Robot Kingdom – Tsukumo’s Akiba Robot Hobby Store

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A brief tour of robotics hobby shop “Robot Kingdom” (ツクモロボット王国), run by very reasonable Akiba PC chain Tsukumo, on the 3rd floor of their “パソコン本店” flagship PC department store.

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The basic pattern for Japanese hobby robotics at the moment is buying, assembling, customising and programming these gnome sized bipedal robots, though there are many variations, and you are quite free to make superior quadrupedal and hexapodal designs, or whatever original design possible to implement.

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They can be customised in a variety of ways, in a cross between upgrading a PC (in this case adding better servos, sensors and so forth) and decking out a ride (with custom bodywork, etc.).

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It is of course possible to buy pre-assembled units for a premium.

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Many of the models are not really robots (as in possessing autonomously operating capabilities) per se, being mere remote control marionettes, but some do have sensors – the focus is still more on pre-programmed dancing robots than ones capable of usefully responding to their environment.

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Separate shells for many of the more popular models can be bought, which mostly entails emulating the look of certain giant robot suits which seem so popular with the Japanese.

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Masamune Shirow and Armored Core fans, rejoice! This little quad model is quite impressive – functional insectoid designs trump excessive anthropomorphism where practical robots are concerned.

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It should be apparent by this point that this is an expensive hobby. Anything less than ¥100,000 is probably just a shell or set of servos.

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The shop also has consumer toy robots like Pleo, and other smaller bots.

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This is one of the most unassuming and uncharismatic (apart from the Hello Kitty robot) items in the shop, but in certain respects represents a technology at the very van of the robotics revolution, and with profound economic repercussions.

As can be seen, it is a straightforward (and probably rather low-end) robotic carving device, able to take data from CAD software and render it in whatever physical medium the machine can work with.


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    8 Comments
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    Comment by Inferry
    02:47 29/07/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    That could be a unexpected tool for the otakus too, they can expend their money on buy resina and paints to make the figurines that they want if they dont like those that already exist, anyway, how much this cost?

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:44 30/08/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    http://www.rolanddga.com/products/scanners/mdx15/

    MDX-15: $3,145 US
    MDX-20: $4,695 US

    seems you can lease them for $109 a month

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:12 20/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow, I think that little 3d printer could change the way people do gunpla, imagine being able to carve a pair of hands or a skirt or even a head or a weapon itself, You can also carve joints and even construct a model bit, by bit. Their working on one here in the states but it doesn't seem to be progressing. Personally, thinking about the printer makes the gunpla otaku in me see the future. Hopefully those can become cheap one day and open up a field for people who want to hake their own designs.

    Comment by Firetribe
    00:01 06/06/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    A friend of mine is after some of those, but the price tags are major turn off.

    Comment by Kyo
    18:56 20/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I want meself a MadCat or a Loki mech!

    Comment by Karasu-kun
    06:40 24/05/2008 # ! Neutral (0)

    They've actually had those machines available for a little while now, but on the manufacturer end. Although they aren't CAD, they use full 3-D renderings with compatible machines to produce figures and such. Japanese companies are trying it out, I think there was an article on Heisei Democracy not too long ago if I'm not mistaken, and in america they use the same sort of machines at a company called Figureprints to produce individualized figures for people that play World of Warcraft, based on their characters in the game.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    I think it will be very interesting to see what happens to the market as the price comes down to allow sophisticated fabrication at a low price; if it created a market for manufacturing as CAD services rather than physical provision of goods, it could have some fascinating implications.

    Comment by Onanimous
    08:07 20/01/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think you may find interesting to know there is a movement that builds this kind of machines with this kind of machines.

    That is, a (mostly) self replicating machine.

    There is an open source desing with the only requisite of helping someone else build their own machine using yours.

    It is not perfect, but does show an interesting glimpse of what may be in the near future.

    http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome



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