Tobor ("robot" spelled backwards) is a fictional robotic character, featured in the 1949-1954 American science-fiction TV-series Captain Video and His Video Rangers, and in the 1954 movie Tobor the Great (described[by whom?] as one of the most important works of the science-fiction canon at the time). A spinoff TV-series centered on Tobor was planned for the 1956-1957 season, Here Comes Tobor, but in the end only a pilot episode was shot. Tobor was nine feet tall, and characterized by an "Robot 1" sign on his chest, that has been stenciled backwards, resulting in "I Tobor.". According to director of Tobor the Great Lee Sholem the making of the Tobor robot costume took five months.
In the Captain Video series Tobor was initially an evil character and an enemy of Captain Video, but Tobor was later reformed and able to control his capabilities for good causes. In Tobor the Great Tobor is remote-controlled by the grandson of a scientist, and develops an inexplicable emotional link to the boy. Tobor is presented in the movie as a somewhat comical character, with a 'lumbering but pleasant clumsiness' as he walks through doors and into furniture. In effect, the character becomes a parody of Frankenstein's Monster.
Dave Ballard played Tobor in the Captain Video series. Lew Smith played Tobor in Tobor the Great, but remained uncredited. The credits to the Here Comes Tobor pilot simply read, "Tobor is played by Tobor."
In the run-up to the 1956-1957 TV season, the production company Guild Films considered renting out 'Tobor' for private appearances.
- Terrace, Vincent. Crime Fighting Heroes of Television: Over 10,000 Facts from 151 Shows, 1949-2001. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2002. pp. 47, 79
- Ichbiah, Daniel. Robots: from science fiction to technological revolution. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005. p. 61
- IMDB. Tobor the Great
- Billboard 21 April 1956. p. 14
- Telotte, Jay P. Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film. Urbana [u.a.]: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1995. p. 112
- Weaver, Tom. Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews. Jefferson, NC ;London: McFarland, 2000. p. 291
- Sobchack, Vivian. Screening Space The American Science Fiction Film. New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.]: Rutgers Univ. Press, 2001. pp. 80-81