Center For Roboto Research And Preservation
Welcome and Domo Arigato!
This webpage is devoted to all things Roboto. Mr. Roboto was a fictional character created by Dennis DeYoung in 1983's classic Styx concept album Kilroy Was Here and the 1984 mini-movie in Caught In The Act Live. Mr. Roboto, the first single from that album, was a #3 Billboard hit for Styx, and the Roboto character remains an enduring symbol for the band. Mr. Roboto has recently resurfaced in the 2000 Styx tour setlist as well as in DeYoung's solo performance with a symphony orchestra in Chicago. The song was also featured in a recent Volkswagen commercial.
The Roboto Costume
Perhaps the holy grail of Styx collectors, an actual Roboto mask is pretty difficult to come by. In an 1999 interview, DeYoung estimated that only around ten masks were produced by special effects wizard Stan Winston (Terminator, Jurassic Park, et al). You can hear DeYoung's comments about the masks in MP3 format. The Roboto suits used in the video were made a foam rubber material which deteriorates over time. The Roboto boots and gloves apparently held up pretty well, but none have surfaced in the marketplace.
Special thanks to DJ Mike for the sound byte.
Types of Roboto Masks
There were two types of Roboto masks produced. One type was used for close-ups in the Caught in the Act movie and has actual working lights. Only two of this type are known to exist: one owned by DeYoung and one owned by Allan Hirt. The photo on the right shows the wiring found inside this type of mask. The other type of Roboto mask is identical except that they were not equipped with working lights, although there are a few bulbs glued on at the sides and top of the head. Troy Yarbrough's Roboto is of the second variety (pic in the case above). The masks are made of a thin plastic material which grows more brittle over time and cracks very easily. The mask itself is composed of three pieces which completely surrounded the actor's head: the front mask portion, the back of the neck, and a small middle section which joins the two together. Foam tape was used to hold the mask together while in use on stage.
Other Roboto Collectibles
There are many other Roboto collectibles available as well. Some of these items include the infamous store display (see pic on left margin), keychains, a picture disc from the UK (Don't Let It End/Rockin' The Paradise), t-shirts, posters, bandanas, the video Caught In The Act, and the music videos from Kilroy was Here. Look for all these items in our upcoming Searchable Discography.
Special thanks to Tommy Shaw and Kim Oullette for the use of the photo. Visit Tommy's official Crystal Ball website for more info on Tommy Shaw.
Roboto Mask Copies
Because of the extreme rarity of the original Roboto masks, a few dedicated fans have had duplicates made. Noted hypnotist and motivational speaker Robert Ian was kind enough to share a picture of his mask and answer a few questions for StyxCollector.com:
SC: How much did the mask cost to make and who did it for you? Can they still make them if someone is interested?
RI: The mask cost $850.00 in 1990. A friend of mine from high school, Mike Zach, manufactures custom jewelry. He made my wife's wedding ring and mine. I asked if he could recreate Mr. Roboto. He gave me two options: 1) a Roboto solid gold finger ring and 2) a Roboto mask. I opted for the mask (the ring would have cost nearly $2000). The mask took over a year to make. The first attempt was damaged by a careless employee who accidentally mangled the clay carving of the mask. From the clay carving, a mold was made. The mask was poured in fibre glass and the front was painted gold (to simulate the apparent gold color from the "Kilroy Was Here" concert program). Real lights were installed. The mask is not a full head version. It does not cover the sides or back of head. It is really quite an excellent simulation having never seen a real Roboto mask up close in person. The mold is still in existence. I have it and assume another mask could be poured. However, Mike Zach has retired from making custom jewelry.
SC: Do you display the mask in a case or on the wall?
RI: Originally it was mounted with a helmet behind the mask so it could be worn. I tired of this as it was hard to display. The mask is wall mounted in my office.
SC: How is your display set up?
RI: The Roboto mask is the first thing you see as you enter my office. The rest of my office walls are covered with various Styx memorbilia. In particular, an original "Pieces of Eight" poster framed with a laser etching of the lyrics to "Lords of the Ring" (intended or not, it's a great commentary on belief systems). My other prize is a Polaroid of Dennis DeYoung with his hands separated and a giant King of Diamonds floating between his hands. This was a magic illusion I created and sold to David Copperfield. I had the chance to entertain Dennis in Madison, WI, just before the "Edge of the Century" tour in 1991. I took his picture. He picked a card. The card he chose appeared floating between his empty hands. Dennis let me keep the picture.
SC: I understand that Mr. Roboto has a very special meaning for you, which is why you had the mask created. Can you explain this meaning for me?
RI: In 1983, I was a struggling magician just out of high school. I didn't have the money to go to college. I was entertaining at the old Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI, saving my money to go to school. I saw "Kilroy" in Rockford, IL, October 7th, 1983. Dennis' motivational talk on "dreams do come true" changed my life. I decided to become a motivational speaker based on that short 5 minute talk that was a staple in the Styx show. I began researching all the motivational experts at the time from Earl Nightingale, W. Clement Stone, Zig Ziglar, Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden and countless others. I began mixing a message with my magic (calling it Business Theater), created a talk called "Expanding the Power of Your Mind" and started marketing myself to corporations and trade associations for sales meetings and conventions. The concept took off in 1986. I also became a Stage Hypnotist and merged everything into a really dynamic program. I have never looked back. To date, I've delivered over 2000 worldwide appearances for clients from Amoco to Zenith. The inspiration and kick in the butt I so desperately needed came in 1983 from a guy wearing a Mr. Roboto mask and telling me I had the power to DO IT. You know what? He was right. He gave me permission to succeed. In essence, the removal of the Roboto mask at the end of the Kilroy film symbolizes the screen to stage transition we must all make in this life. I was fortunate, at age 19, I went from leading a 2 dimensional life (the Kilroy film) to living a 3 dimensional life (the live action on stage). Some people make the transition later in life. Some never make it all. My only message to all you Roboto fans out there: Stop dreaming, wishing, fantasizing, hoping and praying...start DOING what YOU want out of this life right now. The time to fight for your happiness is right here, right now. You're going to be dead a long time. Make your life count for something. You CAN do it.
Special thanks to Robert Ian for the photo. Visit Robert at Robertian.com.
Other Roboto Resources
Another interesting place find Roboto info is Dennis DeYoung's official website. Here there used to be sketches drawn by Stan Winston. These sketches are from Dennis' personal collection, and we hope Dennis reposts them. You can also see more of Stan Winston's work at swfx.com. He has created some of the most memorable characters in Hollywood.