The promotional, pack-in minicomic is a sadly obscure piece of media even in comic circles. It’s not all that surprising considering the only way you had them growing up is if you bought the toys or someone you knew did and gave you the comic or let you read theirs. A good promo minicomic is the same as those TV shows that get ignored for being “30 minute toy commercials” in that a good one needs a good story to create a playscape for kids to play in. In the days before President Ronald Reagan drained the FCC of a bit of their power the minicomic was the only way to push the line. Maybe someone would buy you the toy or it looked interesting on the shelf, the comic made it look like a world you wanted to explore, and maybe you’d get more figures and vehicles to play in that world. If you weren’t interested in the toys (or couldn’t afford them all) but really wanted the stories you were out of luck. Nowadays you can find scans and people selling the comics on eBay or whatever but it’s still a niche interest unless you’re a huge fan of that toyline no matter how big or small the line was.
Free Comic Inside was started on the premise of promoting these lost comics. Today comic creators will create minicomics for fun or as something cheap to have at the selling table to draw in prospective fans but it was the likes of Mattel and their toystore friends you have to thank for that. Since starting this article series I’ve learned of more toys that came with free comics, as well as promotional comics for the main comic series packed in with snack cakes or breakfast cereal and even other products like video games. It’s only increased my desire to discuss these lost comics. While I can easily find comics for Masters Of The Universe and Princess Of Power (owning the comics would be better but scans at least allow me to read and review them) some comics that I’ve either already known about or learned through stumbling across information are harder to find. In this installment I thought I would try to find some of these I already know about and see if I could find them. If not they went on this list. Note that this may not be all the toys that came with promo miniature comics so if you know of another one, by all means tell me. If I haven’t reviewed something from the series yet or it isn’t on this list I probably don’t know about it so check the series archives before you suggest or maybe I’ll do a separate article of what I could find. I did finally find a potential archive for the Starriors minicomics so anything is possible.
I did a review of the Flash comic that came packed with Kellogg Cinnamon Mini Buns cereal back in November but I needed to do it via a YouTube comic scan. The same thing happened with Aliens: Space Marines but I found scans of those at last (I think) so I may revisit that one or just move on to the next story arc. The only one I can find easily in a proper scan is the Wonder Woman one, and that’s only because it was a story where Wonder Woman is basically Sailor Moon in a promotion not for her comic but a failed line of dolls called “Wonder Woman And The Star Riders”. The Flash one above as well as the Justice League and Superman ones still elude me.
Along the lines of the Robotix comes Tonka’s Legions Of Power collection. From what I’ve gathered the line was a build-your-own-vehicle set featuring the battle between the heroic Star Legions and the evil Tech Dynasty for control of the universe and its underlying suburbs. I did find the fourth issue online and I may bring you that in our next installment but I would rather start with #1 of 4, not #4 of 4.
You may have heard that Superman once had his own peanut butter line. You may even know there was a Peter Pan peanut butter. (I’m a Skippy man myself so I don’t know if they still make it. I know Superman peanut butter disappeared a long time ago.) But did you know there were Spider-Man minicomics on the lids of Peter Pan for a short time? It’s true. I actually own the first one where he fought the Vulture, and that will pop up in the rotation, but three more of these also exist somewhere. It would be nice to review the whole set. I mean, don’t expect much out of them. There’s only so much space in a comic the size of a peanut butter jar lid, but I do want as complete a series as God will leave me on this Earth long enough to review.
From here I actually ended up finding comics I was looking for. Unless they disappear I can do Starriors, Legions Of Power, Commandrons, Aliens: Space Marines, and the series I’ve started and could already find. However, I’m not convinced this is all of them. There are more free with purchase, pack-in, promotional comics that I haven’t heard about or forgot about, and I’ve only listed stuff from the US. Other countries have them too and some of them may even be in English (if it isn’t I can’t read it) so while I would love to find these three and doing this article helped me find more, which was my goal, I want to find out what else is out there. What I really need is one archive of all these minicomics. I used to have one in my favorites but it seems to have vanished so if anyone can help me find these or any more please let me know. I want to give this form of comic the attention it has longed deserved. You’d be amazed how many big and medium names in comics have worked on these and the stories you’ve missed out on. Just check the rest of this series thus far and you’ll see what I mean.