As eerily predicted in 1998's Small Soldiers, a Japanese robotics company called Speecys is developing what it claims to be the world's first robotic action figure that can move and pose all by itself -- no imagination required.
The company behind the creation was founded by Tomoaki Kasuga back in 2001 after he had spent some time working on Sony's robot dog, Aibo, but this bot doesn't have aspirations of being man's best friend. Standing just shy of ten inches tall the Motion Figure System MF201, as it's called, features an impressive 20 wire-driven joints allowing the robotic action figure to move and pose all by itself. The video of it in action doesn't look so great, but the technology does.
The only catch, at least in its current form, is that all of the motors and control mechanisms needed to bring the MF201 figure to life are not quite hidden away in a base it remains permanently attached to. So this bot won't be going for a spin in G.I. Joe's mobile command base, but you can swap in hands, a head, and even dress it up to look like your favourite character.
The other issue is the the MF201's estimated price tag of between $US500 to $US1,000 which puts it on the wish lists of serious collectors only. But give it a few years of refinement and miniaturisation, and there's no reason to believe we won't see a version of Joe that kung-fu grips all by himself. [Speecys via Japan Trends via IEEE Spectrum]