Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man: Color Wonder (Crayola)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color

This review was first published on: Jul 2015.

Background...

Crayola's Color Wonder system made its public debut in 1993, and they now have a wide range of products using this patented technology. This is a small-sized standalone pad.

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man: Color Wonder (Crayola)
Year 2012 : SM Title
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The foil-wrapped pack contains a 15 page 5" x 7" coloring pad with steel spiral-binding at the top. In accordance with the "Ultimate Spider-Man" branding, it features artwork from the popular Ultimate Spider-Man TV (2012) cartoon series. Most pictures feature Spider-Man alone. Doctor Octopus appears twice, and so does the Spider-Bike.

The three "Color Wonder" pens included with the pack are special clear chemical applicators which by themselves do not leave any color trace. But when applied to the special paper, the picture develops color in the regions where the ink is waiting to be activated.

The advantages are clear: No risk of unruly children leaving marks around the house or on their clothes. Plus of course the child gets the satisfaction of seeing a highly accurate picture – since the color only develops exactly where the printing process has deposited the ink, every picture is perfect.

The disadvantages are equally clear: Obviously this is a luxury product, with a premium price tag. The patent means there's no competition, so nobody can come along and push down the margins with a competitive discount-rate alternative.

But there's another disadvantage that I reckon is a bit more subtle, and that is the complete and utter removal of all the creative elements associated with the activity.

All the child needs to do is smear the activating chemical in the general direction of the paper, and a perfect image develops. There's no feedback or reward for manual dexterity, or for selection of color. There's no option to add additional detail, or creatively blend color. It's a perfect analogy of modern "western" child-raising, really. Push the button and out comes the reward. Every course at kindergarten is Pavlovian Studies 101. Everyone's a winner! Well done team! You all get pizza!

In General...

Oh, there's probably no harm in an occasional "instant gratification" product for kids – just as long as it doesn't form the regular basis of their entertainment diet.

Crayola doubtless invested heavily in research to create this technology, they deserve to reap the payback. It's a nifty idea, and Crayola always offers a quality product. Everything is top-quality in these packs. Small, but nicely formed.

Overall Rating...

While I may grumble about the death of creativity in "activity products", I'm not so curmudgeonly as to deny a deserving child their occasional "treat" product.

With only 15 small (non-re-usable) pages in the pad, this isn't a cheap option at all. But if your kid deserves a special reward, this is a nice little option.

Three-and-a-half-Webs.