Comics : Spider-Man 3D Activity Kit (Neo)
This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color
This review was first published on: Nov 2011.
This the only Spider-Man book that I've seen produced by "Neo Products", but it certainly does its best to compensate for its rarity by attempting be every kind of activity book you've ever seen, all rolled into one.
Physically, the format is 8" x 10.5", with a spiral wire-bound top, with a wall-hanging hook as well. There are 20 leaves of paper, making roughly 40 pages, but the exact count is somewhat confused by the variety of the contents.
Spider-Man 3D Activity Kit (Neo)
Year 2005 : SM Title
Let's dig down page by page and reveal the various mysteries.
Firstly, there's a short 8" x 3" promotional sort of flap on the front, with the logo and some blurb.
Beneath that there's the main cover, which is a full-color card sheet with a prismatic plastic overlay which gives a sort of 3D effect. I say "sort of". What it seems to do specifically is make some parts of the picture a bit fuzzy, which kind of pushes them into the background, while other parts of the image are clearer, giving the effect that they sit more in the foreground. It does give a "layered" effect, although it's definitely a "poor man's 3D".
After that is a 6" x 4" sheet of stickers, featuring 8 small stickers on the page. Spider-Man, Green Goblin and Doc Ock appear. There's an odd mix of artwork. I think I recognize an Alex Ross "painted Green Goblin", a Bagley "Ultimate Green Goblin", and a more generic Green Goblin too. A real mismatch of material, with no thought given to consistency.
Now there's a clear sheet of prismatic plastic... i.e. with corrugations in it, just like the piece that is glued to the front cover. This sheet is supposed to be cut out of the book and used for two purposes. Firstly it is used to "decode" (or reveal) secret writing in the book (i.e. the answers to various puzzles). Secondly, it is used to give a 3D effect to various of the drawings later in the book. We'll get to those in a moment.
Now we're into some plain paper sheets, eight of them to be exact. They are nice clear white paper, double-sided, so 16 pages in all.
The first one is the instructions for using the "decoder". Then we hit regular activity territory, with coloring pages, join-the-dots, word-search, simple crosswords, a tic-tac-toe page, and some "how many words can you make from these letters". At the bottom of each page is a simple quiz question, with the answer to be found by using the decoder.
At last we hit the heart of the book. There are four full-color glossy paper single-sided sheets. On each, there is a color background which has been digitally adjusted so that it will appear "3D" when the see-through prismatic sheet is placed over the top of it. Set amid the color background is a black and white Spider-Man figure for you to color. When assembled, the Spidey figure will sit in the foreground, while the background will fall back, giving a rough 3D sort of image.
Now there's another 8 sheets of double-sided "activity" material, with the same sort of stuff as before, plus a few mazes, copy-the-picture, and find-the-matching-pair puzzles too.
Finally the back cover contains a color "do-not-disturb" door hanger to cut out with scissors.
Full marks for variety, at least! There's pretty much everything you could hope for in this book. The page count isn't as big as most regular coloring albums, but then again, the focus has clearly been on variety, production quality of the major gimmicks, and the use of the prismatic lenses.
However, on the minus side of things, the actually consistency and sometimes the quality of the artwork is disturbingly variable. The Spider-Man images have clearly been taken directly from printed comic books, and there is a significant variation in both artistic styles, and in the line-quality resulting from the post-processing. The result is sometimes disappointing, and often jarring.
In the end, I guess the book succeeds in that it certainly appeals to a definite market segment. Regular Spidey readers like myself may grumble at the lack of care in dealing with classic artwork. But younger and more casual fans will doubtless appreciate the technology that has gone into making this a distinctive and original product.
Three and a half webs.