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Armada Books – Formats A, B, C
Mass market paperback editions.

ON THIS PAGE:

Armada Format A (1974 – 1982)

W
The Mystery of the
Disappearing Floor

hen Collins published their Nancy Drew, Three Investigators and Lone Pine series in paperback they commissioned brand new artwork, instead of adopting the cover art used on the hardbacks. However, for the initial set of Hardy Boys paperbacks, Collins took the unusual step of retaining the artwork used for the hardbacks on volumes 1–32 (with the exceptions of #5 and #10). It appears that the original story title and author credits for the hardbacks were actually applied (by Letraset?) directly onto the original canvases. When it came to preparing the artwork for the paperbacks the publishers (or maybe even Archer himself) had to paint over the affixed titles. This is most evident on The Wailing Siren Mystery, The Arctic Patrol Mystery, The Secret of the Caves and The Clue In The Embers in which parts of the original titles can be seen ‘under’ the new paint on the top third of the illustration.

The telltale letters on Whale Tattoo!

On The Mystery of the Whale Tattoo, the last N of FRANKLIN and the N of DIXON on the Ferris wheel are still visible! All the paperbacks to some degree have ‘new detail’ added to disguise the alterations. However, for reasons unknown, the paperback artwork for The Mystery of the Disappearing Floor was repainted from scratch – was the original artwork lost or damaged, perhaps?

The cover art on volumes #57 – #64 were originally used on the Angus & Robertson hardback editions, albeit in a severely cropped form. This cropping would seem to indicate that all the artwork was completed by Peter Archer before the actual cover layout for those hardbacks was devised, otherwise the artwork would have been painted to fit the smaller area. The Armada paperbacks utilise the full illustration as originally drawn.

Armada and Angus & Robertsion editions of Night of the Werewolf (left)
Old and new logo fonts (right).

The Format A logo is a white or black rounded upper case font, left justified. The logo on Mystery of the Whale Tattoo is unusual in that it is right justified. For new editions from 1980, starting with The Hooded Hawk Mystery, the font was altered slightly, being thinner than the original font; the most noticeable difference being an altered letter "R" (although The Secret Agent on Flight 101 retained the ‘old’ logo).

The first paperback editions of Footprints Under The Window and The Crisscross Shadow were published with the incorrect volume number on the back: Footprints with 24 instead of 23, and Crisscross Shadow with 23 instead of 24. The numbers were corrected on subsequent reprints.

In 1979, volume #14 The Secret of Pirates’ Hill, was the first new title paperback to feature a numbered spine (the number also appears on the back), and from this year all subsequent books (new and reprints of earlier Format A titles) had a numbered spine.

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Red Flashes

Format A red flashes.

From 1980 new titles released in paperback for the first time often bore a NEW IN PAPERBACK flash on the bottom right hand corner. On subsequent reprints of those titles, the flash was amended to HARDY BOYS MYSTERY NO. [xx], AN EXCITING ADVENTURE, THE THRILLING ADVENTURE SERIES, or THE BEST SELLING MYSTERIES.

With the exception of #10 While The Clock Ticked (which first appeared as a Format F paperback in 1979), the first 32 volumes were published from 1974 to 1982, and volumes #57-64 from 1981 to 1982, making 39 titles in this format.

Table of all 39 Format A single volumes:

1974
#1 The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior
#2 The Arctic Patrol Mystery
#3 The Haunted Fort
#4 Mystery of the Whale Tattoo
#5 The Mystery of the Disappearing Floor
#6 The Mystery of the Desert Giant
#7 The Mystery of the Melted Coins
#8 The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge
#9 The Clue of the Screeching Owl
#11 The Twisted Claw
1975
#19 The Sign of the Crooked Arrow
#20 The Clue In The Embers
#21 What Happened At Midnight
#22 The Sinister Sign Post
1976
#23 Footprints Under The Window
#24 The Crisscross Shadow
#25 Hunting For Hidden Gold
#26 The Mystery of Cabin Island
1977
#12 The Wailing Siren Mystery
#13 The Secret of the Caves
#27 The Mark On The Door
#28 The Yellow Feather Mystery
1979
#14 The Secret Of Pirates' Hill
#15 The Flickering Torch Mystery
1980
#16 The Secret of the Old Mill
#17 The Shore Road Mystery
#18 The Great Airport Mystery
#29 The Hooded Hawk Mystery
1981
#30 The Secret Agent On Flight 101
#57 Night of the Werewolf
#58 The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
#59 The Pentagon Spy
#60 The Apeman's Secret
1982
#31 The Tower Treasure
#32 The Mystery of the Missing Friends
#61 The Mummy Case
#62 The Mystery of Smugglers' Cove
#63 The Stone Idol
#64 The Vanishing Thieves

The first two paperback omnibus editions were published by the Armada imprint in 1981 and 1982, under the Fontana paperback division. These books sported covers that were 'cut and paste' affairs, utilising various elements taken from the cover art of the named titles, with Format A logos: Format A Omnibus page.

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Armada Format B (1983 – 1984)

While The Clock Ticked

Armada clearly wanted to revamp the book series for the 1980s, so the format and design of the Hardy Boys (as well as Nancy Drew and Three Investigators series) were given an overhaul. This new format has a logo that is set over an inverted red ‘triangle’. The covers, spines and back were white, with a squared illustration in the centre that in some cases consisted of a number of different scenes rather than one specific dramatic event from the book as previously (and latterly) used. The airbrushed artwork – all by the same artist whose name is unknown – is very flat and cartoon-like in its approach.

During 1983 and 1984 there were 10 first editions (33, 34, 65-72), while nine of the first 32 volumes were reprinted in this format.

Table of all 19 Format B single volumes:

1983
NEW #33 The Viking Symbol Mystery
NEW #34 The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
NEW #65 The Outlaw's Silver
NEW #66 The Submarine Caper
NEW #67 The Four-Headed Dragon
NEW #68 The Infinity Clue
NEW #69 Track of the Zombie
NEW #70 The Voodoo Plot
#9 The Clue of the Screeching Owl
#10 While The Clock Ticked
#18 The Great Airport Mystery
#19 The Sign of the Crooked Arrow
#20 The Clue In The Embers
#22 The Sinister Sign Post
#25 Hunting For Hidden Gold
#27 The Mark On The Door
1984
NEW #71 The Billion Dollar Ransom
NEW #72 The Tic-Tac-Terror
#7 The Mystery of the Melted Coins

A single Format B omnibus edition was released in 1984; the cover is another cut and paste affair: Format B Omnibus page.

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Armada Format C (1984 – 1987)

The Shore Road Mystery

This cover style uses the same font and logo as Format B, but with the cover borders, spines and backs in colour instead of plain white. The first edition titles published under Format C were volumes 73-83 (1984-1987), and volumes 35-40 (1984-1985).

Two new artists (names unknown) did all the first edition covers in this format. These new artists (represented by X and Z in the table below) also produced covers for Format C reprints of earlier titles during 1984 and 1985.

Several of the Format B covers were reprinted using the existing artwork, but with a colour border or background replacing the plain white – (Y). Curiously, volume 23 was painted by the Format B artist, yet it does not appear to have ever existed in that format.

Table of all 51 Format C single volumes:

1984
NEW #35 The Mystery At Devil's Paw X
NEW #36 The Ghost At Skeleton Rock X
NEW #73 Trapped At Sea X
NEW #74 Game Plan For Disaster X
NEW #75 The Crimson Flame X
NEW #76 Cave-In X
#7 The Mystery of the Melted Coins Y
#9 The Clue of the Screeching Owl Y
#10 While The Clock Ticked Y
#13 The Secret of the Caves X
#17 The Shore Road Mystery X
#18 The Great Airport Mystery X
#19 The Sign of the Crooked Arrow Y
#20 The Clue In The Embers Y
#23 Footprints Under The Window Y
#26 The Mystery of Cabin Island X
#29 The Hooded Hawk Mystery X
#72 The Tic-Tac-Terror Y
1985
NEW #37 The Clue of the Broken Blade X
NEW #38 The Secret of Wildcat Swamp X
NEW #39 The Phantom Freighter Z
NEW #77 Sky Sabotage X
NEW #78 The Roaring River Mystery Z
#1 The Mystery of the Aztec Warrior Z
#5 The Disappearing Floor X
#8 The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge Z
#12 The Wailing Siren Mystery X
#21 What Happened At Midnight Z
#22 The Sinister Sign Post Y
#25 Hunting For Hidden Gold Y
#30 The Secret Agent On Flight 101 Z
1986
NEW #40 The Secret Of Skull Mountain Z
NEW #79 The Demon's Den Z
NEW #80 The Blackwing Puzzle Z
NEW #81 The Swamp Monster Z
#3 The Haunted Fort Z
#4 Mystery of the Whale Tattoo Z
#6 Mystery of the Desert Giant Z
#15 The Flickering Torch Mystery Z
#65 The Outlaw's Silver Y
#66 The Submarine Caper Y
#67 The Four-Headed Dragon Y
#68 The Infinity Clue Y
#69 Track of the Zombie Y
#70 The Voodoo Plot Y
#71 The Billion Dollar Ransom Y
1987
NEW #82 Revenge of the Desert Phantom Z
NEW #83 The Skyfire Puzzle Z
#27 The Mark on the Door Y
#33 The Viking Symbol Mystery Y
#34 The Mystery of the Chinese Junk Y

Three Format C omnibuses were released in the period from 1984 to 1986. One particular edition featured brand new cover artwork of a scene from Night of the Werewolf by artist Z, although this particular illustration was never actually used for the single volume paperback of that title: Format C Omnibus page.

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