Saturday, July 14, 2018

Get In The Groove

Further to some recent posts on the 1966 Topps Wacky Labels, a tough test set if there ever was one, Friend o'the Archive Jason Rhodes has sent along a well formed observation on a related set, namely 1969 Topps Groovy Stick Ons. Jason notes that, in true Topps tradition, subjects of the former set popped up in the latter three years later.

Groovy Stick Ons (GSO) were a fairly well distributed set I think.  While they were, of course, stickers--which led to pure destruction of the set back in the day, they seem to be somewhat available today and, unlike Wacky Labels, a full checklist is know, albeit one that is maddeningly imprecise, especially for those of us trying to tie the two sets together.

The basics on GSO are few but with a small twist. The product (72 in number, with multiple "apply moisture" stickers on each) first appeared in a five cent format in 1969:

Looks like it was a summer issue as the Duryea address appears-Topps switched from Brooklyn to Duryea for most wrapper indicia in mid-1969. However, there is also a ten cent variety,as this pack from Komodo Cards shows:

You can't see it but the commodity code is: 444-96-01-9 so it's also a 1969 issue. Topps was transitioning most products to 10 cents by the middle of 1969 but it's rare that a product had two price points in one year while in the otherwise same packaging.

The set looks like this:

You can see how the long, rectangular stickers look just like Wacky Labels! It's looks possible too that some of the smaller or odd-sized stickers reuse Wacky Labels themes. Jason's thought is that the GSO labels might yield the full Wacky Labels checklist, which is woefully incomplete, but it looks to me like there would be too many subjects given almost every number has at least one sticker that could be from that earlier set.

Now the other big problem is that the checklists for GSO all go by the first given name on each large sticker, so there's no extant list of all stickers out there.  Something to ponder, unless someone out there has a full checklist.  Anybody? Bueller?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Before The Buttons

Friend o' the Archive Keith Olbermann recently passed along three very interesting and enlightening scans of some Topps mockup are related to the "1967" and "1968" Baseball Discs.  You will recall, dear reader that there were three "sets"of these "produced", two of MLB All-Stars and one solely of San Francisco Giants.  In reality I think the first two were, at least in the case of the All Stars, a series of proofs produced for a set that never saw the light of Sheepshead Bay.

The dating accepted by the hobby on these is suspect and my take is that the "1967" set was begun after the end of the regular season in '66 and then the "1968" set came around not too long after in 1967, probably updated for player selection. The SF Giants set I believe is more related to the Red Sox and Pirates Stickers that actually were sold to the public in 1967. What Mr. Olbermann has sent looks like mock up art for what would have been a series of Baseball Buttons.  Remember too, that in 1956 Topps released a set with that exact name, containing 60 subjects. Ten years later it must have looked ripe for revisitation.

Check it out:

OK, left to right we have Carlton Willey, Jim Bouton, Norm Cash, Ron Perranoski and Dick Radatz. One household name and I guess Bouton was a real live one still when this was first developed, but this box art is typical mockup in that it seems like Topps used photos lying around the art den to create it. Some pictures had already been used on cards, others were fresh.  The Bouton is an example that was taken from a card:

Here's Dean Chance, a hot pitcher for awhile:

Looks a bit like a whoopee cushion, doesn't it?!

Mr. O has the artwork dated from 1963-64. Here it was enhanced with descriptors circling around Bob Veale's scowling mug. I have to think this particular one came after the Chance and other box art was created as it's closer to the (almost) finished product.

The mockup art apparently originated with Bill Haber. I think the "discs" originated from Woody Gelman.  Here's what must have been close to the finished products, from "1968":


I'm not sure why the set got killed but possibly due to US Customs duty assessments being higher for toys vs. novelties. It also could have tested poorly. I don't think we'll ever know.

As seen with other sets, the two or three year time frame from mockup to execution is not exceptional. Too bad it never got released, I love the 1956 Baseball Buttons and these would have been just as nice and apparently a little bit larger.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Penny Here, A Nickel There

As we come up on the Fourth of July, which is perhaps my favorite holiday, I though I'd kick back today, practice my 12 oz. curls and just show a little eye candy representing items that are infrequently seen.

This is a box of some scarcity and it held 100 (maybe 120) tabs of Pixie Bubble Gum, each with an X-Ray Roundup card inserted between its wrapper layers. I can't swear I've seen another example of this box; this made an appearance on eBay a couple of months ago.

Dig the artwork:

They never missed a chance to get an advert in for Bazooka but as you can see here, were still making their original, Topps Gum in '49, although it would soon transition to a Chiclets style chew before going away completely in the early 50's. I think this box pre-dates the once-cent Bazooka tabs that were introduced in mid-1949:

Topps stopped including cards with their one cent gum tabs late in 1949 and I'm fairly certain they curtailed the postage stamp sized License Plates set accordingly and then reissued it in a larger size for 1950.  Flags of All Nations-Soldiers of The World also got this treatment as Topps transitioned so a larger card format. This format, measuring 1 3/4" x 2 7/8" was only used for these two sets. The 1949 Stop 'N Go wrapper (Topps named the cards and the gum separately back then) is tough, as is the 1950 version.

Bring 'Em Back Alive helped kick off off yet another, larger card size in 1950, one measuring  2 1/16" x 2 5/8" and which debuted with Hopalong Cassidy.

For some reason Topps used a date on their nickel packs but usually not their penny packs. That's a nice wrapper pardner!

This five-center is a lot more crinkly:

Any of those elongated five cent packs would have held panelized cards, a practice Topps ended by 1952. The practice of separately naming the gum and card set had disappeared by then as well.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Another Plane

This is proving to be a banner year for Topps test issues coming out of the woodwork.  I doubt there's been this much material available since the early 90's. This time it's the 1967 Fighter Planes turn.

Some recent eBay auctions have turned up various proofs from this set, which seems to be the easiest way to find anything as I still have yet to see an assembled one. Two of the proofs I've already posted about but two are new and the auction description also has an interesting tidbit.

Here is a proof of the Bell X-1 fighter:

The auction description mentions this was an (actual) Topps archives file copy and while that is good information, the better part of the description mentions the proofs are on glossy photo stock.  This is no doubt due to their having to be reproduced on thin styrofoam.

The second proof gives the Skyray F-4D:

I'm not sure what those punched holes are for but some proofs have them and some don't.  The holes had some significance as they are cleared on the back of the piece against a backing board, so maybe they were to hold them in place for some reason.

That wrapper is just leaned up against the back, it's not attached.  25% of the set has now been documented in proof form. That's pretty good for something this obscure I think but it's weird proofs are found more readily than the product they were used to create!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tub Bub

I picked up another cool item a short while ago, the latest in a string of offbeat Topps miscellania that has come my way of late.

The 1970 Baseball Stars Candy set is a farily tough customer these days.  24 candy lid cards, generally described as a test issue, made a brief appearance on the scene that year. It was the first of a small number of similar sets sold by Topps between 1970-74 that featured candy, something that harkened back to their old Topps Candy Division twenty years prior.

The lids are well known. I nicked this from 707Sportscards and cleaned it up a bit but it shows the way the candy touched the lid and how the tab would be bent lifting it off the container:

Here's a proof of the late, great Le Grand Orange that's cleaner and shows the "tri-star" back used in 1970.  The 1973 version of the set only had two stars:

What I managed to score was the tub that held the candy and sat under the lid:

The graphics showed three ghostly blobs.  This one may may be based upon Gary Nolan:

The other two, not sure but on the left is a possible Johnny Bench and on the right Tommy Helms.  I wonder if the artist hailed from Cincinnati?

As with the almost contemporary Gum Berries tubs, it's a No. 23 Dixie Cup!

Unlike the Gum Berries tub, this one sports no commodity code.

The tub appears to be unused.  Another has popped up since I procured mine and a small hoard may have been unearthed.  I know a fairly large hoard of the 1973 tubs was recently auctioned by Lelands:

That's 164 of 'em if you're scoring at home.  Those clear plastic dust caps may or may not be original to these tubs. Note the candy weight has reduced from 1.1 oz. to .95 oz.  Also, the 1973's contained Bubble Gum and not Candy.  I suspect the candy was a dud and the product was rejiggered accordingly. There's certainly a ton more of the lids form 1973 available to collectors than from three years prior, although the 1970 version we see lids from probably were more widely distributed than a standard test issue as they can be found with some diligence. The 1970's may have been just issued regionally with a wider rollout planned before Topps pulled the plug.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Yaz Sir!

The parade of things (mostly) never seen before continues unabated with a trove of scans (mostly) sent by Friend o'the Archive Al Richter concerning 1968 Topps Giant Stand-Ups.

As has been seen here previously, the set, while commonly described as being from 1967, was issued only as a test in 1968, as confirmed by the Oakland A's designation for the Jim Hunter card. Today though, our quarry is Yaz.  Here is his standard die-cut Giant Stand-Up:

These pop up very, very infrequently and any examples can properly be considered rare.  What's interesting though, is that an example of the Yaz (and presumably at least another batch of players) can be found missing a color pass:

Need more?  Proofs without the die-cuts exists as well, as this Heritage Auctions example from 2004 shows:

It was described as one of three Yaz proofs known at the time.  I am not sure if that figure has increased since then but I doubt it. These are thinner than the quarter-inch thick test issue. The other dimensions are 3 1/8" x 5 1/4" by the way.

Going back to Al Richter's scan-ucopia, here is the box that was planned for the set.  I cannot tell if this was assembled from a flat or was the actual box.

Topps Vault had sold a flattened box at one point but it was in worse shape than this one:

The packs are Mick-free and strangely feature what I think is a caricature of Johnny Pesky, a Red Sox legend and coach with the Pirates at the time.  Eh, maybe it's Jim Lonborg:

The pack was sealed with an instructional sticker:

I'm not sure why Topps thought this set was a good idea but they did follow up with an insert in 1968 Football that was somewhat similar.

Be careful out there kids, this set and its packaging has been reproduced!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

For Art's Sake

In case you haven't noticed there's been some killer auctions of late as tax refund season brings out the big consignments.  The BST Spring Auction was no exception this year, with the bulk of it related to football items (their specialty). They offered  so much good Topps stuff this will be a two-parter.  For today's entry, let's look at some killer original art.

Lew Carpenter is #95 in the 1959 Topps Football set:

That is Woody Gelman's handwriting there on the backing board folks-pay attention to the instructions on the right side border. That picture has been severely Flexichromed-hoo boy!  

No hanging on to Topps property.....

The finished product:

See how Carpenter's head and foot pop out of the background?  That's what Woody was instructing the printer to do in the right side border above.

Here's John David Crow (what a great name), also from 1959.  He won the 1957 Heisman trophy don't you know but here he's been flexichromed to within an inch of his life:

He's more prosaically identified on his card (#105):

Here's ol' King (of the ) Hill, #117:

Moving on to 1962, here's Roman Gabriel:

That's no longer Woody's writing.  Maybe Len Brown?

Here's cad #88 in 1962, you can see why the photo is a square:

Does anyone want to hazard a guess why Y.A. Tittle is shown on the inset photo?!  The numbers don't even match!  More inset photo madness can be found here if you are interested.

Finally , here's # 155 in 1965, Lance Alworth.  Woody's writing has returned but who did the fingerpainting on the backing board?

"1 Flexi Matt" is what the script writing says. I mean, that is almost dayglo, they've touched it up so much:

All that paint (and some of it was used to obscure the tops of his numbers): was used to make this into a football card:

Here's how it all came out, tall boy style:

Notice how you can see some of the obscuring white paint on his uniform, plus some areas that were not touched up.  FLexichrome as a supported process was discontinued in 1961 but Topps must have laid in a gargantuan supply. Crazy!

More auction goodies next time out kids!