I personally find it very fulfilling to hear all the different reactions of people during the convention to R.O.B, from shock and awe, to people mentioning how exhausted and hot I must be inside, They aren’t wrong! Something I find very funny is there’s definitely a generational gap where people old enough call me “That old NES robot”, and very young kids call me “The robot from Smash Bros” but people in between these generations will mistake me for WALL-E, or Johnny 5, both fantastic characters so I happily take the compliment! I think specifically at ECCC 2019 one of my favorite moments was when an R2D2 droid operator had his replica R2D2 and my R.O.B dance together to a song the droid was playing, it was a very fun interaction that you would only experience at a convention like this.
As a robotics engineer
I was originally inspired by the methods I’ve seen for the construction of human size Lego mini-figure cosplays and what could be achieved out of cardboard for those projects. as such R.O.B is primarily constructed out of cardboard due to both it’s light weight, low insulation, and low cost in terms of a material. certain mechanical aspects like the shoulders that fold upwards are mostly achieved with just duct tape acting as folding joint, otherwise R.O.B is held together with a lot of hot glue for static parts, and high strength Velcro for attaching joints together at the convention for easier transportation.
The largest task was understanding exactly how to adapt the dimensions of R.O.B in order to accommodate my human proportions. R.O.B is mostly composed of three large sections, the head, the torso/arms, and the base. This really only allowed for the very skinny central column section of R.O.B’s design to be used to hide my human body, however this all meant that those three major sections would have to be fairly large in order to effectively pull off the correct proportions of R.O.B, so whilst my R.O.B cosplay is not an exact scale of the original R.O.B design, by playing with the scale of these three major parts a little I could create an effective illusion of such extreme dimensions in order to hide my body.
The central body column section was created with a flexible elastic cloth sewn into a tube shape with gaps for my arms to come out inside the torso, and a thinner tulle fabric used in the face area so I could see through the material and out of R.O.B’s neck. The base of R.O.B actually separates into two separate sections, each on three wheels and strapped to each leg for mobility, they also magnetically snap back together for proper alignment and very quickly create the illusions of a single solid base, mobility is still however very slow and must be done very carefully. The torso is very lightweight simply sitting on my shoulders, and the arms have internal handles with which for me to hold and manipulate allowing for better leverage over the movement of the torso, it also feel like controlling a giant robot mech which can be very fun when posing for photos. The head is attached to my body via a bicycle helmet that allows it to sit atop my head achieving some of the extra height/size required for the illusion of R.O.B’s proportions. And of course my favorite part, R.O.B’s eyes, are actually made out of a pair of deconstructed large googly eyes for the perfect dome plastic covers.
—- Jonny Tash