Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A possible clue to solving the great denim-wearing robot mystery

OK, so I was doing some more polling / thinking about this whole jean-wearing robot ad campaign from the mid-70's I wrote about a couple of days ago. And before I go any further, I just want to say that for the record, I'm pretty disappointed in my readership's response to solving this puzzle. I know a lot of you, and a lot of you are known by reputation and minor degrees of separation, and a bigger group of geeks harboring worthless knowledge you'd be hard-pressed to find. No emails, no feedbacks, no comments...nothing. A pox upon you all!

Mrs. Blogfoot remembered the ads though, so I know I'm not crazy. This also confirmed that I married the right woman. I mean, come on...she remembers 30 year-old commercials with robots wearing jeans and can quote "Wrath of Khan" at will. Truly a rare cut of stone, as they say.

Anyhoo, when queried about this, a friend mentioned a brand of jeans from the 70's that I had forgotten about: "Toughskins." Yes, Toughskins, the low-cost, in-house brand foisted upon the children of the non-rich by the fiends at Sears. Toughskins debuted as a new blend of materials, including Dacron Type 59 polyester, DuPont 420 nylon, and cotton. They touted the line of Toughskins children's pants as "The toughest of Sears tough jeans...lab tests prove it!"

"Lab tests", hey? Is it such a stretch to think that a company that talked of "lab tests" would also belch forth a jean-wearing robot as a pitchman? No, it is not a stretch at all. But sadly, all I could find a record of was another campaign they did in which they constructed a trampoline out of the Toughskin material. I've pasted a blurry clip of this ad below, and you can read the truncated history of the toughskins brand here.



Toughskins also featured re-inforced knees as a selling point, which would dovetail nicely into my memory of the robot doing knee bends in the jeans to illustrate their resiliency. And the fact that they were dirt-cheap would dovetail nicely with the memory of my brother and I being forced to wear them. Although once they trotted out the robot, I'm sure I was begging for them.

Why is there no record of this? WTF? Is no one with me? What's the matter with all of you? Doesn't the thought of a jean-wearing robot interest you? I think it does! Hop to it!

8 comments:

blogfoot bro said...

As the oldest, I was treated to private fittings and ice cream floats while making my back to school purchases. I am not sure what they did to you, but rest assured, only the finest in 100% cotton designer denim ever graced this body.

Jamie Baker said...

oh man I so WISH I could help out on such a mission as this, but alas there was no such thing as a jeans-bot in Australia when I grew up... but I am with you "in spirit" and await the outcome of your research...

Vincent said...

If the Mentat Franks can't remember all the details of said spots how would he expect mere men to know the answers.
Don't forget the "huskie" brand that was sold along with the toughskins at Sears. I will never forget my first pair, pants made of sandpaper.

tomaliguy said...

Why I ever googled (jeans + sears + robot) I'm not sure, but yes, I DO REMEMBER THE ROBOT...may have even wanted to be like the robot. The jeans that managed to fit me for more than 2 years (mom bought them long, and I had to roll the legs up)...like something from happy days, only it was 1976...but I digress. I also remember the trampoline made from jeans. I've had shoes from Safeway...Oh and I remember mom buying breeze laundry detergent for the free towels that came in it. AHHHHH good times.

Anonymous said...

I remember a commercial with 3 robots running on treadmills, demonstrating the durability of the jeans. I'm pretty sure it was Levis, but I have been unable to find it.

Kyle said...

This is soooo funny. I was bored, and decided to do a google/youtube on the robot commercial I remember so well. Yes, it was the toughskin jeans (I remember this, because that is what my brother and I wore). I also remember them doing calasthetics as well. If you find any more information, email it to me (solomyngrundy@nospaming.hotmail.com)

uncle said...

I worked odd jobs at JCPenney (late 70's at "Apache Plaza" in St. Anthony, MN) and one of the oddest was wearing the Super Dennis robot costume around the store. "Super Denims" were JCPenney kids jeans.

Steve said...

I remember the Robot- I was telling my wife about it last night... and I came upon your blog... I wish I could locate the Robot piece. I too wore the unmistakable mark of the lower-middle class-- Toughskins... what a great marketing campaign though... because my young adolescent naivete could not discern that I was being branded as a 'less-than'... my brother who was a bit 'chunky'... wore Huskies and even back then under the trance of the robot, even I knew that Huskies were 'not cool'