by Clint Dyer
Paraphernalia (not the drug kind, so get that out of your mind) has almost been around for as long as games. It is as natural an advertisement method as TV commercials and magazine print-ads and costs are absorbed by the company that pays you to use your brand or characters name and/or likeness. However, this type of merchandising wasnt really popular until Pac-Man came along. Space Invaders may be the game that "started it all" in terms of game popularity, but Pac-Man can lay claim as the character that started the "paraphernalia boom". As you see these articles in each months DP, youll probably end up seeing more Pac-Man toys and goodies than you will anything else. This issue, however, Im going to concentrate on non Pac-Man items and concentrate on the more off beat characters and items.
Ive always been into the paraphernalia aspect of gaming. My favorites to collect are the off-beats, such as Q-Bert, Donkey Kong, Frogger, etc. that never got the attention that Pac-Man got, which in my opinion, makes those items more special to own. Which brings up another point. Value or rarity is something that it very hard to judge. A lot of paraphernalia is rare and hard to find, but how rare and how hard to find? Its next to impossible to tell. Overall, though, mostly stuff made by big corporations (Milton Bradley, etc.) tends to be more common than the stuff made by "fly-by-night" operations. Some of the rarest items come from companies that most people hadnt heard of before and havent heard from since, such as Ben Cooper among others. Another thing that determines the rarity of paraphernalia is the fact that there are a smaller number of people who actively collect it, which tends to lower the prices on all but the most "famous" items. Sure, certain items can fetch hundreds of dollars (mostly Pac-Man related items), but overall, this is a cheaper hobby than collecting the actual games. It does have its downside, though. Much like the games that created it, sometimes even more-so, this stuff takes up a lot of space! But, if you have the room to store or display it, the hobby can be very rewarding!
Some of my favorite items are the stuff based on Q-Bert. Q-Bert, although very popular in the arcades, wasnt very big among companies seeking to release a cereal with his name (though, come to think of it, having marshmallow "coilies" and "wrong ways" would be pretty cool!). Some of the items released for Q-Bert include:
BANK(2 different sizes known to exist)
These items, made of hard plastic are exact replicas of Q-Bert. They are hard to find with the button that covers the bottom (so the money doesnt fall out) and the sticker on the front.
BOARD GAMEby Milton Bradley
This board game is fairly common to find. Perhaps the hardest thing to find is one with the instructions. It plays remarkably well and uses all the characters from the game!
As far as I know, only 3 books were made about Q-Bert. Adventures of Q-Bert, Q-Berts Qwazy Questions and a coloring book (pictured).
CARD GAMEby Parker Brothers
This card game isnt too difficult to find in good condition. The object is to build a pyramid with the cards of the highest point value. This game is missing some of the characters from the original game (like Wrong Way), but does use Q-Bert, Coily, the red and green balls.
COLORFORMSPlayset by Gottleib
I think everyone knows what Colorforms are. Although, not as hard to find as some other items, it is certainly harder to find this piece in un-used condition.
This is an ultra cool frisbee, not so much for how it works, but its got Q-Bert riding on top of it, and the frisbee is shaped like the discs in the game!
Ive never seen this, so I dont know what it looks like. I would imagine (from other costumes I have seen) that the plastic mask is of Q-Bert and the "body suit" has some sort of design, most likely the pyramid with an arcade like scene on it.
HANDHELDby Parker Brothers
This is one of the best handheld games ever made. It is relatively common, and is also missing some of the characters from the original game, but for play value, not much can beat this game!
HANDHELD WATCHby Nelsonic
This very cool watch gives you the ability to play Q-Bert on your wrist! The game isnt as detailed or colorful (its lcd, of course) as the game by Parker Brothers, but for a watch game, its great!
LUNCH BOXby Aladdin
This lunchbox comes molded in yellow plastic and has a picture of Q-Bert and the other characters on the front. It also came with a plastic thermos, which is harder to find than the lunchbox itself.
METAL SNACK TRAYThis is about half the size of every other tray Ive seen (Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, etc.) and seems to be much tougher to find than the Pac-Man version. A picture of the pyramid and Q-Bert with some of the characters is on a blue background.
A Q-Bert nite light to brighten up even the darkest nights.
Ive seen three different puzzles with three different pictures on them, all made by APC. Two of the three are 250 piece puzzles and one is 551 piece puzzle. The two smaller puzzles have pictures of a close-up of Q-bert with the pyramid and characters in the background and a further removed picture with Q-Bert on a disc and the pyramid and characters in the background. The bigger puzzle is similar to the later picture, with different characters.
PVC FIGURESby Kenner There were several different characters made in this series.
SLIDING PICTURE PUZZLESby American Publishing Corp
These are your typical sliding puzzles, where you can mess up the picture and then have to put it back together again by sliding the picture pieces. There are at least three different colors available, with three different pictures on them.
These dolls are exact replicas of Q-Bert (as far as I know, none were ever made of the other characters), some with squeaky noses and some bigger than others.
Ive never seen this item, but it is metal, white in color and has the Q-Bert design on both sides.
WIND UP TOYby Kenner
Much like the PVC figures, there were different characters made in this series. These are basically plastic figures with white knobs that allow you to wind them up, then they hop about.
By no means is that a complete list. Its just most of the stuff that I know exists by either having or knowing someone who has the items.
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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM