Tag Archives: Peel Here

Peel Here #112, Of course Robo Force stickers are puffy, makes them more hugable!

I was rifling though my personal cabinet at work looking for my sketchbook when I came across this sheet of Robo Force puffy stickers that I meant to scan and write about awhile ago.  Though I’m sure there was a name brand version of these stickers, I’ve only ever seen them issued as generic unbranded knock-offs on eBay and elsewhere.  I’m pretty sure these were released in 1984 along with the rest of the toy-line and Robo Force merchandise before the franchise took a nose dive into obscurity.  I’ve written about these toys on the site before, and actually I just recently managed to find a mint in box S.O.T.A. figure (pictured in the stickers below to the left) to add to my 80s robot collection…

The other sticker featured is Wrecker which has a bit of resonance with me since he was the only Robo Force figure I had as a kid.  The missing sticker on this sheet featured one of the cooler Robo Force characters, Sentinel, which is probably why he’s absent.  There was also a second set of three sticker availalbe that featured the main hero and some of the villains from the line (Hun-Dred, Cruel, and Max Steele himself).  I’d also like to point out that these stickers were gifted to my by the gracious Jerzy Drozd of the Art & Story and Comics Are Great podcasts.

In other Peel Here news, yours truly was referenced on the Retroist website recently in a wonderfully odd Alternate History of the Sticker by none other than the Claymation Werewolf himself, J.C. Beirau.  I can only hope to be half as reclusive in my old age as he made me out to be…

Wax Paper Pop Art #27, The most powerful wrappers in the universe!

Today is Friday the 13th which seems like the perfect opportunity to share some cool Jason Vorhees themed bits of Wax Paper Pop Art, but alas none exist.  This reminds me of one of my favorite blogs that is sadly defunct, the Bubblegum Fink.  BF was a huge influence on Branded, and one of the really cool things he did was to create sets of digital trading cards that aped the style of Topps sets back in the 70s and 80s.  One of my favorite would-be sets was for Friday the 13th, and it would have been awesome had it actually existed.  I never saved any of the images sadly, but here’s a post of someone else who took notice of these awesome pieces of should-be-nostalgia

Anyway, in lieu of simplistic Hockey Mask art I thought I’d share a set of some of my favorite Topps card wrappers from the Masters of the Universe series circa 1984…

These images, in particular of He-Man and Skeletor were very prevalent on MOTU merchandising back in the day.  Actually both of them also grace the two Lazer Blazer sticker sets as well.  It’s kind of cool to get a chance to see the same image in so many iterations over the years…

   

I talked about the sticker cards from this set, as well as a bunch of other MOTU stickers in an older Peel Here column.

Peel Here #111: A Grossville High School Reunion!

It’s not very often that I get a chance to revisit a set of stickers I’ve shared before with some interesting behind the scenes updates on the production and input from those involved in creating the set.  I was really happy to have a chance to do just that this past week when Gary Cangemi the co-creator, artist and writer behind Fleer’s 1986 sticker set called Grossville High paid a visit to Branded.  Not only did he share some of his experiences working on this set, but he also graciously provided a scan of the original artwork for one of the cards to share here as well as to clean up a bit of a buggy mystery.

About a year ago, a reader of the site named Joe pointed out one of the obscure facts about this set that I neglected to talk about when I first posted about the Grossville High cards.  Basically, the Grossville mascot (named Ronnie the Roach) is hidden in the artwork for each card in the set, so there was a additional bit of fun to be had in searching for the little bugger.  Joe had also pointed out that there was one card that didn’t feature a hidden Ronnie, sticker card #58, Miss Body English (pictured below at the center-left.)

As you can see in the original artwork below, Ronnie is indeed there, he was just cropped out of the final card art by Fleer…

What I really love about getting a chance to see this original artwork is the little details and differences between it and the final printed card.  First of all, one of the things that I’d appreciated about the artwork when I first took a look at this set was the care that was put into the aesthetics of the color when it came to the backgrounds.  This set is very loud with a lot of neon yellows, neon greens, reds, oranges and purples, and it can be an assault on the eyes at times.  One of the ways that I assumed Fleer tried to tone this down was by dimming the backgrounds, which both highlights the main characters and reduces the color “volume” so to speak.  Well, with the original piece, we get a chance to see the artwork as it was intended without the background obscured, and honestly it’s not nearly as eye-strain-inducing as I’d imagined.  Actually, the overall art seems less garish and less intense.  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Fleer went with a very vivid and saturated look to the set instead of using the more subdued palette Cangemi originally chose.

Closer inspection of the piece also reveals some changes in the art that Cangemi noted Fleer had asked him to make.  In particular you can see a reduction in Miss Body’s bustiness…

Anyway, here’s what Gary had to say about working on Grossville High…

“My business partner Larry Newman came up with the concept of a gross high school and most of the names.  I did all the writing and artwork for the series.  There are some creative and design problems with the series caused mostly by the lack of time given me to complete 66 designs PLUS the humor on the backs.  I remember doing the whole thing in 5-6 weeks.  Some of the stuff got repetitive because there wasn’t enough time for creative development and feedback.  You will notice there are no African-American characters in the series.  Joe Stereo WAS black originally but fleer was so afraid of being accused of racism they made me turn him into a white guy.  I told them they were wrong, that to exclude African Americans was more racist.  Of course they had no objections to my stereotypes of Chinese, Italian, or Latino characters…go figure.  Some of these cards wouldn’t survive today’s hypersensitive market and others make me cringe a little, but the 70s-80s were a different time when people could kid around about race without all the political correctness.  Sitcoms were loaded with these stereotypes.

The only resemblance I see to GPK (in response to my assertion that Fleer was riffing on Topps’ GPK stickers – Shawn) is the naming scheme and the grossness, but I tried to be as original as possible and more MAD-like.  The faded backgrounds were fleer’s decision.  The original art, which I still possess, is rich in color depth and detail, too much so.  Fleer said the characters didn’t stand out enough like the GPKs did so they cut masks around the characters and lightened the backgrounds.  There IS a roach on the Miss Body English card, you just need to look harder.  I had a great time designing these cards but wish they had given me more.  They would have been much better.  By the way, the GH originals were not painted, they were done in Prismacolor markers, ink and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper.”

As for the future of Grossville High, Gary had this to say…

“I now own the exclusive rights to Grossville High and plan on resurrecting them in some form or another, either a class reunion or a next generation concept.  I also wrote a script for a GH graphic novel which I would like to produce someday.  I think Grossville High, with some updating, would make a great CGI film.”

Also, another bit of fun trivia for this set is that it was originally intended to be called Grossburger High, but Fleer nixed that idea for being too close to yet another of their rival Topps’ products, Gross Bears (their Garbage Pail Kid-like parody of the Care Bears released in 1985.)

I really want to give a huge thanks to Gary Cangemi for sharing his thoughts on the set and for giving the Branded readers a chance to look at some of his original untouched artwork!  I also hope he gets a chance to bring these characters back to life in a new project, and I’m really excited to see what might come in the future…

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!

Wax Paper Pop Art #26, Sucking at a video game was never so pretty…

For today’s WWPA I thought I’d share a wrapper for a set of cards and stickers that I haven’t been able to get my hands on just yet.  The 1983 Fleer Dragon’s Lair game cards and stickers…

The few times I’ve played the original arcade game it totally kicked my butt.  It was beautiful though, as Don Bluth’s animation tends to be.  To hear all about it check out episode 81 of the Retroist Podcast!

Wax Paper Pop Art #25, the Rocket Launcher edition…

Since I ended up talking about the Rambo cartoon yesterday it only seems fitting to end the week with a bit of Rambo Wax Paper Pop Art.  This wrapper is from the 1985 Topps card set (I’ve posted about the stickers in the past…)

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…

Wax Paper Pop Art #24, T-M-N-T-Turtle POWER!

So, I thought I was going to be able to get to scanning the Baseballs’ Greatest Grossouts stickers earlier in the week, but that fell through so I thought I’d bump up this week’s Wax Paper Pop Art.  Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle those stickers tonight.

Anyway, in keeping with the slight theme of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I thought I’d share my collection of TMNT wax wrappers.  Before I get to that though, I wanted to give an update for the postcard project I started on Tuesday.  22 of the 24 postcards have been claimed, and so far they’re being mailed out to twelve different states and provinces in the US, as well as four other countries spanning three continents.  There are two left, an April O’Neil and a Splinter, waiting for homes to be mailed to, so check out the post below for details.  I’m super excited at the response to this idea and I think I might do some additional postcard runs in the coming year (I already have an idea for this coming October…)

Now, on to the WPPA.  First up we have the four wrappers from the 1989 Topps cartoon stickers and cards set…

  

   

Next up is the wrapper for the 1990 Topps movie cards and stickers…

I must have seen this movie at least a hundred times over the years.  It’s been one of my go-to comfort classics and it reminds of a lot of when I first left Florida as a preteen.  In 1990 my family pulled up roots and moved to New England for a year, and coming from the sunny beach minded southern peninsula it was a shock to my system.  Not only was the weather and landscape different, but the general vibe I got from the kids up there was a whole heck of a lot different as well.  That summer when the TMNT movie came out in theaters, it felt like a link back to my childhood in Florida.  My introduction to the toys and cartoon series was one of my last memories with my longtime friends down there and collecting the movie cards when they came out brought me out of an isolating funk…

This next set of wrappers jumps back to the cartoon series.  The first one is for the 2nd series Topps cards that came out in 1990…

…and these next three are also from that series of cards, though they’re a bit different.

These are from what I believe is the Canadian variation of the 2nd series cards.  Though they’re not labeled as O-Pee-Chee (the Canadian version of Topps), I’m taking clues from the title change (these are Teenage Mutant HERO Turtles), and the ingredients for the included gum which have the classic Canadian/UK spellings of flavour and colour with the added “u”.  The Michelangelo wrapper above also has an alternate illustration, whereas the rest of the wrappers feature the same imagery from the 1st series packaging.

  

Last up today is the Topps wrapper for the 1992 live action sequel to the TMNT movie, Secret of the Ooze…

This flick also marks a strange place in my nostalgia as the end of my toy collecting for the most part.  By ’92 I was more into comic books and roleplaying (not straying very far from the Turtles though as I was a Palladium TMNT and Other Strangeness junky throughout high school), and toys were taking a backseat.  Add to this the weird toyline from this flick with all the freckles and the goofy vibe of Vanilla Ice, and I pretty much lost interest in the film series and collecting the action figures.  I have a soft spot in my heart for the flick now, though it was a long time in coming…

Wax Paper Pop Art #23, They should call it Monster Ball…

So for this week’s Wax Paper Pop Art I thought I’d provide a teaser for a set of stickers that I’m going to share on next week’s Peel Here column.  1989′s Baseballs’ Greatest Grossouts sticker cards were the follow-up set to Donruss/Leaf’s 1988 sticker set Awesome All*Stars

The illustrations on these wax packs were done by (I’m 99% sure) B.K. Taylor, an artist I’m becoming increasingly familiar with due to my explorations into the Scholastic newsletters and their publications like Maniac, Dynamite and Hot Dog.  Taylor did all sorts of artwork for Scholastic, from sticker sheets to comic strips, as well as illustrations for some of their books.  I believe he also did the artwork for the Zero Heroes sticker cards (based on his art style and relationship with Donruss doing their Odd Rods stickers in the late 60s and 70s.)

So check back next week for some of Baseballs’ Greatest Grossouts…

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…