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kjohnson1585 avatar 10:20 PM on 05.16.2010  (server time)
My Super Marios, let me show you them (90s Edition!)

To assist Chad with his Countdown to Super Mario Galaxy 2, as well as compliment Tony's awesome Mega Man collection post, I thought I'd show you my own collection of Super Mario gear that I had once gathered like a kid in a candy store with a blank check. Prepare to be (somewhat) amazed! (And excuse the blurry photos, I took them with my phone in a semi-rush.)


Collecting Super Mario curios today is fairly easy, what with the number of official and fan-made toys out there from Japan and America alike, all accessible at conventions and through ordering online. I'm kind of frustrated by it, actually (in a good way) - when I was a wee lad in the early 90s, acquiring Super Mario accessories was a difficult endeavor, despite his overall popularity at the time. Mario may have succeeded, game wise, but the acquisition of his merchandise was trickier, which seemed ironic. Perhaps it was because at a young age, you're limited with things like being able to drive, having the finances to buy them, and having parents supporting your clearly-unhealthy habit. Still, I managed to gather a small yet impressive collection, the years before DVDs and online purchasing became mainstream. I even have some original goodies that I don't think you can find anymore.

Before DVDs there was VHS, and what made VHS annoying was you had to fast-forward and rewind to get to whatever episode you wanted to watch; there was no "episode selection". Still, ask any anime fan back then how hard (and expensive) acquiring the Far East's animations were (my brother was a Ranma 1/2 fan, and gathered as many tapes has he could from out local Suncoast), and you have a pretty good idea of its difficulty to finance and maintain. I'm pretty sure these aren't all the tapes that existed, but these are as many as I could grab, and sadly, no Super Mario Wold cartoons were available to me. But, yes, I have the movie, and while as a SMB fan I was sorely disappointed, I had a chance to rewatch it recently. It's a silly, fun film, akin to The Fifth Element.

I've showed these before, and I'm happy that I (or, I should say, my mother) managed to preserve them. While the original hats are missing, these dolls essentially defined my childhood, and at the risk of coming off *askew*, I would play pseudo-Super Mario adventures with the collection of dolls at my disposal. (PROTIP: I also owned a stuffed monkey, so guess who got his ass kicked the most.) With the hard plastic heads, hands, and feet, this toy was a dangerous weapon, but oh-how I loved it so. Sadly, these dolls are the second batch my brother and I owned, as the first ones we had were lost originally at a baseball field (long story, don't ask. Or do, I'll probably explain it.)

As the last paragraph alluded to, I was a collector, but not a responsible one. I never had the foresight to keep certain toys in "good" condition, because clearly you couldn't have fun with them trapped in their original packaging. Which explains why my most prized possession, this hardcover bound collection of Super Mario comics, taken from a short lived run of issues published by Valiant in the early nineties, looks somewhat disheveled. A local discount store sold it when I was younger, and I jump at the chance. Looking through it again, it has a very fun if confusing style of story telling, a mixture of random styles of art and dialogue fonts. Each story is about 6-8 pages, and while some fall flat, some others are surprisingly entertaining, and maybe I'll write up some mini-reviews for each one next week or so. A number of scanned pages of the comics are available around the internet, but having this hardcover feels so much like an accomplishment that I'm particularly proud of.

What makes this set fairly interesting is its attempt to streamline more side characters into the SMB canon. Wooster was a servant mushroom to King Toadstool, who was somewhere between crazy, foolish, stupid, and corrupt. Also, Stanley the Talking Fish. Add in revolting plants, hypnotizing pigits, Dirk Drain-Head, and some Dear Abby-type letters to the princess (she's really good at this letter thing), and you have the base idea and feel of what the Paper Mario games are ascribing to.


FUCK, this was a great find. You see, dear readers, Sonic comics came a dime a dozen, and as a SMB fan it did sting a little to be saturated in my enemy's exploits at the local comic book store, and yet not witness a single sliver of a Mario-relation graphic novel. So it was just random chance I saw this one floating on the debut boards, and, of course, I purchased it immediately. I remember asking the cashier whether they would be getting more of these, and he returned a definite and slightly condescending "No," as if the idea of "Super Mario" comics was ridiculous, especially within the myriad of X-Men and Excalibur and other "real" super heroes. I tried getting into them, like Spiderman, but I much preferred my stories more whimsical and fun (like Gummi Bears!) than all realistic and gritty. So, in summary, fuck that guy.

Likewise, these are pretty awesome - mainly because apparently these are hard to find. And yet, I have TWO. These were sold at a long-gone local game store, and I originalyl bought one, but lost it. So I bought another one. During some spring cleaning, I found the original. Yay me. On first glance, you'll recognize this as the comic adventure debuted in Nintendo power so many years ago, all told together in a rather funny and exciting adventure. This even includes the Mario vs. Wario tale based on Six Golden Coins (who remembers that? :D), but sadly, not the story where Mario and Wario battle over Princess Toadstool's birthday affection (THAT WAS HER NAME), only to be beaten out by Weegee. Still, I often read through this one quite a bit, especially for inspiration on a... ahem, special thing I'm working on.

Super Mario never had novels. But they had these silly little "Choose Your Own Adventure" type books back when it was all the craze, and as far as I'm concerned, they ARE novels. These original Choose Your Own Adventure series used to scare me shitless, because they had no problem killing YOU (and there was never any indication you won a book or not), but the SMB versions were much more low key and sillier, with puzzles you could solve to choose the right path. Still, Mario or Luigi could die, which was still horrifying, and I particularly remember Monster Mix-Up being downright the scariest SMB-related thing since the piano came alive in Super Mario 64. I sadly could never find the first one.

Some promotional stuff for the movie. Ahem. Let's move on.

And lastly... trading cards! I forgot I even had these. I guess I was supposed to trade these with other people with different video game-related cardholders, but screw that. I wanted Super Mario, not Contra. Hell, you'll probably notice that there's even two sets of Zelda cards over there. Believe me, they were just part of the collection. The art on these are hit or miss; the one with Mario climbing the stairs is the best in its clever minimalism and sense of wonder. Likewise, the blurbs on the back of each card is either informative or redundant; one has a listing of all the Koopa Kids and their personalities, another has a PSA on how to climb stairs properly. So... yeah.

Perhaps one day I'll return to SMB collection; I had to quit after reality set in and money started going to things like books and school and life. But now the whole process is easier, and no longer would it present that delightful challenge and whimsy it once had. There was something exciting about finding a Mario-relation book or story in a bargain bin and having it then and there. I know people out there have a lot more stuff than I do, but for a 10 year-old in the early 90s, this is kinda impressive. I think.

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