Saturday, January 14, 2023

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid

OK, today's title is a total Christmas Story cop, with the holiday season firmly in the rear view even, but as we shall see, it's apropos.  I've been mining my old G-mails for content that will span a couple of special projects and am finding all sorts of treasure, much of it from BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd.  Today's adventure brings us a Bazooka Premium Catalog, with a distinctly rugged and masculine tilt.

Dating from 1955, kids could mail away for these and get a better look at some of the premiums offered, although most of these seem beyond anything offered on the newly launched Bazooka Joe comics:

Those illustrations offering fabulous prizes were no joke, there's some major stuff within, much of it apparently military surplus:

We've seen the folding camp knife before and it would appear again and again over the years.  It wasn't a Topps exclusive, there must have been millions of these floating around, with a nameplate that would allow for branding by any entity.  Things get progressively sharper through, that sheath knife looks lethal and that axe looks like it could get you through any kind of wilderness campaign or viscera. For 1,125 comics it should, yikes!

A clear escalation occurs when we get to the last page and what looks to be the world's best cap gun, requiring a mere 1,875 comics.  The notation about choosing a a boy's or girl's leather craft set in no way diminishes the adolescent male vibe here and things conclude with some heavy metal; this surely one of the most industrialized premium offers ever seen from Topps:

The cash to comics ratio in force certainly had some reasoning behind it and you can get a rough idea of how much premium "overhead" was calculated for every piece of Bazooka, also bearing in mind they had some very nice retailer and wholesaler premiums on offer for the adults. Dividing $3.75 by 1875 yields .002 cents per penny gum tab, ignoring the 45 comics also needed to seal the deal.  The ratio on the craft kits though, .75/375 is also .002 though, so the cost of acquisition must have been baked in to any and all Bazooka products.

I did some sleuthing on the Ramar Jungle Gun and the history is an interesting one. Ramar of the Jungle was a syndicated TV program that originally ran from 1952-53 (or '54, sources differ), airing 52 episodes in all, then it was shown in reruns through the end of the decade and beyond.  Four movies were spliced together from the TV footage, two of these premiered in 1953 and the other two in 1955 and there was extensive merchandising as well.  There's a lot more to the story, which I'll leave to others, so the Bazooka offering therefore reflected an active toy campaign tie-in.  The cap gun was really something to behold:

I was thinking some of the offerings in this catalog were sourced from other companies and offered at a higher "rate" than the military surplus items but their yield is also a .002 rate, as are the craft kits. The master Topps strategy here in terms of the cash-to-comics ratio indicates they must have done some heavy duty math to get to the numbers used in the catalog.


Brett Alan said...

I wonder how many people actually gathered 1875 comics and sent them in. That's (slightly more than) 3 pieces of gum a day for a year!

toppcat said...

I wonder if there was some kind of requirement in a handful of states where you had to offer a premium in exchange for the wrappers without money being involved/