Friday, February 21, 2014

So Now I Own a Tomy Hootbot

Years ago, I posted here a simple question: “Why Don’t I Already Have a Tomy Hootbot?” At the time, I’d just learned that these robot owl… things were produced in the ’80s by Tomy, the Japanese corporation best known for those dinky handheld video games but also Giga Pudding (apparently). And yeah, it seemed like I should own a robot owl. Why shouldn’t I? So when this Canadian guy tried to Google around about the Tomy Hootbot he found, he ended up on that very post and consequently emailed me asking if I’d like to buy his Tomy Hootbot. It still seemed like I should own a robot owl, I guess. Again, why shouldn’t I?

And now here it is, on my dining room table:

The owl does more than just sit there, in case you’re wondering. Thirty-some years later, he still turns on and operates properly. It’s just that “proper operations” for this particular toy include none of the things you might expect from owls, robots, robot owls or any other product with a clear purpose. Observe:

Does it hoot?

No, it whistles shrilly at random intervals.

Does it screech?

No. (See previous answer)

Does it fly about the room?

No, but it shakes its sideflaps, producing a plastic-on-plastic clicking sound.

Does its neck swivel in a humorous fashion?

No, it turns on par with how most humans can turn their necks.

Does it prey on mice and other rodents?

No, I have just as many mice now as I did before I got the Tomy Hootbot.

What else does it do?

It clicks its toes against its pedestal.

Is that… something owls do?

I really don’t know. But I don’t think so. It’s certainly not something they’ve become famous for.

But it’s a robot. Does it, like, fire lasers from its eyes?

Its eyes glow red, but alas — so far, no optic lasers.

I heard owls are often associated with wisdom. Does the Tomy Hootbot seem wise to you?


Are you at least glad that it was the Tomy Hootbot that you ended up getting as a result of this blog and not the Otamatone?

Yes, I suppose that is the bright side here.

So how has the Tomy Hootbot changed your life?

Well, I’ve thought a lot about who invented the Tomy Hootbot and what their intentions were. I wonder if they consider the Tomy Hootbot a triumph or a failure. I wonder if they have a closet full of them that they turn on all at once and if maybe the whistling and clicking becomes so loud that people passing on the street stop and wonder what the hell is going on in there. I also wonder if maybe the product’s beautiful design — and it does look amazing, all these years later — was the result of one person and it was another person’s job to plan out what the Tomy Hootbot would actually do, and the first person did a really good job and then the second person was like “What if it just that there and whistled and clicked?” And so the first person was all, “Um, those are two things that owls don’t do. I feel like your end of this project isn’t really on par with mine.” And then the second person started crying and mentioned how he’d been having problems at home because it’s tough paying for little Ayumi’s special school. “But we love her so much!” And the first person was all “What a Monday!”

Why do you keep saying the full name, “Tomy Hootbot”?


Anything else?

Well, now no one can tell me that I don’t own a robot owl. That’s something no one will ever take away from me — unless they specifically steal my Tomy Hootbot.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post: “Why Don’t I Have a Hoverboard?”

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