Your Cassette Pet

Monday, June 25 2018
Your Cassette Pet

As regular readers of The Raygun newsletter and this site will know, we’ve long had a fondness for VHS, the whole rental era and all things video related.

In recent years, we’ve waxed lyrical about actual VHS releases – one of the first posts on this site was about Metrodome’s VHS promo cassette for 80s rental horror homage The House Of The Devil – through to other similar promotional or limited edition releases on the format, or those referencing the format or its distinctive packaging.

Earlier in 2018, our newsletter reported the vogue for disc-based physical product being released in retro-style VHS-sized boxes after picking up news of titles on the way in other territories – most notably a retail exclusive of Stranger Things at Target stores in the US, as well as a Universal initiative in Australia. “Keep an eye on this,” we said certain that someone, somehwere was planning it. After publication, we received off the record hints that similar ideas could well materialise in the UK.

And here now is HMV’s VHS range, available exclusively from the retailer from July 30, both online and in stores, as part of a collaboration with Universal and its home entertainment partner Paramount.

As any eagle-eyed former VHS consumer will notice, the packaging, as well as being VHS friendly, pays tribute to old CIC retail video packaging (CIC, of course, being a joint venture between the two studios in the 1980s); the homage being part of the exhaustive process of bringing the releases together.

As HMV explains: “VHS era movies celebrated in a modern and fun limited edition Blu-ray/DVD package. Each of these 12 titles (from Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures) feature a retro sleeve inspired by their original CIC VHS release. The box is imprinted with a VHS cassette design, but with the height of a DVD to ensure it fits on shelf. Inside are copies of the movie on both Blu-ray, and DVD featuring cassette reel disc art*. They also include a fold out replica theatrical poster, bubblegum card and sticker.”

For the retailer, it’s a no-brainer, fitting neatly with its core audience of physical entertainment buyers, while it also gives a nod to VHS, which is celebrating its own anniversary this year. “We are delighted to present this new VHS Range to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Video Cassette,” says HMV’s John Delany. “1978 was when the first VHS-based VCR – the Victor HR-3300EK​ was released​ in the UK. That was the birth of Home Video, allowing us all to watch, (and own) what we wanted, when we wanted, ​​in the comfort of our our homes. As they say the rest is history…”

“This was a real  passion project for us,” says Universal’s John Partridge. “We saw the Stranger Things VHS in Walmart and our Australian op co launched a VHS range with JB Hifi earlier in the year. We thought the UK superfan would respond really well to a VHS style range and that HMV would be a great retailer to deliver that proposition in the best way.”

What’s key here – and important for consumers (and as ERA recently noted, the superfan is the one contributing most to our business) – is the attention to detail and the fact that Universal in the UK, alongside HMV and Paramount, has given it a strong local feel.

As Partridge explains: “The big difference between our range and those others  is that rather than just trying to re-create the look of releases from that era, we have literally stuck as closely as we could to the actual CIC UK VHS retail releases from the late Eighties. The artwork, the logos, the label on the VHS cassette are all accurate to the era- we have tried to be as authentic as possible.

‘The Universal logo is the 1980’s Universal logo – we had a lot of back and forth with our legal department on that one! The VHS and HIFI logos on the spine are as they appeared in the 80s. Also the artwork – for example the cover of Scarface on VHS retail in the 80’s said ‘From the Director of The Untouchables” We added that text back on. The Back to the Future logo is also the one used in the 80’s it is a little flatter and has a more matte effect than the later logo.”

The Warriors - VHS Range (hmv Exclusive) Limited Edition (Image 1)

“That thinking extends to the components,” Partridge continues. “You will see from the packshot that we have printed new disc art to make the discs look like cassette tape reels from a videocassette. But if you look closely you will see that the Blu-ray has more tape on it than the DVD – as it holds more information. That’s a nice touch. I also really like the bubblegum cards which are pretty authentic – dare we say even better than the originals! . Check out this comparison between the original 80’s card (below) and our card for E.T. (below that).


“Writing the Bubblegum cards was so much fun, particularly the ones for films that would never have had kids bubblegum cards in the 80’s. The ones for Scarface and 48 Hours (below) are kind of fun examples.”


As Partridge concludes, the reaction from consumers has been strong. “So far, response from consumers has been super positive and we are really pleased with the pre-order launch,” he says. “HMV has been a great partner on this and has been super-collaborative, working with us on the look and feel at pretty much every step  of the process. We can’t wait for fans to get their hands on some genuine 80’s nostalgia releases when they release on July 30!”

Here’s a closer look at the range.

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