Huge robot baby invades Shanghai, terrifies world

Visitors to Expo 2010 in Shanghai are being greeted by a 21-foot-tall robot baby in the Spanish pavilion. The monstrous tot, named Miguelin, can breathe and blink.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read

Imagine changing the diaper on this thing. We shudder to think. expo2010.cn

Spain has built a giant robot baby and unleashed it on millions of unsuspecting visitors to the 2010 Expo in Shanghai, China. So far the baby's been peaceful, but organizers are hoping it doesn't have a tantrum.

Named Miguelin, the 21-foot tot is an electronically controlled terror that can move its eyes and head, blink, and breathe. It was designed by Spanish film director Isabel Coixet, whose films include "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo." Her child seems to be a nod to Japanese artist Kenji Yanobe's Giant Torayan baby robot, except that it doesn't breathe fire (as far we we know).

Director Isabel Coixet tries to appease the monster. expo2010.cn

Which is a good thing, because the lavish Spanish pavilion would light up like a firecracker. Miguelin's crib was built with more than 8,000 wicker panels and looks like a massive wicker basket from the outside.

A baby in a basket--clearly, Coixet believes Miguelin is on a divine mission to change the world. She also thinks Spain and China share similar values when it comes to kids.

"I have investigated along with Chinese assessors, friends, and artists I know and both countries share this worship for children," Coixet was quoted as saying by SEEI, a Spanish expo group.

The gargantuan babe is part of a Spanish exhibition on Iberian cities based on the theme "From the City of Our Parents to the City of Our Children." The theme of the $58 billion expo itself, which at 70 million expected visitors is to be the largest ever, is "Better city, better life." It opens to the public Saturday for a six-month run.

The first two halls in the pavilion use numerous projectors to describe Spain's ancient history and modern life. The third hall, home to Miguelin, represents the future: giant animatronic babies.

It's no wonder that Miguelin was made by U.S. fright factory Amalgamated Dynamics, which has worked on horror effects for films including "Alien vs. Predator."

Amalgamated shock-meisters Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. must be proud of their most nightmarish creation. No word on whether a facehugger will pop out of Miguelin's chest.