The Jabba the Hutt Play-Doh Action Set, Reviewed!
The Gremlins Colorforms Stick N' Lift Set, reviewed!
I think we're all born with an internal need to collect stickers. It isn't something everyone openly admits or even recognizes, but if you can name me a single time you turned down a free sticker, I'll wash your bathroom floor with my tongue while trying to clap out that chicken dance wedding song simultaneously. Really, I'll do it. I don't know what it is about stickers that delights the endorphins out of people, but even if you disagree about their global worth, you have to admit that there's few things this cheap that can take kids to new emotional heights. Children are mostly quiet about this particular obsession, but you'd have trouble finding one Phonics workbook that isn't adorned with self-adhesive glory. Stickers weren't actually 'toys,' but that didn't stop a few shrewd companies from marketing 'em as such. Today's article focuses in on the very best line of stickers the world has ever known - the sunlight-soaking and super-holographic Lazer Blazers.
Made by Colorforms during the better part of the 80s, Lazer Blazers attacked all sorts of then-popular fads at once. First, you had the stickers. Kids loved stickers, but that wasn't the only reason to want these. The sets partook in the formerly rare area of 'holographic entertainment,' using a cheaper version of the same technology people were currently spending boatloads of money on. I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers the onslaught of upscale shops who specialized in selling little framed hologram pictures for several hundred dollars a piece. Essentially, Lazer Blazers was affording people the same buyable status symbol for a much lower cost. Kids picked up on that - we knew that Colorforms made a mistake and was selling 300-dollar goods for 1.99. Still, Lazer Blazers would've gotten along just fine without the holographic features, since they were all based on the time's popular kiddie movies and television shows. If you haven't been keeping count, that's three major selling points in their favor. The previous record was two, and even then it was just because certain stickers smelled like tapioca or cheese when you scratched and sniffed 'em. Lazer Blazers were clearly more chic.
I'll be showing you them in all their assorted selling point glory in just a moment, but first, take a look at the tutorial as printed on the back of each set's package. Not sure how readable it's going to come out in the resized scan, but basically, Colorforms ushers in Lazer Blazers stickers in the same way you would if you just invented a device that both whitens teeth and makes hair more silky at the same time. The very first words off their keyboard champion the Blazers' inclusion of a genuine hologram, forged through the misunderstood magic of a real life lazer beam. Shit, these things were the product of a lazer beam? Most stickers were just made on the free Button Badge Maker people got when they bought a Bedazzler off that infomercial.
The technology involved here was a little more sedate than with most other holograms - the image didn't really transform or anything, but different degrees of overhead light would change both the amount of colors seen and the overall hue on the stickers. Under a very specific amount of light, (read: lots of it) the photos printed on each Lazer Blazer would glow almost in full-color -- a far cry from the almost-plain shiny silver emblem you saw at first. Now obviously, I was sold by this point. The rest of the world was, too. That didn't stop Colorforms from making one final plea for our wallets...
'When you collect Lazer Blazers™, you are not only collecting the most exciting stickers ever made, you are also collecting an important milestone in the science of Holography.' Holy crap, I can do that for 1.99?! They wrap things up by saying that the same technology used to create Lazer Blazers will someday pave the way for 'such miracles as true 3-D television.' From Captain EO to ER Clooney, it all started with these stupid stickers.
Recently, I had the good fortune of stumbling onto a small pile of the old sticker sets. They were no longer 1.99, but they were still cheaper than toothpaste. And really, webmasters don't need to brush. I picked up six different sets, which'll do much better than this intro in showing you what Lazer Blazers were all about...
Article continued below advertisement:
Visit our sponsors to support the site!
Transformers Lazer Blazers were easily the most popular set, and I'm not just saying that because I like Cliffjumper. Let's give Colorforms some credit for the packaging - that's worth the price in of itself. The problem with most themed sticker sets was that they didn't really look 'official.' I've had tons of Optimus Prime stickers, but only a select few provided proof that they were the real deal and not something drawn by an insidious foreign power who skirted copyright law by adding eyebrows to the robots. Lazer Blazers sustained the realism by using the particular show or movie's official logo and character likenesses, which is only a real word if you're feeling generous. Mighty Megatron got the nod to become spokesperson for this set, utilizing his 'guys this strong don't need dicks' pose on the package's cover art.
Each set of Lazer Blazers came with only four stickers. That's pretty low - even the cheapest card store sticker sets usually came with twelve or more. Then again, these weren't any normal stickers, and if the promo blurb on the back was to be believed, the things were ultimately gonna appreciate in value to millions of dollars anyway. Four was enough for us. Especially when three of the four featured Megatron ready to blow an Autobot's head off.
In fact, there's only one sticker in the set that showed any of the good guys. I guess Prime was worried about having a monopoly on the franchise, and had his lawyers work out a damage control deal where he'd insist on only taking 25% of the Transformers' Lazer Blazers stock. You come up with a better explanation.
You had to be a big Mr. T fan already if you picked up the A-Team Lazer Blazers set. If you were under six and had never heard of the guy, there remained a notable chance that seeing his big head on the sticker package would send you into a frenzy of pants-pissing and screams for Mommy. Come on, everyone loves Mr. T, but he is pretty scary to look at. It took me a long time to be able to watch E.T. or Hulk Hogan without crying, and neither of those guys had mohawks or brass knuckles. Or chest hair that looked like the scars of a bee swarm attack. Fortunately, I was wise to the ways of T long before seeing these A-Team stickers, and was just thrilled to find out that the group 'wanted me.' The other three stickers were pretty basic - two with Mr. T posed in varying degrees of jawdropped lunacy, plus one of that old guy who always wore more than three shirts at the same time.
G.I. Joe Lazer Blazers were another popular set for obvious reasons, but in truth, they were also some of the most uninspired. Using the same stock art photos everyone had already seen zillions of times, the stickers didn't amount to much more than a few Joe soldiers trying to escape the effects of an apparent smoke bomb behind them. None of the good villains make even a single appearance, so there goes my chance to 'own a piece of Holography history' when all I'm really doing is sticking Cobra Commander's flat torso on my secret diary.
Okay, I'm stretching the truth a bit. There's actually several different 'volumes' for each sticker series. If pressed, I'd have to wager that there's probably a Lazer Blazers sticker out there somewhere with Destro's iron charm smile on it. I had debated pretending this wasn't the case, but on the off chance that a single person out there remembers Lazer Blazers, I'll try to be honest. So much for my intentions of telling you all about their ability to cook pasta. I hate writing for nitpickers.
The Marvel Super Heroes Lazer Blazers set doesn't really do anything for me personally, but only because I was a comic book poser who bought in bulk but read in negative numbers. It's possible, believe me. These kinda remind me of the 'chaser' holograms from Marvel's ultra-popular line of trading cards from the early 90s, with the one difference being that no price guide will tell me if the Lazer Blazer versions are dropping in value on a month-to-month basis. It sucks since that Magneto sticker looks like the sort of thing that'd be worth thousands.
Lazer Blazers became pretty popular entities for a while. At first, the toy stores always stocked 'em in the rarely browsed stationary and school supplies aisle. Sheerly by word-of-mouth, kids still managed to find the things. Even if we had to trek our way through five troths full of gluesticks and enough construction paper to make a life-sized paper mache elephant, we would not be denied our hologrammy stickers. In time, the stores saw dollar signs and shifted the Blazers' location right alongside all the popular action figures. I don't know if they outsold their plastic cousins, but at least they got to say their final good-byes before some kid bought and ate them.
And for the girls, here's the My Little Pony Lazer Blazers. Don't assume that the sets I'm showing you is all they had - there were Lazer Blazers sets for virtually everything: Cabbage Patch Kids, Gremlins, Rainbow Brite, Batman, and for some odd reason, Former U.S. Presidents Born in Missouri. Every series needs its dark horse, I guess.
The sets pictured in this article were scanned, so you're really not getting a true feel for what they look like when not under the direct and intense super-light found in most Hewlett-Packard scanners. Essentially, they look like little squares of shiny new tin foil at first. It's only under lots of light that you'd be able to tell if these were little ponies or big frogs. I wish they were big frogs. Battletoads came out way too late in the game. Tardy toads. Humorless humor. I suck. The My Little Pony stickers were small bastions of love and sweetness, each mixing a picture of one of the equine characters with bubbly hearts and perpetual starshine. They practically make me want to have a sex change, or at least start wearing lipstick so I can immortalize the moment with an imprint when I kiss their holy holographic horse heads. Those last four words would be worth a shitload if we were playing Scategories.
Our final set of the day is my personal favorite, the Masters of the Universe Lazer Blazers pack. More specifically, the 'Skeletor Collection.' It makes the things sound so much more expensive than the mere two bucks they cost. The Skeletor picture on the cover shows off his devil-headed magic staff - the same one he often used to make giant rock creatures out of raw mountains that could've taken over Eternia had it not been for the one minor weakness of crumbling at the first contact of a He-Punch.
Three of the four stickers feature Skel doing all sorts of things, like holding his sword, pointing his sword, and being the 'Y' for the YMCA song competition. I would've put the abbreviating periods in there, but the whole sentence loses something when 'YMCA' takes up eight characters. Acronyms everywhere, feel my pain. The final sticker is of Castle Grayskull, if only to annoy Skeletor since he was never quite able to get inside and steal its secrets or lick the Sorceress or whatever reason du jour he gave for spending zillions of dollars on gate-smashing vehicles shaped like bats week after week.
Say what you will, but these were a ton of fun to collect. You always felt like it was some great special privilege to own a Lazer Blazer - it was the kind of sticker you didn't use. The only other stickers who had that royal distinction were either made of gold or expressed slogans that didn't fit with your political stance. Indeed, wasting a Lazer Blazers sticker on something as temporary as a school notebook was a big no-no -- it'd be like using the designer martini glasses to collect ticks off the family dog. This didn't stop Colorforms from crafting one final Lazer Blazers product: the official collector album!
This one was a bit of a paradox. It had a color scheme pretty clearly meant for the hearts of men, but the reality was that very few small boys wanted to go to school carrying anything with a prissy unicorn on it. They could make the unicorn as maddeningly orange and grapity grape as they wanted - it's still a unicorn, and you couldn't get away with liking one unless you were going to sprout tits somewhere down the line. On the upside, its horn was fairly macho and phallic.
In effect, it was just a cardboard binder filled with glossy black cardboard pages - just classy enough to play home to the pioneering stickers of the Holography revolution. Personally, I always preferred putting the stickers over my eyes so I could pretend I was a robot or a futuristic pirate with a cyborg eyepatch. I liked the latter option better, but it was more difficult to explain to people. I'm sure you understand.
Holographic stickers are no longer considered a treat from above these days, so it's doubtful that Colorforms' Lazer Blazers will ever make a comeback. If interested, you could always try eBay or just wish for them really, really hard. Even if they don't magically arrive, you'll still take home an important lesson about disappointment.