Way Back Wednesday: Child Robots of the ’80s

"Small Wonder" DVD

“Small Wonder” DVD

Thanks to films such as “Pacific Rim,” in which monsters square off against robots, and last week’s debut of a government-funded humanoid robot named Atlas, the headlines have been chock full of news about automatons lately. It’s almost as if we’ve returned to the 1980s when robots such as The Transformers and R2-D2 were all the rage, not to mention when Hollywood loved storylines about androids that looked just like cute, cuddly children.

The year 1985 turned out to be a banner time for child robots; it saw the release of the sci-fi thriller “D.A.R.Y.L.” and the debut of the television series “Small Wonder.” In both the former and the latter, loving families from suburbia raise robots as if they are typical 10-year-olds. While “Small Wonder’s” V.I.C.I. (an acronym for Voice Input Child Identicant) lives a pretty sheltered life because the family man and robotics engineer who created her keeps her existence hush hush, “D.A.R.Y.L.” doesn’t have it so easy. The feds created him to be a super soldier but when he lets them down by having the nerve to develop human emotions, they decide to off the kid, er, cyborg youth form. Car chases and even a plane hijacking ensue.

Despite their very different lives—D.A.R.Y.L. is to V.I.C.I. what Tupac was to Young MC—both child robots have some serious bragging rights. D.A.R.Y.L. has super strength, fierce reflexes and the ability to hack into any computer system. V.I.C.I. (pronounced Vicki) is also as strong as the Terminator and can change her build to be 10 feet tall or to a shrunken version herself. She can even improve the gas mileage of cars, a skill anyone would kill for in this economy. So, which child robot would win in a face off? Watch the clips below and decide for yourself.

The trailer for “D.A.R.Y.L.” gives the viewer a taste of his background and his powers.

In this clip, Vicki rotates her head and shocks her “brother” with her superhuman strength.

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