Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at a prop from the very 1980s movie “Short Circuit 2”. ♪ 1980s pop music ♪ A small army of these Number
Five toy props were made for the film: five were motorized and
remote-controlled, many were static versions, and some were sneakily printed cutouts. Nearly all the parts on the prop are made from cast resin, including the rear tires. The treads are ribbed plastic liner cut to size and glued into a loop. Just one of copy of this prop had individual angled cuts on the treads to mimic the full-sized Johnny Five. Maybe they ran out of time to do the rest. Taking the screws off the base lid reveals a cavity for the battery pack and RC controller. The motorized props ran on five AA batteries shoved into this compartment. The radio signal was picked up by a wrapped antenna held between two bobbins inside the boom, and wires carried the power out through
these two notches and into the motors to drive the treads. Another wire carried power up through the torso, out his back, and into the head to run a small servo, allowing the little guy to turn his head. Around the film’s release, there were actually considerations of selling this thing as a real toy. And an advertisement in a trade magazine shows a thick tube supporting its neck and some changes to the treads. The proposed feature of his spring-loaded hands being able to “carry things around for you” is maybe a bit lofty for fingers that a 10-year-old is definitely going to break. In fact, the props were pretty fragile. When Johnny Five hang glides over the
City of Toronto – I mean New York, a heavily modified version of the toy prop was used as the motion control miniature seen here. This static prop was kept by one of the
cast when the film wrapped and was in pretty good condition considering its age. However one forearm and both wrists were broken, the eyelids were missing, and the upper half of the neck was gone. We took the opportunity to disassemble the entire thing “No disassemble Number Five!” (Sorry, Number Five.) to measure every detail of the prop for a fan builders group called Input-Inc, enabling them to complete an accurate
CAD model that preserves all the asymmetry and imperfections of the
handmade original. From that, perfectly fitting replacement eyelids and neck parts were 3D printed. We also took a mold of the one good forearm to cast a replacement for the broken one, repaired his wrists, and did some subtle, sympathetic paint touch-ups so that Number Five could once again search for more input.