Want to know the difference between a Battos Bug Blaster and a slightly used Discombobulator? Then look no further because Professor RubberToe can cater to all your deranged and wonderfully psychotic needs!
Nestled in the shadows and streets of Cardiff, Professor RubberToe is busy inventing, sometimes stealing, new and outright deadly rayguns to unleash upon an unsuspecting world. With wild hair, dangerous goggles, and a home arsenal of weaponry that would have the whole tribe of Tsunga-Tsunga quaking in their boots, the Professor sure knows how to live... and how to defend himself should the need arise.
From McNookie’s Steam Ion Displacement Beer Goggles to Rockets in your Pocket - the Professor has a wide and deadly arsenal. And what’s more, he’s willing to share. Never mind that some of the minor features like targeting have yet to be figured out. Mere details, he assures us. Anyway, that’s what his gorgeous - yet ultimately ill-fated - clone servants are for, or to put it another way, they’re target practise.
On a more serious note, Professor RubberToe is the brainchild of designer Nick Robatto who describes the professor as his alter-ego, a Mr. Hyde to his Doctor Jekyll.
Nick runs RubberToe Props: a company that provide a wide range of seriously funky stuff for such UK hits as Sherlock, Merlin, Torchwood and a little-known backwater show you might not have heard of called Doctor Who.
RubberToe Rayguns was born from the fevered imaginings of Nick’s encounters with the weird and outright strange while working on Doctor Who, at the end of which he had a number of beautiful – although no less deadly - rayguns cluttering up his office. An epiphany followed, and after his subsequent release from hospital Nick set about sketching out the world in which Professor RubberToe lives and formed a back story for the rayguns.
To help with this, Nick decided to dress up and assemble a small set using props from the Dr Who prop store and medical techno-wizardry left over from Torchwood.
'The shoot went very well,’ Nick says, ‘and the professor sprang into existence. You can get the gist of him really from the shots; he is crazy, unstable, but darkly humorous.’
Nick’s RubberToe website also features a regular comic strip based around the idea that each gun is being tested. Professor RubberToe’s keen helper, Kismin, is the glamorous assistant and just so happens to be a clone. The prof has built a rather nifty cloning machine which allows him to create as many Kismin's as he likes - just as well because she always seems to end up meeting a rather sticky end.
We also have McNookie; an old friend of the Professor who used to enjoy joining him on many an intergalactic boozing session. Nick describes McNookie as a bit of an idiot who’s soon to meet his death. Watch closely because quite soon he is being blown away by a new character called Radihun; she will take over the role of the more classic raygun user. She's a hell of a lot better looking too. Also soon to come is an old acquaintance of the prof’s, who always arms herself with one of his rayguns, usually going for the more retro-looking device.
On an average day Nick will ride to the workshop which is two minutes away and cast up all the necessary parts needed for the guns. At the moment RubberToe props are prepping for the Christmas episode of Dr Who, so he may have to pop into the studios and talk to the production designer and art director. He’ll be given a concept of a prop which he will either take back to his own genius level laboratory or make in the BBC workshops.
It’s been a busy summer for Nick with much of his time spent making the latest range of sonic screwdrivers for the official license holder, Quantum Mechanics. They plan to reproduce the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver using Nick’s sonics as the master prototypes. Nick is very proud that he has worked on both David Tennant and Matt Smith’s sonic screwdrivers – and who can blame him.
‘They're such an iconic prop,’ Nick says, ‘and to have had the opportunity to make these, I feel very lucky. Perhaps the biggest achievement in this was making the Matt Smith sonic in under a week. I was given a concept and told to make it the same size as the Master’s sonic laser, then sent on my way. What a week that was!’
Nick’s also been doing plenty of work this year on Merlin. The props on this show are usually a polar opposite to Dr Who props. With Dr Who he’s generally making futuristic gadgets, then jumping to Merlin where it’s all old weapons and gargoyle heads. So it’s good to mix it up. Keeps him keen.
On any given day Nick will have rayguns, Dr Who props, and Merlin Props on the go. It’s a bit of a juggle, especially as Nick is also the father of three. Nick went on to say, ‘I always find it funny sealing up the box and sending rayguns on their way – I get attached to the things I make.’
His favourite gun is the Clockwork Vaporiser, and it’s easy to see why.
‘This fellow is the Rolls-Royce of the raygun world. The mother of all duelling pistols, the Clockwork Vaporiser can blast an opponent from 260 miles without leaving a mark on one’s attire.’
‘This leaves one free to take tea under the jacaranda bushes with the colonel’s lady immediately afterwards without one’s sartorial elegance being compromised.’
His other achievement he’s particularly proud of is getting Rubbertoe Rayguns up and running.
‘I've had a very busy six years working on Dr Who, with only a couple of weeks spare here and there. It’s taken me around three and a half years from my initial idea to the launching of the website. I wanted something that I could put my own design on and seeing as a license from the BBC costs the earth, starting my own brand was the only option.’
The short-term plan for Rubbetoe Rayguns is to expand the range of rockets. Nick wants to make smaller models that are lighter on the pocket, and he’s hoping to make them with interchangeable fins and bodies. So you can choose your body shape, fin shape and colour, you can also choose your type of flame left behind the rocket, there will probably be five or so in this range standing about 6 inches tall. He’s also planning to make more standard sized rockets.
If the world of Rubbertoe goes well, the range available will obviously expand and new guns added, maybe making extremely intricate designs with moving parts and lights, and he has great ideas for robots that he’s gagging to make.
RubberToe props are also hoping to jump on the convention wagon and start doing shows.
‘I'm thinking about Memorabilia this year as a starting point,’ Nick adds.
Professor Rubbertoe Rayguns are available from his site which also includes a mini-comic of the professor trying out his newest invention on an unsuspecting space cow with truly spectacular – if unpredictable - results.
Check them out here. Just remember the saving grace between an unfortunate encounter with an intoxicated Grand Master General of Zogron 8 might very well be a RubberToe raygun.