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.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Summer Daze

Can you stand it?!  We have even more Topps prototypes to look at today buccos!  Once again courtesy of Friend o'the Archive Keith Olbermann, today's peek is a little more lighthearted than our previous two entries.

Topps could be a goofy place to work at sometimes, not an unexpected thing since they were in the business of entertaining kids. So these baseball mockups are not at all surprising in that context. Here is Walt Alston, errr.......Topps Creative Director Woody Gelman:

Nice tape job...not! As you can see, Smoky's 1963 Topps card formed the basis for this mockup, which looks very much like a stab at what the 1965 cards became.  Here is the actual '63 card:

Gelman's old art agency partner and then-current Topps Art Director Ben Solomon was also immortalized as part of a mockup using a 1964 Eddie Mathews:

Eddie may have had multiple personality disorder; he's Bill Freehan in a different mockup using the same 1964 base:

That looks like an early go at the 1972 design, doesn't it?  Sometimes it took multiple mockups over a number of years to get to the final set design.

There are also some designs that were not taken from existing cards but likely were based upon photographs in the Topps player files.  I think the Yogi shot looks like it was taken from the same series of photos used to produce the 1973 World Series program actually:

Len Brown of course was Woody Gelman's mentee and the man who wrote a lot of card backs for Topps over the years. He got a second chance at infamy on this Dave Kingman kludge:

That's another picture I can't trace to an actual issued card.  I do wonder if it's from the same batch of photos his 1974 card was taken from as there is heavy shadow there as well:

Topps in-jokes are a common theme in the history of the company, from card backgrounds, to actual issued products like Rocks O'Gum to these mockups. Seems like it might have been fun working there (or not).

Here is yet another Len Brown:

That's actually Mike Epstein, giving it his all.

Stay tuned folks...

9/6/15-Update from Mr. O:  All of the "Len Brown" images are created from pictures originally published in Sports Illustrated in the early 70's and used by Topps to create the mockups.