Letraset Action Transfers

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You know when you see something and you’re instantly transferred to another time?

Yeah, that thing.

Rub down transfers (those of you who are young please bear with me) took many form over the years. Professional lettering, decals on models and the long-lost art of panorama rub down transfers. It sounds the most bonkers idea in the world but as kids we would get these sets of pre printed background onto which we would creatively apply transfers.

I know, mental.

All of our favourite characters were drafted into action: Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, Tarzan, Planet of the Apes, Space:1999 or Star Trek. Mundane commercial art-based backgrounds were provided on a fold out piece of card and it was our job to carefully apply transfers on to the background. This was fraught with difficulty of course. If you used a pencil that was too sharp it created an indent in the plastic that would result in a broken ape arm or a displaced phaser. Over time we cultivated rounded, blunt pencils that transferred the image flawlessly on to the backdrop careful not to ruin the gold dusted, magical transfer.

Brought up on comics, this gave me the freedom to imagine what it might be like to create our own stories. OK it was very limited, but we got a taste for it. Action Transfers (a Waddingtons games brand) was a birthday or Christmas staple, never the first thing to play with but always one for later, when the excitement had died down. It was odd that we could always tell they weren’t drawn by our favourite artists or even vaguely look like the characters we knew and loved but somehow it didn’t matter. The technology was rudimentary but we worked with it, there was nothing else to do.

Later when I trained as graphic designer, the technology of course had moved on and we were using transfers for high end typography using skills that have pretty much vanished.

Little did I know that as a fledgling designer I’d be using rub down skills honed under the bed covers, by torchlight, on a council estate in Leeds?

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Black & White Heroes

These monochrome super hero interpretations by Marko Manev of are seriously impressive. I think my favourite has to be the silver surfer, closely followed by the Dark Knight…

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Maverick creative thinking shreds marketing nerves

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I’m a huge fan of movie posters and have wittered on endlessly on this blog to anyone who has enough patience to read about my love for them. There are some great and some not so great examples around at the moment and one of the best examples of brilliant creativity in this space  had nothing to do with the actual marketing team, but a street artist.

The dude who goes by the name Poster Boy NYC is known for ‘putting his spin’ on NYC  signage with anti-consumerism, anti-everything satire. What he’s done for a poster of  Hugh Jackman’s latest movie, The Wolverine, however, is a genius work of marketing that should embarrass the studio team assigned to this film for not thinking of it first. The actual poster for the film features the simple image of Wolverine with claws bared. In the his version, however, the posters on either side are made to look as though they have been clawed by Marvel’s hirsute superhero.

It’s a piece of sharp thinking, sure to get the official creative team looking at their shoes and coughing. Sign him up, boys.

Branded Superheroes

This is an interesting exercise by Italian designer Roberto Vigati Santos.

Take well-known superheroes. Then add global super brands and make the most appropriate connections.

Hey Presto – we get a result that I’m not 100% comfortable with but one that’s probably closer to the real world.

I like the combination on commercial brand prowess and superpowers.

Enjoyable.

 

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An obsession with Apes

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The original Planet of the Apes movie franchise ran from 1968 to 1973. The movie franchise was based on the original novel La Planete des Singes or Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle (who also wrote the original Bridge on the River Kwai book). The first movie in the series starred Charlton Heston and set the bar for drama and originality in the sci-fi genre that was gradually diminished as each movie sequel was released. Only the diehard Planet of the Apes fan would disagree with that statement and I guess that person would be me.

My personal favourites (after the original of course) are ‘Beneath…’ and ‘Battle…’ for lots of obscure fanboy reasons all centred around the gorilla-centric plot lines and the expansion of the original premise that apes now rule our devastated planet. I was keen on the idea being fleshed out and seeing the everyday simian/human existence for some reason fascinated me.

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In 1974 a TV series was created – quite some time after the original movie had been made – I was all over it. Or as much as an 11 year old in the analogue world of Britain in the early seventies could be all over anything. Only fourteen episodes were actually made (why is it that when you discover a fact like this it’s always a surprise) and the show was cancelled midway through its run due to low ratings.

The show is based loosely around the apes ruling the world routine but with the subjugated humans having the ability to talk, helping to create more plot options, clearly. Two astronauts, Burke and Virdon, hook up with chimpanzee Galen and end up having what to modern eyes fairly run of the mill episodes. At the time of course these were monumental clashes between man and ape with the ingenuity of humankind, the wisdom of orangutans, the intelligence of chimpanzees and the barbarity of gorillas all providing plenty of plot options.

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Of course these days if we like a movie or TV show we can record it, buy it, download it, see it umpteen times on catch up or see it endlessly on a lesser channel. But in 1974 it was on once and that was it. Not to be short-changed I recorded each episode on an analogue audio tape deck, sat in front of the television set with a circular dial operated tape cassette .

No, really, I did.

I even stopped and started to cut out the TV ads.I would listen to the deteriorating TDK recordings over and over, trying make out the dialogue amidst the tape hiss and pots and pans being rattled in the background. I can still recall the thrill of the opening credits theme tune and it still to this day sends a chill down my spine.

Although the series was canned in the US, it was much popular in the UK for some reason and it spawned all manner or merchandise and paraphernalia around it. I was already a comic devotee by this time and it’s fair to say that Planet of the Apes caught my imagination in so many ways. The original movie franchise was also released back in to the cinemas which is when I actually saw them all for the first time – all out of the correct order as it happens – and the bug was well and truly caught for me.

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There were the ubiquitous bubble gum cards of course and what self-respecting 11-year-old wasn’t into that? Then came the Marvel comic adaptation which wasn’t bad at all with an alternative take on the ape versus man universe. Toy merchadise was next up and compared to the relentless commercialism around franchises these days, the POTA toys were tame by comparison but very collectable. My favourite was Urko, so I had to get him first, followed by Galen and for bizarrely I wasn’t that fussed for the humans, it was all about the apes for me.

There were also live shows at showgrounds across the country with Apes on horseback chasing down humans, whips, guns and all manner of excitement. We went to see one of the live extravaganzas in Harrogate and my dad managed to get Urko’s autograph for me. I still have it somewhere. There was even what I thought at the time sub standard animated TV series called Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it was no substitute for the main deal, but it slaked our simian thirst.

I look back on my obsession with all things ape with faint embarrassment but with complete understanding of myself now and at that time. I often see things in the geek treasure trove that I think my 11 year old self would be beside himself to even touch, never mind own. My obsessional behavioural pattern was established early in life with boxes of Apes stuff stashed in the loft after the next big thing to come along overtook it (Star Wars I think).

These boxes of well used merchhadise and lovingly curated scrapbooks wait patiently to be discovered in the dusty darkness. In fact, I might go have a look right now…

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Marvel Pixar-ised

These made me smile. I love Marvel and I love Pixar and these affectionate mash-ups are a joy.

They are the work of artist Phil Postma came up with the idea of interpreting our beloved superheroes in the style of Pixar.

Can you spot which Pixar movie character he has used for each superhero?

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The evolution of the Batman symbol

Great fun seeing the evolution of the Batman symbol over the years.

Which one is your favourite?

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