Comics : Marvel Super Heroes: Ultimate Sticker Activity Pad #18603 (Artistic Studios)
This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color
This review was first published on: Jul 2015.
Artistic Studios seem to have acquired a licence to produce a few Marvel products. This one from 2013 is a giant-sized activity pad. Spider-Man features prominently.
Marvel Super Heroes: Ultimate Sticker Activity Pad #18603 (Artistic Studios)
Year 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Giant Sticker & Activity Pad (Spider-Man Appears)
The product is large — a massive 14" x 10.3". It is top-bound with a thick cardboard backing, which needs to contribute much of the bulk, since inside you will find are a relatively meagre 25 pages. Specifically:
- 7 Sticker Sheets (over 1000 stickers)
- 12 Interactive Play Scenes
- 6 "Design Pages"
Let's tackle these in order. There are indeed over 1000 stickers. But as you can imagine, to fit them all on seven pages, some compromise has to be made in terms of size. Specifically, there's one sheet of "letter and number" stickers. Each sticker features a single letter or number, and each is roughly 1/3 of an inch by 1/3 of an inch. There's about 800 of those tiny stickers crammed onto that single page.
So clearly, somebody put a moment's thought into how to get the sticker count up nice and high. If only they had put equal thought into choosing the letters. There are nearly the same number of letter "Q" as there are letter "E". So good luck making a sentence when all the vowels have run out!
Additionally, there are two sticker sheets which feature individual characters (or small groups). The remaining four sheets feature Marvel character logos, and clipped/zoomed shots of characters in a coloured rectangular background. We'll come back to them. But let's move on to the "Interactive Play Scenes".
There are twelve scenes, on glossy paper. The scenes are rather pretty, with great variety. There's the usual city scenes, but these are augmented with backgrounds depicting outer space (with a space rainbow of course), as well as fields, mountains, Arctic scenes, and more.
But wait, we're not done yet. There are six "Design Pages". Which is to say, mostly blank pages, all with the same identical printed color borders featuring Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America.
Taken individually, the components aren't too bad. The stickers are bright and shiny. The background scenes are varied and attractive. But the problem comes when you go to put the stickers on the page. The rectangular background panels on many of the stickers look completely unnatural when placed against a scene, and the characters on the stickers are ridiculously small in proportion to the scenes.
The result is somewhat ludicrous! You're going to need a fantastic imagination to see a raging battle from these tiny little stickers wedged on these giant backgrounds. Well, maybe that's a good thing. "This toy will stretch the limits of your child's imagination!"
Heh. Maybe I should be in marketing.
Amazon sells this pad for $10, although you can pick it up for half that price in other places. And if you paid $5 for it, you probably wouldn't think it was particularly over-priced.
But on the negative side, the claim to "1000 stickers" is a bit of a scam, since most of those are laughably small. Also to consider, there's also the rather disappointing mismatch between the stickers and the scenes.
There's a couple of other things that disappointed me too. Some of the catch-phrases printed on the stickers weren't very authentic. When I see things like "FREEDOM FIGHTER", "POW!" and "SMACK!" on stickers, it's a pretty reliable indicator that the designer didn't really know much (or care much) about what makes Marvel, Marvel. Plus, the book wasn't very accurately square. That may seem like a petty complaint, but it tends to be an indicator of cost-saving in the manufacturing process.
Big isn't always better. Two Webs.