Waddington's last ditch effort at Panoramas came in 1974. By now, the standard three-foot wide Panoramas were hopelessly old-fashioned, although they had always sold well, & you can see Waddington's were thinking they should create some new, up-to-date replacements.
This is a strategy which, as far as I can tell, has never worked for anyone ever. Except possibly Apple. (I suppose there must be an exception to every rule…)
Since the occurence of the name "Letraset" is confined strictly to the transfer sheets (which no-one but Letraset could possibly have printed at the time), it seems fair to conclude that Waddington's were using their own designers & wanted as little Letraset involvement as possible.
The alternative is that Letraset were using the David Clark Design Group in Bournemouth, who did most (if not all) of their design work at the time; but if so, there's still no mention either of them or of Letraset.
It also seems reasonable to deduce that the failure of these new Panoramas to sell in decent quantities led to Waddington's washing their hands of the whole Panorama business, leaving Letraset a clear field — er… full of dirty Panorama water, or something… anyway, Letraset reclaimed their Panoramas by 1976, going as far as to reprint many of them — including these — under their own name without mention of Waddington's. So turning the tables in a clear field of dirty Panorama water.
Just to hammer home the point, here's a close-up of the back panel listing the other Waddington's transfer products. You could still get the first six Panoramas (Patrick Tilley's original five, plus "Gulliver's Travels in Lilliput"), along with the six new titles, which were:
— Fab Shopping Scene
— Beach Scene, Man
— Dolls House
Unfortunately, we only have "Shopping Scene" & "Circus" for now, but that'll give you a good idea of what's on offer.
Meanwhile, please note that as of 1974, Waddington's were still selling the old monochrome Busy Bees (some of them, at least), & the surviving members of the Character Panorama line-up.
By the way, this is the first time we've seen Waddington's use the term "Character Panorama" in print, although no doubt they had been using it for reference purposes since the first ones.
Compare this with the later (1976) Panorama covers shown on previous pages; they say "Letraset", & there is no reference to Waddington's anywhere. Yet advertised as "other rub-down items in the Letraset range" are the six original Panoramas mentioned above, & also six Busy Bees. Apparently in their original livery (the same photo as in 1971, which was then out of date)! So Letraset are selling stock formerly distributed by Waddington's.
And although the six 1974 Panoramas are marked "Waddington's", with only a passing reference to Letraset on the actual transfer sheets, Letraset/Thomas Salter are advertising them as 'Giant Panoramas' in the 1981 Thomas Salter trade catalogue (& you can catch a glimpse of the 'Farmyard' Panorama on that page).
So either Waddington's sold back any rights they had to Letraset products by 1976, or the deal was strictly distribution only all along; &, of course, it also meant that Letraset had a stock of Panoramas & Busy Bees. These were gone by 1981.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives
© Tom Vinelott 2018