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VST 1017 – Susie Robette

When i came up with the plan to create a susie robette for myself about a year ago, I did absolutely not realize the amount of work this little lady would bring over time 🙂 The project is one of the most complicated so far. I will first start with some history of this Little Lady: SUSIE ROBETTE 🙂 Despite a very French sounding name, Susie Robette was made in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, by Metalware Corporation, better known these days as Nesco. This company produces about everything you can find in modern kitchens these days from roaster ovens, coffee machines, jet steam ovens and so on.

Proclaimed to be the first female robot by FAO Schwarz, Susie was part of Metal Ware’s “Little Lady” series of popular housekeeping toys that had been entertaining children since 1922. By the 1950s the Little Lady product lineup was quite extensive and effectively mirrored the colorful and rapidly changing 1950s consumer appliance and housewares market in miniature. Susie Robette was perhaps one of the most elaborate toys to be ever be shown at Metal Ware’s New York showroom located in the 200 Fifth Avenue building. Although pricey, the battery operated robot was substantial in size and well-detailed with a silver metallic finish, copper wire ponytail, and a bright turquoise and red apron. Several very realistic cleaning accessories were included which could all be held by Susie’s special gripping hands.

Susie was available for several seasons and landed a brief mention as part of an article profiling toys for Christmas 1960 in the August 1960 issue of Changing Times magazine. Surprising nowadays is that only a handful of these robots are known to exist and where most of the collectable robots were produced in Japan, Susie was made in the USA and is even one of the first known robots of the Golden age. Susie Robettes Patented Drawings date back to 1956, september 12th to be exact 🙂

Although she was produced for about 4 years, not much of these little ladies survived. I am aware of 3 examples, 2 in the USA and one in Europe, Brussels. There will be some more examples left but fact is that Susie Robette was never auctioned so far and she never shows up in the open market, Susie Robette is one of the hardest robots to find on this planet and love her or hate here…. She is cool, she is different, she was made originally out of plastic and she would have been the centerpiece in most robot collections but…. she is impossible to find.

So…. I started to think about reproducing Susie Robette in a limited series about a year ago but the biggest problem was… I could not find her, I could not find much information and even good detailed pictures were hard to find. With the help of my friend in Brussels, who owns one, I was able to start this project. Pictures were made of the original Susie Robette with a ruler besides her.  With these pictures, my wife and her partner, who own a art collective named Main Kunstenaars,  We started to talk about building Susie Robette out of clay. An ambitious idea because we had to start from… Nothing….. The pictures were our only guideline and to rebuild a robot like Susie Robette in clay is a hard and time roving job.

After a couple of weeks the clay really looked like susie robette but there was a problem, she was build too big. I called my friend in Brussels and he came over WITH the original Susie Robette and we were finally able to take the exact measures, dimensions and proportions. The clay susie had to be taken down and the building had to start again. From that moment it took again weeks to create Susie in Clay. The started to look like a real robot now, like a real susie robette 🙂  When the clay susie was finished, I had to find a mold maker, specialized in creating molds to reproduce in plastic. Not an easy job again because with a clay original you only have ONE shot to make a good mold. Also I needed 2 separated parts, front and back and also hollow so that I was able to build in a mechanism for this robot.

Making the molds took quite some time again and I had to think about several things at the same time, just to make sure that the molds were ok and that I was really able to make a robot out of the copies. Making the molds turned out very well and now I had some loose parts like the broom, vacuum cleaner and front and backside of susie. I really wanted to make Susie fully functional and working just like the original one. I decided to give her mystery bump and go action because i wanted to use original old parts to bring here back to life. I used the mechanism out of a Masudaya Flying saucer because it was strong enough to power this lady and because it was the only mechanism that could be fitted inside AND… it had the exact spare gear and speed to drive the arm mechanism of Susie.

Susie Robette works as follows: The left hand rotates about 70 degrees left and right so that she can actually dust, sweep and vacuum. Here right hand is static and serves as a  glider for the broom.  Here blue bow at her back works as an on/off switch. When you slide it down, Susie enters the ON position. Sliding the bow UP, makes her STOP. This is exactly the same way the original susie works. Susie is powered by 2 penlight batteries, installed inside. These can be easily replaced by unscrewing 4 screws. ( 2 at the shoulders and 2 at the back bottom plate. )

Susie has been painted in the exact grey, blue and red colors as the original robot. The hair ( copper wire ), accessoires, actions and looks are exactly the same as the original Susie Robette. The dimensions are exactly the same as well. Susie Robette operated exactly as the original and is able to wipe, sweep and vacuum, she will keep your shelves clean ! 🙂  Susie Robette by VST will be made in a limited series of 15 pieces.

Not more will be made. I will make 15 of these robots and after that I will destroy the molds to make sure this reproduction of this legendary robot will be and stay absolutely exclusive ! Susie will come with all here accessoires and a special designed box. both the robot and the box will be numbered and will be accompanied by an original signed certificate.  Limited to 15 completely handmade pieces !

You can see Susie in Action in a short video here:

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