Sunday, October 19, 2008

Behold... the TOWER of POWER!

Welcome back!
(or for those of you joining us for the first time... "Where the heck where you?")
And for anyone reading this in their cubicle; "Congratulations for still having a job in this spiraling economy". As a service, to help you KEEP that gig, I'm going to try to make this seem a bit "work-related", (instead of just fan-wankery,) by including a few schematics and plan-o-grams for the promotional display system that I am writing about:


So, if the boss catches you reading this on company time, just explain that you're doing "research" and this popped up in your search.
Then scroll a bit, so (s)he can see the schematic(s), scheduling info and images, and that should cover your ass.

(Unless he read that last paragraph.
Then, it's; "Hey! What a coincidence that this blog should write about EXACTLY what just happened. Weird, huh?"

OK. Before I get to all the goodness, I should explain that due to the increasing premium of shelving space in my "SANCTUM", I resorted to setting up my "TOWER OF POWER " to house my growing collection of ESSENTIAL volumes, which are real space-hogs.
They ARE a fabulous value in and of themselves, but damn, they take up a lot of room.

***long ramble about WHAT the TOWER OF POWER is/was to follow***
(and yes... because it is MIGHTY and AWESOME and so thusly named, whenever I refer to it on this blog, it shall henceforth be written as such:
It's a shock-and-awe kind of thing. Imagine that being shouted down to Earth from the Heavens by a booming, thunderous voice - complete with reverb. Think of the equivalent to Galactus booming; " I HUNGER!" THAT's just what it demands.)


The TOWER OF POWER!!! was a GIANT (well over 6 foot tall... with the headers it hits nearly 7 feet) Marvel Comics promotional spinner-rack that was sold to retail comic shoppes in 01994.
The store would buy the rack and that cost would include the "subscription" for a year's worth of additional graphics and headers, which would be sent on a quarterly basis and could be attached/ affixed to the rack or used as graphics for around the store. Subsequent years could be subscribed to separately.

I was working in an Antiquarian Book store / Comic shoppe back then, (by name of "BonMark Books", in Plainview, Long Island, NY - if anyone wants specifics,) and figured that if the store wasn't interested in the TOWER OF POWER!!! promotion, that I'd buy/ subscribe to it myself (via the store's account with Heroes World) and get the graphics myself (ever on the watch for rare Doctor Strange stuff). My bosses were cool with the idea (of course, thinking that I was insane - "and what the hell would you DO with that monstrosity?"), and agreed to receive the shipments and turn them over to me upon arrival.
I was stoked.

Like nearly all Marvel initiatives, however, it only lasted a little over a year (5 sales quarters) before the enterprise was unceremoniously dropped. But, not before I got the GIANT spinner rack and a ton of graphics. Yes, Doc is in a few of them - one for the Midnight Sons titles, another of the "founding fathers" of Marvel header, (which you can see in the above photo). Also inlcuded were some shelf-talkers (inserts that were placed in longboxes and/or the pockets of the TOWER OF POWER!!! itself) and a HUGE Marvel Edge wall graphic. Doctor Strange is on that as well.
(Pictured HERE).

(You'll note that, at this time, DOC was about to go into his "white shirt with trench-coat" phase, and they hadn't yet made up their mind to make it his RED "Overcoat of Levitation". Instead, it's just colored black with blue highlights).

As for construction; it's made out of a durable, coated cardboard.
The body of the unit is folded and glued into itself, so that when it is unpacked from it's large container box, it needs to be unfolded and then *popped* open to form a hollow rectangle.
Here's a scan of the instruction sheet schematic (and one of the aforementioned ass-saving pieces of graphics for the cube-dwellers).

As you can see, the body is then placed into and, using locking tabs, secured to the plastic base.
Wheels attached to the bottom of the base allow to the unit to spin.

The folks at the Marvel promotions dept must have received some complaints that stores with carpeting would find the TOWER OF POWER!!! unable to spin, so they soon shipped out a square sheet of masonite board, which would then be used as a floor surface.
It was sent free of charge so as to not further piss-off their retailers, who were probably already regretting buying into this thing.

To maintain the body's structural integrity, another cardboard insert is slipped down from the top and locked into place via slots and tabs.

The pockets are also made of the same heavy-duty, coated corrugated cardboard.
They fold at the sides and the tabs slip into pre-cut slots in the body of the unit.

Sadly, due to a design decision, the rack's pockets only hold UNBAGGED, UNBOARDED comics for sale, and as such is USELESS for any practical purposes of comic display if preservation is any factor. Even if it isn't for some jerk to have as a personal display, I have known MANY comic shoppes who bag and/or board their new comics for sale. This rack would do them no good.

However, ESSENTIALS (and some TPBs/HC's) are EXACTLY nekkid comic size and fit right in the pockets, so that is a saving grace. I could see this in a store with some TPB's in it. That would be fairly awesome.

Right now, Mike Sterling is wishing he had one.
Yeah. Riiiight.

Each pocket holds X unbagged comics.
(I write "X", because, I honestly don't know. I can't find any specifics in the literature for it, and frankly, I don't HAVE any unbagged comics lying about. I might be able to go down to my "non-Sanctum" comic boxes that I'm processing for my future auction storefront, but, I'm not that dedicated.
Let's just say that for all intents and purposes, that "X" = "a bunch". OK?)

Now the cool part; the graphics.

As for the add-ons, there were two different types of unit graphics:
- pocket graphics
- headers

The headers would be affixed (via double-sided foam sticky-tape, which was provided) to extra pockets (they sent many extras).
Those four extras would then be slid into the top slots of the side that corresponded to the sales-push that was going on at that time.
For instance, "Side 1" might be the "Spider-Man" side, and so all the Spider-titles would be racked on that side, along with anything that would be Spidey-centric.
"Side 2" might be the "Avengers" side and would thusly contain all Avengers-related books that month.
Every few months, a new shipment of graphics would arrive and they would correspond to whatever books were "hot" at the time.
This was the mid 01990's so think "Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider", "New Warriors", "1001Punisher titles" and "Force Works".

Here. I'll toss in images of ALL the graphics and just the the plan-o-gram for the first quarter's shipment of images. You can see where they dictated which header went on which side and what graphics went where - and what issues to rack in which pocket.
My apologies for the horrid quality of many of the images.
The area where I normally do my item photography is in a state of... disaster, and the photos were done, in a rush on the floor.

This was the first quarter's comic shelving plan-o-gram.
And below, the first assortment of graphics and their placement instructions.Each quarter this would change, and while I do have all the other literature for the duration of the program, I didn't think it necessary to post ALL of them, albeit there WERE only 5 quarters that this existed before oblivion (and Marvel cocking up their Heroes World acquisition as well as the state of the Direct Market as a whole).

MIDNIGHT SONS HEADER & Ghost Rider pocket graphic.

SPIDER-MAN & X-MEN headers (no pocket graphics)

NEW WARRIORS header & graphics

SPIDER-MAN & AVENGERS headers (no pocket graphics)GENERATION X header and graphics.
the CHAMBER graphic was meant to sit at the counter
& interestingly, that "countdown" pocket graphic was actually a page-a-day tear-off calendar.
I didn't use it, obviously.
PUNISHER (1st assortment)---------------



2099 header & Spider-Man2099 graphic

FORCE WORKS & IRON MAN header & Iron-Man / War-Machine graphicsPUNISHER (2nd assortment) header & graphics

emo SPIDER-MAN & A.O.A. X-MEN headers

FANTASTIC FOUR header with Thing (taking a dump) graphic

CLASSIC HEROES header & Silver Surfer graphic

So... there you have it.
I don't know how many stores signed up for the promotion.
At least enough for Marvel to go forward with it - for awhile.

Later, just as this promotion was wrapping up, Marvel would sell replacement pockets for this (and for those who didn't sign up for it, they would fit into standard slat-wall).
They were plastic and called POWER POCKETS!
(sadly, I don't have those...)

To wrap up this exhaustive post (and don't think that I didn't want to post a pic of the initial artist's rendering of the item from one of the old solicitation guides that I still have), I'll just say that I didn't give you guys photos of all 4 sides of MY TOWER OF POWER!!!, just showing the "CLASSIC HEROES" side (with all my assorted general Marvel Essentials) and the "MIDNIGHT SONS" side (with Man-Thing & other horror-related Essentials), because I'm in the process of designing new custom headers for those other sides.

What ESSENTIALS are IN those 2 unseen sides, you might ask?
Silly you... why DEFENDERS & DOCTOR STRANGE, of course.

* Master of the Plastic Arts *


Anonymous said...

Awesome! Never saw that before!

You've been holding out on us Sanctum!

"I can take about an hour on the tower of power,
long as I gets a little golden shower!" -- Frank Zappa

~P~ said...

Thanks, my friend!

While I'm SURE that YOU will have seen (and probably own yourself) most of the items that I'll be showcasing here, I'm ALSO fairly sure that I'll be able to surprise you every once in awhile!

googum said...

Fudd! About a bazillion years ago, when the grocery store in my hometown phased out it's wire comic spinner rack, I didn't steal it out of their back; and I've regretted it ever since.

The Tower of Power might fill that hole in my soul. Maybe. Partially. Still, I am pretty envious right now...

~P~ said...

I won't lie to you; it IS pretty sweet.

It's a MONSTER though.
An unholy behemoth that truly should NOT be set up in that room (with the lack of space already well into "so where do I SIT?" levels)...

But... like Dr. Frankenstein's monster... it HAD to be built!

However, I will say that when I departed that book/comic shoppe I also left with several GIGUNDA comic spinner racks, that were heavy-duty plastic & metal and could hold more comics than a fleet of those "Hey, Kids! COMICS!" racks, but I still traded them away for free comics to a friend who has a storefront.

I would NOT trade the TOWER OF POWER!!!

Still... those dime-store comic racks ("Hey, Kids! COMICS!") are truly awesome, and if they held bagged/boarded comics, I just MIGHT make the trade.

Good luck securing a rack of your own in the future.
Every comic fan should have one.

Anonymous said...

These things also turned up at Musicland/Suncoast stores when Marvel was trying to push their store within a store concept during the 3 minute long heyday of the Heroes World "triumph."

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