of Metal: Horror or Hoax?
by Michael Walls
face it – advertisements are just disguises for
“This SUV can defy all the laws of gravity and
suspension engineering." "This light beer will
make you the life of any party!" "This toilet
paper will brighten your day!"
So why not use a gigantic lie to disguise an advertisement?
It’s brilliant actually!
Men of Metal: Eyewitness Accounts of Humanoid Robots
is a supposed book by Rowland Samuel. A 37-page “excerpt”
fell out of my National Geographic Adventure
magazine this month and I had the same contorted expression
on my face that you probably have right now. I mean, after
all, it sounds retarded – doesn’t it? “Eyewitness
accounts of humanoid robots?” What in the world...?
But you know what? I got sucked in. I started to read
this excerpt and I couldn’t put it down until I
finished it. And when I finished it, I wanted to read
the book. And in my Internet search for the book, I came
across a lot of weird stuff – stuff that, in retrospect
I realize, I was suppose to find. I fell for it. I bought
the whole thing and followed the bread trail and all I
can do is applaud the geniuses that contrived the whole
marketing ploy. Nice work guys.
But let me back up a bit. Let me tell you about Men
Author Rowland Samuel (if that is his real name) is a
journalist in the U.K. who has written this book about
unexplained sighting in Oxford, England. His style is
absorbing. It is almost treated like a journal, which
adds to the authenticity of it. Dated entries, short descriptions,
recorded conversations. No elaborate opinions or assumptions,
allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions as the
mystery unfolds. In the end, the reader is left with the
realistically lingering concept that internal combustion
robots are being built and tested in a remote area of
England, by Dr. Colin Mayhew, a retired engineer for BMW,
using overengineered Mini Cooper parts.
Wow. Could this be real? 37-pages ago I would say “no
way.” But now I’m not so sure. Guess I need
to buy the book. A brilliant piece of advertising.
But what is being advertised here? The book? I can’t
find the book. The mystery deepens.
Publishing (known for its collection of conspiracy theory
books on subject likes Loch Ness, Bigfoot, Area 51 and
crop circles) is the publisher of Men of Metal
– but has delayed the publishing due to “new
information [that] has recently come to light regarding
the sightings in Oxford…”
Samuel’s website is mysteriously “down for
about this Dr. Colin Mayhew? If this is real, certainly
there must be some information about him on the Internet.
the excerpt, Samuel references a website that he stumbled
across, that reveals intimate details about Dr. Mayhew’s
secret project – including schematic drawings, video
interviews, and video tests of humanoid robots.
type in this web address, and sure enough, there it is
– all of Dr. Mayhew’s notes and videos. (Note:
I have provided all related links at the bottom of this
article.) The site isn’t anything special. In fact
it’s rather low-tech in its design and format, and
leads you to believe that you are actually looking at
a private website of some mad scientist. There is also
a link to Dr. Mayhew’s personal website, which is
simply a smiling picture of the gray-haired doctor and
some friendly information about himself, his family, and
his hobby of building miniature locomotives. (No mention
of his other hobby of building gigantic humanoid robots
terrorizing a small English town.) This site is a free
Geocities website and is all very innocent and very convincing.
his “research” site, Mayhew has even acknowledged
his recent fame from the book by posting an apologetic
message for his site being “down” due to all
of the recent traffic, and has since upgraded his hosting
where is the book?
to this point, there isn’t anything other then a
very slick, very expensive, 37-page excerpt placed in
various magazines, including Rolling Stone, Maxim,
Automobile Magazine, and Motor Trend,
to name a few.
a “whois” search into the domain name of Mayhew’s
research site reveals an address in London that, after
more searching, matches the address of a film and video
post-production company called Martyn Gould Productions,
who specialize in commercial post-production. Ah-ha!
“whois” search for Casson Publishing also
reveals that Casson uses the same web host as Dr. Mayhew’s
site, even using the same name servers. Hmmm...
isn’t a whole lot of official information about
Men of Metal. In fact, the majority of info available
is buzzing around various message boards, where people
are arguing about the authenticity of the book, Dr. Mayhew,
his videos, and the actual existence of such a technology
to build these robots. The boards range from robotics
hobbists, to transformer fanatics, to BMW and Mini Cooper
enthusiasts. The blog communities have also picked up
it, creating a network of links to all of the sites I’ve
much as many would like to believe this is all true, the
general consensus is that it is an elaborate hoax –
a gigantic lie – an advertisement. And we have all
perpetuated the marketing scheme by contributing to the
what is the advertisement for? The book? No, too complex
and expensive for a small publishing company. Then it’s
got to be Mini Cooper and BMW. Within this excerpt and
within Mayhew’s site, there is too much emphasis
on the overengineering aspects of Minis and BMWs. Mini
Cooper also has been running some other very expensive
ad campaigns, and this hoax wouldn’t be out of character
for the agency pulling the strings behind the marketing
doesn’t seem to be any direct connections to BMW,
Mini Cooper or an advertising agency, but the loose end
seems to be this Martyn Gould Productions. Who are they?
Why do they have the same address as Dr. Mayhew? And why
does Dr. Mayhew’s site share the same web server
as the publishing company that is “uncovering”
we’ll have to wait until the next phase of the marketing
campaign kicks in.
the meantime, enjoy the mystery. Below are the related
links to this article. To get the full effect of this
saga, I would recommend you view the following links in
order, starting with the excerpt from Rowland Samuel’s
Men of Metal. Followed by Dr. Colin Mayhew’s
secret website (as referenced in the book) and his videos.
Least of all, do not miss the video “car stop test.”
Walls is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine
and is nothing more than an unwitting pawn in the whole
master scheme of things.)
Read the follow-up article Men of Metal: The Anatomy
of a Hoax