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

Sketch Dump: Back In Black


Slide the line to change Spidey’s costume!

Decided to draw Spider-man for the ten millionth time after spending the past week playing Activison’s Spider-man game (which turns 20 years old this year!). One of my favorite games, yes, but it inspired me to draw a simple panel of our Wallcrawler battling one of my favorite super villains: Doctor Octopus! I found this neat new slider option on my website and decided to redraw him in his sleek symbiote suit. You can transform Spidey before your very eyes! Excelsior!

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

2xQ3KN
“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.

Projectors1
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.

Projectors2
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.

projectors5

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?

projectors6
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.

projectors7
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.

Projector

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.

Projectors3
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.

Sig_2018_SMALL

projectors4