Check Out Those Ads! – Halloween Edition

Normally Gary is the host of this recurring feature, but I asked if I could step in and take a crack at it for an all spooky edition. He kindly obliged, so I pulled a few ads from my collection that are just right for TRN’s Haunted Halloween celebration. Let’s get to it!

Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas
From Daredevil #321 October 1993

Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas is considered one of the modern classics of Halloween, and rightfully so. The beautiful stop motion art along with fabulous Danny Elfman score combine to make a movie that perfectly sets the mood for the Halloween season.

This ad in particular is quite stark with its simple black, white, and red color scheme. Seeing the image of The Mayor gave comic book readers a glimpse at the art that was to come in the movie and help raise the anticipation for its release.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a really fun watch too and perfect for a family movie night, especially during the Halloween season. If you have Disney+ you can stream it there, or you can rent and stream it through Amazon.

Castlevania IV for SNES
From X-Force #12 July 1992

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Castlevania series for Nintendo and Super Nintendo. As a Nintendo guy, the first three Castlevania games were some of my absolute favorites, with Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest being my favorite of the bunch. Castlevania III came along and blew everyone’s minds with just how great it was, so when the Super Nintendo was launched, anticipation was very high for what the next installment of the series would be like.

This ad gave us some of our very first looks at the game, which were quite impressive for those of us who were used to the 8-bit versions of the game. The quote from Gamepro magazine said:

Castlevania IV is the first REAL reason to purchase a Super Nintendo. Konami took the time to take full advantage of the SNES’s 16-bit technology.

They weren’t lying. Everything about the graphics and sound blew us away, and the game still holds up in a debate about the best games ever released for the system.

Trading Card Treats
From The Incredible Hulk #387 November 1991

Whoever came up with the idea of creating packs of trading cards to give out on Halloween was a genius, and a saint. What surprises me is that the idea never caught on and became a thing.

When I was young and trick-or-treating on my grandmother’s street, there was an older gentleman that would give cards out instead of candy. He would purchase plenty of packs of Topps Baseball cards for the given year, and every kid that came to his door got a whole pack! His was my favorite stop every year in those days.

These Trading Card Treats were just such an awesome thing to do. The ad doesn’t specify how many cards are in a pack, nor how many packs come in a box. It’s possible that the packs/cost ratio was such that it wasn’t feasible for a lot of folks to give these out, thus killing off the idea in general.

But look at what’s included in those packs…Marvel Super Heroes, Archie Comics Characters, Universal Studios Monsters, Nintendo, Inspector Gadget, and Widget. That’s a pretty loaded lineup for a kid to find when he/she opened their pack. My hat’s off to Impel for creating these. Now I’ve gotta take a break from writing this to go search eBay and see if I can find any.

Ok I’m back. So after my ebay excursion, I find that the cards did not come mixed together. There were different bags for each property, so you’d buy a bag of Archie cards, or a bag of Marvel cards. Each bag contained 24 packs of 3 cards. This news takes a little shine off the concept. I thought all those properties were randomly mixed together in the packs, so you could get a pack that may have Universal Monsters, Marvel, and Archie all in it. Guess I was wrong. Still a cool concept though.

And hey, if you like trading cards, check out our YouTube page for our weekly Wax Pack Flashback series where we open old pack of cards. It’s a hoot.

The Dungeon Game
From The Incredible Hulk #387 November 1991

The Dungeon Game was produced by TSR…the same fine company that brought you Dungeons & Dragons. It looks like it was a board game version of D&D…maybe created as an easy gateway to the role-playing game itself.

It boasts that you “explore the depths of the dungeon on your fantastic journey of mystery and suspense while you search for a hidden treasure. Use your powers and skills to avoid secret traps and fearsome creatures. As a dwarf, elf, warrior, magician, cleric, or fighter on a perilous quest, you’ll battle the forces of evil to find the treasure, win the game or…just survive.”

Sign me up. Let’s find this and all get together and play it on Halloween night. Bring your mask of course and stay six feet apart. But let’s play.

Nabisco’s Wicked Halloween Party
From Nighthawk #3 November 1998

So back in 1998, it looks like Nabisco was throwing the coolest party on the block, and if you were lucky enough to be one of the winners, you have a story to tell for the rest of your life. The 15 Grand Prize winners got to party with the Universal Studios classic monsters and an all day tour of Universal Studios in Florida…with no waiting in any lines. That’s pretty bad ass.

Aside from the cool prize, the ad itself is great. It’s got the colors that set the mood for the season with the purple, orange, and prominent green font. The Universal Monsters are there too just so you KNOW it’s Halloween related.

Good job by Nabisco on this contest and the ad in general. We need more like it these days.

Got Milk?
From Nighthawk #3 November 1998

Can you remember all of the Got Milk ads and commercials from back in the day? Can you name them off? Me neither. But this one I certainly remember.

Sarah Michelle Gellar was the epitomy of hot in the late ’90s. From the movies I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions, to the hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was everywhere. Her appeal was not lost on the producers of these ads. The surprising thing to me is the somewhat provacitive nature of the ad with here slightly revealing outfit and “those” eyes. An ad like this wasn’t typical of the Got Milk campaign.

But, the ad certainly works in the context of this feature. It creates a dark and spooky mood with the colors and lighting and features a vampire hunter. Sometimes that’s as good as you can ask for in an ad during the Halloween season.

So that’s gonna do it for this spooky edition of Check Out Those Ads! Many thanks to Gary for letting me play in his sandbox for a while today. Now that you’re done here, go check out all of the other great content featured in TRN’s Haunted Halloween celebration!

About Mickey Yarber 232 Articles
Sometimes referred to as The Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via articles and videos, and occasionally make un-needed appearances on various podcasts. I can also catch quarters off my elbow. Email to book me for your next corporate event.