I have a crush on a certain little robot

I will confess I have a crush on a certain little robot. I’m sure you’ve seen him in my photographs before: cute little guy with an inquisitive nature. This crush began in the fall of 2014 when I created this robot from the plans supplied in LEGO Space: Building the Future by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard.

Like most LEGO builders, I have a house full of LEGO, until I have to actually build something. So when I created my little robot, he wasn’t exactly as the creator intended. I made a few substitutions that I liked, solid eyes, round tops to his ‘feet’ and shorter legs. You could say I customized him out of necessity, but even with these compromises, he’s clearly a Peter Reid creation.

This little robot has travelled with me to Hawaii, Utah, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Last summer I wrote a post about who my favorite mini-figures were and even then he was at the top of my list  (although technically he’s not a mini figure). I’ve photographed him with the winter’s first snowfall, in the autumn rains, smelling the spring wild flowers and watching a Hawaiian sunset.

My crush on this little guy is not unique however. When Kristina came to visit last November, she too fell in love with this precocious fellow. She took her fair share of photographs of him while she was in Seattle, and when she left I gave him to her as a parting gift. It makes me happy to think that this little robot is in Sweden with my friend as a memento of our fun adventures together.

A few weeks ago I received a message through Flickr from the creator himself – Peter Reid – asking me if I would like him to send me a new, updated version of his little creation? I was left speechless, a rather rare occurrence, by this email. Of course I said: “yes!” Who wouldn’t? But this gift from Peter means more than a few pieces of LEGO assembled into a clever build. I’ve always felt that I ‘stole’ this robot, he wasn’t my own creation, I’d only found a set of instructions in a book and made this robot and set him free into the world.  I never could quite shake the feeling that I’d crossed the line into someone else’s Intellectual Property.  I felt that with his gift of Keko, and his companion turtle, that I was given ‘permission’ by Peter to keep exploring my world through the eyes of his inquisitive robot.

When I took him with me for his first outing on the Seattletoyphotosafari, I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed him. When I first saw him through my view-finder, I was overjoyed! Of course, all of this makes me wonder exactly what my connection to robots is? Do I have this connection to all robots or only this one? Is it because of our shared experiences? Or is it because I have decided he’s my personal muse as I explore the macro world around me? Or does this fascination reflect our own increasing interactions with artificial intelligence in the terms of virtual personal assistants, self driving cars and video games?

A sight for sore eyes.
A sight for sore eyes.

There is no denying that as a human species we’ve always been fascinated with the concept of the modern day robot since it was first introduced in the early 1920’s. My entire understanding of robots and their interactions with humans comes from Isaac Asimov’s seminal work I, Robot and the rules he developed called: Three Laws of Robotics. It remains to be seen, as our world continues to develop artificial intelligence at a rapid pace, if the creatures we develop will be our saviors or our downfall. Will these life forces we’ve created, destroy us like the Robots of the Flight of the Concords song:

The humans are dead
The humans are dead
We used poisonous gasses
And we poisoned their asses

Or will they be the benevolent helpmates that become our companions and advisors, like the drones in Ian Banks’, Culture series?

I think you can get a sense that I enjoy reading science fiction novels, and I’m sure my love of this little robot named Keko, as well as all things originating in LEGO classic space, have their origins in that interest. I like the idea of my robot alter ego looking around and exploring our incredibly unique world with his “outer space” eyes.

I’m grateful Peter Reid reached out and sent me this little guy and his companion turtle. I now have spare parts, different colored eyes (I can only presume the yellow set sees better in the dark) and interchangeable ‘hands’ . To this stock of spare parts I’ve added a fishing pole (complete with fish), a cat companion, a well worn teddy bear and a cowboy hat. I’m not sure what other accessories will accompany him on his journey, only time will tell.

Face Off
Face Off

Now that he’s back in my life, I’ve no doubt we have a few more stories we want to tell together. And as Keko and I continue to explore the world together, now with Peter’s blessing, we will take his final words to heart:

“Good luck with your mission. Hunt the awesome.”

~ Shelly

I know I’m not the only one who’s fascinated with robots and the ideas behind them. As I mentioned earlier in this post, Kristina has her own attraction to them; Mike is also attracted to robots and has photographed his own creations with amazing results. Are you fascinated with robots, LEGO or other wise? If so, why do you think that is? Do you have a  favorite LEGO robot image you’ve taken or seen from another photographer? Lets take a moment and talk about our love of robots!

0 Comments

  1. His creations are amazing! I got into LEGO by playing with my uncle’s classic space collection and 20 years later I went out of my dark age being inspired, among a few other, by Peter Reid’s classic space creations. Also the Exo Suit is one of my all time favorite LEGO model and the only one I bought 3 times.

    Nevertheless I’m rather attracted to large robots or minifig-like android. I’m particularly fond of the ones from the Spyrius subtheme. Set 6889 is both one of the very first LEGO set I owned and one of the very first I used for photography. I also recently acquired set 6949 (old dream comes true…), and it includes a very robot minifig that find very funny and still need to photograph. But I guess my attraction to these are due to nostalgia…

    • Lol! The Exo-suit is one of my all time favorite LEGO sets and I also bought it 3 times.

      Since I didn’t grow up with LEGO I find myself going backwards in time. Thanks for tipping me off to sets 6889 & 6949. Very cool robots indeed! I can see why you would be attracted to them. I enjoy some of the smaller Ninjago mechs like set 70500. But I have yet found a good way to photograph it. Maybe the lens baby would help. But I think he’s pretty cool even if I never photograph it. 🙂

  2. fubiken/Stefan.K

    Hello 🙂 I have always loved scifi since I was a kid, so robots was always there. Robots have always been there as minions, masters, equals. Don’t have a good shot of robors yet but I have R2, C-3PO and BB-8 but we have not worked good togher..yet. Let’s all hope that the future is not full of T-800 robots 😉

  3. Stefan it is testament to how out of touch I am with the Star Wars universe that I don’t even equate R2, C3PO and BB-8 as robots. But you’re right, they are the quintessential examples of robots as mans help mate and friends. Yes lets hope the world is not full of T-800’s! Yeah for Science Fiction and all the wonderful robots that have been created – both for good and evil!

  4. dornyika

    I don’t like space theme, sci-fi or robots is general. But these tiny robots are just so cute! I especially like Mike”s robot but I don’t see how they can stand nor how to build them (neck joint?). I adore Kristina’s and your pics of Keko and I think I will finally get the parts and build mine!

    • I’ve seen plenty of Mikes robots and they are all lovely. He simple doesn’t post them on line. Several images made it into the best of 2015 book though. I think his robots are perfect for photograph, but not very possible. I think that is what makes Keko so amazing, is his range of motion. While limited and he always seems like he’s going to fall apart, you can really get great expressions out of him. I would love to see what you do with him! I think making him is more than worth the effort. 😀

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