So, what are your favorite robotic opponents and why? Are they a genuine menace, or mere mooks?
Volkites (Undersea Kingdom, 1936) – Movie serial villains often planned to create armies of robotic troops but rarely got beyond the prototype. Atlantean tyrant Unga Khan actually built squads of “Volkites” to back up his human soldiers. These were 7-foot-tall, heavily armored automatons of the “tin can on legs” variety common in the 1930s. They carried energy rifles. Despite their clumsy movements and inability to speak, they were capable of performing military duties without direct human supervision: engaging enemy troops, arresting and detaining prisoners, driving armored personnel carriers, operating heavy equipment. Unless ordered to by a human commander, they wouldn’t attack and slaughter submissive captives. Immune to small arms fire, their chief weakness was their top-heavy design. A well-thrown chair or well-placed blow could knock them over like bowling pins.
Daleks (Doctor Who, 1963) – Originally human participants in a super-soldier program on the planet Skaros, Daleks gradually mutated into squid-like Things That Were Once Men, unable to leave their powered armor suits. Instead of merely prosecuting a war against their nation’s primary rival, they sought to enslave, then ultimately to exterminate, all humans regardless of what nation or planet they came from. While not creative thinkers, their impenetrable armor, built-in weaponry, and persistence made them dangerous foes. So many varied stories have been told about them over the show’s 50-year run that the Daleks' exact weaknesses are hard to pin down.
Cybermen (Doctor Who, 1966) – Survivors of another, formerly habitable, planet in Earth’s solar system, Cybermen were manlike beings who ultimately sacrificed their humanity to continue their existence, replacing tissue with mechanical parts until only their biological brains remained. Cold and logical, they were ruthless, treacherous foes. They reproduced by “upgrading” their human victims, harvesting and wiping the brains to install in cybernetic bodies. They didn’t want to destroy mankind but to control and maintain it as an organic resource. Cybermen carried energy rifles and pistols. While tough, they weren’t as durable as Daleks, with whom they tried and failed to form an alliance. They were vulnerable to gold, which clogged their respiratory systems.
Cylons (Battlestar Galactica, 1978) – Mechanical servants who turned on and replaced their declining reptilian creators, Cylons (like the Daleks) were determined to exterminate mankind for reasons that weren’t entirely clear. They resembled metallic Roman centurions wearing backpacks, and carried broadswords as well as energy rifles equipped with bayonets. While dangerous, they weren’t especially bright. It took three Cylon pilots, for example, to engage a single human fighter pilot. It was never quite clear whether they were wholly robotic or some sort of cyborg containing biological components. The bulky centurions were commanded by sleeker and smarter models that were clever, emotional, and capable of human-like ambition and vice.
Any others? Why not do a BRP write-up of your preferred mechanical menace?