Peel Here #9, Blackstar never looked so Puffy…


By Shawn Robare

For this week’s Peel Here, I decided it was finally time to break out the Puffy Stickers. I remember having a serious love/hate relationship with puffy stickers as a kid. On the one hand it was the only format that I could find some of the cooler stickers in. On the other, they seemed to be inherently girly, though why I’m not quite sure. I mean it’s just a silly 3-D effect, but I guess because they were soft and squishy they seemed closer to a plush doll than an action figure on the toy charts, so thus, girly. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t more boyish puffy stickers, take for instance the Transformers lenticular stickers that I wrote about at the beginning of this column. It’s also not to say that I didn’t have my fare share of plush dolls, but they were manly plush dolls like Wicket the Ewok and the uber manly, faux leather E.T. doll. Okay, I actually had the regular plush E.T., but I wanted the faux leather one, and as we all know, there is nothing in this world manlier than faux leather.

Anyway, I digress; I was talking about puffy stickers. Though I don’t remember having a ton of them, I did have a few sheets and of those I remember ending up doing some minor surgery on them, either out of boredom or to satisfy my “What do the innards of a puffy sticker look like?” curiosity. So most of the ones I had were picture-less, only in the shape of the original sticker with a patch of thin foam to remind me that they were puffy.

For this week’s example, I present to you two packs of Blackstar puffy stickers. Because of an odd trick of light in my scanner, these stickers appear to be inverted as far as puffy-ness goes, but I assure you it’s just an optical illusion. These stickers are just as puffy now as they were 24 years ago. Holy crap. 24 years. These things are a quarter of a century old. This is insane, I swear to god I just graduated high school a few years ago and was watching Saturday morning cartoons just a couple of years before that.  Remember, you can click ont he stickers to enbiggen them for viewing purposes.

I don’t know all that much about Blackstar other than some basic knowledge. It was a cartoon show created by Filmation, supposedly based on the popularity of Thundarr the Barbarian (which in turn can be traced back to various incarnations of Conan) and was a precursor to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (whose cartoon was also produced by Filmation.) After the success of the He-Man toy line and after the Blackstar show had already been cancelled, Galoob decided to release a couple lines of action figures based on the series. I remember getting a couple of these figures in the midst of collecting He-Man stuff.

Each Blackstar figure was packaged with either an alien demon (see top right sticker above) or a Trobbit (the pink Mario looking dude in the middle.) That’s mostly want I remember about these toys because I really dug the little alien demon toy, which lasted much longer in my toybox than the Neptul figure that it came with.

I thought these stickers were pretty cool because, much like the Transformers lenticular stickers, these images are actually photos of the toys and not scenes from the animated series. It seems like this was pretty common during the 80′s, both on toy packaging and on licensed products like stickers and party supplies.

Is it just me, or does the Warlock dragon thing that Blackstar is riding look a lot like the dragons from Willow? If so, then since the design of the dragons in Willow were based on Clint Howard (according to Ron Howard who directed the movie) then it’s kind of weirdly Clint Howard-esque. I don’t know why I find this interesting…

Anyway, on next week’s Peel Here … I have no idea what I’ll take a look at, but I promise it’ll be fun. For me at least.

  • Esteban

    The Transformers stickers actually utilized the heavily airbrushed character art from the 1984 packages. These weren’t straight up photographs of the toys, but instead heavily embellished artistic interpretations of them. It’s worth noting because the furious action poses the robots are depicted in are nowhere near possible to achieve with the limited articulation of the actual toys. This is where I think Blackstar goes wrong with their stickers. While it may have been cheaper to just use pictures of the toys as in the Blackstar sticker series, I think it would have been far more interesting to look at ‘cartoony’ fantasy renderings of the characters. It may be seen as deceptive adertising but as a kid I liked the cartoon and comic renderings of a toyline more than the actual toys themselves. Plus the Blackstar character names are pretty weak. Gargo? Trobbits? Alien Demon and Palace Guard are the worst. It’s a shame because this line looks like a pretty good bridge between HeMan and Thundercats but it suffers from lack of character. Admittedly I never paid much attention to the line but maybe that’s because I never was drawn into the ‘world’ of Blackstar, if there was one. Now, had I been aware of toys for Thundarr the Barbarian I would have ate those up!