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View Full Version : X-Ray glasses, two-man submarines, and Sea Monkeys: Ripped off by a comic book


Spectre of Pithecanthropus
11-04-2005, 05:20 PM
The New Yorker from a couple of weeks ago has a great comic strip--how strange that does seem!--yes, a comic strip about a kid who orders a "log cabin" from a comic-book ad. He can barely stand the anticipation, but when it finally arrives, it's nothing more than a sheet of colored plastic that you drape over a table.

When I was about 10 I ordered a pair of Amazing X-Ray Goggles, and they turned out to be nothing more than a pair of plastic binoculars in a folding case. I remember seeing ads for all sorts of incredible things, most notable a submarine that would hold two people, and only cost a few bucks. Anyone who grew up in the 1960s must remember seeing these ads, but what I'd like to know is what did you order and what did it actually turn out to be?

Mr. Blue Sky
11-04-2005, 05:59 PM
Amazing X-Ray Goggles


The Amazing X-Ray Goggles! They see through nothing!



I sent many a dollar to the Johnson-Smith Company (http://www.johnsonsmith.com/) for stuff like that.

JohnBckWLD
11-04-2005, 06:48 PM
I remember as a kid asking my Dad if the 'Hero of The Beach Ads' by Charles Atlas could really turn me from a 97# weakling into the guy who never gets sand kicked in his face. His reply, "Kind of...they send you a pair of those phony x-ray glasses". I never realized the humor in that until just now.

The only thing I ever got ripped off on was a Double LP Collection entitled "Hustle 76"* that I ordered through a TV commerical. I was 10 years old and raked leaves from every house on my block to earn the $4.99 + S&H. My Mom kept warning me it wasn't going to be the 'original artists' - but if I earned the cash, she'd write the check. I had no idea what the term 'original artists' meant, until I heard the fuckin thing.

*Believe it or not, someone is trying to sell one on e-Bay (http://cgi.ebay.com/HUSTLE-76-KILLER-DISCO-COVERS-LP_W0QQitemZ4786621973QQcategoryZ306QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem).

Hugh Jass
11-04-2005, 07:07 PM
A rip off avoided: Around 8 years old, in an Avengers comic book, I remember seeing an ad for a hovercraft. It took me several weeks to accumulate the 4.99. I wasn't even aware that there was P&H. I was old enough to be aware that there COULD be something fishy about it, but studying the ad didn't reveal any info. So, I had put together my money and went to fill out the little form. I looked at the ad again. It said the hovercraft was 18" long. Wait a second, I thought. 18 feet long? That doesn't seem right. For $5? After asking my stepdad what the difference is between the ' and the " I realized I had avoided a major disaster.

Looking back now, for those few weeks of saving my money, the amount of time I spent daydreaming about freaking everyone out, and imagining the look of the other kids as I cruised by in my hovercraft, going to school in my hovercraft, was definitely worth $5 to me.

I probably spent that $5 on candy.

Khadaji
11-04-2005, 07:12 PM
I bought a "remote controlled vampire bat" from the back of Boy's Life. It was a rubber bat on a string. I was crushed.

Harmonious Discord
11-04-2005, 07:18 PM
I'm the proud owner of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" nary a Beetle on it. It was a dollar when I bought it as a naive kid.

I always wanted one of the hot air balloons. I pictured myself taking off and exploring.

eleanorigby
11-04-2005, 07:34 PM
And the sea monkeys! I always wanted sea monkeys--as advertised in the back of Boy's Life and Popular Science.

And the amazing muscle machine (looked like a stick with two rubber bands attached to the ends).....never had the money to scrape up for any of it.

I did so want to draw the bunny or pirate and go to art school be correspondence, though.


:)

blondebear
11-04-2005, 08:29 PM
There was a comedy bit, I think, where someone bought some X-Ray Specs, and everything he looked at had a bone in it...

And hey, you can get all the free Sea Monkeys you want at Mono/Great Salt Lakes...

Harmonious Discord
11-04-2005, 10:50 PM
And the sea monkeys! I always wanted sea monkeys--as advertised in the back of Boy's Life and Popular Science.

And the amazing muscle machine (looked like a stick with two rubber bands attached to the ends).....never had the money to scrape up for any of it.

I did so want to draw the bunny or pirate and go to art school be correspondence, though.


:)

They've been advertising for the art school for the last two months on television, so you can still get that degree in cartoonology.

Zebra
11-04-2005, 11:00 PM
I never got anything but I really wanted that 1001 army men set with all those tanks and battleships and such.

Later in life someone told me that they were tiny shreds of paper with little squiggles on them.

soulmurk
11-04-2005, 11:31 PM
I remember ordering in the early 80's from the back of a comic book. For the life of me I can't remember what it was supposed to be, but I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and it had to be legit because they were offering it in a small ad buried in the back of my most favorite comic book (somehow it made sense back then).

My mother tried to warn me against it, but decided on letting me find out on my own. I scrounged for weeks, and then waited another 6-8 for delivery and finally got my large eyeball balloon with plastic streamers that did nothing and popped within a week.

My favorite comic book still bears the page missing the tiny ad I had to cut out and send with payment... a lasting reminder of my naivete and shame.

DocCathode
11-05-2005, 12:54 AM
I disagree.

I call one of my favorite shops (the Magic Fun shop, 4455 Frankford Ave) "The store of everything you could order from the back of comic books". I've bought hypnodisks, spark rings, flashpaper, puzzles, magic light bulbs etc.

And the two-man sub ad (and the amazing 6 foot robot ad) clearly said they were ads for plans. It being the sixties, I think the average boy would have been able to scrounge up the necessary plywood, nails, and power tools. Also, Sea Monkeys are cool.

Mr. Miskatonic
11-05-2005, 08:04 AM
A kids magazine, actually it was The Electric Company's magazine (yes, The Electric Company had a magazine! Deal with it!) did a bit where they ordered all the stuff from the back of the comic book page. They then reviewed it. Verdict: damn near everything sucked.

X-ray specs: just had an image of a skeletal hand.
Dollar making machine: You had to put the dollar in first
Book Safe: Worked, but was cheesy plastic.

Enright3
11-05-2005, 09:58 AM
What a great thread! The two items I remember ordering were the "skin cap wig" so that I could make myself look bald! and a self taught Karate lessons. I had more fun with the karate lessons WAITING FOR THEM TO ARRIVE as I walked all around town going "Heeee Ya!" and faking kicks and chops. When it arrived it was basically asking for more money for the actual lessons. I was pissed. The skin cap wig was basically like a flesh colored balloon cut in half with two flaps to cover your sideburns.

~sigh~

Push You Down
11-05-2005, 10:07 AM
Anyone remember the two man sub episode of "Get a Life" with Chris Elliot? Great episode.

Back i nthe late 80s a comedian did a special on HBO or MAYBE COmedy Central where the plot was that he had ordered something from one those companies and had never got it. So he went to track down the company. I think it was Dana Gould, but I am not sure.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
11-05-2005, 10:16 AM
And some of the ads had addresses for ordering monkeys in the US mail. That's come up a couple of times on the boards.

Idlewild
11-05-2005, 11:33 AM
We got US editions of comics where I grew up in Australia when I was a kid - so all the ads were basically impossible for me to order from, thus saving heartache I suppose. BUT I had a total fixation on twinkies and hostess fruit pies. And now I have been *forbidden* from eating them now I live in the states, because apparently the rapturous picture of just how wonderfully delicious (especially the cherry pie) they must be from the ads wasn't quite, ahem, accurate.

Otto
11-05-2005, 11:57 AM
I bought the hovercraft...

It was kinda OK for a while. Plastic shell with a fan, attached to the controller by a couple of feet of stiff cording. Entertaining enough for a 12 year old.

The "Thousand Magnets" set was very disappointing, though. Sheets of magnetic material similar to those ones to turn your photos into fridge magnets, but thicker, no adhesive backing and scored with a rectangular pattern. The idea was to break apart the sheets along the score marks and you would have...a thousand magnets! That were each maybe 1/4" by 1/8" and completely useless for anything.

Johnny L.A.
11-05-2005, 11:58 AM
The skin cap wig was basically like a flesh colored balloon cut in half with two flaps to cover your sideburns.
To be fair, that's what they are. I was invited to a party once, where the invitation said 'Wear something unusual on your head.' So I went to a novelty shop and bought a 'skinhead wig'. A friend helped me put it on with some spirit gum and make-up. It looked fairly convincing. Then for 'something unusual on my head' I put the liner from an SPH-4 helicopter helmet on my head as a hat.

I have some make-up books that detail how to make one of these out of latex, but I've never made my own. Looks like the novelty shop item, anyway.

I tried X-Ray Specs once. They belonged to someone else. I wish I had a pair now. I think they're funny.

I had Sea Monkeys, but I wasn't impressed. I don't remember whether I got them out of a comic book, or if dad picked them up somewhere.

I was in San Diego when I was a kid. Dad was an avid water skiier. I loved the ocean. I watched The Undersea World Of Jacques Cousteau all the time. I loved Sea World and The Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I really wanted that DIY submarine! Couldn't afford it though. I couldn't figure out how it could be so inexpensive (even if I couldn't afford it) and still work. Man, I wanted it though! (I've seen DIY subs on The Science Channel. I'd still like to have one. A real, functional one, of course!)

I always wanted the huge army man sets. I used to paint my army men. Fleshtone skin, camouflage uniforms, brown and black guns. Then I'd set them up and shoot them with rubber bands. I'd build little villages out of scraps of wood, and use a scrap of wood as a lever. The came was to throw a rock at the lever and 'blow up' the hut. Then I discovered candles and flammable aerosol... :D

But aside from the possible exception of the Sea Monkeys, I didn't order stuff from comic books. I did get a Beatles battery-powered Yellow Submarine for a cereal boxtop and a dollar (I with I still had that item!). But most of the stuff I ordered came from Penrose, Colorado. I lived for seeing that brown UPS truck arrive with my Estes model rockets! :)

DocCathode
11-05-2005, 02:58 PM
X-ray specs: just had an image of a skeletal hand.

That's strange. Most X-ray specs had lenses that created two overlapping shadows around any object. The shadows overlapped inside the object, creating the illusion you could see inside it.

Dollar making machine: You had to put the dollar in first

I still have a dollar making machine. If your audience is children age seven and under, or if you're gifted at sleight of hand, it's still a great item. I inherited the machine from my Bubby. I shall take it with me on my next visit to the family to share with my five-year-old niece.

Re Hovercrafts

Another ad for plans was a hovercraft powered by old vacuum cleaner parts. Mythbusters worked on one of these and found it worked. Vacuum cleaners+plywood+tarp+duct tape=hovercraft that rode several inches off of the ground.

Re Submarines

I have about twenty thousand comic books. If necessary, I an find and scan the ads. I am positive I have never seen an ad for a two man functional sub. The ads were plans for building a play sub large enough for you and a friend. It sat on the floor of the den. But, the amazing light up display, and the incredible working parascope created the illusion that you were exploring the remarkable ocean depths, or bravely fighting evil Nazis or Godless commies.

Same deal with the robot. The ads clearly show a boy inside a homemade robot, having fun and shocking all his friends.

Re Bald Caps

Unless you're dealing with a professional level prop company, that's what bald caps are. Even professional level stage bald caps are pretty crappy looking without theatre lights and a touch of make up.

Re 1000 Magnets

Couldn't you at least build a three dimensional dog with them as shown in the ads?

Harmonious Discord
11-05-2005, 06:31 PM
I won a Halloween contest at age 3 and the prize was a plastic airport. There were at least a hundred pieces. It had about ten jets, runway markers, fuel trucks, radar tower, people, and everything one would find in a military airbase. That was a super duper deluxe prize. Woho!

Sam Stone
11-06-2005, 12:37 AM
Wasm't there also a real working tank? That and the sub were around the same price - something like ten bucks.

I always assumed it was basically a cardboard box that you build with interlocking tabs or something, with maybe a $2 plastic periscope for verisimilitude.

Phnord Prephect
11-06-2005, 01:26 AM
Well, I actually BOUGHT it at DisneyWorld, but I'd seen it in comic book ads for years before...

"Smoke from your Fingers!" Amaze your friends when you snap your fingers and REAL SMOKE poofs out in front of them! Or something along those lines.

It was a tube of clearish whiteish goop, which you smeared on your fingers. You were supposed to kind of snap, and the goop would string out between your fingers and float on the air and look like smoke.

But of course it didn't, and it didn't. All it did was make your fingertips all sticky and gross.

Then again, I was like 8, so they were probably pretty sticky and gross anyway.

pkbites
11-06-2005, 02:02 AM
I was born in '60. I must have bought about 80% of the crap sold in Comic Books. The X-ray specs I got had a feather in them, and if you looked at your hand up to a light it looked like you could see your bones.

I remember what a pisser it was getting the "log cabin" table cloth. My brother & I sat under that table and laughed and laughed. Come to think of it, that wasn't a pisser at all. That's a great memory! ;)

"Smoke from your Fingers!" Amaze your friends when you snap your fingers and REAL SMOKE poofs out in front of them! Or something along those lines.
But of course it didn't, and it didn't. All it did was make your fingertips all sticky and gross.

You didn't do it right then. I had that stuff. It was one of the very few things that actually did what the ad said it would do. The key was to put enough, but not too much on your fingers. Too much & it just globbed up your meat hooks. You had to rub hard and get it hot.....good and hot. Then SNAP! The puff of "smoke" would poof out. It was quite impressive when done correctly. I even won a prize in the 6th grade talent contest using that stuff!!

Jonathan Chance
11-06-2005, 07:08 AM
I never got anything but I really wanted that 1001 army men set with all those tanks and battleships and such.

Later in life someone told me that they were tiny shreds of paper with little squiggles on them.

Man, did you miss out.

That's the one thing I actually ever ordered from my comic books. And I had so much fun with it I could still puke about it.

They were cheap plastic, it's true (not paper with squiggles, though!). But they came in a cardboard footlocker and there was a zillion of them. I never counted so I don't know whether I got the full 1001 but I'll tell you it was enough for me at age 7 or 8 (1974 or 1975) to play with that whole summer in the playground.

I feel for you.

eleanorigby
11-06-2005, 07:23 AM
And wasn't there something where you could grow stalagmites and stalactites?

I remember a fishbowl and some drippy yellow, red and blue stuff growing minerals or whatever......that was in the back of either Richie Rich or Superman.


<sigh>

Good times, indeed.

Mr. Miskatonic
11-06-2005, 07:54 AM
Well, I actually BOUGHT it at DisneyWorld, but I'd seen it in comic book ads for years before...

"Smoke from your Fingers!" Amaze your friends when you snap your fingers and REAL SMOKE poofs out in front of them! Or something along those lines.

It was a tube of clearish whiteish goop, which you smeared on your fingers. You were supposed to kind of snap, and the goop would string out between your fingers and float on the air and look like smoke.

But of course it didn't, and it didn't. All it did was make your fingertips all sticky and gross.

Then again, I was like 8, so they were probably pretty sticky and gross anyway.

I learned early on that if you burn the striking portion of a book of matches, the goop left over after it is done burning would actually smoke. That was cool, and cheap, and incredibly messy.

Khadaji
11-06-2005, 08:04 AM
And wasn't there something where you could grow stalagmites and stalactites?

I remember a fishbowl and some drippy yellow, red and blue stuff growing minerals or whatever......that was in the back of either Richie Rich or Superman.


<sigh>

Good times, indeed.
We had those. I thought it was pretty cool. (OK, only for the first day or so, then it got boring...)

pkbites
11-06-2005, 01:46 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra
I never got anything but I really wanted that 1001 army men set with all those tanks and battleships.

Man, did you miss out.
That's the one thing I actually ever ordered from my comic books. And I had so much fun with it I could still puke about it.
I feel for you.


WE had the 1001 cowboy & indian set, which came with cardboard fort and plastic tee-pees. My cousins had an army man set (not sure if it was the 1001 piece set sold in the comics.) At the time a show was on TV called Time Tunnel (http://www.tvparty.com/tunnel.html). We would pretend the army went back in time to help the cowboys wipe out the indians. We had these guns that shot little discs sort of like THIS (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://akron-novelty.net/ProdImages/00332TracerDiscGun.jpg&imgrefurl=http://akron-novelty.net/scripts/prodView.asp%3Fidproduct%3D1469&h=275&w=275&sz=14&tbnid=qkt_3HDtSnUJ:&tbnh=109&tbnw=109&hl=en&start=5&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dtoy%2Bdisc%2Bgun%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official_s%26sa%3DN)
only made better. We found out the gun would shoot pennies just fine! We played with these from morning 'till supper!

Sam Stone
11-06-2005, 03:19 PM
Man, did you miss out.

That's the one thing I actually ever ordered from my comic books. And I had so much fun with it I could still puke about it.

They were cheap plastic, it's true (not paper with squiggles, though!). But they came in a cardboard footlocker and there was a zillion of them. I never counted so I don't know whether I got the full 1001 but I'll tell you it was enough for me at age 7 or 8 (1974 or 1975) to play with that whole summer in the playground.

I feel for you.

I LOVED the army man set. My brother and I would each take half of them, then sit on the kitchen floor about 10 feet from each other. We'd set up our men in 'formations', then roll marbles at each other's men, trying to knock them down. The person with the last soldier standing won.

I also liked the Sea Monkeys. I liked them even more as an adult, actually, because they are campy and manual that comes with them is hysterical. "Sea monkeys are no dream, but they ARE a 'dream pet'"

We just went through a batch of Sea Monkeys last year. Complete with the little plastic aquarium with magnifying dots and light. But be careful - you should never trust a species that gets its young through the mail.

DMark
11-06-2005, 03:53 PM
I loved the ads in the back of the comic books.

I once ordered some "full color photo" of some singing group for 10 cents plus postage. The photo came and it was a black and white photo of the four guys. My older brother laughed and said, "I thought it was supposed to be a color photo" and I said, "it is. They are just wearing black and white clothes."

I have mentioned here before, but I also sent in a coupon to sell Christmas cards and earn prizes. It was the best use of postage I ever made! Back then, it was considered pretty special to have your name printed in the cards and I sold boxes and boxes and boxes. I got great prizes - a B&W television for my bedroom, a tape recorder (back when they still used reel to reel tapes!) and sometimes I would just opt for the cash. That company just loved me to death. I think when I was in my late 20's and living in Germany, my mother told me they were STILL sending me the catalog to go sell Christmas cards!

I can't find it now, but there is a website that has all of those great ads scanned from old comics and you can see everything you guys have mentioned...from the submarine to the log cabin to the 1001 army figures.

DMark
11-06-2005, 03:57 PM
I found the link to the comic book ads!

Take a stroll down memory lane here (http://www.tomheroes.com/Comic%20Ads/comicads.htm)!

Sam Stone
11-06-2005, 04:10 PM
Thanks for the link!

Here's the famous Polaris Nuclear Sub (http://www.tomheroes.com/Comic%20Ads/classic%20ads/Polaris%20Sub.htm). Only $6.98!

They clearly state that you're getting the actual sub, not just plans. "Sturdily constructed of 200lb test material." "Because of the Polaris Sub's GIANT SIZE, we must ask 75c for shipping charges!"

Complete with rockets that fire, electrically lit instrument panel, torpedoes that work, a real periscope, and controls that really work.

I'd love to see what you actually got if you bought this.

Here's another comic book ad site: www.getafreemonkey.com (http://www.getafreemonkey.com/index.html)

DMark
11-06-2005, 04:15 PM
BTW - printing out a full color copy of one of the ads and framing it makes a great, cheap gift for someone! I also use the Rasterbator program and made a six frame montage of the Charles Atlas ad.

sleeepy2
11-06-2005, 04:21 PM
I was the dumbass kid who loaded an envelope with nickels and dimes and sent it off for the x-ray specs. About a month later I got the envelope back in the mail, torn, empty, dirty, with a footprint on it. I was devastated. Someone somewhere earned a bunch of bad JuJu ripping off a dumb kid.

I think I would have killed someone for the gorilla suit they used to advertise in the comics. I don't know what the hell I planned on doing with it, I just knew I needed it to complete my hollow existence. Never did get it, though.

Larry Mudd
11-06-2005, 07:36 PM
And the two-man sub ad (and the amazing 6 foot robot ad) clearly said they were ads for plans. It being the sixties, I think the average boy would have been able to scrounge up the necessary plywood, nails, and power tools.I remember, circa 1979, ads in various sci-fi fandom magazines for "Working laser gun blueprints." I've often wondered if they were pure fantasy or if they simply emitted (non-coherant) light. The coolest thing about the (reduced to illegible) plans that were pictured was the Flash Gordonish housing for the electronics. I wonder how many kids had the means to machine or mold that? :D

Also, Battlestar Galactica Colonial Pilot jackets. I really wanted one of those, but they were too expensive. Then I saw one -- they looked too cheap and crappy to make a good Halloween costume -- but were marketed (and priced) as the real deal. I would have been so choked.

I got a giant Frankenstein monster from a comic book -- anticipating scaring the bejesus out of my friends. It was a big balloon with a single-colour print of the monster on it. Bummer.

Odinoneeye
11-06-2005, 07:40 PM
I bought Sea Monkeys.

They were cool.

Lived for over a year (not each one, but the colony).

Actually, I thought they were all dead and didn't touch them for a couple months until my mom mentioend them and showed me they were still alive!!!!

We finally fed the last 4 to my brother's fish tank.

(by the way, I knew before ordering them that they were brine shrimp and did not look like little people)

levdrakon
11-06-2005, 08:27 PM
I diid Sea Monkeys, but never got them to hatch.

Did the Magic Grow Rocks. Those work, and are kinda cool.

Selling seeds! I loved that one. Didn't sell very many. I had lots of fun trying to grow all that stuff myself though.

Harmonious Discord
11-06-2005, 08:59 PM
The one cent kids seed packet from Gurney Seed Company was fun. You got all sorts of flowers and vegetables you hadn't seen before.

CalMeacham
11-07-2005, 08:25 AM
Never got any of that stuff. I could see what a rip-off most of it was, even as a kid (I think Mad Magazine helped cultivate my cynical outlook). My favorite of the stupid adfs was the "Werewolf Whistle" sold by Captain Company in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine -- it was so obviously a cheap siren whistle, and they were trying so hard to tie it in to monsters, somerhow. I almost felt sorry for them.

One of the few things I did try was the Famous Artists School. A guy much older than me on the next block was an unbelievably good artist, and he'd tried it. They sent a guy out to interview him. So I tried it. They sent a guy out to interview me.


Now, I certainly wasn't modest as a kid, and I thought I was a fair artist. But when they sent a guy to interview me -- who clearly wasn't in the same league as that other guy -- even my sense of reality had to kick in. They'll take anybody who responds, I realized. And had nothing more to do with them.

Mirasol
11-07-2005, 12:11 PM
I had a pair of X-ray glasses (http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c400/MirasolS/0b0d263b.jpg) sitting around, so I thought I'd show the effect. Well, technically, these are glasses that make little snowflakes appear around Christmas tree lights, but they do the same thing as some X-ray glasses I sent away for as a kid (from a cereal box, though, not a comic book). The actual effect is a little more impressive in person, but this is the best I could get taping the glasses to the front of my digital camera. You can get an idea of how the illusion works, though.

A downy feather on the lens (http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c400/MirasolS/c4d3142e.jpg) (compliments of the cockatiel in the photo) has a similar effect, just a little blurrier.

Cub Mistress
11-07-2005, 12:18 PM
Sam Stone I believe that "200 lb test material" is code for corrugated cardboard.

Just to show you that these things have been going on forever: One of my father-in-law's chores as a kid was picking and killing potato bugs off the potato plants, a chore that took him hours a day in the summer. He scraped together a dime and sent away for a "Sure-Fire Potato Bug Killer." It turned out to be two small blocks of wood and the instructions to place potato bug between the blocks and press down firmly. 60 years later he was still pissed about that. I also heard about "work at home" schemes that turned out to be a single sheet of paper bearing the words "Bake pies and sell them to your neighbors." Very helpful, that.

I always wanted to send away for stuff but never did. My kids sold the Christmas cards, though. They did fairly well.

RumMunkey
11-07-2005, 12:41 PM
How 'bout an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time (http://www.flicklives.com/Glossary/red_ryder/Monty.JPG)? :D

Hampshire
11-07-2005, 01:08 PM
When I was in college my friend got his hands on a couple pairs of those X-Ray Specs. They were cheap plastic frames and the lenses were cardboard with a red/white spiral on them with a little hole in the middle.
We would go to the bar, put them on and pretend that we could see through girls clothes. All with the exaggerated "Wow, OMG! These are awesome."

You wouldn't believe how many girls tried to hide from our view and how many guys would beg "Let me try em, let me try em!" All persuaded by our excellent acting skills.

Ah, good times.

Plynck
11-07-2005, 03:09 PM
How 'bout an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time (http://www.flicklives.com/Glossary/red_ryder/Monty.JPG)? :DYou'll put out your eye. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085334/)

Infovore
11-07-2005, 03:22 PM
I ordered one of these (http://www.getafreemonkey.com/ghost.html) when I was a little kid. It turned out to be a balloon with a face, a white plastic garbage bag, and a length of fishing line that you were supposed to string up in a doorframe. You hid off to the side and pulled up and down on the fishing line to make the ghost move.

Very disappointing. I don't think I ever ordered anything else from a comic book after that.

I do remember being quite indignant, though, about the old "Grit" ads, whose application for salesmen clearly asked, "Are you a boy?" I was very tempted to lie just to see if they caught me, but then it would mean that if they didn't catch me, I'd have to sell "Grit." No, thanks.

Scott Plaid
11-07-2005, 03:44 PM
How 'bout an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time (http://www.flicklives.com/Glossary/red_ryder/Monty.JPG)? :DYou know, you can still buy one of those (http://www.airgunsbbguns.com/Red_Ryder_1938_Daisy_p/day1938.htm) at just about any Royal Farms store.

Lumpy
11-07-2005, 05:59 PM
The porn comic Cherry Poptart by Larry Welz had in issue #2 a hilarious parody of the comic book ads. Items such as the "Disintegrator Ray Blaster" ('turn your friends into smoldering piles of ash! Plutonium not included"); "Home Lobotomy Kit; the "Jackpot" ("this is the pot that all the guys down at the warehouse jack off into"); jalepino douche (when garlic gum isn't cruel enough); the Dispair Buzzer; and more!

Scott Plaid
11-07-2005, 06:55 PM
You know, you can still buy one of those (http://www.airgunsbbguns.com/Red_Ryder_1938_Daisy_p/day1938.htm) at just about any Royal Farms store In Pennsylvania.is what I meant to say. :smack:

LiveOnAPlane
11-07-2005, 07:08 PM
I never had the pleasure of wasting my money on these, but they sure were fascinating and full of possibilities to an 8-year old!

My story concerns the X-ray glasses. What a friggin' concept. I talked to my dad about this; he looked the ad over and said, "I don't think so."

But instead of just nixing it, he sent me down the street to a guy who had an electronic/TV repair/general fixit shop. Well, he didn't know much about X-rays either, but he took me to see his sister, I think, who worked at the hospital. She hooked me up with an X-ray tech who proceded to give me a tour and explain how X-rays and X-ray machines worked.

Seems you needed to have something receptive on the OTHER side of the beam, not in front of it, and also you needed an X-ray emmitter, which pretty much trashed my ideas and youthful notions as far as these stupid glasses went. Seemed the only thing close to what was being advertised was a flouroscope which was used in some shoe shops, and it required a lot of equipment...she also told me that it was NOT a good idea to be messing with these. I think this was before the warnings on overexposure to X-rays was popular...it was around 1957 or 1958. (kinda prophetic, that one)

Andyway, I came away with not ony an appreciation of how bogus comic books ads were, but I also realized that Superman's famed X-ray vision was a pile of crap as well. Guess that may have been the start of of my having a jaundiced eye for overblown ads and claims, who knows?

I do have to say that it was one hell of a trip for an 8-year old and I have never, never forgotten that lesson.

Ghanima
11-07-2005, 07:39 PM
My first pre-teen taste of cynicism came when I filled out a form and sent 50 cents to the publishers of Sweet Valley High to get a bunch of cool stuff (posters and stickers and some other stuff). I waited weeks and weeks and no neat stuff ever arrived. All that ever happened was I ended up on their mailing list. Thus began my career as a bitter cynical child.

Don't worry though, I'm in therapy now and doing better. ;)

BwanaBob
11-08-2005, 09:41 AM
A weird adult version of this theme:

In college, my roommate and I saw an ad in the back of Penthouse offering a "sex formula" and rubber penis for $2. We figured the rubber penis could be used in numerous pranks, and the formula was a bonus.

Well the formula was not "chemical" but a list of nice things to do for women in order to make sex more likely. The rubber penis was about 3/4 inch long, but had a hole in the end and could substitute for a pencil eraser.

We should have known.

sleeepy2
11-09-2005, 03:58 PM
One quality item advertised in comic books I have to give props to is the classic Whoopee Cusion. Simple, inexpensive, and works exactly as advertised. My brother and I probably got every member of our extended family with one of these babies hidden under a seat cushion. I gave one to my niece when she was around eight, and she and her friends loved it.

YellowTail
11-09-2005, 07:07 PM
When I was about 6 or so, I sent away for play money. The ad showed a big bag with a dollar sign on it, stuffed with coins and stacks of bills with the paper bands holding them together. I thought it would be such a great prop for playing cops and robbers and stuff. When I got it, it was a single, one million dollar bill, printed on only one side. What a gip.

Tuckerfan
11-09-2005, 08:03 PM
I remember, circa 1979, ads in various sci-fi fandom magazines for "Working laser gun blueprints." I've often wondered if they were pure fantasy or if they simply emitted (non-coherant) light. The coolest thing about the (reduced to illegible) plans that were pictured was the Flash Gordonish housing for the electronics. I wonder how many kids had the means to machine or mold that? :DThat would probably be these guys. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/gate/archive/2005/11/03/dip.DTL&o=9) A friend of mine bought the book that had their collected plans. Most of them were (surprise!) crap.

Mr. Blue Sky
11-09-2005, 08:18 PM
That would probably be these guys. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/gate/archive/2005/11/03/dip.DTL&o=9) A friend of mine bought the book that had their collected plans. Most of them were (surprise!) crap.


Your link goes to my link about the wooden Mercedes.

Tuckerfan
11-09-2005, 08:20 PM
Your link goes to my link about the wooden Mercedes.
Bizarre. Here's the right one. I swear! (http://www.amazing1.com/)

DocCathode
11-09-2005, 08:27 PM
That would probably be these guys. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/gate/archive/2005/11/03/dip.DTL&o=9) A friend of mine bought the book that had their collected plans. Most of them were (surprise!) crap.

Ah, a skim of the site makes it clear we've moved from ads in the back of comics to ads in the back of Popular Mechanics/ Popular Science.

SleepyDuck
11-09-2005, 10:52 PM
One of the few things I did try was the Famous Artists School. A guy much older than me on the next block was an unbelievably good artist, and he'd tried it. They sent a guy out to interview him. So I tried it. They sent a guy out to interview me.


Criminy, they actually send someone to your house? Is that cost efficient? I always assumed they would send you a form letter -- "You have great talent and potential, but if you buy our lessons, yada yada yada..."

Jophiel
11-09-2005, 11:07 PM
Criminy, they actually send someone to your house? Is that cost efficient? I always assumed they would send you a form letter -- "You have great talent and potential, but if you buy our lessons, yada yada yada..."
When I was a wee tyke, I too drew Tippy the Turtle and announced to my mother my intentions on mailing it in and beginning my artistic career. She told me those ads were around when she was a little girl and she had filled one out. A man came to her home to give his sales pitch and my grandparents were not happy campers about it.

So I don't know if they still send a guy around but they did back in the day, at least.