Roger Robot from Whitman (1961)

Company: Whitman | Release date: 1961 | Where to purchase: eBay

In 1961, Whitman introduced Roger Robot, a paper-craft toy with a sci-fi twist.

Using die-cut cardboard pieces with steel paper fasteners children could build a silver-coloured “giant playmate” that was a whopping four feet tall. Roger was decidedly low-tech — once he was constructed, his only moveable part was a central control knob installed in his chest that could be turned in any direction to one of four different settings (stop, walk, reverse, and run.)

Additional design elements included arms and legs, a printed control panel on his back (buttons included generator, radar, sounds, and emergency), ears that were “wired” to his head, and a face with mechanical-looking red eyes, lightning bolt shaped eyebrows, a protruding triangular nose, and a mouth shaped like a circular speaker grille.

Roger Robot was one of two giant playmates from Whitman featured on media personality Art Linkletter’s television show House Party. The other was a four-foot-tall paper giraffe named Gerald, marketed exclusively to girls.

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