Guillermo del Toro: My 10 Favorite Robots
False Maria, Metropolis (1927)
The ''grandmother of them all,'' as del Toro puts it. Considered one of cinema's very first androids, the curvy industrialized siren was created by Walter Schulze-Mittendorff for Fritz Lang's silent sci-fi masterpiece. ''The design fuses the majesty of an Egyptian statue with the beauty of futuristic art-deco lines,'' he says. ''It is hypnotically beautiful and terrifying. One of the great film icons of all time.''
Robby, Forbidden Planet (1956)
Moviegoers gasped when they saw the towering mechanical man. ''Robby exhibited a distinct personality, thanks to both script writing and the careful execution of design master Robert Kinoshita,'' says del Toro, who also notes that the robot's clear dome reveals moving internal parts that ''give the illusion of thought and speech mechanics.''
Astro Boy, Astro Boy (1963-66)
On this Japanese series from godfather of anime Osamu Tezuka, Astro was built and (for a time) loved by his maker, a scientist who had lost his only son. ''It's a complex, idiosyncratic amalgam of science fiction and fantasy,'' according to del Toro. ''For me it has always been rooted in Pinocchio and stands as an empowering fable for kids.''
The Gunslinger, Westworld (1973)
The sci-fi film itself might seem dated, but not the android (played by Yul Brynner), who was built for recreational gun battles with human tourists. ''The main special effect in this film is Yul Brynner. His movement, his mythic stature, and the absolute control of the performance stand the test of time. Almost nothing else in the film does.''
R2-D2 and C-3PO, Star Wars (1977)
Designed by Ralph McQuarrie, the Laurel and Hardy of the Skywalker universe introduced the term droids. ''They are the perfect odd couple. One is blue, short, stocky, and free; the other is golden, fussy, and rigid. More than any other robot on this list, they are fused with their performers [Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels] in voice and mannerisms.''
Gigantor, Gigantor (1964-65)
''The first giant robot I ever saw and a robot that defined my childhood,'' del Toro says of the star of the Japanese anime series. ''When I was 3 or 4 years old and I had a fever, my recurrent image would be the signature shot of the robot flying toward the camera, one fist extended, looking straight at the lens. My older brother and I used to draw him over and over.''
Robot B9, Lost in Space (1965-68)
''One of the fundamental robots of my childhood,'' the director says rhapsodically. Created by Forbidden Planet's Kinoshita (who was handpicked by producer Irwin Allen), it was ''a magnificent piece of modernist design, a robot with innate personality and great futuristic appeal. This was also one of the early incarnations of the 'a boy and his robot' story.''
ED-209, RoboCop (1987)
Del Toro was taken with the squatting T. rex: ''As sleek as an American car prototype and as deadly as an armored tank. A mechanical hard-ass. The ED-209 is all hard surface and no face, crouched in a combat position. My mind was blown as soon as it took a step. I marveled at all the details like the hydraulic rams and cooling Gatling guns.''
The Giant, The Iron Giant (1999)
Joe Johnston and Brad Bird (who made his directorial debut here) designed the alien giant, which was a retro-minded achievement in ''masterful simplicity,'' according to del Toro. ''The eccentric jaw, gyrating eye shutters, angular torso, and rounded bucket head are absolutely perfect. He conveys scale, power, and innocence in equal parts.''
Robot Police Officers, Patlabor (1988)
Another key influence on del Toro's Pacific Rim was this Japanese franchise, which started as manga and branched into an anime TV series and eventually films. It centered around tales from the streets of near-future Tokyo, where powerful robots change crime and law enforcement. ''Perhaps more than any other series, this served as an inspiration for the Shatterdome, the world of Pacific Rim,'' says del Toro. ''The mundane details in the maintenance and repair of the Patlabor [robot police] units was fundamental.''
Cherno Alpha, Pacific Rim (2013)
We couldn't ask del Toro to give us his favorite pop-culture robots of all time without asking him which one of his own he prefers from Pacific Rim. He chose Cherno Alpha: ''The oldest Jaeger in active duty, in service since the early stages of the Kaiju Wars, was developed to protect the remote Pacific Ports of Russia. Heavy and durable, like a steam-engine brawler that's painted like a Russian tank with a nuclear tower on top. The only Jaeger where the pilot's cockpit is in the chest (not the head), it also has no escape pod. When this one goes down, the two pilots go down with it.''