Babar Character Panorama

We only have a used copy of this Panorama, so you'd think we can't show you the transfer sheets. But…

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…In France, & distributed in Europe, Comano sold sets of four Mako Calco transfer sheets both in boxes with backgrounds & in packs without, & one of their ranges was Babar.

You can see that I've laid out the four Mako Calco sheets in the order they would have been printed on a single uncut sheet, according to the registration marks.

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An unexpected bonus is that the second sheet contains the serial number PR57!

These four were actually part of a retailer's product demonstration kit — containing four sets each of the four packets — which of course makes them even more fun…

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And in case that's still not enough, I've labelled each transfer rubbed down onto the Panorama background, & marked the transfers on the sheets correspondingly. Try it yourself, if you like!

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So you can see that the transfers which were used for the Panorama all came from the first two sheets, with none from the others. Of course, in the Panorama the sheets would have been laid out differently, without text references to Mako Calco.

"Les Aventures de Babar" first appeared on French TV on 24th December 1968. In keeping with that, the Mako sheets (4404-1 to 4404-4) are marked "©1969" — & that is, of course, the copyright of the programme, not the transfers. "Tele-Hachette" is the production company (Hachette being the publisher of the Babar books).

You would expect the Calcorama to go on sale as soon as possible in 1969 to capitalise on interest in the programme, but the PR57 serial number suggests a date in 1970, if not 1971. And the Panorama (which admittedly could, & probably did, appear later, since it would not be dependant on a French TV programme) is copyrighted 1971.

Here, from the 1972 Comano catalogue, are four of the first Mako Calcoramas. Babar is the third one down, & you can see that the background, which is three-foot wide like the first Panoramas & therefore wider than the Babar Panorama, is similar but more extensive than the Babar Panorama background. Also worth noting is that in order to get the full marching band, you would have to buy the Calcorama rather than the Panorama! Which is another reason for thinking the Calcorama came first, with "why don't we also bring this out as a Panorama" being the next bright idea.

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When Comano re-thought their Calcoramas later, they stopped providing the three-foot backgrounds in a box & simply supplied a drastically reduced background folded to fit in a cellophane bag with the transfer sheets. So you can see that this is a very cut-down version of the above:

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And here are the subsequent reprints of the individual Mako sheets (with "441-4" serials instead of "4404"). Being later, the copyright notice is still there, but the copyright date is omitted.

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Here's the back of one of the above packets, plus a close-up showing how the original Calcoramas fit in their box. (Although the example says "Babar", along with "HO HO HO HO HO" etc., it doesn't illustrate the Babar background.)

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And finally, the back of the later Babar Mako Calcorama (ref. 442/5, serial fans!), with the front of another in the series. You can see the background peeping around the edges of the transfers.

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Perhaps the best fit for the timing of the Babar Panorama is if the Mako set was released as early as possible, that being as late as 1970, but that the Panorama wasn't thought necessary — or perhaps desirable — by Waddington's until 1971. It's not at all clear who was pulling the strings; Mako, Waddington's, or Letraset. Letraset were well-known for trying to sell the same transfers to different clients, but who can say who wanted, required or demanded what. And then there is the additional complication of Hasbro's involvement with other Mako transfers of this period…

The Mako Calco story is fascinating in itself, although that will have to wait for another time… but other Panoramas shared their transfers with Calcoramas, as we shall see.


Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives