Nabisco's Welgar Shredded Wheat promotion (Welgar stands for 'Welwyn Garden City') involved three different panels onto which transfers could be rubbed. One panel was printed on the backs of boxes of Cubs, one on the Shredded Wheat '12 biscuit' size, & one on the Shredded Wheat '18 biscuit' size.
After a long & successful search, we can finally show you all three panels!
The Shredded Wheat '12 biscuit' cereal packet panel shown above is by courtesy of eBay Seller murraycards51; the Cubs cereal packet below is by courtesy of Nick Symes.
The third panel, from the '18 biscuit' size packet, is now safely in the SPLAT Scan Archives after having been acquired from the ever-reliable Paul Evans.
I'm hoping to convert this panel into one of our online games in the not-too-distant future… which of the following transfer sheets do you think I should use?
("Answers on a postcard, please!")
As you can easily see, the box artwork is again by Peter Archer. Here's a reasonable mock-up guess (using the clues provided on the individual sheets) as to how his twelve Free Gift transfers might have appeared on their uncut sheet:
By the way: a big thank-you to those members of SPLAT who so generously contributed to obtaining this complete set of transfers; it's entirely due to their kindness that I've been able to scan them, & I could never have put this online without their help.
The Tarzan & Batman Shredded Wheat transfers are both the same size: approximately 5" by 2½". However, the big difference is in the colour printing, & therefore in the press used to produce them.
Whereas Batman was silkscreen printed in four spot colours, the Tarzan Free Gift transfers are full colour CMYK (but with White as well — let's call it CMYKW). You can see the Cyan Yellow blacK & White registration marks immediately above; on the left edge of the "Witch Doctor Warriors" transfer the Magenta mark would be visible if it hadn't been cropped off. (I've seen it on another copy of this sheet!)
Since Letraset had to build a factory in Ashford to house their full-colour Rotary Gravure Press, & the factory opened in late 1968, you can see we have a slight dating problem…
The copyright date of 1966 which appears on the transfers (& also on the Panorama) clearly refers to the Tarzan TV programme & doesn't mean the transfers were printed that year.
Above is a clipping from the Thames version of Radio Times for April 8th 1967, showing the UK premiere of "Tarzan" on Monday 10th.
As was normal, not all regions showed the same shows at the same time, & it seems that mostly they delayed Tarzan by several months:
A massive 'thank you' to N.Phelan, who provided the above clipping & who trawled through acres of regional TV listings magazines to pin down the exact dates for this show.
Why is establishing these dates important? Because it sets likely earliest & latest production dates. Patterson Blick's Batman Panorama (also by Peter Archer) was a big hit at the end of 1966, so it would be logical for them to look for a follow-up a year later. The TV show's success in the US would indicate Tarzan as the best contender for this role. The ordering season for new toys was towards the end of the year (in time for the Christmas rush), so the Panorama would be expected to be released in late 1967 — after the initial surge of interest in Tarzan, but well before that interest could have faded.
Nabisco would have been interested in a follow-up to the Batman Panorama tie-in, but by the time they were asking, Letraset's rotary gravure press would be approaching availability. We know that Peter was very excited about being able to do proper full-colour separations, rather than the spot-colour separations which he had had to do by hand (& that's a very tricky job, with a great deal of uncertainty as to the final result; imagine doing that for 160 characters!). In fact, from what he said, it seems he argued strongly for waiting until the gravure press could be used, on the basis that the full-colour transfers would be so much better quality.
But John Chudley reported, of the new Ashford factory with its new rotary gravure press, that "by the Autumn of 1968 we had installed most of our production" — almost a year after the Tarzan Panorama.
However, Peter's son Ben says he remembers the two jobs as being pretty close together, & the evidence of Mike Cosford (see below) suggests that the gap between them was not nearly as long as a year.
The best way to resolve this tension seems to be to assume that the press was running before the factory was finished, & that the Tarzan Shredded Wheat promotion was printed in early 1968.
It wouldn't have been the very first promotion off the press, though, because Chudley says this honour went to "Italian kid's cheese". We've never been able to find this mystery product, but I think he actually meant the Tintin Cha-Cha-Rama biscuits promotion. Adverts for that appeared in Tintin magazine on 16th April 1968.
Even if Chudley is wrong, & the Tarzan Shredded Wheat transfers were earlier still (perhaps the first, due to Peter's insistence!), it's still hard to put the two Tarzan products closer together than five or six months.
Here's an interesting detail taken from Mike Cosford's used Panorama background (shown in full on the previous page); like a very convenient conjuring trick, it shows the "two Janes" of Peter Archer's two different interpretations rubbed down side-by-side.
For Mike to have applied the Shredded Wheat transfer to his Panorama strongly implies that the two products must have been available at similar times, but it also neatly illustrates the divergences which suggest that they weren't as closely associated as the earlier Batman Panorama & Shredded Wheat products had been.
Apart from the artistic dissimilarities, the fact that the two Tarzan transfer sheets were printed on different presses by different processes suggests that they were… distinct.
The Shredded Wheat figures were larger than those for the Panorama — which makes sense, since there were fewer figures per packet; approximately 20 figures per sheet (x8 sheets) for the Panorama, & approximately 10 figures per sheet (x12 sheets) for the Free Gifts.
In the Panorama, Tarzan has solid black hair, & Jane has long blonde hair with a torn red mini-dress. In the Free Gifts, Tarzan's hair is very much lighter, while Jane's is shorter & she is wearing a Safari outfit. Boy does not appear in the Panorama, & Cheetah only a couple of times (if indeed that is him — which is doubtful), whereas they both crop up frequently in the Free Gifts.
Perhaps Peter saw the TV show after the Panorama & before the Free Gifts! Or, of course, the brief & character sheets for each job may simply have been different.
Generally, though, the Panorama transfers live in the silkscreen World of the early Letraset Panoramas with its policy of 'lots of small figures', albeit in better-applied colour than the Batman Panorama. The Free Gifts, on the other hand, represent the new World of Gravure seen in the early Patterson Blick Instant Picture Books (even though, perversely, of these two Tarzan products, it's the Panorama which is Patterson Blick).
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives (with thanks to Nick Symes & Mike Cosford) — murraycards51 — N.Phelan
© Tom Vinelott 2021