20 December 2012

What Child Is This (Playing with a Rom Action Figure)?

The photo at right, of an elementary school-aged girl posing with a Rom action figure holding his Translator, comes from the November 21, 1979 edition of The (Owosso, Michigan) Argus-Press. It was printed with an article picking some highlights of character dolls in the history of the toy industry, starting with the teddy bear (named for President Theodore Roosevelt with his permission). Titled "Toy industry dates from 1903", the article itself makes no mention of Rom, but does mention electronic games in the final paragraph.

The article was published in several newspapers and has no byline, but in one newspaper is marked "NEA," meaning it was distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association, a newspaper syndicate of the day. I found five others in the Google News Archive, but only one of them also included this photo. That was the Merced (California) Sun-Star's November 22, 1979 edition, where it was published as "Children of today the same but toys are changing."

I'd love to know more about this photo and the girl featured in it. In particular because this is one of two photos featuring her and Rom! The other appeared in an article called "Choose Toys, Games that Outlast Holidays." In this photo, however, it's a blond boy who's holding Rom while he plays the Mad Magazine Game with the girl in the first photo. Unfortunately, this article not only lacks a byline, it also doesn't list a syndicate, so there's no indication at all of its origins.

I've found copies of this story in seven papers in the Google News Archive. Again, not all include this photo with the article, but most do. The most interesting thing is the range of dates this article printed. Most were published between November 21 and December 24, 1979, however The Day of New London, Connecticut published it a year later, in November 1980. That was without the photo, but the article still has the part about Rom in it. (According to my somewhat anecdotal research, the Rom action figure was marked down to half-price in 1980 from his 1979 debut.) The prize, however, goes to The Rockmart (Georgia) Journal, which published the article in December 1983, complete with references to TV shows that were canceled by then. Unfortunately, they cut off the article before it got to talking about the Rom action figure.

So, back to the title question: who are these children and where did the photos comes from? Based on the fact that both articles appeared on November 21, 1979, I'm going to guess both were part of a package of articles from NEA. I asked my father, who used to be a newspaper journalist, about it. He told me that, in addition to the comics, editorial cartoons, and opinion columns they syndicated, NEA "also provided packages of feature stories, which may have contained photographs provided by companies whose products were discussed." He also added, "newspapers were not required to identify the material as coming from NEA."

Therefore, my theory is that in November 1979, NEA sent its subscribing newspapers a set of stories on toys for the upcoming Christmas shopping season. I'm betting one of the stories' "sponsors" was Parker Brothers, who also provided several photos of children playing with its products. Besides Rom and the Mad Magazine Game, other Parker Brothers products appearing in either of these stories or the photos included the All the King's Men board game, Merlin electronic game, Stop Thief electronic board game, and Wildfire pinball. (And I'm willing to bet that list of toys has evoked a nostalgic response from most of you guys over 40.)

So if you happen to have a 40-something-year-old friend who did a little modeling for Parker Brothers back in the early '80s, please have them drop me a line. Parker Brothers was headquartered in Salem, Mass., but that may or may not have been where the photos were taken. I'll take any clues I can get right now.

Thanks to my dad for the information he provided about NEA.

16 November 2012

Rom Trademark Update

It's late and I'm tired, so I'll make this quick.  Hasbro's latest ROM trademark filings—yes, there are two—are nothing to get too excited about.

They started with eight: four each for ROM and ROM THE SPACEKNIGHT for four different categories of goods and services.  They abandoned all the latter*, but the four for just ROM were approved . . . at different times.  That gave Hasbro only six months to use each in commerce.  That means they had to actually sell, or at least advertise, something called ROM.  However, they're allowed five six-month extensions for a total of three years.  Two of them, the ones for toys and paper goods, have reached their maximum extensions and completely expire in January 2013.

So do you want to guess what the two ROM trademarks Hasbro has re-filed for are?  If you guessed toys and comic books, you nailed it.  I could be wrong, but it appears to me that Hasbro is simply starting the process over for another three years.

One interesting note, however, is that the new trademark applications are much more specific about what they're being filed for.  The first is for "comic books" (without all the other paper goods you could think of) and the second is for "toy action figures and toy robots convertible into other visual toy forms".  So apparently Rom might be made into a Transformer.  Ugh.

* The one for paper goods was abandoned because Marvel trademarked "Spaceknights" for comic books back when the 2000 limited series was published.  If I told you registered trademarks had to be renewed every ten years, you might say, "but that means Marvel's reprinting of it this year is too late!"  And you'd be right. But that's okay, Marvel's submitted a couple of "specimens" in the meantime to keep the trademark active.  Would you care to guess what?  Why, the OHOTMU entries.  One's from the "All-New OHOTMU A-Z" in 2006.  The other one is apparently from last year, but I'd have to dig to find the exact comic it came from.

[Next trademark update]

15 November 2012

Yes, I Know

Yes, I've seen the news reporting Hasbro has applied for the Rom trademark . . . again.  I haven't had time to investigate yet to see if this really differs from the previous time or if this is merely progress, but will hopefully do so soon.

07 November 2012

The Rights to Rom: It's Not Just Parker Brothers

Did you hear the one about the guy who had a tantalizing bit of information in front of him, but he didn't recognize it?  That was me up until last year.  All Rom fans know the comic book hero was licensed from Parker Brothers.  What most don't know — until now — is that the toy's creator, Bing McCoy, retained all the rights to secondary merchandise.

Think about that for a minute.  That means it was Bing McCoy, not Parker Brothers, who was making money off Marvel's Rom comic book.  That means Parker Brothers, now owned by Hasbro, doesn't have a whole lot of incentive to let Marvel use Rom any more, although it's unclear just how much say they have in the matter.

About six months after publishing my interview with McCoy, in early February 2006, I received another e-mail from  him.  It read in part:
 I am completing negotiations with Hasbro and Marvel over some minor details relating to the copyrights and then I will begin work on developing an animated series based on ROM.

Marvel also planning to include ROM in a new anthology of Marvel superheros - just a couple of pages.
My thoughts at the time were along the lines of, "wow, it's kind of weird that he's so interested in reviving something he sold to Parker Brothers."  McCoy didn't tell me he'd kept the rights and it didn't occur to me to ask him!  As it turned out, the second bit about a "new anthology" was really just the reprintings of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe in the Essential format.  If you ever wondered why Marvel included Rom in those, but didn't include Marvel Two-in-One #99 and Power Man and Iron Fist #73 — both featuring Rom — in the Essential collections, that's why.  Apparently only OHOTMU was covered by whatever negotiations took place.

Time went on.  McCoy was busy with other projects, but every few months he'd either e-mail me an update or I'd ask him for one.  McCoy was trying to buy back all the rights to Rom.  In the end, McCoy said in September 2008 that Hasbro backed out at the last minute.  This might have something to do with them no longer holding the trademark to Rom, but that's only conjecture on my part.  When I told McCoy about that, he told me he intended to sue.  That was in 2009.  He reiterated it in 2011, but I'd received some sad news in the meantime.

In late 2010, I was contacted by McCoy's younger brother.  He'd happened to Google McCoy's name and come across a post from way back when I was still trying to confirm McCoy's identity.  We continued corresponding and in early 2011 McCoy's brother dropped two bombshells on me.

First, he told me about McCoy retaining the secondary merchandise rights.  Suddenly, everything made much more sense.  And it just happened to be confirmed later by former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter when he recounted Rom's comic book genesis.  But no one seemed to notice!

Second, he revealed that McCoy "suffers from a rare degenerative disease that is destroying his brain and gradually robbing him of his ability to function on his own."  McCoy is now living in a medical facility.  His younger brother and his brother's wife are his legal guardians.  McCoy still get out some, as I was told he enjoyed going to see Wreck-It Ralph recently.

I told McCoy's brother about the push to reprint the Rom series to benefit Bill Mantlo and explained Mantlo's condition.  Although the causes are completely different, it's scary how much McCoy's and Mantlo's conditions now resemble each other.  McCoy's brother was sympathetic and said, pending review by a lawyer as McCoy does have an adult son to consider, he was authorized to sign on McCoy's behalf and didn't believe McCoy would want to stand in the way of such an effort.  Let's hope this is the breakthrough needed to get Rom reprinted.  But let us not forget Bing McCoy.

03 September 2012

Find: Electronic Milton

One of the local thrift stores (Thrift Mart on University Dr.) had a 50% off of sale today. I happened to drop by earlier and found out about it. I thought it might be a good chance to pick up some needed clothes for our children cheaply. Well, that and I spotted a copy of Essential Super-Villain Team-Up in one of their display cases. I couldn't see the price, but figured anything cheaper than cover price would be a good deal.

Then, over the weekend, I saw a commercial for the sale on TV. But surely, that won't really affect how many people show up that much, will it? Well, I can't say for sure what it was, but there were tons of people there. We arrived around lunch time and decided to go eat before coming back.

Upon our return, it wasn't any better. After we'd been inside a while, my oldest son pointed out that the checkout line stretched all the way to the back of the store! But at least the book was still there. And just $9.98, meaning today it would be $5! I'd searched the Web and discovered that the book, now out of print, can't be had for less than $20 online, so it was a steal.

However, this entry is about the electronic game I found called Milton. As you might have guessed, it's from Milton Bradley and features the short-lived MB Electronics logo on the box. I'm by no means an expert on such games and this one was unfamiliar to me. The box was taped shut, but I decided it was easily worth the $1 (originally priced $1.98) gamble to buy it.

As you can see on Wikipedia, this game came out in 1980, a couple years after Simon. I suspect from the round design and one-word name, they were hoping to capitalize on the huge success Simon was turning out to be. Apparently they were so confident it would be a hit, they were willing to name it after the company! Unfortunately for Milton Bradley, the game was not a hit and quickly became an obscurity.

One thing I found interesting is the inclusion of a power adapter. Again, I'm no expert, but I can't think of any similar electronic games of the time that weren't battery powered. I know adapters were offered for some electronic games of the age, but they were alternatives to batteries and usually had to be purchased separately. I love the big warning on the front of the box: "CAUTION: ELECTRICALLY OPERATED PRODUCT / Not recommended for children under 7 years of age. As with all electric products, precautions should be observed during handling and use to prevent electric shock." And you thought today's product warning labels were excessive!

So when I got home, I found inside the box the game, the adapter, one piece of Styrofoam for the adapter, and a feedback/registration card. No instructions, but the back of the box summarizes the three games well enough. Essentially, you've got to match the first (the red circles) and last words (the yellow circles) of various phrases (e.g. "kiss my lips", "flush your toilet"). It's like the card game Memory, but with spoken words instead of cards. So during play, you get phrases like "kiss my . . . toilet". Hilarity ensues.

Oh yes, just as the box says, it talks! And fairly well, too. From my experience with talking electronics, I'd guess they used recorded speech rather than completely electronically-generated speech. The interesting thing is that Milton has an accent I can't quite put my finger on. I initially was thinking Southern, but my wife said Cajun and she may be right. Judge for yourself by watching this YouTube video. (Not mine.) It also gives some basic instructions as you go, which is much more user-friendly than some other electronic games of the day I've tried to play without instructions. (I'm looking at you, Comp IV!)

Unfortunately, while this one is in working condition, the power cord is touchy. It fits into the game loosely and if bumped, will cause the game to reset. I'm not sure that anything can be done about that. The contacts also look like they need some cleaning. The adapter has a three-prong arrangement I've not seen on any other electronics.

This makes an interesting addition to my vintage electronic (non-video) game collection. I have yet to try it with my kids beyond a brief game with my 3-year-old daughter, but I suspect it won't hold any long-term interest with them. I can see why it wasn't a big hit.

04 June 2012

Rom #25 Cover Re-imagined by Al Milgrom

Max Thorne, who sent me the Rom shelf art a couple posts ago, also provided the scan for this week's entry, which he commissioned from none other than Al Milgrom.  Milgrom was the penciller and/or inker of many Rom covers between #1 and #50.  One of those was Rom #25, featuring Rom vs. Terminator, who'd been converted into a Rom doppelganger.

Copyright 1981 Marvel Comics
I'll go ahead and let Max explain why and how he commissioned the piece below.
My dream was to get a recreation of Rom #25 with Rom and Terminator on it.  [Issue] 25 was a fantastic issue, one of the first that I bought (costing a then huge NZ$1.03), and I still have that one today.  As Al Milgrom was the original illustrator I approached his agent to carry out the commission.  After some less than gratifying correspondence with the agent, the artwork finally came through, with the ROM lettering thrown in.  (Apparently lettering is an extra that the artists are very reluctant to do, and I can understand this having tried to do some myself.)

It just so happens that Rom #25 was also the first new issue I bought off the newsstand.  One day I'm going to commission Fred Hembeck to do a cover re-creation of it, but with a mouth added to each Rom so you can tell which one's the good guy.  Will he choose the same Rom as Milgrom?  Who knows!

28 May 2012

Dire Wraiths in Your Bedroom!

Here's one I'd almost forgotten about.  I was in a local Big Lots, IIRC, back in January 2002, when I spotted a mattress.  The fabric on it had a space theme, much like I've seen on children's mattresses since Star Wars came out back when I was just a kid.  This one, however, didn't exclusively have knock-offs of Star Wars ships on it.  It featured a variety, including this one:

Look familiar?  It should.  It's pretty obviously based on a Dire Wraith warship:

Whoever created this apparently drew from multiple sources.  In addition to the Drakillar, there's also the Death Star and the Beauty, the heroes' ship from the early issues of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar.  Here's a slightly zoomed out view.  I'm sorry I didn't get a view of the entire pattern.

I'd guess they didn't know they'd actually be giving kids who were fans of an '80s, toy-based comic book nightmares because the bad guys had infiltrated their bed!  (But okay, that's gotta be a teeny, tiny minority by 2002.)

Shifting gears, I'm worried about maintaining this schedule from here on.  I'd managed to build up a queue of scheduled posts at first.  Unfortunately, life got busy again and the queue is now almost drained.  This post was written Sunday night so the blog wouldn't be missing a post come Monday morning after being weekly for so long.  The post I'd planned for today wasn't getting written in the time that was left.  It seems I've almost exhausted all the quick and easy topics and what's left are those that take more time to research,  write, and/or scan. There will be a post in a week, because it's already done.  After that, however, don't panic if it takes more than a week between posts.  We'll see what happens.

21 May 2012

Fastner and Larson Rom Illustration

The above illustration is by Steve Fastner and Rich Larson, perhaps better known simply as Fastner and Larson.  A gent known as Gordon appears to be the first one to let me know about this back in 2005.  Someone finally sent a scan of it in 2006.  And I've just sat on it since.  Sorry!  I've been told this art was included in one of the pair's books, but I don't know which one.  If you do, please leave a comment or drop me a a line.

It also turns out that in the years since I was first told about it, Fastner and Larson have uploaded it to their own site.  I must warn you that much of the art on their site is not safe for work (NSFW), as it features scantily clad and less ladies.  But you can buy a $10 print (plus $5 shipping) or the $400 original Rom  illustration -- an 8½ x 11" work in marker and airbrush -- there.  Most intriguing, however, is that the site says this Rom illustration is "the study for a larger private commission."  I wonder what that looks like?

14 May 2012

Parker Brothers' Rom Paperwork

If you're a Rom, Spaceknight fan, you've no doubt seen this piece of art before, but probably not in its complete, original form.  For example, a cropped version currently Rom's avatar over on Twitter.  So what is it, you ask?  It's shelf art!  Parker Brothers sent them stores for their Rom displays.  As it says, the yellow "T" was T-tacked, taped, or otherwise attached to the shelf and perhaps folded so that the "ROM is here!" sign was prominently displayed below and/or above the boxed action figures.

I have no idea who the artist for the shelf art is; likely a staff artist at Parker Brothers.  However, it was obviously redrawn for the small house ads that Marvel ran as they were launching the Rom comic book.  Honestly, I don't know who is behind the house ad art, either, but likely suspects are John Romita, Jr. (who drew the presentation page for Marvel's proposal to Parker Brothers) and Sal Buscema (I don't have to tell you who he is, do I?).  Or possibly it's the other way around, as Rom's head in both is how he appeared in the comics, which is slightly different from the action figure's.

The shelf display above and 180-day limited warranty below were sent to me by Max Thorne.  Both pieces of paperwork came from unopened boxes of action figures.  The wording of the warranty is identical to what appears on the last page of the action figure's instructions, just formatted to a wider width.

And for reference, here's how Rom was shipped to toy stores back in the day when it was new:  six action figures to a shipping box.  Sadly, I've lost the information on where I obtained this photo.  Possibly it came from eBay.

10 May 2012

Action Man Stickers, Part II

This is an update to the previous blog post on the Action Man stickers featuring Rom.  The day that post went live, I got a hit on my new ebay search for the stickers, but I was too busy to check my e-mail until the next day. The photos the seller had provided much of info I was looking for. Figures, doesn't it?

Thanks to UK ebay seller bowleycat for granting me permission to use his photos!  You can find his auction for the very Action Man sticker album seen below on ebay UK.

Action Man Sticker Collection album cover

The Action Man Sticker Collection was published in 1983 by Figurine Panini under license from CPG Product Corp. (essentially Palitoy).  They were distributed by Minicards Ltd.  The album weighs in at 32 pages and contains six different stories of 5-6 pages each and each with spaces for 40 stickers.  (That's 240 stickers total, for the math challenged.)  The story featuring from is titled "Threat From Space" and runs six pages (pp. 6-11).  The stickers for the story are #41–80, but Rom appears no earlier than #50.

I'm not certain, but it appears the stickers were sold in packs much like collectible cards in the U.S. (e.g. baseball cards).  I do not yet know how many stickers came in a pack.  The backs of the stickers all have the same text, except for the number in the top right corner to let collectors know where to put it in their albums, although some are oriented horizontally and some vertically.  I believe the album came with one pack of stickers.

Inside the back cover is a cool offer from Minicards Ltd.  Once collectors were down to only needing a few stickers to complete their collection (up to 25), they could order the individual stickers they needed.  There were ordering instructions for the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and South Africa.  Yes, Canada!  That means there might be stashes of these stickers already in North America (for us Rom aficionados in the U.S.A.), but I don't guarantee it.  I'd appreciate any information from Canadians on that.

I suppose I should summarize the story, as the photos aren't high enough resolution to always be easily read.  An alien ship approaches Earth, not responding to hails.  Space Ranger Captain Jack Hardy leads a team of pilots in their solar hurricane interceptors to check it out.  The strange ship suddenly fires on them, destroying two interceptors.  Suddenly, Rom appears in a saucer ship and destroys the enemy.  He then takes the surviving Space Rangers back to their base orbiting the moon and introduces himself as Rom, an android from the planet Zar.  The enemy ship was from the planet Margax.  To help save Earth from the coming invasion, Rom, Hardy, and two more Space Rangers attack Margax.

Their surprise assault is not successful and Hardy's ship is destroyed, although he ejects and joins Rom in his saucer.  Ultimately, they use the saucer to crash into Margax Central Control, ejecting shortly before impact.  Rom and Hardy then steal a ship, bombing the city for good measure, and return to Earth.  They shake hands and "from that moment, Space-Knight and Captain are inseparable."

As you can see, bowleycat also does not have a complete collection of stickers, so I can't yet tell you exactly which ones feature Rom.  I'm surprised that, with all the apparent Action Man fans on the Internet, no one has completed an album and posted photos online.  Perhaps I've not been searching the right Action Man or photo sites.  If anyone finds them, please let me know and I'll feature them here.

While you're checking out the stickers that are there, make sure you get a good look at #74 (the first one on the last page).  Note Rom is firing a weapon, but it's not his Neutralizer.  In fact, it's not any of the accessories the figures shipped with.  I wonder if it's one of Action Man's guns?  And I wonder if the Rom action figure could even hold any of the Action Man weapons since he wasn't designed with that in mind?  I tend to doubt it.

As a final note, do not confuse these stickers with the Action Man stickers Panini printed in 1996.  Those feature a bright orange Action Man logo.  And again, if you read this before May 14, 2012, you might still be able to bid on the album shown above.

07 May 2012

Action Man Stickers Featuring Rom

Thanks to Marvel's many international publishing contracts, Rom's comic adventures appeared in numerous countries.  However, I'm only aware of one country where Parker Brothers let another company sell the Rom action figure:  the United Kingdom.  In the U.K, Palitoy licensed Rom as part of their Action Man line. Specifically as part of the new Space Ranger subset of toys c. 1980.

Interestingly, Action Man was actually a G. I. Joe license from Hasbro.  (This was well before Hasbro bought Parker Brothers.)  Frankly, the history of Action Man beyond that is outside the scope of this post, so if you want to know more, consult Wikipedia or Action Man HQ.

Most of the above I'd known for a while when I received an e-mail from a guy known as the Gonz over in England.  He revealed to me that there was an Action Man sticker album released in the 1980s.  And who should make an appearance in it but Rom!  In the six-page Space Ranger adventure contained in the album, Rom is an android from the planet Zar, which has been conquered by another planet called Margax.  Rom, still called a Space Knight, seeks to avenge his people and teams up with the Space Rangers to fight the aliens from Margax.

Unfortunately, as you can see, Gonz was missing most of the stickers that went with this adventure.  Below is a closeup of the only one he had featuring Rom.  Note Rom arrived in a spaceship and his rocket pack is missing, at least on this sticker.

The last I heard from Gonz, he had found a seller on eBay that was selling packs of the stickers.  He was going to attempt to complete his set and send me scans.  Unfortunately, that was the last I ever heard from him.  But that's somewhat my fault for not following up with him over the years.  I did attempt to contact him before making this post, but received no reply.

This, honestly, is the big thing that I've been meaning to share with my fellow Rom fans for years.  The one that's prompted me to finally clean out my queue of Rom items.  At first, I sat on it just because I was hoping I'd hear from him soon with more scans of his newly purchased stickers.  But days turned into weeks turned into months and I let it go.  (Have I mentioned I'm a master procrastinator?)  So my apologies to the Rom community for not sharing this a long time ago.

In all the time Rom, Spaceknight Revisited has existed, Gonz's two e-mails are the only time I've heard of these.  And I don't even know what the cover looks like, how long the book is (only that this adventure is six pages), or what sort of packs the stickers came in.  My attempts to Google it have found a couple possibilities, but nothing definitive.  If anyone out there has more information, please let me know!

UPDATE:  I found an ebay auction that provided much of the information I wanted.  That's the next blog entry.

01 May 2012

Original Art from OHOTMU's Spaceknights Entry

More from the queue.  I'm going to see if I can keep this up weekly, at least until the queue is empty.

This is (some) of the original art for the Spaceknights entry of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (affectionately known as OHOTMU).  I can't find the e-mails that went along with it, but this came from an eBay auction some years ago.  All I recall -- if indeed, I still recall correctly -- is that it sold for a mere $5.  I desperately wanted to bid on it, but I had just won an auction for a piece of original art from Rom #45 and couldn't spare any more money at that moment.  The seller was kind enough to give me permission to post the scanned art and, I believe, provide a larger scan than appeared on eBay.

I'm not sure how well this will appear on the blog, but at the bottom is Joe Rubenstein's signature.  Each OHOTMU entry had a different penciller, Rom regular Sal Buscema in this case, but Rubenstein was the inker for all of OHOTMU.

The headshots are labeled in pencil.  The first row is Rom, Starshine (Landra), Terminator, and Firefall (Karas).  The second row is Hammerhand, Javelin (Darin), No Name, and No Name.  The last one has "No Name" circled and a note above saying "who he?".  Above that is the apparent reply, "[Mentus]", which is obviously wrong.  The third row is Vola - Trapper, Raak - Breaker, Unam - Unseen, and Tarm - Seeker.  The final row is Skera - Seeker and Plor - Pulsar, with the last two empty slots labeled "Rainbow #25/10" and "Gloriole Ann #1".  At least I think that's what they say.  Those would be the issues of Rom that each debuted in, but I don't know the meaning of "/10".  It does not match a page on which Rainbow appears.

For reference, here's the published page from the first volume of OHOTMU.  You'll note the first "no name" Spaceknight was removed and the second one named Astra.  Also, Rainbow and Gloriole were added right where their empty slots were.  Of minor note, they substituted Brandy Clark's name for Landra's, reducing her and Archie Stryker as Firefall to half-slots with just their names.

The same art was used for the Deluxe Edition, except someone accidentally turned Pulsar's head upside-down!  For that edition, Marvel added Brandy as Starshine, Lightningbolt, Heatwave, and Dominor. The art was used again many years later for Marvel Legacy: the 1980s Handbook (seen below), where it still had Pulsar upside-down.  For that book, a few more Spaceknights were added, but art directly from issues of Rom was used rather than producing new art.

27 April 2012

Evolution of an Action Figure

Just a little something I whipped up after inspiration struck yesterday.  It's the evolution of Rom the Space Knight, action figure.  (Click to enlarge.)

We start with the drawing from Bing McCoy et al.'s patent application for a "multi-mode doll".  Then the Egyptian mystic toy that no toy company would touch.  Then Cobol, the cyborg toy that Parker Brothers finally bought.*  Then the original, green-eyed Rom from a sell sheet.  And finally, the well-known red-eyed Rom from his box front.

It hadn't really occurred to me before I did this that Rom had another logo before the one that appeared on the box.  (Which was later modified for the comic book logo.)  True, that first logo only appeared on the sell sheet, which was only aimed at those in the toy industry, but still.  Kind of cool.

If you want to know more about the evolution of Rom, read my interview with Bing McCoy on Rom, Spaceknight Revisited.  Prototype photos and sell sheet scan courtesy Bing McCoy.

* In the case of the Egyptian mystic and Cobol, because they were prototypes, the actual electronics are contained in the cabinet attached to the figure.  Once actual production began, Parker Brothers was able to reduce the circuitry down to something that would fit inside an action figure.

24 April 2012

Another Robb Waters Piece

After last week's post, I unexpectedly came by this while looking through my numerous Rom-related downloads.  It's another Rom painting by Robb Waters!  This one comes from a 2007 eBay sale.  The seller stated it was colored acrylic on heavy paper measuring 16" x 14".  It was sold for $49.99 via Buy It Now.

16 April 2012

Rom "fan art" by Robb Waters

Over the years, I've built a up a backlog of Rom items to tell people about. Originally, they were to be featured on my website, Rom, Spaceknight Revisited. For various reasons -- okay, mainly because I'm lazy -- I've sat on them. Well, now I'm digging around through old e-mails and files to finally release them on the Internet.

I start with a painting of Rom by Robb Waters of Irrational Games. I don't really want to admit how long ago Mr. Waters sent this to me, but will say that at the time he was best known for his work on the computer game Freedom Force. Sorry, Mr. Waters, for taking so long to post this.

There's not much story behind this. There I was, minding my own business when I get an e-mail saying:
i came across your site and thought you might enjoy seeing my rom painting.

Needless to say, this sort of thing is why I try to keep RSR going. I've begun my Rom catch-up with this image because a) it's perhaps the oldest thing I've been meaning to post, b) it's a quick and easy one, but mostly c) I figure it'll make David over at that other Rom blog jealous. :-)