Greetings, Earthlings!

Technology promises to bring the color of cinema to home TV sets

Photo: Daniel Sheehan

Visitors to the Forbidden Planet of the 1956 movie of the same name were met by the metallic marvel in the back. Visitors to the Robot Hut in Elk, Wash., are greeted by the man in the middle. The working replica of Robby the Robot [rear] is one of 2753 toy robots and movie replicas in the collection of John Rigg, a retired electrical engineer and robot enthusiast. As proprietor of the Robot Hut (, Rigg has been collecting, repairing, and building toy robots since 1980, and he is far from finished. Right now he's halfway through a two-year project to build Johnny Five, a wheeled robot from the Short Circuit movies of the 1980s. "That's the most complicated movie prop ever made," he says. "There are 24 servos just in the head that are under computer control."

Rigg has also constructed a jeep version of Robby the Robot, but it hasn't seen the open road in a while. More than a year ago, Rigg was showing him off on the street outside his ranch when Robby had a fender bender. "When you're sitting [in the jeep] behind him, Robby blocks your view," says Rigg. "I thought I had a clear shot into the yard, but I hit the mailbox."