Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh, Canada!

Up North things are a little different.  Some parts of Canada speak French, nickel packs held four cards and their football fields have a 55 yard line.  And sometimes their package design cards just do something weird.

Take, for example, these 1963 Flag Midgee cards on Bozo Gum side panel:

Bozo, you will recall, was a gumball brand introduced by Topps in the late 1940's which migrated up to Canada for a spell before reappearing in the U.S. in the 1970's (near as I can tell).  Flag Midgee cards were originally a Topps issue in '63, amidst a wave of panelization that petered out quickly. Here's a regular panel as issued by Topps:

The reverse is informative:

The Bozo cards would be blank backed of course.  There is also a reference on one of the Benjamin Sport Americana Guides about blank backed cards being found in cereal boxes.

There are 99 cards in the Topps set (33 panels) but as you cna see below, only 36 in the Canadian version (12 panels) and the cards have been reoriented to the vertical:

In the Topps set those cards are numbered, from top to bottom, thusly: 16, 99, 94. I'm not sure if that corresponds to the original Topps ordering or not.  I'm also not sure of the full Canadian checklist as cards from that country are not was well documented as ones from the U.S. The box above is an O-Pee-Chee product, although it's hard to read in the scan.  It's a neat little set with a bit of a twist, eh?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Blony At The Malt Shop?

After Bazooka Joe, the next most iconic character Topps memorialized in comic form would have to be Archie Andrews (with apologies to Henry).  As a result of their early 1956 acquisition of Bowman, Topps inherited the Blony bubble gum brand. Blony had been a major brand for Bowman and must have had its adherents for Topps to keep it around.  Instead of cross promoting Bazooka Joe And His Gang, Topps went with two series of Archie And His Pals comics instead in 1957-58.

I only own one of these (1 '57) and they are far, far less abundant than Bazooka Joe's of the period:

That comic measures 2 13/16" x 3 5/8", it's a big boy!  The code reads 1A-57-25.  Here's another, just on eBay (which I missed), same series but #38:

I would surmise then that there are 42 in the series, that being a common number for the Bazooka Joe runs. Betty also got some face time and I'm sure Veronica, Jughead and mean ol' Reggie did too:

She's also a '57 but I can't make out the number.  I believe the below style was from '58 as it is slightly smaller (not mine, from eBay) but am not 100% sure as I can't make out any code:

A nice foldup Bazooka-Blony premium catalog also came out around this time.  This one from the 'bay  is red but I have a blue one as well. It's definitely from 1958 or later as "The Atom" is no longer on the Bazooka tab.  The blue catalog seems to be a year older than this one as a different Blony design was used. Here's red, then an extract of my blue:

This blue version extract does not mention Blony in the text above the gum tab illustrations.  Weird.

A code (which I can't decipher) has been added as well. BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd is not positive the striped Blony wrapper was marketed.  I wonder instead if the flavored Blony tabs used it and the regular version kept the rainbow version seen on the red catalog.

Here's more detail from the red version.  Archie looks like a real geek:

Archie comics were advertised on at least one 1957 Topps wrapper, this one housed Isolation Booth, despite the Gee Whiz Quiz moniker::

Blony was always the poor cousin to Bazooka but it lived on at least until the 1970's, sometimes tweaked into a twist wrap, sometimes not. Later comics actually appeared on the outside of the Blony wrapper but that's a tale for another day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Those Daring Young Men And Their Flying Machines

Starting in 1966 Topps began issuing a long running series of styrofoam airplanes called Flying Things. At least seven different series were issued and this does not count branded items such as Marvel Flyers. Clearly showing the effects of the cutting edge artists Woody Gelman was hiring, each Flying Thing came in a paper wrapper and consisted of a plane body, wing, tail and nose clip.  All sorts of wacky designs were used, some of which were really out there.

Here is a shot of the second series wrapper:

Most series had a checklist on the back, although at least one did not and that makes a definitive list of these tough to cipher:

The eagle-eyed among you will note the odd production code.  I think the non-confectionery items that were intended to be sold as toys had a different system of numbering at Topps.  This may be due to their manufacture occurring in Japan; these suckers were imported into the U.S. and Canada.  The visual checklist is nice but nothing beats the real thing: 

The assembled plane is quite the sight; behold the Flying Hotdog!

Here's a top view, the fork is classic Gelman: 

The tail piece has some manufacturing information on the bottom:

Here's Flying Uncle Sam from the same series, although this may be more of a Frankenstein's Monster:

Here'a the tailpiece bottom:

At a guess, it looks like someone changed out the Captain America tailpiece from Marvel Flyers.

Flying Things were issued through at least 1975 and there are at least 48 different ones, many of which were issued multiple times.  Marvel Flyers has 12 and there are a few other similar issues such as Fighter Planes, albeit without the whimsical themes of these. 

Toward the end of the run they came in clear poly bags:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One, Two, Tray

If you want obscure, boy do I have it for you in spades today!  Some of the earliest Topps "insert" issues were printed on the little cardboard trays that came with a nickel roll of Bazooka. These trays had a small "stamp" or historical subject on them as sometimes a premium offer but in reality it was just a hunk of cardboard with some monotone color added.

Four different series were issued, in this likely order:

The Story Of The Atom Bomb, ACC # R709-3:

Thanks to Jeff Shepherd for that one.  Yes, they did a set about the ultimate killing machine!  Eighteen in the set, although I can't confirm that yet. Premiums #101-108 were the first group offered by Topps and the address is an early one used by them.  Bazooka was originally sold in 1947 under the Bubbles, Inc. nom de gomme. This tray could be from that year or 1948.

World Famous Stamps, ACC # R714-4:

Also Shep's.  This may have been the first one as no premium offer is shown but certainly in the same time period. Twelve in the set.

Famous American Heroes, ACC# R714-3:

More Shep goodness as it's nicer than the one I have.  The style is the same as Story Of The Atom Bomb so they could be related but this uses a later address for the premium offer and references Bazooka.  A low # premium indicates an early issue and eighteen subjects are in it, as confirmed by the above example.

 Collect Bazooka Stamps-Famous American Heroes, no ACC #:

Rockne is the only sports figure in this one and a checklist is known.  Nine trays, 18 "stamps", presumably all cribbed from Famous American Heroes.  Likely the last of the line and it certainly has the most modern look of all the tray sets. The checklist comes from Shep, as he sent it:

1 George Washington
2 Nathan Hale
3 Robert E. Peary
4 Knute Rockne
5 Stonewall Jackson
6 Daniel Webster
7 Alexander Hamilton
8 Luther Burbank
9 Sam Huston
10 Robert E. Lee
11 Francis Scott Key
12 Betsy Ross
13 Thomas Paine
14 Buffalo Bill Cody
15 Paul Revere
16 James M. Whistler
17 Davey Crockett
18 Benjamin Franklin

The backs of all of these are blank, unfinished cardboard, this one has a little water damage:

All four series are scarce but not widely collected.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And Then There Were Three...

...1957 Topps Baseball Paper Proofs.  Actually there are at least 32 known or identified but only three have ever popped up in scans that I can find.  Thanks to a recent eBay auction, two visuals were added to the existing one (#360 Groth), which was previously covered here.

The two latest additions are #373 Whisenant and #388 Daley:

There's a little bit of a foldover on the Daley (lower left corner) that shows the fragility of these proofs. You can also see the handcut nature of each.  Here is the previously displayed Groth for completeness' sake:

Groth now resides in the collection of Friend o'the Archive Al Richter but the above scan came from Mark Rios.  Mark had a copy of the 1979 Card Collectors Company ad from The Trader Speaks that sold 32 of these, along with a clutch of 1970 Baseball Cloth Stickers:

All known '57 proofs are on the sales list which covers the highs numbers from that year, which gives a universe of 55 possible subjects.  And those prices are INSANE!!!

Topps probably ran proofs like this off every year.  The 1957 examples have finished backs but others that are known from 1967 have blank backs.  I suspect the finished (with backs) proofs were the last to be run before the press sheets were printed. That '67 link also has a '66 Mantle paper proof shown by the way.

Bob Lemke had a nice post on these a few years ago, quite worth the look here.  I have to think most surviving paper proofs were retained by people present when they were printed, likely just the printer's personnel and whoever was there from Topps at the time.  It's believed the 67's came from Woody Gelman's collection and given his company was selling the 57's, all known paper proofs probably were the result of Woody's hoarding.  Woody passed away in 1978 so it looks like his personal copies of the proofs (and cloth stickers) were being sold off.