PAUSE: The human history of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

Thanks to the new movie Real Steel, in which Hugh Jackman commands a large rocking and socking robot in the future, there’s been renewed interest in Rock’ Em Sock’ Em Robots. It turns out that despite its silly premise, the robot boxing in Real Steel follows the original theme of Rock’ Em Sock’ Em Robots. In a wonderful history of the toy on Deadspin, Alan Siegel describes their tenuous formation:

Then, in March 1963, featherweight champion Davey Moore lost a brutal fight to Sugar Ramos at Dodger Stadium, fell into a coma, and died. Suddenly, two plastic boxers trying to punch each other’s lights out didn’t seem so fun-or marketable. […] Meyer, however, wasn’t ready to scrap the project. So he decided to change the concept. Robots, he thought, would be the perfect substitute for boxers. “Obviously they don’t fall over dead,” Meyer told his boss. “Maybe their heads can pop up.” 

Meyer went on to say that the current market for toys “is narrowing. They have to be better and better. But there’s always room for something innovative. It doesn’t have to be on the computer, television, or Facebook.”

Yannick LeJacq

[via Deadspin]