As we all know, there are only three things that matter in life to the true intellectual. They are; super-powers, pretty pictures and brand new toys.
How fortunate then that comics were invented. For, in the dim days of my youth, they could provide a man with all three.
Granted, the toys you sometimes got for free with British comics weren't necessarily top of the range. There were no free Scalextrices or Meccano sets to be had. No Action Men, nor Gerry Anderson related Dinky toys. But when you're a child and Christmas only comes once a year, who can be fussy?
I seem to recall that British comic publishers seemed to have an unlimited supply of what they claimed were, "boomerangs," but were in fact red plastic rings with three flat wide spokes that connected with each other in the centre.
Did they ever come back when thrown?
Not that I can remember.
But, clearly, somewhere in Slough there must have been a warehouse packed solid with the things, just ready for when the next comic publisher required half a million of 'em to give away. I like to feel that that warehouse is still there and that, like King Arthur, it shall return when the nation is in most need of it.
I also once got a plastic, rubber-band powered, pistol that fired paper pellets. From where I got it, I sadly no longer recall.
I'm pretty sure I got a miniature set of playing cards from Donald and Micky comic.
But the first gift I remember getting from a Marvel mag was the legendary Spider-Man mask from Spider-Man Comics Weekly, Long-standing readers'll know that receiving it was the most soul-crushing moment of my entire life, as the mask that I'd expected to confer mystery and awesomeness upon me turned out to bear a remarkable resemblance to a red paper bag with eye holes cut into it. How could I have confronted the Vulture dressed like that? He'd have merely laughed at me.
Marvel UK's Star Wars comic was far more impressive. In its early days, I got a free cardboard cut-out-and-assemble Tie Fighter from it - and an X-Wing fighter. Sadly, Marvel UK drew the line at a replica of the Death Star.
I would like to claim that the days of me being impressed by free gifts are over but I must confess that, even in adulthood, I once bought one issue of a short-lived British Marvel reprint title, featuring Iron Man and the Fantastic Four, purely because it had a lollipop sellotaped to the front of it.
But the truth is that my most fondly remembered free gift from a comic was an iron-on transfer of Tutankhamun's death mask that came in some British comic in the early 1970s. Possibly it was in Whizzer and Chips. Possibly it was in Whizzer and Cheops. Possibly it wasn't. Either way, I assume it was included in order to cash in on the Tutankhamunmania that was then sweeping the land, as his possessions were on show in some museum or other in London at the time.
And I shall never forget the time I got a cut-out-and-assemble television studio from Look-In magazine. Granted, it wasn't life-size but, an entire TV studio? Now there was a magazine that knew how to do free gifts.
But I couldn't do such a post as this without getting into the spirit of things. And so, Reader, exclusively with this blog today, you'll find a free gift attached to this very post, in the form of a cut-out-and-keep reproduction of the front cover of Marve UK's Star Wars #1 from 1978. You can then mount it on a cardboard backing, to place it upright on your bedside table. From now on, you shall begin every day by waking to the sight of Luke Skywalker waving his light sabre at you. All you have to do is snip it out of your computer screen, with a pair of scissors (not supplied) and it's yours.
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