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Rom: SpaceKnight

Mighty Muggs
by Rustin Parr

I have nothing but a very tangential knowledge of Rom but I really dig the Mighty Muggs format so it's exciting enough for me to see it make a brief return let alone facilitate the release of an obscure, apparently muddied-rights character! Here's the back of the box, to tell us who Rom is:

Far, far away in another galaxy, the knights of the Solstar Order, defenders of justice and truth, have been ambushed by the evil magicians, the Dire Wraiths. The Solstar Order has prevailed and are now seeking out their scattered enemies.

One of the knights has followed the trail of the Dire Wraiths all the way to Earth. This one the Dire Wraiths fear more than all others. This one has hounded them and kept them underground for centuries. This one alone could wipe them off the face of creation.

He is Rom.
Lord of the Solstar Order.
Rom, the Wraithslayer.
Rom, the Space Knight.

That's an abridged version of the voiceover from the video that introduced Rom at the 1979 Toy Fair. Rom was created by Bing McCoy, who sold the concept (which he called "Cobol," after the programming language) to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers went to Marvel to have them develop a story for the character, which was a smart choice - though the toy was considered a flop (selling only about 200,000-300,000 units, despite appearing on the cover of Time), the comic ran for over 75 issues between December 1979 and February 1986.

Unfortunately, Marvel had not yet learned the lessons that they would for GI Joe and Transformers, so they made Rom a part of their normal 616 universe, rather than putting him in his own continuity. So while that means you can have the Dire Wraiths attacking the X-Men, it also means that any story with Rom himself is off-limits to reprints and TPBs (since Marvel's license for the character has expired).

The Space Knight comes in a really neat box. It's the traditional Mighty Mugg shape and size, and has the familar wrap-around graphics of the figure with a close up of the eyes on top. However, this one is printed on metalic paper/foil which looks absolutely killer, and it has a pretty cool blue and yellow patterning on the sides that references the graphics on the front flap of the original toy's box.

Like all Mighty Muggs this guy uses the base body, with swivel articulation at the neck and shoulders. Muggs rely on paint to make them unique, and this guy's paint pattern is pretty fun and does a decent job of adapting a square character to this round format. He's got some grill patterns on the front and a couple black ports with red dots, in addition to the eyes, which help break of the sea of silver and gray.

The back has a neat jetpack-looking thing, which is more than I expected based on the front of the character. Indeed, I don't know that I've ever seen the backside of Rom ("behold, the fabled backside of Rom, the front-show-er Solstar Wraithslayer!"). His left foot has the Mighty Muggs logo printed on it and the right has a square peghole insert (did these guys ever have bases?) and oddly enough a raised 2006 copyright stamp crediting LucasFilm Licensing.

Rom also gets the rarest of all Muggs features - an accesory! He comes with a gun (possible a repaint, too, but who can tell for sure?). It's nice, simple, stylized design and comes complete with an orange-ish red muzzle, serving as a stand-in for Rom's "Neutralizer," which can disorganize any molecular structure.

I really dig this figure a whole lot and I would love it if Hasbro would dig into its vaults and put out an obscure nostalgia character like this as a Mighty Mugg every year. Likewise, since the only reason Hasbro could release this Mugg is because they own Parker Brothers (Parker Brothers was bought by General Mills in 1968; in 1985, they were merged with General Mills' other toy brand, Kenner; Kenner Parker Toys was bought by Tonka in 1987; and Tonka was subsequently acquired by Hasbro in 1991), we'd be totally on board with proper figure updates of Rom - let's make this happen, Hasbro! Just make sure at least one is in the same scale/style as Marvel Legends, so he can finally go home again.

-- 08/17/15

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