Most of us can remember a gift we got as a kid during the holidays, and then there are those you don’t want to remember. The first two that came to mind are the games “Rock Em Sock Em Robots” and Electric Football. The reason I remember these gifts is because of the images of my family and the stories that involve these items.
The Rock Em Sock Em Robots were a toy that I really wanted and I could not believe my eyes when it appeared under the tree Christmas morning. This particular toy had the most obnoxious commercial that aired during kid television programs. RESE Robots were a toy that involved a boxing ring that had robots that could throw punches based on your ability to push the buttons on a controller. Of course, this was a controller without electricity or battery power, you had to provide the power with your thumbs. If you delivered the right punch to the other robots jaw, his head would pop up with a buzzing noise. This is the extent of the game. You and another kid would try to shuffle your robot around to get in the knockout punch. During the television commercial for this game, when the robot’s head was dislodged from the its neck after a knockout blow, one kid bellows, “I knocked your block off”.
This game provided hours of fun, soar thumbs and controversy. What kind of controversy? The older kids around the house and neighborhood took liberty over my game. Even though they were well past the recommended ages listed on the box, these guys were set on playing with this toy with intensity and enthusiasm unlike with any of their own toys and games. The makers of this game were on to something but I don’t think they capitalized. It was a taste of violence that we absorbed as children in our toys and cartoons of the 60’s and 70’s. I think my parents thought the toy as a sports related game that the whole family would enjoy. How the times were innocent and free from political correctness.
The other toy, “Electric Football”, which my brother and I shared was probably the most illogical game ever invented. How this toy was ever meant to represent football baffles me. It was essentially a flat piece of green painted metal that was the football field, which had some sort of vibrating mechanism underneath that made the plastic football players move around. If you turned the knob on the device, the intensity of the vibration increased therefore the plastic men would scurry around more. You really had no control over which direction the men would move and therefore it was not really football. It was should have been called, Electric Foolball. We spent hours playing this frustrating game but somehow it lasted long enough on the market to warrant new and improved versions.
My parents, bless their soul meant well and tried to get us games that were considered fun and everybody could play. I have to laugh how these types of sports related games have morphed into video games that require less imagination. That is one thing that I believe separate these generations of toys. But then again, videos take less room in the land fill when they got tossed away. I look on the internet for my old toys and I laugh to see how well they documented in halls of pop culture history. Damn, I remember those times with fondness. Happy Holidays!