Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Can He Swing from a Thread?

While I enjoy going to garage and estate sales for the thrill of the hunt, it's always nice when I can make a little scratch from my finds.   Thinking back to my childhood,  I guess I've always tried to make a buck where I could.

There were the "original" Spider-man stories I sold which were actually one-page typed, worked over retellings of episodes of the 1967 Spider-man cartoon which I watched religiously every day after school.  I sold those for fifty cents each to willing (read gullible) classmates.  Then there were the hand-drawn comic strips featuring my own creations which I would sell for a quarter a piece.  Perhaps I was taking advantage of my classmates, but at least they were getting a deliverable product for their money.

When I found this vintage '70's squirt ring at an estate sale a few months ago, my mind spun back (foreshadowing pun intended) to the 5th grade and an unrealized business venture.

If you're unfamiliar with these novelties, you fill the bulb with water and wait for an unsuspecting victim to admire the beautiful ring on your finger.  When they lean in for a closer look, BAM!  A squirt of water in their eye is their reward.

I mentioned my interest (read obsession) with Spider-man in those days.  I had fashioned a red ski mask into a Spider-man mask by sewing the mouth closed and widening the eyes.  I believe I also darkened around the eyes with a black marker to simulate the outline of Spider-man's eyes.

I liked the mask, but in my mind, the coolest item Spider-man had was his web spinners and I longed for a set of my own.  Anyone familiar with Spider-man lore knows Peter Parker fashioned his own web slingers and  I reasoned I could certainly do the same.  The squirt ring seemed like an ideal start.  My idea was to load string into the bulb and fill it with water.  By squeezing the bulb, water would eject, and along with it, the string.  It was fool proof!  Sure Spider-man didn't have water squirting along with his web, and yes technically the web came from his wrist, not his finger, but that was immaterial.

Inventor's Conceptual Drawings

"Web Spinner" in Action

My son demonstrating how it would have looked

I was so confident this would work that even before it had been manufactured, much less tested, I had secured (read hornswoggled) some investors.  For the low price of fifty cents, each was promised their own genuine Spider-man web shooter.  "Will it stick like Spider-man's web?" they asked.  Sure...  Probably...  Maybe to something like the bark of a tree, I reasoned.

When I finally got around to developing the shooter, I found I was left with a wet ball of string still inside the bulb.  Needless to say, I discovered that viable web shooting technology was still many years away and my classmates learned a valuable lesson in risky business ventures.

1 comment:

  1. i'm glad that i didn't know you at this point, because i'd have been a total sucker for this sort of thing.


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