HE-MAN TOYS AS A KID - which I never actually owned - was the one called Roboto, a robot guy with

three different weapons that you could plug into and unplug from a socket on his right hand. He had a transparent plastic chest inside which sat a bunch .. interlocked cogs in primary colours that spun around when you twisted his waist. He was brightly coloured and full of gimmicks- everything a rj-year-old (actual or perennial) could want in an action figure.

Fast-forward to 2010 and I'm idly browsing Roboto's listing on the surprisingly detailed wwwhe-man.org archive,which mentions that the toy was actually designed by the winner of a design-your-own-character contest run by a He-Man magazine back in the '80S. The kid's name was Peter Sischo. Two minutes later I've found the only Peter Sischo on Facebook and I've put together a quick message for him ..

Adalm IFord March 16 at 10.42pm are you the peter sischo that desiqned roboto?

my favourite when I was a kid myself? How would a toy manufacturer go about rendering a child's drawing In three dimensions?
Peter Sischo March 17 at 1.28am Its kinda a sillt story, you know how all the he-mart figures pretty much had the same bulld.i.well in the MOTU Maglizine they had a blank outline, and it was a contest to draw a figure so it was kindla fill II in the bllanks... it was very sirn lar to what I had drawn, except mine didnt have hands.". it was just a claw and an AX ... but that was changed ..... is was cooill. , .alii I .. won was an actlon nqure .... jeez wonder how much money they made off of it. Adam FOlrd March 17, 2010 at 9:31am wow cool. so you drew the red jaw and the cogs and stuff, yeah? what was the ftqure you got? was it a roboto? do you sti II have a copy of the picture you drew? Peter Sischo March 17, 2010 at 11:S7am it was a long time ago Adam FOlrd March 1.7, 2010 at 9:24pm oh okay. sorry to hassle you. i was interested in teasing out an interview with you for a zlne I make, but lif you're not up for it 1 understand. thanks for talking to me .. Peter Sischo March 18, 2010 at 12:19am oh no its not a hassle ....it was just allong time aqo, 1 was just a kid ...... navb 7 years _._r old

what I'm tal.k' ing abo.nt.Le.ss than an hour later I.Check my messages and he's replied.
Peter Sischo, March .17 at 11.14pm

If he is that Peter Sischo he'll know


I dash off a follow-up, trying (and failing) to not inundate this stranger WIth too many questions.
Adalm Ford March 17 at 11.18pm' hey that's cool - can you telll me the story? 1 fou nd it on wikipedla but it's thin on detail. how did you come up with the tdea? did you send them sketches? were you happy with the final toy? . . ..

agatn the pnmary-c910ure~ cogs In my head start turrung. How cool would it be to be an 8-year-old who got to design a He-Man toy? the fact that It was designed by a kid the reason that this particular toy was

W4ile waiting to see if he'll reply


This. is .quickly blowing out in~o the kind In-depth look: at an 0bscure facet of pop-culturemarginalia that I can effortlessly dedicate

swaths of time al!d energy to (as 9Pposed to pay~ng bills on time, reading literary classics'writing my 13-yearsand-counting novel. ..), I dig around some more and find some info about the l¥agazi11.e that r?-n the competmon: a list 9( descripnons of the articles and actIVIty pages in each issue. The synof· sis for issue .2 mentions the launch a the design-acharacter contest as well as a find-award puzzle that:
II ••• features hidden words w~ich, ca.lcu/ated ,by ~o~oto,s computer brain, .1(lltal~cs mme} are necessory for HeMain to su,ecessfuillycomibat Skeletor ."

But ifRoboto.was created by the winIt was starting to look like Peter was ner of the design-a-character contest, how can a picture of him be In the making things up. issue that announces the opening of Just to make sure I've got the whole that competition? storyi..K. decide t.0 pursue one more. ~~I . I find a date of release for the Ro- g.le,. lVlatte~Tthe company who ongrboto tOY=!98S - the same date that nally made He-Man toys, are currentthe magazine was released. That cony remakin.... ~new. versions of the toys, and Scott Neitlich (aka "Toy Guru") firms that Roboto was around before the competition. I figure there's a the guy who ISIn charge of that line of simple efiough explanation, like Ro- toys, does interviews on action figure boto being the result of an earlier fan w ...eb.sl.tes. In _prev.lous..1ntervlew. s ... he's mentioned that he has access to similar competition" and I'm looking the original toys'. design documents at the wrong magazme. Easy. from back in tlie '80S. Except that (accordingto the he-man. I email Mattei and ask them to pass Q:rg archives) nq magazlp.es about HeMan were published pnor to 1985. So Scott a message. A few days later he maybe the ,synop'sis is :wrong and it's ernailsme, so -1 send some questions not actually Roboto In the, puzzle, about the Roboto t9Y, being carebut another robot character Instead. ful not to dob Peter m for .anyt~ng. Scott. confirms .my SUspICIons In a one-line reply. Except that whoever wrote those.synapses also provided scans of the front , Robot was a Mattei creation, it and back cover, and the back-cover c!Iii~ was not part of any create a poster is undeniably a (very cool) piccharacter contest! ture of Roboto himself

4 puzzle

the contest WInner announcement?

.and, a poster that predates

I email another question about other toys based on contest entnes, but

BSB07 Business Services Training Package (Version 2..0) CUFWRT302A Write simple stories

Elements of visual and aural storytelling structures may
include: • • • • • • logical progression of visual ideas musIc scene setting and establishment sound effects strong link between aural and visual narrative line visual perspective: » close-ups » wide shots. animations . comics dance fiction films m.US~C lyrics I newsp~pers, journals and magazines non-fiction

• • • •

Creative works may include:
• • • • • • • • • • •

industry associations and organisations industry practitioners and technical experts internet media outlets organisational policies and procedures personal observations and expenence publications: » reference books » newsletters and. magazines » specialist technical journals » bulletins, press releases and letters » manufacturer handbooks, » manuals and promotional material.

Tools may include:

• Script Smart software, such as:

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Inspiration Story Space word processing software.
» »

Criteria may include:
appropriateness of dialogue level of engagement with target audience relevance of story content soundness of story's structure: » linear » non-linear.

television programs theatre.


Information sources may

colleagues commercial enterprises federal, state and local government departments

Volume 2 of2, Imported Unit 11 of 52 © Commonwealth of Australia, 2008

of 2991 To be reviewed by: 31 December 2010
Page 2754

m vmE'IOB



And if it w.as a lie, w~s i.~a lie he told as a child or later 10 life? Who on. the Finally I traWl,through the syn_o,p oses put this misinformation of all 16 He-Man magazrnes. .None internet? What could be gained of the create-a-character entnes de- f:rom_Q~rsisting with a 25-year-old scribed sound like Roboto, though fib? . Was ,he".simr.lx_ bullshitting when he said I am ? Is he too emthere was one called "machine-controllingCyborge I, . And in issue 6 the barrassed to tell the truth so much later on? contest. Winners were announced, none of whom were Peter Sischo (the actual winner, Nathan Bitner, I decide not to confront Peter discored a $IooK scholarship and a rectly..Inste,ad, I ask a series of quesday as Honorary, Pr~sident of, Mat- tions that might either reveal bow teI, but a toy' ofhis character - Fear- he came to mistake himself for Roless Photog" - a guy with a camera boto's creator, or expose his delibfor a head - was never made). erate misrepresentation. All of the evidence points to Mr. Sischo making his st~ry UJp. But why he would 90 somethirig like tha,t IS the most intngumg part, Was It a lie or a misreriiembered childhood memoD',:?Did he ~et sent a toy_!Jy MatteI for some other reason? Was he the unidentified creator of "rnachio~-con,Itro, ling ey,bor,·~,' and did I e" he Simply misufiderstand when he was sent a Roboto toy as a consolation prize because of machineH~ ,clidn't,reply to my questions, and still hasn't at the time of wrrtmg, almost one year later. I've been reluctant to liassle him for answers. lie doesn't owe me anything and I m not comfortable asKing a total stranger on the other side of the world if he's lying. In that time, though.Tve done plenty of obsessingand ll!1aglfllng over.whatwas actually gOIng through hIS head when he replied to my email.

Scott replies with a simple "I have no other information Lean provide" so I, apologise for, p'rylng Into potentially commerclru.-In-confidence matters and leave things there.

controlling eybor, ge's striking-Y,tetcoincidental resemblance toRoboto?

My VERSIO~ OF THE STORY has Peter ~ying to his .school buddies about the new action figure he received for his birthday; In response to his dISappointment at n-ot winning the create-a-character contest, a disappointment accentuated by the fact that he had so enthusiastically bragged to his friends about his certain and inevitable victory The night of his birthday, Peter cobbles together an approximationof his new toy USIng the template provided by tssue #2 of Masters oftbe CJ_ntverse Magazine, which he finds In the milk crate where he keepshis COIDlt:S. He He stuffs the sketch of the brightly coloured robot and. his new toy into his schoolbag,then shreds the excised page and tosses it into the wastepaper basket in the corner of his bedroom. At school the next day his friends are completely convinced and offer various inducements, from pizza night dinner invitations to time alone withtheir older brothers' magazine collection, in return for the chance to take the new toy home for a night.

~~~fuifre:e~~~~~ ili~ ~~;~b~~tN~~~: B~~~:r~~~;~!h~n~nn

~. ord.soon spreads through t.. school a. nd at. the end of t.heday.PeteC:s ~.e . teacher asks him to stay behind after the bell. When the. classroom IS empty Mr. O'Reilly,vvalK~~ver t? Peter and quietly congratulates him. He complements Peter 's artrstic abilities and asks to see die toy. The following Friday a photographer from the local paperwhosewife works In the .cafetena comes to Peter's classroom. at the end of the day; snrffing out hISweekly local human Interest quota. Peter agrees to have hIS photo taken, ignoring the prickling back-of-the-neck sensation of guilt. In the weeks that follow the front-page LO"CAL 10TH GRADER PLAYS TO',WIN h;adline, he ~mil~s thanks at teachers and wave~ back: at people calling .out Hey! .T~yBoy!. across the hall, and every night lies In bed Imagining what will happen when ~omeone uncovers his modest bid to be centre of attention for one lunchtime. He worries he will have to change schools, leave town,. return that dogeared copy of Playboy July 1978,use his allowance to pay for a fo~rmafapology In tlie classifieds, but eventually the annual rodeo and a fnend s new BB gun end his fifteen minutes and he falls, relieved, back into obscurity, only remembered by a few local nerds. Twenty-three years later one of these n~rds contributes a long-past moment of reflected glory to amargInaha-hungry online communlry- obsessively. documenting die history ofa popular 1980S line of boy's toys, a cont!1~utt9n that IScutand pasted In I~Sentlrety from webpage to forum to wikipedia entry until ItS Incomplete information becomes, .If not truth, then at least the accepted version .ofevents, condemning Peter, whenever someone, say,from Australia, who feels the inexplicable need to flesh out this footnote in popular culture, messages him on Facebook, to once more face the choice: reveal himself as a petty childhood bullshit artist or maintain a decades-old fiction to save face.



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Fonts used here are Hoefler Text for that excellent old-school Penguin books feel, and Naughties, the official Guru Adrian (remember him?) font. Also Verdana and Furura, Jutchy YaYa #43 was s low IY cranked out in infinitesimal steps between 22 December and 2 April 20II on the Bendigo line between Castlemaine and Southern Cross Station, on the # 75, II2,48, City Circle and 70 trams between Southern Cross Station and Spring Street, in the Chewton Junkalow (aka JYY HQ), at the kitchen table and on the loungeroom couch in front of f[£, The Graham Norton Show, Dora tbe Explorer, Bones, NelS, and Rockwiz. Roboto images taken from www.he-man.org. "Missing My. Blocks" sighted on the noticeboard outside Stoneman's Bookro am, Hargraves St, Castlemaine. rrWhat artforms are eligible" taken from the Australia Council Jump Mentoring Program Frequently Asked Questions.

ThankstoRachel Roberts for her enthusiastic reception to the anecdote
upon which this particular issue is based. Postal love should be sent to PO Box 99, Chewton, Vic., Australia, 3451. email 10veshouldbesenttoadamford@1abyrinth.net.au. Pictures of m<:>nkey. punching dinosaurs should be sent to http:// s. monkeypunchdmosaur. blogspot.com. You can also go crazy with that internet love and punch http:// theotheradamford.wordpress.com into your browsers for more wrirey webby ziney stuff, including back-issues and electronic versions of this hyar zeen. Acknowledgement and respect to the Traditional Custodians of theJaara Jaara and the Wurundjeri peoples, on whose lands this zine was made.

the hrdinof d co.tnputerdnd the fi~htin~ stren~th ,of ,dtnCl(hi'ne

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