Marvel Projectors Action Figures!

MProjectorsIn 1994 there were action figures that projected adventures from their chests and I just found out about it…


As an adult, did you ever come across something in the toy aisle you just knew you’d love when you were a child? I ask because in my internet wanderings, I discovered ToyBiz’s Marvel Comics Projectors action figure line circa 1994

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“I’m the best there is at what I do and what I do is shoot out pictures from my cartoon show using a giant bulb in my chest…” -Wolverine

Ultradope, right? But what really toasts my Pop-Tarts is that I was prime age for these. Yet for whatever reason, I missed them. Unfortunately I do not have a time machine to correct this…but I do have money and an eBay account…which is almost the same thing.

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I really can’t help myself and it’s a problem…

I purchased Magneto, Cable, and Wolverine. Cable still had a Walmart sticker on the box from ’95 retailing for $9.95 ($16.65 with inflation). I honestly just wanted Cable but the same seller offered me a deal: All 3 for $35 including shipping. I couldn’t turn that down. That’s why you’re getting a pointless longwinded article.

Like a ton of X-Men merch from this era, all the packaging was made to look like a comic book cover. Which makes these action figures an eye-catching thing of beauty.  Cable’s packaging is different because it came from a later line that offered weapon accessories and “Action Phrases!”. I thought that meant Cable talked…but all it means is the projecting slides have speech bubbles. Well alright.

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When your favorite mutants come over to show you their vacation videos…

While unpackaging these figures I imagined an alternate universe where the X-Men were vain narcissists that went around projecting pictures of themselves out of themselves onto other X-Men as a way to assert dominance. I mean, what better way for Wolverine to show he can beat up Cable by simply projecting a picture of him beating up Cable ON Cable himself? Checkmate, y’know?

Anyway, that’s right the toys. Each figure comes with three plastic adventure “reels” the size of a quarter. You pop two AAA batteries into your favorite mutants back, pull on the projector to snap a reel into their chest, press their butt button to light it up, and click the knob to change the image.

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The process is pretty dang simple. I was gettin’ all tingly about lighting this bad boy up. I’m quarantined and the only thing I have to look forward to is showers and making coffee, so this was pretty big for me. And the result is surprisingly satisfying. I say “surprisingly” because it’s a tiny 25 year old lightbulb shooting out of an action figure. I wasn’t expecting much…so how good can it actually look?

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I mean, it looks good though…

Obviously, the closer your X-Man (?) is to the wall the more vibrant…but if you use this in a room that’s completely dark, the projection actually looks really awesome. And if you have multiple figures? Well…it’s a party folks. Each reel is a different adventure (the one pictured features Wolverine battling Omega Red) and each package came with a mail-away slip where you can receive an X-Men poster and 5 more reels for just $4.25. Ostentatious, dudes! All of the reels are basically fight scenes and X-Men poses, which is to be expected, but I found a sweet Genosha reel…which is great if you’re an old school X-Men-head like myself.

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All 3 figures projecting on the wall. Talk about getting LIT (I’m sorry about that)

I remember as a child my fear of the dark made my cousin gift me a Batman nightlight to “protect” me. And it was little things like that which made me feel better. To have a parent leave Wolverine to “protect” you at your bedside where you can project his pure “Bezerker Rage” taking up a whole wall in your room is a genius idea. It also makes me seethe a little more missing out on these when I was a child.

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Other than reseller listings, there’s not much information on these action figures. Which, in our age of nostalgia gauging, surprises me because the idea and execution are uniquely AWESOME in their own right. Some browsing reveals ToyBiz produced Power Rangers Projectors  around the same time…yet that’s where it seemed to stop.

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The back of Cable’s box shows the complete line…

It started out as just X-Men but soon expanded to Spider-man‘s cartoon as well as the short lived Fantastic Four and Iron Man cartoons. Iron Man is about the only character aesthetically that fits with the Projector line.  Yet there is something intoxicating about a giant Lizard man that shoots images from his chest.


THE GOOD

  • Awesome vibrant packaging 
  • Figures are large and sturdy 
  • Each worked out of the box 25 years later
  • Good selection of characters for the time
  • Projector effect is decent

THE BAD

  • Slides have a slight blur no matter how much you focus
  • Very basic detail for such large figures
  • Would’ve liked some actual comic panels instead of just frames from the cartoons
  • I’m bummed this line never quite took off

The creative possibilities for a toy like this seems endless. I definitely would’ve longed for a Batman that projects the Bat-Signal. Yet the biggest missed opportunity, for me anyway, would be STAR WARS. An R2-D2 that projects Princess Leia or Darth Vader that projects a “hologram” of The Emperor? Take me now. Star Wars characters could project their assigned ships in which you could have them “fly” and “battle” on your wall with appropriate sound effects! Please. I’m dying.

While bummed I didn’t come across just one of these figures as a kid, I’m very grateful to have stumbled upon them decades later and had the opportunity to “play” with them. These are the first toys that come to mind that actually disappoint me with how cool they are. I can’t help but look at them and think “What if?”...which is I guess is fitting for Marvel Comics history. All in all, if you’re into this sort of thing I recommend you pick one up. They don’t go for too much currently, though they might now since my website has such massive influence over the collector market. Thanks for reminiscing over a decades old dead toyline involving spandex clad mutants that shoot pictures from their chests.

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Ad Nauseam: X-Men #60

Welcome back to my retrospective series of articles in which I sit in my dark apartment, listen to synthwave, and thumb through back issues in hopes of sparking shadowed memories of simpler times! An exciting Saturday night is finding a 24 year old advertisement for Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal. How can life possibly offer anything more?

X-Men Vol. 1 #60, January 1997

If there’s a main theme throughout these articles (besides the onset of Peter Pan Syndrome) it has to be constantly waxing nostalgic about the X-Men. They were a benevolent force throughout comic culture in the 1990s. But 1997 marked a lull in X-Men fandom. While at heart X-Men was always a glorified mutant soap opera, the ideas of love triangles, false deaths, and double agents were tired tropes. This was also the year the acclaimed X-Men animated series was cancelled. And with that dries up the marketability of X-Men toys, tie ins, and video games.

But, as we all know, this wasn’t goodbye for the X-Men. It was just “see you later”. Because in just 3 short years Marvel introduced the ULTIMATE universe of comics and the blockbuster X-Men live action movie hit theaters worldwide.

But, right now, we’re stuck in 1997 and we have this awfully mundane issue to get through.  But between the story: A D V E R T I S M E N T S. This is an X-men title so I didn’t have to necessarily hit the clearance for you, so we’re not at the bottom of the barrel per-say.  That’s reserved for Witchbalde or Youngbloods. So put on your finest Austin 3:16 shirt, pause your Playstation, crack open a cold Surge and join me on this capitalistic journey of useless trading cards and fruitless VHS tapes.

Kool-Aid Points

It’s summer break and you and your best buds have the whole day ahead of you. Maybe you play some Bucky O’Hare, head over to the park district pool, split some nachos, and do that weird running gallop so the lifeguards don’t blow the whistle at you for running. What always hits the spot on a hot summer day like this was a big pitcher of some sticky flavored sugar water. And while you sit on your throne of innocence and Super Ropes you think to yourself, “How can this get any better?” 

Well let me tell you: Getting free garbage for drinking that cold sticky sugar water.  What we have here is the always incredible Kool-Aid Kool Points program. Kool-Aid packets were worth points. You save the packets. And mail them in to get treasures. I have to say, I love everything that is offered in this ad. I try to imagine what I’d save up for and I get anxiety from the choices. I’d love to get some official Kool-Aid merch like a shirt, beach towel, or bottle that way I can let everyone know I’m well on my way to premature diabetes. But, at the same time, the idea of saving up for a Yomega Fireball Yo-Yo, Nintendo Gameboy Keychain, or Remote Control Car truly feels like an accomplishment I’d cherish more so than my college degree (it’s a BA in art so it’s basically not real) .

This Kool-Points program was started sometime in the early 1980s and ended  recently in 2008. Unfortunately you can’t find as much Kool information as you’d hope as it seems to be the name of a mobile gaming app nowadays. But let this be a remainder of the days where you just didn’t chug a pitcher of Rock-a-dile Red for the pure enjoyment of quenching mere thirst, you were inching closer to quenching the thirst of owning an Official Kool-Aid Man kite. Oh. Yeah.

Got Milk? Featuring Spider-man!

As stated as the topic for my college thesis, if you were anybody of significance in the past 20 years you were featured in a Got Milk? ad. Singer, athlete, actor, wrestler, cartoon character or inter-dimensional idea you were given a page wide spread with a glass of milk complete with white mustache. Even Spider-man himself, complete with mask mustache, is pictured in this very ad presented.  The Nobel Peace Prize paled in comparison to the worldwide recognition one receives when simply asking the question “Got Milk?”. 

The one downside to this ad campaign is that it was a little too successful in that it became trendy for nearly every brand or company to ask the famous “Got Milk?” question with their own, often illogical, spin. I remember seeing tons of t-shirts and bumper stickers being sold with simple text reading things like “Got Comics?” or “Got Pizza?” in that tall white font. I even recall the local zoo selling “Got Dolphins?” bumper stickers with the names of various animals at whatever exhibits.

It was genius in it’s simplicity. These ads were featured in every kind of newspaper, magazine, or comic. And it made Milk, well, cool if you seen Spider-man, Brett Favre, or Whoopi Goldberg with the classic ‘stache. I even seen someone with a “Got Speed?” bumper sticker on their car driving home last week. It’s still relevant today and kind of douchey apparently!

Michael Jordan Highlights on VHS!

When you want to describe someone being the best at something, nowadays it’s common to say “They’re the Michael Jordan of” it. For example, “Chris is the Michael Jordan of  having a cynical outlook!” or “ChrisDoesComics.com is the Michael Jordan of websites nobody cares about.”  Well, Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of basketball. Being a Chicago native during the Bulls legendary era, I and everyone I knew wanted to be like Mike.

MJ was on my t-shirts and my bedroom walls. I had MJ books and magazines. I wanted Hanes because Michael wore them. I wanted a Big Macs and Ball Park Franks because Michael ate them. Space Jam was a childwide event in Chicago complete with parades and screenings in church. I made that last one up. Michael Jordan was so awesome and such an international phenomenon that for $30 the NBA sold a 2 1/2 hour MJ highlight reel on VHS.

I included this ad because I really downplay the love I had for Michael Jordan nowadays. Not really for a particular reason other than I simply forget what a idol he was to me and so many other kids back then. This ad truly gave me the warm fuzzies because it’s the reason I write these articles to begin with: to dust off fond forgotten memories.  And I remember a time where I wanted to be Like Mike. Except for that short period where he played baseball.

CardZillion Trading Card Machines!

Another reason I write these articles is to share things I had no idea existed like CARDZILLION. I wasn’t sure to include this ad but after doing some research I simply had to. These “vending” machines were located exclusively in Toys “R” Us stores from 1994 until 1997 and were distributed by Bandai. You’d pop in a quarter and receive a trading card from properties like Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, Sailor Moon, and Donkey Kong Country. Each series composed of 42 cards including 6 ULTRA cards (which were the rare ones).

What set these cards apart were they all felt special. They had hologram cards, holofoil cards, Ultra rare cards, cards that popped up into little dioramas, cards that made up a battle game. And with the machine being placed in the store exit, it was a great strategy for kids to drain a little more out of their parents during the trip. 9 year old me would be all over those Donkey Kong Country cards without fail.

I’m not sure why they didn’t last long. It may have been because the novelty of trading cards weren’t nearly as popular as they were 10-30 years ago. That being said, had I known about these I would’ve certainly begged for a trip to Toys R Us just to use one.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if they brought these back with comic books? With Marvel and superheroes being modern day Greek Mythology, it would be a fun experiment to bundle these with some $1 back issues with maybe some “exclusive” or signed covers as a rarity.

Rugrats Reptar Crunch Cereal!

The Rugrats is a cartoon that elevated Nickelodeon to legendary kids entertainment. And it open the floodgates to a plethora of classic cartoons. But with Nickelodeon being presented as a network “For kids by kids” they understood that children knew when they were being marketed to. Which is why, compared to say Disney, they had very limited merchandise. It made getting your grubby little meathooks on something Rugrats, Rocko, or Ren more special.

And, here, we have not Rugrats cereal but Reptar cereal! Reptar was a show within the show that the Rugrats themselves watched and idolized. What I love about Reptar is although he was watched by babies he was much more Godzilla than Barney. He had no educational value for these kids. He just loved to smash cities and roar. And I love him for that.

Reptar  merch was always present in the show itself with things like a Reptar chocolate bar, Reptar on Ice, Reptar The Movie, and Tommy Pickles’s beloved Reptar doll. I find it very interesting to bring that branding off the show and into reality as it makes for a much more fun and unique product. Sure, you could’ve had an actual Rugrats cereal with marshmallow rattles or something uninspired. But instead you now have a product that Chuckie Finster and Tommy Pickles himself would eat….if they had teeth that is.

With with whole Nick Nostalgia in full effect to drain us 90s kids of our hard earned cash, they’ve actually released a whole Reptar brand of merchandise including cereal and the legendary chocolate bar itself. So if you gotta find that Reptar now is the time more than ever.


Would you look at that? We’re done with X-men #60 cover to cover. Man, I can’t believe Cyclops was being mind controlled to kill Storm. I thought for sure ‘ol  Summers was just overcome with jealousy over her latex outfit and cool white hair. I hope you enjoyed reminiscing with me about the soulless ads featured in a 21 year old comic about mutant love triangles.  One might say I’m the Michael Jordan of writing articles that waste your time.

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Sketch Dump: Monsters, Robots, and Spider-Men!

I’ve been drawing but not updating! Figured I’d throw some fun sketches I’ve done in today’s post before the holidays hit me and before I know it it’ll be January! None of these images turned out how I originally envisioned them but I still liked what I ended up with.

All in all, check out It’s Alive! Horror Podcast as we just did a quick live show from a local horror convention that was fun for all. We also have some neat holiday episodes coming up!

Also thank you everyone whose been checking out Night Bumps every Sunday (or whenever you read). Regular strips are ending in late January, so catch up while you can!

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Drawn 11/09 Time Spent: About 4. 5 hours
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Drawn 11/1 Time Spent: 4 Hours
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Drawn 11/21 Time Spent: 3 hours