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.