My Batmobile article in issue 5 of FANSCENE Batman special!

FANSCENE 5. Front cover art by David Hathaway-Price.

I’m very pleased to announce my Corgi Toys Batmobile article has been published in issue 5 of FANSCENE Batman special – a celebration of the Caped Crusader’s adventures across the years as seen in print, TV, film, and toys!

My article is a look at the classic die cast Batmobile and other Bat vehicles made by Corgi Toys.

sneak peek extract…

FANSCENE 5. Corgi Batmobile article by Ford, TVTA.

FANSCENE Issue 5 is a free high quality PDF magazine published by artist David Hathaway-Price, and is available right now to download from David’s Classic UK Comics Zines web site

Plus… a free printable edition will be available later next week for you to print off yourself.

In the meantime, get yourself over to issue 5 and prepare to be amazed at the wonderful content that awaits.

For lovers of Batman, his friends, and his enemies, you won’t be disappointed!

FANSCENE 5. Back cover Joker art by Paul Rose and Kevin Scott Halter.

FANSCENE 5. Joker art by Nick Neocleous.



Thank you for celebrating all things Batman with us 🙂

A newspaper life – pop culture ads from the defunct French Metronews

Metronews. Astérix. 24 Oct. 2013.

A TVTA special

One of the first jobs I did when I moved to France was working as a newspaper and advertising distributor. The newspaper in question was Metronews, which was launched 18 February 2002 as Metro then renamed Metronews in 2013 until it ceased print publication and moved online in 2015.

Metronews was hand-distributed on weekday mornings to commuters and students, and deposited in self-service racks in and outside of public buildings and city transport networks. The title was part of Metro International – a Swedish global media company since 1995 based in Luxembourg that publishes the range of Metro newspapers around the world. 

Metronews was a freesheet newspaper, and it gained the bulk of its revenues from advertising, which ultimately led to its 2015 demise due to the growing trend of advertisers and readers migrating to online services. As a consequence of the print title ending, I, and the rest of my distribution team, lost our jobs and were offered free government re-training packages.

I remember my last morning as a distributor; Friday, July the third, 2015, the day the print title ended, handing out that final ever edition with mixed emotions: it would be a relief not to have to work in the noise and bustle of one of France’s big cities full of traffic fumes and freezing wind in the winter, and to not have to wear the green T-shirt and baseball cap uniform!… but I was sure going to miss some of my daily acquaintances, the early morning chats and improving my French language skills. Plus, as a writer, there was always plenty of inspiration to be found by observing human nature and the dynamics of people when spending significant time in a big city.

TVTA never misses an opportunity to archive!

Being as my blog has always been about pop culture advertising, it was only natural during my time with Metronews I saved some of the issues – including that last ever edition I mentioned… funny to think that each of the covers you are about to see I personally handed out at one time, thinking to myself: hmm, I must remember to save one of these to post up on my blog one day…

Metronews. Grand Theft Auto V. 17 Sep. 2013.

Metronews Star Wars Rebels. 2014.

Metronews. Star Wars Rebels. 30 Sept 2014.

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The drinks are on TVTA!

Orangina 60s and 70s promotional bottles.

The ultimate in liquid container refreshment satisfaction! Are you prepared for the greatest drinking sensation of the decade? Let TVTA take you on a trip to tackle your thirst. Bottoms up! Santé! Tchin Tchin! Cheers!

Once more TVTA hits the spot as we feature a cool cache of collectable beverage bottles guaranteed to make you thirsty!

That’s collectable!

Many of the bottles and glasses you are about to see are promotional or limited edition designs and have become, or will become, collectable.

Take these Orangina ‘decades’ bottles, which kick off our post… an ideal fit for TVTA as they span the decades we regularly blog about.

Glug, glug, glug! Perfect!

Orangina 80s, 90s and 2000s promotional bottles. France.

Thirst!

Coca-Cola

French Coca-Cola promotional bottles. Disneyland Paris 25 years and Coca-Cola 125 years.

UK. 1979.

Thirst!

It’s a pelican thing!

Pelforth promotional bottles with art by Kylab.

TVTA’s new, favourite beer is Pelforth Pelican beer – a northern French beverage with a most agreeable taste and a pleasant kick. The limited edition label designs for these 2019 bottles are a celebration of northern French culture by Lillois artist and designer Kylab

There are eight different label designs to collect, and it only took us five cases to complete the run (being the completist collectors that we are… and -hic- a most pleasant way to enjoy archiving 🙂 )

Pelforth Pelican limited edition bottle labels by Kylab. 2019. France.

Thirsty!

TVTA alternative reality editor and alternative reality office cat Wooof indulge in last moment glass bottle of Dubonnet. Hurrah! Cheers vintage mates!

Quinquina Dubonnet par Cheret 1896

Thirsty thirst!

Star Wars Promotions

A selection of mineral water bottles, soft drinks, and mustard glasses featuring Star Wars characters.

Star Wars Volvic mineral water bottles. France.

Star Wars Volvic mineral water bottles. France.

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Latest ads – simple toys, simple times

Les Poupées de Lisette. France. 1960.

Congost toys. Spain. 1977.

Primo washing powder toys. France. 1960.

Things were simpler back then. A more innocent time?

TVTA takes a quick peek at some 1940s – 1980s print adverts from Spain, Denmark, France, the US, and the UK, featuring simple toys and ideas.

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Homework assignment: building a better robot

We can do it!

Gerry Anderson Andromedan Warbot. 1979. UK.

Starlog Japan. 1981. Maximilian.

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The Prize of the Cat: Wooof’s missing pony from 1979!


A TVTA Short Story Mystery Special !! 


WHSmith Pony competition Look-In N°15 1979 UK


Our intrepid office cat Wooof reckons that in 1979 he won a pony in a W.H. Smith ‘outdoors’ competition, and that W.H. Smith cheated him out of his prize by deliberately misplacing ‘Bess’ at the Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, England (Wooof told me he had already named the pony ‘Bess’ even before the ink had dried on his entry form, such was his confidence in winning!).

“I vote we crank up the TVTA time machine and go back to 1979 Birmingham to find out what happened,” said Wooof.

“Right now?” I replied. “I haven’t finished scanning those vintage egg-cosy knitwear patterns Mrs Coldkettle the tea lady donated.”

“Forget fashion accessories for boiled eggs,” said the cat. “We need to find Bess!”

CUT TO:


** TEN MINUTES LATER ** DIAL SET TO 1979, BIRMINGHAM BULL RING SHOPPING CENTRE ** SOUNDS OF TVTA TIME MACHINE WARP-WHOOSHING!! **


1979!!!

Crivens! Wooof and I arrived in 1979 Birmingham to absolute mayhem… flipping dinosaurs everywhere!! Funny, I don’t remember dinosaurs being around in 1979 in the West Midlands… Gah! Worse was that one of the vicious beasts, a T-Rex no less, had captured our missing nag and was about to make a pony sandwich out of her! Poor Bess!

“NOOOOOOooooooo!!!!” cried Wooof.

“It’s okay Wooof,” I said. “I don’t think that’s actually Bess in the jaws of that mad dinosaur… look closely… the poor creature is a fully-grown horse… whereas Bess is a mere pony and has WHSmith gift tags attached her!”

“Thank goodness for that!” said Wooof. “So, tell me, if the dinosaur doesn’t have Bess, who does?”

“A simple process of elimination will have us arriving at a satisfactory answer in no time at all,” I replied.

“I’m all ears,” said Wooof. “Who’s the culprit?”

Elvis Costello!”

Wooof frowned. “No way. Elvis Costello would never stoop so low as to rustle a pony!”

“Alright, fine, if not Elvis, how about the TV versions of Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk?”

“That’s just sick!” said the cat. “Superheroes are sworn to protect all ponies!”

“Even the TV superhero ones?”

“TV ones especially! There was no one else to look up to back in their day.”

“Maybe TV Hulk accidently stepped on Bess?”

“Are you serious?”

“Sometimes.”

“Next you’ll be accusing Captain Kirk!”

“Don’t be daft,” I said. “But maybe, just maybe… Spock has Bess!”

“Spock doesn’t have Bess,” sighed Wooof.

“Monkey?”

“Gahhhh! No,” said Wooof.

“Wonder Woman then?” said I.

“!!#!@!!! No!!!” cried the cat. This process of elimination is going to take ages!”


** SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS LATER **


Finally… I came up with a good solution to our dilemma…

“How about I call Spaceline?” I said.

“What in the name of holy cat biscuits is Spaceline?”

“It’s a recorded information line in 1984 that sometimes deals with time travel issues. All we have to do to access it is travel to 1984.”

“Well what are we waiting for!” said the cat, “Let’s hit 1984!”

CUT TO:


** DIAL SET FOR 1984 ** SEATBELTS FASTENED ** POWER FROCK SHOULDER PADS IN POSITION ** DURAN DURAN CASSETTES INSERTED INTO SONY WALKMANS ** SOUNDS OF TVTA TIME MACHINE WARP-WHOOSHING!! **


Wooof and I arrived in 1984 quicker than you can say ‘Big Brother is washing your Mullet.’ After several attempts we managed to locate a working red telephone box, and Wooof dropped a 10 Pence coin into the slot while I dialled the number on my print advert. We waited. Beep. Beep. Beep. ‘The time sponsored by Accurist is…’

Oops, wrong number. Try again…

We were eventually connected to a well-spoken female robot, and she said to us: “Welcome to Spaceline. You are speaking to Trinity9. How may I be of assistance?”

“We’re looking for my prize pony,” said Wooof. “Her name’s Bess…”  and he went on to explain the whole sorry story down the phoneline to Trinity9.

“I see,” said Trinity9. “So… you believe you were cheated out of a 1979 first prize pony by the competition organiser, and you suspect that this pony, who you named ‘Bess’, is currently located somewhere in a shopping centre in 1979 Birmingham, England?”

“Absotiffily!” said Wooof.”

“Liar!” said Trinity9, making Wooof jump. “There is no way you could have entered that competition in 1979… you weren’t even born!”

“I resent that undeniable fact!” said Wooof.

“He’s actually sixty-one in cat years,” I said.

“Your office cat is a big cheater!” said Trinity9.

“How dare you call me a cheetah!” exclaimed Wooof. ‘I’m a mixed breed Domestic Panther Tabby Green Nikto, if you must know!”

“He’s cross,” I said.

“I’m fuming!” said Wooof.

“We don’t appreciate these slurs,” I said.

“Too right,” agreed Wooof. “And I’ve been working hard on being appreciated!”

“Whatever,” replied Trinity9. “It doesn’t change the fact you manipulated your way into the past with the sole aim of winning a pony. This cat is a law breaker!”

“Operator, you’re crossing the line with these accusations,” I said.

“Mm.. actually, can you hold the line a moment…”

  • Please hold while you are connected to the next available agent.
  • For English press 1. Para Español presione el número 2.
  • Would you like to upgrade to our Elite Gold Viscount Emperor plan?
  • Your premium-rate call is important to us. Please continue to hold.
  • We’re sorry. All of our agents are busy. Please hang up and try again.

“Hello, Spaceline operator,” I said. “Trinity9, are you still there?”

“I’m still here.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing. I just put you on hold while I called the police.”

“Seriously? You called the police on us?”

“No. Not this time,” said Trinity9. “But think on… your cat cheated by secretly time-travelling to 1979 in order to win a pony. Just this very morning, he picked up an entry form from W.H. Smith… filled it in… posted it… then dashed back to the present time before you even had time to finish your breakfast! Cock-a-doodle-cornflakes!”

I turned to the cat. “Wooof, is this true?”

“I cannot lie,” replied Wooof. “I entered the competition this morning. I travelled back in time. I cheated. And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky Spaceline operator!”

“Wooof!” I cried. “Why? Why?!? You know our New Year’s Resolution this year was to stop cheating. Pfft. Failed once again… and we made it as far as October this year!!”

“Actually,” said the cat, “didn’t we, like, fail in February when you ‘accidently’ scanned 180 euros which you tried to pay the electricity bill with, and then we ended up…”

“Shhhhh! Not now, Wooof!” I hissed. “That was just an April Fool prank.”

“In February?”

“Ahem, ahem,” coughed Trinty9.

“Yes?”

“Talking of euros… it is my duty to inform you that your call so far has cost 50 euros in charges.”

“50 flippin euros!?!!”

“It’s a premium phone line, sir!”

“Well, for 50 euros you can at least tell us if Wooof won that perishing competition or not.”

“No, I’m afraid your cat didn’t win.”

“Not even the sailing holiday prize?” Wooof asked hopefully.

“No.”

“A Binatone TV?

“Nope.”

“The runner up prize of a camera?”

“No,” said Trinity9. “You won absolutely nothing. And good… serves you right for cheating!”

“Well that sucks massively,” said Wooof. “So how do you explain disappearing ponies called ‘Bess’ in the middle of Birmingham, shopping centres, dinosaurs on the loose, and all the other crazy things we haven’t even had time to mention yet?”

“I’m afraid your time-travelling shenanigans caused multiple time paradoxes,” said Trinty9. “Your competition cheating has damaged the very fabric of time.”

“Like the Butterfly Effect?” I said.

“More like the Bull-in-a-china-shop Effect,” replied Trinity9.

“Yes,” said Wooof. “We wondered why we saw dinosaurs in 1979 Birmingham. That really was stretching credibility to its absolute limits.”

“Yes,” I said, adding, “About as likely as finding King Kong in the Bullring Shopping Centre in 1972!”

“Ha, ha,” laughed Wooof. “Imagine that!”

“Ahem, ahem,” coughed Trinity9. “Sir, may I inform you that your call charge to Spaceline is about to exceed the 100 euro mark? This call is costing you and your cat a small fortune.”

“Wooof,” I said to the cat, handing him a shiny 50 Pence coin. “Nip to the nearest newsagent for two 10p mix-ups and a couple of comics, while I chat to the nice Spaceline operator.”

“Yippee!” cheered Wooof, leaving me alone in the phone box while he made for the nearest John Menzies.

John Menzies. Look In N°15. 1979. UK.

“So, what do you suggest I do?” I said to Trinity9. “I can’t possibly take Wooof back to the present time without some kind of pony prize… the poor cat will retreat into weeks of solitude and dark reflection, like how he did when he found out SpongeBob SquarePants wasn’t real.”

“I myself was equally shattered when I discovered Bob was only a cartoon,” replied Trinity9. “Didn’t sleep properly for days… and normally I’m a out-like-a-light-kind-of-robot-gal the moment my head hits the pillow…”

“Listen, Trinity9,” I said. “I’m not here to talk pillow talk… I’m here to kick missing first prize ass and chew nicotine replacement gum… and right now I’m all out of both! Come on, Spaceline lady robot buddy, help an editor out here… We can’t disappoint the cat! Fix it so that Wooof wins the pony, hm?”

“If you are suggesting I try and help you cheat in some way…” sniffed Trinity9.

“Not cheating…” I said, “Think of it more as bending the integrity of truth into a funny shape kind of thing… like those Bend ‘Ems toys, or Stretch Armstrong.”

“Or Play-Doh?”

“Yes! Absolutely! Do it for Play-Doh… think of the children!”

The phone went silent for an agonisingly long time.

Then: “Okay, Mr TVTA editor,” said Trinity9. “I have just the idea…”

“You do?”

“Oh boy do I!”

CUT TO:


** ONBOARD TVTA TIME MACHINE ** 1970s SWEETS AND COMICS BEING ENJOYED ** VERY HAPPY OFFICE CAT AND RELIEVED EDITOR ** DIAL SET FOR PRESENT TIME ** TVTA TIME MACHINE WARP-WHOOSHING!! **


“How do you like your new pony then?” I asked Wooof.

“She’s adorable,” replied the cat. “And you’re right… doing things the honest way is far more rewarding than cheating.”

“Correct,” I said. “Wooof, you know… cheating is never good… cheating is like…

[INSERT 4th wall break – brief lecture on the virtues of honesty vs cheating to get ahead, followed by back-slapping congratulations and manic laughter]

“Oh man! You are so right when you say all that!” agreed Wooof.

“Absolutely so. Now, tell me, old cat, what are you going to call your new pony?”

“I’m going to call her New Bess… In honour of Old Bess.”

“Wooof, that’s so thoughtful of you. Old Bess would be pleased to know you cared about her so much.”

“I miss her terribly,” said Wooof, gazing off into space, a sadness coming over him.

“I know, old cat. It’s going to take days to get over something like this.”

“Good thing I have my replacement pony then,” said Wooof, perking up a little.

“I admire your courage to move forward so quickly. Especially as it’s only been thirty minutes. Say, where is New Bess?”

“She’s right here,” said Wooof. “I just finished tidying her stables, and we’re all done with her grooming. Time for sugar cubes I think. New Bess…” Wooof called out to his pony… “Come to Wooof-daddy. It’s chow time!”

Enter:

New Bess

LATER…


TVTA EDITOR AND OFFICE CAT RELAXING IN FRONT OF LOG FIRE AT TVTA TOWERS ** COMICS, SLIPPERS, WARM MILK, G&T, PELICAN BEER, PIPE, VEGGIE CAT BISCUITS, PIZZA **


“What are you reading there?” I asked the cat.

He looked up from his vintage comic. “Catwoman,” he replied. “She’s my hero. But hey, I was just browsing some of the ads… and I was thinking of entering this, erm, competition thingy…”

“Hmmm… And what competition would that be?” I asked suspiciously.

“Oh, nothing too crazy.” Wooof handed me the comic, the page open to an advert… a competition… 1985…

“Wooof, no!!” I said, horrified.

“Come on… it’s only a quick trip to 1985… that’s just like yesterday man! And you know how much I’ve always wanted my own collection of art dinosaurs…”

“Absolutely no Wooof! No, no, no!!!!”


FIN


Story: TVTA

Images: scanned from the collection of TVTA

Dinosaur eating a horse comic strip images: Eagle, UK.

King Kong Bull Ring photo: Birminghammail.co.uk

Disco-claimer: No ponies or dinosaurs were harmed in this short story. Birmingham is a fictitious city and any resemblance to second cities in the UK either alive or dead is pure hearsay. No competitions were entered into illegally. W. H. Smith please don’t sue us… the above short story you have just read has been deep faked into the electronic pages of TVTA without our permission and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Please help save TVTA immediately by donating cryptocurrency or sending hard cash in an envelope. We also accept diamonds, speedboats, Duran Duran tapes, pizza, cake, and cameo roles in indie or big budget films. Thanks.

Willy Wonka’s Magic Jumping Disc and other curiosities

Willy Wonka’s Magic Jumping Disc. US. 1982. I remember some jumping toys that were sold in the 80s and 90s – they were spring-loaded and you had to moisten a rubber suction cap then press it down onto its base. A few seconds later, the force of the spring would release the cap and the toy would jump. There were multiple variations of these toys featuring novelty animals and things, and I’m wondering if the Willy Wonka Magic Jumping Disc employed a similar method… or was it really Wonka magic at work?


Cube Lube

Cube Lube. US. 1982. Cleverly marketed on the back of the Rubik’s Cube craze yet not once mentioning the word ‘Rubik’ – possibly for fear of legal action. Cube Lube was deployed into being as a lubricant to increase your time at solving puzzles like… Rubik’s cube. The ad states the product’s greatness for other toys with moving parts, as well as the benefits for bikes and cycles. 


Triple-Flips by Takara

Takara Triple-Flips. US. 1982. Japanese toy company Takara had a number of successful toy hits it was proud to put its name to such as the Japanese license to sell Kenner Star Wars toys for the first Star Wars film; Microman (Transformers); Micronauts; Battle Beasts and Beyblade. Therefore I was surprised to see today’s Takara advert in all its low-tech and simple gadgetry – Triple-Flips – a humble travelling 3-in-1 pocket board game with magnetic playing pieces.


Hostess Cup Cakes – The Flash

Hostess Cup Cakes. The Flash. US. 1982. I’m always pleased to discover a Hostess advert I haven’t added to my collection yet, and this is my first ad for The Flash! Cup Cakes, Twinkies, and Fruit Pies products were advertised by Hostess in the pages of DC and Marvel comics in single page strips that starred famous superheroes allied with Hostess cakes to take down evil villains. There are hundreds of these quirky, bizarre and sometimes plain weird adverts to be found inside comics throughout the 1970s and 1980s. To date I have 44 in my collection, thanks to The Flash! 


The Jorvik Viking Centre, York

Jorvik Viking Centre Eagle comic competition. 1985. UK. Early print advert featuring the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, England. The advert is a prize-winning promotion in conjunction with Eagle comic in 1985. The Jorvik Viking Centre was opened in 1984 as a museum and visitor attraction on the excavated site of what was once the Viking city of Jorvik in the 10th century. The centre is still open to date and is one of the regions most popular visitor attractions.


Peter Pan Playthings Stunt Man Hang Glider

Stunt Man Hang Glider by Peter Pan Playthings. UK. 1983. Another promotion for the readers of Eagle comic with the chance to win a Stunt Man Hang Glider toy.


Worzel Gummidge – Scatterbrook Farm’s resident scarecrow since 1936 

Worzel Gummidge. Look-In N°15. 1979. UK. Worzel Gummidge was a massive TV show hit for children back in the 1980s. The title character was played by ex-Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee. Worzel Gummidge was first featured in children’s books in the 1930s and was written by author Barabara Euphan Todd. In 2018 it was announced that the BBC is planning to make a new TV series based on the Barbara Euphan Todd books, with Pirates of the Caribbean actor Mackenzie Crook playing the Scatterbrook Farm scarecrow. 


Capsela Construction Action Vehicles

Capsela construction. US. 1982. Snap-together interchangeable parts for building motorised land and water action vehicles. 


Four Monogram models adverts


Magnum 440 by Tyco

Tyco Magnum 440. US. 1982. Slot-car racing for use on Tyco and AFX racing tracks.  


Bubble Yum Sweepstakes

Bubble Yum Sweepstakes. US. 1982. Some superb prizes on offer in this Bubble Yum bubble gum sweepstakes promotion.


Thanks for looking 🙂

Latest ads – SSP, Solar Ball, Skittle Baseball, Sea-Monkeys and more!

Kenner SSP Racers. 1971. US.

Glow in the Dark Solar Ball. 1985. US.

Aurora Skittle Ball. Weird War Tales N°1. 1971.

Seamonkeys. 1977. US.

Space 1999 model kit by Centuri. 1976. US.

Doctor Who Records and Tapes. 1980. UK.

Sphere sci-fi books. 1989. UK.

Sizzlers Fat Track. 1971. US.

Aurora Powerslicks. 1971. US.

Fleer football cards. 1991. US.


Thanks for looking 🙂

Happy 50th birthday the Apollo 11 moon landing!

Examples from the “Luna Station play set” by Jean Höfler, early 1970s, West Germany. From the collection of TVTA.

Inspired by good friend and WP blogging buddy Wibi Wonders I’m joining in the celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing which is 50 years old today! Be sure to check out Wibi’s wonderful space exploration stamps 

Here are four of my own Apollo mission stamps, along with vintage print ads and other retro space and moon-related goodness.

Thanks for looking 🙂

Ajman Apollo 11 moon landing stamp. 1970s.

Space stamps. 1982. France.

Atari Moon Patrol. 1984.

Playmobil Space. 1981. Denmark.

MOON ROCKET, battery operated tinplate spacecraft, by Masudaya, Japan, 1960s.

Space pinball. UK. 1983.

Space Shuttle Mission Jacket. US. 1982.

NASA Poster. Space Ship by Kotaro Hirano. Starlog Japan 1981.


Thank you for mooning with us 🙂