As the sorta-sequel to this feature, here are ten more old comic book ads. Last time, I focused on small classifieds for things like “Space Ice” and a flashlight in the shape of a skull. For this round, I’m upping the ante. Full page ads. Big time companies. Stuff you might actually remember.
We’re going to have a time. And you’re going to be sooo over my clumsy phrasing by the end of it.
Nestle Quik Gobots Contest!
Alpha Flight #32, March 1986
In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the Gobots. The whole “Gobots are just shitty sucky fake Transformers” thing was funny for a while, but it isn’t exactly true.
The cartoon series was unsophisticated, sure, but isn’t it neat that we had a spin on Transformers set in a firmly Hanna-Barbara universe? Where robots shot each other to pieces, using the same bonk-and-skedaddle sound effects employed by Yogi whenever he stole a sandwich? I think so.
And the toys, while not as complex, did something that Transformers took so much longer to master: They gave us converting robot warriors in the same scale as our G.I. Joes. If you just wanted Destro and a transforming plane to have a civil conversation, one where no necks had to be strained, the Gobots were Grade A certified. Whatever that means.
This Nestle Quik ad announced our chance to win the complete set of Gobots toys. Next to those $1000 Toys “R” Us shopping sprees, “complete set of toys” was the best kind of ‘80s kiddy contest. I don’t know which was the more enticing thought: Owning every Gobot, or being mailed a package the size of an aircraft carrier. In the mind of a seven-year-old, the box had to be that big.
Spider-Man 2099 #13, November 1993
I’ve written about this before, but the early ‘90s were marked by the rise of “shocking blue” candies. It was the in thing. All of the cool candies were very sour and extremely blue. One side effect was everyone’s inclination to make even the non-blue candies as obnoxiously bright as possible. Neon Nerds fit right in.
As was and remains the Nerds norm, each box was split between two flavors. “Electroorange” obviously tasted like oranges, and I guess “Pinktricity” was some kind of pink lemonade? They were said to have a more intense flavor than regular Nerds, so I assume they were sour enough to make even the gruffest candy war hero pull a Samara Victim Face.
Acclaim Wireless Nintendo Controller!
G.I. Joe Special Missions #26, October 1989
Plenty of you had a wireless Nintendo controller. I didn’t. Thinking back to how many times I was *this close* to being able to play Zelda in bed, I really wish I had.
The comic strip presentation floors me. Especially when we get to the parts where Hulk Hogan and a giant plant crawl through the TV in an attempt to murder. A wireless controller was inarguably useful, but this ad sells it as the most exciting thing in the universe.
Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse!
The New Warriors #36, June 1993
Kool-Aid used to come with “Kool-Aid points,” which you could collect and trade for fabulous prizes. Granted, you had to drink an ocean’s worth of Rock-A-Dile Red if you wanted the top drawer items, but not many kids would’ve had issues with drinking that much Rock-A-Dile Red.
Of course, unless you made the acquisition of Kool-Aid points your life’s work, you probably only accumulated enough for the lamer prizes. Things like Kool-Aid branded beach towels, and cherry red disposable cameras.
Notice how they spread all of the video game stuff around, to make you not notice how lousy some of the other prizes were? You have to sit and stare for a while before those plastic mugs and 2” nylon balls come into focus. Brilliant.
The Kool-Aid point system lasted until 2010. If I’ve sounded miserable for the past few years, now you understand why.
Nintendo Game Genie!
Guardians of the Galaxy #33, February 1993
I assume that we all know about Game Genies, and what they were capable of. Instead of describing the obvious, I will share my two strongest Game Genie-related memories. And then I will write the word “sauce,” with no surrounding words or punctuation, to mess with the bastards who only pick and choose which sentences to read.
1) I didn’t pick up the (original) Nintendo Game Genie until long after its prime, but my across-the-street buddy got it on like, Day 1. We’d both seen the commercials, but nothing could’ve prepared us for the real deal. MY GOD. We must’ve played for twelve hours straight. I even brought my own games over. There were so many titles that we could never previously beat, and this was our chance to finally see the endings. We felt like such awesome hackers.
2) Most of my hands-on Game Genie experiences were with the Super Nintendo version. I certainly didn’t need a Game Genie to beat Super Mario World, but I still maintain that it was the BEST GAME EVER to use with one. I used to pretend that Mario was some kind of bounty hunter/Terminator, sent to just COMPLETELY DESTROY everything and everyone in sight. Memories are hazy, but I think my most trusted code combo afforded Mario both perpetual invincibility and the constant ability to mega-jump. YOU HAVE NOT LIVED UNTIL YOU’VE PLAYED SUPER MARIO WORLD AS A MILE-JUMPING, NEVER-DYING MARIO.
There are still five more ads to see! Click the blue thing above, or the link below. I like to give you options.