Adams bubble gum cards

J. Lester Novros

One of the many companies to jump on the Thunderbirds merchandising wagon in the Netherlands was van Nelle, a Dutch firm mainly known for its tea & coffee brands. In 1966, using the brandname Adams, they ventured into the chewing gum business and in the following three years they produced a total of six different series of bubble gum cards, commonly known as series A through F. The country's youth, already keenly aware of the TV series as a result of a brilliant marketing campaign, was introduced to the sticky confectionary by way of ads in TV2000, the Dutch counterpart of the British TV21 magazine.

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ads for Adams bubble gum from 1966 issues of TV2000

The word 'cards' is used loosely here since these were rather badly drawn – and in some cases redrawn – illustrations printed on flimsy pieces of waxed paper. Series A's artwork and text for example, were copied for the most part from the first series of Barrett's sweet cigarette cards and, like series C and D, concerned itself with Thunderbirds and, in the case of series D, the Zero X from the concurrent feature film Thunderbirds Are GO!. Series E and F covered the Angels [or De 5 Julia's as they were known in the Netherlands] and Captain Scarlet and his Spectrum companions [and, lest we forget, its vehicles]. Finally, series B consisting of 12 cards, had nothing to do with any Supermarionation series; it featured Geheimagent 2000, the Dutch language version of TV21's Secret Agent 21.

In conjunction with series D and E, van Nelle issued a poster showing the Zero X cutaway drawing from the 1968 Sword annual. Around the drawing, at the edges of the poster, a grid was printed, offering a place to attach cards from the D and E series. The cards, being printed on waxed paper, in all but the most persistent cases categorically refused to remain affixed to the poster so one may assume this endeavour was met with intermittant success.

The wildly differing popularity of both the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet TV series is reflected by the the state of the cards reproduced here. Especially the quality and availability of the F series [which dealt with Captain Scarlet exclusively] is lamentable; one can imagine that the kids of the day were more interested in the bubble gum than in the cards that came with it and threw these away without much consideration.

Series C is a reprint of selected cards form the A and B series and invited its youthful buyers to join in a drawing contest: Brains asks for plans for a Thunderbird 6 while Grandma gives contestants the choice to draw whatever they like. The D series consists mainly of reproductions of illustrations from Mike Noble's Zero X comic that appeared in TV21 and was reprinted at the same time in the Dutch grocery magazine Prins Valiant. The F series replaced the drawing contest with an offer to obtain construction kits of the Angel Jet and the SPV for 10 wrappers and a small sum of money.

TV2000 Adams ad TV2000 Adams ad TV2000 Adams ad TV2000 Adams ad
ads for Adams bubble gum from 1967 and 1968 issues of TV2000
Adams trade brochure back
an Adams bubble gum trade brochure from 1966