Exposing The Device – The Unbelievable ‘Miss Honeywell’


In the 1960s there was a flurry of electronic and computer innovation and breakthroughs. Near the end of the decade, in 1968, London, England, hosted a trade fair – the Instruments, Electronics and Automation Exhibition at the Olympia conference center. One would imagine that it should have been filled with all kinds of new and exciting examples of modern ingenuity. After a very thorough search through several databases, only one exhibit appears to have made an impression.

The video below is from the fantastic British Pathé collection on YouTube. It features Miss Honeywell – “a futuristic ‘robot girl’ demonstrating various pieces of equipment by computer company Honeywell Controls Ltd..” The commentator is skeptical. The observers seem fascinated.


Yes indeed. The commentator is correct – the man at the controls is illusionist Mark Wilson. Wilson has been credited as the man who brought stage magic innovation to television. He’s since had a very successful career, earned the title of Master Magician, and has been honored with numerous national and international magician awards by his peers. ‘Miss Honeywell’ was more than likely Wilson’s wife and longtime assistant, Nani Darnell.

It appears that the innovation that stole the show in 1968 wasn’t an electronic computerized automation at all – it was instead a dazzling low-tech illusionist invention. Below are two pages of Mark Wilson’s ‘APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR PRODUCING DISPLAY ILLUSIONS’ abstract. It was filed in January 1969 and was patented October 1971.

US Patent 3,612,516 Abstract

US Patent 3,612,516 Abstract  (Image via cyberneticzoo.com)

US Patent 3,612,516 Figures 1 and 2

US Patent 3,612,516 Figures 1 and 2  (Image via cyberneticzoo.com)

Just one last thing about the ‘robot girl’ – she wasn’t a one-trick-automaton. Wilson’s creation traveled to a number of exhibitions and trade shows. Earlier in ’68 she did a gig for Hamilton Beach as the highly efficient housecleaner ‘Roberta the Robot’ at the Home Furnishings Exposition in San Francisco. By 1970 she developed a glitzy glammish look and took to speaking French – La ‘femme robot ménager’ can be seen here.

Be Prepared For An Intent Quest If The Radicon Robot Is What You Seek


Collecting toy robots is a serious business – especially collecting vintage toy robots. As noted in a previous post, those produced in post-WWII Japan are some of the most prized to collectors. To many hobbyists, acquiring The Radicon Robot is like obtaining the Holy Grail.

14.75″ tall (22.5″ tall to top of wire antenna) made in Japan by Masudaya (Modern-Toys) in 1957. This is the second known radio-controlled toy and the first known remote-control robot. The Radicon Robot is also the first of the famous “Gang Of Five” classic Japanese robots. The robot was technically difficult to produce due to the complex mechanism and the thicker tin plate used to stamp the parts for it. The outside surface of this tinplate has a special textured paint that was electrically-applied. The robot is controlled by… [a] deep remote (complete w/15″ long antenna) that is battery-operated, as is the robot itself. Left side of the robot’s head has separate wire antenna to receive commands given via remote. [When the] robot’s “Off-On” switch is turned on robot begins working and functions include – moves forward, arms swing, loud clicking noise is produced, both antennas on head turn and occasionally changes direction. This action (changing direction) as well as stopping and starting is…controlled by using the remote. [There is a] light in [the] chest compartment as well as blinking eyes.
Hake’s Americana and Collectables

The pictures below are from the Hakes 2013 Auction #210 listing. Bidding for The Radicon Robot ended 21 November 2013. The winning bid was $7,210.50, which included a 15% Buyer’s Premium. So, the next time you’re browsing around resale shops, garage sales, or flea markets, consider well those old/vintage toy robots – there just might be a whole lot more to them than meets the eye.

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Deep Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

If you’re interested in pop culture collectables you can’t go wrong by checking out Hake’s. The items listed for sale or auction are always in great/good condition. Ted Hake has a passion as a ‘middleman of memories’ and has been in the business as the captain of secret treasure since the 1960s.

Behold, the Alps Television Spaceman Robot!


This robot is a star from the Golden Age of robot and toy production. It was a masterpiece of mechanical design. The ‘Television Spaceman’ was created and manufactured by Alps  – one of the top Japanese toy companies to emerge post-WWII. If you wonder why so many collectors note Made In Japan when describing a mid century robot or toy, the answer is twofold: quality and multiple features. Alps put both of those virtues into the Television Spaceman – and a lot of creativity to boot. You can click here to read all about the fantastic features of this little marvel at Robot Era.

As can be seen in that nifty video, the centerpiece of this prized robot is the television:

…pre-Apollo era artwork inspired by (or more accurately copied from) the works of the famous space artist Chesley Bonestell…Also noteworthy is Dr Werner von Braun’s space plane prominently displayed at various points in the panorama.

Not all toy robots are alike – and there’s more than just a bit of graphics that set them apart. Alps’ ’61-’69 Television Spaceman robot is a splendid example of just what exactly does.