Packets & Tattooze

(Page Four of Nine)

Letraset Super Heroes Tattooze


The above scan is taken from the Thomas Salter 1981 trade catalogue. Although the transfers are dated 1977, they probably didn't appear until the following year. The text claims there are 100 different designs, but this includes the various small bits & pieces which appear in addition to the "two designs per sheet", & even then is slightly rounding-up…


Photos courtesy of Gary Maguire

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We don't know which came first — the packets of eight Tattooze, or the packets of ten, but as the 1981 catalogue illustrates eights, it seems likely the tens were earliest. Since there are two Tattooze on each sheet, that means four sheets for eights & five sheets per packet of ten.

Quite often Letraset would do a job for a client, & then nick the idea. Perhaps that happened here. We only know of a few instances of Letraset printing temporary tattoos (although they did also print some iron-on transfers), & on this occasion they've kept the unusual spelling "Tattooze". Sodecor did have a long tradition of printing waterslide transfers, so that might have been a motivating factor.

This was a big year for Letraset promoting DC comic characters; having purchased the licenses, they also produced Action Transfer sets & even toys (such as Rotadraw). The same applied to Marvel & Disney characters.


Below, you can see what the Tattooze look like both with their protective papers on (upper row), & removed (lower row). We can't show you the full design, though, because you would have to apply the transfer to see that! Perhaps we'll apply some later on… Meanwhile, you'll have to look at them through their backs.


Hank Landry has been exceptionally helpful in establishing the full range of cut sheets, & estimating the relative rarity of some sheets.

His son Pete obtained a sample of 675 sheets (168 packets; 4 sheets/packet; it nearly works out…), & found that the scarcest had eight examples, while the most common had twenty-two instances.


The sample is large enough to suggest that these 45 are all the sheets in the range.

The sheets themselves are un-numbered, of course, but if we call the columns "A" to "E", & the rows "1" to "9", then here is a table of how many instances he found of each sheet:

A1:09 copies
B1:14 copies
C1:08 copies
D1:19 copies
E1:13 copies
A2:16 copies
B2:21 copies
C2:10 copies
D2:20 copies
E2:12 copies
A3:13 copies
B3:14 copies
C3:12 copies
D3:13 copies
E3:19 copies
A4:15 copies
B4:13 copies
C4:18 copies
D4:13 copies
E4:17 copies
A5:12 copies
B5:13 copies
C5:11 copies
D5:14 copies
E5:18 copies
A6:21 copies
B6:09 copies
C6:12 copies
D6:12 copies
E6:13 copies
A7:09 copies
B7:16 copies
C7:18 copies
D7:18 copies
E7:18 copies
A8:17 copies
B8:14 copies
C8:19 copies
D8:19 copies
E8:13 copies
A9:16 copies
B9:18 copies
C9:22 copies
D9:14 copies
E9:18 copies

You're welcome to perform your own statistical analysis, but it seems likely that some sheets were two to three times more common than others.

To speculate further, if 15 sheets appeared three times, 15 sheets twice, & 15 once — the simplest arrangement — that would make the full uncut artwork sheet equivalent to 90 cut sheets.

Each cut sheet is 4cm x 5cm, so that would mean the artwork would fit onto a sheet of Crown (15" x 20") with exactly enough bleed… looking something like this:


Who says maths isn't useful in everyday life?

(You may also be interested in our page "How to apply Temporary Tattoos" for further reading…)

• Next Page — Letraset Rub Down Horrors & Space Monsters [1979-80] →

Other pages in this article about Packets & Tattooze:

See also: Combat Bubble Gum Instant Picture Sheets ↑
Plus: Topps 1969 Baseball Magic Rub-Offs ↑
And: Topps Speed Wheels ↑
And: A&BC Footballer Bubble Gum with Action Transfers ↑

Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — Pete Landry — Gary Maguire