Category Archives: Peel Here! Stickers of the 80s

Peel Here #110: Presto Magix, or scrapbooking for nerdy children…

I was picking through a pile of ephemera that I plan on sharing on Branded in the future when I came across my meager collection of sticker transfer sets.  I bought most of these around the time I started this website and for some reason I never got around to really talking about them.  Though not stickers in the most accepted sense, these sets pretty much hit on all of the reasons why stickers were/are cool, and they’re an example of an interesting microcosm that exists within the hobby.

Basically these sets were a much cheaper variation of the Colorforms playsets (which debuted in the 50s), both of which are plays on the evolution of paper dolls.  While Colorforms were a bit sturdier, consisting of cardboard background scene and a bunch of re-useable vinyl cut-outs featuring pop culture characters and imagery, the various brands of transfer sets were much cheaper, featuring paper backdrops and single use transfer “stickers.”  Like coloring and activity books, these sets were designed as a way for children to use their own imagination to create a story with pop culture imagery.  I loved these sets when I was young because I always had more fun setting up a scene when I was playing (be it with actual toys or when I’d draw) then actually executing my ideas.  These sets play on that part of the creative brain that leads kids to drawing scenes of two opposing military forces where you see the cut-away of bases and underground drilling machines.  Best of all they were really cheap, around $0.50 to $1 in most cases, so it was much easier to convince parents that they were a worthwhile purchase.

Though I’m sure there are more, I’m really only aware of two brands for these transfer sets, Colorforms Rub N’ Play sets and Presto Magix.  The Colorforms sets tended to feature more transfers in their sets, but Presto Magix always had cooler backdrops…

Here you can see an example of a Presto Magix Thundarr the Barbarian set from 1981.  Each package had a small sheet of transfers and a fold out scene with which to place the action…

To transfer the stickers you simple had to place the sticker sheet in the desired position and then use a pen or pencil to rub over the area you wanted to transfer.  Some of the more deluxe sets came with a little red plastic tool with a rounded tip that you used to rub the transfers off the sheet.

When seeking out these sets after 20 odd years I was surprised at how many I managed to find.  Like stickers, these sets seemed destined to be used, and afterward I’m sure that most of them ended up in the garbage.  Since they’ve quadrupled in value over the years I limited my shopping spree to 8 sets.  In addition to the Thundarr set above I also picked up a handful of Star Wars Return of the Jedi Presto Magix sets…

      

…as well as three Colorforms Rub N’ Play sets featuring Michael Jackson, Masters of the Universe, and Gremlins.

   

Aside from the single use aspect, the biggest drawback of these sets was getting the transfer on the backdrop in one solid piece.  The heavier plastic material that these transfers are housed on tended to stretch and distort when you’d rub the stickers off of them and since they were so thin and fragile they’d often break in half or have a bunch of cracks in the image.  Sometimes it was also easy to mistakenly get a second transfer stuck to the backdrop while you were working on a separate one simple by the pressure of your hand on the transfer plastic.  For $0.50 though, it was worth the risk.

One of the other things that I loved about these sets was the opportunity to mix and match characters from my favorite TV shows and cartoons.  Why wouldn’t Scooby Doo go on an adventure with Ookla the Mok from Thundarr?  Breaking these sets out again seemed like a great opportunity to put together that dream super-band I’ve always wanted to see…

I always imaged Admiral Ackbar had a very William Shatner-like delivery when singing, and you have to dig those hairy back-up singers!

Peel Here #109: In monster baseball you use grave markers as the bases…

Well, a bit delayed, but finally here is the 1988 Donruss/Leaf set of Baseballs’ Greatest Grossouts sticker cards that I teased a couple weeks ago

This set is the second series and the sister set to the Awesome All*Stars stickers from 1988, and again features the artwork of B.K. Taylor.  Like its predecessor, this set is huge and featured 88 stickers as well as a ginormous 36-cardback poster.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to procure the poster as these puzzle-backs were all on doubles of the main cards in the set. It was hard enough tracking down all these cards.  Because of the size of this set and the fact that one needed a ton of doubles to get all the puzzle pieces it probably drove kids batty back in the day trying to collect them all.  It’s probably also a factor which lead to the downfall of sets like these as both this and the Awesome All*Stars came out in the same year…

   

One of these things that I really dig about this second series is that Taylor took the monster designs a bit further into a more creepy/scary territory.   There are a metric ton more sharp fangs and brutal-looking monsters which is pretty gnarly.   There are also more direct baseball parodies with obvious nods to team mascots which is an improvement over the last series…

    

    

Even though Topps has been the king of cool painted sticker cards over the last 50 years, Leaf/Donruss sure did give them a run for their money, if not in quantity, then in quality with these two monster baseball themed sets as well as their Zero Heroes stickers.  It sure beats the heck out of what Fleer had to offer with their Grossville High and Robot Wars sets…

    

   

I wonder why they never produced any monster themed footballs sticker card sets?  You think it’s be a no brainer…

Peel Here #108, These stickers are Maniacal

So, continuing with the slight Valentine’s Day theme and as a preview for the Maniac post I hope to have up this week I thought I would break out my meager collection of stickers that were available in issues of the magazine.  This first set of stickers are kind of Valentine’s day related, so it seemed like a good place to start.  These came inside issue Five of Maniac, which was the Jan-Feb 1985 issue available only through the various editions of the Scholastic Book clubs in middle and high school…

I’m 99% sure that David Coulson did the illustrations for both sets of stickers I’m going to feature today (based on seeing his work inside the magazine), and I’d be willing to bet that ‘ol Jovial Bob (R.L.) Stine came up with the gags.  Oh, and even though both I and the magazine called these “stickers”, they’re better defined as stamps since you had to lick the back to stick them.  I’m loosely including them in Peel Here since I’ve featured a few Sticker Fun books in the past that use the same sticker/stamp technology…

I ended up winning these in a lot on eBay and only two of the magazines still had their stickers intact, issue five and four.  Here’s a look at those covers…

   

This second set of stickers was in the Nov-Dec 1984 issue, and had a much more general theme.  I can say one thing for certain, in this day and age you’d never see a sticker with the slogan “Make My Day” next to a drawing of a handgun in a school-based magazine.  Oh and I love the “I’m a Hip Hop Maniac” sticker on the bottom right.  That dude tied himself into a human pretzel with break dancing!

Hopefully I’ll have the main Maniac article up sometime this week…

Peel Here #107, Hey, hey, hey, it’s the big Master Control Program everybody’s talking about…

Well, 2010 is shaping up to be one hell of a year.  I’ve had some of my highest highs with personal projects and experienced some personal family tragedies that I had hoped never to live through.  Though I still haven’t recovered from the latter, I don’t want to lose track of Branded, so I thought with the upcoming Tron Legacy sequel hitting theaters this weekend it’d be a good time to share some ephemera from the original film.  So for the rest of this week I’ll be sharing my meager collection of Tron goodies.

Before I jump into that, I did want to make note of a milestone that Branded recently crossed as the site has had over one million distinct page views.  When I set out to work on this project, the million page views mark was one of my personal goals, and I’ve made a promise to myself that once I reached it, I’d stop looking at stats and stuff.  So next week, I’m going to shed the hit counter, dropping off an outdated bit of old school web design in the process.  A very heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who has ever stopped by to read some of my ramblings or to take a gander at some of the magazine, stickers, and advertising scans I’ve put up.  I’m just glad this stuff has gotten out there.

Anyway, back to Tron.  Today I’d like to share the complete Tron sticker card collection from the 1982 Donruss card set…

 

The sticker set only consisted of 8 cards, five featuring screenshots of the Tron video game, two images from the movie, and a pretty sweet logo sticker.  Each of the five video game stickers also featured “tips” for the game on the back (as you can see below), though they aren’t so much as Nintendo-Power-esque game tips as they are straight up descriptions of the various levels in the game.  I’m sure there was a legion of kids disappointed in these less than helpful descriptions.

I’m glad the Donruss design team included the game screen shots as stickers because I’ve never had the opportunity to play the Tron game and I at least get a sense of what the game looked like.  I am kind of surprised that they didn’t make the sticker set a little bigger though including other scenes and characters from the flick.  I’m glad we get a sticker featuring Tron and the lightcycles, but I would have loved to have some stickers featuring Sark and Flynn, and maybe even the ugly mug of the Master Control Program…

 

Though I’m sure there are a ton of sites providing commentary on the Tron legacy this week, I’d like to take a second and point to one of my favorite spots on the web, Neato Coolville.  Run by Mayor Todd, Neato Coolville is featuring a whole week of posts with all sorts of great stuff including vintage magazine articles, artwork from the film, some of the regular trading cards from the 1982 Donruss set, and much more.  If you get a second stop on by and tell him Branded sent ya…

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Peel Here #106: Ah, ah… why am I drippings with goo?

So it’s the last day of September, and as anyone who has been following Branded for awhile knows, that means that tomorrow marks the beginning of another annual Countdown to Halloween blog-a-thon!  This will be my fifth year participating, and the second year for newly re-designed Countdown hub website (where you can find over a hundred other sites that are also digging up their coffins and dragging out all their orange and black goodies.)  This year I’m bringing back the 31 Days of Monsters which will showcase another batch of Real Ghostbusters animation cels.  So to kick off that theme I thought I’d share my collection of the 1989 Topps Ghostbusters II sticker cards!

Though I know a lot of people don’t seem to care for the Ghostbusters sequel, I can honestly say that after walking out of the theater back in 1989 there was one big smile across my twelve year-old face.   I mean with an animated Statue of Liberty led by a modified NES Advantage controller, references to He-Man, one of my favorite actors at the time Peter MacNicol, pink slime, a Real Ghostbusters cartoon influenced make-over for Janine, Louis in full-on Ghostbusters gear, the ghosts of the Titanic, and the crazy courtroom scene with the Scoleri Brothers, what’s not to love?

As far as this set of sticker cards goes, I am so happy that the Topps designers decided to mostly forgo portrait stickers and stills from the movie in favor of featuring what at the time would have been rare concept art.  My best educated guess is that these paintings were done by Henry Mayo (not the famous doctor, but the 80s/90s era movie concept artist) based on the fact that he designed the Scoleri Brothers and that these are very similar to that original concept art.  There’s also the clue of the four-armed, six-eyed specter in the group shot on sticker #2, which matches concept art for the same creature elsewhere.

All in all, this set totally makes up for Topps not covering the first film with a card and sticker set, at least in my book.  I wonder if Mayo did any concept art for the ghostly baby-snatching version of Janosz?

Anyway, get ready everyone, because tomorrow marks the beginning of the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters here at Branded in the 80s.com!

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Peel Here #105: Rescued from 23 years of un-love!

The wife and I were browsing one of our local antique malls recently when I stumbled on a new booth with a couple bins of ephemera.  I usually strike out when I find stacks of magazines and paper as the stuff I’m interested in, kids stuff mostly, just doesn’t seem to register as profitable.   But something caught my eye that got me to stop, a bit of Mylar sticking out from the stack that looked really familiar.  Sure enough, it was the outer packaging of a sticker collecting set put out by Diamond back in 1987.  This particular set contained a G.I. Joe sticker collector album and ten packs of stickers…

I’ve talked about this fad before with a set of Jem, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, and the Filmation Ghostbusters stickers, but basically in the late 70s through the early 90s there were a handful of companies (the main one is called Panini) producing sticker collecting sets that took a cue from the excitement surrounding baseball and bubblegum cards.  Instead of releasing sheets of all purpose stickers, companies like Panini and Diamond would put together mini collector albums, these magazine-like books that you’d fill with specific stickers to illustrate a story or to fill out sports team rosters.  The hobby is mainly a European one which is still going strong today.  I haven’t really seen is stateside since the 90s though.

  

What’s a little sad is that while inspecting the set I noticed that there was a little piece of wrapping paper tapes to the back.  This had been intended as a Christmas present for someone back in 1987 and it was never opened.  For 23 years this sticker set has been laying around unloved, and I planned on righting that wrong.  I never had the G.I. Joe set growing up (I only had a handful of Topps branded baseball sets and the Transformers the Movie set), so I was really excited to get this home and see what was inside…

My biggest fear was that the stickers wouldn’t stick to the pages after all this time.  Of all the stickers in my collection, there are only a handful that could probably still be used as intended.  Most, including just about all of the Topps, Donruss, and Fleer sticker cards have bonded semi-permanently with their backing, and even if they can be peeled up, they just don’t have any stick left in them.  With a sticker book like this it would be a shame if they didn’t work anymore, but my fears were assuaged.  The stickers stuck just fine!

One of the things that I love about this set is that it featured a bunch of stickers which utilized the packaging art from the figures.  I love this art and it’s really cool to finally get a hold of some for characters that I hadn’t seen in years like Chuckles and Jinx.  I only managed to get 4 of these pieces in the 10 packs which is kind of a shame.  It makes me want to rush over to eBay and see if I can’t complete this set…

   

These album sets were also fun because they typically featured some sort of activities on the pages to go along with the story and the stickers.  The gimmicks in this set are hidden printing on the pages, much like the McDonald’s calendar I shared a while ago.  The set comes with a little red cellophane decoder screen that filters out the obscuring red ink overlays to reveal secret messages, character file-card info, and the answers to puzzles.  Below you can get an idea of what these games were like with the mismatched hats of the following four Joe team members (which I’ve digitally un-obscured with the modern magic of Photoshop…)

It’s also kind of neat that Diamond took the time to print out the sticker images on the majority of the spots where the actual stickers are supposed to be applied so that kids who couldn’t track them all down had a chance to more or less follow along with the story (again with their trusty decoder strip.)  The one time when they refrained from this was with the images that required multiple stickers to complete.  These are considered top secret, which is also kind of neat as it enhances the collectability factor.  I know I always relished the feeling of completing a four-sticker image.  The artwork in the album is pretty decent as well (even though the cover of the book is kind of fugly.)  In particular I really dug this hidden image of Zartan posing as a government agent.

Again, through the magic of Photoshop we can see both images clearly probably for the first time in 23 years…

  

My favorite piece of art by far is on the back cover.  It features a bunch of the season two (of the cartoon series) Joes as well as a kid with a walking stick against going into battle against a single B.A.T. and a bunch of Crimson Guard soldiers.  The painting also features a rare moment where Lifeline, the medic in red at the front of the charge, is strapped.  Odd considering the character is a pacifist and all…

I also thought it was interesting that the company featured a sticker trading policy where anyone could trade any two doubles for a specific sticker they desired.  I wonder how many kids took advantage of this service?

If nothing else, I had a lot of fun peeling these stickers and placing them in the collector’s album.  Even if it sat for 23 years, this book finally got some of the love it deserved!

Peel Here #104: Holy Crap!

I’ve talked a lot about collecting here at Branded, and on a few occasions I’ve discussed how the hobby leads to certain unobtainable “holy grail” items.  The hobby is, by nature, goal driven; when you find one thing, one object that you desired and enjoyed, as a collector you’ll inevitably seek out another item linked to the first and so on.   It’s these goals that keep you going, looking for the next piece to acquire, and the beauty of most collections is that there is usually one item that is really hard to obtain.  Personally, though it’s frustrating during the hunt, this unobtainability is what keeps the fire stoked; it’s what keeps it interesting.

Though I’d consider myself a collector, I’ve always been hampered by my own frugality.   As much as I’ve wanted certain expensive things over the years I’ve found that I have a hard time paying much more than bargain prices.   If I can’t find it cheap, then it can wait.  So even though some of my “holy grail” items are available, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever add ‘em to the collection based on crazy high collector’s prices.  I’d resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much I wanted a set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers, it just wasn’t going to happen.  The set runs upwards of $300 on eBay, which is roughly $280 more than I’d ever be willing to pay for 82 sticker cards.  But the hunt kept me searching.  About seven months ago I stumbled across a single 1st series card, 36a Wrapin’ Ruth, in a comic shop.   I was so stoked because I’d never seen one up close, and it was only a buck.  I snatched it up and put it proudly at the beginning of my collection, just waiting for the other 81 stickers to eventually join it.  I wasn’t holding my breath.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a co-worker came in with a big bag of miscellaneous Garbage Pail Kids cards.  Her son had just gotten into the newer series and one of her friends had given her a bunch of their old stickers to pass on to him.  Since they were older and because she knew that I collected them myself, she gave me first crack at them considering that her son would be more interested in using them as stickers than collecting them.   This has happened before, people have given me a stack of cards to rifle through, either to help them find anything “worth some money” or to add to my collection.   Typically there isn’t anything of value, and usually the cards are in pretty bad shape.  This stack was no different as you can see in the 1st picture above…

Some of the cards looked like they’d been dipped in beef stew, while others suffered from the normal issues; checklists had been ticked off and there was a fair share of cards that were either written on or were missing borders.   But as I started sorting the stickers into piles (beef stew, borderless, doubles of stuff I already had), I found a pocket of cards that were stuck together.  As I carefully pried them apart I realized that they were 1st series cards, and they were in pretty good condition.  Well, they were actually pretty bad in that they all had a thick line of residual tape glue on the backs where they’d been taped into a picture album, but none of them looked like they’d been dipped in stew.

I decided to take my lunch so that I could concentrate on the stickers, and a half an hour later I was staring at a sight that I honestly never expected to see, a near complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers!  I kept muttering, “Holy crap…” under my breath as I was sorting and I found more and more of the set.

All told, the set was only 14 stickers short (including my Wrappin’ Ruth), and whoever had collected these as a kid had managed to at least get at least one of each of the A&B stickers except for one set.  So even though the set isn’t complete, all but one of the John Pound paintings are accounted for, as well as most of the Tom Bunk illustrated certificate backings.

After spending a good four hours rubbing off the residual tape glue, and putting them into card pages that evening I was finally looking at something I never thought I’d have.  Granted, the cards aren’t in the best condition, but who cares!

Not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I was a little bummed that there wasn’t a Potty Scotty sticker.  Growing up, though I never managed to see any of these stickers firsthand, I was aware of a handful of the cards based on other GPK merchandising.  In my eyes there were six main cards that sort of defined the series and Garbage Pail Kids as a whole, Adam Bomb, Dead Ted, Nasty Nick, Bony Joanie, Brainy Janie, and Potty Scotty.  In fact, any GPK that featured a toilet was sort of like the equivalent to Bobba Fett or Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars Universe.  I’m glad I snagged a Jason Basin though…

This is kind of a silly thing to admit, but for years I used to have this reoccurring dream where I was in an orchard of trees that had GPKs instead of leaves.  It was perpetually Fall and the stickers where falling to the ground in big heaps and I’d spend the whole dream raking up the cards and sorting them by series.  I’d always get so depressed after waking up and realizing that the big pile of 1st series GPKs weren’t real.  The past two weeks have felt like that dream.  I guess in some way, as glad as I am to have finally scored these stickers, it’s sort of anticlimactic in a way.  The hunt is mostly over.  Sure, I can pick up the missing 14 stickers over time (if I can find the damn things cheap enough), but I almost don’t want to.

I did decide to go ahead and order one sticker, 35b Rockin’ Robert.  Seemed like a shame to be missing the one John Pound painting.  I think I’m going to have to consider Potty Scotty as the new holy grail for my GPK collection…

Anyone out there have any stories of stumbling on your own holy grail items?

Update!! I received my Rockin’ Robert…

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Peel Here #103: Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him…

For the most part as a kid I was pretty unfamiliar with the whole cult of personality surrounding the James Bond franchise.   For some reason, aside from A View to a Kill and the Timothy Dalton flicks, I never ran across any of the films on Saturday Afternoon TV, so I was almost completely unaware of the Sean Connery flicks or a lot of the character’s conventions.  In fact it wasn’t until the James Bond Jr. cartoon in the early 90s that I really started paying any attention to the series.  I think a lot of this has to do with the idea that the Bond films have always been aimed a bit more at an adult audience, though I have to say that Roger Moore’s Bond feels a whole heck of a lot more like the Adam West Batman series than I ever would have guessed before seeing the flicks.   I did know Moore from his part in one of the Cannonball Run flicks, but I never realized how dead on his self-parody was until I watched Moonraker for the first time last year.

It doesn’t surprise me that Moonraker garnered a series of Topps non-sport cards as it was trying to appeal to the Star Wars fans, and for the first time I think also to kids more than adults.  I think it’s also one of the first instances of taking a franchise character to space in an attempt to breathe new life into a series (well Robinson Crusoe on Mars not withstanding), which is way crazier than jumping any scurvy shark (so maybe Happy Days really went too far with their intergalactic time traveling show.)  So Moonraker is most likely to blame for Gilligan’s Planet and Jason Goes to Space

Of these stickers my personal favorite is number six, the one with the gondola driver getting whacked as Bond sails along leisurely in Florence.  It has to be the one sticker in the set that kids everywhere either threw away or tried desperately to trade for a Jaws portrait or the space station sticker.  Personally, I think the absurdity of the sticker sums up the zaniness of the film for me.

Even though the Dalton flicks are my favorite in the series (I know, it’s heresy I tell you) I’m glad they didn’t get the sticker treatment.  I couldn’t imagine 22 stickers with Dalton’s over-emotional Bond on the verge of silent hate-filled tears, though I would totally love some pock-marked Robert Davi stickers.   Those would be swell…

Peel Here #102: L-L-L-L-Love that Pop-Pop Culture!

It’s kind of weird when I think about it, but even though I feel like I experienced a good chunk of the television programming from the 80s (the first time around) it’s sort of impossible to have really gotten into most of the shows enough to really experience them.  There’s just not enough time in the day, even as a kid with no job and only homework to deal with.  When I try and envision all these shows that I think I remember, I imagine this giant orb of light that’s made up of all these television images, screen shots linked together like a puzzle.   All of them are familiar and all give that sense of nostalgia, but inside this orb there’s nothing.   I expect it to be filled with memories of watching these shows, or pointless trivia, but when I glimpse inside there’s only darkness.

Max Headroom lives on one of these television screens covering the giant empty orb at the back of my brain.  On the surface I remember the television commercials, the New Coke ads, and the fact that the character was on a number of different TV shows.   I remember that the main show was a dystopian, futuristic, cyberpunk adventure that feature Matt Frewer as both a reporter named Edison Carter and the titular Max Headroom, but I’m not sure why because for the life of me I can’t recall a single episode.

In doing a little bit of research I find it kind of strange that this character and the sci-fi television show lasted as long as it did considering that the various iterations were all at odds with each other.  One the one hand you have Max Headroom the cyberspace TV host showing music videos and battering on with some odd comedy routines.   Then you have the product spokesman schilling an un-liked improvement to Coca Cola that no one really wanted.  Finally you have Max Headroom, the cyber manifestation consisting of the downloaded memories of a counter culture news reporter that’s fighting against corporate greed and advertising.   It’s all one big cynical joke that feeds on itself.  Maybe this is why I find it so fascinating…

Equally as fascinating is that of all the possible merchandising angles that could have been taken with the character, in 1986 Topps chose to use the sci-fi TV show as the inspiration for a set of 33 Max Headroom sticker cards.  Granted, the show was on the air off and on for two years, but I doubt it ever caught the hearts and minds of kids, which must have been the target audience for these sticker cards.  I’m surprised they didn’t partner with Coke and do a bunch of more brightly colored Headroom portrait stickers…

You do see a little bit of that in this set, in particular with the Headroom floating head stickers, but all in all it’s a pretty dark bunch of stickers featuring assassins, a bunch of cyberpunk rejects that look like they were swiped from a Terry Gilliam film, and some odd shots of the Matt Frewer character Edison Carter caught on film.   If I had to guess I’d say that these probably didn’t sell all that well for Topps.  As far as the stickers themselves go, I was a little disappointed that these weren’t die-cut.  For some reason that’s one of the aspects that I’ve really come to love about trading card stickers, in particular the output from Topps.

I have to say that I’m pretty stoked about the fact that he show is finally coming to DVD late this summer (August 10th).  Shout! Factory is releasing the complete series with bonus features, so I’ll finally be able to go back and get a better feel for the series…

 

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Peel Here #101, Robotsploitation!

I’ve been thinking a little bit about 80s era robot nerdom because of all the excellent research and work that Steve, over at the Roboplastic Apocalypse, has been putting into his Robo Force blog-a-thon.   Not only has he dug deep into the surprisingly interesting and exciting mythos behind America’s favorite hugging robots, he’s also provided a glimpse into a bit of very rare 80s animation, the one-shot Robo Force cartoon, The Revenge of Nazgar (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3)!   As I sat and watched that long lost episode I had all sorts of thoughts running through my head, from how neat it was to hear Arthur Burghardt (the voice of Destro from G.I. Joe) as the main villain NazGar (not to mention that I’ve gotten to a point in my cartoon watching where I can recognize and name the actor for once), to how sad it was that this line of toys didn’t strike a chord with kids back in the day.  The cartoon was actually really fun and exciting and the guys behind it managed to make the chunky R2-D2-esque designs of the Robo Force robots pretty darn dynamic.  It really makes the recent Robo Force Enemy find even sweeter…

Tangentially, I recently discovered a new set of sticker cards from the 80s (via eBay and Phillip over at Battlegrip.com) called Robot Wars.  These stickers, released by Fleer in 1985, were aimed at lovers of toy robots (released at the apex of toy robot dominance in the 80s) and they featured a surprisingly diverse selection of stickers and games.  Each pack of cards had a series of sticker cards and scratch-off game cards.  Unfortunately there wasn’t an included checklist so there is no definitive number of cards, but I believe I’ve been able to secure what I think is the complete set of stickers…

These stickers are broken up into two sections.  The first consists of a series of eleven sticker cards featuring die-cut robot portraits.  With names like Battle Blaster, Megabot, and Lasertron they’re sort of on the generic side, but the renderings are fun and I can imagine that I would have loved sticking these on my Trapper Keepers had I come across them as a kid.  In particular I like the diversity in the designs which highlight aspects of all sorts of robotic pop culture icons, from Robotech, Battle Tech, Transformers, Japanese Man-in-Suit movies, and even a bit of the vehicle design of the Buck Rogers TV show…

The second set (pictured below) were 22 sheets of mini stickers that were intended to be used to customize your actual toy robots.  I think this is an ingenious idea, even though I was just anal retentive enough as a kid to not want to put stickers on my toys.  This level of personalization and interactivity between branding kind of fascinates me.  I mean for kids who had no problem mixing and matching their branded toys during play had the opportunity to reject the established branding of say their Transformers and Robo Force figures, and to re-brand them with new logos and factions from these Robot Wars stickers.  Maybe Megatron could lead a crack team of robotrons in the Robo Karate league, or Optimus Prime and Cy-Kill would make a great Sniper Robot duo…

    

In addition to the stickers, each package also included three scratch-off cards in the vein of the Yes & Know Invisible Ink Game books you’d find in all sorts of Stucky’s and truck stops around America.   There were four different games, the Robot Wars Maze, the Robot Wars Race, Robot Wars Rescue, and Robot Wars Laser Defender.  Basically you ended up scratching your way across the cards in an attempt to get points or to avoid evil robots and pitfalls.  Though a bit fleeting and random, the scratch-offs do seem to add a interesting level of interactivity with these Robot Wars wax packs that make them seem like they were a ton of fun back in the day.

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