Saturday, October 31, 2015

All American Boys

Well the flow of cool and unusual Topps items just keeps on rolling....

Friend o'the Archive Justin Davenport has sent along scans of his Topps Award watch and I am definitely blown away.  Check this bad boy out:


Here is a close up of the dial; you can see the a small representation of the ubiquitous Topps Rookie Trophy in between the words "Topps Award":



We know they gave out jewelry at the Rookie Awards Banquets back in the day but this is a little bit of a different beast.  The back reveals why:


That says Topps First Team All America 1969.  So it appears the watch was given to the collegiate All Americans by Topps that year.  For the record, they were:

P Larry Gura
P Burt Hooton
C Bob Williams
1B Mike Walseth
2B Dick Gold
3B Les Rogers
SS Bill Stein
OF Bob Long
OF Paul Powell
OF Larry Pyle

Most folks think of football when they hear All Americans but the awards are still being given out for baseball and many other sports each year.

That is one of the neatest things I have seen in a long time!



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Flaky Goodness

It's hard enough keeping track of all the things Topps issued on their own so when you add third party promotions to the mix, especially in the Seventies, you start running into some odd little pockets of hobby history.

As is my wont, I was noodling around the ol' internet a while back and found some posts over at the PSA forum concerning a very strange pack of basketball cards, namely a "36" card cello pack of 1972-73 Topps Basketball.

Thanks to Friend o'the Archive John Moran, we have some swell pictures of it to share. It's worth noting the pack has been described as containing 50 cards over on the Collectors Universe forums; we'll get to that momentarily. The front of the pack:


I have to say I never noticed the little Houston graphic across the Rockets logo when I collected these cards in 1972. The set used team names and not cities, so it's curious why their 1971 move from San Diego was highlighted. Topps added a Houston or Denver city designation to differentiate between NBA and ABA flavors. (Thanks to John Batrman for pointing that out as I spaced on that one).

The back is pretty neat as it has Wilt Chamberlain showing:


John has provided the all important side view, which reveals just how fat this pack is:


That is one big pack!

The box itself remains elusive, no surprise give the amount of time that has elapsed and the ephemeral nature of such things.  However, there is one more surprise, namely this uncut first series sheet that was also part of the offer:



This is a very interesting idea for a Topps tie-in, although I'm not sure of the timing of it.  Did they have extra sheets lying around or was this a promotion done at the same time the first series cards were issued in the fall of 1972?  While I ate a lot of Wheaties back in the day, I do not recall such an offer on any Wheaties box back that I dutifully studied while slurping down a bowl of the Breakfast of Champions. Thankfully Friend o' the Archive Matt Neely was able to track one down.

Matt, who runs the quite staggering Wheaties King site, was able to provide scans of the box with the offer. It's an adapted 1972 box:


Here's a closer look at the offer; the pictures do not appear to have been provided by Topps but in fact were as they are taken from cards the year prior with backgrounds turned to gold:


The back is a bit, well, odd.....


Here is the offer for the uncut sheet:


The cello pack is offered as a 36 count, so that's the official number but reports of collectors opening these seem to indicate 50 is the actual count.


The proof-of-purchase and mail in panel looked thus:


You just never know what kind of thing you'll find Topps wrapped up in...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Northern Exposure

Put on your mittens lads, it's up to the semi-frozen north today!

I was lazily scrolling through eBay the other day, a pastime I regularly engage in and stumbled across a wondrous offering from BMW Sportscards, namely a full box of 1960 Baseball Tattoos, in O-Pee-Chee livery.  Yup, 240 penny packs of the first Topps supplemental baseball issue just lying there for 55 years.  Look at this:


Pretty cool, huh?  The blurry box flap indicia tells the story, namely that this was an issue licensed from Topps and printed in Canada:


Dig the top man!


The front panel has more of the great UPA inspired ballplayer, albeit a mere mirror image of the box top and wrapper:


The back has the ubiquitous ad for Bazooka:


Now, taking a look at all of this, I am thinking about how the closely related 1960 Football Tattoo was issued in Canada.  The football set is very, very hard to find so it's a bit difficult to suss out.  As I noted in a post some time back on the Baseball Tattoos, that set has indicia on the wrappers that detail distinct US and Canadian releases. You can clearly see the US and Canadian versions have different "made in" and "printed in" information.  Here is the US wrapper:


And the Canadian:


The football set indicates it was made in the USA and Canadian versions were made and distributed under license with Topps.  I believe that means that there is only one wrapper design and not two like with the baseball set.  You can clearly see that on the full football wrapper:


Friend o'the Archive (and provider of that Football Tattoo scan) Mike Blaisdell and I have discussed this a couple of times and he believes there is only the one version. I am convinced that if I had paid a little more attention last time out, I would have come to this correct conclusion earlier.



Saturday, October 10, 2015

Room At The Top

More 1957 Baseball Paper Proof news today campers!  Before we were jolted into the realization that Topps sometimes used these proofs to create mockups of proposed future sets, we made an effort here at the Main Topps Archives Research Center to checklist known proofs from the 1957 high numbers.  We were stuck at 32 proofs but recently Friend o'the Archive Keith Olbermann sent along a couple more names and it's time to update things. There is, of course, a twist as well.

Here is where things stand today.  The entire high number run of 55 cards is shown and for each one with a known proof, either from the original Card Collectors Company ad offering many for sale or Olbermann's collection, that is noted as well.


353 Cal Neeman Proof
354 Rip Coleman Proof
355 Frank Malzone
356 Faye Throneberry Proof
357 Earl Torgeson
358 Jerry Lynch Proof
359 Tom Cheney Proof
360 Johnny Groth Proof
361 Curt Barclay Proof
362 Roman Mejias
363 Eddie Kasko Proof
364 Cal McLish
365 Ozzie Virgil
366 Ken Lehman Proof
367 Ed Fitz Gerald Proof
368 Bob Purkey Proof
369 Milt Graff
370 Warren Hacker Proof
371 Bob Lennon Proof
372 Norm Zauchin Proof
373 Pete Whisenant Proof
374 Don Cardwell Proof
375 Jim Landis
376 Don Elston Proof
377 Andre Rodgers
378 Elmer Singleton Proof
379 Don Lee
380 Walker Cooper Proof
381 Dean Stone
382 Jim Brideweser
383 Juan Pizarro Proof
384 Bobby Gene Smith Proof
385 Art Houtteman
386 Lyle Luttrell Proof
387 Jack Sanford Proof
388 Pete Daley
389 Dave Jolly Proof
390 Reno Bertoia
391 Ralph Terry
392 Chuck Tanner Proof
393 Raul Sanchez Proof
394 Luis Arroyo Proof
395 Bubba Phillips
396 Casey Wise Proof
397 Roy Smalley Proof
398 Al Cicotte Proof
399 Billy Consolo Proof
400 Dodgers' Sluggers Proof
401 Earl Battey Proof
402 Jim Pisoni
403 Dick Hyde
404 Harry Anderson Proof
405 Duke Maas
406 Bob Hale
407 Yankees Power Hitters


New additions bring the count to 34: #384 Bobby Gene Smith and #400 Dodgers Sluggers.  Here is #400, which is my favorite card in the set:



Bobby Gene Smith, another newbie to the list, is the bearer of our first twist, a ginormous top border:




The proofs must have included all the borders and gutters.  What's not clear is whether or not there were full, 264 card proof sheets run off in paper.  

One more twist, here is Ken Lehman, another "topper" and his scrawl:



I am reasonably certain that is Woody Gelman's handwriting there. I can make out "BB" and then "GENE" so he may have been next to Bobby Gene Smith atop the press sheet.

There are two other big top border cards are, one of which is also marked up:

#359 Cheney (both)
#378 Singleton (top border)

It would be pretty cool if we could confirm all 55 high numbers in paper.  The Yankees Power Hitters card that concludes the set has Mickey Mantle on it so finding that one would be sweet (and even sweeter for the owner).

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.