a skirted robot as the leg section is actually constructed from one
solid piece and there is no leg movement as such.
The REMCO Robot seems to have four identifible main components:
A Removable Dome/Neck/Collar Piece
This section consists of several components. An outer two piece
molded clear plastic shell representing the robot's domed head and
extending down to encase the Robot's distinctive collar and neck
assembly. The shell is held together by a series of snap
joints and a stiff circular wire which has been soldered tight
around the circumference of the dome. The wire is taut to the point
where even the slightest bump warped the whole dome assembly.
It's obvious the manufacturer's took the easy way out with the
design of the dome. Having a one piece molded dome would have
been techically challenging and a lot more expensive to make.
The neck assembly inside the plastic encasement consists of two
parts. A single collar/neck piece molded in the same color
as the Robot's torso fitted to a single black molded head
mechanism consisting of an 8 spoked arrangement with a central
axle reaching to the top of the dome. Again, these components bear
little resemblance to the corresponding parts from the
TV series Robot.
The combined Dome/Neck/Collar piece can be manually made to revolve and
is fitted and locked to the Robot's torso by two insert lips on
opposite sides of the torso.
The Robot's torso consists of two large pieces (front and back)
joined together by 4 screws at the sides. The front section has
openings to allow the protrusion of a single molded perspex piece
representing the Robot's front panel buttons and electronics.
The Robot's two arms extend from large openings at either side of
the front piece. The back piece has a single large rectangular opening
providing access to levers that control the Robot's arms.
On the back piece there is some raised copyright text and the
manufacturer's logo which reads:
Lost in Space T.M.
(c) 1966 Space Productions"
Each arm assembly consists of two corrugated pieces glued together
(top and bottom) and a separate one piece perspex claw, also joined
one assumes by glue to the end of the arms. The arms taper to flat
control levers protruding through the rectangular opening at the back.
The levers allow the arms to be moved from side to side but
do not allow the arms to be pushed in or out. This leaves the Robot's
arms perpetually in a extended position giving it a slightly
threatening demeanor. The arm control levers are also designed to overlap,
thus allowing the arms to move wide apart. Tension between the arms
is provided by a spring extending internally across the diameter
of the torso.
The torso can be manually rotated 90 degrees in either direction but
in many cases the built in "stops" are broken and the torso ends up
being able to rotate 360 degrees. In either case, movement is somewhat
restricted by two electrical wires used for lighting. These wires run from
the battery compartment located in the Robot's foot to a light bulb located
at the top of the perspex annunciator. Excessive rotation would obviously
cause these wires to come loose and this is, in fact, a common fault.
The leg assembly like the torso consists of two corrugated pieces
glued at the sides. The toy's leg assembly consists of just seven
layers as opposed to nine of the original. Also in the original, four
of the upper layers were larger and the remaining five were divided
up equally between two distinctive leg sections. In the toy however
all the layers are uniform in size and unlike the original do not
taper in, giving a somewhat ad-hoc appearance.
This is one of the most interesting components of the whole toy.
It consists of a one piece flat triangular shaped block made completely of plastic.
The front has several molded track patterns arranged in the form
of two "feet". The track arrangment is nothing like the
original which only had two visible rubber tracks at each side.
For some reason the toy also has a central bank of tracks, in
addition to the two outer ones, for each "foot." Perhaps this middle
track was included to break up the engine cover joints which clearly
protrude from two slits in the middle of each "foot."
On both sides a sticker shows an arrangement of 5 geared wheels.
This feature is totally inconsistent with the original
in which the wheels are more or less housed internally.
The sticker also has a prominent Lost in Space logo and what
appears to be two speaker grills or air vents which again
are not seen on the original.
The rear of the leg assembly incoporates two control components,
a lever for the single internal steering wheel at the bottom, and
a very promiment on/off push switch on the right hand side. Curiously
the push switch is housed in a protrusion which is also repeated on the
left hand side minus the switch. What was the purpose of this? Was it
included just for balance or are there variations where the switch is
on the left hand side? Another interesting feature is the
axle of the steering lever which can be seen protruding from the
top of the track assembly.
For some reason the track pattern of the front is not repeated at
the rear except for the two outer ones.
Snap Retainer Strip
This part sometimes referred to as a "battery bar" or "battery slat"
holds the two "D" size batteries in place in the battery compartment
of the Robot's feet. This part is often missing or broken and
replica replacement parts are known to exist.
The original toy was issued with a one page instruction sheet.
This sheet is often missing and sometimes is replaced
with a photo copy. For the benefit of those who don't
have one of these sheets the text reads as follows:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MOTORIZED ROBOT
REMCO STYLE 760
Place robot face down on table (Figure 1).
Insert two "D" size batteries as indicated
by arrows (Figure 2). Snap retainer strip
into holes provided.
Push switch in to start motor and pull
out to stop (figure 3). If motor
fails to operate, redo Step A. to be
sure batteries are new and are making
proper contact with metal springs.
Push handle in left or right direction (Figure 4) for a large or small
turning radius. Press the two
handles together (figure 5) in overlaping motion. Release fingers to
allow arms to spring back to original
By a gentle hand movement, the upper
body can be rotated to either the left
or right (Figure 6 and 7)
To replace lamp
in fornt inside panel, remove
robot's head by
turning (Figure 8), Twist lamp
out by using thumb and index
finger and replace with new
lamp or equivalent.
Service: Should robot fail to
operate, it may be returned to
the factory service department
for repair at a cost of $2.30.
Pack carefully to avoid breakage
and allow four weeks for repair
and mailing. Include the self-
addressed mailing label below
with robot and remit in check or
***NOTE*** This reprints the
instruction sheet word for word.
The REMCO company no longer exists so
sadly the repair offer no longer is
valid which is a pity because they probably
would have had a thriving repair business
today with the renewed interest in the
LIS REMCO robot.
The REMCO robot was sold in a white cardboard box.
The front of the box is dominated by a large photo showing the
red/blue model version of the toy which fills virtually half of
the box front. Close examination of the pictured toy
reveals that there are some minor differences. The toy on the box does not
have the two motor cover joints showing through the front
of the Robot's "feet." It also has a molded silver chest plate
and the chest lights appear to be of a different design. The flat
platform at the bottom of the Robot's "thigh" appears to be thicker
on the toy on the box. In the middle of the platform there is a
cut away piece which is not replicated in the manufactured toy.
At first these differences suggest that there may have been
several variations of the Robot. However the most likely explanation
is that the toy shown on the box was modified to
look more appealing. The other possibility is that it was an
early design prototype.
Also featured on the box is a first season color photograph of
the Robinson Party at the bottom left hand corner. This same
picture is used in REMCO's other Lost in Space toys such as
the Helmet & Gun set. The text on the box front reads:
BASED ON THE EXCITING CBS TV SERIES
2 "D" SIZE BATTERIES REQUIRED (NOT INCUDED)
The above information is repeated on all other sides along
with a stylized purple and blue illustration of the toy.
The phrase "MOTORIZED ROBOT" is used instead of "ROBOT."
The top of the box includes the same text but slightly reformatted.
Curiously, the function "MOVES FORWARD" however is dropped.
Text on the bottom of the box include Copyright statements
for Space Productions and REMCO together with a series of numbers
which appear to be serial numbers.
The phrase "STYLE 760" is found on all sides except the front and bottom.
The box front however has "760-450" model number in small text at
the top right hand corner. The box bottom has "ITEM # 760" included
at the head of a series of serial numbers.
When removing the Robot from the box, do not
lift it out by the dome.
Be very careful when placing the Robot
back in the box. Make sure it is put back correctly,
arms facing the smaller sides and not towards the
front or back. Failure to do may cause the glued
on claws to break off.
Use bubble-pack or acid free tissue paper to secure the
toy from moving about once inside the box.
Always store the box upright and never in direct sunlight
or excessively damp or dry areas.
If you are lucky to still own the instruction sheet
that came with the toy, it's probably a good idea
to store this separately. Keeping this inside in the
box is not a good idea because like most cardboard the
box is acidic and this will discolor the paper overtime.
Two variations have been reported to date.
1) Some robots were produced with chromed claws, so far
only the red/blue version have been reported as having
chromed claws but it is likely that small numbers
of other color combinations have these claws as well.
2) Robots sold through Sears had plain boxes without
the colored photograph of the Robinson family.