The Phantom Recharge Phonecard was produced by TIM in Italy in 1997. Fully licensed by King Features Syndicate, the cards are made of plastic and feature the Phantom kissing Diana Palmer on the front. Other King Features Syndicate comic book characters can be found on the card set, including Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon and were released through to 2003.
Founded in 1994, TIM (officially TIM S.P.A) is an Italian telecommunications company with headquarters in Rome, Naples and Milan. It is the largest Italian telecommunications services provider.
TIM Recharge Phonecards were available at TIM retail stores, newsstands, supermarkets, tobacconists, service areas and bars. The available denominations were 5/10/20/30/50/100 EUROS. Below we see a brochure featuring the TIM Recharge Phonecards and also a shop display poster.
The cards were purchased by TIM for pre-paid phone account holders, with the rechargeable amount placed onto your phone account by typing in the ‘secret code number’ on the back of the card. Most card instructions were in both Italian and English, with the secret code number hidden under a scratchable foil section. The cards were a one-time-use only item and simply discarded after the code was utilized.
In 1997 ‘Fleischer Studios’ aka ‘Famous Studios’ USA acquired a trademark from King Features Syndicate to use its copyright images on Italian TIM Recharge Phonecards.
The earliest set of King Features Syndicate TIM Recharge Phonecards were the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon. Below we see 2 variations of the Phantom and Diana featured on a TIM Recharge Phonecard.
- 4 x Mandrake the Magician and Princess Narda – 1 x 1997, 2 x 1998, 1 x 1999.
- 8 x Flash Gordon and Dale Arden – 2 x 1997, 2 x 1998, 4 x 1999.
With its instant appeal and overnight success TIM released another 2 King Features Syndicate sets, 4 cards featuring Betty Boop and 4 cards featuring Popeye.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.