I IMAGINED: A cool collection of pictures and descriptions of assorted novelty items that were heavily advertised in old comic books.
THEY SENT: An awesome book featuring page after page of pictures, trivia, and entertaining evaluations of mysterious, suspiciously cheap products that always seemed WAY too good to possibly be true. I fondly remember being fascinated by the ads from mail-order giants Johnson Smith, Fun Factory, etc. which could be found throughout the comic books I was reading back in the late 1970's through the early 1980's. I placed several orders back in the day, so it was a nostalgic treat to see these products included in this book, along with many, many others that I was too wise to get suckered into buying (alright, it was actually because I didn't have enough cash at that young age!)
I couldn't stop reading this book! It's very hard to put down; I found myself wanting to keep turning pages to see what was next (Sea-Monkeys? Hypno-Coins? Secret Martial Arts lessons? They're all here!). I recall the same ratio of occasional gems amidst a sea of rip-offs as the author finds. In fact, it's a bit odd to feel such nostalgia about companies whose business model largely seemed to be finding ways to cheat naive children out of their allowances. I guess you could argue that it was a relatively inexpensive way for kids to learn about becoming more cautious consumers... it taught them to be wary of something that seemed too good to be true (an important life lesson that many adults have yet to learn). However, as the book notes, there were some really fun items available for low, low prices (plate lifters! magic tricks!). In fact, part of the excitement of the whole experience was the mystery... what would you actually get? How would it compare to the description, and would it actually work? For a few bucks, you'd have your answer (in four to six weeks, of course!)
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: I recommend this book to anyone who remembers these novelty advertisements, or is just curious about the merchandise they offered. "Mail-Order Mysteries" throws new light on a mysterious collection of goodies (and if you throw some light on the book's cover for a few moments, it even glows in the dark.)
Unlike many of my purchases from the aforementioned novelty houses, this book was even better than I dared imagine!