[Remco Robot]

[Remco 1]

[Remco 2]

[Remco 3]

[Remco 4]

[Remco 5]

[Remco 6]

[Remco 7]

[Remco 8]

[Remco 9]

[Remco 10]

[Remco 11]

[Remco 12]

[Remco 13]

[Remco 14]

[Remco 15]

[Remco 16]

[Remco 17]

[Remco 18]

[Remco 19]

[Remco 20]

[Remco 21]

[Remco 22]

[Remco 23]
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 Japanese counterparts.

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 collections.

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.

Leg Assembly
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.
Track Assembly
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.

Other Components

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.
Instruction Sheet
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:


Step A

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.

Step B

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 position.

Step C

By a gentle hand movement, the upper body can be rotated to either the left or right (Figure 6 and 7)

Step D

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 GB406 flasher 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 money order.

***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:







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.

Helpful Hints

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.

Click here for cool Lost in Space stuff!