Who's groovier, Michael Jackson or the Bee Gees?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Comic book free gifts I have loved.

Marvel UK, Star Wars Weekly #1
As we all know, there are only three things that matter in life to the true intellectual. They are; super-powers, pretty pictures and brand new toys.

How fortunate then that comics were invented. For, in the dim days of my youth, they could provide a man with all three.

Granted, the toys you sometimes got for free with British comics weren't necessarily top of the range. There were no free Scalextrices or Meccano sets to be had. No Action Men, nor Gerry Anderson related Dinky toys. But when you're a child and Christmas only comes once a year, who can be fussy?

I seem to recall that British comic publishers seemed to have an unlimited supply of what they claimed were, "boomerangs," but were in fact red plastic rings with three flat wide spokes that connected with each other in the centre.

Did they ever come back when thrown?

Not that I can remember.

But, clearly, somewhere in Slough there must have been a warehouse packed solid with the things, just ready for when the next comic publisher required half a million of 'em to give away. I like to feel that that warehouse is still there and that, like King Arthur, it shall return when the nation is in most need of it.

I also once got a plastic, rubber-band powered, pistol that fired paper pellets. From where I got it, I sadly no  longer recall.

I'm pretty sure I got a miniature set of playing cards from Donald and Micky comic.

But the first gift I remember getting from a Marvel mag was the legendary Spider-Man mask from Spider-Man Comics Weekly, Long-standing readers'll know that receiving it was the most soul-crushing moment of my entire life, as the mask that I'd expected to confer mystery and awesomeness upon me turned out to bear a remarkable resemblance to a red paper bag with eye holes cut into it. How could I have confronted the Vulture dressed like that? He'd have merely laughed at me.

Marvel UK's Star Wars comic was far more impressive. In its early days, I got a free cardboard cut-out-and-assemble Tie Fighter from it - and an X-Wing fighter. Sadly, Marvel UK drew the line at a replica of the Death Star.

I would like to claim that the days of me being impressed by free gifts are over but I must confess that, even in adulthood, I once bought one issue of a short-lived British Marvel reprint title, featuring Iron Man and the Fantastic Four, purely because it had a lollipop sellotaped to the front of it.

But the truth is that my most fondly remembered free gift from a comic was an iron-on transfer of Tutankhamun's death mask that came in some British comic in the early 1970s. Possibly it was in Whizzer and Chips. Possibly it was in Whizzer and Cheops. Possibly it wasn't. Either way, I assume it was included in order to cash in on the Tutankhamunmania that was then sweeping the land, as his possessions were on show in some museum or other in London at the time.

And I shall never forget the time I got a cut-out-and-assemble television studio from Look-In magazine. Granted, it wasn't life-size but, an entire TV studio? Now there was a magazine that knew how to do free gifts.

But I couldn't do such a post as this without getting into the spirit of things. And so, Reader, exclusively with this blog today, you'll find a free gift attached to this very post, in the form of a cut-out-and-keep reproduction of the front cover of Marve UK's Star Wars #1 from 1978. You can then mount it on a cardboard backing, to place it upright on your bedside table. From now on, you shall begin every day by waking to the sight of Luke Skywalker waving his light sabre at you. All you have to do is snip it out of your computer screen, with a pair of scissors (not supplied) and it's yours.


Kid said...

Or, failing that, print it out on a piece of card. However, I don't need to as I have the very issue. Oh joy! ('Though I much prefer not to have anyone's light-sabre waving in my face - unless it's my own, of course.)

cerebus660 said...

I love the fact that when 2000 AD gave away one of those boomerangs they called it a "space spinner"...

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

And Action NO 2 came with a cool Hook Jaw iron on transfer

B Smith said...

"...a plastic, rubber-band powered, pistol that fired paper pellets. From where I got it, I sadly no longer recall."

I suspect that was attached to the first issue of Vulcan, back in the mid 70s.

Sam King said...

No fair !! This never happened in Canada at all !!

Steve W. said...

B, sadly I never had the first issue of Vulcan, though I did have three later ones.

Sam, if I were you I'd stage a public protest at such vile mistreatment.

David S. said...

The only thing that matched the free Magpie studio in Look-In was the free elaborate Yogi Bear theatre in Yogi & His Toy ...

... but which comic could have featured a free Tutankhamun death mask? Definitely not W+C!

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I think the first issue of Vulcan (UK not Scottish version - that had a "dancing skeleton") had a free plastic gun, but it was a potato gun not a paper pellet gun. However the UK Avengers comic gave away a paper pellet gun although it was made of card. My favourites were the English and Scottish Football league tables / ladders that they gave away at the start of each season in Tiger, Valiant etc. Of course a free transfer (usually from Odhams or UK Marvel) of a superhero was always welcome as well. Like "David S" I would love to know what comic gave away the Tutankhamen death mask (sounds like one of the more educational comics to me like Look and Learn)McScotty

Al said...

Was it Fantastic that offered a selection of scar transfers? As a 10 year old I remember being very impressed by those. And I'm sure several comics gave away free slabs of a tasteless rubber like material that was supposed to be chewing gum

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I forgot about those scar transfers, they were very good and I recall my mum not being impressed with them lol - It was indeed Fantastic that offered the scar transfers that consisted of a set of scars and an "eye" (?) along with a transfer of the letter "P" that represented the "Secret Brotherhood of Power" the link below to Comics UK shows these
Re the Tutankhamen mask I was wondering if it was perhaps a mix up as Whizzer and Chips gave away a Guy Fawkes mask one year (hey the years play tricks I barely remember my name at times)- McS


Steve W. said...

Paul and B, In light of your revelations, it sounds like it may well have been Vulcan that I got the gun from.

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