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  Robots!

The word sends chills down the spines of us humans; mere creatures of flesh and blood. We have seen countless movies showcasing robot superiority as they smash through walls like so much balsa wood (which they usually were), pick up cars like children's toys, and vanquish all who dare oppose them.

Of course a robot has to be created, whether by Martians, Planetary Councils, or the everyday lonely mad scientist bent on world domination. The robot's master would typically control the robot by one of several methods:

Pre-programmed : "Set and Forget". Simply program the robot and let it loose while you watch it destroy the world from the safety of your lab.

Remote Control : A much more dangerous method requiring you to be within range of the controlling device, typically a few yards. These devices were loved by the Forces of Good for they were easily taken away or destroyed leaving the robot either motionless (good) or totally out of control (bad).

AI : Similar to "Pre-Programmed", the robot is programmed with an intelligence and (supposedly) restricted to following the programmer's orders. Unfortunately, these types of robots would often develop "free-will" and turn on their creator.

There are of course robots that are created to serve mankind instead of destroy or enslave it. These robots are created in order to perform mundane everyday tasks that we humans no longer consider worthy of our time (doing dishes, taking out space garbage, etc., think "Rosie" from the Jetsons). In addition to household chores, robots have also been given the important task of protecting us from killer robots: a task that we are often incapable of performing without assistance. Of course, robots have also served as companions to isolated humans, forming bonds approaching what might be called 'friendship.'

Alas, not all robots were as successful as planned. Whether by design flaw, lack of inter-planetary funding, or just plain poor Martian planning, the following examples represent a few of the less successful models.

I now give you The Five Worst Robots of All Time.


Number 5: Mechagodzilla

Origin: Third Planet of the Black Hole
Height: 164 feet
Weight: 44,000 tons
Construction : Space Titanium exterior shell (No, not regular titanium... space titanium!)
Armaments : 8 finger-missiles (4 per hand), 6 toe-missiles (3 per foot), laser eyes, force field (produced by rotating head at high speeds), supersonic flight (up to Mach 4.5)
Weaknesses : Easily stuck in magnetic fields.
Fate: Head unscrewed and thrown into the sea.
Appearing in: Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)




What?! Mechagodzilla rocks!

Ok, he was cool looking and kicked a little butt. Now, before all the Godzilla fans out there start sending me hate e-mail, try to look at this guy objectively..with all that weaponry and power, Mechagodzilla forgets to unlock its own neck during a decisive battle and gets his head unscrewed! . Whether this fatal flaw finds its genesis in faulty software or poor hardware design is a moot point. The Simeons should be ashamed of themselves.

Mechagodzilla's designers, the Simeons, had the misfortune of having their entire solar system sucked into a black hole. (Bummer.) Eager to improve their standard of living, the Simeons build a robotic replica of Godzilla and send it to Earth to take over the world. The replica was covered in a rubber coating to make it appear exactly like Godzilla in order to maximize confusion upon arrival.

Arriving on Earth, MechaGodzilla gets to work by destroying an oil refinery. (A good enough place to start, I suppose.) The real Godzilla hears the rucas and opens a can of Whoop-Ass on the alien imposter. During the wild melee, chunks of MechaGodzilla's rubber exterior are torn off, revealing the truth behind this new adversary: an robot imposter!

During their final fisticuff, Godzilla manages to "reverse polarity" and turn himself into a living magnet. As everybody knows, Space Titanium is highly magnetic, and MechaGodzilla is unable to fly away. Finally, despite the fact that Mechagodzilla can rotate its head 360 degrees, the real Godzilla manages to twist MechaGodzilla's head off. I can only conclude that MechaGodzilla must have forgotten to release his Neck-Lock before the battle. Simeon engineers admit that they considered using a break-away cotter pin in the neck mechanism, but time constraints resulted in a "ratchet-wheel and pawl" device instead.


Number 4: Chani

Origin: Mars
Height: 12 feet
Construction : Martian refrigerator box and Christmas lights
Armaments : Disintegrating ray emitted from plastic dome on head
Weaknesses : Immobile arms, far from intimidating appearance.
Fate: Blown up in UFO on return trip to Mars
Appearing in: Devil Girl From Mars (1954)



This remote-control robot of Martian design, was the pride of the Martian race. Brought to Earth to help Nyah kidnap Earth males, Chani was primarily used as an instrument of intimidation. Chani's worth as a tool of intimidation was compromised by often being mistaken for a walking refrigerator. Facing interplanetary humiliation, Nyah was compelled to demonstrate Chani's immense powers of destruction. Pulling out her 3-pronged remote control, she ordered Chani to shoot and disintegrate a tree, an empty barn, and a broken down truck. Dispirited by Chani's display of agrarian destruction, the humans returned to the bar where they were being held captive, and continued drinking Scotch.

As far as mobility is concerned, Chani is far from agile. In fact, it appears that it has trouble spotting shrubbery on the ground as it nearly tumbles over small bushes on several occasions. In addition, Chani's arms remain motionless for the duration of its visit on Earth, so the gripping and crushing capabilities of these limbs can only be estimated.

Rumor has it that after the explosion, Chani's torso was recovered by 2 drunken Scottish shepards. The charred, yet intact, torso was returned to "The Bonnie Charley" pub, polished, and converted into a cigarette vending machine.


Number 3: The Human Robot

Origin: Mexico City
Height: 6 feet
Construction : Cardboard, 3 flashlights, 4-feet plastic tubing
Armaments : Overhead smash, various wrestling moves
Weaknesses : No knees, limited mobility
Fate: Torn limb from limb by an Aztec mummy
Appearing in: The Robot vs The Aztec Mummy (1958)



Another example of a poorly thought out remote-control robot. The, *ahem*, Human Robot, designed and created by famed hypnotist-gone-bad Dr Krupp (a.k.a. "The Bat"). Dr. Krupp learned from bitter experience that the Aztec mummy was not to be taken lightly, in fact, he lost 95% of his gang at the hands of the Mummy after foolishly taking the legendary Aztec breastplate and bracelet. (Dr. Krupp's right-hand man, Bruno, was horribly burned while Krupp himself was tossed into a pit full of rattlesnakes; he escaped via a secret door.)

In order to gain possession of the breastplate and bracelet and avoid a repeat of the earlier butt-kicking at the hands of the viscous Mummy, Krupp breaks into a "local laboratory" and steals a brain, a dead body, and "a machine that uses radium." (Why he didn't just steal a body with a brain already in it is not explained.)

Once the Human-Robot (a moniker which, in my opinion at least, is somewhat oxymoronic) is set loose on the Mummy, a brutal pseudo-wrestling match ensues. Despite its lack of knees, the robot delivers some brutal blows to the stunned Mummy, which does its best to rip the wiring from the front of the robot. Alas, the police arrive and shoot the remote control out of Krupp's hands, thus immobilizing the robot. Seizing the opportunity, the Mummy rips the robot, literally, limb from limb.

The Human-Robot's tattered remains were collected by local youths and unceremoniously recycled along with 2 cases of empty Coca-Cola bottles resulting in a 30 Peso refund.


Number 2: Torg

Origin: Mars
Height: 7 feet
Construction : Cardboard, model glue, silver paint
Armaments : Short temper
Weaknesses : Can be turned into a toy, painted on dials
Fate: Turned into a toy by Santa Claus
Appearing in: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)



Another example of Martian know-how. After Chani was destroyed 10 years earlier in "Devil Girl From Mars", the High Martian Council drastically reduced all funding for robotic research. In an effort to keep their grants, the Martian scientists at the Robots Center renamed the institute "The Martian Cardboard Robotics Research Center". To further dupe the High Council, they scientists drafted a new charter noting "...research into recycling cardboard into mechanical beings..." as the main field of research. The Council fell for the ruse and restored funding.

When the time came to attempt another Earth invasion, the Research Center was caught off-guard. In order to save face, the Cardboard Robotics Research Center was forced to assemble a robot using moldering refrigerator boxes taken from the employee lunch room. The resulting fiasco was christened "Totally Outrageous Recycled Garbage", or Torg for short.

Torg was quickly loaded into a flying saucer and released in the frozen wastelands of the North Pole. Guided to Santa Claus's house, he knocked down the front door and stormed inside the toy workshop. As the elves cowered in terror, Santa Claus remarked how Torg "looked like the biggest toy [he'd] ever seen." As the Martians looked on in mute shock, Torg transformed into a toy...literally.

Torg's failure was reported back to Mars and the responsible scientists were rounded up and shot for "Crimes against Martians...including mortal humiliation."

Torg's fate is shrouded in mystery. Rumors have trickled down from the North Pole that he was dismantled by the Elves after an all night Schnapps binge. Santa Claus cannot be reached for comment.


Number 1: Ro-Man

Origin: Planet of the Ro-Men
Height: 7 feet
Construction : Gorilla suit, diving helmet
Armaments : Calcinating ray, body odor
Weaknesses : Lack of peripheral vision, no common sense
Fate: Falls in love with a human and is subsequently destroyed by his boss
Appearing in: Robot Monster (1953)



Ro-Man, pictured above with the dreaded "Automatic Billion Bubble Machine", was sent to Earth in order to destroy its human population while saving our cities for his people's eventual "amusement." Using his Calcinator Ray, Ro-Man does in fact manage to wipe out every human being on the planet except for a family of 5 hiding in a roofless basement a mere 10 minute walk from his cave. (The family was rendered immune to the Calcinating Ray because of a "Super Serum", so there you have it.)

When Ro-Man discovers the survivors and their immunity to his ray, he resorts to more "traditional" methods of extermination: strangulation. Despite his bosses continual chiding, Ro-Man refuses to kill the Earth girl, Alice, and in fact, despite all his programming, falls in love with her. Ro-Man's boss, The Great Guidance, finally becomes fed up with Ro-Man's shenanigans and destroys the Earth, along with Ro-Man, by releasing a storm of Q-Rays.

Due to Ro-Man's utter annihilation, not much is known about his origins. Luckily, a few Ro-Man maintenance reports were discovered floating amongst Earth's rubble. These reports may give us some insight:

Date: Invasion minus 5 days - Problem: Ringing in ears - Ro-Man complains of a constant "ringing" or "buzzing" inside his diving helmet. Helmet was removed and cleaned as per Great Guidance's instructions.

Date: Invasion minus 4 days - Problem: Sluggish performance - Ro-Man notes a "sluggish" performance and a sensation of "tiredness." Replaced battery packs. Great Guidance suggests that it may be a case of pre-invasion nerves. Have also realigned Ro-Man's antennae in order that he may receive better TV reception at night.

Date: Invasion minus 3 days - Problem: Itchy Battle Fur - Ro-Man back in maintenance bay again. The complaint: itchy battle fur. A thorough check for Space Fleas turned up nothing except a rash behind his left knee. Applied ointment to rash and gave Ro-Man a tick bath. Great Guidance had a few sharp words with Ro-Man, in particular, that he had "better get his act together!". Will keep a close eye on Ro-Man as Invasion day approaches.

Date: Invasion minus 2 days - Problem: Front Port Hole Fogging Up - As usual, Ro-Man is in the repair shop first thing in the morning. Entire front window in his diving helmet has mysteriously fogged up. Removal and examination of the helmet reveals a faulty ventilation fan. The faulty fan and excessive sweat due to a late-night tray of spicy nachos led to the condensation. Ro-Man pleaded with me to not report this to Great Guidance. I complied and ordered Ro-Man to get some rest before the Invasion.

Date: Invasion minus 1 day - Problem: Cracked Diving Helmet - Ro-Man showed up around lunch time with a cracked diving helmet. He admits to accidentally discharging his Calcinator Ray while cleaning it in his cabin. The ray struck a vanity mirror and ricocheted into his helmet. Great Guidance reminded Ro-Man that self-inflicted wounds are "to be Hu-Man", and will not be tolerated. Ro-Man's diving helmet replaced.

Date: Invasion day - Problem: Missing Calcinator Ray - Invasion Day postponed. Ro-Man cannot find his Calcinating Death Ray even though he "swears [he] put it next to the bed as always." A disgusted Great Guidance has sent a new Calcinating Ray on the next mail ship.

No further records have so far been recovered.

How do you calculate that?
 


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