Coca-Cola began using polar bears for print advertising in 1922. And the polar bears would appear occasionally in printed advertisements over the next seventy years. It wasn’t until 1992 that advertising professional Ken Stewart gave life to the Coca-Cola polar bears in the popular Northern Lights television commercial in February 1993. The Coke polar bears were one of the first digitally animated advertising campaigns. The television commercials featuring the polar bears touched on the emotion and magic that many of Coca-Cola’s previous ad campaigns had done. Starting in 1993, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears from the “Always Coca-Cola” (admit it, you just sang that in your head) series of advertisements and many more successful marketing campaigns came complete with matching Coke merchandise.
Manufactured in 1999, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera could be purchased in a Coca-Cola collector tin or bought by itself in a sealed plastic clamshell package. The camera came with two AA batteries and a roll of Kodak Max 400 color film, a Coke branded camera case, and camera strap. The camera is a simple point-and-shoot, with no special features other than being automatic and motorized. Sliding the polar bear, holding his beverage of choice, to the side reveals what I’m guessing to be a 35mm f/5.6 lens. The camera automatically senses light and fires the flash if needed. The top of the camera features a frame counter and a switch to rewind the film. The shutter is triggered by pressing the Coca-Cola bottle cap.
This camera was given to me last Christmas by my oldest son, Caleb. My initial test was an incredibly expired roll of Kodak Gold 400. The roll was not stored in a box, so I don’t know the expiration date, but the shifting colors are a good indicator that it was past its prime. I developed this roll with the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. I like quirky branded toy cameras like the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera. I wish they would make a camera featuring my preferred drink, Coke Zero.
Back in the Spring, Mike Williams and I were thinking about something new to shoot, and decided to try a double exposure roll exchange. A tag team roll of Ilford HP5 Plus that each of us would shoot on. Mike was first to shoot on the roll with one of his new favorite cameras, the Minolta X-700 (1981). After he was done, he rewound the roll and shipped it from North Carolina to me in Utah. I wanted to shoot the roll with some sprockets, so I used the FPP Plastic Filmtastic Debonair (1988). After I had finished the roll, it was developed by RepliColor in Salt Lake City, and scanned on my Epson V600. The results are interesting. Should Mike and I try another double exposure roll? What do you think? Leave a comment and tell me what film and cameras we should use.
The Official Girls Scouts of America Camera was made in Chicago by The Herbert George Company in 1956. The camera is an Imperial Mark XII Flash camera that’s been re-branded. These plastic-bodied cameras were the first to be manufactured in several colors, and various face plates were installed. They also made the Official Boy Scouts of America Camera and the Official Brownie Scouts of America Camera. I found this camera at a thrift store, in the original box, with the original flash unit, original flash bulbs, original batteries, and one roll of exposed 620 color film.
The camera features a green plastic body, a fixed focus (about 6 feet – infinity), one shutter speed (about 1/30 – 1/60 sec) and a single aperture (about f/11). Composition is done with an eye-level viewfinder, creating a 6×6 image on 620 film. In a film changing bag, I re-rolled some expired Kodak T-Max 100 120 black & white film onto a 620 spool to test the camera. I developed the film in New55 R5 Monobath. The images make me think the lens is not lined up with the film plane inside the camera because they are blurry on the left side, but in focus on the right. It might be worth investigating and trying another roll of film. If you have some thoughts, please make sure to leave me a comment.