Who wants to come in with me and get this? We could share it on play dates and have it in our rooms on a rota.
"Rom The Space Knight" was a toy co-created by Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy, and Bryan L. McCoy (US Patent #4,267,551). It was sold to Parker Brothers, and was the inspiration for the comic book series. The toy was originally named COBOL after the programming language but was later changed to "Rom" after ROM (read-only memory) by Parker Brothers executives.
The toy set a precedent for the game publishing company, which up until that time had only ever produced board games. As this was a new venture for the company and given that electronic toys were still very new, a decision was made to produce the figure as cheaply as possible. As a result, the final product had very few points of articulation, and twin red LEDs served as Rom's eyes instead of the originally envisioned green, which were more expensive to produce.
Not long after its debut, Rom appeared in the corner box of the cover of Time magazine's December 10, 1979, issue. It was featured in the interior article, "Those Beeping, Thinking Toys," which decried Rom's lack of articulation and predicted it would "end up among the dust balls under the playroom sofa."
Rom toy in box.
ROM was licensed to Palitoy in the United Kingdom to extend the "Space Adventurer" line of Action Man, appearing in their 1980 catalog.
Comic book series
To build interest in the toy, Parker Brothers licensed the character to Marvel Comics which created a comic book featuring Rom. The comic expanded on the premise that Rom was a cyborg and gave him an origin, personality, set of supporting characters and villains, as well as interaction within the Marvel Universe. The comic was written by Bill Mantlo and initially illustrated by artist Sal Buscema. Buscema stated in a 2010 interview that "I liked the character. And I liked what they did with it. I thought the concept was quite good. It was unique. It made it attractive to do. I almost hate to say this, but it was pretty easy to draw, too."
Ultimately, the toy failed and only sold 200,000 to 300,000 units in the US, with creator McCoy blaming the failure on poor packaging and marketing. Parker Brothers subsequently abandoned the line.
The comic book outlasted the toy which it was created to support. The series lasted for 75 issues from December 1979 to February 1986 and Rom's regular encounters with mainstream heroes and villains establishing him as part of Marvel continuity.