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A Look at Video Game Ads of the Past: Potpourri (1980-1995)


Hello and welcome back, folks. We’ve reached the midpoint in this series and are about to transition into ads for the beginning of the 3D era and beyond, looking at systems like the Playstation and Nintendo 64. But, before moving on, I thought it was time for a slight change of pace.

As I’ve mentioned before, every ad featured in this series has come from comic books and magazines in my possession and was scanned in by me. I’ve probably flipped through well over two hundred comics and magazines at this point, from the early 80’s through the mid 2000’s (or is it 00’s? I’ve never heard the right nomenclature).

As you can rightly imagine, there were many ads unrelated to video games in those issues. So, for this segment, I wanted to show the Dtoid community some of the best non-gaming ads that I’ve found along the way. Some of these are nostalgia-inducing, while others are just straight-up weird and worthy of a chuckle. On down the page, you’ll see ads for things like toys and games, movies, cartoons, snack foods, and WTF-worthy merchandise. So, sit back and enjoy this slightly different walk down memory lane.

Toys & Games

GI Joe

I guess it goes to show how little I know about GI Joe, but I had no idea there was a Refrigerator Perry action figure.






X-Men Arcade

Okay, I lied; here's one video game ad. Man, that is a beast of an arcade cabinet on the right. Seriously, what other game could hold six players at once?



If you can't tell, I love me some X-Men.


X-Men Cards

Shots Fired.


Power Rangers

Everybody and their grandma had a Tiger game back then.



NBC Mornings

I seriously can't imagine Space Ghost in any kind of serious show.



I really like the artwork used in old comic ads. Most ads chose to replicate the comic-book style instead of going with real life pictures or images.



I had no idea ThunderCats was a Rankin/Bass production. I'm so used to seeing the name associated with stop-motion Christmas specials, I forgot they did other work like this and The Hobbit.





You know, I don't think Stan Lee was ever young, just less old. Regardless of age, he has enough charisma to promote an empty box and I would still buy it. On the right is the first X-Men cartoon pilot, Pryde of the X-Men, which preceeded the animated series by a few years and features an Australian Wolverine.



Call me a 90's kid, but I keep forgetting that Nickelodeon was a channel back in the 70's and 80's.



This captures everything I loved about 90's Nickelodeon commercials on TV. It's chaotic and colorful and bustling with activity.



I used to own that Riddler tape on the left. It had one of my favorite episodes from any animated show ever on it, "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" It was a solid introduction to the Riddler, used great riddles, and has one of the best endings in Batman: The Animated Series.


Food & Drink


It's fun looking back at old mascot designs and marketing slogans. It seems like a lot of companies are creating throwback merchandise these days that reuse old art styles.


Lucky Charms

How about it? Can you solve the challenge?





Pizza-shaped marshmallows. I'm sure it tasted decent, but it felt weird typing that out.



I loved that movie as a kid. The real world/animation balance was cool to see.



A childhood staple.





The Dark Crystal



As goofy as this movie looks nowadays, it was a fun romp.


 Army of Darkness

Come get some.


Super Mario Bros

A well-regarded classic defining a generation. Wait, am I thinking of something else?


Tim Burton

A simple ad, but some good art.


The Good, The Bad, and the Weird

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris jokes are still in, right?


Cube Lube

Okay, call me naive, but is this really necessary? Or was this some cash-in to the Rubix Cube craze?


Marvel Comics

Marvel comics operated on a vastly different calendar than the rest of the world. When I was flipping through old issues, I would see Christmas ads like this in the summer and beach/summer ads in the middle of winter. I guess they wanted a good head start for subscription sales?






Check it. If I had everything on that order form, my life would be complete. I thought that one line sticking out of his pocket was missing a number, but realized that was his pocket radio. Man, times change.



Oh dear. I know they were going for an E.T. vibe, but that face is downright terrifying.




Rip Offs

You guys want to start a Dtoid Rip-Off's gang? You know, it's a real relief knowing that we live in a world where the only crime is not owning a pair of velcro kid's shoes. There's so many possibilities. On an unrelated note, is it me, or does that kid in the middle look like Elijah Wood?


Nintendo Power

Look at those specs. I tried to install Crysis 3 and accidentally opened up a wormhole to another dimension.

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About Bardleyone of us since 2:51 PM on 09.29.2014

Hi all, I'm Bardley.

I've been gaming ever since I was a kid, starting with the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy, both of which I still own and use. In the past few years, I've really enjoyed getting into retro game collecting. It's a blast playing games that were made before my time or that I have missed over the years. I have stuff from the Magnavox Odyssey 2 up to modern systems and enjoy them all.

It's incredible just how much video games have changed and advanced in the decades since their inception; I can't wait to see where games go from here.

If you'd like to know more about me, check out my introductory blog.