Here’s another quick look at some of the assorted products that were offered during the formative period of the Marvel Age depicting or representing the Marvel characters. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but if you were a Marvel fan in the 1960s or 1970s, this was all about as good as it got.
This Milton Bradley MARVEL SUPER-HEROES jigsaw puzzle was released around 1966, in the umbra of the promotional effort for the cartoon launch of the same name. What’s interesting about it is that somebody involved must have been a bit disturbed by Spider-Man’s lack of features, as they added in an indication of a nose and a mouth. This was probably commissioned while the cartoon series was still in development; Spider-Man was initially intended to be one of the five characters in that cartoon, but at the last minute, realizing that he was potentially more profitable as a solo property, he was pulled out of it in favor of the Sub-Mariner.
These Topps Marvel Super-Heroes stickers were everywhere in the early-mid 1970s–you could find them stuck on books, walls, in the schoolbus, everywhere. And they’re definitely a product of their time, pairing up a wide variety of Marvel super-stars with pithy and pseudo-funny word balloons so as to make something a bit camp out of it all. A bunch of these are still pretty funny today, while others make you wonder just what everybody involved was thinking.
Third Eye released this series of Marvel-themed black light posters in 1971, and it must be said that it looks very much like they just grabbed any old art they could get their hands on and then applied some crazy day-glo colors to them. Again here, this is a pretty mixed bag, though some of these are still pretty spectacular images.
Since I wrote about it earlier today, here’s an assembled version of the Spider-Man Aurora Model kit. As I said earlier, the sculpting is nothing to write home about, but it’s pretty incredible that Kraven got brought to life in three dimensions this early, to say nothing of the wall-crawler himself.
And for good measure, here’s the assembled HULK model, as well as the box package art to all three Aurora model releases. These have been reissued in recent years.
Here’s two of a four-record line of original audio adventures based on the Marvel characters. The audio recordings for these vinyl disks have turned up online and on YouTube over the years–my memory of them is that the appeared to have been written by somebody with a limited familiarity with the characters. And the strange super-deformed versions of the Marvel heroes on the record sleeves are perhaps the most off-putting aspect of these disks.
Ben Cooper, the fine purveyor of tacky, crummy Halloween costumes for years and years started making Marvel-themed costumes beginning with a Spider-Man suit as early as 1963. Over the years, they made many questionable designs, some of which are seen above. It’s plain to see that Daredevil is just a recycled Batman mask, as Mr Fantastic sports a recycled Green Lantern mask. And who would want to dress up as Doctor Doom or, worse, the Red Skull? That Thing mask, though, is pretty cool.
This 1968 CAPTAIN AMERICA board game came with a free comic book packed inside, typically a copy of either TALES OF SUSPENSE #94 or #95 (though apparently it wasn’t unusual for kids to go to the toy aisle and steal the comic book out of the boxes without buying the game.) It’s got a weird selection of art, much of it redrawn from key panels from actual Marvel stories for this use.
They became a staple throughout the 1970s, but the pilot program for the Marvel 3-Bag line–then sampled as a 4-Bag, for only 47 cents–debuted for a short period in 1968 as well, right after Marvel changed its distributor. These bags were a way of getting comic books into otherwise-inaccessible outlets such as toy stores and department stores that didn’t want to handle periodicals due to the low profit margin and chance of damages. While the program didn’t catch on in 1968, it would in the years to come.
And who could ever forget the smooth summer treat that was an icy cold Slurpee purchased with that week’s new comic books in a Marvel-themed collectible plastic cup at your local 7-11 Convenience Store. There were at least two sets of these cups done for the Marvel characters, and sets devoted to their DC competitors as well. It was always a bit of a crapshoot to get the characters you wanted–fierce trading with other kids on the schoolyard was the only chance you really had to get the more obscure releases that you really wanted (and that they didn’t really know or care about.)