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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Star Wars Letraset transfers: The fun that never wore off – part three




The front of the third set of Star Wars Letraset Action Transfers, 'Rebel Air Attack'

The last couple of posts have been about the Star Wars action transfers which were produced by the British company Letraset and which amused many happy children for hours in 1978.


The third of the original trio of Letraset Action Transfers scenes was called 'Rebel Air Attack' and it depicted the rebels preparing for their assault on the Death Star.  For the purposes of this scene, the rebel hangar was presented as having a spectacular view of the first ships taking off for the battle station.

Unlike the Letraset scenes in my previous two posts, this one was not completed by the eleven-year-old me, but my eight-year-old brother.


The third Star Wars Letraset scene, 'Rebel Air Attack'

Although this was the last of this series, it was not the end of the Letraset range.

Before long, the company had embarked upon a ten-part series which told the story again, repeating some of the material in the original set. You can see those scenes – along with the sheets of rub-down transfers for all the sets – at the website of Andy Dukes, jawa-trader.co.uk.  

And there were more Letraset transfers given away to customers at Wimpy, the hamburger restaurant which was ubiquitous in British town centres when the UK had barely heard of McDonald's.

Letraset's association with the Star Wars series would continue throughout the original trilogy of films and last until 1985, as this very good article at StarWars.com shows.  

Coincidentally, 1985 was, I think, the last time I used a Letraset product, and that was for applying lettering to posters when I was a student.  I had to do some Googling recently to establish whether the company – whose success was based on providing relatively easy access to different fonts in the age of the typewriter – still existed.

In fact, Letraset is still going, describing itself on its official website as having been "manufacturing and supplying innovative media to the design industry for over 50 years". However, it was bought by the French ColArt Group in France in 2012 and its UK factory was shut in 2013, with production shifted to France and China (see this article from Kent Online and this from BBC News).  Even though anyone with a home computer now has access to a bewildering variety of fonts, Letraset's sheets of lettering are still available, alongside other art materials such as marker pens.

For many of us, however, the brand name will remain forever associated with the Star Wars sets which filled so much happy leisure time more than thirty-five years ago. 

2 comments:

john i white said...

Francis Bacon even rubbed their lettering onto his paintings. Didn't look great though.

Darren Slade said...

I didn't know that, John. Thanks!