Saturday 4 March 2017

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Twentieth Anniversary Retrospective ~ Part 1

March 10, 2017, will mark the twentieth anniversary of the debut of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer! As described by Wikipedia, the series follows Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers". Aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her, Buffy battles against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. The series received critical and popular acclaim, usually reaching between four and six million viewers on original airings, and this success led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games. Much of this merchandise has been produced in the years since the series went off the air, to capitalise on the growing popularity of Buffy as a “cult” series. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its television debut, however, over the next week we are going to have a look back at some of the merchandise released during the original 1997-2003 run of the series.

The first season consisted of only 12 episodes (March 10, 1997 - June 2, 1997), and was aired as a mid-season replacement on The WB Network. Perhaps it was this short season, or perhaps the lingering memory of the 1992 movie caused many to underestimate the series, but no contemporaneous memorabilia appears to exist from the broadcast period of the first season. In fact, the first example of Buffy the Vampire Slayer merchandise seems to be the novels published by Archway Paperbacks starting in September 1997 to coincide with the start of the second season. Since the release of ‘The Harvest’ (an adaptation of the episode of the same name), there have been over eighty additional novels published, written by dozens of authors.

By the time the second season was drawing to a close, notice was starting to be paid to the Buffy phenomenon. Sarah Michelle Gellar netted her first Entertainment Weekly cover in March, 1998, in recognition of the fact Buffy had quickly climbed to the top of The WB ratings, and was destined to be one of their highest-rated shows for the remainder of its time on the network.

During this period other notable collectibles made their debut. In 1998 Inkworks released the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 trading cards. With a base set of 72-cards, the set recapped all 12 episodes of the first season, had subsets for character profiles, backgrounds on different types of monsters, and one called "Slayer Speak." A title card and a checklist rounded out the set. 

One of the rarest chase cards in this set was the Coffin Card (1:108 packs), a die-cut card that flips open to explain how one might go about slaying a vampire. Another great addition to this set was the mail-order binder designed to house the cards.


Coming up next: Dark Horse, door knob hangers, and more!!

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