When it comes to Mastertronic, every collector is different. Some focus on a single format, while others concentrate on a specific range or era. But then you get the completists who want to collect absolutely everything. And that can cause no end of frustration. Especially when it comes to the more obscure lines such as the 1987 VHS video label Mastervision…
Mastertronic experimented with new product ranges in 1987 when they branched out beyond games. That experimental direction saw the launch of two new labels under the direction of one of their staff members Geoff Heath. Thus Mastersound and Mastervision were born.
What Was Mastersound And Mastervision?
Geoff Heath came to Mastertronic from a background in the music industry rather than distribution or software as many other key members in the company. As such both ranges were something of his own personal projects. Neither really fit into the overall remit of the company and were quite unusual additions to the Mastertronic portfolio.
Mastersound was an audio range, specifically themed compilation albums predominantly using re-recordings of songs either from different genres or decades. Each release generally used the original artist or – in the case of bands – a variation on the original lineup. The recordings themselves were pretty good and were great value for money.
With Mastersound a total of nine titles were released on cassette and vinyl. After looking at magazine adverts, press cuttings and a few photos from old eBay listings and Google it was relatively easy to identify every release. As with their video game counterparts, every title had a reference number and that was the first stumbling block as that was only possible for a few as images only existed for the front covers. As for buying them… that’s a story for another time!
If Mastersound was a strange decision to add to the company, Mastervision was even more bizarre. While the idea of a budget price range of VHS tapes was a sound one, the execution was filled with strange decisions. The range consisted of re-releases of material released by a wide range of other video companies. However, there seemed to be no coherent plan to what was actually released. Approximately 60 tapes were released in total ranging from anime to action movies, childrens films from the 1950s to musicals, concerts and horror and everything else in between.
Identifying these was just as hard as the audio releases. Knowing what the logos looked like helped and a quick eBay search identified a couple of common tapes so I was able to get my personal collection off to a start. But after that it quickly ground to a halt. Maybe this wasn’t going to be that easy afterall?
The Hunt Is On…
Having set out to obtain both complete sets (as part of my overall goal to get every Mastertronic release), things were complicated more when it came to Mastersound and even more so with Mastervision. With Mastertronic there are a lot of active collectors out there, most of whom have been working on checklists for years and I’d already got a mostly complete list myself. Mastervision was different. Anthony Guter, Mastertronic’s former Financial Controller had been assisting with access to some of his old records but for some reason no records existed for Mastervision or Mastersound.
Help was at hand though. Running the Mastertronic Collector’s Group on Facebook I got talking to one of our members, Derek Glen. Derek, like myself, shared an interest in collecting the Mastervision tapes so we started to pool our resources to compile a definitive list and attempt – once and for all – to identify all of the releases and to attempt to obtain the complete set.