Dear Sir,

I was watching the 1987 BBC series Star Cops the other day, and noticed a startling similarity between the prototype handheld computer ‘Box’, and Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf.

Talkie Toaster Box
Talkie Toaster Box

Could they by any chance be related?

John Hoare

20 comments on “Lookalikes

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  • Um…either the captions need to be switched around or the pictures do.

    Besides that, it does make you wonder if certain parts of RD props weren’t cannibalized for other purposes. It’d probably make sense to do that, as far as I can gather…

  • Why make something new when you have something that can serve the same purpose and will cost you nothing… This is the perfect example…

  • >Um?either the captions need to be switched around or the pictures do.

    I think you’ll find that’s fairly common practice for look-a-likes.

  • Yeah, it’s just the standard bad joke about lookalikes, I’m afraid. Was it Private Eye who started it?

    And yeah, I’m pretty sure it Talkie *is* actually cannibalised from Box – if you look at the animated GIF I link to in the article, the LEDs even move like Talkie’s, and there’s even the odd yellow LED dotted arount the place. I expect the VFX guys could tell us for sure…

  • Andy Bowman made the 2nd-gen Toaster, so he’d be the the guy to ask. Looks the same to me – though I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t new even for Star Cops. Those guys have always been great at re-using things…as the re-make of Blue Midget into the Mimas shuttle shows.

    Didn’t Dead Ringers use the 2nd-gen bazookoids in a couple of shows?

  • Andy Bowman made the 2nd-gen Toaster, so he?d be the the guy to ask.

    Ah, thanks! I’ll try and get in touch.

    Didn?t Dead Ringers use the 2nd-gen bazookoids in a couple of shows?

    Now, I vaguely remember hearing something about this! But I never saw it. Something to try and hunt down screengrabs of. Can you remember what sketches they were in?

  • It’ll be Hollywood action spoof stuff – an Arnie parody, something like that. But a brief shot did make it into the title sequence, I believe.

  • I believe the orginal Talkie is now owned by the Propstore, and last time I saw it, it was in bits and needed to be repaired!

  • It’s true, the LED panel from Talkie MkII is indeed the same one as used in Box. Mike (Tucker) told me some years ago.

  • Ah, thanks Baz!

    I’m now twisting my head, and trying to figure out how whether they twisted it sideways or not…

  • I think they did–but that’s just me, looking at the shape of the X (specifically, where the flat bits–what are they called? serifs? are).

  • Well that’s cleared that up then, and just in time for tea. I didn’t buy it, and it was a while ago since I last saw it, but I also presume that there was more than one panel, as with many things on Red Dwarf, just in case Craig got hold of it!

  • I think John’s right about the Private Eye ‘lookie-likey’ thing but Smash Hits (purveyors of Bobbins) et al often used the joke too.

  • You know what? It wouldn’t surprise me if it had been Smash Hits that started the joke.

    *Such* an influential magazine, in terms of writing style. I don’t think there’s many people writing pop culture stuff in their 20s/30s who haven’t been influenced by it, either directly or indirectly…

  • I can’t remember if it was in Viz or in something else, but I remember a great pastiche of the Private Eye style of lookalike letters :

    “Dear Sirs,

    I was watching Top of the Pops recently, and I couldn’t help but notice a resemblance between the black 1970s pop star Michael Jackson, and the white 1990s pop star Michael Jackson. Do you think they might be related?”

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