That does sound interesting Imatron. I can somewhat get an idea why they were doing that back then, since I work with promo/exclusive items in my internship. Funny thing is that you can find some LEGO promo items, such as LEGO Friends Pets and Minifigures located at cigarette vendors across Prague. It is so funny! It makes sense, because kids here smoke their dope and get alcohol at a early age, they might as well get a lego set while they're there! :-)
Anyway, for the article for spybotics, I actually owned the blue spybotics back then. It didn't have advanced features like Mindstorms. It was just a slick R/C Tank in my opinion. And it gathered dust for several years, but the black gears made for some great MOCing pieces though.
I still wish lego would expand their LEGO Technic line. They did a good job too! Or at least I liked it, but now it is simply Technic vehicles. :/