(The Future Mechanic Biological Robocaterpilas)
I was lucky enough to cross paths with a Robocaterpilas. These were released in Japan by Gakken back in 1986. What is a Robocaterpilas you may ask? I'll let the box do the explaining. The following is directly from the top of the box complete and unedited:
"In the year of 2295, the human race faced a biggest crisis. This Earth was beginning to be ruled by machines and computers (bio-metals) been parasitic on by a new type of organic virus (provides proliferating function by changing metal to organic matter) which had been transported by a metercrite. The human race had to escape underground. They manufactured a new creature applying the organic virus collected from the biometals. This new born creature had a thick and strong shell, so he could resist any attack from outside as a sphere attitude. His staple good was the metals other than his comrade. He was equipped with the proliferating function like the viometals. This creature was named "Robocaterpilas" and was studied and developed scores of sorts with different functions. Robocaterpilas was released to the ground and began to eat the biometals continuing the proliferation fro the purpose of recovering the world in the hand of human race again. Now began the battle between Robocaterpilas and the biometals in the year 2300."
Hungry to know more about it? The side of the box features a bit more enlightenment:
"He has a very aggressive character. He will charge at the enemy and knock down at once with his bog body whenever he has found an enemy. He destroys by treading on anyone smaller than him. Because he is a trial No. 1 proliferated underground and inside of his living body is weak against the ultraviolet rays so he moves as a sphere in broad day light, but changes shape after sunset and enters upon an aggressive attitude. He is also capable of walking underground."
The other side of the box features the unit unrolled and rolled and states that it requires batteries, has lights, and is for Children ages 3 and up.
The back of the box has some very archaic instructions on how to prepare the unit for operation. The original receipt was also in the box.
The Robocaterpilas is bigger than I had originally envisioned. The sphere has a circumference of approx. 13".
The battery compartment takes 2 "AA" batteries and is located in the center of the drum.
The segments are held together by a very sturdy and clear line. Thicker than fishing line, it connects to two reels. One of the reels is motorized and works like a wench retracing and extending the line.
With batteries in place, and the knob pulled to activate the unit the balls rolls for a bit, then opens up and the unit crawls about. When it hits a wall it goes into reverse and after a short period rolls back into a ball, and the cycle starts over, all while the red panels are illuminated. Pretty advanced for a toy back in 1986, yes?
So does it really work? When I first tried it on a large open space the unit worked wonderfully. Far better than expected I was delighted to see such a vintage toy perform so well.
I decided I wanted to try and get some video of the unit doing it's thing. So I moved into a smaller place (my model work desk, AKA The Lab) to try and capture some video. Of course it did not go as planned, and a couple hours of trying only resulted in two clips. I think you can get the idea of what it does. One of the clips actually shows it operating upside down for a better view of the mechanics.
(These should open with Windows Media Player, they are .avi files)
Robocaterpilas Video 1
Robocaterpilas Video 2
The only other review I have seen on this unit is here. The one I have was made in Taiwan, so it may be a bootleg, as I do not see Robogorgon, nor Gakken anywhere on the box. It reminds me of Molga / Kreep, and makes an interesting addition to any collection. If you ever come across one, don't be afraid to pick it up!
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