Photos of disappointing items from old comic book ads

Kirk Demarais is the author of the delightful-yet-innocence-crushing book, Mail Order Mysteries. I interviewed him about the book, which reveals the disappointing truth behind fantastic-sounding products such as X-Ray glasses, voice throwers, 7-foot remote control monsters, and secret spy scopes, on our Gweek podcast, episode 19.

On his Secret Fun Blog, Kirk has posted a lengthy entry about the items that arrived too late to be included in the book. He also shows how he took photos of the often-tiny items for the book.

The Lost Mail Order Mysteries


  1. What is b’g a contraction for? If it’s supposed to be “big”, I can’t imagine it saved them much space at all.

  2. Ha, I’ve got that “Spook Hand” stashed away somewhere.  More appreciated for its packaging than anything else.  As kids we stupidly bought the chest of army men too, it was a good lesson in life.

  3. You know what’s really disappointing? He has a picture of the hover car ad but no picture of the hover car itself. Not that I blame him, and I’m really not surprised. The lack of a picture of a “real” hover car” helps deepen my belief that those things were never real, and that if you sent money you’d either get (a) plans to build one but no materials or (b) some cardboard and a fan.

    1. Yes, you got plans to build one – i believe you were supposed to use one or more vacuum cleaner motors to generate the thrust. 

      An elementary school friend was working on one with his high-school age brother and they had a big roundish bumper car-looking thing framed out in the basement.  Then his brother died and they moved away, so I have no idea if it worked or not.

  4. Of course, this is all happening again with stuff bought online. For many consumers, there already isn’t a big-box store nearby, where they can check out the real thing before buying it cheaper online.

  5. Someday, I need to write in defense of the other side…  about the time in the 1960’s when my then-teenaged big brother ordered a baby Great Horned Owl from the back of a comic book– and got a baby Great Horned Owl!

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