If you’re anything like me, you’d find yourself wondering what purpose a series of superconductors and satellite equipment would serve atop the All-Starz Performing Arts Studio, on Henry Lawson Drive at Peakhurst. Wonder no more.
Once upon a time, this building played host to a company called Dynamic Marketing, which produced several series of trading cards back in the 1990s. Yes, only in the 90s was the global financial situation decadent enough to allow a company to receive the bulk of its income via licenced trading cards. The company was such a product of that decade that it even managed to have a token happy mascot, a smiling sun-lightbulby looking dude. Pretty sure he’s giving the finger.
Batman, Disney, the Phantom all received Dynamic sets, with the NRL being the crown jewel in the Dynamic empire. In a time when American cards like Fleer, Upper Deck and Topps were dominating the market, it was pretty incredible that Dynamic made the impact that they did. Shrewd licence choices and well-made cards were among the things they did right. (Things Dynamic did wrong: a set of cards based on the Super Mario Bros. movie.) I like to think all the folderol on the roof was for setting up crucial cross-global meetings on futuristic video-phones, with hotlines between Dynamic and Warner Bros., Disney and… David Gallop. C’mon, use your imaginations!
Dynamic magically went bust in the late 90s, a time when trading cards themselves were on their way out. It’s as if Dynamic knew something we didn’t, and as we the public sat around anxiously awaiting the next set of NRL cards complete with holoblast foil inserts (1:60 packs), Dynamic were cleaning house, severing all the fibre-optic cables attached to the faxes, and taking axes to their hard drives. Today, the All-Starz Performing Arts Studio has attempted to paint the equipment the same colour as the building so as to make it less conspicuous, but we Dynamic faithful know the truth.
UPDATE: Reader Martin says that before Dynamic occupied this location, it was home to the ill-fated Catco Developments. Catco went bust in 1987, a collapse that had a severe effect on the tradies, subbies and builders of the day.
DYNAMIC UPDATE: Reader Ken has reminded me of Scanlens, Dynamic’s cardmaking predecessor. Between 1963 and 1990, Scanlens produced various series of sports cards, focusing on the AFL and NRL. They also made several non-sports series, but these weren’t the bread and butter. Scanlens cards also came with gum, which in a time before foil-embossed noctovision inserts were the biggest treat in every pack. It’s interesting that Scanlens stopped producing cards only a year before Dynamic’s first set, ‘Attack of the Dinosaurs’, was released. It should also be noted that Scanlens didn’t operate out of this address, just in case you had the wrong idea.
Opening in 1923 and closing in November 1958, the Paragon No. 1 Theatre had a longer life than its twin.
Starting life as a picture theatre serving the undemanding entertainment needs of Belmore, the Paragon replaced a shed that stood on the Bridge Road site previously. Was the shed the suburb’s previous entertainment hub? Who knows. The Paragon No. 2 opened further up the road in 1928, and throughout the 30s and 40s, business was good.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs rugby league team had been formed in 1935, and as early as 1939 the club was holding its annual meetings at the Paragon Theatre. The Paragon staff must have slighted the club somehow, because what goes around comes around. In 1957, the Canterbury-Bankstown League Club was formed to support the football club, and took up residency in a reconditioned naval hut built by club volunteers in nearby Collins Street.
By 1958, the Paragon was floundering, struggling against the introduction of TV and a decline in suburban cinemas. Meanwhile, the Canterbury-Bankstown Leagues Club was growing rapidly, and had already outgrown the naval hut. The club bought out the Paragon, and by 1960 had converted it into the spiffy new club premises seen above.
UPDATE: Courtesy of reader Tony, we’ve now got a look at the brochure handed out at the grand opening of the rejigged Leagues Club in 1960. Big thanks, Tony!
Incidentally, Mr. Frank Stewart, M. H. R., was a World War II veteran and ex-first grade Bulldog who went on to become the Minister for Tourism and Recreation in the Whitlam Government. It was Stewart who leaked info to the Federal Opposition regarding the Loans Affair, which ‘kicked off’ (heh) the chain of events that eventually brought down the Whitlam Government, but he also played a crucial part in the establishment of the Australian Institute of Sport. Oh, and he also presided over the opening of the Canterbury Leagues Club, but you knew that already.
It’s easy to imagine that the further growth of the club over the next 50 years into the behemoth it is today is indicative of the growing enthusiasm in the suburbs for RSL and Leagues clubs, which provided myriad entertainment options the Paragon could only have dreamed of. Realistically, the growth is probably also indicative of pokie profits.
The idea of a suburban cinema now seems quaint in comparison. In honour of its fallen homie, today’s Canterbury League Club features a ballroom named the Paragon Room, and there’s a Paragon Lane that runs beside the Club. No tributes to that naval hut, though.
A HUGE thanks to Lea Thomas at the Canterbury League Club for her generosity and assistance!