Saturday, October 3, 2015

Playing Hookey

Continuing our look at Topps' own products parodied in Wacky Packages...

Feel like playing Hookey?  Then series 9 is for you:

Has anyone ever actually run into a truant officer?

Gotta love the 1973 Hockey wrapper color scheme.  Ah, the 70's:

Series 10 shows the effects of time. Topps was well into their second year of Wacky Packages and was starting to repeat their own products.  Fortunately, they had different price points to work with:

Some inadvertent truth in advertising there kids. Here is the spoofed product, in all of its glory:

Series 11 marks the last one issued in 1974.  Think about that, there were ten prior series issued over about 18-20 months, or one every seven weeks or so. Wackys were quite dominant in 1973-74, helped by the fact slightly older kids were buying them as well as the smaller fry but the luster was beginning to fade a little. The same could be said for the Planet of the Apes movie franchise at this time, which was rebooting as a TV series:

I think things were getting a little thin in the idea department....the TV show was no great shakes either:

Series 12 brings back a Football parody, one not nearly as well executed as Foolball:

After Topps sifted through the process of going public in 1972, a lot of the design work on the wrappers (and cards) became standardized.  The 1974 Football issue was one of the earlier wrappers to belie this:

On we go, to previously plumbed depths twice over in series 13, namely Beastball:

You can see how the indicia flips to a 1975 copyright, putting us into year three of Wacky Packages-holy cow! The 1975 Baseball wrapper did have a little bit of panache actually:

In series 14, Topps got away from the trading card parodies but not ethnic stereotypes:

I kind of recall the original; I may have thought they were a knockoff of Razzles, which I loved:

Series 15 saw Fear Out Iron-Ons:

I dunno, the ideas seem to be getting played out.....the parodied product was a bit of a success though and consisted of a large  (4" x 6" or so) iron ons:

We are finally at the end. Series 16 of Wacky Packages did not sell well and the stickers are hard to find today. Note the 1976 copyright as well:

The 1976 date is intriguing as it puts us in year four of the issue.  I note some sources say the 16th series was actually issued in 1977 so the series may have been delayed or maybe the last four or five series were spread out a bit more.  No matter, excepting various short printed stickers from other series, it's the toughest series of the 16 to complete.

The original Garbage Can-dy was not sold in a pack though; it was housed in a container, as this image from Lost Wackys shows:

Series 16 is tough, man-good luck if you try to put it together!

The use of these Topps parody products was integral to Topp's legal strategy in issuing Wacky Packages and while it assisted them in lawsuits brought by offended manufacturers, Topps would pull stickers if they received a cease and desist letter.  The profits would have to have been enormous for the amount of hassle involve.

I'm just scratching the surface of all the intricacies of the myriad Wacky Packages issues but don't plan to dive in deeper any time soon as there are other resources out there, particularly the above-linked Lost Wackys site.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Wacked Out

I went on a little bit of a non-sports type card buying frenzy at the National, primarily fueled by the immense stacks of notebooks at my buddy Kevin Marcy's booth.  Kevin sells under the Scottsdale Cards name and the mountains of non-sports cards he offers actually belong to his father, Bob but no matter whose cards are displayed, they have a seemingly endless supply.

One of the more OCD things I did at Brian's booth was to try and find a stricker and checklist card from each of the sixteen different 1973-74 Wacky Packages series (told you it was and OCD thing!). I didn't get 'em all but came very, very close.  In many instances I picked out a sticker of a parodied Topps product.  As you probably know, Topps issued a parody of one of their products in each series for legal reasons.  This allowed them to assert they were poking fun at their own wares as well as those of dozens of national brands. The checklists all have puzzles on their fronts and those are all "Topps" products as well, for obvious reasons. So I thought it would be fun to look at the Topps products that were subjected to lampooning.  We'll kick off with the first eight series this week and then finish up next time.

Series 1 takes on the Bazooka, the bubblegum that really made the company. Unless you missed out on the originals and myriad reissues, you likely know this resulted in the wonderfully named Gadzooka:

That's not the first time Gadzooka showed up in a Wacky Packages pack though. The first issue of Wackys was in 1967 and they were die cut:

You had to moisten the back of the 67's to stick them anywhere-no peel off backing then!

For reference, here is the 1973 Bazooka wrapper graphic that was being mocked:

Series 2 brought us a real Sugarmess:

That's actually not all that great of a design but the original left little to work with:

Did you know Sugarmess is the only repeated design in the entire 16 series?!

Next up in series 3 is my all time favorite Wacky Package:

It makes sense, since my favorite baseball wrappers are from 1973 as well:

Might as well show all four.  I'm not sure but the batter looks roughly based upon Rod Carew.  The catcher image is clearly meant to be Thurman Munson:

Steve Carlton for sizzle:

But who is our manager.  Possibly Dick Williams, which would make sense given that the A's won the World Series in 1972 and he looks to be wearing a vest but I'm not 100% certain. If that was a definite 23 on his back it would nail the source as Williams.

Ah, but we're not done with series 3 yet. Behold the mighty Foolball:

Pretty spot on for a 1973 Football parody:

The series 3 puzzle showed Beanball-sorry Foolball!

Series 4 Wackys brought us a parody of itself: Wormy Packages:

I'm kind of wondering if this was the inspiration for Gummy Worms, first marketed in 1981 if Wikipedia can be believed. Here is the real deal:

Series 5 brought us more gum in Big Baddy:

I got that from  There is a ridiculous amount of Wacky Packages stuff over there, go check it out!

Big Buddy was something I remember getting from the ice cream truck:

And who can forget the series 6 Topps product, Mold Rush?

I used to love the real thing, also purchased from the ice cream truck:

Series 7 brings a parody of a very old Topps product and one that was a Hallowe'en staple in my neighborhood; wrap your mind around this bad boy:

You can pick up the year change to 1974 from the indiciaBozo was a major cash cow for Topps starting in the late 40's and it was originally sold in bulk to jobbers for their gumball machine clients. As this shot from the Lost Wackys site shows, that marketing plan evolved over the years:

Series 8 brought a TV parody:

Much like Beanball and Foolball, Kong Fu was a pretty spot on imitation:

More fun next week grasshoppers!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Puck Buddies

Moving on from baseball today we close out an amazing run of Topps mockups presented by Friend o'the Archive Keith Olbermann. The general theme is hockey but we'll work in a little football and basketball (sorta) as well.

I'm a little out of my element on hockey card graphics and photos so bear with me...

Marcel Pronovost was a Hall of Fame Defenseman for many years with the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.  Most of his 1964-65 tall boy image is used here which seems odd until you realize a large portion of those cards consisted of the team name atop the player image:

That color scheme did not see the light of day until the 1971 All Star Football cards subset came out:

More 1964 Tall Boy action on this Ed Westfall mockup:

I see more in common with 1969 Topps baseball than I do with an issued hockey design there. By now you're probably thinking that the hockey mockups are a lot more accurate than the baseball ones, which almost never depicted the correct combination of player, team or logo. Well, you would be wrong:

OK, Red Kelly was a definitely a Defenseman for the Red Wings and like Marcel Pronovost was also a Hall of Famer but he was traded to the Maple Leafs in the middle of the 1959-60 season.  Then there is the matter of that not being Kelly and, in fact, not even being a hockey player at all but rather Vince Promuto, a football player for the Redskins and whose 1961 Football image is used above. The design looks like it was progressing toward the 1962-63 Hockey cards though.  Here, check it out:

I chose Murray Oliver's issued card as that image pops up on the next mockup, although it's cropped a bit tighter, which is interesting, so the source is likely a photograph and not a paper proof:

That's more like a stab at the 1964 Baseball cards I think, although obviously those are a lot blander.

Now we will close with something that is the opposite of bland, much like the 1964/72 Pete Ward psychedelic freakout we saw last time out.  These are some bold, bold graphics, although there is a twist:

OK, I know that's a basketball dominating the background but it's clearly meant to be a football.  This looks like 1968-ish graphics that were adapted for use here (the logo and player name are correct for 1968).  I think this is from 1969, which is the last year that team logo was used.  Sorry but I am whiffing on the Chargers player shown here. (Note: As per the comments, it's Jim Warren, shown on his 1968 card in a Chargers uni but as a member of the Dolphins).

Hope you have enjoyed this peek inside the vintage Topps design process as much as I have.  Many thanks to Keith Olbermann for all the fantastic scans!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Super Seventies

If you can stand it, there are still a number of Keith Olbermann's mockups to go through here.  We're getting into the later stuff here and by later I mean 1970's which makes perfect sense in vintage terms.

We'll go from mundane to spectacular (trust me) in six easy steps. First up is "Tom Siever", obviously spelled by a Yankees fan. Tom Terrific is, of course, nowhere to be found:

Clearly they were working toward some kind of subset or insert issue. Here is a little bit more of a refined version, although not by much:

We move on a bit in terms of color with "Wes Parker" being portrayed by Jim Fregosi on what is a pretty spiffy design, at least to my aging eyes:

That's a 1963 Fregosi image but a decidedly more modern graphics package. They must have kept the paper proofs that were used for so many mockup images around for ages.

I would say things are progressing nicely toward 1972 with this Sports Illustrated swipe used as the basis of a Reggie Jackson mockup, with the original Mr, October standing in:

Nice, but the next iteration is even better, a 1971 John Mayberry used to propel the graphics toward finality in 1972:

I think that's the only mockup I've seen with all the elements (name, position, team and player 100% correct.  Ironically, Mayberry was depicted as a Royal in 1972.  I do like that design but I'm guessing the borders were too "busy" for the Topps brass.

Speaking of busy.....

Mundane 1964 photo of Pete Ward? Check.  Name checking hottest pitcher in the game in 1971? Check.  Going supernova with the background graphics? Yikes! 

That is some eye-popping design!  I don't think it would have worked over the full 787 card set in '72 but it would have made a killer subset or insert, although baseball inserts were a thing of the past once the 1972 cards were issued. That background is just stunning.

That's about it for the baseball mockups.  Some other sports will be coming your way next time out.