This year, my sister-in-law and nieces gave me an Amazon card for Christmas. The bookstore near my apartment in Yokohama doesn’t stock English-language books, so it’s an extremely thoughtful gift, but I haven’t actually visited Amazon’s site to pick out my new reading material, since I’m still in the middle of a lengthy novel I started during my recent flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.
With a couple of hundred pages left to go, it might be a while before I actually use the card, and while I’m leaning towards a National Geographic subscription, I still haven’t ruled out the alternative of putting the card towards purchasing a giant robot, since Amazon Japan now sells those, too.
Suidobashi Heavy Industries describes itself as “an organization which aims to spread human ride robots.” Terminal syntax stumble aside, they’re serious about the goal of producing and selling robots that can be controlled by human pilots, and the company has already begun manufacturing and selling its 3.8-meter (12.5-foot) tall KURATAS robot.
▼ Ordinarily, I’ve got a serious pet peeve about the way Japan rides roughshod over capitalization conventions, especially when even the manufacturer itself is inconsistent about it, but being a 5,000-kilogram (11,023-pound) robot means being able to make people spell your name however you want them to.
Still, some of you may feel uneasy dealing directly with the company, seeing as how giant robots are just as likely to be built by mad scientists as brilliant ones. Thankfully, the KURATAS is also sold by a reputable middleman, Amazon Japan.
This is actually Amazon’s second time to offer the KURATAS, as it also briefly sold the robot in 2013. The most recently listed price was 120 million yen (US$1,008,000), but buyers who were dreaming of a mecha Christmas had the chance to snap one up at a discounted price of 98 million yen ($825,000) during Amazon’s Christmas sale.
▼ Grab a can of green spray paint and recolor the black bits for extra yuletide cheer!
Even when ordering huge robots, though, it’s important to read the small print. The item offered through Amazon is a KURATAS starter kit, and as such, does not include the pair of arms the robot is sometimes photographed with.
Nor does the starter kit come with the plastic rocker launcher or BB Gatling gun, which are collectively referred to in the above video as the robot’s “greatest feature.”
Oddly enough, the KURATAS doesn’t qualify for free shipping, as Amazon charges an additional 350 yen ($3) for delivery. Gift wrapping is available, though, which will allow you to keep friends and family guessing as to whether you’ve bought them a rideable robot or a gigantic block of cheese right up to the moment when they tear the paper off.
Sadly, the KURATAS starter kit is currently sold out, and Amazon hasn’t announced when it will be restocking it, although the item is still listed on the retailer’s website. A little extra wait might be for the best, though. While we’d like to believe that everyone who buys a KURATAS is planning to use it to help build a peaceful, utopian future filled with robots, we’re not entirely convinced a few customers aren’t planning to use theirs for a murderous rampage.
▼ “Customers who viewed this item also viewed…Buddhist funeral altars.”