The timeless lure of A&BC football cards, ‘free gifts’… and the Bazooka Joe Club siren ring

Is there anybody else out there who was a member of the top-secret Bazooka Joe Club back in the 1970s… who sent off for their Siren Ring off the back of a packet of A&BC football cards… and confidently expected delivery of a cool gunmetal electronic ring that would soon be the envy of the playground?

Aha, just me then.

I was probably stupid to think my mail-order ring would be automatic or shiny or approximately as loud as an air-raid siren – or that a whole new set of cool friends and snub-nosed girls with bangs would come running to my assistance once I’d glued together the deeply disappointing brown plastic halves and given it a thin, weedy ‘peep’. 
Strictly speaking, the skin head wigs and secret book safes, the x-ray spex and ten-in-one scopes on offer were cheap plastic rubbish exploiting the wide-eyed innocence of youth – and the same applied to all the stuff they sold blokekind for our private gratification or stylish grooming needs on the back of A&BC and Topps footy card packs, and in the small ads of DC Comics.

Everything appealed directly to our basest pleasure-seeking instincts, exploiting the inbuilt weakness of the male when faced with a little sticker that says ‘handy’, ‘instant’, ‘automatic’, ‘multi-‘ or ‘mini-‘ – they were suspect devices that inevitably pressed buttons associated with vanity, impatience, lust, greed, envy, sloth and high hopes of miraculous self-betterment rather than any of our more characteristic holy virtues.

Nevertheless, I still secretly think of all of this stuff as the product of a more innocent and optimistic era. Despite everything, I still find the ads for Sea Monkeys and voice-throwing tricks utterly intoxicating. When it comes to the American Dream, I just can’t help believing.

Bring back the NASL and the Bionic Woman and Evel Knievel!

All together now: ‘pheep’.

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