Welcome to the Poptropica Help Blog’s history page, a memoir of the PHB’s beginnings and its journey. This blog has come a long way with each passing year… so let’s pop down memory lane.
2008 | twothousandeight
It all started rather a long time ago, back in the summer of 2008. An eleven-year-old girl was attempting to create her own free blog via WordPress.com, having been inspired by other kid-made WordPress blogs on the internet, most of which were about the popular kids’ game Club Penguin. In fact, she was intending to create yet another one of these Club Penguin fan blogs. (Also, as you may have guessed, that young girl was yours truly, Slanted Fish. But more on that later.)
As I was testing available URL options, however, something changed my mind – I discovered that poptropica.wordpress.com was untaken, and not wanting to miss a good opportunity, I decided to go for it. But how did we arrive at “poptropica” when we were trying for something related to “Club Penguin”? Well, a couple days prior to this, my brother (who’s a year and a half younger than me), had introduced me to a new game he’d found on Funbrain – that game, of course, being Poptropica.
As I was creating my character, I kept clicking “Change All” until I ended up with a name I was satisfied with: Scary Tomato. My username was tentacle – just more evidence of how young the game was, that I could create a username with a common word. (Poptropica opened in September 2007, less than a year before the PHB. In comparison, the official Creators’ Blog began just 9 days before the PHB!)
Those who’ve been around since the beginning may remember that Scary Tomato was a boy with tan skin and spiky blond hair. Nothing like what I actually look like; I am, in fact, a girl from Hong Kong. My current Poptropican, while not completely accurate either, is still a closer representation of me. I just thought boys had better customization options, though back in 2008, that was very limited. 😛
And so I began Poptropica blogging as “Scary Tomato”, and as you might see in older PHB posts, this inadvertently gave off the impression that I was a boy. Also, this was the very first header image for “Scary Tomato’s Weblog” (or as it was later called, “Scary Tomato’s Poptropica Blog”). Yikes.
Super Power Island (the 5th island) had just been released a few days before the PHB began, so to get the ball rolling, I wrote my first guide on it. Spy Island (the 6th island) was announced as coming soon a few days later, and the number of comments just skyrocketed as people clamored to express their excitement. There were virtually no active Poptropica fan sites in existence; the PHB was the first of its kind. Perhaps that was why the blog took off so quickly, and so I kept updating it. (You can see all the noobish posts in the archives. 😛 ) And here’s a snapshot of the site in the old days:
About three months later, in October, I hired some staff to help around: Smockers, who was a frequent commenter, and Codien, who approached me asking if he could do the graphics for the site. Both turned out to be great additions. Codien (who was already 16 at the time) even came up with a new name for the site – “Poptropica Help Blog”, as it is still known today. Besides the PHB logo, he also created his first PHB header, and just in time for Halloween:
In November, we reached 100,000 site hits, which is pretty impressive for a blog run by kids that’s less than four months old! The PHB sailed on, and by the end of the year, Poptropica had 7 islands.
2009 | twothousandnine
At the start of the new year, the PHB had already reached 300,000 hits. In addition to regular posts about sneak peeks posted on the Creators’ Blog and advertisement games, Codien’s PHB Sneak Peeks series were also pretty popular, as he was able to use some computer skills to have a look at some upcoming Poptropica imagery and combine them with his graphic skills and storytelling.
On April Fool’s Day 2009, the PHB team pulled off an ingenious prank – we turned the whole site into a “Club Penguin Help Blog”, and what’s more, we seem to have fooled even the Poptropica Creators. Or maybe they were playing along? Sadly, they’ve since removed this little acknowledgement from the official blog, but the evidence remains in our hearts – and on the internet’s Wayback Machine.
Before the end of May, we reached one million site hits, and the blog wasn’t even a year old yet! 😀 To celebrate, we gave away rare costumes that were leaked from the then-mysterious Monster Carnival Island. (If you don’t know that story, click here.)
Codien introduced the idea of a PHB monthly magazine, and after a couple polls of readers’ suggestions, we decided to call it The Poptropican’s 911, for all your Poptropica emergencies. The first issue was published in June, and the series ran for a year. Although it was popular among the readers, I eventually ended it because it was too time-consuming – but it was later brought back.
Also in June, the long-awaited Astro-Knights Island finally came out (after months of teaser sneak peeks, I might add!). The Poptropica Store also opened; can you imagine a Poptropica without the Store now? Well, it’d certainly be less awesome. (And did you know they used to award 100 credits for every island completed, instead of 50? Shocking, I know.)
But the biggest rage of that summer was expanding our community to the PHF: the Poptropica Help Forum, a separate site run by Motionman95 (later known as Coderkid). Unfortunately, this is no longer around, but good times were had, anyway. 🙂 Coderkid did end up becoming a PHB author, as did several other capable Poptropicans in our community that have come and gone.
On July 26th, the PHB celebrated its first birthday – and by then had reached 1.5 million hits. A few days later, the Multiverse feature was released, and Poptropicans everywhere had fun partying it up in the shared rooms. That summer also saw the start of the PHC, otherwise known as the Poptropica Help Chat, and it became a handy way to talk to and meet up with Poptropicans. It’s still active! 🙂
I also changed my name to Hijuyo, as I was no longer the only ST around, and didn’t really like my Poptropica name anymore. 😛 In October, Smockers started what is now an annual PHB tradition: the Halloween costume contest.
In November, Codien made a post documenting the ‘lifetime of headers’ at the PHB thus far, most of which were his creations. Were you around to see them all?
2010 | twentyten
The previous year came with rumors of a Membership feature coming to Poptropica – but it took them almost a whole year to actually implement it. But the Poptropica community was more concerned with another issue: when oh when was Reality TV Island going to be released?
Sneak peeks had entertained us for nearly two years, and what with RTV getting delayed (it was due summer ’09!) and then going all Monster Carnival on us by disappearing off the map, people were worried. However, the two were conveniently combined: early access to RTV Island became available to paying members starting February 24, 2010. Those clever Creators!
In February, the PHB started its own YouTube channel called Poptropica Help Videos (PHV), which you can check out here. At some point, Captain Crawfish became the main poster on the Creators’ Blog (whereas before there seemed to be a handful of Creator aliases taking turns) – and with that came a new PHB inside joke that went on for quite a while: the nomming of Captain Crawfish. Even Crawfishy himself seemed to have caught on eventually!
In fact, if you look back on our old posts in the archives, you’ll find that a lot of them were rather… informal. Some might say creative, or perhaps goofy. It kept things interesting, although in hindsight, we PHB authors probably sounded pretty silly at times. 😛
The big news of this year was that we got our own custom web domain: www.poptropicahelp.net, which we still use to this day. (Actually, the PHB was blog.poptropicahelp.net for a while.) With several “sites” running (PHB, PHC, PHF, etc), we called it the Poptropica Help Network (fitting, eh?). We also changed to a blue theme/layout called Ocean Mist to match Poptropica’s favorite color.
By our second anniversary, we’d reached 4 million hits already, and gave away some rare accounts to celebrate. Over on the PHC/PHF, PHB author MT entertained with his comedy dialogue ‘show’, Party With Hobos, which became a PHB sponsor. (An episode was even featured on the PHB!)
Also, in late October, we caught a glimpse of “Cryptids Island” being mentioned on the Poptropica homepage, which escalated when the Creators challenged the rumor – perhaps more evidence that they visit us from time to time! As for Poptropica’s growth, by year’s end, there were 16 islands.
2011 | twentyeleven
In March, Wimpy Wonderland Island was released – the first island to be based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid universe created by Jeff Kinney, who also created Poptropica. Although not directly related to the PHB, I thought I’d mention it because my brother (who, if you recall, introduced me to Poptropica) and I were great fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid back in 2006-ish, when you could read it on Funbrain (the site that got Poptropica started). That’s right, we liked things before they were cool. 😎 In fact, the book(s) wasn’t even available in print back then, and now look at how big the series is!
In late May, we reached 5 million hits, and continued to spread the Poptropica love. June saw the release of Poptropica’s 20th island, Shrink Ray, and we even had a party watching the countdown timer on the Poptropica homepage. And of course, it was party time when our third birthday came around in July! As for me, I was getting older too – I was just about to enter middle school back when the blog started, and now I was about to start high school. Wow.
Poptropica was growing exponentially as well; in fact, they released their official Guide Book (the first ever Poptropica book) in October along with a scavenger hunt. The great thing about having a community here is that we can help each other out – those who did have the book, in this case, were able to give the codes needed to unlock the exclusive prizes.
Ghost Story Island, the 23rd island, concluded the year – Poptropica had released an impressive 7 islands in 2011, a huge improvement from the snail’s pace of 2009!
2012 | twentytwelve
With the new year came another milestone: 6 million hits!
But it wasn’t until April that one of the most exciting and long-awaited features of Poptropica finally came to life: Friends! Finally, the top-right icon with two faces side-by-side that had been sitting uselessly on every Poptropican’s screen now had a purpose. We also added a Friend Finder page to list some usernames for people to add, including those of PHB authors.
Also that summer, I changed my name again, this time to Slanted Fish, as it had more of a personal meaning to me. The PHB also started occasionally posting some PHB Sunday Specials, which could be anything fun and Poptropica-related. You know, like love-them-or-hate-them (there is only one direction) fluffy-haired boy band singers:
Another popular PHB feature we started was the Poptropica Problems Meme. Then the PHB celebrated its 4th birthday with a big Poptropica party, and about a month later, we had a rare account giveaway for achieving 7 million hits. Fun fun fun!
In September, Poptropica celebrated their 5th birthday with an assortment of party favors, as well as the release of their highly-hyped 30th island, Super Villain. But the final big PHB news of the year came in early December: yet another layout makeover! To this day, we’re still using this theme, which is called Lifestyle, and it matches Poptropica’s blue even better than the previous one – doesn’t it? 😉
Just in time for, uh, Christmas, Zomberry Island was released as the 32nd island and the last of 2012 – it probably was meant to come out before Halloween, but the Creators seemed to have (once again) underestimated the time they’d need.
2013 | twentythirteen
Having been around Poptropica for so long now, I decided to spice up the PHB’s island info pages by adding some of the wealth of Poptropica knowledge and observations gained over the years: trivia! And not only that, album photos for every island were added as well!
The popular Costumes page also got a revamp, with more costumes and how to get them, plus even a tips section! By March, the PHB had passed 8 million hits and celebrated by beginning an Ongoing Story Creation, with well over a thousand comments which you can still add to today!
Also, we caught the names of a couple of upcoming islands due to some Creators’ mistakes: the revealing of Back Lot Island was accidentally mentioned early on the PCB, and Virus Hunter Island was mentioned on a Poptropica artist’s blog, again before Poptropica had officially announced it.
Poptropica was undertaking something pretty big that they hadn’t done before: making islands with music, sound effects, and a bigger screen! The first of these came as a re-made version of 24 Carrot Island: BETA Carrotene. After many of us on the PHB voiced our dislike for the common room cursor being used as the main cursor, the Creators seemed to have heard us. Then Virus Hunter was released with sound, and islands from then on were never quite the small and quiet adventures they once were.
Time went on: we reached 9 million hits and had our 5th birthday, the “Dr. Hare’s Lair” LEGO project finally got 10,000 supporters (unfortunately, it was later rejected), we discovered and enjoyed the music of Poptropica composer Jeff Heim… and then towards the end of the year, we reached the huge milestone of ten million hits! Poptropica, meanwhile, was up to 36 islands by the end of 2013.
2014 | twentyfourteen
Then the Creators introduced episodic islands – instead of full-length islands, each island would come in several parts. This received mixed reactions from the fans: although they produced some fantastic islands, it was frustrating having to wait months for each next installment of the story.
One of these islands was the winner of Poptropica’s Create Your Dream Island contest: Arabian Nights!
During this year, we also brought back the ever-popular PHB fan magazine, The Poptropican’s 911 – and halfway through, we decided to give it a more delicious name: The Popcorn! The revived series came to a halt at the end of the year, but keep an eye out, who knows if we might bring it back again.
Meanwhile, Poptropica continued to grow and expand: the start of the year saw a new feature called Poptropica Labs, which evolved into Land, and eventually into what we know today as Realms. I even had my Land creation featured on the Creators’ Blog in one of their theme challenges that October!
Other major events of 2014 include the mysterious disappearance of long-time Poptropica icon Shark Boy, Poptropica releasing an original ongoing comic strip, a Poptropica music album, and the PHB housing its very own Daily Pop Sneak Peek Archive, with each and every DP sneak peek and caption ever to exist (and updated monthly!).
Because Poptropica was releasing islands in episodes, there were only five new islands that year (but 12 episodes!), bringing the total up to 41 islands.
Finally, as a celebration for reaching 15 million hits at the end of the year, I put together a fun music video assigning songs from pop culture for all the islands that didn’t have music. Check it out!
2015 | twentyfifteen
The year 2015 saw the wrap-ups of the episodic islands, with the episodes for Arabian Nights and PoptropiCon both being quite well-received by players. In fact, the plot of PoptropiCon Island even inspired the PHB’s April Fool’s prank for the year: a takeover by the villain Omegon!
We also made more efforts to be more connected with other Poptropica fansites from all over the internet. We had established our Poptropica Help Network before, but we really wanted to make it more noticed by the community, even designing a new hub site to refer to all our PHN sites.
The PHN now includes the Poptropica Wiki, which we joined forces with, and We-Love-Poptropica, the biggest Poptropica fan art group on deviantArt. Plus, we created a Poptropica Help subreddit to provide a minimalistic forum where Poptropicans could share all things Pop from anywhere on the web.
On the PHB, we continued to involve the fan community in a variety of ways: parties, fan art contests, our magazine series (which we began publishing in PDFs), the PMFM series, and so on. Something new we started that summer was the Poptropica Community Awards, or simply the Poppies – which was a lot of fun (and even a couple of Creators got involved)!
Poptropica itself also brought some fun things to the table in 2015 – among them: Realms was released to everyone and saw numerous improvements over the months, the Mystery of the Map graphic novel and island, and their biggest giveaway yet: the Island Hopper Sweepstakes! Poptropica also spent a lot of effort developing their mobile app across various devices, but still kept up with online players, who enjoyed updates like the Hall of Fame, Daily Pop-In, and Photo Booth.
2015’s islands weren’t particularly plentiful or spectacular, but Poptropica did end the year on a high note with Escape From Pelican Rock Island, which was highly anticipated and enjoyed by many. Perhaps the best part of that island was the “PHB – 1” license plate which was subtly inserted into the game as a reference to the PHB (that’s us). Now that’s what we call making a mark on Poptropica!
Towards the end of the year, the PHB released something big to the whole Poptropica community: our Avatar Studio Gift, where we released a bunch of ASGs (more info on the page) that would make “rare” costumes more accessible to everyone.
You can read more about the year in our 2015 Rewind post.
2016 | & beyond…
PHB author HPuterpop once made a post about Poptropica’s journey, ending with “Poptropica lives on. We should too.” We’ve come a long way – and we’re not finished making Poptropica history yet!
So now you know the Poptropica Help Blog’s story – or at least, the highlights. Since its creation, this place where people could come to find the latest and greatest happenings in Poptropica just took off, with no plan in mind of how far it would come. Oh, the places you’ll go!
It is thanks to you, the Poptropicans of our awesome community, that the PHB thrives; all the readers who come here to figure out how to solve islands, the ones who leave comments of encouragement, the kids who took it upon themselves to make contributions one way or another.
Whether you have been here since the beginning or met us somewhere down the road… thank you for reading. As they say on Poptropica: explore, collect, compete! 😀