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.
If you missed previous postrs on this subject, here are the links: