HAL 9000 terrorized the crew of the Discovery One in 2001: A Space Odyssey, released 50 years ago this week. A malevolent artificial intelligence like HAL 9000 coming to life beyond the celluloid seemed like a dream until the big brains at Amazon, Google, and Apple started experimenting with virtual personal assistants. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri may not have quite the devious intentions that HAL had in the original movie and book (or so we hope), but thanks to Master Replicas Group, those three VPAs will soon have some dangerous competition.
Master Replicas Group, which is made up of staffers from the original Master Replicas, which went out of business in 2008, is making its grand debut with a line of 2001: A Space Odyssey items in conjunction with the film’s 50th anniversary. Already available are a miniature HAL USB drive that lights up, a comprehensive art book, and special plaques featuring the Moon’s Tycho crater and Mars’ Olympus Mons, both of which featured heavily in the film. Of course, the big to-do is the upcoming wall-mounted, interactive HAL 9000.
Though there’s no release date or pricing information available as of yet, Master Replicas Group has teased the final product with a lovely (and terrifyingly accurate) video teaser that shows just what their version of the evil AI can do. In addition to reciting some lines from the film and creepily calling the user “Dave,” the interface will light up with screen-accurate imagery. HAL’s eye will even blink in accordance with his speech. Unfortunately, a full complement of VPA routines hasn’t been built with HAL in mind. That just means you’ll have to rely on the built-in Alexa support to do things like check the weather and make shopping lists. The main display even flips over to something akin to the Echo View when using Alexa, which is a nice touch.
If you have the wall space, and are as big a 2001 fan as we are, you can sign up to stay in the loop when further details become available from Master Replicas Group.
Now, 2001 isn’t the only classic film celebrating a recent anniversary, and for you Beetlejuice fans, we’ve got a bit of a throwback to the heyday of late ‘80s toys we can’t believe got made. Beetlejuice was a PG-rated film, though, like similar unbelievably PG-rated films like Jaws and Poltergeist, it was not very kid-friendly. That didn’t stop Kenner and Warner Bros. from teaming up on some toys geared for the children unlucky enough to have their parents escort them to Tim Burton’s German expressionist nightmare.
Among the more traditional action figures released, Kenner also put out one of the most disturbing talking dolls ever to hit retail. The Beetlejuice Talking Figure featured the self-described “ghost with the most” with his signature striped suit, a devilish grinning face, and wild hair meant to somewhat recall Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Betelgeuse. While the toy looks like something out of a Puppet Master sequel rather than the iconic horror comedy it’s supposed to be based on, that’s not the most terrifying aspect.
That would be the doll’s spinning head.
Yeah, the movie pull quotes are nice, but there are numerous dolls that do the same thing. None of them also came with the ability to spin their heads in ghastly fashion like Betelgeuse here. Perhaps not so surprisingly, this doll isn’t very common these days. You can certainly find any number of the classic action figures, or even those based on the animated series, at flea markets or toy shops, but this talking doll is a bit harder to find. Perhaps things are better that way, though. Who in their right mind would want this thing staring back at them from the box with that face taunting them from behind the cellophane?