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Want Fantasticar blueprints? A look inside Iron Man’s armor? – Marvel Action Hour (Genesis Entertainment)

September 29, 2013

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This isn’t a comic book, though it’s shaped like one and features comic book characters. There’s no story within, not even any indicia to let you know what the real title is for the damn thing. Inside you simply find promotional materials designed to hook a target demographic into watching the Marvel Action Hour, a block of programming that debuted in 1994 and featured Iron Man and Fantastic Four shows back to back. Normally that means that this wafer-thin leaflet, with its newsprint cover, would be consigned to the waste basket or the proverbial floor of a birdcage. But there’s some interesting stuff inside, worth more than a quick look. Have you ever wanted some Fantasticar blueprints? A look inside Iron Man’s armor? Of course you have.  

There are two halves to this booklet, with dual covers, one for the Fantastic Four and one for Iron Man. (I devoted an inordinate amount of time to trying to figure out which was the “front.” In the end I just went with the Fantastic Four. Seniority.) Here’s the Iron Man frontspiece, in case you’re interested:

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Inside are show summaries spread over two pages, like centerfolds, which frankly do nothing to make you want to go out of your way to watch the series. (This is partially personal bias. Comic-themed cartoons have always struck me as halfway points between comics and live action, bringing together the weaknesses of each.) The below Fantasticar blueprints, though, are remarkably detailed for what was such a throwaway product. They’re in their way — excuse the pun — fantastic. (The best thing about the “real” Fantasticar was that the Four used it not only for battling crime, but for post-graduate trips back to college, for visits/keggers/tearing that bitch up.) No, you’re not going to pull a Wile E. Coyote, go to the junkyard and build your own, but you can dream. And someone put some work into this, right?:

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The trip inside Tony Stark’s metal shell is a bit of a comedown after that, though it has its mid-1990s appeal, decades before the world of film gave us elaborate means of suiting and de-suiting Marvel’s Tin Man. Back in those sepia-toned days of yore, kids didn’t just have to walk to school uphill through snow both ways, they also had to settle for black and white storyboards — and had to tilt their heads at an angle to look at them!:

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Also included in the booklet is a clear plastic insert, which functions as a sort of animation cel. I don’t know if there were different cels distributed, but the one in mine features Fing Fang Foom — I think. Note to animators: If a character has a distinctive look, your design should leave no doubt as to who that character is. If this is Fin Fang Foom, he doesn’t quite look like the FFF that we know and love (Not-So-Special Cameo by Force Works’ Century, a character no one cares if they got right or not):

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Both the Fantastic Four and Iron Man cartoons came along well after my Saturday morning viewing habits had ceased to be, so I can’t offer any extensive comment on their quality. I will say this: The Iron Man show’s main villain was the Mandarin, and it’s a dubious testament that our PC culture has advanced to a level that, instead of this classic villain getting the treatment he deserves, Iron Man 3 went to such profoundly stupid lengths to tease and then get around using him. Maybe we’re regressing as we’re progressing. Take that for what it’s worth.

Anyway, get to work on those Soap Box Fantasticars.

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