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RoboBuilder’s RQ-TITAN rocks out on the dancefloor

RoboBuilder’s new TeenSize robot designed for RoboCup, RQ-TITAN, does a dance in this new video.

[source: RBMFile @ YouTube]

Status Update: The Future of Plastic Pals

You may have noticed that the number of posts has dropped dramatically in the last few months, and if you’ve been following my updates on Facebook and Twitter than you already know why.  I’ve become a contributor to Gizmag, and starting today I will also be contributing to the IEEE Spectrum.  These are two great publications with a much larger readership than I was able to build over the years here at Plastic Pals, and I am proud to write for them.  Robot news coverage from many mainstream outlets is still far from satisfactory, and I hope that my contributions at these two sites will help raise the bar.


Gizmag is a very popular site that covers not just robots but all sorts of interesting developments from around the world with a focus on science and technology.  IEEE’s Automaton blog is – simply put – one of (if not) the most respected online sources of robotics news – you probably already visit it regularly!  After writing about robots all by my lonesome over the years, it’s nice to be part of two great teams.

However, this does not mean that I will be closing down Plastic Pals.  The robot database, which covers more than 500 robots, took me a long time to research and write – and it would be a shame to delete it from the internet.  Moving forward, however, I cannot write multiple articles about a robot across multiple sites.  That’s why I’m planning on updating the robot database with links to my articles on Gizmag and IEEE Spectrum.  Soon you’ll find robots in the database that have been color-coded to signify the link takes you to another site (orange for Gizmag and green for IEEE Spectrum).


So what kind of posts will get written for Plastic Pals moving forward?  Well, to be honest there won’t be that many. There are still quite a few older projects I would like to add to the site, but these will only be written as my free time allows.  That said, I have recently acquired an RQ-HUNO hobby robot kit from RoboBuilder, and plan to get into 3D printing in the next few months, and my projects – both robot and 3D print related – will be showcased on this site.  I’m not targeting a specific number of posts, but hopefully I will have time to do at least one major post a month.  You can also keep up to date with my latest writings by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

I hope you’ll follow my future articles on Gizmag and IEEE Spectrum.  Plastic Pals will be doing a give-away where you’ll have the chance to win a figure based on AIST’s HRP-4C humanoid – so you’ll want to watch for that on my Facebook and Twitter.  This isn’t the end, but I want to thank you all for reading and supporting Plastic Pals over the years.

• The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

TheHobbit-posterPeter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit has been in theaters for a month, and I’ve already seen it twice.  I figured this movie would be something most people would go see, but there have been a spate of negative reviews, and I noticed that – to my utter amazement and disgust – a dumb comedy called A Haunted House nearly doubled The Hobbit’s box office take over the weekend.  Granted, these are two very different films aimed at very different audiences, but I imagine there’s some Tolkien fans who are still sitting on the fence.  I didn’t see the 48 frames per second version, but I did see it in Imax 3D, and that’s the version I’ll be reviewing.

I should point out that I’ve been a fan of Tolkien since I was about eight years old, when I first saw the animated film version of The Hobbit.  It wasn’t long before I read the book, and a little while later I read the much longer and more intimidating The Lord of the Rings. But it was The Hobbit that introduced me to the hobbits, dwarves, elves, and wizards of Middle Earth.  I quickly became obsessed with that world and its characters.  There were no toys in any stores readily available, but I found some anyway – unpainted miniatures made for the pen and paper role-playing games – which I diligently collected with what little allowance I had.  I suppose you could say I was something of a diehard fan, and while my interest has waned over the years, I anticipated a proper live action adaptation of the book.

• Wario Ware Twisted!

developed and published by Nintendo / GameBoy Advance / 23.05.2005
1 player / 1 save slot / cartridge with gyro sensor and rumble


The Wario Ware series turned a new leaf with Twisted!, featuring a built-in gyro sensor that detected the orientation of the cartridge. You play most of the included 200 micro games by tilting the GameBoy Advance, and in some cases you’ll have to fully rotate the system in your hands to win. The cartridge also comes with a rumble feature, which gives you satisfying tactile feedback for every degree you tilt the system. The gyro sensor calibrates when the game is turned on (and after each micro game) so it can be played regardless of whether it is plugged into the top of a GameBoy Advance or the bottom of a Nintendo DS.

Christmas and end of the year robot celebrations

Merry Christmas from Team Robo-Erectus:

• Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

developed & published by Konami / 2008.10.21
1 player / 3 save slots / Nintendo DS

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is the third and final installment in the Castlevania series on the Nintendo DS, following Dawn of Sorrow (2005) and Portrait of Ruin (2006).  This time the secretive Order of Ecclesia, unconnected to the Belmont clan, is attempting to prevent Dracula’s centennial resurrection by collecting the fragments of his scattered soul.  These glyphs can only be controlled by Shanoa, a raven haired beauty who has sacrificed her memory to serve as an empty vessel for their power.  However, before Drac can be sealed, another member of the order named Albus runs away with the glyphs.  Shanoa will have to hunt him down before he is consumed by Dracula’s power.

• No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

developed by Grasshopper Manufacture / published by Ubisoft
1 player / Nintendo Wii / 2010.01.26

Travis Touchdown returns to the seedy town of Santa Destroy after his friend, the owner of a local video store, is brutally murdered. Little did he know that there would be a laundry list of twisted assassins itching for a chance to match swords with him. When he left three years earlier Travis was the top-ranked assassin in the United Assassins Association (UAA), but in his absence dropped all the way down to #51. He’ll have to climb his way back to the top on a mountain of corpses if he wants a shot at avenging his friend.

• The Last Story

developed by Mistwalker & AQ Interactive, published by Xseed Games
1 player with online multiplayer / Nintendo Wii / 2012.08.14

Fittingly, The Last Story is one of the last Wii titles to come out and one of the few role-playing games made for the console.  Designed and directed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, it’s a fairly traditional role-playing game but features some progressive ideas.