Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mmmmmm -- Marvel Pasta!

In the mid-1990s, Marvel's promotional machine was in full swing, slapping the Marvel name on commercial products such as food and clothing as well as including Marvel merchandise with your purchase for an additional price. It was an all-out marketing blitz that, if you didn't know better, almost made you wonder who was back minding the Bullpen and producing the actual comics.

The X-Men, at the time extremely popular, featured prominently in many of these promotions. The first X-Men film would premiere in just about five years, but there was no need to wait to capitalize on the team's exposure--and the few products you'll see here give every indication that the X-Men promotional net was cast wide:

Phone cards! X-gear! Video packs! And just the tip of the X-iceberg. With hand-held mobile phones becoming popular, the phone cards were hot on their heels. You could either use the card time ($10 for 20 minutes) to make personal calls, or you could call a Marvel number to play virtual games featuring Marvel characters. ("Press 5 to fire Cyclops' optic blast!" I guess?) With your pizza at Pizza Hut, you could pop an extra $5 for a video pack that gave you an episode from the Fox animated series, including trading cards, a comic, a poster, and a 5-minute roundtable discussion with Stan Lee, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, and Bob Harras.

I never did spot any of the "mutant gear" anywhere, though maybe it just wasn't stocked in many stores. It looks like the X-gear gives you X-attitude, doesn't it? I just settled for two or three cool X-Men T-shirts bought at local comics shops, and I didn't even need an ad to get me interested in them.

Both the X-Men and Spider-Man also invaded the pasta world:

"So hot it's practically radioactive!" Now that's clever marketing. "The X-Men have been canned!" Not so much.

The X-Men have been canned?

Finally, the OverPower Card Game:

I'm not sure how you play the OverPower Card Game--it seems to be sort of a D&D concept using comics characters. Here's a YouTube video that tells you just about everything you'd want to know about it (have patience, it's a long intro):

This guy's explanation was OverWhelming. I'm going to stick to Uno.

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