Thursday, September 27, 2012

Panini: Got, Got, AAAARGH!

Panini is great, we all know this. What we also know is that Panini, especially in the football sticker world, have produced some truly bizarre moments. I recently purchased the World Cup & Euro Sticker Collections, which bring together all the Panini albums for the World Cup and Euro tournaments since 1970. This has given me a chance to not only relive some of the albums I collected at the time, but also to have an insight into albums I'd not seen before. And oh boy, what a treasure trove of weirdness and sheer crud they be!

So come with me now on a journey into Panini's dark side... and thanks to David Hill for the inspiration for the title.

Let's start with stickers that are just plain strange.

This is the Mexico 86 album. The team is Hungary (or as my 11-year-old head used to pronounce it, Meggazeggorzag).

This is the Hungarian keeper, Peter Disztl:

Hair up...
And this is defender Antal Roth:
...and down

Oh come on!
Now I'm not suggesting that the eastern side of the Iron Curtain was working on clones, but... y'know... CLONES!!!!

And in case you thought they might try to keep such genetic experimentation secret, look where they sat in relation to each other... it's like they wanted to be found out...

Next up is something I can't really blame Panini for, rather FIFA and their mascot obsession, but here I present the 2006 World Cup mascot who looks like ALF's cousin, the one who suffers from gigantism, inexplicably undergoing some kind of rectal examination by a far-too-happy football. What makes this image is the expressions on both their faces. The ball appears about to break into a Bo Selecta style 'chamon muthaf...' and the Lion seems halfway between angry and sedated. This sticker is all kinds of wrong and I still wake up screaming every night, fixed in the same half-assed Usain Bolt pose as Ol' Lenny here, terrified an unqualified sphere is about to 'glove up'.

Moving swiftly on and we're back firmly in a place where the blame lies 100% with Panini. As I mentioned on the first Attic podcast, the recent Euro 2012 album brought scorn from the Twitterverse for the shambolic nature of the England team stickers. Admittedly this is down to licensing so the actual England kit could not be used, but it did raise the ugly head of photoshopping heads onto shirts. Even with that abomination, it's nothing compared with what had gone before.

Here we have two perfect examples of 'floating head syndrome'. One isn't too bad, the other horrendous. It's like the people at Panini not only couldn't be bothered, but had actual contempt for either the players or team involved or you, the paying customer.

First up, we have a clearly three-dimensional head of Argentine World Cup winner Pedro Pasculli sitting atop a definitely flat-as-a-pancake shirt. Maybe he'd just been over-zealous with the iron that morning, though given the amount of time he'd spent sorting his hair, I can't see he'd have been able to fit it into his busy day. The real giveaway here is the neck just not quite lining up with the shirt. Remember that fact when you see the next one...

So then we have this. I'd say Robbie Fowler, but I'm not entirely sure all of him is actually there. Just take a moment to take it all in.

I'm almost speechless... I mean... the neck... zip... cropping... aaaaargh!!!

Finally, this has to be one of my favourite Panini stickers of all time. As demonstrated by the icy stares of Peter and Antal and the dead, severed head of Mr. Fowler, football mug shots are invariably sombre affairs. To counter this, one footballer makes up for all the pouting with what has to be the smiliest photo ever.

Step forward Mr. Mohammed Kaci Said of Algeria. With that epic tache and pearliest of white teeth, you are what football needs more of...

This is the greatest day of my life!