Background & cover by Patrick Tilley; transfers by Frank Wheeler (Patrick Tilley Associates).
This is my favourite Letraset product of all time — & directly responsible for the formation of SPLAT, since it was while searching for a surviving copy of this Panorama that I found other people regularly bidding on Action Transfers, & invited them to form a group.
The complex history of Panoramas is dealt with elsewhere, but here is an opportunity to show some of the variations that applied to this particular set. At the top we have the cover of the original version from 1965; this is followed by Waddington's early adaptation from 1966, & then their later reworking of the monochrome transfers into four spot colours (this one is from 1971).
There are several significant changes, but none of them affect the background, which is identical throughout. Note how the card is folded so that the ends meet in the middle of the back, where they are fastened by a round gold sticker. The sticker is missing here, although you can see the residue of its glue, but you can see other gold sticker examples further down the page. The whole thing is then wrapped in cellophane. You can see a wrapped Panorama on the front page of this website.
Here's the background. The Patrick Tilley Panorama backgrounds have a very distinctive style, which goes for artistic effect rather than realism. IMHO this makes them far more effective than later products.
And now for the transfer sheets. There seems to be some kind of disturbance going on, featuring Gemini astronauts, four-armed alien astronauts, & what are presumably the indigenous fauna of this moon (which is not, of course, OUR moon). The hardware features many designs which would have been familiar to anyone interested in science fiction & the current state of the space program in 1965, & I have been asked to point out that this is considerably before Star Trek was broadcast, so no — that is not supposed to be the starship Enterprise.
Members of SPLAT have had fun working out (with great success) where Frank Wheeler got his inspiration for these drawings from, & I finally located the 'Starship Enterprise' image in "Tales of Suspense" No.4, from July 1959. It's in the story "The Voice of Doom!", & the art is by Carl Burgos. Being an Atlas (later to become Marvel) comic, this would have been reprinted in black-&-white by Alan Class in the UK in the early 60s — just in time. Frank may well have picked up the reprint comic at a newsagent in the interests of research!
The front cover shown here is by the great Jack Kirby.
The other day I obtained a 20-page "Wonders of Space Travel" booklet which was given away free with Lion comic No.116 (May 8th 1954). Practically every other spaceship appearing on these transfer sheets — other than the one above, & Flash Gordon's Rocket Ship — featured in this booklet! Perhaps I will give it its own page one day, so you can see for yourself.
Always keen to re-use artwork & transfers whenever possible, Letraset provided the 1965 Lunar Base transfers for Bata's August 1969 promotion for Wayfinders Moonshot shoes. This is covered in its own article:
For many years I assumed that all the people who told me they remembered these transfers from Kellogg's Corn Flakes or Weetabix were conflating their memories of the Panorama itself & these shoes (or even just the ads shown above), compounded by the other Panorama Letraset sheets that came with Shredded Wheat. But eventually Nick Symes came up with the goods in the form of hard evidence to show that in fact Patrick Tilley had produced a back panel for a Shredded Wheat Moon Battle, featuring the same transfer sheet as for Wayfinders Moonshot shoes. Later on, he even obtained the evidence & kindly passed it on to me, & you can see it on the "Moon Battle" page.
In my defence, plenty of people have claimed to have strong memories of impossible things… myself included.
(I once had a prolonged discussion with a chap who was convinced he had seen Daleks advertised in Singapore in the 1930s. But that's another story…) Anyway —
Clearly Shredded Wheat came first, & then naughty Letraset tried to re-use their transfer sheet with a new client, Bata, years later.
Don't forget to find your way back to this Lunar Base Panorama page once you've checked out the transfer sheet promotions!
As noted elsewhere, when John Waddington Ltd. commissioned a revamp of the transfers using the same colours as their other Panoramas, the original artwork was reused in a fairly crass way, essentially by splashing a bit of red & blue on top of the previous version. Whereas the Panoramas provided their monochrome transfers in two long strips, the 4-spot colour versions have a pair of square sheets featuring considerably fewer transfers.
I can't show you sheet K48B, because we don't have one in the Archives. If you have one which you can give us or lend us for scanning, please get in touch.
I will be attempting a recreation of the K48B sheet soon, using a variety of ingenious tricks. Check back later to see if I've done it yet!
Here's a used colour background, to show you what sort of malarkey young hands can get up to (in case you were in any doubt). As a bonus, if you look carefully, you'll see plenty of transfers from the sheet we haven't got…
Panoramas were protected by containing a corrugated card stiffener, which although pretty dull in itself is shown here for completeness. This one has two of the ubiquitous gold stickers on it, & as an extra FREE GIFT it has a typewritten note advertising the other Letraset products which you could hope to buy in 1965 (this significant note is discussed in the main Panoramas page).
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives, with thanks to StellarX, Mike Cosgrove & Nick Symes
© Tom Vinelott 2021