For many people, robotics and electronics represent the most important iconic industry in Japan. In the 1980s, Tomy decided to take things to the next level and released the Omnibot series. Sequences of commands could be recorded on cassette tape, which was relatively common for computer technology developed at that time period. Naturally, the Omnibot robots could also play regular cassettes, so fans of 80s hair metal must have also loved the machines.
While the original Omnibot had a strange plastic bubble around its head, the more advanced Omnibot 2000 lacked this feature. Omnibot 2000 stood at 25 inches tall. A 6-volt lead-acid battery provided power for the circuitry along side of a pair of AA batteries. Users could move the right arm with a remote control, but the left arm could only be posed by physically manipulating it.
The robotic designs varied slightly. Some of the smaller ones weren't actually as impressive. For instance, Flipbot was supposed to be an athletic design that rolled around and flipped up when he struck something. He didn't do much beyond that, however.
Shaberoku moved his mouth and hands in time with music. This music was provided by an internal AM and FM radio receiver. The Pocket Bots by Tomy were more like conventional robotic toys, and they worked via a wind up clockwork mechanism. During their production run, these were probably quite collectible and might have occasionally made it into gashapon machines.
Predictably, Tomy produced one in the shape of a cat. Nyanko, or Kitbot to Americans, was supposed to look like a sweet little kitten. Fans of Japanese popular culture might notice that nyan is in the name. Nyan is the Japanese analog of meow, and indicates a purring sound. However, one of the stranger designs of this era might very well have been a certain mechanical cow.
The Japanese toy industry is certainly quite fascinating. Bandai came out with the Gyudon hoeing cow toy in 1985. She was six inches long with black extremities. Some models also shipped with pink extremities. The robot moves around frantically for a while before she suddenly stops and started to move a plastic hoe in the manner of a farmer.
In today's world, many of these toys are collectible on both sides of the Pacific. Many older works of anime and manga prominently depicted such designs, and robotics is still a popular industry in Japan. In fact, many of today's models can be traced to these early outings.