Apparently 8 is the magic number…


By Shawn Robare

So, in just a couple of weeks Branded in the 80s will turn 8 years old.  Though it’s kind of arbitrary, we tend to focus on the “big” anniversaries in the five-year increment territory, but I had a couple of milestones I really wanted to hit when I started this project.  The first was making it to the seven year mark because I have a special fondness for that particular digit.  The second is marking the 8th birthday of the site because again, it has a special meaning to me.  I first dreamed of having my own little spot on the internet back around 1998.  I’d been farting around the interwebs via AOL and Compuserve and I really wanted to stake out a small piece of the digital landscape to do something.  My best friend, who was in the midst of getting his computer science degree at the time, had just recently built a website for a class project and he promised me he’d help me build one of my own.  It never materialized, though a lot of that had to do with my not knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to do with a website.  Regardless, that marks the beginning of what would eventually become Branded, and it took me eight long years of brainstorming and procrastinating before I eventually settled on what I wanted to do.  So in the back of my brain I’ve always hoped that I’d be able to keep this thing going at least as long as it took me to get it off the ground.  Well, mission accomplished I guess.  As for my next milestone, well, I don’t really have one I guess.  I’m kind of curious to see what will happen at the eleven year mark considering that will mean that I would have spent slightly more time talking about the 80s than the decade itself lasted.

Anyway, when I look back at where the site started and where it really took off for me the one aspect that kind of changed everything was when I started investing in a pretty stupidly large collection of 80s stickers to scan and share.  Part of this came out of wanting to acquire a bunch of the stickers I had as a kid, but another was that there was a distinct lack of sticker scans floating around on the internet and I felt like it was an opportunity to contribute a small portion to the digital nostalgic pop culture zeitgeist.  One of the aspects I love about the nostalgia-minded community is the eagerness to share the cool junk that we love.  So it was pretty neat timing that while I was thinking back on all of this I was approached by the cool lady behind the rad RainbowBrite.co.uk website with to help share some fun stuff.

cologo01She obviously runs a pretty neat Rainbow Brite fan site, so she acquired a bunch of info and ephemera to post up there.  But in her research and collecting she’s amassed a bunch of other cool non-RB stuff that she felt needed to get out there.  So she graciously offered to send me some scans of a pretty neat 1985 Mattel Events Guide to share here at Branded.  Tying this in a bit more into my silly milestone is that I just happened to turn eight the year this Event guide was published (seriously, there has to be something to this, numerology-wise…)

Mattel Events Guide 1

These event guides were sent out to retailers as a way for Mattel to bolster excitement for their product lines and I’m sure to secure a larger market share of the retail market by encouraging stores to increase orders and devote more shelf and peg space to Mattel stuff.  They did this by helping to host local in-store meet and greet events with some of Mattel’s most popular brands and characters.  So if you were lucky enough to shake hands with Skeletor at a Toys R Us back int he day, most likely this was one of the guides that the store had to help them schedule and promote the event…

Mattel Events Guide 2

It’s really cool to get a glimpse into this aspect of the marketing and promotion of some of our favorite toys from back in the 80s.  Not only is it cool to see some rad artwork that only exists to promote these in-store events (like the neat illustration of the Hot Wheels play area that was shipped to the store), but it’s also awesome to see and read about some of the swag for the event that was either given away (like the Hot Wheels kid’s drivers licenses) or became a “free item with purchase” like the super cool Hot Wheels combination watch/wallet below!

Mattel Events Guide 5

1985 was also a great year for Mattel toys because they were hip deep in the Marvel Secret Wars toy line…

Mattel Events Guide 4

What really struck me about this Secret Wars event is that it wasn’t just geared towards boys.  Mattel makes it clear that “boys AND girls” will received a free water color poster.  That kind of inclusion back in the 80s seems pretty rare, but then again, Mattel worked on some pretty progressive toy lines like these two favorites, Princess of Power and Masters of the Universe!  I mean I know most of the boys who were into He-Man were also secretly into She-Ra…

Mattel Events Guide 3

Man, I feel like I missed out so much on these in-store events.  I never managed to attend one and after reading through this guide I feel like I missed out on some amazing experiences and swag.  So, I wonder if a little boy could have been initiated into the Legion of Good receiving a free golden power ring and poster?  I sure as hell hope so.  Also, holy crap, a 15 foot high replica of the Crystal Castle?!?  How awesome would that have been to see?  I wonder if the stores had to ship them back or of they were ordered to destroy them.  I have to imagine that one of these must have made it into a private collection.  Hell, at that size it would practically be big enough for kids to play in as a fort.  The mid boggles at the possibilities…

Mattel Events Guide 6

Apparently for ’85 Mattel introduced new full body costumes for He-Man and Skeletor.  I’ve seen photos of buff guys in the He-Man duds before, but never a full body costume like this complete with toy-accurate mask and all.  I like that they even managed to replicate the spiny fin on Skeletor’s wrists (like on the toy…)  Sadly there was no 15 foot Castle Greyskull or Snake Mountain, but there were some pretty rad glow in the dark posters!

Mattel Events Guide 7

A lot of this stuff has to be pretty rare.  I searched for awhile and couldn’t find and example of the glow in the dark Masters of the Universe poster (not even on He-Man.org!)  So it;s cool at least to get a glimpse into this promotional world to know that this stuff exists.  FYI, there’s a bit more to this Event Guide, specifically the Rainbow Brite section, but if you want to see that head on over to the cool RainbowBrite.co.uk to find out what was in that in-store event.  Thanks again to them for sharing this rad piece of 80s toy ephemera and helping to make the nostalgia community that much richer!

Mattel Events Guide 8

 

  • TheNavigator

    I was too young for the peak of He Man as I was born in 82 but my older brothers liked it. But I kind of took over buying the figures for the final couple of years 86/87 and my brother took me to see the movie which is the first movie I remember seeing at the cinema. And its still one of my favourites so I wont hear a bad word said about it (which is hard as I never hear many good ones) . Those guides are great too you can see the toy companies put a lot of effort into promoting toys in the 80s as it was big business back then. Kids aren’t as interested in toys anymore so there isn’t as much thought put into it you just wouldn’t get something like the GIJOE Flagg again as no kid would rather have that than a PS4!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Too true. I guess all of this promotion has become wrapped up into industry events like Toy Fair and Comic Con. And you’re right, it’s pretty rare to see a toy line that releases huge fun play sets anymore. I was surprised to see the pretty large TMNT Lair play set in the new Nick Turtles line, and there is the large and gnarly Castle Greyskull marketed to adult collectors in Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line, but yeah, nothing beats the almighty game console these days.

      It’s been forever since I saw the MOTU movie. I need to revisit that. I hear you on defending your childhood favorites. I’ll defend the ’86 animated Transformers the movie in just the same way…

  • Spotted Feather

    I just took a look at those sticker pages. Very cool. I really wish that they still had those sticker albums from movies where you would buy little packets of stickers and then put them in certain spots in the album. Panini, I think was the company that made them. Apparently, they still sell them in england.

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Spotted Feather – Yup, Panini and Diamond. They still have them here actually, I’ve seen sets in Target stores. Unfortunately they’re for movies or TV shows I don’t really give a flip about (Smurfs CG flicks, etc.)

  • http://tophatsasquatch.com/ Tommy Day

    Love that 1985 graphic design. Chrome and rainbows baby!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Amen, I need a variation of the Branded logo in that font…

  • Ben Rollier

    “Anyway, when I look back at where the site started and where it really took off for me the one aspect that kind of changed everything was when I started investing in a pretty stupidly large collection of 80s stickers to scan and share.”

    This is how I first found your site (probably around ’07); by searching for 80′s stickers.

    Happy early 8 year anniversary, my friend. Here’s to the next 8 :)

    BTW, that promotion guide is pretty damn sweet.

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Thanks, yeah I think the sticker archive reached out pretty far. It was a good investment ;)

  • http://reallyratherrandomguy.blogspot.com/ Really Rather Random Guy

    Happ year 8 to you Shawn! It’s amazing to see how different the internet landscape is now from 2006… makes you wonder how different it all will be in 2022 and what we’ll be doing by then! Either way, here’s to another great 8!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s sure is different, but I’m doing my best to stay the same ;) I assume in 2022 the internet will be in my head and I’ll just have to “think” articles… :p

  • http://crookedninja.com/ Cody Mix

    Happy blogoversary Shawn/Branded! Just poked through your sticker scans and now I have this burning need to hit up ebay for some vintage stickers. Here is to 8 more retro years!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Thank you kindly sir! Yeah sticker collecting can be infectious. I love my Lazer Blazers!

  • Retromash

    I love retro ephemera myself. Never seen this before. Thanks for posting!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Yeah, it was really neat when the webmistress at the Rainbow Brite site wanted to share it, I’ve never seen it before either. Now I really want one of those Hot Wheels combo wrist watch/wallets