Rom the Spaceknight

Rom the Spaceknight action figure Rom The Space Knight was an action figure co-created by Bing McCoy and Richard Levy. It was sold to Parker Brothers, and was the inspiration for a Marvel comic book series. The toy was originally called COBOL (after the programming language), which was later changed to "Rom" (after ROM, a.k.a. 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 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.

ROM was licensed to Palitoy in the UK to extend the 'Space Adventurer' line of Action Man, appearing in their 1980 catalog. To build interest in the toy, Parker Brothers licensed the character to Marvel Comics who created a comic book featuring Rom. The comic expanded on the simple premise that Rom was a cyborg and gave him an origin, personality, set of supporting characters, villains, and one other vital ingredient - interaction with the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Unfortunately, the toy failed and sold only 2-300,000 in the US, with creator McCoy blaming the failure on poor packaging and marketing. Parker Brothers subsequently abandoned the line and returned to manufacturing board games.

The comic book outlasted the toy which it was created to support. The comic was written by Bill Mantlo and initially illustrated by artist Sal Buscema. The series lasted for 75 issues over a seven year period, with Rom's regular encounters with mainstream heroes and villains firmly establishing him as part of Marvel continuity.