About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A is for Answer Robot

There was a game, very popular in the past, more of a 'parlour game' than a board game, but it was sold as or in-with the board-games, and would end-up in the family board-game cupboard.

There were many versions from the 1950's or earlier, through to the 1970's if not '80's, it appears on all the auction sites in a dozen languages and can come with a magician/mage/mystic, or a monkey/ape, but the best is The Answer Robot!

Mentioned a few years ago here in passing (possibly in a 'News, Views...'?); it was re-issued the other year as The Magical Amazing Robot, I didn't at the time of mention have the publisher - it's House of Marbles.

Spoiler alert - for the young at heart, please miss-out this and the next paragraph!

The mechanism is simple slight-of-physics in that you set the robot (or magician/monkey) correctly and then turn him to a question "Any question, pick a question sir, I'll wager the robot gets it right", he having been rotated has become off-line with his hidden magnet.

You then move the answerer to the mirror-pond in the centre of the answers and by placing him randomly opposite a wrong answer, he will revolve until his hidden magnet lines-up with another hidden magnet set at another angle, under the pond; both being polarised bars which can only line up one way, leaving the answerer pointing to the corresponding correct answer!

Here he is, the subject of today's biography! He oozes that 1950's throwback kitsch to the Sci-fi of the Edwardian era, of Wells and Verne, looking more like a kid's comic idea of a robot schoolteacher, still a popular trope when I was young, and you will recognise him as being . . .

. . . a reduced-size copy of the old Archer robot, a copy/re-issue of which by Glencoe is seen on the left, with an original (sans 'answer stick') sandwiched between, His pointer arm has been re-set to allow for the dramatic sweep of the denouement and his feet absorbed into the large base, but otherwise there's not much in it.

The new one is lacking in the finer surface detail (as if the other two have much to write home about!) and would seem to be a copy, but a good one, there's no reduction in size; or from a very old and tired mould.

It's not the first time the Archer has been served 'homage', as both Johillco and Cherilea issued copies of him first in hollow-cast lead and then in plastic (as seen here) possibly under the later Hilco branding, all examples are around the 50mm mark, and very brittle these days in the plastic form.

With the gubbins of the secret base removed he looks like a robot mine-detector, or a Vogon intergalactic space-highway surveyor!

Another difference between the older version and this latest incarnation, it that the old one was formed round the pointer (which would have been set in a jig in the tool before each shot), while the new one has the [heated] wire inserted into the hand after the figure has been manufactured, leading to minor melting/loss of detail to the fingers of the hand.

The dismantling of the set for onward transit to the recycling-bin raised an interesting query which will appear as a separate Question Time in an hour.

And many thanks go to Adrian Little for letting me photograph mine next to his pair.

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