Getting old is weird. As if succumbing to the crippling pull of childhood nostalgia in my mid-twenties wasn’t weird enough, lately I’ve been feeling a similar wave of emotion towards the content that I presented at the outset of this very website. Back in 2006 when I started Branded I wasn’t sure exactly what form the site was going to take. I know that I wanted to discuss a bunch of 80s era childhood memories, but I wasn’t concrete about how I was going to pursue that discussion. It wasn’t until later in the year, after the podcasting bug had worn off a bit and I started switching my focus to writing that I hit upon something that really got me excited which was procuring a bunch of 80s era ephemera and scanning it to share and to be the spark of something to reflect on. That’s when I decided to get my hands on as many examples of stickers from the decade that I could find, and in that search I reconnected with a piece of my childhood that (at the time) seemed that no one save one random eBay seller remembered, the 7-11 Slurpee lenticular rock coins from 1984-85.
I was so happy to have found a set of these and even happier when I realized that these were actually stickers and not just collector coins. I wrote about them back in November 2006 and after scanning them in and sharing them felt pretty confident that I had these little bits of lenticular nostalgia nailed down and “out of my system”. A few months later in an attempt to recoup the costs of sourcing so many stickers for the site I decided to liquidate my rather larger collection of stickers in order to use the dough to buy even more. This created a couple of issues though. For one, at the time vintage stickers were pretty damn cheap on eBay as it seemed like no one was actively buying them. My hope was that buy selling all the stickers in one large lot I would have a better chance at making back at least what I put into acquiring them as it was an instant collection (featuring pretty much everything I covered on Peel Here for the first 60-70 columns). Unfortunately I ended up taking a bath on the auction barely making back a fourth of what I originally spent on the stickers. To add insult to injury, over the next few months I started to notice that the prices of 80s stickers on eBay started to exponentially increase. All of a sudden people were in the market, so the meager funds I was about to recoup didn’t stretch all that far.
Well, at least I still had all of the scans I made right? I figured that if nothing else I had all the imagery of the stickers and felt certain at the time that when ever I felt the nostalgic wave of sticker love wash over me I could just flip though the image archives I have on the site and saved to my hard drives. I didn’t think about it much for the next few years, but eventually, around 2010 I started wishing I hadn’t sold so much of my collection. There were a couple of examples in particular that just didn’t translate into the scans as well as I’d hoped, specifically all of the Lazer Blazers holographic stickers and the various lenticular stickers. It was next to impossible to get scans of both images featured on the stickers (as evidenced above.) Thanks to friends of the site and some decent eBay auctions over the past 9 years I’ve been able to reacquire a bunch of the lenticular stickers (like the Transformers and Go Bots puffy stickers), but the price of Lazer Blazers and the 7-Eleven Slurpee Rock Coins have been way too high to justify.
Well, after years of waiting and watching eBay like a hawk I finally managed to reclaim a set of the 7-Eleven Rock Coins for a very reasonable price and was super thrilled when they came in the mail this past week.
It’s so weird, but I feel like I’ve reconnected with an important part of what made Branded in the 80s work for me. Back during the early days of the site I heavily used these in the site design. Everywhere on the site that had bulleted lists (like the list of other sites I dig) I used a tiny sprite of the Dio rock coin. It was too small for anyone to really notice, but I was happy knowing that they were plastered all over the site.
Looking back at the fact that I’ve almost been running this site for a decade has made me realize just how important it’s been in changing who I am, providing me with a ton of new connections to friends and was the portal to experiences that never would have happened otherwise. These little lenticular stickers are a very specific symbol of that for me…
I’m glad I finally got my hands on these again, and having a second shot I’m gonna use this opportunity to showcase them a bit better by literally sharing them from different angles so hopefully folks can get a better view of them. As an aside, I still find the collection of bands here really strangely eclectic (Rush, Loverboy, .38 Special, Go West, Ratt, Dio, Tears for Fears, Ozzy Osbourne, Huey Lewis and the News, The Police, Night Ranger, Billy Squier, Journey, Bryan and Adams, I guess it’s like MTV threw up all over these…)
Not only has almost entire decade past since I first shared these, but so many other things on the internet have changed that there are way more resources available to gleam a bit more of what the experience was like collecting these back int he day. Back in ’06 there were a handful of vintage commercials available on youtube, but not quite to the extent that there are today where there seems to be a dedicated fanbase of people constantly ripping video from old VHS tapes. So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this Slurpee commercial advertising these rock coins!
I’ve also since learned that this 1985 set is the second series. There was another smaller series done in 1984 that had many of these same bands (and specific sticker coins), but there were a few differences including R.E.M., Krokus, the Tubes, and Big Country. Also the Ozzy sticker was black instead of red. I have yet to find a set of these 1984 stickers that aren’t astronomically priced, but there was one extremely blurry picture on eBay, so I figured I’d include it as proof that they exist.
It’s weird to realize that nostalgia is a motile phenomenon, that it grows with us as we age and isn’t just about the rose-colored view of our childhoods. It’s also a very personal and selective thing that effects everyone differently. Whereas I find myself getting nostalgic for the mid 2000’s and the start of Branded, I’ve yet to feel any real pull towards the my time as a teen in the 90s (which some exceptions for friends long gone). Maybe it points to the fact that the 90s pop culture just didn’t grab me in the same way that the 80s have, and so that 80s nostalgia can jump to even my discussions about it.
Either way, I finally feel a little bit more at ease knowing that I’ve reconnected with these small bits of my past yet again, and hopefully this time I’ll have the foresight to hold on to them. Even the Billy Squier sticker coin, which was the first one that I pulled from the bottom of a Slurpee cup in the summer of 1985….