Monday, July 04, 2011

DID YOU EVER SEND OFF FOR SEA MONKEYS?














Talking about my generation and how possibly millions of us kids got conned by this comic book scam. Instead of the cute humanoid family as depicted in its submarine suburban home, all we got was bloody daphnia, only good only to feed fish. But that was nothing compared with the invisible goldfish…

“If you so much as flipped through a single comic book sometime after 1962, von Braunhut’s ads might have gotten you curious about whether his doodads worked even approximately as advertised. For Sea-Monkeys, the ads portrayed a cheerful family of humanoid creatures bearing crowns of some sort and hanging out by their underwater castle. Mom had blond hair. The fine print said something about “caricatures,” but never mind—the bigger type spun a magical tale of pets that would be “like a pack of friendly trained seals” if you followed the directions. Von Braunhut wrote the copy himself, for at least the first couple decades. Ads for another von Braunhut invention, the X-Ray Specs (not to be confused with the English punk band X-Ray Spex), promised the power to see through obstacles and showed a guy grinning at a woman in a dress. Again there were words like “illusion”—the effect is created by feathers or grooves in the lenses, von Braunhut’s patents show—but that wasn’t where the average comic book reader focused his attention. In von Braunhut’s most impressive marketing coup, he peddled “Invisible Goldfish." The kit included a glass bowl, a handbook and fish food. That was it. He said they sold out. There was a 100 percent guarantee that the buyer would never see the fish, and I’m 100 percent sure that guarantee never failed. The greatest trick the Invisible Goldfish ever pulled was convincing the world they existed.” (Click here for the whole sorry story)

7 comments:

Aleleeinn said...

$#@%, I was always a skeptic, even back then! And I'm sure I missed the fine print. I loved the idea of the x-ray specs, especially with the ability to see under people's (read women's) clothes. But I was certain the ads were designed to separate me from my money, and give me nothing in return.
The good news was by the time I was eighteen, I know how to make various explosives, and most of the practical knowledge to build an A-bomb. It all came from the science magazines and biographies of the time.
I found it a real joke when the government was panicked because there were plans about building a bomb on the internet.

seeformiles said...

I sent off for these (and the X-ray specs) - disappointment was the first hard lesson of advertising and the scales fell from my eyes. I do get misty eyed though when I think about the BB Gun adverts e,g, "This Christmas - Make it a Daisy BB!"

UK Steve said...

I gave RH some sea monkeys for his birthday a few years ago. I can confirm they were just as disappointing in the 21st century as they were when we were kids...

seeformiles said...

Do you reckon anyone ever managed to train them? Also, Poppa Sea Monkey seems to be covering some presumably unsightly genitalia with his tail....

Aleleeinn said...

Seeformiles: I rmember a National Lampoon "Boys Life" parody.
Mom: "Careful you could put an eye out"
Son: "You bet I can Mom@ It's a Deadeye!!"

The best ad I EVER SAW was for a .75 caliber sime-automatic "rifle" on a tripod. The announcer said it was ideal for bringing down deer and bear at 1,000 yards. And effective against cars and trucks.

Obviously, this was before the ban on mail order weapons. I believe the price was something around $500. The commercial was on Sunday morning TV. I was one impressed 10 year old.

Miq-Tak said...

Ah Sea Monkeys. How I loved little Charlie, Adam, Brooke, Letitia, Phil, Anne, Carey, Simone, Grace, Herra, Loren, Craig, Niles, Theo, Argent, Bonnie, Sophia, Helen, Mack, Rupert....

Löst Jimmy said...

The very ads that plagued my copies of Marvel and DC Comics when I was but a bairn. The very thought of some aqua borne brood filled me with dread.
...Still does, for I am certain that they lie in wait, ready to plot Humanity's demise and establish their counterfeit Kingdom upon Earth...