Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mighty Atom

I have to confess I'm a fan of the various Topps tatoo (tattoo) issues over the years.  I liked 'em as as kid and I like 'em now.  I especially like the one cent packs that were the standard bearer of the skin transfers offered through 1967, where the inside of the wrapper held the tatoo before a change in format brought us five cent packs with folded, cascading sheets and multiple images. Topps came up with a basic template for their penny tatoo packs in 1949 and it lasted for eighteen years-pretty impressive.

I've covered a number of tatoo issues already but the Astro Boy issue of 1963 is uncharted territory.

Originally a manga character created in the 1950's, Astro Boy (in Japan it was "Mighty Atom") was a long running Japanese cartoon (in black & white) that was broadcast in the US on NBC from 1963-65 and then rerun for another decade or so.  It's since been revived but I loved the original series as a kid and it was really the start of anime as we know it today.  There were a ton of these shows on in the 60's (Speed Racer, Tobor the Eight Man, Marine Boy) and some were better than others but Astro Boy got the nod from Topps. I guess their TV rights were fairly cheap and they only had to be dubbed into English as all the animation had been done for the original airings in Japan so any licensing that could be had from Topps was gravy.

There are probably 48 Astro Boy tattoos; I've never seen a full checklist as is common with the tattoo issues and multiples of 24 are fairly common in this era for similar sets. Three wrapper graphics were used, here's one:

The reverse had the standard Topps graphic instructions:

Here's a better look at the wrapper (wrapper graphic #2):

The National Broadcasting Company copyright is prominent and although no year is listed I think it's safe to say it coincided with the US premiere in September 1963. The third wrapper graphic is something I don't have a color scan of and have to show one from Chris Benjamin's Sport Americana Guide:

The tattoo itself is your typical line drawing:

That one has been damaged but that's the thing with these, they are pretty scarce and one of the hardest to find of the Topps tattoo issues.  Here's an acetate proof that has the graphic from above represented:

There's a pretty good Astro Boy site with a decent forum out there.  You can click here to access it.

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