Rock'em Sock'em Robots
Synopsis of Toy
“Knock his block off”
The 1960’s were heady times for technology. While superpowers raced to put a man on the moon, scientists and amateur theorists dreamed of how technology would make the world of the future a safer, happier, easier, more productive place to live. Robots would take over most of man’s menial tasks, opening the way for more leisure and family time. Thankfully, while some were dreaming of all the noble things our machines would one day do, there were others who answered the question of “What will we do with all those robots?” with “I dunno…make ‘em fight?” And with that ingenious, if primitive idea, Rock’em Sock’em Robots were born.
Standing inside the roped-off Rock’em Sock’em arena were two blocky robots—the Blue Bomber and the Red Rocker—both itching for a good brawl. The robots’ human masters took the control levers that jutted out from the ring, got a firm grip, and sent their plastic bots into battle. The levers slid around to move Blue and Red around a small area, and separate buttons controlled each of the robots’ jabbing fists. One solid thwack against the robots’ tender chins (their lone weak spot), and the losing robot’s head would fly up on its spindly neck with a clicking whir.
Those were the basics of robot-to-robot combat, but every kid had his own strategy to outbox his fellow robot masters. Some were wildmen, striking quickly and blindly in the hopes of landing a lucky shot; others were dancers, sticking and moving with fancy robot footwork; still others were shovers, thinking that the harder they jostled the control lever, the harder Blue or Red would punch. Whatever the strategy, there were always plenty of locked fists and futile body blows before the climactic head shot.
Marx introduced its Rock’em Sock’em Robots in 1966, and they didn’t take long to catch on. Fighting was always cool, and the fact that robots were now the ones doing the fighting…man, if that was the future, then let us live to see the day. Rock’em Sock’ems kept aggressive young hooligans entertained for hours on end, and the toys continued to sell well into the 1970’s.
Since then, Rock’em Sock’em Robots have disappeared and come back several times, even showing up in a “Buzz Lightyear vs. Emperor Zurg” form after the success of 1999’s Toy Story 2. And while the world may still have to wait for its boxing robots (TV’s BattleBots don’t count—no boxing), the plastic melee will do just fine until then.