Baby Boomer Toys: Boys and their Bots

A New Hope
Baby boomers who rushed to movie theatres in the mid-1970s to see the first Star Wars movie were thrilled by the special effects, light saber swordplay and X-Wing rocket ships. We suspect, though, that two members of the supporting cast had a lot to do with the film's popularity.

Eight Shopping Weeks Till Christmas
Droids C3PO and R2D2 resonated with a robotic chord deep within the baby boomer psyche, stirring memories of the many toy commercials they watched as adolescents. In the 1950s and 1960s, toy robots, in all different flavors, were big on Christmas shopping lists.

Mr. Machine

Let's face it. Mr. Machine just didn't have much personality. Strike that. He didn't have any personality. He just sashayed around on his little spring-driven wheels waving his arms and legs. If you had a whole squad of them, as appear in this commercial, you might have some fun for a while, but having just one doesn't sound like much of a party.

Rock'em Sock'em Robots
A real adrenaline rush here. What could give you a higher high than truly knocking your opponents block off?

Rock'em Sock'ems had it all over those wussy Mr. Machines. You could actually vent your aggression and redirect your killer instincts in a socially acceptable way. No harm, no foul.

Our favorite line in this commercial - "Just push the flying heads back and you're ready for round 3."

By the way for fans of vintage TV, that is Hazel's Bobby Buntrock in this commercial.

Great Garloo
Garloo was a monster and not technically a robot but he certainly fit into the genre. He was large -- at least relative to the victims you imagine he's crushing -- and unlike most monsters, he rolled around on wheels.

Robot Commando
Is it just us or is there something about the drug-crazed eyeball action of this robot that's a little disturbing? Not that watching its head flip open and fire a rocket isn't a little odd, too.

The voice control claim may have slipped passed the FTC. Only by first setting the knob on the wired remote to the command you wanted RC to execute, then screaming into the so-called microphone at the top of your lungs, could you get the feature to work. That's basically like yelling at a light switch in your home, hoping the sound vibrations will flip it.

Big Loo
Okay, so if Robot Commando and Great Garloo had a kid it would be Big Loo, the Moon Robot, right?

First of all, this thing is freakin' huge. Secondly, for a robot, it seems to leave you to do all the work. Thirdly, after hearing the voiceover announcer say, "hear his bell, blow his whistle," we now finally know the origin of the term all the bells and whistles.

And did we mention this thing is freakin' huge?