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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Review: 1994 Sugar Puffs LEGENDS OF BATMAN trading cards

As a youth, I LOVED all things DC comics (thanks, Super Powers Collection). As a youth, I also LOVED sugary cereal (thanks, aggressive Saturday morning marketing). So, combine the two and I was ALL OVER whatever DC comics-themed promotion some Saturday morning cereal was pushing. (Unless it was the cereal itself. I don't have an unopened box of Ralston 1989 Batman Breakfast cereal sitting in my storage locker waiting to be eaten -- that would be... unique.) If it was released between 1982 to 1993, I either owned it or currently own it now. 

Unless, of course, it wasn't available in Canada

Thanks to the power of the internet, I can now purchase said items and show you what we both missed out on. Case in point: these 1994 LEGENDS OF BATMAN trading cards that were only available in boxes of Quaker OatsSugar Puffs cereal in the United Kingdom (UK).

Sugar Puffs was not a brand of cereal I was familiar with. Apparently, it tasted very much like Kellogg's Honey Smacks -- which I probably would've enjoyed. 

After a bit of internet sleuthing, I determined that the front of the cereal box would've looked something like this:

Discarded box of Quaker Oats' Sugar Puffs cereal from the UK.


..and the back would look like this:

Reverse of the Quaker OatsSugar Puffs cereal box. Image from http://cerealoffers.com/


Upon further inspection, it looks like Quaker Oats' Sugar Puffs cereal was all about about cross-marketing in the 90s, since they had promotions for X-Men, Spider-Man, Judge Dredd and that awful live-action Flintstones movie starring John Goodman as Fred Flintstone.


As per the cereal box's sales pitch, you got 5 random trading cards (wrapped in cellophane) per box of cereal.

So... what did these trading cards look like? Glad you asked:


There were 9 cards to collect in all -- the ninth card (not pictured) was of the Joker, which -- if you found in your pack of 5 cards -- could be redeemed at your local toy store for a LEGENDS OF BATMAN action figure based on whatever symbol appears on the Joker's card. (Remember: I mentioned this was a cross-promotion; the goal here was to get kids interested in these LEGENDS OF BATMAN action figures.) I believe that all these cards were based on figures from the first wave of the LEGENDS OF BATMAN toyline -- except for the Gameboy card, of course. (FYI: That would've been the card you wanted -- get a Joker with a Gameboy symbol and you got to redeem it for a Nintendo Gameboy AND a copy of the Batman: The Animated Series game. Otherwise, depending on the symbol on his card, the Joker allowed you to redeem his card for one of the fig figures or two vehicles above -- if you were lucky enough to get a Joker.)

Okay, so this 'contest' expired back in July 31, 1996. From a collector's point of view, are they worth tracking down?


Let's take a close look at these cards:


To call these 'trading cards' is a very generous description. They are printed on VERY flimsy cardstock, maybe one step up from those firm sheets you use in dividers to separate your papers. They measure 10cm x 7cm, and -- while they look like they may be lenticular [aka: shifting the card slightly changes the card art] -- they are NOT. They are deceptive like that.



The back of the card isn't much better; black print on cheapish cardboard, a running sentence promoting Future Batman, no mention of which comic he appears in, and no credit to the artist. Most of the card is devoted to the contest rules and a promotion about the new LEGENDS OF BATMAN toys (which I suppose was the goal of these cards).

Six of these cards (and I'm including the Joker card, here) feature the same art as the far-superior LEGENDS OF BATMAN trading cards released by Skybox in 1995. The only card art exclusive to this set where the Batcycle, the Batmobile and the GAMEBOY screenshot cards. The Skybox cards were included with the LEGENDS OF BATMAN action figure you purchased, and I promise we'll get around to reviewing these someday since I have a bunch in my 'junk drawer'.

LEFT: Sugar Puffs 1994 LEGENDS OF BATMAN trading card
RIGHT: Kenner 1995 LEGENDS OF BATMAN trading card by Skybox

Noticeable difference between the two cards:

  • The Skybox card has a denser cardstock -- like a real trading card you'd purchase in a pack of trading cards.
  • The Skybox card is slightly larger than the Sugar Puffs card.
  • The Sugar Puffs card has a thin white border, and included the 'Sugar Puffs' logo on the front of the card.


Is it worth it?

Only if:

  • You're a die-hard Batman fan, and NEED to own every piece of media he's ever been featured on (this includes international cereal promotions)
  • You're a die-hard collector of all things Sugar Puffs or Quaker Oats.
  • You can pick up the entire 8-card set for under $10 USD. The Joker card is going to cost you extra; it was pretty scarce since they would've been redeemed by kids wanting their free prize, and then probably destroyed by the toy store.

Otherwise, I'd watch for the Kenner LEGENDS OF BATMAN Skybox trading cards. They will cost a bit more, but you can see the difference in quality immediately.  

The bottom line is that these Sugar Puffs cards have no 'WOW factor' -- you'll get the set, look at them for a while, and then shove them in a drawer and never look at them again. As a DC comics or Batman fan, there's nothing here that will really blow you away.

Addendum:

Apparently some sort of LEGENDS OF BATMAN poster was available, but I'm not sure if it was randomly included in boxes, a mail-away, or an in-store promotion. What I DO have is a nice scan of the poster thanks to cerealoffers.com:



-Justin   

----

Update:

A few people have sent us e-mails asking if we can post some sort of checklist (who knew?), so -- in order to oblige our loyal fans -- here we go:

#1 Future Batman
#2 Cyborg Batman
#3 Catwoman
#4 Power Guardian Batman
#5 Nightwing
#6 Batmobile
#7 Batcycle
#8 NINTENDO GAME BOY
Bonus: Joker (there are 8 variants -- all with different prizes on the front of the card)

(PLEASE NOTE: Checking these boxes won't actually save them to the webpage and you won't see them next time you log in. Either record the cards you're missing, or print this checklist.)



Monday, March 15, 2021

Review: World's Finest: The Collection Darkseid Vinyl Figure by CultureFly

One day I woke up feeling that my writing desk was looking a little empty and decided that some sort of DC-themed statue, bust, sculpture or model diorama would help 'liven things up' a bit (or at least make my office more visually interesting). So, I decided to immerse myself into the wild, wacky world of hunting down and purchasing a statue/bust that I could be proud of. The only problem was that I knew NOTHING about materials (ex: resin vs cold-cast vs vinyl), so I had some research to do.

If you only have room for one statue/bust/sculpture on your desk, you better make sure it's a character you REALLY like and has some sort of impact (aka: no Waverider for me). I decided that Darkseid, the gravel-faced Lord of Apokolips, would be the perfect character to give my office space some gravitas while striking fear into my enemies' hearts.

My requirements for a sculpture/bust consisted of:

  • Can't be any shorter than 4"
  • Can't be taller than 8"
  • Ideally would have a thick enough base
  • Not so fragile that it would break if you looked at it the wrong way
  • Reasonable price point

After a lot of hunting (i.e., comparing prices & checking different seller platforms), I stumbled upon this:

Image courtesy of www.culturefly.com

This sculpt really piqued my interest because it appeared to be modelled after the Jack Kirby/Super Powers Collection Darkseid I grew up reading about, and not the JLU Animated series or New 52 Darkseid designs.

Okay, so I knew I liked this sculpt, but what were the dimensions and how much did it weigh? This was a bit trickier to uncover since no online retailer really gave this information out. So, I just bit the bullet and bought it regardless. As you can see, it arrived in a really sturdy box that kept it from rattling around:

Sorry for the clarity of the photo, folks. Lots of glare on that plastic window.

The fact that the box said 'AGE 4+' kind of made me immediately re-think this purchase. Good for 4 year old kids and anyone older? If it's good enough for a 4 year old, is it good enough for me? I was hoping for something a little more... sophisticated. How cheap was this thing going to be? Also, the box was incredibly light.

Measuring about 13cm wide x 13cm deep x 14cm high, this bust weighed a measly 140 grams. Despite being a hollow vinyl sculpt, it was actually heavy enough to be used as a book-end (for a row of paperback novels) or even as a paper-weight (for a very light stack of papers).

One BIG positive thing I will say about this bust is that it IS durable -- no wonder it's safe for a 4 year old. The vinyl figure is all one piece of durable plastic, and I'm sure it can survive being dropped on the floor a few times. (No, I'm not going to try it.)   

Normally, I'd re-box this and try to re-sell it to get my money back, but this vinyl sculpture kind of grew on me. The musculature and dimensions of Darkseid are proportional to the Darkseid I grew reading about, and he kind of has that "Come and get me!" pose made famous by Marvel's Thanos from Infinity Gauntlet:

Portion of cover from Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet #4 (1991). Illustrated by George Perez

Also, I kind of feel like I lucked out finding one of these at an affordable price (after much hunting). You see, this vinyl bust was part of a CultureFly 'mystery box' from Spring 2020 that you needed to subscribe to. Needless to say, this mystery box has been discontinued, so it's pretty rare to find. The mystery box also contained other items that I really had no interest in (ex: socks, a t-shirt, a notebook, pins, decals, stickers, etc...), so I feel like I got the best of this deal.

The contents of CultureFly 'Heroes & Villains' box released in Spring 2020.
Image courtesy of www.culturefly.com


So far, my favorite thing to do with this vinyl bust is to use it as a 'figure study' to practice my drawing:

Faces are hard. So sue me.


Overall, I am pleased with this purchase and imagine you would be too if Darkseid is your jam.

-Justin