Background, cover & transfers by Peter Archer.
First we'll look at the Panorama (because even though it isn't specifically referred to anywhere by that name, it has all the standard features shared by each of the other Panoramas), & then we can review the Nabisco cereal promotions (for Shredded Wheat & Vita-Brits) that accompanied it.
When John Waddington Ltd. took on the Panoramas from the 1st of January 1966, it seems likely that they thought they had a monopoly on the format. So it may have been a bit of a shock to find that Patterson Blick had asked Letraset to produce this essentially identical promotional item to cash in on "Batmania"…
You will notice that one of the buildings on this background is called "Ben's Wharf". This is in honour of Peter's son, Ben Archer.
The big breakthrough is referred to on the front cover: "Now in Colour". All Letraset's previous Instant Pictures had been silkscreen printed in one spot colour, but the toy & advertising industries were familiar with waterslide transfers in full colour, & naturally they would want to know if Letraset could deliver.
In fact, Peter Archer told me that the move to colour was his own idea, which he persuaded Letraset was technically feasible at one of their famous business lunches.
Letraset had already printed products using up to three spot colours, in particular for use with model railways & suchlike; but there is a world of difference between three spot colours & full colour, which normally requires not only four colours, but also proper colour separation.
Letraset had been using a Kippax Pneuminor silkscreen press, but they bought a new Svecia SemiMatic press from Registerprint which they believed could handle the accurate registration needed to produce four spot colours. Only one of the transfer sheets is in colour; the other is still monochrome, possibly as a safety measure in case the 4-spot process decided to go horribly wrong. Or perhaps it was just a quick way to provide another sheet to make up a full Panorama. Or perhaps they had started out with two monochrome sheets in mind… which might explain some of the colouring difficulties.
The colours chosen were black, white, red & blue. The bizarre consequence is (among other things) a pink Batman.
If you look carefully at the back panel artwork (on the left, above), you will notice that the artist anticipated that the transfers would be in full colour, rather than spot!
Normally Letraset's Panorama transfer strips were divided into four panels, but this time the strip divides into six, in order to accommodate the Nabisco commission.
Here's a detail of the Panorama with the transfers applied (it looks like some more of the rub-down handiwork of Mike Cosford to me, what with the crayoned-in bullet trails, smoke, etc.). Note that around the transfers you can make out a 'halo' of clear film; it appears in this scan as a thin line outlining a bubble around each Batman figure. This is the first appearance of the halo, which is always used with colour transfers from now on. Monochrome transfers did not originally require one.
Looking at the top panel (cut from a Shredded Wheat box) in the scan below, you can see the exact same figure of Batman with a red cape as in the Panorama scan above. This illustrates the interesting fact (which is evident from the colour transfer sheet shown above) that the Batman Panorama was designed with the Shredded Wheat promotion in mind. In fact, it may even be that the promotion predated the Panorama, in which case it would have been Nabisco providing the pressure for colour transfers, & Patterson Blick benefitting from Letraset's favourite habit of re-using their materials whenever they could get away with it.
Nabisco's Welgar Shredded Wheat promotion (Welgar stands for 'Welwyn Garden City') involved three different panels onto which transfers could be rubbed: the Tower of London, the Post Office Tower (which opened the previous year), & the Houses of Parliament. Yes, it's Batman in Swinging London. One panel was printed on the backs of boxes of Cubs, one on Shredded Wheat '12 biscuit' size, & one on Shredded Wheat '18 biscuit' size.
You can see examples of used, cut out, panels above, & an unused example in situ on its packet below.
Shredded Wheat was recently taken over by Nestlé, & several unused, flat, boxes which turned up in the archives were sold to the public. This Shredded Wheat box photo is courtesy of Nick Symes.
The particularly good news is that this Shredded Wheat promotion has been converted into one of our online games: Renegade Robots!
But don't stop reading here; there's plenty more to come on the same Bat-Channel…• Next Page — Shredded Wheat vs. Batman Vita-Brits →
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives (with thanks to StellarX, Mike Cosford, Robert Welk, Nick Symes & Daniel King) — David Welch
© Tom Vinelott 2016