You see – the whole point in this story is when you do not see it!
This week, I am picking up a light story. Literally. Wonder Why?
You’ll know in a minute.
First, that picture up here. If you are thinking why is there nothing inside that Hot Wheels blister pack – it was intended to be that way. And no – it is not a photograph of an empty blister pack by mistake. You have to be very lucky to purchase it and maybe shell out over $100.
What made Hot Wheels put this up for sale? And here’s another related question – to what extent will fans stretch to own a piece of a story?
Let’s start right at the very beginning. In December 1941, an American pyschologist and comic book writer William Moulton Marston created the Wonder Woman – the greatest female super action hero, who appeared in the DC Comic’s All Star Comics number 8. Incidentally, Moulton along with his wife Elizabeth Halloway also created the test for the systolic blood pressure that led them to develop the first prototype of the modern polygraph machine.
Moulton saw Wonder Woman as the heroic character who would win over the bad guys with love and not with ‘fists and firepower’. But he still had to give her supreme powers. So besides the super strength, she’s armed with indestructible bracelets, a boomeranging tiara, and her Lasso of Truth — a lasso which, when it ensnares the bad guys. prevents them from telling lies.
But perhaps her coolest gadget is not the one she’s always equipped with. Infact, it is one something she’s never seen with. That’s because it’s invisible: The Invisible Jet.
The Invisible Jet was created by Wonder Woman when she was a little girl – Diana Prince – staying with her mother on the Paradise island. Her mothers’ planes were getting shot down in the Man’s World. So she designs her invisible plane that can fly at super sonic speeds, silently, without being detected by any hostile forces. Avoiding unpleasant conflict, as much as possible.
Though the plane was depicted as semi-transparent to help the reader visualise, the in-story dialogue in the comic books indicated that it was completely invisible. But as multiple other story lines developed over the years, the Invisible Jet became less and less important in Wonder Woman’s scheme of things.
In fact it became so irrelevant that by 2010, it became a joke.
Which gets us to the blister pack.
The 43rd annual Comic-Con was hosted at San Diego in July 2010. It had a record attendance of more than 130,000 comic book fans and industry folks from all over the world. Mattel, the toy licensee of Wonder Woman, decided to use her invisible plane as a promotional tool. A few months before Comic-Con, Mattel announced a new product on their Facebook page: ‘a collectible Invisible Jet action figure’.
Now, the Facebook announcement was on April 1st and most fans figured that the invisible jet was an April Fool’s joke. Mattel intended it to be a fun promotion. But the super fanatic collectors would not have it that way. They protested that Mattel was cheating them. They just did not ‘see the truth’. They wanted the collectible plane.
The folks at Mattel were smart and seized the opportunity. Mattel quickly made a limited-edition collectible of the Invisible Jet. They priced it at $5 – as an exclusive item to be sold only at Comic-Con. The ‘collectible’ was just the packaging – the plastic mold inside the case contained an outline of a plane, helping to sell the story of the Invisible Jet of the Wonder Woman.
Needless to say, Mattel had blockbuster sales – even though the packaging was empty. Today, the value of the rare collectors item is $100 and is most sought after.
You could scoff at this and say – ‘Oh, these mad people’. But, pause and reflect on the the power of a story that makes one even see things that can never be seen. Literally.
It happened again. This time on April 1st 2013 when Seattle’s Museum of Flight announced that the Wonder Woman Jet would be available for a limited, three day engagement in its halls. The entry on their website noted that the plane was ahead of its time: its ‘technology demonstrated advanced stealth and speed capabilities more than 20 years before comparable human-built aircraft.’
The pictures on the removed page no longer appear, but if you think about it, you’re really not missing out on anything.
You see, what I meant.
I hope you agree that this was one of the lighest #1MinuteStories ever. But you must read up on the creator – William Moulton Marston also known in the comic book world as Charles Moulton. He said in his later years that Wonder Woman gets her character from his two wives. That he invented the modern polygraph machine and then gave the lasso of truth to Wonder Woman does not seem to be a coincidence at all.