Ad Nauseam: ALF #23 (Mascot Madness!) 

You can find previous “Ad Nauseam”s here.

Welcome back to Ad Nauseam: never ending articles inspecting promotions of yesteryear found in between the “Biff”s and “Pow”s of clearance rack comics. Please send help. 

Tonight we crack open the capitalistic corpse of ALF #23 released December 1989.

ALF (Alien Life Form) was a Marvel comic series based off the television show of the same name. It ran for a surprisingly successful 50 issues (1988-1992), actually exceeding the lifespan of the show. ALF tells the story of Gordon Shumway, an alien from an extinct planet that crash lands in suburban California. He’s discovered and reluctantly “adopted” by a wholesome nuclear family as sitcom shenanigans and laugh tracks ensue. The show was like a fusion of Full House and Garfield complete with 80s sitcom cheese, cat references, food binging, all centering around a family named The Tanners. 

ALF #23: December 1989

On a personal note, ALF was one of my favorite shows as a child. Being raised on Muppets, anything involving puppets immediately caught my attention. And in his prime, ALF was a merchandising machine as his face was slapped on coloring books, lunchboxes, and everything in between. 

Which brings me to the focus of tonight’s article…

I’ve spent too much time building these virtual monuments to 30+ year old junk food and mailaway trading cards. A driving force behind diving into these ads isn’t nostalgia alone…but the realization that I’m part of a bygone era I’m calling The Lost Art of the Mascot. For better or worse. 

There’s a reason why I’m so fondly in love with the Mcdonald’s of yesteryear. Or how I’ll gush over sugary cereal boxes and the return of “throwback” labels on the same old products. The Trix Rabbit! Toucan Sam! Scrubbing Bubbles! The Noid! Mrs. Butterworth! As a child I loved the Energizer Bunny and Chester Cheetah. What they were bussing was moot (or so I thought), yet they turned out to be the reason why I wanted Cheetos in my lunch and Energizer batteries in my talking Robocop. If you’re in your late thirties you CAN’T look me in the GOSH DANG eyes and tell me you didn’t eat raisins because of the CALIFORNIA RAISINS singing on your television! Don’t lie to me this isn’t my FIRST RODEO! 

This is a brilliant marketing strategy that, I would say, peaked throughout the 1960s-1990s. Take a mundane product and pair it with a bright lively marketable character that would appeal to children. This is most common with cereal (as we’ll see tonight) but expanded far beyond to everything from batteries to cleaning supplies. It’s a strategy that cements a brand and creates a brainworm in future customers based on recognition. It’s planting the seeds of consumption in young malleable selfish minds and might just be considered evil. But, boy, does it work!  

It’s fitting that I found these ads in an ALF comic. Yet another character created with a big marketable lovable personality full of quippy one liners and sarcasm. Almost as if the priority was merchandising over actual quality. Huh. Well that can’t be…can it? So let’s travel back to the last gasp of the 1980’s with ALF #23 and quietly ask ourselves why is this December released comic themed around Fall?


Trix and Lucky Charms Word Games!

These ads are a great example of how to make your mascot appear as more than just a vapid salesman. Both of these full page ads are games first and ads second. Kids know when they’re being marketed to, so to literally make a game out of your product is a way to get attention without your little consumer even realizing you’re getting your sugar soaked fingerprints all over their fresh malleable mind. You engage your audience. The cereal and logo take up little of the illustration, making the mascots the main focus besides the game itself. It’s a way to get kids to “help” the characters (they look distressed afterall) and connect with them. Appeal to emotions. The games center around the themes of the cereal and names so it’s easy to identify next time you’re at the grocery store. If you play this fun game with these characters in your monthly comics, you’d be more than willing to beg mom for their cereal. I felt a loyalty to these characters, therefore, I wanted their cereal over, say, Corn Pops or Frosted Mini Wheat. 

Also I love how Lucky the Leprechaun is relaxing in his cozy home with an offering of a perfectly balanced breakfast (did anybody really partake in orange juice and milk?) and the Trix Rabbit is cornered in some gritty back alley (also is the pencil oversized or is the Trix rabbit truly that small?). Through engaging ads like this, you might actually look forward to them popping up in your comic book. Imagine that! Soon Trix and Lucky could mean more to you than just breakfast cereal, but in turn, Trix and Lucky Charms might be the first brands that spring to mind when getting some sugary trash to shovel in your gullet at 7 am. Magically delicious? Or Implemented strategically delicious?   

Nestle Quik Hop Shop!

It’s pretty incredible how some of these ads can work on a young mind. I haven’t seen a Nestle Quik commercial in decades and haven’t drank it in probably over 25 years, yet I still remember that Quik bunny suckin’ that gloop up while his long ears twisted around as if he were in the middle of some sort of powdery orgazmic trance. 

Here we have an example of being “rewarded” with stuff you don’t need for consuming junk that will hurt you. Today, this practice of marketing has been (mostly) dropped across the board as it shouts “blind vapid consumerism” and can direct your child onto the road of diabetes and obesity all in the name of a Quik Bunny Plastic Mug. If you delve back into comics of the 1960s and 70s, you’d find similar “reward” programs using points to earn prizes aimed at children. These points were earned through, essentially, a pyramid scheme: Want a kite or magic set? Sell a certain amount of magazine subscriptions (for example). You could earn up to a bicycle! Though marketing like this “Hop Shop” ad truly reflects the consumeristic junkie mindframe that permeated the 1980’s: Eat to earn. Buy our products and earn cool prizes adorning our logo. It’s a pretty bold and confident move when you think about it. 

It sounds like John Carpenter’s They Live in a way. Mostly because, in a way, it is. That movie had to come from somewhere, right?

Okay, so I’m being cynical. I previously touched on a similar tactic with Kool-Aid. And there’s tons just like this. I don’t look down on anyone who was into this. Mostly because I know for a 100% fact, I’d partake in this if I didn’t have such a strictly-budgeted mother growing up. The bendable Quik Bunny and Plush Bunny are calling my name. Then I’d probably go for the t-shirt and some “hot shades”. That ice pop maker and mug are swell too. I didn’t even drink Nestle Quik much, but I loved the fun design of the Bunny from the commercials. I liked him. Which was the point. They got me hook, line, and sinker. I delve into this stuff because I fall for it. 

I actually sought out some of the prizes being offered here through eBay and paired them with the image above. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that Quik Bunny mug at almost every flea market I’ve ever been to. Also, do you notice the 1950’s aesthetic in this ad? The music notes, “Hop Shop” logo design, and the way the Bunny talks? The 1950’s Americana fascination was only 30+ years ago at this point in time. The people making these ads were nostalgic for their era. For instance, what era do you see today so firmly replicated throughout marketing in pop culture? Ah, that’s right, the 1980’s. Which is only 30+ years ago at this point in time. Where does the time go?   

   

Mr. Bubble’s Tub Tales!

Man, when was the last time you took a bubble bath? Is taking a bubble bath just a kid thing? Why? I remember always seeing sexy women taking bubble baths in movies, but that was usually because it was PG and they needed to cover up their body. Why can’t a middle aged construction worker come home from a hard day’s work to a nice bubble bath? Can we normalize that? Anyway…

The “mini-comic” ad you’d find in comic books is a classic tactic. In fact, I wouldn’t mind doing that for a living. Here we get a short tale featuring Mother callin’ in the kiddos after having a fun-filled dirty play day only to *GASP* be excited to take a bath?! That’s right, kids, because Mr. Bubble makes getting clean almost as much fun as getting dirty! I love the admittance of saying  “almost”. They’re just being honest. It’s not more fun or even as fun apparently. But the fun doesn’t have to stop in the bath! Because Mr. Bubble’s got them tees and sweaters to rock on your clean bubbleless bod. And a f**king WATCH?! A Mr. Bubbles Watch?! I wish I could’ve met someone wearing a Mr. Bubbles watch in the wild. Like, who are they? What is their story? How are they doing?

Regardless, this advertisement intertwines the idea of the main product (being bubble bath..er-uh..stuff) supplemented with the idea of wearing the brand out of your pure enjoyment for it. Whereas the Nestle Quik branded swag was based on “earning” it. Mr. Bubble just wants to be friends, bro. An adult sized shirt cost $4.95 in December of 1989. With inflation (plus $1 for S&H) that comes out to $13.49 in 2022. Not to shabby considering most tees cost around $27 shipped these days. Also notice the inclusion of adult sized clothing (as well as that rad watch). Mr. Bubble was a brand founded in 1961, nearly 30 years of business at the time. It’s appealing to nostalgia. Your kid would see it and might want one and there’s an off chance that you might too…seeing as you might have grown up with Mr. Bubble as well. That marketing practice is super common today as nostalgia has become almost the go-to route for marketing towards adults. 

And, yes, I managed to go to Mr. Bubble’s website. And, yes, they sell shirts and little Mr. Bubble dolls. And, yes, I’m internally struggling with not buying them. 


I always bring up throughout these Ad Nauseum articles how you no longer see ads for sugary snack cakes, candy, or tooth rotting “juice” drinks marketed towards children anymore; much less rewarding them with prizes for consuming them. Commercials don’t have the same imagination and charm as they used to either. When was the last time you saw Ronald dicking around in Mcdonaldland? Or Captain Crunch recklessly sailing his ship into a kitchen under the influence of crunchberries? Or Kool Aid man carelessly bursting through drywall? Lumber costs have skyrocketed you giant pitcher abomination.  

And, in all honesty, it’s for the best. These mascots still exist but they’re minimal and present for posterity. Whenever they are used, it’s sparingly to appeal to a time where you’d eat this trash and not feel like it. As a society we’ve become much more conscious of what’s in our food and the benefits of it. I believe we’ve broken a marketing cycle and caused a shift towards a more healthy and transparent approach. It may no longer involve a colorful talking toucan or collecting proofs of purchase for a glow-in-the-dark yo-yo…but it benefits us long term. I can definitely see a day in my lifetime where all these mascots are distant memories. Where some 78 year old’s suspiciously hairy ears perk up as we’d recall “Cheesasaurus Rex” over overpriced space-lattes on Planet Starbucks.   

Regardless, I am fond of this stuff. These colorful faces that greeted me on Saturday mornings and in between the pages of my favorite superhero adventures. The excitement I felt digging through sugary cereal I convinced my mom I needed just for the toy inside. Looking at the cookies baking in the oven to see if the Pillsbury Doughboy would actually pop up and greet me. It could be the time and place that gets me. But it’s also the marketing itself. It’s genuine nostalgia for something that was strategically planned and meticulously implemented by a boardroom of rich business tycoons. So undeniably American. But when you look at things that way…it kinda sucks the fun and wonder out of life.

Although the Art of the Mascot is indeed lost and I truly can’t think I’m better off for being apart of it, I can at least look back at it through the eyes of a child and smile. In a lot of cases ignorance is bliss afterall. Thanks for thumbing in between the action of old comics and reminiscing with me. You’ll always find “insight” into comfy comic culture here on ChrisDoesComics.

Advertisement

Ad Nauseam: Ultimate Spider-man #4

You’re not going to believe this, but, it seems there’s been a sort of mishap in regards to the current edition of Ad Nauseum. We’re not heading back to the 1990s to reminisce in the murky nostalgic mirth of discontinued candy, cereal, and action figures. No, my friends, for it is a new millennium! With Y2K upon us, I hope you’ve unplugged your computer…hid your savings under the mattress…and sent your Furby back to the circle of hell from whence it came. Because we’re swinging into Ultimate Spider-man #4 released February 2001

Marvel Comic’s line of Ultimate titles were “reboots” of some of their most iconic characters. The idea was to gain a new generation of readers with a clean slate. Gone were the high issue counts and 40+ daunting years of extensive history. With a new millennium comes a fresh (yet familiar) contemporary beginning. 

Straight from my own personal collection, Ultimate Spider-man came at a crossroads in my life. An awkward age where I was deemed “too old” for comics and toys by family and peers. Yet too young to work, drive, and dip my toe into the “adult” multiverse. So reading a modern take about the adventures of a 15 year old Spider-man couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. 

So put on your fuzzy bucket hat, fold up your Razor Scooter, and sign onto MSN because it’s time to read about the mindless capitalistic trash offered in between the pages of Spidey’s webtastic adventures!

————————————————————————————————————

X-Men: Evolution Backpack Clips! 

I’ve spent more time than I care to admit writing about X-Men fast food toys. C’est la vie. While always prominent amongst the comic crowd, X-Men were the comic cash cow in 2001 as their first blockbuster movie debuted just 7 months prior. With a sequel in the works and a brand new animated series airing, it was only a matter of time before Wolverine found himself in the bottom of a greasy paper bag once more.  

I can’t recall much of X-Men: Evolution other than it imagined the characters as (mostly) teenagers and didn’t have an earbug of a title theme. Thinking it was a step down from the prior X-Men series, I mostly ignored it. But I wish I hadn’t ignored these X-Tacular keychains. I was imagining which one I would want most, yet they all look X-Mazing in their own individual X-ways. Cyclops launches little X-Men logos (Don’t we all?), Pull a string to “spark” Storm’s eyes, Wolverine pops his claws, Toad shows some tongue action, and Mystique’s face “morphs” using those old bean-like slimes. The mutant action features are surprisingly clever and creative for something that X-clusively comes alongside a crushed greasy bag of cinnamon twists. I truly regret not having one of these dangling from my Chicago Bulls backpack. These days, I would buy a set on eBay to attach to my work bag, but I’m already in a committed relationship and don’t want more women falling in love with me. 

What’s It Worth @ WizardWorld.com!

I’ve covered Wizard World before yet find it difficult to not wax nostalgic about it when it naturally pops up in other Ad Nauseams. The context of “What’s It Worth?” was, simply, an online price guide for your nerd junk. By that I mean comics get your mind out of the gutter. Pre-internet you’d have to purchase expensive price guides (the newer volumes the more accurate) for comics, toys, and everything in between. I remember thumbing through a relative’s Star Wars action figure price guide sometime around 1997 and being awe-struck that such a thing even existed. “Wait, adults buy toys for themselves?” I thought. “And they keep them in the box?”.

It was like a dork version of The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come paying me a visit…but revealing a vision of lonely virginity instead of my tombstone.

The internet changed the game, once again, by having up-to-the-minute price guides. Pull up your long box of comics and start adding everything up right then and there with a guide everyone can universally reference. That radically shakes up the collectors market, does it not? Nowadays, Wizard World is just an overpriced celebrity meet and greet. But, boy, do I miss what it used to be. Not only offering great traveling comic conventions and an awesome monthly magazine but easing right into the new millennium by creating a great online resource for collectors alike. Wizard was a true nerd mecca. But I suppose all empires fall eventually. Especially ones built around Spawn posters and Witchblade trading cards. 

I’d lastly like to note that ever since Universal Studio’s Harry Potter Theme Park opened, it’s been nearly impossible to find old information on Wizard World conventions and magazines. It feels like someone else’s childhood was literally paved over mine. I hope you’re happy, Rowling.   

Hey You, Pikachu! On Nintendo 64 

Nintendo always strives to do the impossible. They’ve made a stout hairy middle aged Italian American Plumber cute. And they’ve always been innovators within the world of video games. Hey You, Pikachu! was a prime example of just that. Was it good? No, not really. Was it fun? For a few minutes I suppose. Did anyone really want this type of Pokemon game? Not at all. Where was I going with this? Oh. Voice recognition. Nintendo created a special microphone that attached to your controller specifically for this game. And you used it to “talk” to Pikachu. That’s it. That was the game. 

Problem being a lot of “older” kids will blindly lop up any Pokemon game. And this was a pet simulator (of sorts) aimed at children under 10. At the time, I was getting out of the Poke-craze. The card game got too simplistic for me. The Gameboy games began to feel redundant. I didn’t want to take pictures of Pokemon. I didn’t want to talk to Pokemon. I wanted them to fight until they were no longer conscious. For I was a 13 year old boy afterall. So I felt, as did most of my peers, that Hey You, Pikachu! was for (excuse my language) Barney-loving-diaper-babies.

I actually talked to this game not too long ago. The voice recognition doesn’t really work. You can honestly say whatever you want to Pikachu and the game just plays out. I remember simply naming household objects to him to “strengthen our friendship”. We literally became besties when I rattled off my kitchen appliances. Do I recommend it to Pokemon fans and/or vintage gamers? Well, if you’re into making a yellow bunny rabbit sad by repeating “Ninja Blender Pro”, then this is the game for you. Other than that, it was an innovative yet failed experiment. But, hey, now you’ve seen the advertisement for it.  

Activision’s Spider-man Video Game

Alright, now we’re talking. 

At this point in time, Spidey wasn’t so lucky in the video game category. I personally can only recall Super Nintendo’s Maximum Carnage being a bright spot, but even that was just a side scrolling beat ‘em up. We had yet to have a game that made you feel like Spider-man. Enter Activision’s aptly titled Spider-man released in late summer of 2000. This video game was a Marvel Comic come-to-life and personally took my Spider-fandom to the next level. Video game puns. 

It felt like a three dimensional continuation of the 1994’s Spider-man animated series. With brilliant voiceovers, fun colorful cutscenes, tons of Marvel cameos, inside jokes, and unlockables all webbed together and narrated by Stan “The Man” Lee himself. I rented this game numerous times and eventually purchased it as a “Playstation Greatest Hit”. You can actually swing and climb walls in a 3D environment! You can hear Spidey’s constant quips! It realized an iconic character in three dimensions with a story crafted with care and sealed in a video game package that seemed to be made for fans by fans. And it was the talk of recess for quite some time. The strategies, secrets, cheat codes, and easter eggs. It felt like a fully realized world full of web spinning adventure. I often credit this game with kicking off a slow-burn Spider-mania which led to the Spider-man movie in 2002. Sure, that all could’ve been in my head. But the game was a huge hit critically and financially. And I believe that may have turned the right heads to get Spidey on the big screen. 

2000’s Spider-man is always a “must own” no matter what point I’ll be in my life. So seeing this ad in this comic? It made me realize why Spider-man is such a special character to me. So much good spider-stuff coming together and hitting me all at the right time. 

——————————————————————————————————

Oops, I did it again. But this time we ventured into a new millennium! And would you look at that? My toaster didn’t chase me. My bank account didn’t vanish. The local Radioshack didn’t take over the neighborhood as emperor. The world is still here! And it’s very possible that we’ll return between the pages once more…someday. But I’m feeling a bit homesick. And I know there’s a 1992 issue of W.I.L.D.C.A.T.S  out there with advertisements practically screaming to be released into the cataclysmic void of my website. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about the 20 year old comic book ads found in Ultimate Spider-man #4. Wait…Did you know that 2001 was twenty years ago? Weren’t the 1980s twenty years ago? When did they change this? Wow. Hold me in your cyber arms, friend, this is getting scary

Ad Nauseam: Fangoria Spooky Spotlight

Welcome, my precious ghoulings, to a spooky edition of Ad Nauseam! As the Halloween season approaches, I ventured out from the usual comic confines and found frightening familiarity in Fangoria Horror Magazine! And thanks to my compulsive buying habits and decrepit interests, I couldn’t just keep to one issue either! Lucky you! 

First, some quick history: Fangoria started off in 1979 as Fantastica, a spinoff of Starlog magazine, with a focus on fantasy films. Hemorrhaging money after just seven issues, the editing staff quickly reimagined the magazine to be dedicated to the modern horror genre. This led to the newly titled Fangoria to turn a profit and the rest was horror history. 

After 36 years of publication Fangoria got the axe in October 2015 at issue 334. But like most horror icons, it was resurrected…as a quarterly publication in October of 2018. Due to a 2007 warehouse fire the only remaining back issues of Fangoria are housed in private collections or available on the secondary market. So understand this installment of Ad Nauseam is a rare, educational, and insightful look into horror culture.

I’m proud to say I am a Fangoria subscriber. And I had to be an adult to fulfill that due to their unbiasedly gruesome magazine covers that would not only make any parent deny you ownership…but question if they are indeed raising a spawn of Satan himself.  

So pour a glass of apple cider, stroke your black cat gingerly, and light up a pumpkin cake candle. It’s time to dig up the grave of consumerism and raid it’s rotting corpse for nostalgia… 


Horror Tees, Tanks, and Sweats! (#88, 1989) 

With the gory glory of the internet, we’re able to proudly wear pretty much any niche we adore. I could purchase an ALF shirt in 2020 faster than I’d care to admit. But, 30 years ago, styles were limited…and much harder to find. If you wanted to let the world know you bled horror, you searched in horror magazines to do that. And here’s a great example!

Return of the Living Dead Part II was just a year old at this point, so it’s “fresh hotness” drives this ad into the grave. Texas Chainsaw Massacre II and Evil Dead II are also present to get printed really solidifying the tongue-in-cheek horror sequel theme the ad seems to have going. T he offbeat retro crowd also has Reefer Madness, The Devil Bat, and a (miscolored) Dracula poster as options as well. These all would look better printed on black clothing yet white seems to be the only choice given. I’m always weary of white colored clothing (sweatshirts especially) not just because of the fact that I dressed like a lowkey goth growing up…but also because I had a bad experience with a white sweatshirt of mine and a bowl of spaghetti when I was a kid. That sauce just does not come out and I’m not sure if I ever want to be in that situation again.


Freddy Forever! (#109, 1992)

By 1992 Freddy-mania was on it’s way out. A year prior to this issue Freddy’s Dead was released to bury the Springwood Slasher once and for all. Yet his “rest” only lasted three years since Freddy Krueger was a pop culture icon that seemingly eclipsed the horror genre. Despite being a disfigured child murderer with a sexual edge, Freddy moved merch as fast as Batman or The Ninja Turtles. Which is apparent with this dreamy ad of “final” official Freddy merch to honor his Nightmare legacy! 

Horribly authentic! Collector’s item! Perfect for any Fango fan! As someone who was a slave to the cult of Krueger, I had to include this ad. Latex mask and deluxe hat? Awesome! Authentic adjustable razor glove? Oh baby. Freddy Wall Mount? Sure…that’s something I guess. But what turns my dreams of collecting all things Freddy into a possible nightmare is the fact that none of the mentioned “collectibles” are pictured. Instead an actual picture of Robert Englund as Freddy is labeled. I know I’m not going to look that authentic, bro. You don’t need to tease me like this. 

I see the wall mount. I see how Freddy looks like some chewed up grape and strawberry Laffy Taffy. I’m not sure if I trust you in making me look like the toasty child killer of my dreams this Halloween. Yet despite all that, I love the gamble this ad suggests I take. Is the mask and glove not pictured because it looks so bad? Or does it not need to be pictured because it looks so good? I suppose you just have to drop the $60 and wait 6 weeks to find out. And I believe that’s the genius of this ad. If I saw the mask I might just write it off as a dud…but I don’t see it…so maybe it’s the best mask ever made! How can I pass this up? Now who do I make the check out to? 


Batman Returns Costumes! (#114, 1992)

If you were a boy growing up in the 1990s and not Batman for Halloween…you at least thought about being Batman, right? I mean, I think about being Batman in general. Just as a life choice. 

Here we have my favorite ad out of the lot, Batman Returns costumes hot off the press circa 1992! Batman Returns is, in my opinion, the most underrated Batman film with the most underrated villain performances ever. I, like most, was in the trance of Batmania as it began its second (and, honestly, most aggressive) wave. From Happy Meals to action figures and ill fitting t-shirts, like a drunk baby boomer in a soiled Tommy Bahama shirt sitting at a Vegas roulette table…I was all in, baby.  

The Penguin is probably represented as the most solid costume choice. And, due to my small stature, I’d definitely be slappin’ my money down for one of those. $160 with inflation comes out to a little under $300…so, in all honesty, I’d probably have to kidnap all of Gotham’s first born children in order to come up with that scratch at the time. The Deluxe Batman costume looks too good to be true. And retailing for $310 ($672 with inflation) I’d bet that only Bruce Wayne himself ordered these as backup costumes for those harsh summer nights. I’d probably have to settle for the DC Comics Batman costume…which, judging by the model in the ad, makes Adam West look like Frank Miller’s Batman. Not sure if I’d be keen stopping any crime in that…maybe just help some elderly people cross the street. 

I remember my first outting as Batman the following Halloween. My grandma picked up a Batman “costume” from the 1989 film on clearance at a local pop up Halloween store. It came with a thin plastic “utility belt”, disfigured and wrinkled “cowl and cape”, thin flappy foam “boot covers and gauntlets”, and literally a sticker of the emblem. I wore my black sweats underneath it. Belt sagged because it was too big. Couldn’t see out of the mask. Emblem fell off within 15 minutes. 

Yet the polls show I was still a better Batman than George Clooney. What a dated dig. 


Screamin’ Monster Model Kits! (#154, 1996)

When I think of model kits I immediately think of horror. Yes, I understand that’s the “wrong” theme that comes to mind considering most..but I can’t help it. Most of the old Aurora horror kits from the 1960’s and 1970’s have become an overpriced rarity. And as alluring as it would be spending my afternoon painting Wolfman’s crotch with the right amount of detail, Screamin’ breathed new life in the horror model kit realm. Vinyl models of Freddy, Cenobytes, Leatherface, and the Crypt Keeper send happy chills throughout my arthritic spine.   

Of course, 1996 was 24 years ago (oof!) so these kits currently fetch a high price for simply partaking in painting your very own Butterball. Yet what I appreciate about model kits such as these is the fact that you get out what you put in. I’ve seen that same Freddy Krueger model look like a museum piece…yet I’ve also seen the exact same model look like a Dollar Tree reject. Sometimes “rushed” or dare I say “unskilled” model kits may be something more to admire than the ones pictured in this very ad. But, either way, I love the idea of “building” your own horror icon and calling it “quits” when you personally see fit. 

If you can have one of these right now which one would it be? That Crypt Keeper is calling my name. 


Power DeRangers Tee (#147, 1995) 

It’s Murderin’ Time! How bizarre is this? 1995 was the height of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers popularity. And where there’s popularity there’s parody, right? Here we have the Mighty Murderin’ Power Derangers t-shirt! Each Power Ranger reppin’ a classic slasher as they decapitate Barney the Dinosaur…for some reason? I mean, the Ninja Turtles would make sense since the Rangers pretty much took their spot. But what do I know?  

This ad has such a DIY quality to it that I completely fell in love with it. From the designs crudely drawn with markers to the hand written instructions and sales. It shows that if you have an idea and a little bit of know-how, you can probably make some money through Fangoria. Media Goofs Inc operates out of Flourtown, PA. And like most of these hole-in-the-wall companies featured in old magazines…there’s no trace of them on the internet. 

The other shirt designs they offer to the right are hastily drawn “serial killer” inspired designs. No grace or subtly is expected from Media Goofs Inc I suppose. The drawings look more like middle school doodles rather than final design work but, again, I expect nothing less from Media Goofs Inc. It all has an alternative Beavis-and-Butthead vibe, which is to be expected from 1995. I’m not sure if I’d ever wear anything like this at any point in my life…but, then again, I’d be wearing similar South Park shirts a couple years later. And none of those featured Trini the Yellow Ranger wielding a chainsaw. So never say never I suppose. 

Bonus: In this very same issue I found an ad for Spooky World “America’s Horror Theme Park” that really peaked my interest. A Tom Savini Haunted House? A Horror Museum? Tiny “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” Tim to perform? I’ll board a plane tomorrow! Unfortunately I couldn’t find much information on the Minneapolis location other than this 16 year old Halloween forum post: 

Haunty hates those overpriced cheese curds but who doesn’t?

I had some better luck with the Massachusetts location including this amazing 1997 commercial! And if that’s not enough, I even stumbled upon a 1994 “tour” of Spooky World at its peak narrated by none other than Kane “Jason” Hodder! It’s long since been abandoned but after a few moves the Spooky World name is still spookin’ by creating new haunted attractions every Halloween season


Various Masks! (1989-1996?)

These were three of the most enticing mask ads I found combing through the various issues of Fangoria I presented today.  The idea that it didn’t have to be the Halloween season to peruse monster masks made me believe I found “my people”. These ads have a great balance of “gore” and “creatures” from companies I’ve never outright heard of such as Nightmares, Creature, and Artifakes. I always leaned towards the “creature” masks when browsing possible costume ideas…and the ones featured in magazines like Fangoria were meant to be the main event of your costume or collection. 

Looking at masks such as these in your local pop-up Halloween store or (if you were lucky enough) a year round costume shop was always a highlight of the Halloween season for me. Strolling into the section to be hit with that strong smell of latex…gazing into the eyes of these abominable creatures presented lifelessly on old styrofoam heads…the faint sound of a royalty free Halloween soundtrack echoing in the background. Dang, I got vampire bats in my stomach just thinking about it! 

The idea of actually getting one of these masks was unheard of at my age. There was no way my mom was going to shell out $30-50 for just a mask when a quarter of that price could get me a Superman garbage bag to wear for the next 3 Halloweens. Yet the best thing was always coming across ads like this and wondering just who would get them. I’d always imagine perhaps the local haunted house crew “stocking up” on new monsters to scare this year…or maybe fellow amateur mask maskers and horror fiends adding another creature to their collection? Many of us had to settle for a plastic “hockey slasher” mask from the local drugstore (which, I’ll admit, have a charm of their own) but a part of me still daydreams about getting one of these back in the day and wandering the neighborhood for reactions and scares. 

Which one would you get? I’m between “Grim” on Creatures or “Amphibious” on the Artifakes ad. 


For some of us, the sanctity of Halloween expands beyond a simple holiday. It means more than just carving pumpkins while jamming to Monster Mash. It’s an idea and feeling that gives you a sense of belonging. It’s familiarity and warmth that fills your guts with a certain indescribable zest. Flipping through magazines like Fangoria brings me back to a time and place…even if I’ve never been. It inches me closer to untangling the fibers of my personal wiring. Why black and white monster movies, the sound of pouring candy corn , and the smell of latex masks is as comforting as grandma’s home cookin‘. 

Thumbing through these damp newsprint pages littered with images of grotesque gore and monster merch may be just that to many. But to us, I think it means a little more…wouldn’t you agree? I mean…that’s why you read all this. Because you can feel it too. And that’s Halloween, baby.

I hope my waxing nostalgic about 30 year old ads in defunct horror magazines made your Halloween season a little bit more special. Because it certainly made mine. Have a safe and spooky season. And don’t forget to sacrifice a fun size candy bar of your choice to the spirit of the Great Pumpkin!