(The Fred Barton Restoration)
LOST IN SPACE ROBOT RESTORATION FOR THE MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE:
Here’s the deal on the restoration – from the guy who restored the second great Kinoshita robot – ME!!! I got a call from Paul Allen’s people. They were very upset that they paid nearly $300,000 for a prop they felt they could not display as it was in such horrible condition. They asked me my philosophy on how far to take the restoration. Now remember, these people are museum curators with tons of experience and knowledge of antiques, art and movie props. We were all very aware of the three schools of thought, and what it would mean to the prop. It was decided that he should get a ground up restoration (like the Smithsonian preformed on the Enterprise) and look as good or better than he did in the series. This was Paul’s call and he was the props legal owner and he could do whatever he wanted with it. Either restore it, or set fire to it. His call. Ultimately, he was very happy with it and even happier with my restoration. He wanted to share B9 with the world, and he felt if it looked like crap, future generations would be disillusioned and disappointed seeing their cybernetic hero, looking like he had a stroke. Anyone who saw the stunt robot in person would agree. The general public remembers him only one way, if at all, and that is looking good, all lit up, talking, etc…
Two or maybe three Lost in Space robots were made for the 1966 series. A “Hero” robot which an operator would get inside and walk around, and a lightweight “Dummy” robot used for explosion scenes, hanging him in space, lifting him up, throwing him down, etc.. and possibly parts of a third one for extreme stunts. The “Hero” robot was all but destroyed and dismantled at Fox for various shows. Very little survived and was pieced together and sold privately as 90% replica with 10% screen used parts woven in. The robot I restored was just the opposite. It was 90% screen used with 10% reproduction parts put in by various people of the years.
This, “Dummy” robot has a funky moniker, but it was the most authentic and complete artifact remaining from the show, although in horrible condition. That’s where I come in… By the time I got the robot, it was full of inaccurate reproduction detail parts, but the main body parts were all vintage and accurate. So, right off, the prop was no longer “What we saw in the show”. It was changed to look more presentable and be able to stand. And not with authentic Fox 60’s era parts, but with 80’s prop man “best guess” pieces. The Dummy robot went on a tour of the Orient and who knows where else and ultimately got lost in shipping and ended up at a prop rental house in Hollywood where I tried to buy it, not knowing that the legal owner was prop-man and friend Greg Jein who acquired it at a Fox auction in a mass lot of unwanted and cheap props. Greg finally found out where it was, sued to get it back, and he did.
Let me tell you a bit about the stunt robot when I got it. It could barely stand on its own. It was listing to one side. The fiberglass gel-coat was thin as tissue paper and cracking everywhere. All the foam disintegrated, it was a mass of wires and crap. I shot a ton of archival photos of him in this state and then, as I did with the original Robby before I restored him, I gingerly dismantled him and sanded off all the old paint and bad body work of it. He flaked apart like a buttery croissant. I sanded and bondo’d that thing like a Ferrari for two months, replaced entire sections of the torso upper neck ring, which was impossible to repair.
This is what is original on the piece today:
Pedestals with cardboard wheel
These are the same surviving pieces as it left Fox – only now they have a new lease on life.
Schools of Thought for Restoring Screen Used Props:
The first school; do nothing, accept the piece as it appears no matter how poor the condition. Let it rot and disintegrate so no man can ever study or enjoy the piece or spirit of the piece for generations to come. Own it to death. I do not subscribe to this philosophy.
The second school; with skillful restoration return your prop to a state of screen used likeness and have practical display use within your home, maintaining a good percentage of its appraised value. Props of fair to poor value are in most cases savable. – Maybe (No Latex) with proper conservation, these pieces maintain a good portion of their pseudo value, and are no longer an eyesore or a foolish sad machine. Face it, the Smithsonian had the Enterprise refurbished. I weigh in between here and the third school.
The third school; strip it bare, sand it down, and fix it any way you can to make it look new and functional again. Like the Smithsonian did with the screen used “Hero” Enterprise. This is what I did with B9. B9 LIVES!!!
I restored The Lost in Space robot using the accurate pieces that I made for my B9 replicas and make available to the B9 Builders Club, as opposed to what the previous owners put on him. He looks amazing today as you can see in the photos. I loved having the opportunity to restore both Kinoshita robots. Robby and his poor cousin – B9.
Robot Model B9 – ACTIVATED
- “At exactly 0:800 hours, destroy Robinson Family…” OR…You can Build your own Lost in Space robot with parts manufactured by Fred Barton Productions as seen on the B9 Builders Club Website.
- Now you too can destroy the Robinson family with your very own Lost in Space robot. Have wholesome family fun by building your own Lost in Space robot using the finest most accurate parts available anywhere.
- Fred Barton Productions is proud to offer the finest components, officially sanctioned and listed on the B9 Builders Club site, an official licensee of Synthesis Entertainment.
- Uncanny accuracy!!! You can purchase retooled body parts from the actual screen used robot.
- Lastly, not too handy with a screwdriver? Have the artisans at Fred Barton Productions assemble and animate your robot with all those great parts you just bought on the B9 Builders Club site. Assembly fee applies. Club parts must be purchased separately.
Pricing and Specifications subject to change without notice.
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Lost in Space is ©Legend Pictures LLC Licensed by Synthesis Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.