24th March 1984: Micky Maus No.13 — same transfers as Disney Magazine No.23, 1st November 1984
Funnily enough, the biggest source of Free Gift Transfers in Comics during this period comes right at the end, & hugely outnumbers all the other transfers put together.
31st March 1984: Micky Maus No.14 Rubbelbilder — German language version of transfers for Disney Magazine No.32
These transfers appear after Letraset had abandoned consumer transfers, & after Thomas Salter — who had scooped them up & handed them to Action Transfer Products — had gone to the receivers.
1st September 1984: Micky Maus No.36 — Rubbel Schnick Schnack
That just leaves Acorn Printed Products, but it looks like the majority of these weren't even printed by Acorn, but by Special Products, a Dutch company completely unrelated to Letraset.
8th September 1984: Micky Maus No.37 — Rubbel Schnick Schnack
With Letraset's patent having expired, & the Italian factory sold off, Letraset relinquished their monopoly on dry rub-down transfers, & the floodgates were opened.
1st November 1984: Disney Magazine No.23
From now on, anyone could print transfers if they felt like it — & sure enough, everyone did. But at the very start of this new frontier era, Acorn & Special Products seem to have been the main contenders.
19th January 1985: Micky Maus No.4 — Rubbel Bluffies
Although there are clues on some of the transfer sheets, for the most part it's hard to see which company produced which sheets. I would hazard a guess that this meant that both companies were competing for the same jobs; & in the end, it looks like Special Products were the overall winners.
7th March 1985: Disney Magazine No.32; equivalent in English of Micky Maus No.14, 31st March 1984
The issues appear here in chronological order, but immediately you'll notice that identical transfer sheets often appear in both the German & the British versions of the magazine. Well… ALMOST identical. As often as not, the artwork is substantially the same, but the language of the text is tailored to its respective country. This would not have been practical before the litho printing of transfers… but this is 1984 — the future is here!
30th May 1985: Disney Magazine No.38 — T-Shirt Transfer [tonystrading]
A note about issue numbering. Disney Magazine uses standard comics numbering, but Micky Maus follows the convention of one volume per year, with issue numbering starting afresh with each new volume. This can be quite confusing if you're not used to it; "No.6" will frequently have been published well after "No.23", for example.
20th July 1985: Micky Maus No.30 — Rubbel Bilder wie Gestempelt
Disney Magazine was published fortnightly until No.166 in May 1990, & had dropped "Magazine" from the title with No.121. The last Micky Maus shown here is from August 1991; I'm sure you'll agree that's more than enough to demonstrate the style & content of these transfers! It's certainly well beyond our usual remit of 1964 to 1985.
22th August 1985: Disney Magazine No.44 — Free Tattoos [tonystrading]
I've tried to include all the issues of these two magazines which included transfers, & to show you the sheets whenever possible, but it's quite likely I may have missed one or two — not least because the publishers have a nasty habit of referring to transfers as "stickers". I've avoided the "Free Stickers" issues unless I happen to know they do actually mean "transfers"! So a couple may have slipped past…
1st February 1986: Micky Maus No.6 Rubbel Bilder = Disney Magazine No.67 (below)
17th July 1986: Disney Magazine No.67 Free Goofy Transfers [ke.aren] = Micky Maus No.6 (above)
Obtaining this material in order to show it to you is also quite tricky. I can't afford to buy every issue of every comic that MIGHT include a transfer; in fact, I've only bought one: Disney Magazine No.133, featuring "Free Roger Rabbit Stickers". You'll know it when you see it, because the image quality improves!
12th February 1987: Disney Magazine No.82 — Free Mickey Mouse Transfers
So we have to rely on the goodwill of those selling these comics to give permission for their images to be used. Perhaps surprisingly, asking for this takes the majority of my time.
2nd April 1987: Micky Maus No.15
However, almost without exception, people are extremely helpful. It took a while, but in the end all the relevant covers — so far as I'm aware — have been… er… covered. Thanks are due to ke.aren, all the contributors who preferred to remain anonymous, & in particular Tony of tonystrading.co.uk, who not only had all the Disney Magazines sorted, but also sent real live transfers through the post.
18th June 1987: Disney Magazine No.91
Tony's website shows the covers of all these Disney Magazines (albeit at a smaller size than here), so if you want to see the ones I've left out — or check to see if I've missed a Free Gift transfer! — then visit his galleries.
2th July 1987: Disney Magazine No.92
16th July 1987: Disney Magazine No.93 — Kellogg's Ricicles Captain Rik
(See Kellogg's Toyforce Cereal Promotions for some other transfers from this Ricicles series.)
20th August 1987: Micky Maus No.35 = Disney Magazine No.96 (below)
27th August 1987: Disney Magazine No.96 — Free Transfers Inside = Micky Maus No.35 (above)
7th April 1988: Disney Magazine No.112 — same transfers as Micky Maus No.35 24th August 1988 (below)
16th June 1988: Disney Magazine No.117
24th August 1988: Micky Maus No.35 — Comic Star Rubbelbilder. Same transfers as Disney Magazine No.112, 7th April 1988 (above)
15th December 1988: Disney Magazine No.130
January 1989: Disney Magazine No.133 — Free Roger Rabbit "Stickers"
15th February 1989: Micky Maus No.8 — Leucht Rubbelbilder. Same transfers as Disney Magazine No.143, 15th June 1989 (below)
23th March 1989: Disney Magazine No.137 — "Special Products 12050"
06th April 1989: Disney Magazine No.138 — Tattooze
24th May 1989: Micky Maus No.22 — Mini Rubbelbilder
15th June 1989: Disney Magazine No.143 — same transfers as Micky Maus No.8, 15th February 1989 (above)
11th December 1989: Movie Classics — Oliver (see below)
21st December 1989: Micky Maus No.52 — Rubbelbilder (see above)
18th January 1990: Micky Maus No.4
14th February 1991: Micky Maus No.8 — Rubbelbilder
16th May 1991: Micky Maus No.21 — Neon Rubbelbilder
22th August 1991: Micky Maus No.35 — Rubbelspass (see below for English version)
Special Products [tonystrading] (see above for German version)
Oops…! There's one left over.
I actually have some more of these transfers, which are currently in decontamination; it may be some time before I get to upload them! In the meantime, that's the end of this twenty-page article on Free Gift Transfers in Comics — but you can never tell when digging will reveal some new promotion, or at least more & better images. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — ke.aren — Tony's Trading
© Tom Vinelott 2021