Q: Which way did the 'bots face when they
were in the theater? It looks to me like Crow was actually
facing away from the screen.
A: The 'bots, in addition to Mike or Joel,
faced toward the screen, with their backs to Cambot and the
audience. What you are seeing is an optical illusion that many people have reported.
Q: Why can't we see through Tom Servo's head
in the theater?
doubles were used for
filming the theater segments. These doubles were
black (Crow's double was
used as the evil dark specter Timmy in
episode 416- Firemaidens
from Outer Space and Tom's
double was seen as the "planetarium" Tom in episode
Skydivers). The doubles
made better outlines for the final mix and didn't glare back
at the camera.
Q: Was Servo's head always painted black?
A: No. In the KTMA episodes, the original
'bots played their own parts in the theater segments, not
stand-ins, and the movie could be seen through Servo's
Q: How does Tom Servo see when he has no
A: The REAL answer to this question is: It's
just a show, you should really just relax. But if you'd like
to pretend Tom is real, over the years there have been
several comments about his bubble-head being some sort of
visual sensory device.
Q: Why does Tom Servo's head look like a
cylinder in several season two episodes?
A: There are both "on-screen" and
On screen, Servo was given a "haircut" in episode
205- Rocket Attack
Off screen, using a different kind of candy dispenser as
Tom's head was an experiment to see if they could find a way
to have Servo block less of the movie screen. It was
abandoned after a few episodes and the old Servo head
returned. (Note: that model of candy dispenser is also
available at the many of the same places you can get the
standard "Servo head" model.)
Q: Sometimes Tom Servo's hands were pinkish
and sometimes they were white. Why?
A: Servo hands were created from a mold. For
some episodes, ex-Toolmaster Jef didn't paint them.
Q: As we know, Tom Servo got around by use of
his hoverskirt. Why did he need to be carried into the
theater by Joel/Mike?
A: There are both "on-screen" and
The on-screen reason is explained in episode 110- Robot Holocaust: Servo reminded Joel to carry him over a
grate that was apparently
in the floor at or near the entrance of the theater. Mike
was also informed of this fact in episode 513- The Brain That Wouldn't
Die, his first episode as
host. Apparently, Servo's hoverskirt had difficulty
providing enough force to carry him over the grate on his
own, although he did it on a few occasions.
The off-screen reason: When they entered the theater,
Joel/Mike could walk in, and Trace/Bill could slide over
with Crow from the right, but Josh/Kevin had to be already
sitting in Tom Servo's spot. So Joel/Mike had to carry Tom
Servo in and hand him to Josh/Kevin, and carry him out at
Q: How many times did Tom Servo's head
A: Four (not counting various times when he
was just generally blown up or his head has fallen off or
apart). Tom's head first exploded trying to think of a good
thing about episode 105-
The Corpse Vanishes. In
episode 107- Robot
Monster, it happened while
he was trying to make sense of the fact that bumblebees
shouldn't be able to fly. In episode 211- First Spaceship on
Venus, his sarcasm
sequencer overloaded. And in episode 419- Rebel Set, it happened because he was trying to
figure out who Merritt Stone was.
And while it really wasn't an explosion, Tom's head suffered
a serious meltdown in the theater during 318- Star Force: Fugitive Alien
Tom also suffered some explosions in MST3K: The Movie.
Q: Why did Gypsy talk that way? Was she
stupid? And why didn't she watch the movies with
A: Within the premise of the show, Gypsy was probably the most sophisticated
robot on the SOL. She was responsible for controlling all
the "higher functions" of the ship, so that M&TB could
watch the movies without worrying about it. She talked that
way because all of her brain power was being used up in
controlling the ship, and she has very little left over for
normal conversation. In episode 207- Wild Rebels, she shut down most of the ship's
functions for a little while in order to have a regular
conversation, and she spoke perfectly normally (while Joel
gasped for oxygen). She does not watch the movies, again,
because she is busy elsewhere.
Q: Gypsy seemed to get smarter over the
years, didn't she?
A: Like all the 'bots, Gypsy went through a
complex personal evolution. Certainly the wise, loving Gypsy
of later seasons was not the dopey, almost pet-like Gypsy we
knew in season one. But then, you're probably smarter than
you were 15 years ago, too, aren't you?
Q: Could Gypsy enter the theater?
A: Yes. Gypsy entered the theater in three
episodes. She made brief appearances in the theater in
episode 112- Untamed
Youth and episode
Rebels. Her longest
appearance in the theater was in episode 412- Hercules and the Captive
Women, when she actually
participated in the experiment for awhile, before fleeing
the horrible movie.
It should also be noted that in the opening credits for the
KTMA episodes it was Gypsy, not Servo, who was
shown in the theater with Joel and Crow.
Q: Who is this Richard Basehart that Gypsy is so fond of?
A: He was a veteran movie and TV actor,
perhaps best remembered as Admiral Nelson on TV's "Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea."
The Richard Basehart thing on MST3K was
basically a running gag that started in episode
101- The Crawling
Eye: Joel asked Gypsy what
2 + 2 equals. She responded with a complete non-sequitur:
Q: Why do we never see Cambot?
A: Because we are seeing the proceedings
through his eyes. We can only see him if he looks into a
mirror (as he does during the opening theme from seasons two through seven).
Q: Why is it that, in the opening credits of
episodes 201 to 512, Cambot's image in the mirror looks
straight ahead and then pans left, but the camera's point of
view keeps pointing straight ahead and does not turn?
A: It's just a show, you should really just
Q: What were the robots made of?
A: A whole bunch of stuff! Here's the
Crow was mostly made of sporting equipment and
- Eyes and
head -- His eyes were
glow-in-the dark Ping-Pong balls; pupils were square bits
of electrical tape. His head (around his eyes) was a soap
dish manufactured by the Schwartz Plastics Co. of Glendale, CA. This soap dish is no
longer made and is extremely difficult to find. The top
of his head was a hockey mask (Cooper XL7FG).
- Mouth -- A plastic bowling pin cut in half.
It used to have a circular emblem with what appeared to
be a stylized lower-case "e" imprinted in it, but later
the ones with the shapes of crowns embedded in them were
- Arms -- Adjustable desk lamp parts, with
closed-cell foam tubing (the kind used to insulate water
pipes) on the upper part. Flexible rubber tubing was used
for the rest of the upper arm. Toy claws for
- Neck -- PVC and flexible rubber
- Torso -- A Tupperware "Floralier" flower-arranging set, plus
part of another set. This set is no longer made. The set
consists of a tall conical vase that snaps into a short
conical vase that then snaps onto a tray. Two trays,
placed face-to-face, make his shoulders. The vases are
below, turned upside down. A short section of drainage
hose (the same type used for Gypsy, see below) separates
the two trays.
- Legs -- More lamp parts, like his
- The whole thing (except his
eyes) was then spray-painted gold over its original
Tom Servo was mostly made of toys:
- Head -- A gumball machine (surprise!) made
distributed by LEAF, Inc. of Lake Forest, IL.; the name
for it is "Executive
Although it comes in red, the head and torso are painted
to keep the same consistency in color. His beak was
spray-painted silver after the manual dispenser handle
was removed. Also, there was an added extension (made
from the lid of another snack dispenser) between the top
of his beak and the bottom of his globe.
- Torso -- The barrel was a "Money Lover's Barrel
Bank" -- a very
difficult item to find. Chest was a toy engine block.
Both items were later made from a mold.
- Shoulders -- Eveready flashlight heads. The rest
of the flashlight was used for Gypsy. (See below).
- Arms -- Arm assembly from a "Mr. Moonie" or "C. More Bunz" doll. These dolls drop their pants and
"moon" people when a rubber bladder is squeezed. Once
hard to find, the "C. More Bunz" doll has been reissued
by its manufacturer and can be bought at almost any
Spencer's Gifts. The entire arm assembly, including the
rubber bladder, was kept intact when installed into the
barrel. One change made to the assembly, however, were
the springs. Originally they were also kept intact, but
in later seasons they were replaced with heavy duty
springs that can be found at any hardware store.
- Hands -- Doll hands. Another rare set of
items that were later made from a mold.
- Hoverskirt -- A plastic Halloween "Boo Bowl." The
base was made of foam tubing. Black decorations were made
from plastic that has been vacu-formed around a toy
Gypsy was made of household items:
- Eye -- Eveready flashlight, minus the hood.
See Tom Servo listing above.
- Head -- "Century Infant Love Seat" from
Inc. No longer made.
The top of the head was the outside of the seat turned
upside down. The lower part was made from the inner liner
of the seat and was connected to the top by a PVC
- Neck -- Black hose "drain tile."
- Lips -- Light-blue foam tubing.
are made of A/V items and assorted clips:
- Head -- Plastic audio cassette tape box (not
the tape itself).
- Mouth -- Spring-loaded buckle from duffel bag
- Eyes -- Plastic lids from small containers.
The pupils were small plastic washers.
- Body -- VHS cassette with the tape and inner
markings -- Scrap
pieces of plastic cut into assorted shapes.
- Legs -- House gutter clips. Marketed under
the name "Fascia
Fixer," the clips can
be found in the gutter section of Menards and other
hardware/home improvement stores.
The many faces of Cambot
(whose appearance has changed several times over the course
of the series)
- Season 1: Some sort of metal part. Sphere in
middle. (The original Gypsy from KTMA TV23 was made of
parts which later became part of Comedy Channel's Cambot,
but both robots have been revised since then.)
201-512: Rotating alarm
light on top. Neck was some sort of hose, a la Gypsy.
513-706: Two fruit
ripening bowls joined to form a sphere. Battery from a
pack of Polaroid film. Gypsy tubing.
Episodes 810-1013: He got a new paint job that changed him from gray to blue.
Q: Why does Cambot's appearance keep
A: The on-camera reason has never been
explained, but fans have plenty of humorous theories about
The off-camera reason is: Because Cambot has never appeared
on the show, it was never necessary to keep him around. Once
the footage for the opening theme was shot, he was usually
taken apart and the parts used for other things. So every
time a new "robot roll call" needed to be shot, it was
decided, rather than recreate the old Cambot, to create
something newer and more interesting. If this lack of
consistency bothers you, this is not the show for
Q: I'm building robots. Where can I find
A: All over the place! Tom Servo's gumball
head can be found at Mr. Bulky's or other candy shops. You
might want to look for various items at Everything's A
Dollar store, where everything's a dollar (price check,
Earl!). Another great place to look is in various thrift
stores around town. Also, foam tubing and drainage tubing
can be found at most home-improvement stores. Certain items
became so hard to find that BBI created more copies by using
molds of the originals. These items are:
- Tom Servo -- His torso, including both the barrel
bank and the engine block. In the words of Jef Maynard,
ex-Toolmaster of BBI, the bank is "about as rare as
kryptonite." Tom's hands are also reportedly impossible
- Crow -- The soap dish around his eyes is
another extremely rare item. Also, Crow's main body is
hard to find, since that Tupperware set is no longer
Q: Where can I find instructions for building
A: There are many web sites devoted to bot building,
but we recommend joining the Yahoo! Groups botbuilders mailing list. Most of the people who run
bot building sites participate, and you
won't find a more knowlegeable group of builders
anywhere...outside of former BBI staffers. And if you're
looking for pre-built bots, the folks there can help you
Q: What is the Satellite of Love model made
A: Actually, there were three models: the old
four-foot model that was seen in the opening credits of
seasons one through six and two others made specially for
the feature film. One of them was another four-foot long
model which has also been used for the opening credits of
seasons seven and onwards. The other, an eight-footer (!)
can be seen in the opening credits of MST3K: The Movie.
All the models were made out of foam core. Why? It's light,
easy to work with, and BBI always seemed to have a lot of it
around. In keeping with the idea of making the SOL look like
a giant dog bone, a "soccer ball" construction of hexes and
pents was used, because it was a fast way to build shapes
that are sort of round. The surface action of the four-foot
models is composed of many old model kit parts, along with
whatever was on hand that looked good. Of course, model
parts don't provide much detailing for an eight-foot model,
so BBI covered it with a lot of tiny toys, many of which
they got through the mail.
Q: What were some of the items that can be
seen in the walls of the set in seasons two through
A: During the early seasons, it was a popular
fan pasttime to try to spot as many recognizable shapes in
the set walls as possible. Here's the definitive list that
was finally compiled:
There were seven panels and
half-panels in the bridge set. What follows is a list by
panel, numbered stage right to stage left:
- Upper half of stage rightmost
panel -- motorman's helper; potty seat; crescent wrench;
badminton racquet; bendable Gumby doll (screwed on to
wall through the "heart"); Hot Wheels storage case;
flatware trays; LEGO carrying case; shoe lasts; model
- Lower half of stage rightmost
panel -- Speak 'N' Spell; flower pots; plastic baseball
bat; Tupperware grater; ice cube trays, toy jeep; plastic
- Half panel stage right beneath
window -- hair curlers; toy truck; toy golf club; ice
cube trays; Hungry, Hungry Hippos game; toy pistol;
Millennium Falcon model (this might also have been the
action playset); film reel; Star Wars Snow
- Panel areas surrounding
Hexfield Viewscreen -- flower pots; speaker; toy
dinosaur; toy telephone; Trouble Pop O Matic game; toy
trumpets; telephone handset; hair curlers; mouse exercise
wheel; toy race car; baby rattle.
- Also on stage right --
bendable Poky; Big Bird head; plastic bowling pins;
Playskool ball with shaped holes in it that kids put
shaped blocks into; egg tray; two clocks.
- Pentagonal panel above door to
theater -- flatware trays; kneepads; two potty seats;
Hungry, Hungry Hippos game; plastic Christmas reindeer
cut in half (upside down); front of a castle-shaped
action toy playset; bird cage cut in half (one on each
- Hexagonal panel with hose --
speaker; flatware tray; plastic dish drain rack; hair
curlers; Jell-O mold; plastic baseball bats; half a
plastic horse; toy trumpets and horns.
- Half panel stage left under
window -- toy ukulele; toy pistol; toy boat; hair
curlers; bowling pin; ice cube tray; Darth Vader Action
Figure Storage Case; small pitcher; small toy car.
- Stage leftmost full panel with
hose -- motorman's helper; toy push mower; Santa's head;
toy trucks; bowling pin set; baby rattles; toy pistols;
large flashlights; canteen; pitcher; toy brontosaurus;
mug rack; toy fire truck; wrench; shoulder pads; flower
pots; sections of slot car track; model train
- Also on stage left -- Fozzy
figure sitting in cup; Playskool shape-ball; toy fencing
sword; plastic ladle; plastic toy shovel; toy boat; toy
crane; two kitchen clocks (one is a large "sun"); kid's
doctor kit case; baby's busybox.
- Desk front -- two bird bath
bases (upside down); whiffle ball; toy bowling ball; hair
curlers; seven 35 mm cameras; one Polaroid camera; bird
cage cut in half (one on each side); plastic angel;
doll's face; toy bird whistle.
- Controls on top of desk --
spray can tops (for the buttons).
- All over the set -- assorted
trays; drawer organizers; bowls; divided dinnet plates;
cups; silverware drawer trays; heart-shaped bowls.
Q: What was the Mads' "techtronic panel" made out of?
A: A teletype machine.
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