Instant Picture Panorama No.4: Lunar Base (K48) 1965

Background & cover by Patrick Tilley; transfers by Frank Wheeler (Patrick Tilley Associates).


This is my favourite Letraset product of all time — & directly responsible for the formation of SPLAT, since it was while searching for a surviving copy of this Panorama that I found other people regularly bidding on Action Transfers, & invited them to form a group.


In the end, after twenty years of searching, we did manage to find many examples of this Panorama in a variety of conditions, but it wasn't until Oxfam contacted me in 2023 that I was able to obtain this unopened Lunar Base Panorama, still in its cellophane wrapper.

This really was the holy grail of transfers; please go out & spend some money in an Oxfam shop if you want to join me in showing your appreciation!


Above: the Sacred Stickers of Gold. Below: inside the Panorama, showing the transfer sheets & a promotional note, stickered to the corrugated cardboard stiffener.


The Covers

There were two versions of this Panorama — the original 'monochrome transfers' Patrick Tilley Associates version, & a later four-spot coloured transfer sheets version, with the updated transfers retouched by an unknown artist (possibly Peter Archer). The same goes for the other Panoramas in the original series of five: the transfer sheets were updated later for colour, but the background scenes remain identical throughout.

(For brevity, we often use the terms "mono" & "4-spot" to refer to the different sets of transfer sheets.)


The complex history of Panoramas is dealt with elsewhere, but here is an opportunity to show some of the variations that applied to this particular set. Above, we have the cover of the original version from 1965; this is followed by Waddington's early adaptation from 1966:


Then we have Waddington's later reworking of the monochrome transfers into four spot colours (this particular set is from 1971).

pic pic

Note how the card is folded so that the ends meet in the middle of the back, where they are fastened by a round gold sticker (missing here, although you can see the residue of its glue). The whole kit is then wrapped in cellophane.

The Background

Here's the background. The Patrick Tilley Panorama backgrounds have a very distinctive style, which goes for artistic effect rather than realism; in my opinion, this makes them far more effective than later products.


The Transfer Sheets

And now for the two monochrome transfer sheets (K48 printed in black ink, K48W in white), by Frank Wheeler.


There seems to be some kind of disturbance going on, featuring Gemini astronauts, four-armed alien astronauts, & what are presumably the indigenous fauna of this moon (which is not, of course, OUR moon). The hardware features many designs which would have been familiar to anyone interested in science fiction & the current state of the space program in 1965, & I have been asked to point out that this was considerably before Star Trek was broadcast, so no — that is not supposed to be the starship Enterprise… although there IS a touch of Flash Gordon.


Transfer Sheet Source Material — including "Wonders of Space Travel"

Members of SPLAT have had fun guessing where Frank Wheeler got his inspiration for these designs from, & we can help with that.


This amazing page is now available, & once you've read it, it takes you right back here.

Promotional Use of the Lunar Base Transfers

Always keen to re-use artwork & transfers whenever possible, Letraset provided the 1965 Lunar Base transfers for Bata's August 1969 promotion for Wayfinders Moonshot shoes. This is covered in its own article:

Wayfinders Moonshot Shoes Promotion

For many years I assumed that all the people who told me they remembered these transfers from Kellogg's Corn Flakes or Weetabix were conflating their memories of the Panorama itself & these shoes (or even just the ads shown above), compounded by the other Panorama Letraset sheets that came with Shredded Wheat. But eventually Nick Symes came up with the goods in the form of hard evidence to show that in fact Patrick Tilley had produced a back panel for a Shredded Wheat Moon Battle, featuring the same transfer sheet as for Wayfinders Moonshot shoes. Later on, he even obtained the evidence & kindly passed it on to me, & you can see it on the "Moon Battle" page.

In my defence, plenty of people have claimed to have strong memories of impossible things… myself included.

(I once had a prolonged discussion with a chap who was convinced he had seen Daleks advertised in Singapore in the 1930s. But that's another story…) Anyway —

Clearly Shredded Wheat came first, & then naughty Letraset tried to re-use their transfer sheet with a new client, Bata, years later.

Shredded Wheat Moon Battle

Don't forget to find your way back to this Lunar Base Panorama page once you've checked out the transfer sheet promotions!

TIP: visit Wayfinders Moonshot Shoes first, then Shredded Wheat Moon Battle, & then come back here.

The 4-spot Colour Version

As noted elsewhere, when John Waddington Ltd. commissioned a revamp of the transfers using the same colours as their other Panoramas, the original artwork was reused in a fairly crass way, essentially by splashing a bit of red & blue on top of the previous version. Whereas the Panoramas provided their monochrome transfers in two long strips, the 4-spot colour versions have a pair of square sheets featuring considerably fewer transfers.

We don't know who was responsible for the re-touching, but Patrick Tilley Associates had disbanded, & the only artist who we know for sure was working on Panoramas for Letraset was Peter Archer, who told us he had pushed for colour in the first place. So… was it Peter? I never actually asked him…

I can't show you sheet K48B, because we don't have one in the Archives. If you have one which you can scan or lend us for scanning, please get in touch via the Facebook Action Transfers Page.

This sheet, K48A, wasn't actually found in a Panorama; it came in a packet of John Waddington Mini Action Transfers — so if you happen to have a packet with K48B in it, we'd like to talk to you. It's currently our No.1 Top Wanted item!


I'm attempting a recreation of the missing K48B sheet soon, using a variety of ingenious tricks;
check back later to see if I've cracked it yet.

Meanwhile, here's a used colour background, to show you what sort of malarkey young hands can get up to (in case you were in any doubt). As a bonus, if you look carefully, you'll see plenty of transfers from the sheet we haven't got…


…And here's a quick preview of all the K48B transfer figures I've managed to glean from three different sources:


Quite a mess. And that's why it's taking so long!

A FREE GIFT for all our readers!

As you'll have seen from the top of the page, Panoramas were protected by containing a corrugated card stiffener, which although pretty dull in itself is shown here for completeness. This one, which has been in the Archives for years, has two of the ubiquitous gold stickers on it, & as an extra FREE GIFT it has a 'typewritten' note advertising the other Letraset products which you could hope to buy in 1965 (this significant note is discussed in the main Panoramas page).



When I received my unopened Lunar Base Panorama recently, it, too, had this identical note — so there must have been quite a few of them about. (It's a fair bet it was printed in a typewriter typeface, & not actually typewritten, by the way.)

Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives, with thanks to StellarX, Mike Cosgrove, Nick Symes & Oxfam