Iron Man and the Iron Can: Why Are Collectibles So Much Cooler Today?
By Tony Panaccio
All we had in the old days were the Slurpee™ Cups.
It was back in the day when you could get a whole month’s worth of comics off the giant spinner rack at the 7-11. Well, it was giant to me because I was 8 years old, and everything looked gigantic to me, but you know what I’m talking about. About $5 would get an armload of comics, and if I got really good grades on my report card, my dad would spring for the Slurpee so I could get that week’s collectible cup.
Back then, it was the only other thing you could get with a super-hero on it that wasn’t a printed comic book. I remember the summer when I was 10 years old, I had a collection of cups that was considered epic, if we had used “epic” as a descriptor back then. I had all the icons like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman (although I never used that one — I let my sisters, though), and they even made a set for the Legion of Super Heroes.
Back then, you didn’t have your choice of flavors, so if you wanted the cup, you had to take whatever flavor they had in the machine that day. I loved the cherry and the banana Slurpees, but every so often they’d have a cup I REALLY wanted — like the Neal Adams version of Superman breaking the chain across his chest — but they’d only be serving Cola flavor that day. Now, this was the worst tasting Slurpee ever created, but I’d drink it anyway, because my dad grew up in the depression eating soap for dinner, so no consumable we ever bought could be allowed to go to waste.
These days, however, I defy you to try and escape the comic’s collectibles. It’s gratifying that all my childhood heroes are now considered mainstream, but it’s still a bit annoying. I bought a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper the other day, and got a cool collection of Iron Man cans, and the look of Iron Man’s helmet on a shiny metal can is way cooler than the cheap ink they used on the Slurpee cups. Heck, I even had to hand wash my old cups because the dishwasher would have stripped the ink right off them.
And you don’t have to hunt all over the place for collectibles, either. Today, there are Web sites like Things From Another World (www.tfaw.com) that carry every kind of collectible you can imagine, from statues to stickers to posters to paintings to skins for your laptop and even meticulously created action figures.
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