Crayola is one of those quintessential brand names. Their crayons and coloring products are part of the language, a deeply ingrained part of childhood in America and elsewhere. So how come it's taken them this long to produce a Spider-Man coloring book?
As far as I'm aware, this "Marvel Super Hero Squad" tie-in from 2010 is the first Crayola product to put the webslinger into print. Let's see what kind of job they've done.
As you might expect, this is a premium product. Just yesterday I reviewed Marvel Super Hero Squad Jumbo Coloring & Activity Book (64pp, Bendon), a back-to-basics coloring book that offered 64 pages for a $1 price tag.
This "Mess Free Color Wonder" book is right down the other end of the scale. There's 18 coloring pages carrying a hefty $12 sticker. What's that about?
Well, first up, the product itself comes in a sturdy foil wrapper to bundle the contents securely. My guess would be that the foil not only protects the product, but helps stop the included felt tips from drying out prematurely. In addition, the Coloring pad is metal spiral-bound, another touch which again boosts the perceived "luxury factor" of the product.
The felt pens are special "Mess Free Color Wonder" markers. They (reputedly) leave no mark on regular paper, walls, or other surfaces. They only produce color when used in conjunction with the special paper. In fact, I'm pretty sure they only produce color when used with the designated coloring zones on each page. Draw outside the lines... and no color! Instant coloring accuracy! Great for boosting kid's self-esteem!
Spider-Man appears on the first of the 18 pictures, as befits Marvel's flagship character. Disappointingly, it's the same old pose which is recycled again-and-again on pretty much every "Marvel Super Hero Squad" coloring book. It's the same pose you see on the cover. And the bag.
Full marks to Crayola for a strongly branded product with a distinct "above the ordinary" feel to it. The "Mess Free Color Wonder" pens are a nice idea... I'm sure several millions of dollars went into the Crayola Research Department to produce a "game-changing concept in the field of pre-adolescent assisted graphically-driven learning".
On the other hand, this is hardly a cost-effective way of keeping your home spotless. Kids will draw on things, until you learn 'em otherwise. The occasional "Mess Free" coloring book isn't going to save the curtains. And with one recycled Spider-Man pose to show for your money, the SpiderFan "bang-for-buck" meter is reading rather low.
Still, it's Crayola. Let's give 'em a better-than-average rating of three point five webs.
This product is also available as an "Activity Set" for US$22 that includes some paints, and a "drawing pad". Again (reputedly) the gel paints also only color when applied to the special paper.