PANINI STICKERS AND ALBUMS
There were so many things to collect as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, be it marbles, Garbage Pail stickers, or Star Wars action figures. But who can forget the phenomenon that was and still is Panini sticker albums? The fact that this leading brand of collectable stickers and the books to stick them in, is still going strong to this day is by the by, but as a kid growing up back in the day there was no Nintendo DS’, iPods, or mobile phones to keep us occupied, so sticker books were a God send and kept the likes of me and my friends preoccupied in the playground. As the Italian company (founded by brothers Giuseppe and Benito Panini in 1961) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, I Miss The Old School takes a look back at our school day memories of the brand.
Okay, so I know a bit about Panini, having collected several of their stickers and books. Themes that readily come to mind are Garfield, Smash Hits, Barbie, Care Bears, The Real Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (or was that one of my brothers) and the TV show Neighbours. Back then it seemed like Panini had a sticker album for everything that was popular with young kids and teens, and kudos to them as they haven’t strayed from that practice at all over the years, in fact they have become even more prevalent lapping up everything from Doctor Who to Justin Bieber!
And something else that is unlikely to have changed since the 80 is the most popular books Panini produce. Although I have no official figures to back this up, I would bet my last pound that the football-inspired sticker books still take that prize hands down! Almost every boy I knew (and some girls) collected football stickers growing up.
Each sticker had a profile shot of every player in the league (That’s a lot of stickers), and the higher the player was ranked the rarer their sticker was to find. Then there were the World Cup books which featured every competing team from around the world, their individual players, a team shot of each country, their national stadium AND of course a page reserved for the almighty world cup trophy itself, which was usually made up of more than one sticker!
It is no surprise that Panini, which now also consists of comics, books, magazines and other collectable items, turned over an eye-watering 690 million Euros in 2009, as when you purchase a pack of stickers at £1 (or whatever it these days – it was about 25p back in my day), you never know what you are going to get. You are always going to end up with numerous duplicates, which you can then trade with your friends for ones you haven’t got, but in the meantime you are spending A LOT of money trying to complete your book. But that wasn’t so bad as it was essentially your parents money that you were spending in your quest to become the king of the playground castle by completing your album. I can still remember the feeling of opening a brand new pack of stickers. It was the same each time. the wrapping was pretty thin, so you had to do it carefully to avoid ripping the stickers inside. And was I the only one who said a silent half-a-second prayer that I would only get ones I didn’t already have? It was both an exhilarating and nerve-wracking moment, but how I miss having that as one one big stress in life! Lol!
Who remembers the phrases ‘Got’ and ‘Need’? Each time your friend was going through their duplicates, you would shout these out, in order to distinguish what you wanted and what you didn’t, and vice-versa! Good times! You had to be careful to hold on to your batch tightly though, or only display them freely around people you could trust, as these things were like gold bars to kids and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for some little bugger to straight up snatch them out of your hand and run off with them!
These days the advancements in technology have led the Panini Group to introduce a new way of collecting and trading stickers. They have created ‘virtual stickers’ on their website, for which you have to log in daily to receive packs. You are able to trade with other collectors online until you have collected them all, and if you collect them all by a certain date you are entered into a draw in which you can win a print version of the completed book.
As well as keeping the football themed books going Panini have deals with the NBA, NHL and are looking to get the upcoming 2012 Olympics sewn up to!
I can’t remember if I ever fully completed a book. I remember there was an address in each book, where you could send off for the last one or two stickers you were struggling to get. I think I came close with Garfield and Neighbours. Because I am a (proud) hoarder I have still got those books somewhere in my storage unit. I must try and dig them out one of these days! Ahh memories!
Additional research: Naomi Phillip.