MAil Away Offers
Toy Polloi Fusion Towers Retroland
A classic way to get kids coming back to buy more toys from a specific line was to offer the chance to get another for Free by collecting tokens from the card backs of other figures. Many toy companies did this during the 70s and 80s, and it worked!
On the back of the toy's packaging would be offers of what you could get and what you needed to send in to get it. Often the more tokens you collected, the better the item you could send off for. So it encouraged you to buy even more toys, a cunning plan on the toy companies part. It was a great idea, and for me, it worked. I saved up tokens from Star Wars figures, Action Man, and Transformers all to help build up my toy collection.
From 1966 onwards pretty much all Action Man toys came with the Star Awards offer, with each containing a small booklet showing drawings of the items you could get. The idea was you cut out the stars printed on the Action Man packaging and stuck them into the supplied leaflet. Depending on how patient (and lucky) you were you could get bigger and better items. With just 5 Stars and 15p postage, you could get a nameplate or two embroidered badges – this was the easiest one to get with the top item requiring 24 Stars and 65p for that you would get the Special Operations H.G. Tent. I wonder how many kids ever managed to save up for that?
I managed to save up enough stars to send in for at least two of these offers as I clearly remember getting the 'Royal Canadian Mounted Police' uniform. At one point, having saved my stars carefully, I manage to get a naked
Blue Pants era Eagle Eyes figure. That must have been quite a challenge as to get this offer required 21 Stars and 40p of postage.
Because these sorts of offers required you to cut up the packaging of the toys it has made it hard for modern collectors to find undamaged Action Man boxes and cards. More often than not, the stars will have been removed many years ago and used to get these mail-away
Star wars had various offers over the years, allowing you to send in the Proof of Purchase tokens (P.O.P.s) from the figure card backs. Probably the most famous, and most disappointing for kids was the Rocket Firing Boba
Fett offer. The card backs said that by sending in five P.O.P.s you would receive a Rocket firing Boba Fett figure, but this figure was sadly never released due to safety concerns with the missile, so kids just got a non-firing version. It was not what the offer promised initially, but it's still a cool figure. A few of the un-produced Rocket Firing Boba Fett figures do exist and are highly sort after by collectors with deep pockets. I managed to send in for a couple of the offers from the Return of the Jedi era and got myself both a Nien Numb and Emperor via the mail-away offers. I clearly remember how excited I was when I small package with my name on arrived at the front door. Getting any post as a child was exciting as it didn't happen often, but was even more special when it was a new toy you'd be patiently waiting for.
The toys came in plain white boxes with just an address label stuck to the outside, so you didn't know what it was until you opened it. A few years back I bought and unopened one of these mail away boxes on eBay without knowing what figure was inside. As a bit of a joke, I asked people for help on identifying what was inside without opening it and ended up with the box X-rayed by Nottingham University. I was hoping for a rare figure, but sadly it was just the Emperor hiding away inside the box. The box is still unopened, and I have a great image and story to go along with it.
Like Star Wars, Transformers had various
mail-away offer leaflets included inside the larger vehicle boxes. These required you to cut the Robot Points from the boxes and figure cards, and depending on the size of the toy, you would either get ½, 1, 2, or 3 Robot points. Transformers like the Autobot Omnibot cars (Downshift, Overdrive, and Camshaft), Powerdasher with a pull-back motor action, and Time Warrior could only be acquired via these offers. I collected a few of these offers at the time and ended up with a whole pile of Robot points but never actually managed to send off for any of them. Today I still have a little bag full of these tokens; I wonder if Hasbro would accept them if I sent them?
Another use for the Robot Points was to join S.T.A.R.S squad. Or Secret Transformers Autobot Rescue Squad to give it its full name. For four robot point and £4.99 you'd get a liquid crystal membership card with rub symbol, Iron-on patch, Poster, Fact Sheet and Sturdy sell assembly card command centre and board game. I wish I had joined!
A favourite of Mrs Toy Polloi was Palitoy's Pippa dolls. Pippa's were 6.5-inch tall dolls that like Action Man had a vast array of outfits, accessories and playsets to choose from and collect.
On the back of the boxes was a daisy with 12 petals, two of which had been filled in. By filling in the rest of the flower with petals cut from other boxes you could save up to send off for either an outfit if you managed to get seven petals, and if you completed the full twelve, you could get a dressed doll. Boxed outfits for Pippa came with two petals on the back of the box, but it was worth checking under the outfit as sometimes you could find an extra petal hidden there.
Mail away toys are often highly sought after by collectors compared to the regular toys as very few people were able to save up to get them. The items that required the most points to be collected or higher postage costs were often out of the reach of most kids. So keep an eye out for them, and if you have any of your childhood collection that includes items you sent away for, hold on to them — they could be worth a lot.