by Richy Craven
The human body is a fleshy, inferior thing. Sure, it lets us metabolize glucose and oxygen to create energy and all that boring, nerdy stuff but when it comes to allowing us to leap tall buildings in a single bound and toss cars about like Frisbees it is sorely lacking.
No culture understands this better than Japan, which is why robot exo-skeletons and other mecha-suits save been staples of their popular fiction for decades.But something wonderful has happened in recent years. All of those kids who enjoyed Gundam and Voltron as kids grew up, looked around that their Megazord-less world and set out to rectify that $#!+.
That’s how we got stuff like:
1. The Landwalker
Like most well-adjusted man-children we would happily wound an orphan if it meant we could get our hands on some of the gadgets from Star Wars; but while owning our own lightsaber or X-Wing still remains a fantasy, the Japanese company Sakakibara-Kikaihas made it possible for you to pilot your very own AT:ST. The bipedal Ewok-stomper from Return of the Jedi.
They have developed the Landwalker, the first commercially available bipedal exoskeleton which is just a fancy way of saying it’s a giant robot suit that you can buy legally.
The Landwalker stands an intimidating 10 foot tall and weighs over 2000 lbs. If this wasn’t enough to put the fear of Palpatine into that damn rebel alliance then it’s also armed with two automatic turrets on either side of the cockpit. At present those turrets only fire squishy rubber balls rather than lasers but it should still be more than enough to crush any teddy-bear uprising that you may have to deal with.
What It Looks Like: The Landwalker looks so much like Star Wars’ AT:ST that we’re surprised George Lucas didn’t turn up after it was finished to ruin it with some bull$#!+ CGI and offensive racial stereotypes. Then again, its hamhock legs make it also resemble Robocop‘s ED-209, so we’re lucky they didn’t put guns on it.
The Down Side: The Landwalker would set you back about $300,000 so those of us whose names don’t end in “-ardashian” shouldn’t really expect one for Christmas. It also only has a top speed of 1.5 miles an hour so you can forget any fantasies you had about taking this thing down the freeway.
2. The Toyota Mobility Suit
People in the developed world are living longer and longer in modern times now that we’ve resolved such hazards as holera, typhus and random cheetah-attacks and as the population grows older companies are putting more and more effort into increasing the quality of life in our golden years.
And by “increasing the quality of life” they seemingly mean “turn us all into senior-cyborgs.” The Toyota Mobility Suit is proof that “adding giant robot legs” is always the best solution to any problem, even if that problem is the growing pension crisis.
The Mobility Suit is a bipedal robotic chair that is capable of climbing stairs and navigating difficult terrain, in theory making it more practical than modern wheelchairs and also a whole lot more awesome.
It is designed to aid the elderly and disabled in moving from place to place more easily and also let them act out whatever Robocop dreams they may have.
What It Looks Like: The Mobility Suit looks like the bastard offspring of a cybernetic ostrich and one of those floating chairs from Wall-E.
The Down Side: Seriously, this thing looks really goofy and unfortunately the Mobility Suit doesn’t come with weapons that would allow you to destroy anyone who mocked you about it.
The Mobility Suit is also merely a “concept creation” which is corporation-speak for “something awesome we created just to tease you.” You’re unlikely to see these in mass production any time soon.
3. HAL-5 exo-skeleton
If we ever needed proof that R&D departments come up with design concepts by checking out the trailers on IMDB it’s here. The HAL-5 robot suit is the closest you’ll come to Tony Stark’s Iron Man armour outside of Robert Downey, Jr.’s garage and our own personal fantasies.
HAL stands for Hybrid Assisted Limb (and not Hugeass Armored Laser like we’d hoped) and it’s an exo-skeletal suit that cam read the nerve signals sent from motor-neurons and interpret these signals to move the armour in sync with your own body, increasing the force of these movements. This is a really complicated way of saying that it’s a robot suit that can read your mind and lets you punch through walls, meaning it has at least three separate superpowers by our count.
The current version of the suit only increases your lifting and carrying capacity five-fold so you won’t be bench-pressing any 18-wheelers but we’ve calculated that’s still enough juice to make your high-school bully regret every wedgie he ever gave you.
It was designed to restore movement to disabled people and to provide heavy labour support in factories and at rescue sites. This is incredibly noble and all but our main question right now is when are they going to build the commercial version that lets us shotput our stepdad’s car into a lake?
What It Looks Like: The HAL suit looks like if Master Chief’s power armor had been designed by Steve Jobs.
The Down Side: It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see many of these state-side any time soon as they are mostly all in Japan. Also, HAL is, at the moment, just a prototype and so it doesn’t come with fist-lasers and repulsor boots…yet. And come on, one of the first evil robots in history
5. The Kuratas
The Kuratas is what happens when you gather a group of talented engineers and robotics specialists and let them create something we doodled on the back of our trapper-keepers when we were 9.
The end-result is the Kuratas, an honest to God functioning battle-mech and proof that dreams really can come true if you throw money at smart people for long enough.
The 12-foot-tall labor of love is supported by 4 insect-like legs ending in wheels that give it a top speed of ten miles an hour, which is pretty good considering this thing weighs over 10,000 pounds. Don’t let the slow speed deter you though, nobody is going to escape your mecha-wrath thanks to its hull mounted rocket launcher and Gatling gun.
Ok, they only shoot water and BB pellets at the moment but this is just a prototype we’re sure lasers are in the pipeline for the 2.0 version. The trigger for these instruments of death (okay, instruments of slightly dampness) as it happens, is smiling. The on-board camera has a facial scanner and fires the Gatling gun whenever it registers a smile on the operators face. This is an interesting design-choice but we have one small issue with it. When would you stop smiling while piloting your very own, armoured battle-mech?
It can be piloted from the internal cockpit, Voltron-style, or operated remotely via an I-phone if you want to terrorize the Justice League from the comfort of your couch.
This magnificent piece of comic-book mad science costs $1.3 million and we’ve never been more motivated to become millionaires in our entire lives.
What It Looks Like: The Kuratas looks so much like our wildest fantasies that we half-expect to find Olivia Wilde naked in the cockpit. Aesthetically, it’s a mix between ED-209 from Robocop and that giant, metal spider from Wild Wild West.
The Down Side: The instruction video says that there is absolutely no smoking in the Kuratas. This presents a problem since we’re guessing that, after rolling this up the driveway of our mortal enemy and smiling him to death, we’d definitely need a cigarette.
Richy brought more of your power fantasies to life (and crushing reality) with The 5 Nuttiest Real Life Superheroes. –>