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I hope you’re strapped in because today we’re going to get into the nuts and bolts of one of the most enduring action-packed games with over 50 years of metal skull-punching mayhem! I’m talking about none other than ROCK EM SOCK EM ROBOTS! And I did procure the 2021 version by Mattel Games just for this review.
Now if you’ll harken back to episode 9 of the Dandy Fun House you can enjoy my unboxing of this little slice of awesomeness along with my ham-handed attempt at assembling this without referring to the instructions because I’m a guy and that’s what we do. I DID eventually get it assembled and working, so in this installment, we’re going to learn the interesting history and backstory of Rock Em’ Sock Em’ Robots (some of it very dark and macabre!), look at some of the changes it’s gone through over the years including some interesting versions and fantastic failures. I’ll also announce some late-breaking news about Rock Em Sock Em Robots that will knock your block off and then we’re going to top it all off with a best-of-3 round death match to see who will be crowned the Dandy Fun House Rock Em Sock Em Robots Champion of 2021!
Let’s get ready to crunch metal! ding ding! err… plastic metal!
WHAT IT IS:
While I’d like to assume that everybody under the sun already knows what Rock Em Sock Em Robots is, for anyone who maybe just arrived from the planet Zoltor I’ll quickly explain. This is a boxing game between 2 players who control 2 boxing robots, the Blue Bomber and the Red Rocker (hello Sammy Hagar!). The object is to land a direct chin blow on your opponent’s robot which pops his head back and up off of his neck and shoulders, effectively “knocking his block off!” It’s just that simple, that awesome, that classic.
Rock Em Sock Em Robots was designed by Marvin Glass and Associates who were founded in 1941 and are also the designers of such classic toys and games as the James Bond 007 toys of the 60’s, Lite Brite, Inchworm, Super Sunday Football, Ricochet Racers, Mousetrap, Ants in the Pants, Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle (which we have done an episode on), Smash Up Derby, Hugo Man of A Thousand Faces (which is really weird and I personally owned as a child which might explain a few things), Mystery Date, SIMON, and Don’t Blow Your Top along with many, many, MANY others! Their very first licensed product was the Yakitty-Yak Talking Teeth which was produced and distributed through the H. Fishlove Company.
Marvin Glass and Associates existed until 1988 designing toys most notably for Fisher Price, Hasbro, Ideal, Kenner, Matchbox, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and of course Marx Toys, who in 1964 unleashed Rock Em Sock Em Robots upon our humble planet!
Marvin Glass himself passed away in 1974 and was succeeded by CEO Anson Issacson whom along with two other company employees were shot and killed at the company’s offices in Chicago by a highly disturbed 33 year old employee named Al Keller who had been working at the company for 4 years as a toy designer. Keller ultimately turned the gun on himself and no motive was ever established.
Anyway, let’s get back to our star of the show. Rock Em Sock Em Robots (according to Wikipedia) was inspired by boxing games people would play in the arcades of that era. Marvin Glass had actually cancelled the development of this boxing toy in 1963 due to a notable boxer named Davey Moore dying in the ring, fearing it would be in bad taste. Marvin’s partner, Burt Meyer didn’t want to give up on their boxing toy project and came up with the idea of dehumanizing the boxers by making them into robots that fall apart rather than people who fall over. And thus, Rock Em Sock Em Robots as we still know it today, was born!
It was produced by Marx Toys and was sold for over a decade virtually unchanged until 1977 when Star Wars became all the craze, so they gave it a space-themed makeover for a while. In 2000, Mattel Games took over production and still produces it to this day.
As you might imagine with this toy coming up on 60 years in existence, there have been a lot of different versions including ones where the figures aren’t even in a boxing ring but standing on their own platforms. I particularly love the Batman vs. Superman version. There are also miniature discount store versions where the heads just sort of flop backwards. In the 1970’s, it was sold in the U.K. under the name “Raving Bonkers.” Other notable versions have been a Transformers version featuring Megatron vs. Optimus Prime.
There have also been some video game versions produced but none of them were either designed very well nor were they very popular, so that’s about as far as I’ll go down that road today.
How could I do a full review of this iconic toy without holding a proper death match? Thus I recruited a couple of friends from a business networking group I like to attend and persuaded them with a prize purse of a pack of beef jerky and a 30 second commercial for their business in a best-of-3 rounds death match.
Blaine Little of Momentum Seminars http://www.momentumseminars.com controlling the Blue Bomber Robot
Jeremy Ford of Curb Appeal Softwash https://curbappealsoftwashllc.com controlling the Red Rocker Robot
Ok, so the match begins and these guys are really flailing away at each other for several minutes and nobody is getting their block knocked off. Then another friend walks up and points out that the contestants won’t be able to knock any blocks off because they are both placing downward pressure on their controllers while they fight. This motion slightly elevates the fighters up and off their respective platforms at a backwards angle which isn’t very noticeable visually but does render the fighters unable to knock their opponent’s block off nor have their own block knocked off. So we corrected their postures and back at it they went! After about another 30 seconds of action, the Red Rocker lands a solid chin-blow on his opponent and up goes the head of Blue Bomber. Red Rocker takes the lead.
Blue Bomber’s head is reset and back to the action they go! It’s a cacophony of clickety-clacking plastic as the fighters give it their all, but alas Red Rocker gets a good position and lands 3 repeated uppercuts to the chin of the Blue Bomber with the final blow sending the chin back and away and up goes the head of Blue giving Red Rocker 2 of 3 rounds thus ending the match, raising Jeremy Ford’s arms in victory and taking all the beef jerky along with the title and a short commercial about his business!
Curb Appeal Softwash of Murfreesboro, Tennessee specializing in wood deck and fence restoration and staining. Curb Appeal Softwash can take your old, grey fence or deck, clean it up, put a nice stain on it and protect it for another 3 – 5 years. During the holidays, they also put up and remove Christmas lights as well as storing them in the off-season. You may visit their website at: https://curbappealsoftwashllc.com
ROCK EM SOCK EM ROBOTS BREAKING NEWS: Ok, in our last installment where I did our grand unboxing and assembly, I teased a couple of times about some breaking news about our favorite robotic boxing game, so here it is…
Universal Pictures and Mattel Films are teaming up to produce a Rock Em Sock Em Robots movie and Vin Diesel has signed on to both star and produce through his own Film Company called One Race Films. The screenplay has already been written by Ryan Engel whom you may (or may not) remember from the movie “Rampage”. All we know about the plot so far is that it’s about a father and son (I’ll assume Vin Diesel is the father) who form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine. As of right now, there is no projected release date as the cast has yet to be fleshed out and no production has yet been started. Not to mention Vin Diesel is likely fulfilling his obligations to Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and of course Fast and Furious 35: Arthritic Drift. I’m going to keep an open mind about the movie, but something tells me I’m going to have liked this movie better from the first time I saw it when it was called TRANSFORMERS! (insert my best David Spade smirk here). That stated, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to miss this flick!
Rock Em Sock Em Robots is still rockin’ in the modern age and not quite ready for rocking chairs just yet! I really wish I had the original to compare side-by-side with the modern version but word on the street is that the current Mattel version (which is what I have) is much smaller than the classic Marx Toys version. Either way, it’s well built, a great comfortable size, and tons of fun! In my opinion, this toy is still an absolute hit and sure to knock your block off too! I’m giving this one 2 iron fists up!
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And that’s going to do it for this installment of the Dandy Fun House where everything is always… FUN AND DANDY!