Saturday, January 20, 2018

Funny Flash Fraction

It's been a little while since I posted about an obscure, never-issued set that has been dubbed Funny Flash Cards (an unofficial title but so-named for very obvious reasons).  Attribution to 1968 as the year based upon an old auction description, the artwork, mainly by Wally Wood from what I can see, generally supports that year as well.

I pulled the trigger on one of these last year  and they measure 4 11/16" x 2 1/2", which is the same as many other similar "large" Topps cards of the day.  As we have previously seen, the front looks innocent enough:

While the back has the gag and related illustration:

The card looks finished in every way and in addition to the 33 card finished proof sheet I featured previously, one showing markups has now appeared:

It features the same 33 cards as the finished proof sheet so either the other 22 cards were not proofed (unlikely but if this was a test it's possible they were waiting to see results) or they are presently MIA. As has been seen countless times with obscure Topps sets, the remaining subjects could easily pop up someday. In fact, if they were testing the product, it would not be out of character for the other 22 to have been to test subjects.  Topps often reduced the number of cards when testing from what would appear if the set made it to retail.

I've managed to put together a checklist of the 33 known subjects. A few numbers are missing as they are too fuzzy to read on either sheet, but it has all the questions and gags in case you were thinking of giving someone an IQ test.

The checklist follows the sheet positions for the Answers on the Reverse as that's where the cards are numbered.  Rows are tagged A thru I and Columns from 1-3:

No. Category Front (Question) Reverse (Answer) Position (Reverse)
Nature Studies What Animal Is Hairy & Can't See? A Baboon With His Eyes Closed! A1 (33)
38 History What Was Sewards' Folly? Mrs. Seward! A2 (33)
15 Mathematics If John And Sam Share 6 Apples, And Sam Gets 2, What Does John Get? A Punch In The Eye From Sam! A3 (33)
Grammar What's Wrong With This Sentence: "On My Vacation In Philadelphia I Had An Exciting Time." Nobody In Philadelphia Has An Exciting Time! B1 (33)
17 Science If Your Friend Had 14 Marbles And You Took Half, What Would You Have? A Black Eye! B2 (33)
26 Mathematics What Never Strikes Twice In The Same Place? A Mets Baseball Pitcher! B3 (33)
9 Mathematics Can You Draw A Straight Line From New York To Chicago? Yes, If You Have A Very Long Pencil! C1 (33)
18 Science What Is Whale Oil Used For? For Oiling Whales! C2 (33)
52 History When Did The Civil War Come To An End? When The Last Shot Was Fired! C3 (33)
21 History Why Did George Washington Cross The Delaware? It Was Too Cold Standing In The Middle! D1 (33)
44 History Why Were They Called "Rough Riders?" No Talcum Powder! D2 (33)
54 History Why Did People Before Columbus Think The World Was Flat? In Those Days It Was Flat! D3 (33)
History Who Was The 10th President Of The United States? Who Cares! E1 (33)
30 Nature Studies What Is A Hippo? A Fat Hippie! E2 (33)
16 Mathematics How Much Dirt Is In A Hole  3 Ft. x 3 Ft. x 5 Ft. Deep! None, You Idiot! It's a Hole! E3 (33)
History Between Whom Was The Battle Of Bunker Hill Fought? Between A Fellow And A Girl In A Parked Car! F1 (33)
Grammar Form A Sentence With The Word Paradox. On Our Farm We Have Four Chickens, Six Geese and a Paradox! F2 (33)
8 Literature Out Of The Mouths Of Babes, Oftimes Comes What? Drool! F3 (33)
5 Science What Shouldn't People In Glass Houses Throw? Wild Parties! G1 (33)
40 History During The Boston Tea Party, What Did The Colonists heave Overboard? Their Dinners! G2 (33)
12 Nature Studies How Can A Charging Rhino Be Stopped? Take Away His Credit Card! G3 (33)
Social Studies What Do You Call A Man Who Takes Apart Live Bombs For A Living? An Idiot! H1 (33)
History Why Was General Lee Buried At Arlington National Cemetery? Because He Was Dead! H2 (33)
Mathematics If Mrs. Smith Makes 10 Spinach Cookies, And Gives One To Each Of Her 6 Children, How Many Will Be Left? Ten!  Who Would Eat A Spinach Cookie! H3 (33)
History In The War Of 1812, Who Said "Don't Give Up The Ship?" Someone Who Wasn't On It! I1 (33)
Science Scientists Get Oil By Drilling Oil Wells, How Do They Get Gas? By Drinking Beer! I2 (33)
Mathematics If Two's Company And Three's A Crowd, What Are Four And Five? Nine! I3 (33)
History When Did Nathan Hale Say "I Regret That I Have But One Life To Give For My Country?" When It Was Too Late! J1 (33)
Mathematics If You Had 18 Apples And You Ate 12, What Would You Have? One Heckuva Stomach Ache! J2 (33)
36 Mathematics 2 Pints Make A Quart; 4 Quarts Make A Gallon. What Does A Gallon Make? A Drunken Brawl! J3 (33)
Mathematics If You Had 6 Packs Of Cigarettes With 20 Cigarettes In A Pack And You Smoked 2 1/2 Packs In One Day, What Would You Have The Next Day? Such A Cough! K1 (33)
Science What Did Isaac Newton Learn When The Apple Fell on His Head? He Should Change His Seat K2 (33)
4 History Why Did Our Forefathers Leave England? To Get Away From Our Foremothers! K3 (33)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Young Canada's Rarest

Well buccos, I managed to end 2017 on a bang with the purchase of a 1971 O-Pee-Chee Bazooka CFL card off the ol' 'bay. I mentioned it previously here but it's a set that very few people know exist.

Much like the 1971 Bazooka Baseball and Football package design sets that were issued in the States (not to mention the mysterious but reasonably plentiful--and larger in number--Baseball proof set), O-Pee-Chee issued Hockey and Canadian Football League sets in Canada.  Unlike their US counterparts, these mirrored the designs of the regular issue sets from each sport that year, just miniaturized and blank backed.

If cut correctly, the Bazooka's should measure 1 7/8 x 2 3/4".  However, things being what they are, a proper cut is not something that can be counted upon here:

To compare, here is my example next to a standard sized (2 1/2" x 3 1/2") CFL card from that year: 

I thought the Alouettes name had turned from green to blue but it's Fairholm that is the anomaly. Two other cards from the set have been seen by me, at least in scanned form.  This one is in private hands now and is easily the best of the three:

A third has tape on the end, typical for the end card of a Bazooka panel and is still out there for purchase I believe:

The cuts are a little close on the vertical edges but these three would be found together on panel #3.  The thing is, only three other subjects are checklisted, in the only place I have ever seen mention of these cards, namely Andy Malycky's Collecting Canadian Football, Vol. 1.  In fact, the three cards shown above are the same ones used to illustrate the set in Andy's guide. The other three checklisted are, from what would be panel #8:

# 22 Dick Weslowski (Hamilton)
# 23 Silas McKinnie (Saskatchewan)
# 24 John Lagrone (Edmonton)

There's not much else known about these.  Not the whereabouts of the other 18 cards, pictures of the three players on panel #8 above, nor a box, nor any idea how they were distributed or why they are so rare. It's possible they were a test issue but that's not certain at all. All I know is, there are six possible cards known and I have one of them.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Blind Date

Well another year has gone and come, seemingly in record time!  It's hard to believe but this blog will turn 10 years old in September and there's still a ton of Topps I intend to cover.  Today though, I'll turn again to a past post, namely one covering the still somewhat mysterious True Fact Mini Comics.

Previously your intrepid blogger was able to narrow down the date of issue for this 5 booklet set to 1966-77.  However, a recent bit of luck has given me the means to whittle that range down and come up with a possible means of distribution.

Without getting too maudlin, my late father was a junior high school teacher for almost 40 years and we have been clearing his massive amount of collectibles out of the family home these past several months.  During that stretch, exactly one Topps items has turned up, which is not unexpected as he was not a card or sports collector. However, the one item he had was a No. 5 True Fact Mini Comic.  The kicker is that is was inscribed to my dad by two of his students back in the day.  This being the internet I've obscured parts of names but this is what presented itself:

So a little name matching with the school district on the ol' Google machine led me to a wedding announcement (and age at the time) for one of these young ladies.  Working backwards and knowing the school covered grades 6, 7  & 8, I was able to get a date range of 1967-69 for the set.

What I am now leaning toward as a theory of distribution, is that Topps somehow had these introduced to various schools at the time as a teaching aid.  This makes some sense as:

1) a teenage girl had to get a copy of an extremely obscure and hard-to-find issue;
2) no wrapper or box is known, and
3) the set covers historical subjects.

Why Topps would do this, I do not (yet) know.

Just for fun I've scanned a few more pages of what is a pretty far out comic:

Van Buren is my favorite lesser known president.  This is primarily due to watching a lot of "Seinfeld" where the Van Buren Boys would regularly harass Kramer and George but I have to say his being known as a "dude" is hilarious!

Chester A. Arthur, represent:

Nice square cut on these babies.....

I can't really say I've ever thought of the Boxer Rebellion as a notable US victory but there you are.  On the other hand, Benjamin Harrison seems like he was a real wuss:

The separate beds are a hoot!

We're in for a fun year kids, stay tuned........

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Fugly Stickers

Mile High's recently concluded catalog auction featured a "sticky" lot featuring a black process proof sheet for the 1965 Topps Ugly Stickers. What I find interesting is that this is a 198 subject sheet, not the usual 132 or smaller sheet normally seen. The array is 22 x 9:

A spin through Chris Watson's Non-Sports Bible shows that 40 subjects each have 4 different names assigned to them but four have only a single name.  The single names (Doc, Granny, Tommy, Charlie) are not short printed, they just don't have any variation. The do however, share black backgrounds so it must have been too much trouble to change the names on those four.

Here's a couple of examples from one of the "Quads"-note the numbering:

Here's a "Single":

22 subjects are overprinted and you can see that the last 11 slots across the two top rows on the right half of the sheet (counting from the 12th column) repeat an extra time as do the top and bottom rows of the leftmost eleven. This means each half sheet is 99 stickers. I suspect this is due to the print shop setup for pressure sensitive stock at the time.

The back shows this is not a cardboard sheet; it looks like an acetate overlay to me.

It's a pretty neat item on its own but I like how it helps suss out the mysteries of the set.

See you in 2018-Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Double GOAT

A very interesting item popped up on eBay last month, namely an uncut sheet of the 1963 Bazooka All Time Greats set, an issue last discussed a year ago.  Since I don't have a Christmas themed Topps post this year (and continue to search in vain for a Hanukkah related Topps item) I figured some gold is the next best thing!

Feast your eyes:

It's easier to see if you click to blow it up but this is clearly a full sheet of 45 cards.  Since the set only had 41 cards, my first (and only) thought, was to check for double prints. As it turned out, it was quite easy as they all reside in order on the bottom row-look at the four rightmost cards there: Hank Greenberg, Dazzy Vance, Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby.

Using a matrix reference where the rows are lettered A through E and the columns 1 through 9, you can see the corresponding "first prints" of each: Greenberg is at position A2, Vance at B9, Wagner at B7, and Hornsby resides at C5.

Before seeing this sheet, I had always figured the missing subjects had been pulled over rights issues but the placement of the double prints all together at E6-9 makes me think the sheet could have been laid out this way to begin with. An alternative thought is that my initial theory was correct and the DP's are scattered in the rows above E and Topps went with those four as they were the four most recent cards to have been designed.  I lean toward the "deliberate' theory but really either is possible.

Have a nice Christmas all!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fail Safe

Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins recently sent along one of the most stupendous Topps trade ads I have ever seen.  Dating to 1967 this ad details failed test issues-and there's a bunch!

It's easier to see if I blow up the photo:

I'll start at twelve o'clock:

Secret Agent Bubble Gum and Bubble Gum Shots capitalize on the interest in James Bond/Get Smart spy thrillers then sweeping the country.  A pen shaped piece of gum is not all that exciting, now is it?  It seems this would have been a good way to repurpose Get Smart Secret Agent kits but it's just a confectionery item. Bubble Gum Shots?  No thanks.

Going clockwise we get more confections. Fuzzies sound gross and Happy Hearts candy must have been a test for a Valentine's Day product.  Below them though we get to Captain Nice, a legendary rarity among test collectors.  I am freaking out over that box-wow!

The planes are Fighter Planes. They are even tougher than Captain Nice and I've only ever seen packs, never an assembled toy. As I have determined from my research, the planes date to 1967, just like the Captain.

Whistle Gum gives the purchaser a plastic flute I guess. The next item is a lot more interesting though-King Kong makes an appearance! Kong dates to 1966, despite a 1965 copyright as it's one of the first Topps sets to have a commodity code on the box.

Bag o'Baseball bubble gum is intriguing but looks like straight up confection. That leaves us with Nutty Tickets, another 1967 set which is tough but never struck me as being "test issue tough".

Ten items, ten duds!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Funny You Should Mention That

Topps was really cranking out great illustrated sets in the mid to late 60's, many featuring underground comix artists and a fair number of MAD Magazine contributors to boot. The effort and detail that went into these issues, especially the larger sized ones, is truly amazing.  One of the best is their 24 count Funny Travel Posters set from 1967.

The set, of course, was printed on poster stock, with each subject measuring 9 3/4" x 18 1/2". The stock is the type used by Topps in their standalone poster issues and not the cheap, recycled stock they used for their inserts.

The wrapper can be readily found these days:

You can even find a box with a little hunting:

The box bottom has the ubiquitous commodity code, which started showing up in earnest by late 1966 on most Topps products:

The posters, designed of course to be hung on walls, are harder to find than the wrappers but they are out there.  A full set was recently offered on eBay and I thought it would be nice to show a visual checklist as so many of the larger-sized Topps sets are hard to scan or otherwise reproduce.

That artwork is insanely well done for a set that retailed for $1.20 a box!

There is a great display of the Sing-Sing artwork (by Wally Wood) over at the Artwork Archive,  go check the site out as it's loaded with goodies, but in the meantime:

There is some commonality of themes with the 1965 Silly Stickers, which had 55 subjects, a good number of which also had a travel related gag, but Chris Benjamin's take that the posters borrowed artwork from the stickers is incorrect:

You can see though that the gimmick on the stickers was the use of a tiny word to change the meaning of the gag.

Ya gotta hand it to Topps, they really would go all out for their posters and similarly sized sets.