Secret Sci-Fi Legend: Felix Silla

I'm always intrigued by productions where there were people inside the suits protraying the characters we came to know and love so I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to Italian actor and stunt-man Felix Silla.

Felix is a bit of a sci-fi legend as he's appeared in Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, the original Planet of the Apes (alongside Charlton Heston as a child gorilla) and Return of the Jedi as the Rancor Keeper. Of course not, he was an Ewok. He was also the original Cousin It from the Addams Family. That's right. This is Twiki. Or at least half of him. The voice was provided by Mel Blanc who's better known as the voice of Bugs Bunny.

Twiki was the weird little metal boy robot that assisted Captain Buck Rogers when they de-frosted him in the 25th century to chase fancy futuristic women around space-casinos and punch all the blokes right in the face.

I remember Twiki carrying trays a lot for some reason. Actually, thinking about it there probably wasn't a lot else Felix could do inside that suit. There were quite a lot of moments during the show where Buck would have to pick Twiki up and scoop him out of harm's way whenever anybody started shooting. Thinking about it, Buck should have been more careful with this as it could easily have been misconstrued as trying to use Twiki as a laser-blast-absorbing shield. Lots of lifting up and down stairs too, in that regard his design was only marginally superior to that of a dalek.

He also had the annoying Doctor Theopolis character slung round his neck a lot of the time. Theopolis was weird - he was one of the robots charged with running the entire planet and they couldn't see their way to build him a body with any kind of locomotive abilities whatsoever. He's literally more helpless than a baby. This is the Buck Rogers universe's equivalent of some high-level governmental advisor and he has to be worn around the neck of a little metal boy pretending to be Flavor Flav who can't even get down the stairs. Welcome to the future bitches.

It's often easy to forget the kinds of cultural impact and marketing penetration these old shows seemed to have as we tend think of it as a modern thing. Not so in the USA - I think that's why I always used to be so envious of all those kids growing up over there in the 80s, they got to eat stuff like this.

Captain Protein, really? He sounds like he should be on the sex oiffenders register. For some reason Twiki seemed very hard to capture in illustrations. Case in point below. I've got a lot of time for Boris Vallejo and his figurative work is better than most artists but even he couldn't illustrate Twiki properly.

As much as I love Buck Rogers, it did stray off the path from time to time. I have to close my eyes when I see stuff like the image below where he's got into a Starfighter all by himself and is coming to rescue Buck. Even as a kid I'd be asking my Mum "How did he climb up the ladder to get into the ship?" She got a lot of questions like this from me when I was really small. Sorry Mum.

Twiki had a lot of charisma through and he even pulled a she-bot one time. I have a lot of questions about this which I'm sure the show's creators would be unable to answer but have a look and see what you think he was going to do with "her" when he got her back to his garage or wherever he goes at night. This clip comes to you courtesy of the appropriately named awesomelybadcrap.com which seems to now be defunct. I'm not sure if it's a co-incidence but this she-twiki is very similar to Galatea in the Bi-Centenial Man when she is first introduced into the story.

Twiki also used to carry Buck's stash when he went clubbing in future-discos. Good dancing going on here.

He obviously did okay out of Buck Rogers if that's his car with the personalised plate. Presumably it is his car. Be a bit weird if it was anybody else's. Bidibidibidi that's all folks!