|"The mummy's ready for his mystical journey!"|
Where were you during the sticker craze of 1982-83? Me, I was attending Springview Elementary School in Flushing, MI. And, yes, like a lot of kids my age, I got caught up in the fad. There was even a store called Happyland at the local mall that sold pretty much nothing but stickers. For a few months there, that store was the center of the kid universe. Then it went away and no one even noticed.
Recently, I discovered my old sticker album from those days. Well, to call it an "album" is being generous. As you'll see, it's just a bunch of loose pages of typing paper crudely stapled together. But it's an excellent indicator of my tastes during the early Reagan years. I was obsessed with cartoons, comics, video games, and movies. Other than my near-total lack of interest in video games other than Tetris these days, very little has changed in the last 35 years.
Anyway, out of some misplaced nostalgia, I've decided to scan the entire thing so that we can all peruse it together. I think it provides valuable insight into who I was back then and what pop culture was like. Page 1, for instance, is dominated by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), but there's a little Pac-Man thrown in there, too. I guess that ghost is supposed to be Inky, but he's the wrong shade of blue. Or maybe he's just a pixelated Fry Guy from McDonald's.
|E.T. and Pac-Man stickers|
I don't claim to have had great taste as a kid. My love of cartoons and comics knew no bounds, as evidenced by these stickers representing Ziggy and The Smurfs. Hey, I wish I could say I was a 7-year-old hipster, browsing through record store shelves for the latest Plasmatics and Husker Du albums. But it's not true. I read Ziggy and watched The Smurfs. Come at me, bro. It should be noted that all the stickers on this page are puffy stickers. Those were the best kind for some reason.
|Ziggy and Smurfs stickers|
If cartoons and video games were great on their own, then surely the combination of the two was doubly intoxicating. Which brings me to my utter fascination with Nintendo's Popeye arcade game from 1983. Oh, did I love this game, but I only got to play it at the local roller skating rink. And I was lousy at it, which meant my quarters were soon gone. You have to understand that Popeye himself was my favorite cartoon character, and I consumed as much Popeye media as I could back then. Bonus: these stickers are made from some kind of felt-like material. They're still soft and fuzzy all these decades later.
Also on this page: the wizard mascot from Mystiks, which were these weird, animal-shaped stickers filled with some kind of color-changing oil. If I remember correctly, these were sold only one at a time rather than on pages. It was kind of a big deal to get one of these. The flat, unchanging wizard stickers just came free with the sticker you were actually buying. Sadly, this album does not contain any of the oil-filled Mystiks. Just this lone wizard. "I'm a sticker too!" he pleads. Yeah, right. Go to bed, old man.
|Popeye video game stickers.|
Did I tell you my love of Popeye was intense back in 1982? I have at least three pages of these stickers, featuring Popeye, Wimpy, Olive Oyl, Swee'Pea, and Bluto. I only scanned one page, though, because the other two are just copies of these same designs. I must have gotten a pack of these.
And it's right back to the video games. These are some awesome Donkey Kong puffy stickers. The main sticker even has googly eyes. Who knew Mario was on his way to one of the mightiest franchises in video game history? And who's that woman he's rescuing? Peach? Daisy? Nope. It's Pauline. And this wasn't her last game by a long shot. But, sticker people, she was a brunette, not a blonde.
|Donkey Kong stickers|
This sticker album also shows how I was growing and maturing in those days. It may be a stretch to call Masters of the Universe more "grown-up" fare, but remember that just a few pages back, we were dealing with Ziggy and The Smurfs. This is a fairly lame representation of the franchise: the logo, Man-At-Arms, He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, and two crummy weapons. Barely enough to fill up a page. Ultimately, though, it's stuff like Masters of the Universe that would lure me away from stickers.
|Masters of the Universe stickers|
Would you believe it? More puffy stickers based on a video game. Go figure. Bet you didn't see that twist coming. These are from Q*bert, another game I only played at the local roller rink. (The joint had a real catchy name, too: Roller Skating. That was the name.) But how often did I get there? A couple of class trips per year? Maybe a birthday party?
Pac-Man, on the other hand, was everywhere. Grocery stores and pizza parlors had Pac-Man cabinets. There was a Pac-Man TV show in 1982-83. We even had a miniature Pac-Man home version. He had a level of ubiquity that Q*bert couldn't touch. These stickers specifically say "Pac-Family." There was no game with that title, but Pac was a family man on his show. (These designs are a little different, though.) And what have we here? More googly eyes!
There are a few randos in here as well: a hockey player, a rocket ship, plus a couple of stray Muppets. The Fozzie sticker makes no sense. It's Halloween, obviously, and he's dressed as a clown. Which tracks, I guess. But he's talking to a pumpkin-headed ghost who looks just like him. And he's saying, "Halloween sure is fun!" like it's some kind of secret. Shrug. (By the way, that "HOT SHOT" scratch 'n' sniff sticker used to smell like cinnamon. Now it just smells like paper. Time, time, time. See what's become of me.)
|Pac-Man and Muppets stickers|
This next page is sparse but very indicative of the era. It contains three large stickers depicting three more video games of the era (from top to bottom): Centipede, Frogger, and Defender. I never played Defender even once, and Centipede hurt my hand. You played that one with a track ball, and your skin would always get trapped between the ball and the arcade cabinet. Ouch! Maybe that's why I stuck this one to the page upside-down. Frogger, on the other hand, I played a lot. It's a game I still think about because I live near a very busy street, and crossing it on foot is tricky. My strategy is to make it to the center island and from there to the other side. I don't just play Frogger now; I live it.
|Centipede, Frogger, and Defender stickers.|
Not much to say about this next page. It's mostly just more randos, including your standard-issue Terrifying Clown from the Depths of Hell™. The one licensed character on this page is Snoopy. The only thing really remarkable about these stickers is that they're (mostly) the shiny, reflective kind. Those were sort of neat, I guess. Not as neat as Masters of the Universe or Popeye, but still kind of eye-catching. I honestly don't get the stickers down at the bottom. They're a bunch of strange props: an old-timey phone, a boiling cauldron, a piggy bank. Your guess is as good as mine. Probably better.
|Random shiny stickers|
More of the dregs here, I'm afraid. Fairly generic-looking aliens and spaceships. Snoozers. I do like the idea of giving a child a "Pretty Bright!" sticker, though. "Hey, kid, you're fairly intelligent! Not a genius by any means but certainly adequate!" At the bottom of the page are these strange "Penny Power" stickers. I have no idea what these are or where they came from. Google didn't tell me jack squat.
|Aliens and Penny Power stickers|
Oh, but things turn around in a big way here! Even by the age of 7 or 8, I was already a nerd for old-timey, long-dead comedians like Abbott & Costello and W.C. Fields. So I can remember being ecstatic with happiness at finding these Laurel & Hardy puffy stickers at a drug store one afternoon. Curiously, these designs are based on a 1966 animated series from Hanna Barbera. I can't say as I ever saw that show, but I do remember Stan and Ollie turning up on Scooby-Doo. Also on this page: more Penny Power nonsense, plus Felix the Cat, a panda bear, "I Love My Dog" (we always had dogs in my family), and a now-dormant peppermint scratch 'n' sniff.
|Laurel & Hardy stickers, plus Felix the Cat and more!|
And now, the end is near, and so I face... Hello Kitty. Look, back then, I was a sticker junkie. I'd take whatever I could get. Even Sanrio stuff. Remember Happyland? That place was like Sanrio Heaven. It's only natural that some of that stuff would filter into my collection. Maybe the American flag helps balance it out. There's some more interesting stuff on this, the final page of my little sticker album. See that Smurfs sticker down there, for instance? It's another scratch 'n' sniff, but this one actually still smells like peanut butter. I'm not kidding. Don't believe me? Smell your screen.
You might notice some Hi-C/Return of the Jedi stickers, too. Turns out this was part of a whole promotion. I somehow wound up with arguably two of the lamer stickers in this collection. Wonder what happened to the rest? Anyway, thank you for taking this voyage with me down Memory Lane. You have a real nice rest of your day.
|Hello Kitty and Return of the Jedi stickers|