1st Print, Limited Edition of 2000 Sets
4″ x 6″ each card
Black & White images on the front
Back forms a large puzzle
It’s All in the Cards – Forget the hits, runs and errors. Trading cards now cover weird and the wacky subjects, and adults are clamoring to invest in them.
By MARK EHRMAN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES|November 28, 1991
If you haven’t been keeping up with the trading card world, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not all batting averages and touchdowns. And it certainly isn’t all kid stuff. In fact, the real action is in non-sports cards.
Rather than being dominated by mega-corporations with multimillion-dollar licensing agreements, this field is open to smaller, quirkier publishers whose themes run from the mainstream to the macabre.
“Non-sports trading cards have been appreciating at a rapid pace,” says Roxanne Toser, a trading card authority and publisher of the Harrisburg, Pa.-based quarterly publication Non-Sport Update. “The serious collectors–adults who started collecting cards in their youth and have now branched off into the new stuff–are the people who go out and buy entire boxed sets.”
These sets, ranging in price from $8 to $30, are sold mostly by mail or in comic book stores, along with albums in which to display the cards. While serious collectors consider the cards an investment, others are attracted to specific subjects. What follows is a sampling of trading cards that draw from entertainment, current events, politics, even circus sideshows.
Much of the inspiration for the new cards comes from Hollywood. Just about every high-profile movie–and even a few clunkers such as “Howard the Duck”–spawns a set. Topps hit the streets this week with its “The Addams Family” set, which is expected to stick around until a few weeks after the film’s theatrical run ends. “Adults love everything in the old nostalgia vein,” Toser says. She predicts the movie will ignite demand for the old TV show cards within collectors’ circles.
(Topps Co., 401 York Ave., Duryea, Pa. 18642; (717) 457-6761).
Of even greater appeal to many thirty- and even fortysomethings are Impel Marketing’s Star Trek 25th Anniversary sets. The second series of cards is out now and, like the first, they depict scenes from the old and new TV shows.
And, for animation fans put off by the high cost of collecting original cels from the cartoon shorts of the ’30s and ’40s, Impel offers Disney Collector Cards as well as the more feminine Minne ‘n Me, “the only card set on the market targeted to little girls and their mothers,” says company spokesman George White III.
(Impel Marketing, P.O. Box 14930, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709-4930; (800) 968-9955).
Another Southern California institution captured in cards is the automobile. Collect-A-Card’s inaugural Vette Set series, released last summer, features not only photos of gleaming specimens of Chevrolet Corvettes (1953 to present), arguably the hottest sports car Detroit ever produced, but also the esoteric stats–production volume and serial number ranges–autophiles love.
Another set called Musclecars showcases road hogs like the Pontiac GTO, AMC Javelin and Plymouth Road Runner and Barracuda. These pre-oil-crisis gas guzzlers are making a big comeback among classic car collectors and wanna-bes. “It’s the baby boomers who once owned those cars that now like to collect the cards,” says Nelson Wheeler, director of marketing for Collect-A-Card.
(Collect-A-Card Corp., P.O. Box 17588, Greenville, S.C. 29606; (800) 243-7273).
The first trading card was an 1879 issue depicting a political figure–Canadian governor Marquis of Lorne. Eclipse Books is bringing back that grand old tradition, minus the reverential treatment the marquis no doubt enjoyed, with Iran/Contra, Drug War and Friendly Dictators (America’s Most Embarrassing Allies) trading cards.
Now, Presidents Reagan and Bush and California Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) are skewered along with Sen. Alan Cranston, Charles Keating, Michael Milken and Neal Bush in Savings & Loan Scandal cards. Just released, these cards combine painted caricatures on one side and in-depth investigative reporting on the other. “We’ve had calls from savings and loan CEOs who’ve asked ‘Am I in the cards?,’ ” says Eclipse editor Catherine Yronwode. “And when we say, ‘No,’ they say, ‘Good, then I’ll buy some. I want to show people that I’m not a crook.’ ”
(Eclipse Books, P.O. Box 1099, Forestville, Calif. 95436; (707) 887-1521).
Bordering on the tasteless is Mother Productions recently unleashed Human Freaks and Oddities. The 40-card collection, which is labeled “intended for adults only” because of its explicit photos, borrows from old circus sideshows and Ripley’s Believe It or Not displays of “human phenomena.” A card featuring Etta Lake, for example, shows her pulling her skin out 6 inches from her cheek. The text on the back explains matter-of-factly that Lake, a member of the King-Franklin Circus of the late 1800s, suffered from Ehler Danos’ disease, a rare illness that results in extraordinary skin elasticity. Who, pray tell, buys these? “Movie producers, attorneys, reverends . . . everybody,” says Mother’s owner Roger Worsham. “People are just curious.”
Also from Mother comes the cartoonlike, socially redeeming Toxic Waste Zombies. This set’s 39-member cast of fictitious characters is drawn in a style that card artists Eddie Young and Scott Angle, of Huntington Beach and Hollywood, respectively, call “lowbrow art.” You’ll be introduced to Acid Rain Duane, Chlorine Bleachman and Dynah Cancer, and a brief, educational character bio and quiz on the back of each will inform you about the dangers of, well, acid rain, toxic cleaning products and overexposure to the sun, for starters.
And how’s this for an offer you can’t refuse–Mafia Family trading cards? This set features shots of the cream of the Mafia–Al Capone, Meyer Lansky and arch-snitch Joseph Valachi–while the text extols their contributions to the art of gangstering. Particularly gruesome are photos of Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel and Carmine Galente, in the same condition the coroner found them.
(Mother Productions, P.O. Box 325, Atwood, Calif. 92601; (714) 991-5815).
Rigomor Press gives unorganized crime figures equal exposure in Incredible True-Life Murderers, from Lizzy Borden and Jack the Ripper to Lee Harvey Oswald and Richard Ramirez. The artwork ranges from caricature to realism, and the bios–though irreverent–are refreshingly factual. A set of these cards was reportedly found in Ramirez’s prison cell. But Rigomor Press publisher “Bad” Otis Link, who, along with a Long Beach artist known as “The Pizz” created the cards, says that, for the most part, his customers “turned out to be so mainstream that it would blow your mind.” He insists that no one who’s seen the set has been offended.
Rigomor is about to issue a similar set, The World’s Most Hated People, in which such obvious targets as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Idi Amin will keep company with more subjective choices like Daryl F. Gates, Arsenio Hall and Ted Nugent. “We’re expecting this one to be a little more controversial,” Link says.
(Rigomor Press, 11012 Ventura Blvd., Suite 365, Studio City, Calif. 91604, (213) 920-8955).
Article source: http://articles.latimes.com/1991-11-…1_trading-card