Build up the exciting action-packed drama of the D-Day landings on the GIANT FULL-COLOUR BATTLEGROUND now at your local shop for only 10p.
TRANS-ACTION PRODUCTS - NEW MALDEN KT3 4DY
Produced in England by Alan Lythgoe Developments Ltd.
Copyright 1975 Pat. App. For
It seems Alan Lythgoe became Letraset's technical director in November 1964 — the third in five years. He had been a member of the board since Letraset's public issue, & he was there throughout the Busy Bees, the Panoramas, the Instant Pictures & the Action Transfers. His particular project was one involving transfers for ceramics, metal & plastics, to be applied during manufacturing rather than at the end of the process. Apparently this led to problems with machinery & engineering which couldn't be solved. Alan Lythgoe was in charge of the move to the new factory at Ashford, but by Autumn 1968 it was clear there were problems with the technical department, leading (as John Chudley put it) to a gap between success in the laboratory & consistent production. Mention is made of his being the only person at the time to fully understand the delicate combination of chemicals required for successful transfers. Chudley brought in a 'new man' to help with the technical aspect, but this caused friction & Alan Lythgoe felt slighted. "During 1969 technical weakness let us down", says Chudley, & although as usual he doesn't say exactly when, he says that by "1969 and 1970" Alan Lythgoe had resigned. Alan Lythgoe Developments was formed in 1971. John Chudley himself was replaced as managing director in October 1970, by Bill Fieldhouse.
I've no idea what actually happened with Alan Lythgoe Developments, of course, but I can easily imagine a plausible scenario. I get the impression his resignation would not have been entirely amicable, & given his experience with the technical side of transfers, it wouldn't have been surprising for him to have tried to apply this, but avoiding as far as he could the legal difficulties of infringing Letraset's patent. No doubt he felt that litho printing would actually give him an advantage over Letraset (who were still using gravure at the time), & he may have made a point of that with his potential clients! But by omitting the carrier film, he hobbled his own invention, & the best printer in the World couldn't have made his ink smudges look good.
JOHN HUNT: Well, some interesting info here. What you say could well be correct.
We haven't seen similar transfers to these Alan Lythgoe products since Letraset bought Sodecor. Alan Lythgoe's production source had been cut off; Letraset would hardly be encouraging their own rivals.
BEN ARCHER: The artwork on the Trans-Action 'D-Day Landing' packets is my father's work [Peter Archer — Ed.]; haven't seen it for decades. Some of the sporting events may be his as well but it's hard to tell from these reproductions. Sounds like Lythgoe poached him for one last job…
StellarX managed to acquire a box of these transfers, together with a letter for the shop owner & a small poster to put up in the shop:
"Look for further new series to be published in the near future."
Hmmm. And here's the little poster:
And one of the 10p backgrounds.
I've turned the back panel round, to make it easier to read:
The D-Day series may have been more successful that we first thought, because thanks to Graham Convey we've now seen a second edition packet:
Image courtesy of Graham Convey
Hidden in a plan chest for years, Peter collected his transfer-related artwork & put it all in a giant (& I mean giant!) envelope which he left for me when he died. His wife Karen kindly kept it safe for us, along with some other keepsakes. The mystery envelope did not disappoint: there were many remarkable items in there. Thank you, Peter!
Among the items he left was this full, uncut sheet of Trans-Action D-Day transfers. You can see that the sheet includes forty transfers, which is accounted for by the fact that the whole set of twenty is repeated. He's rubbed one down, at the top right of the lower right quadrant!
This sheet is now in pride of place on the wall in my studio.
Here's the top half, in order to show you the full set of transfers in more detail:
I should point out that the sheets shown in these scans have been considerably enhanced; they don't look quite this good in the flesh. They have been sharpened here, & the colours saturated.
Having read this page, Ben Archer adds:
"Almost all of his reference for this came from my modelling hobby at the time — Tamiya 1/35 scale and Airfix 1/72, 1/48 scale. Your note about the sharpening and colour correction is very good. He painted the German ‘feldgrau’ uniform colour almost turquoise! "
Thanks, Ben! And we all assumed he'd been going round the museums with his sketchpad… perhaps we should give Tamiya & Airfix a credit!
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — Graham Convey — StellarX
© Tom Vinelott 2023