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Official Article

Trading Card Treasures

My fascination with trading cards runs deep. If you think about it, our investment in these colorful cardboard rectangles as kids was the closest we got to gambling. That game of chance in laying down a couple quarters, hoping we'd get the cards necessary to complete our set was very addictive. In that case, I guess you could say our buddy, mickyarber is a bit of a "retro enabler".

I recently received a glorious box of unopened vintage Topps trading card packs from Ol' Mick and what I found inside was instant nostalgia. So a big thanks to the man whose generosity set this article in motion. Now let's get to opening these babies up! And speaking of Mick...

Rocky 2 (1979)

Though this set was released before my time, I am certainly no stranger to the saga of Rocky Balboa. The package shows The Italian Stallion seemingly trying to punch his way out of his red wax paper prison and that look on his face tells me he means business. On the flip side we see Rocky is partnered with Pop Bottle Candy, which sounds like it would make a great double header with some Bottle Caps candy.

The movie scenes on the card are focusing mainly on Rocky's stamina, as we see him in various stages of being pummeled by Apollo Creed in their climactic rematch. Butkus the dog gets his moment in the spotlight as well and it's a clever detail that the sticker cards are in the shape of a boxing glove. The punching silhouette is a cool back of the card graphic and it's fun to get Balboa's inner monologue about, "Adriaaaaaan!"

Indiana Jones (1984)

An exciting action pose on the outer package promises big adventure within. I love the dotted background that gives it a pop art feel. Very appropriately, Indy is allied with Ring Pops candy on the back. A giant jeweled ring definitely seems like the kind of artifact Dr. Jones would be after in one of his archeological quests.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this set, but all the cards inside are from Temple of Doom and surprisingly the ancient gum was still intact (it belongs in a museum!). That striking "Fighting Against Evil" image is my favorite of the group, with Harrison Ford looking very dramatic. Indy's much more casual in the backside art and the quote of "Nothing, alas, is ever easy..." feels like something we'd hear from a grown up Charlie Brown in a sequel Peanuts comic strip, doesn't it?

Back To The Future Part II (1989)

This movie was a major event for me as a kid and one of my most watched VHS tapes on our family VCR. It's pretty great that the upper left corner declares it to be a "Hit Movie", I mean, what if the film had bombed? Ballsy, Universal Studios. That steampunk pocket watch logo surrounding the hover converted DeLorean is absolutely stunning, love it. There was nothing of note on the back of the packaging, but this is also the only packaging that has a suggested retail price of 50 cents. I have a feeling retailers looking to make more profit were not too happy about that.

There was very limited action portrayed in the cards I got. Mostly shots of Marty and Doc figuring out their predicament, but it's always cool to get a better look at the cybernetically enhanced Griff Tannen and his cronies or the "futuristic" projector screen TV. If nothing else, I really dig the Hypercolor style card border design scheme.

Dick Tracy (1990)

I wrote a whole article about the Dick Tracy movie merchandise I see regularly on Antique store shelves, but I never get tired of that classic silhouette logo. I definitely bought several packs of these when I was 8 after enjoying the movie in theaters. It's interesting to note that having now entered the 90's, a stick of gum is no longer one of the selling features with Topps trading cards. I would love to know the reasoning behind that.

The special offer on the package is for the whole set of cards and stickers in a sealed box. My first reaction was that doing this takes all the fun out of collecting, but reading closer I saw that this deluxe set includes "22 bonus cards available ONLY in this special collector's edition." That alone makes it worth the $19.95 in my book and good news, it can be had nowadays for $4.99 at this link if you're game.

My pack had not 1, but 2 Steve the Tramp cards. He was the most common peg warmer action figure on toy shelves back in the day, mostly because he was only in the movie for 2 minutes tops (no pun intended). The back of the cards have a great design with the radio frequency border leading to the close-up of Tracy's patented 2-Way Wrist radio watch.

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)

This movie had no business being marketed to kids, but they did it anyway. From the hit Bryan Adams ballad to the Kenner action figures I was totally on the train to Sherwood Forest in 1991. I think I may have grabbed a single pack of these back in the day, but once you realize it's just a bunch of people in slightly old timey clothes, the excitement is lost.

See? Maybe some Soccer Moms who thought Kevin Costner was cute could enjoy these, but what 10-12 year old boy wants a binder full of the guy from Field of Dreams? Looking on the back of the cards drives the point home that these were not for kids. Look at Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's film credits on the cardback above, "The Color of Money", "Scarface", "The Abyss"? All rated R and way too intense for any 6th grader. Come on, Topps.

Young Indiana Jones (1992)

I'll admit, I had no interest in this particular Pro Set card series or the TV show that inspired it. It's another case of a bunch of actors posing in period clothing, big deal. No Melting Faces or Giant Boulders? Not interested. But they surprised me with the 3-D card gimmick. Sure, it's just a kid on a camel, but it's in 3-D, man! They overdid it with the "Hidden Treasures" fold out hieroglyphic card that you're supposed to piece together to solve a puzzle though. Too much like schoolwork.

The package offer is what became standard from this point on, a Collector's Binder. Basically just a generic binder with the logo of the movie or show imprinted on it. Do you know anybody who ever ordered one of those things? Sometimes they switched it up and offered a Collector's Tin, which was slightly cooler, but still mostly lame. Come on, just give us bonus cards like Dick Tracy! They were really onto something there.

Well, that's it's for this edition of Trading Card Treasures. I hope you enjoyed taking a look back at these pieces of retro cardboard artistry. I'll likely be back with another edition featuring a box of wax packs I've been collecting over the last few years. So which of these cards did you collect as a kid?

You can follow me on Twitter @hojukoolander for daily doses of retro fun!

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Superman Posted on Dec 04, 2017 at 02:18 PM

I can't say that I had a ton of trading cards as a kid, but I did have a pack of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cards. I think that was about the only pack of trading cards I ever owned.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 08, 2017 at 07:35 AM

@mickyarber I never had the commitment to any one property to try and get a full set unless it was Marvel, but even then I am still like 15 cards short in each set. I still have a dream of buying a sealed box of unopened Marvel Universe series 1 or 2. I'll make that come true some day soon.

@NLogan I had no idea they made Dragon's Lair cards, that's wild. Oh man, a full set of KISS and GB2 cards would be sweet, especially if I did it pack by pack. Don't want to lose the thrill of the hunt.

mickyarber Posted on Nov 07, 2017 at 06:02 PM

Ahhh....getting to read your take on these cards makes sending them to you more than worth it. Thanks for the article.

I loved buying packs of cards as a kid, but the unfortunate thing was, when my old man would buy me a pack, it would be so long when he would do it again, I rarely had the chance to get the same cards again. So I ended up with one pack from about 20 different lines through the years. Not much of a chance to collect any one particular thing.

These days, I continue to search out unopened packs of EVERYTHING, and have quite a large collection that stands as a time capsule of trading cards. I have roughly 150 different series of unopened packs, and there are a lot more out there to find.

NLogan Posted on Nov 06, 2017 at 11:10 PM

I collected Garbage Pail Kids, Dragon's lair, Batman, Batman Returns, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Goonies, Incredible Hulk, Gremlins, Simpsons, and Marvel Universe cards. Sadly I have very few left although my brother has several.

But I know of two sets that you need to look for that are right up your alley.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Nov 06, 2017 at 07:39 PM

Yeah, the only non-sports cards to be found now are gaming based or wrestling themed, unless you count the Panini sticker packs and albums being offered at Dollar Tree stores.

I love looking at the movie cards because sometimes those stills are from deleted scenes that never made it to the finished film.

jkatz Posted on Nov 06, 2017 at 08:39 AM

Do they even make movie trading cards anymore? The whole appeal of these was to get photos and stills, something that's kinda pointless with a little thing called the internet. I think the last film I saw get the card treatment was the Halle Berry Catwoman flop, and that feels like a lifetime ago.

Still, these can be fun to collect. I have a bunch of Batman Returns ones and an unopened M*A*S*H packet, complete with an ancient stick of gum!

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