Sunday, December 19, 2010

Free Inside! - Part 7

Later than planned here's the final part of the flashback to free gifts of the past. (Previous entries can be seen in postings from earlier this month.) First up, a set of sports star cards given away in Radio Fun in the 1950s. Note that back in those days free sports cards actually had useful information on the back, unlike cards of today which barely carry anything except the star's name and club. (The plastic wallet in the photos wasn't part of the set by the way.)

Next, it's 1967 and the free soft plastic pennant/wallet that was inside Fantastic No.1.

An unusual free gift, and if any readers were unsure what to do with it a page inside the comic offered some suggestions:

The back page of the issue provided some pieces of artwork that could be cut out and slid into the pennant/wallet.

Companion comics Pow!, Smash! and Wham! each featured a couple of extra ones too. All good stuff, except for Odhams giving the Hulk pink nail varnish for some reason.

Odhams always tried to be topical with their comics and a year later in 1968 at the height of the space race Fantastic gave away The Apollo Space Craft!

Well, a flat cardboard model of the module anyway...

Once it was all glued into place each section could be folded back to reveal the inner workings. (Although we were still clueless as to how it did actually work.) The astronaut figures look like the style of Brian Lewis so I assume the rest of it is also his work.

The following week Fantastic presented us with a free metal badge so we could announce our support of the comic with pride, and give Odhams free advertising in the bargain:

The badge came supplied with four stickers which could be interchanged by sticking them on the badge. Well, until they wore out, which didn't take long. The artwork for the stickers can be seen on the cover:

I don't recall Top Sellers ever giving free gifts away in their reprints of Gold Key comics, except for this one, which was with their sometimes-fortnightly/ sometimes-monthly/ who-could-ever-keep-track Tarzan of the Apes comic No.2 in 1971:

In 1972 a significant event in UK comics took place when Marvel UK arrived, launching The Mighty World of Marvel. Here's the free Hulk transfer from issue 1 still unused:

...and the free Spider-Man transfer from issue 2 of MWOM:

For issue 3, MWOM had perhaps decided that two transfers were enough so they gave away a sheet of Marvel stickers instead. It's just occurred to me that the subtitle of my 1986 strip Tom Thug, Wot a Mug must have been subconsciously inspired by the caption on this 1972 Thing sticker. At least mine rhymed:

In early 1975 IPC Magazines launched Vulcan comic, reprinting various strips from 1960s titles. Perhaps unsure of how well it would fare, it only appeared in Scotland initially. Here's the cover to the first Scottish edition:

...and here's the free gift. An easy to assemble glow-in-the-dark cardboard Super Shaking Skeleton:

Several months later IPC felt confident to relaunch the comic nationwide. The second new series edition contained free numbers game cards:

Here's the instructions so you can have a go:

Also in 1975 new D.C. Thomson humour weekly Cracker gave its readers the free Funny Face Maker:

This plastic gift came with numerous cards drawn by Barrie Appleby which each featured half a face (or half a monster on the reverse). By sliding a card into the Funny Face Maker the reflected section would, you guessed it, present a funny face:

In 1979 Tiger weekly was 25 years old, and IPC commemorated the event with a free booklet with a silver logo:

There was a bit of a catch though. To complete it you had to cut out the interior pages from the comic over a period of several weeks. However, once done, you had a sports booklet with Ernie Wise on the front, plus the real incentive as far as I was concerned; a replica mini edition of the very first issue from 1954:

The back of the booklet also featured a look at how the mastheads of the comic had changed over the years. Optimistically, editor Barrie Tomlinson was looking forward to Tiger's next 25 years. The comic folded six years later :

A recurring free gift of the 1980s in D.C. Thomson boys' comics were the Power Prop Gliders. These fragile lightweight kits could be purchased in newsagents on their own I believe but Victor and other Thomson comics gave them away on a number of occasions.

That's it for this look back at old free gifts. I still have some others to show from the 1980s and 1990s and may revisit this theme later next year. I hope you've enjoyed this nostalgic peek into times when gifts were a special treat, when they were more inventive than most of today's repetitive plastic water tat, and when the comics they came with didn't increase their prices to capitalize on it.

Thanks for reading and may your Thunder-Bangs never rip and your pistols never lose their pop.


Anonymous said...

u get the pictures from ebay? are they in auction now? where can i bid?

Lew Stringer said...

All the images are photos/scans of my own collection. They're not for sale, sorry.

Sid Smith said...

Hey Lew - lovely seeing all those Fantastic giveaways. I remember them well but of course, don't have them anymore! However, a pal of mine still has his Hulk sticker proudly attached to the side of his fireplace. Many thanks for taking the time and trouble of putting these up and sharing them.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the 7-part series, Lew. Thanks a lot !Have a Merry Christmas and Happy 2011.

John Parker, Spain

Norman Boyd said...

I can still smell the plastic of the Fantastic pennant holder - and it looks as if you actually cut up the back covers when you were a kid, just like I did.

The Apollo spacecraft had completely slipped my memory - wow! that takes me back to idyllic days when these simple things were fascinating - who would have thought one day I would stand next to a Saturn V in Florida!

Thanks again for a brilliant article. Long may you stir up those memories - doing your bit to ward off Alzheimer's!

Manic Man said...

Ah, nice days and i have to agree, this have been fun to do over.. Shame you didn't/couldn't feature some more of the old 'Board games' which were push outs or cut outs etc.. but still very good and well worth the read ^_^

Carl Flint said...

Lew! I can't believe you've got those original MWOM T-shirt transfers. I'm very impressed! How did you manage to resist getting them ironed on to a T-shirt when you were a lad? That Hulk one was my pride and joy. Did you buy two copies - one to wear and one cherish?

Lew Stringer said...

Hi Carl, It was quite easy to resist wearing those transfers. I was 13 when I had them so I thought I'd look a proper 'nana if I walked around with those on. :-)

markacurrie said...

My mum accidnetally had one of spider-man's feet folded over when she ironed on the transfer from mwom 2 onto a t-shirt for me. I still wore it - I was only 7 at the time. Do you remember the ad on tv for MWOM 1?

Lew Stringer said...

No, seeing MWOM No.1 in the newsagents was a complete surprise for me. I must have missed the tv ads for it.

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