- New Bot Day! Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots was developed by Marvin Glass and Associates in the 1960s. Originally the toy was meant to represent human boxers, but the death in the ring of of Davey Moore in 1963 the project was scrapped. But the toy was fun. The company “de-humanized” the figures. They were robots that fall apart, not a person that falls over. They have science fictional backstories: “Red Rocker” from Soltarus II fights “Blue Bomber, pride of Umgluck.” I wonder when we started using robots to stand in to let us enjoy entertaining violence? Endless streams of battle droids are shot, dismembered, and crushed in Star Wars movies and animation, to comical effect. Contrast that with the moving death of K-2SO in Rogue One. We are selective about which robots we choose to think of as worthy of dignity. Empathy turns out to be a creative choice not just for the creator but for the viewer. It’s worth interrogating our hearts when we cheer and laugh about violence being done to others. Sometimes, it’s just a toy. Sometimes, not.