Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man: Fun On The Run (Disney Store)
This review was first published on: 19 Nov 2016.
Passing through Hong Kong airport recently (as we all do from time-to-time), I naturally poked my head into the HK Airport Disney Store, where I noticed a couple of Spider-Man Activity packs that I hadn't seen before. Both of them appear to be exclusive to the Disney Store.
This first was Ultimate Spider-Man Activity Book (Disney Store), and this is the second. There's no title on the product itself, but the accompanying price and product information tag dangling off the book identifies it as "Ultimate Spider-Man Fun on the Run".
Ultimate Spider-Man: Fun On The Run (Disney Store)
Year 2016 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man Activity Book with Carry Handle
This book has thick cardboard front and back boards, and is held together via a plastic spiral binding on the left hand side. The boards are 8.5" wide and are 10" tall at the highest point (i.e. the top of the carrying handle). The whole book is at least one inch thick, or one and a half if you measure the spiral binding.
Note that the book is not rectangular. The top edge of the carrying handle is not parallel to the bottom edge of the book, it's slightly off-angle.
Before we get to the contents, I first need to mention the couple of tricky things in the front cover itself. Firstly the yellow "webbing" background behind Spider-Man on the front cover actually rotates, you just need to move it by pushing the "cogs" that poke out at the top. Also, the red Spider-Man logo at the bottom right is actually on a sliding cardboard strip, that you can pull out or push back in to change between three different logos. Of course the pull-out tab is vulnerable and very easily damaged.
With that out of the way, let's open up the book. First up is a plastic insert holding some drawing materials.
- A pencil.
- A pencil sharpener.
- A pencil eraser.
- Six Crayons (Black, Purple, Dark Blue, Orange, Green).
- Six Felt-Tip Markers (Green, Blue, Red, Brown, Orange, and ... another Orange).
Orange and Orange? What The ... Family Friendly Fruitcake is THAT about? Admittedly, there does appear to be a subtle difference between the two shades. One might be peach, and the other a mid-amber perhaps, or a light-pumpkin? But in either case... just what exactly is coloured ORANGE in an illustration of Spider-Man swinging through New York? Just exactly how many amber traffic lights are we expecting to draw?
Moving on. There's two sheets of stickers. Then fifteen single-sided coloring sheets with line drawings of Spider-Man against a city-scape. Then three fold-out double-sheets featuring city-scapes but no Spider-Man. The next natural step in the progression is ten blank sheets of paper.
It makes me mad to purchase a Coloring & Activity product and then find blank sheets of paper inside. How lazy do you have to be to publish this stuff? What kind of thinking is going on here?
EDITOR: "Well team, we own the rights to produce coloring books of one of the most iconic and valuable characters in the history of popular culture. How can we best leverage that?"
DESIGNER: "How about we make half the pages blank, then?"
EDITOR: "I love that idea, let's make it happen!"
Is it unreasonable to expect that a Spider-Man product should contain pictures of Spider-Man? And for that matter, how about some of his greatest foes? It's all very well to include Green and Purple crayons. But if there's no pictures of the Green Goblin, Hulk, or Mysterio... then that's all pretty pointless!
I like a good gimmick as much as the next guy. But the rotating wheel on the front is pretty pointless, and the sliding logo is just something fragile to get damaged.
Inside... these books just... aren't Spider-Man. Sure, there's 15 line drawings of Spider-Man. But he's not actually doing anything. There's no puzzles or word games. There's no enemies or friends. No battles. No heroics. There's just a series of reproductions of the registered likeness of Spider-Ma™, each slightly different from the previous in no significant fashion.
This is Spider-Man Lite, interpreted by people who don't understand nor care what he truly stands for.