Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!

In fact, it barely has legs at all, designer Kogoro Kurata having wisely opted for wheeled instead of walking locomotion for his extremely impressive first attempt at de-fictionalizing the ubiquitous giant fighting robot of Japanese pop culture. His project site at Suidobashi Heavy Industries has been up for more than a year, and includes an impressive “build to order” system that lets you specify factory options for your fighting machine ranging from various weapons systems, to upgraded armor, to genuine leather seats and custom paint jobs. The price is updated in real time, as you go, and the whole thing even wraps up with a buy-it-now button.

It was hard to tell, at first, whether Kurata might not actually be serious. And, perhaps, slightly deranged. Actually clicking on the “buy” button takes you to a form listing the options you specified, the color, and the stated price, which prompts you for for an e-mail address—presumably, so a salesperson can contact you to complete your order. One does not, after all, simply dispatch a PayPal payment in the amount of $2,000,000 and expect delivery of a bleeding-edge military weapons system in 3 to 5 weeks.

And then last summer, the videos began to appear—videos styled in the very best, completely over the top, defense-industry trade show traditions—showing at least one very real, apparently functional Kuratas mech moving its arms, torso, and wheels. Cruising around in urban traffic. Opening and closing the cockpit. Displays powering up, tracking systems coming online, gun barrels spinning.

You had to watch pretty closely, but eventually the hints started piling up—the shoulder-mounted missile pod shoots water-rockets that “from time to time will hit their targets,” the miniguns are loaded with plastic pellets, and the weapons systems are designed to fire when the pilot smiles. So the cat’s out of the bag: “Suidobashi Heavy Industries” is, in fact, pulling our chain. Now, disclaimers have appeared openly identifying Kuratas as a “work of art.”

But it’s been a heckuva stunt, executed with a stage magician’s flair for timing, and the Kuratas itself is a pretty stunning build. If you’re in Tokyo this weekend, don’t miss your chance to see it in person at this year’s Maker Faire Tokyo.

水道橋重工 | Suidobashi Heavy Industry

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


Related

Comments

  1. emarkp says:

    The videos were clearly fake from the start. The video of it in traffic was CGI. The motion of the sculpture in place could have easily been done via crane or hoist. Other motion could easily have been done with cable and pulley.

    (I noted it back here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3016975&cid=40830481)

    I wonder how anyone with any technical skill is taken in by this. It’s nearly as fake looking as the “invisibility cloak” hoax (actually just green screen) from some years before. Checking on that history, it was in 2004: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=111063&cid=9425536

    1. Sean Ragan says:

      Dude, it’s fun. No one was “taken in by it,” and if you insist on taking it seriously the very most that might have been believed, from the beginning, was that the designer was actually trying to start a company selling mecha. Not that he had really produced a working one. So the question was never, “has this guy really produced a working mecha?” but, “is this guy a lunatic who thinks it’s possible, a huckster trying to make a buck, or a joker pulling our legs?”

      1. You gotta love the indignation though, Sean. I mean, “It’s clearly fake…” Yes, it is clearly fake, thanks Captain Obvious, for pointing out what a buffoon I am for having some fun, lol.

    2. Brian Luk says:

      it is real , you should search for other videos, check before you speak man

  2. Ryan says:

    So….I’m not getting a fighting mech or my 3.5millioin dollars back?

    1. I know, sooooo disappointing.

  3. Bugg says:

    The MEGADOOMER!

  4. LDM says:

    I love in their “pilot training video” weapon systems that the Gatling gun is controlled by facial recognition software and smiling, AKA the “SmileShot”.

  5. [...] the piece “Kuratas” Mecha Does Note have Chicken Legs, LDM [...]

In the Maker Shed