We have not one, but two transfer sheets to show you. If you compare the two, you'll see that the second sheet is only slightly different from the first, but the differences are all to do with blood & violence. The second sheet, in fact, is a 'gory' version; the first sheet is, if you like, 'sanitised'.
Scan by courtesy of Ian Westwood
What's going on here is that the second sheet was printed first… er… yes, that's it. Then, for whatever reason, the artwork was tidied up & the first sheet was printed second… er… totally not at all confusing — honest.
The most obvious difference is that all those gallons of blood have been removed, but you can also see that the figure at top left of each sheet originally featured eye gouging, which has been replaced with a straightforward punch. Further down on the left-hand side, a chap who was having his arm amputated is now just receiving an arm lock. And all the double-bladed axes have vanished.
(StellarX has written a brief article commenting on this here: Articles by StellarX)
Reprinting gravure sheets was a very costly procedure requiring expensive new gravure rolls, so whatever happened — it must have been a big deal.
Many thanks to Ian for sending us this rare set to be scanned, not just once, but twice! (It's a long story…)
Not only did he twice send his gory set for scanning (N.B.: NOT MY FAULT), but also when many years later he won an unused gory set, he went to all the trouble of scanning the sheet within hours of being asked if he could do so! So this really is helpfulness above & beyond the call of duty.
Years ago we started looking for evidence of the other sets in this first run of Super Action Heroes having both 'clean' & 'gory' versions of their transfer sheets, but despite believing the same thing might have occurred in the Tarzan of the Apes Battles the Catmen set, for a long while we found no conclusive evidence. At first it looked as if only the Kung Fu set was recalled, although of course if the recall was fast enough, 'gory' versions may just have been too rare to have survived.
Kung Fu was very popular in the UK at the time of this set's release, & there was considerable anxiety expressed in the papers about the effect on children of Kung Fu violence in popular culture; you might go so far as to call it a media frenzy.
This could have explained why this set in particular was singled out for revision — if it was.
But eventually, over the years, more & more evidence turned up, until:
Perhaps Tarzan vs the King Beasts of the Jungle will show up in a gory version one day, to complete the set of six.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives, with thanks to StellarX & Ian Westwood
© Tom Vinelott 2023