Polaris Nuclear Submarine

Forget the whoopie cushions and x-ray glasses. This was the kind of thing you spotted in a comic book, then fantasized about undersea adventures for days on end. A submarine for $6.98? What a steal!

The Polaris Nuclear Submarine found its way to the back page of millions of comic books throughout the 60s and 70s, a shining example of misleading marketing. The ad boasted that the sub was over 7 feet long, big enough for you and a friend. You could watch the enemy through the periscope AND fire rockets and torpedoes! Wow!

As a kid, I stared at this ad and imagined submerging my very own sub in the backyard pool and exploring endlessly, firing my arsenal of weaponry at anything that dared get in the way. I mean, look at that panel on the lower right. That’s high tech stuff right there! Look at the main graphic – the thing looks sturdy enough to pierce an iceberg. And if it didn’t, a missile would surely do the trick!

Alas, I would never get the opportunity to try one of these babies in real life. Oh, I begged and pleaded many times, but the parents never saw fit to arm their only son with a submarine, let alone a nuclear one. I eventually got over it, but I always wondered about that seven-dollar sub, even into adulthood.

Of course, my parents knew something I didn’t, something to which P.T. Barnum eluded many years prior – “Don’t believe everything you see in a comic book ad, you moron!”

P.T. said it a little different, of course.

One day, I finally decided to solve this mystery once and for all. My mission was clear – What exactly did one get when sending your hard-earned money to the Honor House Product Company in Lynbrook, New York? I had to know.

If you wondered this very same thing, here is your long-awaited answer.

Basically, you got something fancier than a refrigerator box, but not remotely seaworthy. Take a look.

At the time, I think I would have been too distraught to play with that, nor would I have had the patience to assemble it.

And put it in the pool?

All the rockets and torpedoes in the world couldn’t have saved it from sinking like a brick in about 3 seconds, taking its captain and faithful crew member straight to the bottom of the deep end.

I’m glad I waited to learn the truth in adulthood, rather than the hard way, by sending them my saved-up allowance. And I should thank my mom and dad for not giving in to my begging and whining and saving me the disappointment. Thank you, yet again, for your wisdom, mom and dad.

Sigh, I really wanted a submarine.

Did you ever spot one of these subs in a comic book and think it was cool? I’d love to hear any memories you have of this memorable ad, (and less than memorable toy) in the comments section below.

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8 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    In my naive youth I too succumbed to the promises made by this glorious advertisement. As an adult I’m consoled by the fact that I was in good company among the souls that were to be crushed had I handed over my hard-earned summer wages on this too-good-to-be-true product. We had a lake behind our home at the time and I was convinced I’d discovered the holy grail of water recreation. To this day my family teases me about the concrete submarine that never was. Thanks for posting.

  2. Bill says:

    I loved looking through those comic book ads, they were pretty cool. I don’t think I ever ordered anything though. I wish I would have, because some of the things go for a bit of money on eBay. I haven’t seen a sub on eBay, but if one came up, I bet it would go for about $1,000.

  3. Charles says:

    For over 50 years I’ve wondered what I adventure I’d missed by not being allowed to order this submarine. Thank you so much for finally showing me what this misadventure would’ve looked like. Now I can get on with my life 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    So many days staring at that ad for the sub and the other ad for the plastic armies. Not buying that sub has always been one of my biggest regrets. I ha e to admit I did t have high expectations., but I always wonder what I would have gotten thanks for clearing that up

  5. Perry says:

    I thought it was cool, but figured it was crap since I had already been ripped off on the sea monkeys and the Frankenstein plastic sheet. Still, it was interesting. I think there was a tank too.

  6. Barb says:

    I sent about 50 cents, which was actually a lot of money for my 10 year old self, to get a “6 foot tall Frankenstein with glowing eyes.” Itturned out to be a plastic poster that came with two green dot stickers for eyes. Very disappointing.

  7. Shaun Laird says:

    Thanks for posting this. It was good to see the real product versus the comic ad. What shameless false advertising!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh, man, did I want this to rule the coolie just a short way from home! Perhaps the Terror of Buffalo Pound lake and finder of treasures therein? Torpedoes and a rocket, too, after all, by the picture. Every comic book had it, so it’s legit, yeah?!

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