Other then comic books, India has not been a country that has offered too many Phantom collectibles. We do however start to see a few unlicensed items being produced in the mid to late 1980’s, with several more licensed items being offered in the 1990’s. During the 1990’s, several companies partnered with Diamond Comics to promote their own products. Beginning in 2020, a much larger assortment of licensed products have been made. Although unlicensed products are not something officially cataloged as a ‘true’ Phantom collectible.
Founded in 1978, Diamond Comics’ Ltd. printing offices were located at B-35, Sector 67, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201301, India. Diamond Comics primary retail store was located at 257, Dariba Kalan Rd, Clock Market, Dariba Kalan, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India. Diamond Comics was one of India’s largest comic book distributors and publishers, publishing major comic book titles such as the Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Batman, James Bond, Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki and Motu Patlu.
During the 1990’s with its color publication of the Phantom digest, in English, Hindi and Bangali it offered its readers; a variety of crossover collectibles, comics and contests. There were even several instances where retail companies would provide Diamond Comics with free items to promote their own product(s). These free offers were primarily advertised on the front covers of the comic issues. It should be noted that some of the same numbered comic issues displayed a specific offer on the cover while others did not.
The Phantom digest comic series produced by Diamond Comics ran from issue number 1 published in 1990, thru to issue number 101 published in 2000.
Sticker Set – 1993
One of nine Phantom stickers served as a free giveaway inside specific comics. These stickers range in size from 2.5” thru to 6.5”. At least 9 different stickers have been discovered, some of which resemble previous Diamond Comics comic covers. Although 9 different stickers exist, only 2 Diamond Comics advertise a sticker offer on the front covers, Phantom comic numbers 24 and 26, 1993.
Sticker – 1993
The Phantom motorcycle sticker was a free giveaway measuring 2” x 2.75” sticker inside Phantom comic number 28, 1993
Parle Products Pocket Calendar – 1997
Parle Products Company was founded in 1929 in British India by the Chauhan family of Vile Parle, Bombay. Parle began manufacturing biscuits in 1939. In 1947, when India became independent, the company launched an ad campaign showcasing its Glucose biscuits as an Indian alternative to the British biscuits. The Parle brand became well known in India following the success of products such as the Parle-G biscuits and cold beverages like Gold Spot, Thumbs Up and Frooti.
With its numerous campaigns, Parle even partnered with Diamond Comics to promote their food products by including a free Pocket Calendar inside Phantom comic number 57, 1997.
Big Fun Center Fresh Cricket Trading Card – 1998
Big Fun chewing gum was founded in 1985, India. It was not as soft as chewing gums of today, but rather hard to chew, extra sweet, rectangular shape and pink in color. But it wasn’t the big bubble that was Big Fun’s claim to fame. ‘Gum India Ltd.’, the manufacturer of Big Fun, began attracting children by printing Disney characters on the back of wrappers.
The promotional strategy became an even bigger success in 1987 when Big Fun started giving away free collectable cricket cards. Despite Big Fun’s phenomenal promotional strategy, by the early 1990s, the brand started disappearing from the market. While the exact reasons are unknown, it is believed that the product formulation – as it was very hard to chew – combined with the financial drain due to the mega promotions, led to the gradual demise of this innovative promotions-led brand. The company was finally liquidated in 1999.
With its numerous campaigns, Big Fun even partnered with Diamond Comics to promote their food products by including a free Center-Fresh Cricket Card inside Phantom comic number 72, 1998.
Big Babol New Years Greeting Card – 1998
Big Babol/Big Bubble chewing gum was launched in India, 1994. As a part of Big Babol’s advertising campaign, Big Babol partnered with Diamond Comics offering a free New Years Greeting Card which was included inside Phantom comic number 74, 1998.
3D Comic Book – 1999
The Phantom 3D comic book was a free giveaway to its readers, one of 5 different 6” x 7.5” 3D mini comics inside English, Bengali and Hindi Phantom comic numbers 63, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69, 1999.
Tattoo – 1999
The Phantom tattoo was a free giveaway to its readers, 4 of the same 1” x .75” Phantom portrait tattoos, inside the English, Bengali and Hindi Phantom comic number 71, 1999.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.