Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man Activity Book (Disney Store)

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This review was first published on: 12 Nov 2016.

Background...

I picked up this curious thing in Hong Kong airport, at the Disney Store. I've never felt the urge to visit the Disney Park in Hong Kong, but I have a strong affection for the Disneyland and Disney World parks in the USA which I've enjoyed more than once.

Despite their scientific approach to manufactured fun, their cynical corporate background, and their mass-market appeal, I can truly understand and appreciate what Walt was trying to achieve. Cynical as I am, I always manage to enter into the idealistic spirit of the place. And one of the things I most appreciate about the Disney Parks is that once you've paid the entry fee, so much of what is inside is free.

But they do make a fair bit of profit on food and merchandise. Since Disney purchased Marvel, this now of course means that you'll find Spider-Man books and toys for sale inside the parks and at the various affiliated "Disney Stores" around the world. Up until now, all the books I've seen for sale at the parks have equally been available at other general stores. This is the first time I've come across a product specifically marked as a "Disney Store" product.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man Activity Book (Disney Store)
Year 2016 : SM Title
Summary: Spiral-Bound activity pages with coloring pencils and 3D glasses.
Publisher:  Marvel Books
Distributor:  Disney Stores
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This thing is labelled an "Activity Book". It has cardboard front and back covers measuring 8.5 x 11", plus a large spiral-bound hinge at the top. The main body of the book is about an inch deep, but there's a full pair of 3D glasses bulging an extra inch or more out of the clear plastic bubble at the top of the book.

Inside you'll find a plastic pouch containing 8 full-sized coloured pencils (orange, burgandy, yellow, light blue, green, pink, purple, and bright red). Plus also in the pouch is a slightly smaller black marker.

There's one sheet of stickers at the front of the pad. Then follows 36 coloring sheets, 12 activity sheets (including 1 page of answers to puzzles). Finally there's 12 sheets with a red/blue grid background for you to make your own drawings.

All of the sheets inside are single-sided, and except for the stickers and the red/blue grids are entirely in black/white/grey.

There's an elastic loop which you can pull round over the bottom of the "pad" to keep it closed in transit.

In General...

The whole product feels substantial, although in fact there's actually only 48 pages of actual "content" inside.

One of the great things about shopping at any Disney store (inside or outside the park) is that everything is "quality". And indeed that sense of quality can be seen here:

  • The front and back panels are thick cardboard with a glossy coating.
  • The spiral binding at the top contains metal, not just plastic.
  • The paper is thick, with a pleasing texture.
  • The pencils are full-length and are solid.
  • The red/blue 3D Glasses are 100% plastic framed (not cardboard).

So... where the heck are the 3D pictures? I checked the whole damn thing from front to back, TWICE. And I see not a single pre-illustrated red/blue 3D image to look at. All I see are those silly red/blue lined backgrounds for you to draw your own picture.

I understand that this is an "Activity" book. And yes, it's very much in the spirit of things that the kids should draw their own Spider-Man. But I'd like to point out that (a) a self-drawn Spidey will not be 3D, and (b) neither I nor my six-year-old son can draw a Spider-Man to save ourselves.

Truly: If you stood me by the edge of a cliff and said "Draw Spider-Man or DIE!" my reply would be "Tell my wife I love her, and please delete my browser history."

Overall Rating...

I paid HK$95 for this thing (about NZ $20, or US $15). And looking at the product I'm pretty sure a good chunk of that money went towards the full-sized 3D glasses and the blister packaging that holds them in place.

So why on earth could the designers of this product not have included just half a dozen pre-drawn Spider-Man stereoscopic images for us to enjoy. Six pages, that's all I ask. You already included the glasses. You're already printing in red and blue.

I should have gotten 3D, but I got 2D. Well, we can both play at that game. Here's Two Webs right back at you, Disney!

Footnote...

Also there's no dark blue pencil included. Only a baby-blue. In a Spider-Man coloring book, this is a pretty serious oversight. Did we really need the pink? Could that not have been a nice deep blue for Spidey's costume?