The best magazine covers of Christmas past

Christmas magazines

In 2015 we saw some legendary magazine titles vanish from newsagent shelves.

Lads' mags FHM and Zoo suspended publication, while music bible NME become a freebie you pick up in stations and colleges.

Their declining physical sales are largely down to our obsession with reading stuff on our mobiles and online.

But before we start waving goodbye to magazines (made from paper) have a look at these Christmas specials.

There's Snoop Dogg "smoking" a candy cane. There's Liam Gallagher with angel wings. And there's a Prodigy elf.

This is what we found...

Stars dressed as Santa, lots of 'em

December and January magazines of the past feature a fair few celebrities dressed in fake fur and red nylon.

Here is Snoop Dogg in the Christmas issue of Rolling Stone a decade ago, proving that he, like Father Christmas, has been the same age since the dawn of time.

Snoop Dogg on the cover of Rolling Stone, 2006
Image caption Merry Snoopmas: How not to "smoke" a candy cane

This was Gwyneth Paltrow's sexy Mother Christmas look back in ye olde 2003...

Gwyneth Paltrow on Time Out, 2003
Image caption When in doubt, reach for the white fake fur

Rock god Mick Jagger jingled his bells on the cover of Record Mirror in 1977...

Mick Jagger

These Christmas specials are among a vast collection of 70,000 magazines about pop culture - dating back to 1910 - being sorted and scheduled to be digitised at the Hyman Archive in south London.

Subject to obtaining a special licence, the plan is to scan and tag every page of every publication and then plug that information into an epic database of pop culture. It's no wonder they need elves...

Tory at the Hyman Archive
Image caption Newsbeat gets some help tracking down long forgotten Christmas magazines that deserve to be seen

Way back in 1979 the man behind Band Aid was a pop star in his own right - Bob Geldof was the singer in the Boomtown Rats and a Christmas cover star.

Here he is bossing the oracle of pop music that was Smash Hits. The magazine helped launch thousands of pop careers from Kylie to the Spice Girls.

Smash Hits 1979
Image caption Yes, this magazine was aimed at children and young teenagers and yes they are necking enormous bottles of champagne
Rage magazine, 1991
Image caption Raging against the synth machines, it's electro legends Pet Shop Boys who seem delighted it's Christmas time again

And then there's this...

The December 1999 issue of High Times magazine, a publication all about... cannabis (and the campaign to legalise it).

Yes it really exists and is still going in the US.

High Times, 1999
Image caption Father Spliffmas... ho hum

Things can and do get weirder...

This is the most unlikely Mixmag cover you will ever see and surely the only time in the dance mag's history that a man in a kilt featured on the front cover.

Who can spot the Radio 1 legend normally seen behind the decks in Ibiza?

Mixmag, 1988
Image caption Mixmag, the holy grail of dance music, in 1988. It literally has all gone Pete Tong. That's Dave Pearce next to him and Westwoooooooood at the back

Let's take a closer look at Mr Tong...

Pete Tong on Mixmag
Image caption Dance music royalty disguised as a golf club dinner: Fresh-faced Pete Tong, with fellow DJ legend Dave Pearce behind him

When fur stocks run low, try angel wings

Magazine sales were so massive in 1995 that NME put out a choice of front covers - fans could choose between Liam from Oasis or Damon from Blur.

NME Christmas issue 1995, Liam from Oasis or Damon from Blur
Image caption I'm lovin' angels

A time when computer games looked like THIS

The Atari gaming console is your Xbox's great-great-great-great-great-granddad. Check out that Star Wars game at the bottom. #Want

Image caption This leaflet came inside the magazine below. We wish so much the Argos catalogue still looked like this
Computer and Video Games magazine, 1982

Liam Gallagher wrapping paper

In 1996, the NME helpfully gave its readers free wrapping paper featuring the gurning face of Liam Gallagher.

Liam Gallagher wrapping paper, NME 1996
Image caption Wrap your mum's bath salts in this, go on
NME, 1996
Image caption Father Ted, choirstarter!

We found lots of weird cartoons

This cartoon featured on a festive front cover in 1997.

NME cartoon
Image caption Liam from the Prodigy as an elf, obviously

Here's the full cover. Yes, it's Liam and Noel AGAIN. Were there any other human males alive in the late 1990s?

NME 1997
Image caption Gallagher yule cagoules. To be fair, they wore these all year round

Meanwhile, the Easter Bunny got confused in 1988. We blame climate change.

Mad Magazine, 1988
Image caption We'd never heard of Mad magazine either but we already love it
Beavis and Butthead magazine
Image caption Beavis and Butthead magazine had a spanking Christmas in 1995
New Yorker Mag, 2007
Image caption We don't understand it but we love this enormous Santa on the cover of the New Yorker, 1997
Hyman Archive
Image caption Where the magic happens... that's 70,000 magazines right there, that is

Special thanks to James Hyman and Tory Turk at the Hyman Archive.

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