There’s something pretty outrageous — and admirable — about creating a culture of nostalgia for something that actually never even existed aside from in the collective imagination. We’re talking about robots, here. Robots that seem to harken back to the good old days of charming but low-budget, humanoid machines of several generations preceding the likes of upscale versions like Lucas’s “C3PO” and Lang’s “Maria.” Of course, those two were in themselves upstarts, comparatively speaking, as robots have appeared in literature at least since ancient Greece and Rome when when authors like Plato, Homer, Tacitus, and Pliny wrote about animated bronze and clay humanoids.
The robotic ensemble of imaginative UK designers, makers, and 3D wizards Scott Brimley and Onorio D’Epiro are not the menacing androids of “Terminator” and “Blade Runner” fame. There’s a cartoon-innocence about these automatons, which are nonetheless the products of cutting-edge, 3D design and printing process combined with the artful elaborations of D’Epiro.
Brimley and D’Eprio’s “Just Robots” are available for purchase on their website, which provides information and imaginative photos of their creation and production processes. Note that the robots, which are figurines, don’t actually perform any real functions — but that’s hardly the point, it seems, for their makers or for those of us who find them utterly delightful collector’s pieces.
The four robots in the Just Robots line all have names. There’s Chunky Bot, Strong Bot, Beep Bot, and Chatter Bot, all of which are shipped to customers in handmade boxes. The figurines, which are 3D printed in black, are painted by D’Epiro. Each robot is slightly different from the others in its line. Customers can make specific requests for the finishing of their robots (within reason, I assume). They range in height from around 10 cm to 5.8 cm.
The robots begin on D’Epiro’s drawing table. His sketches are synthesized by Brimley, who transforms the drawings into 3D models using Blender. The partners collaborate on the modeling process, refining as they go until they arrive at a final design, which then gets submitted for 3D printing using iMaterialise’s online 3D printing service.
The robot figurines range in price. Strong Bot, seemingly a loveable simpleton, goes for £60 ( about $90 USD). Chatter Bot, Beep Bot, who looks a bit apologetic to me, and Chunky Bot, my favorite, all sell for £35 (about $52). If you’re shipping from the UK to the United States, plan to pay a shipping charge of £15 (around $22).
Be sure that you don’t overlook the gallery on D’Epiro and Brimley’s site, where happy owners of some of the robots have submitted creative photos of their miniature, retro-automatons.
Will you be joining their ranks with your own robots? Let us know what you think of these figures in the Just Robots forum thread at 3DPB.com.