After years of struggle against a rising tide of doubters (meaning me), truth & justice have prevailed & we can proudly reveal that — YES! There really WAS a cereal promotion featuring the Lunar Base Panorama transfers, after all.
I had always argued that Occam's Razor, that blunt but valuable tool, should be employed to shave away these rumours, on the grounds that there already was a known product featuring the same transfers — namely, the Wayfinders Moonshot Shoes promotion.
Decades of fending off claims that people remember them clearly from Ricicles, Corn Flakes & Weetabix, on the grounds that memory is fallible & prone to conflating separate events, have availed me naught in the light of the hard evidence brought to my attention by Nick Symes, after his devoting years to the search.
He's come up trumps at last, & I have to concede (with delight, I have to say) that Shredded Wheat are the lucky winners.
Not only that, but this promotion marks the first time that Letraset transfers featured in a promotion for another product.
Photo courtesy of Nick Symes
The triumph is tinged with sadness, though, because Nick only just found this panel in time for us to show it to its creator, Patrick Tilley, before his death earlier this year.
I hope he did get to see it, because I'm sure he would have been pleased to hear of his designs being rediscovered to give pleasure to others again. I did ask Bruno to tell his father about it, but I understand he was already too ill to answer questions.
The questions I would have asked, though, I'm sure we can answer for ourselves.
The year was almost certainly 1965, because Waddington's took over the Panoramas on the 1st of January 1966, & the Panorama-based promotions after that went through Patterson Blick. It is still just possible, though, that it was 1966 — but that's the same year as the Batman Shredded Wheat promotion. It makes more sense of the sequence of events if Letraset dealt with Shredded Wheat via Patterson Blick BEFORE the Waddington's deal; that would explain why the Shredded Wheat connection continued, whereas otherwise it looks like a rather mercenary sideways lunge.
Did Patrick produce the artwork himself? I think we can say that he must have, because the Lunar landscape on this packet back is very much in his distinctive style, yet still slightly different from the treatment to be found on the Panorama itself — & so not just a simple copy.
The transfer figures — as opposed to the background — were, of course, by Frank Wheeler.
Bruno Tilley also appears, as is customary, holding up the Lunar Base Panorama at the bottom of the packet; but unlike all other representations of him, which are photographic, here he appears as a cartoon.
(Hey, Bruno! — You're a cartoon now!)
Now I'm sure you'd like to see what the transfers looked like that came in the Shredded Wheat packet — even though none could possibly have survived after all this time.
— So here they are!
The above image is actually taken from a Wayfinders Moonshot Shoes advert, but we can be sure that this is the exact same sheet as was used with Shredded Wheat.
For one thing, Letraset were always very keen to re-use transfers with different clients.
And for another, you can compare the transfers on this sheet with those interspersed with the text in the back panel above.
We also have the evidence of this schoolbook, sent to Nick by someone who claimed they were cereal transfers (of course, I tried my best to talk them out of that nonsense).
Photo courtesy of Nick Symes
Note that the date on the book is "19-1-66", which at least gives us a ballpark figure, far away from the Wayfinders date of August 1969.
The real clincher, though, is that if you carefully count (spoiler: I already did) the transfers he's rubbed down on his book, you'll find that he's used all the transfers from two sheets, exactly — with no omissions or triplications (obviously, there are duplications; it's ALL duplications!).
It isn't at all likely he would have had two sets of Wayfinders transfers, barring accidents in packing or twin brothers, whereas it's perfectly feasible he might have saved two sheets from a cereal packet, & then rubbed them down together.
People usually get through packets of cereal faster than pairs of shoes, in other words.
So statistical analysis from several angles concludes: the Wayfinders sheet was the Shredded Wheat sheet, repurposed by those naughty Letraset people.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — Nick Symes
© Tom Vinelott 2021