So, while I was writing the last piece on Super Mario Bros 2 stickers that I have in my collection, I knew that there was something nagging at the back of my mind, something that I was forgetting but couldn’t put my finger on. Then last night it came to me in a flash, I had completely forgotten that I’d lucked into receiving a personally curated vintage Nintendo sticker collection, which is cool enough on it’s own, but the collection was also housed in one of the most appropriately branded sticker albums to boot!
I couple years ago I stumbled on this vintage sticker collection on eBay and managed to win the auction for a mere $10! I was shocked when I won it and after receiving it and ogling it for a few days I put it up on a shelf and weirdly the memory of owning it completely disappeared from my mind for the next two years. Last night in my eureka moment, I rushed into the living room, shuffled through the books in our built-in shelves and there it was. This beauty was just waiting to be shared with the internet.
So, I’m 98% sure that I won this collection around Halloween of 2017, because the first thing I did after receiving it was making the decision to fill up any remaining space in the book with my own, more recent sticker acquisitions since most of them have just been sitting in a box and not fulfilling their destiny of being properly displayed. So as you can see there are some pumpkin produce stickers (I still love collecting these) as well as some very fun stickers from some friends online like Beastwreck (Cthul-Aid), Gee Pee Kay, the PirateGhost (the prismatic foil Rad Racing and pirate Lo Pan stickers), and one of my very own stickers for the Cult Film Podcast that I co-host. I honestly do not remember where I snagged the Evil Ed sticker from Fright Night, but I think it came with an enamel pin order as a free pack-in.
Anyway, more importantly, this rest of this book is chock full of vintage Nintendo stickers and they are all from the 1988 collection of one Michael Safford from Agawam, Massachusetts (in the south west portion of the state near Springfield.) Michael, if you’re out there, I’m sad you let your book go, but I’ve given it a very loving home, and I made sure to obscure your phone number and street address just in case you still live in your childhood home (weirder things have happened.) Also, I love his responses to the collection descriptors. “I have LOTS OF stickers…” and “My favorite stickers are ALL OF THEM.” Priceless. This Official Nintendo Sticker Album was released by the Imperial Toy Corporation in 1988. I’ve actually seen a number of branded sticker albums from Imperial including books for Gremlins and Major League Baseball. They’re the company behind a plethora of puffy sticker releases including all of the Nintendo stickers in this collection as well as for one of my favorite lenticular sets that feature a bunch of the mecha from Robotech (which I’ve written about before.) The album has a series of inner two-page spreads that highlight a specific game (or franchise) including Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Excite Bike, Popeye, Punch-Out and Nintendo Soccer (the 1985 release, not the World Cup version.)
So let’s dive into this collection. First and foremost, you can click on any of these pages for a much larger scan. As I stated above, everything vintage in this book is Nintendo branded and there are really only two distinct types of stickers. There are a bunch of puffy stickers that were released by the Imperial Toy Corp in 1988, and the Artis Paper Magic Mario Bros 2 stickers (that I shared in my last piece) which were released in 1989. The puffy stickers, though all released by Imperial, came in two varieties, either the Official Nintendo brand packs featuring stickers for Mario Bros, Punch-Out, Rad Racer and the Legend of Zelda, or Tradewest branded sets that feature titles like Ikari Warriors, Double Dragon, Athena, Iron Tank, Bermuda Triangle, and Touchdown Fever. This two page spread features some very fun Mario stickers as well as some very weird official Nintendo Mario artwork adoring the pages. So, I touched on this in the last piece I wrote where there was an Artis Paper Magic sticker featuring Mario as a cowboy in the US Calvary which is very weird. This book has a ton more weird costumes for Mario as well as sports stickers that make no sense for the character as of 1988-89. For instance, check out the picture of Mario apparently driving the car token from the Monopoly game as well as another jalopy below. These stickers and this book was released years before there were any Mario Kart games. And what’s up with wizard-hat party Mario? Or skiing Mario? And when did Mario jump over King Koopa on a motorcycle?!?
I’m also highlighting these other weird Mario stickers including Chef Mario (who is apparently cooking for a Piranha Plant and potentially cooking Toad’s family in the pasta dish he’s flipping), or the flying Koopa Troopa throwing snowballs at Mario. What in the hell is going on with these stickers?! Though they aren’t in this collection I’ve also seen Mario on a hang-glider and on the page art above there is one with Mario flying a biplane. Is it just me or are these super weird for 80s era Mario?!
Anyway, on the spread above there are more Mario Bros stickers including a rad one from the original game featuring white-overalls Luigi. The Iron Tank and Double Dragon stickers featuring screen shots are very weird as the images are so tiny they seem pointless. You’ll also notice that Artis Calvary Mario sticker as well.
I love the Legend of Zelda two-page spread artwork border. Some of these images are stickers as well, and it’s weird that there is a mix of art styles in these (like the two examples below.) I also adore the Zelda villains/creatures sticker (of which there were two available.) There’s a close up of it below.
I love that there was an Excite Bike spread in the book, and I’m surprised that there weren’t any Excite Bike puffy stickers in this collection. I’ve searched online, but haven’t found any, so maybe they don’t exist.
I like that Michael tried his best to put the corresponding stickers on the branded pages like the Punch-Out stickers below, though he wasn’t super strict about it.
And is it just me or is it weird that there is a two page spread for Popeye? I know the arcade game is beloved, but it seems really out of place in this sticker album. I think this should have been a set of Castlevania pages instead…
Though they’re spread throughout the album, the collection ends with a ton of the Artis Paper Magic Super Mario Bros 2 stickers. When all is said and done all 12 sticker designs are accounted for, and it appears that he also had four of the six Tradewest sticker packs and four of the seven or eight Official Nintendo sticker packs. The Rad Racer stickers are outliers though, as I have yet to find a sticker pack that included them. Hmmm.
The back of the album features screenshots of a bunch of the original NES line-up of games from that first year. Now I’m wondering if there are Pro Wrestling puffy stickers out there somewhere?!