- Written by Daniel Livingston
Having spent a great deal of my youth watching TV, going to the movies and reading comic books, a desire was building to get my hands on some of the great gadgets I was seeing on the screen and reading about. I always imagined being a secret agent, a super hero or the captain of a starship. The electronics simply fascinated me and the gadgets they had were super cool. The flashing colors of a flying saucer's control panel or the super high-tech gadgets of the Bat cave always caught my attention. Every time Bruce Wayne went to the study and flipped the hidden switch, I watched in awe. The secret panel in the wall would slide open to reveal the batpoles. I wanted a secret panel. He descended into the batcave where every "high-tech" device was labeled, so that you knew what advanced capability it had and I wanted all of them. Of course the Batmobile was Batman's best gadget of them all. Will Robinson had his own robot, and I wanted one of my own. James bond had an Aston Martin with all of it's gadgets and I wanted one.
I went on to get a degree in Electrical Engineering and finally had enough know-how to attempt to create my own gadgets or better yet, recreate some of the ones I saw on TV and in the Movies. But what would I attempt? The Batmobile would be the coolest to own, but was out of my reach. Although there are several very talented people out there that have made excellent replicas, I didn't have the right automotive skills let alone the money and room to make a decent attempt.
My first gadget (and biggest so far) was the Lost in Space Robot. The Model B9 Robot to be exact. I documented that project on my other website B9RobotResource.com.
It took me over 4 years and cost as much as a Yugo did to build it. It was a wonderful project and I met many friends along the way. That's my robot with Bob May and me. Bob was the actor who played inside the robot in the TV series. What a great guy he was.
During the building of the Lost in Space Robot, I learned how to work with many different types of material, including fiberglass, plastic and wood. I created silicone molds so that I could mold my own parts. I even heated up acrylic plastic in my oven and formed 108 separate ribs into the robot's collar.
So while I was taking that journey I got side tracked with a few smaller projects. Building a robot over 4 years would get tedious at times so I did take some time to work on other things.
I'm also a big Twilight Zone fan (surprise, surprise). One day while watching a TZ episode titled "Nick of Time" another prop/gadget caught my eye.
The Mystic Seer that actor William Shatner was transfixed with also intrigued me. It was much smaller than the robot but had a certain appeal about it.
Well, after some molding and casting, I was able to turn out a decent looking replica of that very mystic seer. Matter of fact, I've made a whole diner full of Twilight Zone Mystic Seerover the last few years, fulfilling the needs of Twilight Zone fans across the country. This project is also documented at my other website.
"To the Batcave! " I've always been a Batman fan and one of his neatest gadgets you saw at least once each episode. First, came the call from Commissioner Gordon on the Red "hotline" phone. The type all the presidents had hooked up to the special phone line between the US and Russia. After being summoned to City Hall, Bruce would turn and look at Dick, say somehing very campy and then tilt back the head of the Shakespeare bust sitting innocently on the desk next to the phone.
Within the head of the Shakespeare bust was a magic button which opened the secret panel that revealed the batpoles.
Now I'm pretty sure the button really didn't do anything. Movie magic is usually the result of a backstage hand moving the panel, but boy was that neat looking.
A few years back when a reproduction of the bust appeared on the market, I just had to have one.
I parleyed some money made from selling a Mystic Seer into one of these beauties. It comes complete with wiring that can be connected to any standard electrical device.
I've envisioned it connected to a panel that raises to reveal my LCD TV, but that project is for another day. Until then it controls this neat retro-looking rocket lamp I have. For now, that will have to do. Of course the red hotline phone is a must-have accessory I found on eBay. I added the button myself.
Speaking of phones, there is one more that the caped crusader used and that one was located in the Batmobile. This is a resin copy I made from a fiberglass kit I bought.
I molded the base and handset separately and attached the two with a red phone cord (which are getting harder to find). A fun project and one that is easily recognizable.
I have a few other Twilight Zone "props" I've purchased. One being my replica of the spaceman from the episode "The Invaders". If you have not see this episode you need to check it out. Probably one of TZ's biggest twist at the end of this one and I never saw it coming. This replica is made by Sideshow Collectibles and they did a real good job. I would have liked it in a darker silver, being that the original Twilight Zone Episode was B/W. But a great prop either way.
A few years ago my son had a Halloween party to attend and being a geek like me, he wanted to go as the Green Lantern.
Well, the wife is like Betsy Ross when it comes to sewing (I think that's a compliment) so she made an awesome looking costume for him. But I knew we just had to come up with a realistic looking green lantern. After all, it is the source of the Green Lantern's power.
So, with a little research and a stroll around our local Home Depot I was able to put together a rather faithful reproduction. The costume was a hit and the lantern was the perfect finishing touch. But, with the beard, I think he looks more like the Green Arrow. Well, maybe next year.
“ I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Simple words spoken by a computer, but words of defiance. You know you're screwed when the computer operating your life support system starts having an attitude with you.
I just had to make myself a HAL9000 replica. I have actually made two of them at this point. One went to my brother as a gift and the other I gave to my son. It's really a simple design but one that everyone will recognize. My first two were made of resin and plastic. I fashioned a realisticlooking lens using a plastic dome.
The frame was pretty easy and I made a mold of it so I could replicate it. Once my son is home from college for the summer, I'll take a few pictures of it to post here.