Collectible of the Week Part4
KELLOGG’S TRANSFORMERS FLICKER STICKERS
-Special Features: Transforming Before Your Very Eyes
-Manufacturer and Year: Kellogg’s, 1985 and 1986
-Key Words: Transformers, Lenticular, Motion, Flicker, Stickers
The Story So Far:
I can honestly say that I’ve been waiting 25 years to tell this story, and practically envisioned this whole Collectible of the Week column to give me means, motive and opportunity to post this story.
But let’s start from the beginning. The year is 1985 and Transformers are marketing gold. Literally, any opportunity to put something related to Transformers on the market is tried and that includes cereals. Now it may seem hard to believe from cereal packaging these days, but back in the 1970 and 1980s, you couldn’t escape cool promotions just waiting inside the packaging of your favourite cereals. A perennial favourite for me was Sheddies with their Black Hole pencil holders. That is, at least, until 1985 and Kellogg’s introduced a series of eight motion stickers.
Flickering Away My Days
Measuring about one inch cubed and based on the line art associated with each character’s two modes superimposed on a blue background, the stickers were thicker than the usual decals of the day to allow kids to transformed the character in question from robot to vehicle with a flick of the wrist. The sticker set was equal representative of each factions, with four Autobots and four Decepticons. Of course there was going to be an Optimus Prime and a Megatron, and it’s really no surprise that Bumblebee and Soundwave also made the cut. What’s interesting then is, like other promotions of the day, which other characters were seen to have high marketability. In this case, it was Laserbeak (posing in Buzzsaw colours) and Skywarp, Prowl and Sideswipe that ultimately won the day.
The promotion must have been successful because Kellogg’s returned the next year with another series of stickers. Once again, both factions found equal representation. What was curious about this line-up though was the choice of characters. First, Kellogg’s was clearly drawing on source material pointing to Ultra Magnus as the next leader of the Autobots, as Rodimus Prime is nowhere to be found. In fact, Magnus and his counterpart, Galvatron, were the only 1986 characters included in the set, with the rest of the assortment drawn from the 1985 line-up. Even here, it is a curious choice of characters. Omega Supreme was paired with Swoop and Beachcomber, both of whom are surprises from a toy assortment that included the likes of Grimlock and Jetfire. The Decepticon assortment ignored the chance to add Starscream or Shockwave, and went instead for Kickback, Mixmaster and Astrotrain.
Just a Marginally Taller Version of My Twelve Year Old Bad Self
In any event, both assortment led to much encouragement for my mother to buy Kellogg’s cereal, so clearly the promotion was a success, with the spoils ending up in a box where I kept various paper promotions and tech specs, where they remained until I found a way to put them in with various card sets gathered over the years. But I cannot take credit for the entire collection. As difficult as it has been to round out the numerous holes that existed in the collection for decades, I was able to virtually double my collection overnight when a fellow traveller gifted me her collection some years ago (still in their original wrappers I’m astonished to report). That said, finding the remaining four flicker stickers has proved elusive indeed, primarily I suspect because of the lack of a common terminology for the stickers, a problem I believe originates from the absence of original packaging.
That is, until now!
This is one of those occasions that the obsessive collector of today is grateful for the somewhat-less-meticulous-but-nonetheless-obsessive collector of his youth. You see, I didn’t just save the stickers from being applied to items lost in the winds of times, I also thought it was a good idea to squirrel away the packaging for the 1986 promotion. Why I only put aside one such box and neglected to take similar care to retain the 1985 cereal box is lost to me, but I can relate the reason why the promotion is in the piece meal form it finds itself today. Boxes were to be thrown out, so the only way to spare the information and pictures a similar fate was to break them down for a possible entry into a scrapbook along the way. So like all my cards and boxes of the day, I cut the cereal box apart, threw away anything that my younger self didn’t deem to be relevant, and put the remainder in a box.
Now this is where things get particularly exciting for me. I’ve known for a long time that I salvaged most of the back of the box in question, because I’ve kept it pretty close to the top of the pile. Some years ago, I even photocopied the artwork and sent it off to Raksha for her interest. But it’s the other pieces of the puzzle that fill me with glee. You see, as I was expressing my love of this collection, I was also lamenting the fact that I didn’t have other pieces of the puzzle. And then it hit me, that maybe, just maybe, I saved more than just the back of the box.
So I went to the basement to take a look. And sure enough, I had saved three more pieces to the puzzle in the box containing my earliest paper collection. In typical cut-what-is-important-style, I saved the front advertisement, a copy of the small Transformers logo on the box, and a picture of the mail-in promotion from the side of the box. Because Kellogg’s also managed to find its way to offer the deluxe Insecticons to kids at the same time as it promoted its flicker stickers. While the details of the offer have yet to surface, beyond the assortment of characters available, it’s incredibly likely that it involved box-tops from the cereals in question. Given I was able to locate these bits after literally a quarter century (!), it’s probably worth it a second, more thorough examination to see if I have the actual text.
Did I Really Say Four?
Excluding this long-overdue review and particularly tonight’s discovery, information on these stickers was almost as hard to come by as the stickers themselves, even on the internet. What information is out there seems to be confined to a few historical sites like Raksha’s site and TFMuseum.com. The most organized source of information, however, really has to be Lui’s Transformers page, which somehow manages to effectively tell their story in a very few words and some very successful links. (Clearly I could learn a thing or two from Lui.)
This link came to my attention when I decided I should do a thorough check to see what was actually written out there on the subject. Before that day, I honestly thought I was dealing with a mostly Canadian phenomenon, three-quarters of which I could lay claim.
Then I learned of the Ralston promotion in the U.S., and suddenly the number of missing stickers doubled over night.
Now it’s probably not surprising that I didn’t put two-and-two together and realize there was a U.S. component to this story. When even finding hardcore fans look confused when you raise a topic is usually a sign of some level of exclusiveness. But the signs should have been there, given that I was well aware of the Cookie Crisp Jazz, and should have deduced a promotion associated with him.
But what is so striking about this new information is the particulars of the U.S. campaign. Running in 1985, Ralston relied for the most part on second wave characters. Keeping its promotion to six characters in a two-to-one ratio this time, what is striking is that there are only two stickers that are duplicated across the promotions: Soundwave in Kellogg’s wave one and Omega Supreme in wave two. Of the remaining four, Blitzwing makes a great complement to Astrotrain, just as Slag and Snarl complement Swoop. Perceptor seems to be there as a foil to Soundwave more than anything.
And there we have it. Twenty stickers (excluding duplicates) little seen and known. And the hunt continues…