Friday, January 4, 2013

Wrath of the Black Manta Sweepstakes, 1990

The text in this ad is wholly unremarkable. The picture, however, is worth a thousand words at least. When last seen, the Ninpo master Black Manta was traveling between New York, Tokyo and Rio trying to clear out a pestulent nest of underhanded international terrorist kidnappers. But to unwind a little between extrajudicial executions, he also engages in a little Ninja-style recreation -- like a good old-fashioned shopping spree!
Call now and talk to the Black Manta for your chance to win!

Tell him you want to enter the Black Manta Sweepstakes and win a wild $5,000 shopping spree. Money you can spend any way you like at your favorite store! CALL FREE TO WIN!

Only one call per person
Expires June 5, 1990

One Mitsubishi 35" big screen stereo TV and Nintendo Entertainment System
10 Winners! Mongoose 18-speed Hill Topper BMX bicycle and Trail and Tour helmet
200 Winners! Limited Edition Black Manta T-shirt

Play Wrath of the Black Manta, the action-adventure game packed with suspense and intrigue. Travel the back streets, alleys and underground tunnels of New York, Tokyo and Rio with Black Manta, super ninja crime-fighter, as he strives to squelch the mis-guided efforts of international terrorists bent on kidnapping innocent kids. Help Black Manta master the awesome powers of ten magical martial arts and go on to exterminate these vermin from the face of the earth.

A New, Exciting Thriller From Taito!

I like "call now and talk to the Black Manta for your chance to win!" Martial arts mastery is really a boom and bust industry, and in lean times Ninpo masters actually work at call centres.

Much of the text is surgically transplanted, if not entirely intact, from the earlier ad. Most of the dubious lexical choices are still in effect ("squelch" & the assertion that the terrorists are "international" and must be "exterminate"d after kidnapping "innocent" kids.) I do like how they clarify that the terrorists' efforts are "misguided" here -- these aren't the noble justified terrorists of SNK's Guerrilla War. Describing them as "bent on kidnapping innocent children" suggests that this is the primary end unto itself of their terroristic organization. Their goal: to kidnap ALL the childrens!

Black Manta is clearly seen scowling in the initial ad (complete with great Ninja toe-shoes!) while here he appears more exuberant. Say what you will, I bet entering a store in that get-up would garner you a request from security to unmask. Of course, his presence would never be detected -- since he is a ninja. But is the cart pushing itself?

I must confess, I am slightly confused by the disparity between what I read on one part of the page and what I read elsewhere: is this a contest to win a $5000 shopping spree at my favorite store or to win a 35" TV and NES? Or is it just assumed that those objects are what any red-blooded American child would blow their credit on? (I get a kick out of further scrutiny of the cart -- are these items all the child's pick, or is Black Manta also picking up some things on his shopping list? Now, the pile of goods includes: a Wrath of the Black Manta NES cart, a plastic jet fighter, a choo-choo train, a baseball bat and glove, soccer ball, Bubble Bobble cartridge (good pick!), Turbo Hero, and I think I see some miscellaneous sporting goods in the bottom of the cart -- tennis racket, tennis ball, baseball. Does that add up to five grand? Oh yes, the unaccounted difference manifests in the form of crisp bills in the young master's fist. Could I actually just redeem the entire shopping spree as cash-back? No?)

Ah, the '80s, when all you needed to have a modelling career was ownership of a ninja costume.