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Issue 60: Kidz Water Hydrators

Mike: [00:00:00] Are you gonna pay me for that? Because if not, get

Mike: Hello. Welcome to Tencent Takes, the podcast where we crush kids' thirst, one issue at a time. My name is Mike Thompson, and as always, I'm joined by my co-host, the Water Witch of the Wasteland, Jessika Frazer.

Jessika: And what a wasteland this is. This is dystopian. I just watched white noise and I didn't know what the previce was, and I was shocked to find that it was basically the crash in East Palestine. And I was like, what's happening in the world? This movie came out last year and like, oh.

Mike: That's the one with like Adam Driver, right?

Jessika: Yes. There's literally a truck drives into a train, derails the train, and it [00:01:00] causes a toxic plume.

Mike: Nope, I read the summary of the book cause I was trying to understand what that movie was about. I saw the trailer fir and I'm like, I have no idea what's going on. And I read, the summary and I was like, this all feels very dry. I think I'm good.

Jessika: It wa okay. So it was pretty dry. I really liked it cuz I do like dry things from time to time. But I gotta tell you the scene and, and they show it. If you just go to the Netflix and you just play the scene that they show as their like, entry point to the film. It literally, I was like, oh my God, am I watching my parents before our house burnt down?

Because the parents were so complacent. The kids were like, oh my God, they're telling us we need to evacuate. And the dad's like, Hey, we need to be finishing dinner. Like what's happening here? And like literally it was like, it was kind of stressful actually cuz that like totally brought me back to that moment where I like ran into our house after my mom told us we had to evacuate.

So I like [00:02:00] ran home to like evacuate, right? To get all my stuff to leave. And she literally is like, they're standing in the kitchen. They're chilling, right? They're chilling and they're like, why are you running? Why am I running? Did you not just tell me that we were evacuating due to fire? I had to like yell at them to leave finally.

Mike: Yeah. And you and I have talked about this like off podcast and that whole story is just wild to me.

Jessika: It is, I honestly would not believe it if it didn't happen to me because they were so incredibly complacent and they had full laundry baskets of clothes that they, clean clothes, that they didn't grab, that were just sitting right there. And you know, I, so many things that they didn't grab, I feel really good about what I did grab.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Of course it could have been more. Of course there's stuff I lost. But I mean, I feel really good about the things that I did take.

Mike: Yeah,

Jessika: I don't know [00:03:00] that that's a hundred percent what they can say? Which is unfortunate. But that's what happens when you don't take things seriously. And they've told me pretty consistently that I'm overreacting and I'm just, I'm tired of it cuz I'm not overreacting.

I'm never overreacting, like our house burnt down.

Mike: yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, as opposed to Sarah and I were, we actually had, like, you know, a couple of years ago when we had the fire still fresh in our memory, and it was still like, you know, it felt like fire season was a very definite thing. We actually had, at our old place, we had a fire start on the hill behind our housing complex.

Jessika: Oh shoot. That's stressful.

Mike: Yeah. And, you know, so for a couple of months we just had like, go bags ready to go by the back door. It was just, you know, it was like, it was electronic, like, you know, chargers and things. It was toiletries. I had like the couple of boxes that I have for like my very important comics, which are mainly ones that are kind of just treasured memories.

But, you know, we [00:04:00] had like a whole pile of stuff where it's like, all right, we can get everything in the car in like 10 minutes and be out on the road. And, you know, we did that at one point where we didn't evacuate, but the thing is, is that the air quality was such garbage and then, there were blackouts.

They basically just cut off power everywhere because

Jessika: Oh yeah. My house got blacked out too. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, and I mean, so when that happened, we went to my parents' house in the East Bay for a couple of days, and it was a situation where actually I was really glad that we had everything piled up.

Cause we were able to just load up the car and get outta dodge before the traffic got really bad.

Jessika: Yeah. Every time I got worried about, I mean, cuz again, our house burnt down, and so every time, I mean cuz there was fire season the next year, the year after that, I mean I was going and working in shelters for people who were displaced and if there was even a hint that there was going to be fire nearing, I just filled my car up [00:05:00] and I got told by my parents and my brother pretty much that I was stupid. And I'm like, you know what? I'd rather unpack a bunch of stuff later than not have anything to unpack. Like, honestly, like it doesn't really, it's just my time. I'm wasting in the end. And even then I don't feel like it's a waste because I'm prepared. You know, if I'm stuck at a shelter all day, there's no way I'm gonna be able to go home and save stuff from my house.

You know, and so it's just like it seems really unreasonable to continue to try to gaslight me, which is really what it feels like at this point. Out of like concern for my own wellbeing from a pattern recognition basis. Like I am just recognizing patterns. Our house burned down before this could happen again.

I don't know what you don't understand.

Mike: Where were the Kidz Water Hydrators when we needed them?

Jessika: Oh, good lord. Where were they?

Mike: 2017 fires. [00:06:00]

Jessika: Man, those hills had a, they had a thirst . They had an extreme thirst.

Mike: Extreme with a capital X.

Jessika: Oh my God. My favorite thing.

Mike: Yeah. Well, getting back on a topic, if you are new to the show, the purpose of this podcast is to study comic books in ways that are fun and informative. We take a look at cool, weird and silly moments and then examine how they are woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history.

And if you're enjoying the show and you wanna help us grow, please head on over to Apple Podcasts and rate and or review us. That always really helps discoverability or, you know, you don't have to you know, you can just keep on listening. That helps too.

Jessika: But if you love us.

Mike: Yeah. Today we are going to talk about the Kidz Water Hydrators, a short-lived series created as part of a marketing [00:07:00] campaign between Kidz Water and Marvel Comics. But before we do that, what is one cool thing that you have read or watched?

Jessika: Well, I have a tattoo appointment this last weekend and always need good reading material for my sessions. So I brought with me Volume one of Curse of the Chosen, and it was Art and Illustrations by Alexis Deacon. It's about a leader who dies and 50 souls are chosen to battle, to find the new leader, to take her place.

And there are different challenges, and there's backstabbing and murder plots and a devious sorcereress. It's a ton of fun, and the art is fantastic. It's both serious and playful and the movement in the frames is phenomenal. There is an additional volume out at this point, so I'm going to have to search it out to find out what happens next in the saga, cuz I am just fascinated.

Mike: So is this like medieval fantasy style or is it.[00:08:00]

Jessika: Yeah, it feels very much that way. It kind of feels timeless

Mike: Nice. Yeah, I'll have to check that out. Sounds sounds cool.

Jessika: Well, what about you?

Mike: I have been watching Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. They just launched the cartoon on Disney Plus at the time of recording. This episode is gonna be dropping about a month or so after we record it, so it'll been out for a little while. So as a result, there's only a handful of episodes as of right now, but it's fantastic.

The comic it's based on is, it's kind of a sequel to the original Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur comic that Jack Kirby did with Marvel back in the 1970s. And in this story, a girl in New York named Lunella Lafayette, who is kind of like, you know, a mad scientist in training, but she's 13.

She manages to accidentally bring this bright red T-Rex named Devil through time. And then he lives, I think, below her [00:09:00] family's roller rink that they own, and then they moonlight as superheroes in New York's Lower East Side. And it is wonderful. Like the stories are really sweet and they're really funny.

The animation is gorgeous. It reminds me a lot of like a 2D version of the Into the Spider Verse movie. And then there are some really great musical sequences, and I've read most of the comic series on Marvel Unlimited, and it's really fun. So this show feels like a pitch perfect adaptation. There are some things that they changed with basic setup and premise, but I think that those were the right moves to make in order to make the whole thing a bit more accessible to new viewers.

Jessika: Okay, that's great because I've read the trade, I have the trade of Moon Girl and Double Dinosaur and I love it. It's so sweet. And I love Lunella. I love her.

Mike: Oh yeah. No, it's great. I love how they have made her a part of the [00:10:00] mainstream Marvel universe. I love that they have established that she is one of the smartest characters

Jessika: Yes.

Mike: In the cannon. It's fantastic.

Jessika: Yes, yes. That's one of my favorite things too, because like go her, not only is she like still a child, but you know. Oh, just, it's so good. It's

Mike: It's really great.

Jessika: Oh, I'll have to watch that. I'm very excited now. I was trying to figure out what I was gonna watch after this, but I think it's gonna.

Mike: Yeah, no, it's one of those shows where it's obviously meant for, you know, a younger audience, but at the same time, Sarah and I were watching it with the kids and all of us really enjoyed it. So yeah, check it out.

Jessika: Yeah, I will. Well, thank.

Mike: Yeah. All right. Are you ready to, uh, dive into the history of Kidz Water Hydrators?

Jessika: Let's splash into it.

Mike: Yeah.

Mike: All right. Did you know that Marvel has a division that will work with [00:11:00] businesses to create custom branded comics?

Jessika: . Well, we may need to look into that. Marvel, are you listening?

Mike: Oh, trust me, I've got plans for this whole genre of comic books.

Jessika: Excellent.

Mike: Yeah, there was a recent Wall Street Journal article that noted that the department's actually been in operations since the 1970s and it's worked with groups to create special promotional comics. And an early example of this, would be the various comics that Marvel did with the Dallas Times Herald, which featured the X-Men and Spider-Man along with Iceman and Firestar interacting with like local fixtures, such as the Texas State Fair, the Dallas Ballet, or the Dallas Cowboys, which okay, whatever.

Yes, we are absolutely going to talk about those books at some point. Sarah got me the Texas State Fair one for Christmas. It's as ridiculous as you would expect it to be. There were also mini comics that they did for Amurol Products company, which were packaged with bubblegum.[00:12:00] So in the nineties, Marvel's custom books were pretty prevalent.

I've got a couple of the books that you had to mail away for. There was a Spider-Man and Daredevil comic called the Trial of Venom, which is actually pretty good. I reread it recently. It holds up. But you could only get it if you donated money to UNICEF.

Jessika: Oh, okay.

Mike: Yeah. There was another anthology book that you had to send away as part of like a partnership with Charleston Chew.

And that comic is the reason that I discovered Charleston Chew Candies. Cuz you had to like send in wrappers. Yeah, I was like, what is this? And my mom, my mom got all excited. She's like, oh, I remember Charleston Chew, that was a candy that I loved as a kid. So my mom bought me Charleston Chews so I could send 'em into Marvel.

Jessika: Oh, look at you and this. Oh my gosh. Look at, so Charles, so really we should be thanking Charleston Chew for our podcast.

Mike: I think that's maybe, I don't

Jessika: Well, but if you didn't read, if you didn't read Comics before Charleston Chew.

Mike: No, I totally read comics before Charleston Shoe. I just hadn't, I hadn't heard of [00:13:00] Charleston Chew itself. Yeah, it's like Charleston Chew's, kind of like, it's kind of a garbage candy to be honest. It's not great.

Jessika: Well, no, I know. Listen, man, it wasn't for the enjoyment of the candy, it was for the the public funding backing.

Mike: No, that was the whole thing was like, I had no idea what Charleston Chew was. I was like 10 and I'd never heard of this. And my mom was like, oh, I know Charleston Chew. I'll buy you some. And I'm like, oh, okay. And I ate like half of a bar and I'm like, this is gross. just opened up the bars and sending in the wrappers.

Jessika: Okay, well that makes a little bit more sense. Nevermind Charleston Chew. You probably don't wanna do business with us.

Mike: Exactly.

Jessika: Charleston Chew is deeply offended right now.

Mike: I I mean, it always like sticks to the cardboard too, and like, no.

Jessika: Eating part of the cardboard.

Mike: Yeah. Let's see. Another one that's pretty infamous is Marvel did a mini comic with Combos, the snack food, and they created Combo Man, which is widely regarded. Oh, it's amazing. It's, [00:14:00] it's like the laziest thing too. All it is. So if you look at a picture of Combo Man, it's like a dozen different heroes combined into one.

And it's not like they took in different elements and kind of like, you know, mashed 'em together to create something new. It's literally like horizontal slices, like layers.

Jessika: Stop.

Mike: So it's like the Hulk's hair and then like Cyclops is visor and uh, like you know, you see like part of Spider-Man's webbing and other things. It's ridiculous.

Jessika: my God, they spun a wheel.

Mike: Yeah. And then, and then if I remember right, like the whole thing was that the guy had the powers of all of those heroes combined. I don't know, like I, it's one of those things that I need to track down. It's, it's not good.

Jessika: Sounds horrendous.

Mike: Yeah. And you know, Marvel was not the only one that did books like this.

You can find stuff from DC and Archie comics from this era too, [00:15:00] I mean, check out episode 16 for the time capsule that is the books where Superman helps sell Radio Shack's Tandy computers. But we are focusing on Marvel stuff tonight because we're looking at Marvel books

Jessika: but definitely go back and listen to the episode 16 because. Superman definitely has the hots for this teacher.

Mike: And so does, so does Super Girl in the next issue. It's.

Jessika: So Super Girl. It's, it's amazing. The sexual tension is-

Mike: Also, maybe Wonder Woman?

Jessika: -so heavy. Oh, a hundred percent. And Wonder Woman, too, it was so, it's such heavy sexual tension. So if you're into that kind of thing, go listen to it and go read them, honestly. Go read them. You'll see it.

Mike: Yeah, they're fun. They're, you know, they're, they are, they are inoffensive, charming comics of the era. And yeah, that, that whole episode was a lot of fun to research. But yeah, Marvel's Custom Comics division is still going strong. In fact, that Wall Street Journal article [00:16:00] from a couple of years ago noted how powerful Marvel is now in terms of marketing, because, you know, now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has permeated all of pop culture.

But the, the most recent, kind of like real world tangible example that they had was it noted how Spider-Man was used to market Good Nights, which are, you know, diapers for kind of older kids. And Marvel did an online comic where Spider-Man has to fight a villain who can control dreams. It sounds like it might be the villain Nightmare, but I couldn't confirm that because I can't find the comic online anywhere.

Jessika: Oh.

Mike: Yeah, it was hosted on Marvel's website and all the links to it don't work anymore. But according to the article, Amazon sales of Good Nights tripled immediately after that comic came out.

Jessika: Ooh. Holy shit.

Mike: Yeah, you can't deny what a marketing juggernaut Marvel is these days.

Jessika: Damn.

Mike: Yeah. So now that brings us to the main topic of tonight, which is [00:17:00] Kidz Water and Kidz is spelled with a Z, we should note this. It's.

Jessika: The most nineties thing I've ever heard in my life.

Mike: It's so, it's so nineties.

Yeah. So have you ever heard of Kidz Water before this?

Jessika: Never ever in my entire life have I heard of this.

Mike: I hadn't either. I had no idea this was a thing until Sarah got me the second issue of these Hydrators comics as a Christmas gift this year. And that's what originally started me going down this rabbit hole. Like, I had no idea this brand was a thing, but I was having brunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago and I was telling them about this episode that we were working on, and they were just like, how did you not know about this?

They said that it was actually one of their go-to party items in college because the bottles were really small and easy for like drunk people to hold onto.

Jessika: Weird. Okay.

Mike: Also they said the water wasn't that great tasting, they said it tasted like Dasani. But anyway, I'm getting off [00:18:00] topic. So, Kidz Water was a Fluoridated bottled water brand that was designed specifically to appeal to, well kids.

And I honestly had a hell of a time tracking down any information about the brand or the comics, until I looked up the indicum on the first page of the first issue, and I found the trademark for the comic. And the characters belong to Suntory Water Group, which was an Atlanta based subsidiary of this Japanese alcoholic beverage company, Suntory.

And it turns out the concept was created by Lighthouse Marketing by Design out of Atlanta. So I started kind of pulling at these threads and I came across a news story, like in air quotes, announcing the initial launch of the waterline from January, 1998. Like the air quotes around this news story are necessary because it was probably a press release that got picked up by a wire service and was reprinted in trade publications because [00:19:00] the text is totally identical across multiple outlets. So the article notes: the Water was bottled by Suntory Water Group subsidiary Hinkley and Schmidt Bottled Water Company. And the Hydrators artwork designed by Lighthouse was included on the packaging already, and that water product line was being tested out in both Atlanta and suburban Chicago markets where Hinkley & Schmidt was already popular.

So, I've got a link here and you can actually see how the Hydrators are on the package in the graphic included in the article.

Jessika: Oh yeah, there they are.

Mike: Yeah, right.

Jessika: That's so funny. Like exactly what we found in the comics right there.

Mike: Yeah, it's like the identical character art. Like, they don't look any different. It's a pretty small graphic that's been blown up, so there's a lot of pixelation, but it looks like this packaging was pretty final by the time they started testing it out. And so this is where things get interesting cuz I [00:20:00] looked up Lighthouse marketing in Atlanta and I found a group in Marietta, which is apparently the Oakland's to Atlanta, San Francisco. And I took a shot in the dark and I contacted them. I just kind of filled out the form on their website to see if they knew anything about the Kidz Water Hydrator comics.

And then Rob Chaput, one of Lighthouse's co-founders, emailed me back like a day later and invited me to call him. And he gave me the backstory about all this. So Lighthouse, it turns out, is a full service marketing agency that's still around. They were only a couple of years old back in 1999. They'd actually formed in 1996, however, they'd been working with Suntory Water Group during the 96 Olympics in Atlanta when Suntory's Crystal Springs Water brand was declared, the official water of the Olympics.

And basically the summer Atlanta was like heinously hot, which I mean, you know, anyone that's been alive for the past 20 years, not surprised. And so the city itself was making a lot of preparations. Like they had areas where people could grab water and enjoy some [00:21:00] air conditioning when they needed it.

And then I found an interesting article in the LA Times by Randy Harvey called "Hot Atlanta: Officials Sweat It Out, As Even the Army is Being Called Out to Beat the Heat".

And it details all the preparations that were being done to keep people cool. And then I came across this nugget.

Jessika: " The official bottled water, the Crystal Springs of Atlanta, is supplying 4 million gallons of water, enough to fill 72 Olympic sized swimming pools, to athletes and spectators. Teams rollerblading, toga clad heat busters carrying four gallon water tanks on their back will tour high traffic areas and spray spectators for free".

Mike: Yeah. And then there was another article from Brand Week, saying that Suntory had decided to go ahead with this program because bottled water outsold all the other beverages at the first event held in Atlanta's Olympic stadium. So, Rob told me that this was his agency's brainchild.

Lighthouse worked to put together a street marketing group called The Heat Busters, which served [00:22:00] as kind of like a grassroots viral marketing campaign during what was easily one of the biggest events of the decade, if not this century. And Suntory was pretty happy with the results, and so they turned to Lighthouse again when it came to marketing their existing water to kids.

And Lighthouse pitched the brand idea, they created the character lineup and then they connected with Marvel. And Marvel agreed to the project and followed the objectives , and then like went to town with the storyline and you know, focused on making them Marvel esque, for lack of a better term.

Rob said that Lighthouse even went up to the Marvel office in New York and worked with the Marvel team and everyone was actually really happy with the stories and their plans for more comics and storylines.

And, there were actual like characters that they hired people to dress up as, like they, they hired actors to play Hydro and Crystal, and then they sent them out to minor league baseball games and they would spray kids with their water backpacks and give out samples. And [00:23:00] like, apparently it was like they custom built these costumes, like this was before, you know, cosplay was really like the thing that it is now.

And they also sent the actors to trade shows. And then that brings us to the comics, which were published under the Marvel Custom Comics label, and according to, are the only issues to ever get put out as part of that imprint.

These issues were written by Michael Stewart, penciled by Al Milgram and Steven Butler. If Al Milgram's name sounds familiar to you, it's because he was the writer behind us, one, which we talked about, about a year and a half ago.

Jessika: Mm-hmm.

Mike: They were inked by Al Gordon, colored by Paul Mounts and Michael Higgins, lettered by Michael Higgins, and edited by Steve Bailing. These issues were available in two ways, either select Marvel Comics had the mini comics inserted into them because publishing is weird.

The cover dates for these issues were June through September of 1999, but they actually started hitting the shelves in April. So, [00:24:00] before we start describing these comics, would you read the description of the Hydrators from the opening panel of issue one.

Jessika: Okay, here we go. Hydro! Crystal! Ice! Misty! X-Stream! Vapor! Together, they're the Kidz Water Hydrators. Six bold young heroes using their special skills and powerful wrist hydro phasers to save the world from the dangerous effects of dehydration, and battle those who threaten earth's most valuable resource: water.

Mike: All right, so what happens in issue one? Paint us a word picture.

Jessika: So issue one is titled A Sudden Chill. Remember the word chill, everyone. So the Hydrators, who I've just named of course, the F four mentioned, are competing in snow races basically, but [00:25:00] all are being bested by a certain competitor named Chill. They figure out that chill is, er, not so chill, as it were, with having competition .As it turned out that he was causing everyone to be dehydrated by freezing their kids' water in a block of ice.

Vapor thaws the waters out for everyone, and then they all foil Chill's plan to freeze the competition with the freeze gun. Once they were all fully hydrated, Chill finally gets snagged and DQ'ed from the race with the phrase, "maybe now you'll learn to chill out".

Mike: And then basically it's I kinda love how they always end these with these like kind of silly little puns. And then it's like the eighties, like freeze frame high five. It's, mm, love it.

Jessika: Everyone is like in like 10 feet in the air somehow. It's

amazing. Well, so issue number two is called Day of Decay. The Hydrators are attending a birthday [00:26:00] party in the park for Zach when he suddenly feels a sharp ache in his tooth. Upon further investigation, his tooth is decaying at a rapid rate. That's, that's scary. I don't like that.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: But he drinks some of the Kidz Water, has fluoride, and it heals his decay.

The others also start to feel decay in their mouths, heal it up and follow the wave of decay to the secret hideout of Dr. Decay. They take out his large decay Ray, take him and his smaller decay ray out, blast him with water and short out his electric teeth?

Mike: Yeah, he's got a real interesting visual design. It's kind of like a trap jaw from He Man, where he's got like the metal, kind of like lower jaw and like they're all serrated

Jessika: Yeah, but we do end with way to dampen his spirits.

Mike: Uh, that's very good. So in issue three, the story is called The Heat is On, and we open [00:27:00] on a group of goons who work for Heat, which is an acronym for Hydration Elimination Attack Team. And , they're like, they're in these like floating kind of platforms and they've all got these flame motifs and one of them's like, hey boss, tell us about your evil plan again.

And so they get a monologue from their leader about how they're gonna take over a space shuttle and then quote, trash the science junkets carrying, and then launch it with a planet scorcher satellite so they can dehydrate any part of the earth they want. The plan is a little vague, but it sounds like they're, they want to dehydrate population centers and then that'll make them easy targets for robbery, I guess.

I don't know. I'm like, all right. You know . Anyway, they fire a scorch ray at a building with an observation jack, where there are a bunch of kids on a school field trip. So I [00:28:00] think they're, I think. I think what's going on is that there's going to be a shuttle launch and then like, and there are people there to like watch this and so they're trying to like knock everybody out so they don't have any interference.

That is what I think is going on. Not quite fleshed out, but let's go with that. But we see the teachers talking to a hidden Crystal, who is one of the hydrators. She appears to be invisible and she has summoned ice shields to keep everyone cool. A bunch of the hydrators crash the party on what are like essentially flying jet skis and then they start taking out the heat agents.

It's revealed that Xtreme has been working undercover as like one of the, the goons for heat and. While Crystal is revealing that being proactive in drinking before you feel hot is the best way to prevent dehydration. HEAT's leader knocks extreme off the flying platform, but Misty saves her teammate and creates a fog cover to leave the terrorist flying [00:29:00] blind and vulnerable.

The remaining HEAT agents get frozen into blocks of ice and then the leader is taken into custody, but he's offered a bottle of Kidz Water right before he goes to prison and s

Jessika: fact.

Mike: That was honestly, I think like that, that was the one issue where it was like had the most stuff going on.

Jessika: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Mike: Yeah. Issue four is Fizzco is Flat. The Hydrators confront the super villain Fizz, who's rocking kind of like a mirror universe version of the Hydrators outfits and equipment, and he's transforming the water in the city's reservoir into soda.

And he notes that like he's not a bad guy because the kids love it. And he's pointing to a bunch of kids who are like, kind of like, they're kind of like little punks who are cheering 'em on. But then the kids immediately start feeling, yeah, they're all hooligans. But then the kids start feeling sleepy and tired.

And so Crystal is like, tell them the truth, soda leads to obesity and tooth decay and dehydration, which as someone who is addicted to diet Coke, rude. [00:30:00] And then, uh, the hydrators work together. Extreme overpowers Fizz with his water blast. Vapor stops him from escaping the kids ditch their sodas, and Hydro restores the reservoir to water the end.

And that's it. That's all the issues we have. So the summaries are short because the comics are short. They are a total of eight pages, including the covers, which means the comic stories themselves are only six pages each. And these issues were available in two ways. Select Marvel comics had the mini comics inserted into them.

And I don't know which issues specifically contained copies of Kidz Water Hydrators, mainly because there's so little documentation available. But thanks to Comics Out, I was able to find out that Spider Girl issues 9 and 10 had the inserts, which makes sense since that was a comic marketed towards younger readers.

And I checked out Mike's Amazing World of Comics, which lets you search out which comics were on sale each month, [00:31:00] and I checked out the other books that may have been marketed towards younger readers at the same time as those issues of Spider Girl. I wouldn't be surprised if a Next had an insert since that was part of the same continuity is Spider Girl.

But other than that, I've got no idea what other books were part of the campaign since this is an era of Marvel that I'm not actually that dialed in on. So the other way that you could get these issues though, was that you could send away for them via mail. You needed two UPCs from six packs of the water, or one UPC from a 12 pack, and then you had to include a buck 95 for shipping.

There was also a Hydro Watch that you could send away for the same UPC requirements and it came with like, it was a watch that had a liquid film dome with a floating character of Hydro in it. And the watch cost a total of, yeah, I mean like, you know, it's kind of like a, a classic little kids marketing campaign. And the watch cost 9 95 and that included shipping.

There was also a call to action [00:32:00] for, which obviously isn't in existence anymore, however, it was crawled as early as December, 1998 by, and you can see what they had set up. Basically there was a coming soon page, and it looks like the page itself had images of the various Hydrators sitting on there.

The images themselves are broken, but you can see the file names and they match up to the team members. So it looks like the page wasn't really updated throughout 1999, and then it went offline somewhere between November, 1999 and March of 2000. My guess is the marketing campaign for the hydrators ended and its various marketing arms weren't really continued, but you know, it's one of those things where it's out there, it exists, you can still find it.

And then I was talking to Rob and I was like, do you still have copies of this sitting in the office? And he was like, oh, yeah, we, we still got copies around. He actually offered to send me photos if we needed them to talk about it. And I was like, we, I've got these. I'm like, I'm, I'm already three steps ahead of you.

I've already bought these. [00:33:00] They're weirdly hard to find too, like,

Jessika: Hmm.

Mike: It took me a little while to actually dick up copies. And some people are asking for insane money for them because it's just, it, it feels like something that is probably a, it's not well known. B I'm willing to bet that not a lot of people still have these around because these were very clearly kind of like disposable little kids' comics.

And then on top of that, I mean, I'm willing to bet that probably not that many people sent in you know, the Kidz Water UPCs for them. So I'm willing to bet that they're in so much short supply.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: But yeah. So got a couple of questions. What is your overall impression of these comics?

Jessika: I mean, they were cute. I liked that they were bite sized. It was large text, low reading level. I think it would be entertaining for kids. And I, I even found it charming. So I think it did what it was supposed to. I also liked the very like nineties Captain [00:34:00] Planet vibe. It had, you know, minus the ring.

Mike: Yeah. No, very much so.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I'm pretty much right there with you. It's perfectly fine edutainment, like, you know, you've got the comic action that's very bite sized, as you said. They also always have like one little factoid to kind of like, make it educational where it's like, oh, well, you know, fluoride helps fight tooth decay.

Or, you know, oh, well you can get dehydrated, even the cold. Yeah, it makes

Jessika: You can have too much fluoride kids. You can have much fluoride I know for a fact no, I had stained teeth as a child cuz I was given fluoride tablets and then there was also fluoride in the water.

Mike: Oh wow.

Jessika: So I actually ended up with like, what I would always get kids asking me like, oh, are those peanut butters?

You have peanut butter on your teeth? Like, it was that bad that I like, had stains on my teeth. Uh, thank you Crest White strips by the way.

Mike: Where's that tie-in comic?

Jessika: Now I get compliments on my smile.

Mike: But yeah, this was [00:35:00] obviously like, you know, a marketing comic, but like, you know, it was charming. It was inoffensive, like.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. Do you have a favorite issue?

Jessika: I liked number three. There was a little bit more, like you said, going on. I especially liked that they had like a secret spy. I love that they had like a whole reveal, like a mask. He pulls this mask off and I been here all along and you told me you're a plan because you're an idiot, which I, I did like that.

It was very sassy and it was.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: And it should be noted that it's X-Streme who pulls off the helmet and his name is spelled x dash stream, s

Jessika: my God. I, yes, yes, it was.

Mike: It's very good.

Jessika: Oh my God.

Mike: I liked issue two the most, mainly because I thought Dr. Decay looks like a mix of the joker and trapped jaw from Heman. It's a wild look. And I also love that the first thing he did once he got his [00:36:00] decay ray working was ruin a kid's birthday party because that is, that is the kind of petty evil that I aspire to.

Jessika: Listen, they were being really loud in that park. Kids aren't allowed to have fun anywhere. Not if it inconveniences one single other adult.

Mike: Oh man, I'm so excited. I have a lawn and I really wish that I was an old person so I could just yell at them to get off it.

Jessika: That's cute that you think we're not old already.

Mike: Man I know. I've already

Jessika: I've been flexing my knee cuz it just like hurts every once in a while.

Mike: Yeah, no, I, uh,

Jessika: And pops.

Mike: Like I mean, that's the thing is the kids that grew up reading this are all now middle-aged. That is.

Jessika: Yep. Yep. We look at those people snowboarding and we're like, that was fun, once.

Mike: I'm like, mm, I remember those days. I remember when I was a ski patroller and then on my off days I would go and snowboard. Yeah, those were, those were fun.

Jessika: Oh my gosh. Good [00:37:00] times. The stamina.

Mike: Yep. What's that? These days got winded going upstairs now.

Uh, know. I was gonna go for a run today, and then I was like, it's windy and cold outside.

I think I'm gonna stay in and uh, and eat Chinese food.

Jessika: No you weren't.

Mike: I had plans, man.

Jessika: Big plans.

Mike: Big plans.

Jessika: I know I was gonna go for a run the night before my tattoo, but then I was like, well, I don't want to do that because then my freaking leg is gonna be sore. But I had the gumption. I was like sad that my gumption is wasted on this evening.

Mike: Yeah. So who's your favorite character of the Hydrators or in the comics in general? It doesn't have to be the Hydrators, it could be the villains.

Jessika: Obviously X-Stream.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Obviously, so I'm pretty sure I messaged you because I was screaming. was X-Screaming when I read his name. Plus like you said, like he gets to be a spy. Yeah, I don't know. I thought they were pretty forgettable.

Mike: Well, yeah. I mean, they're.[00:38:00] This was my issue with it is that they're all kind of blank templates, so it's hard to really pick out a favorite, like the villains are more memorable because they all have like very cool, unique designs. The hydrators, they've all got the same kind of uniform. We don't really get an intro to them.

I think I liked, like, I mean, we wouldn't even have known who the characters were, , if they hadn't addressed each other by name, you know? So it's like, they're like, oh, hey, they're Hydro. Oh, hey, there, Crystal. Oh, hey, I'm X-Stream. You know, so whatever. I think I probably liked Misty Best and she could fly and she actually seemed to have a unique power set that was pretty defined in a couple of the issues, which was like she had this ability to, to like manifest clouds.

I mean, like, I agree with you X-Stream's name is amazing, but it never felt like he had a really defined power set other than being a, a master of disguise. And he had those, his heat buster, you know, like water gun.

Jessika: But, he also looks like good guy, Gaston.

Mike: Yeah, no, that's a very accurate description. I am curious,[00:39:00] which Marvel character do you think would be the most natural one for the Hydrators to have crossover with?

Jessika: I would say plural characters, because I think they would do really nicely with the X-Men. And that would make a lot of sense. And if they could make them more solid characters,

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Jessika: we were talking about, like really round them out a little bit, develop them maybe a little bit, they could play off of the different personalities that exist in X men's world.

And it'd be really interesting to see how they could combine their particular forces to defeat whatever foes they might meet for these crossover events.

Mike: Mm. Yeah. Like I keep on just going back to Captain America, like, because he's like the All American. He also grew up in a time when fluoridated water wasn't a thing.

Jessika: And you're right, he's very advertisement as well, of course.

Mike: Yeah, like, like I know Captain America's kind of like a cornball character for a [00:40:00] lot of people, but like, I, I like him kind of in the same way that I like Superman, where he gives off strong Labrador energy. But like I could also see like Dr. Decay teaming up with like the Red Skull for a comic. And, you know, and then like, you know, and then seeing him mess with Cap's pearly whites.

Jessika: LOL.

Mike: So, yeah. Yeah, so like I never came across Kidz Water in the market, but it apparently sold pretty well. Rob said it would probably still be on store shelves today, but there was a change in management a couple of years after the launch. And Suntory wound up divesting itself of the Suntory Water Group and its various products, and that lines up.

I came across a New York Times article from September, 2003, talking about how Sun, Tori and the French company, Danone, created a company that would handle water delivery to homes in the us. And when I contacted Suntory about this episode to see if they had anything to say about the [00:41:00] trademark, they basically were like, we sold that to Danone in 2004.

And I reached out to Danone to see if they had any insight, they never got back to me. But this may not be where the story of Kidz Water with a Z ends, because it turns out there's another brand of kids Water with a Z in Europe. It's like the same spelling. It's a slightly different font. And according to an article from the Irish Independent, in June of 2003, Tipperary Water was committing 500,000 pounds to a marketing campaign promote their new brand.

Tipperary Kidz Water. And, Tipperary Kidz Water is an Irish water brand and part of the larger Tipperary Water brand, which is in turn owned by the Irish company, CNC Group, which owns Tito's Vodka of all things.

It, yeah, so like they're, you know, a pretty big deal. It's just they're not a group that you would immediately have heard of if you're the average consumer on the street.[00:42:00]

There's not a huge web presence for this brand, but C N C does talk about it in financial reports. They've noted that they use Kidz water to raise money for charity. You can still buy the water from various Irish supermarkets. And the product information on those supermarket sites notes that sales benefit the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

I, again contacted Tipperary through their corporate site just to ask if Tipperary Kidz with the Z Water has any connection to the earlier brand and haven't heard back. So, like that said, the timing and the spelling, it feels just a little bit too coincidental, not to mention, and this is where my knowledge of the brand peters out.

So, you know, we got most of the mysteries solved. But there's still, there's still a little bit left. That said, do you have any final thoughts before we move on?

Jessika: Oh, well I'm certainly interested to hear if there's ever [00:43:00] an update, you'll have to let us know.

Mike: The Hydrators are all just drinking Titos now.

Jessika: Oh my. Oh my God. Wouldn't that be amazing? Well, this, no, this was a lot of fun. I had literally never heard of this and genuinely enjoyed these comics and learning about them, so thank you.

Mike: Yeah. Well, thank you Sarah. Like, I haven't had this much fun unearthing, kind of like the history of a comic because it was just something that I got to do kind of firsthand research for. I don't think I've actually enjoyed myself this much on an episode since I was digging into those Debbie does Dallas Comics that we did, a retrospective on, which are very different from Kidz water.

Jessika: Very very different.

Mike: But also, thank you so much to Rob for taking the time to talk to me because he didn't have to and it was great. So really appreciate that. Are you ready to move on to Brain Wrinkles?

Jessika: Let's float on over.

Mike: All right. We are now at Brain Wrinkles, which [00:44:00] is the part of the show where we talk about one thing that is comics or comics adjacent that has just been stuck in our little heads for the last couple of days. So I have been talking for a bit, you get to go first.

Jessika: Great. Well, I have been thinking about the move from theater to home viewing and kind of the evolution of that. Like you and I have been around to see from the VHS the laser disc and other failed media sources, the boom and subsequent end to the video rental market. And now we're in this phase where it just makes sense for people not to be going to theaters and we don't have the time or the money as a society to be indulging in this, in this way.

And the movie theater industry wants us to, and they themselves are increasing their prices to make up for their lack of attendance, while that is further driving, lack of attendance. So like they gotta get their shit together if they wanna stay relevant. I do like going to the theater on [00:45:00] occasions to see movies, but it's also so much less enjoyable now when you have to deal with other people talking or lighting up their phones to text or whatever else.

I just wanna sit in my living room, like with my dog, where I can have my dog and watch things as I wanna watch them pause the three hour movie when I have to pee or feel like I'm able to stop watching something I'm not enjoying, since I haven't paid close to $20 to watch it.

It's just what I've spent my time on, you know? So, with what I perceive as the fall of the movie theater era, I'm interested to see what we evolve into after the current kind of world of streaming that we know right now.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: Because there will be an evolution.

Mike: There absolutely will be. You know, we were really locked down, you know, we're still very locked down post covid. But we got a really nice tv, we got back lights for it. So for us, we tend to just wait until stuff comes to video on demand and then we can, you know, order it that way. I took my stepson to see Antman & Wasp [00:46:00] Quantum Mania this weekend. And it was the most unpleasant experience. Like, first of all, it was a matinee showing, and for four of us a cost with snacks about 80 bucks.

Jessika: Jesus.

Mike: Yeah. And then, so we, you know, they've got the reserve seats, they've got the luxury recliners. That's great. We sit down, we're a little bit early.

The movie theoretically started at three 20 and instead we, and I'm not making this up, we had 10 movie trailers, and an ad for Expedia that was admittedly narrated by Ewan McGregor, who I could listen to and just read out of the phone book and it would be great. But it just, it was so frustrating to sit there and be like, we don't care about this movie, about how Nike got Michael Jordan to model their shoes.

Or there was also an ad for this new horror movie called The Boogeyman and it was really weird cuz it was a [00:47:00] matinee showing with like a lot of kids, so I didn't quite understand who they were trying to show that to. It just, it wasn't a pleasant experience. And I was sitting there and I'm like, I don't think I really want to go back to the movies very much after this.

Jessika: Yeah. Yeah, it's, I think people are starting to figure that out. And it is a bummer because I grew up with the movies being one of those things that you just, you, you do, you just go and do. And it was something that was inexpensive for kids, they could just get dropped off at the theater, get picked up a couple hours later.

I mean, that was back, that was back in the day when people actually did that. But.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: You know, it's, it's not that attainable any longer. And then you have the movie theaters who are like, why isn't anybody coming to our theater anymore? And it's like, well, gee, I don't know.

Mike: I, you know, it's funny because I remember when I was growing up, I had movie theaters that were easily bikeable to me. And so [00:48:00] I would, you know, I would take my allowance, which was, you know, five or 10 bucks and I would go catch a matinee showing of a movie. And, you know, that was just a great way to kill a Sunday.

So for, for a couple of years, like, it didn't matter what movie was showing, I would just go see it. Which probably not the best thing now that I look back on it. The movie theater will let me go see horror movies too, which I loved, but whatever.

Yeah, yeah. No, it's gonna be real interesting to see what happens going forward.

Jessika: Yeah. I know we used to have a, every, every Christmas we would open presents and then we would go see a matinee with the, with my family. I don't think that all of us, like if we had a family of that many people, I don't think we would be able to afford to go.

Mike: I, you know, like that's the thing is, it has gotten to the point where it is prohibitively expensive.

Jessika: Like everything else, like living.

Mike: But I mean, movies in general, it's really interesting [00:49:00] because they were trying to make it more of like a luxury experience and it's like, no, we just want, like, don't get me wrong, like, I love going to the Alamo Draft House.

Like, like every now and then when I go down to San Francisco and do that, it's not an easy thing for me. But that's always like a really pleasant experience because, They will kick you out if you are using your phone and they, you know, have to talk to you, or if you're talking through the movie, they have food that they will bring you that you can order from a menu.

That's a really fun experience. But like, yeah, the cushy seats are nice and all that, but I don't know. Like you said, I really like sitting at home in comfort with my dogs where I can pause it and go make some food or go to the bathroom.

I mean, can you imagine if we watched Zac Snyder's Justice League in theaters?

Jessika: I literally cannot even imagine, like my ADHD barely lets me get through an entire movie without me getting up and like walking around and like, oh, gotta go do this thing really quick. Oh, I need a snack. Oh, you know.

Mike: It [00:50:00] took us like six hours to watch it because we kept on pausing it cuz we had to go do other things and we were so not invested in it.

Jessika: Yeah. Pretty much. Pretty much.

Mike: Oh, man. Well, speaking of movies, did you ever see the Dick Tracy movie that Warren Beatty made for Disney back in the 1990s?

Jessika: Oh yeah, actually I do. And then that Dick Tracy, video game came out like right

afterwards. We had that.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So apparently Warren Beatty really wanted to make a sequel, but Tribune Media wouldn't let him. Like they apparently even tried to make a TV show without him, but he still, he still has the rights. So here's the thing. He basically found a way to keep the rights, so like, if they're ever gonna do anything with Dick Tracy again, like he has to be involved.

He has made a couple of TV specials where he wears the Dick Tracy costume, and then he talks to Leonard Molton, the film critic, for like a half hour or so. And then he basically just drops [00:51:00] these without any notice on Turner Classic movies in the middle of the night. And this allows him to keep the film rights.

And there was actually a court verdict confirming this, and the latest one just dropped about a week ago, and it's called Tracy Zooms in, and Beatty apparently just used Zoom this time. So he didn't even have to like put in a lot of effort to like, you know, showing up on set or anything. This is like the most wonderfully spiteful and petty thing I have ever heard of in forever.

And I love it. I love it so much, like.

Jessika: I

Mike: so,

Jessika: Oh my gosh.

Mike: So, because he has done this, Warren Beatty has the film rights to Dick Tracy, until the character enters the public domain in 2027. And I am so happy about this because like I know that if he hadn't been doing this, like we would've been just getting terrible Dick Tracy Media shoveled at us every couple of years.

And I'm sure that, like.

Jessika: Oh, 100 [00:52:00] percent.

Mike: Like I'm really glad that like, this is keeping the Disney Plus Dick Tracy series with Chris Pratt off of our TVs. And I was like, yeah, 100%.

Jessika: Oh my God. Seriously though.

Mike: You know, admittedly it would probably be like Josh Brolin playing Dick Tracy now.

But, yeah, I love this story so much. Like it makes me so happy, especially because I actually really liked the Dick Tracy movie. That was one of those movies I saw as a kid on a Sunday because I had nothing else to do, and so I biked down to the theater. I think I saw it at the Alexandria in San Francisco, which is now just like, an abandoned ruin in the middle of the Richmond District. But.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, so anyway, that is gonna be it for us this week. We will be back next week , with another mini episode of Dollar Bin Discoveries. And after that, I don't know what we're recording, we've been recording all of our episodes kind of out of order, and so we've been struggling to keep track of everything.

Jessika: And it advanced trying to be.

Mike: [00:53:00] Yeah. And at this point, I think this is the last one that we actually have like for the buffer right now. But yeah, anyway, until then, we will see you in the stacks.

Jessika: Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Mike: This episode was hosted by Jessika Frazer and Mike Thompson, written by Mike Thompson and edited by Jessika Frazer. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Emerson-Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits and transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan MacDonald and was purchased with the standard license from Premium Beat.

Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who you can find at

Jessika: If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to or shoot an email to You can also find us on Twitter, for now. The official podcast account is tencenttakes, Jessika is jessikawitha, and Jessika spelled with a [00:54:00] K.

And Mike is vansau, v a n s A U. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon, and Hive. A full list of our socials will be listed in the show.

Mike: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen.

Jessika: Stay safe out there.

Mike: And support your local comic shop.

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