I’ll trade you a hand-less Murphy for your Boddicker’s Bros card!

By Shawn Robare

7532537214_4ebdcd1cb6_oIt’s day two of the Branded in the 80s Robocop-a-thon, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at the Topps movie trading cards from 1990.  Though this set was primarily produced for the Robocop sequel, the designers at Topps were thoughtful enough to include about 20 cards at the beginning of the set that recap the events of the first film.  If I had to guess I’d say that in 1986-87, when the first feature was being merchandised, Topps took a pass on licensing the property as they weren’t sure if their product was probably good fit for the adult content of the movie.  Though they had previous produced licensed card sets for films like Alien, Rambo: First Blood, Part 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Fright Night, Pumpkinhead, and Predator (the latter four form the Fright Flicks set), I had to believe that the over the top uber violence and adult themes in Robocop would be a concern in a line of cards meant largely for kids.  Well, after the successful marketing push of the first film throughout 1987 and into 1988 with the cartoon spin-off and toy-line, I’m sure Topps were kicking themselves and when the opportunity arose for licensing on the sequel, they were right there at the front of the line…


Though I kind of wish that these 1st movie cards featured a different border and color scheme than the standard Robocop 2 card design, I am glad Topps saw fit to include them.  Most of the cards feature Murphy as Robocop punching, shooting, and hair-dragging the villains from the film, but there are also some cool shots like the one with Peter Weller and Nancy Allen below that I think is from a promotional still.  I also love the card featuring the scene from later in the film when Murphy is trying to work on his aim.  Love the subtle inappropriateness of blasting away at something so pure and tiny as baby food bottles.


There are also a couple of fun cards that feature some behind the scenes shots, like this group photo of Clarence Boddicker and his “associates”, as well as the still where we can see the hands of the off-screen “puppeteer” about to spear Boddiker with Robocop’s F-U-Usb interface spike…


The picture of the Boddicker crew really unnerves me for some reason.  When I first saw this flick in the theater as a kid I was genuinely afraid of these characters, and because there was so many adult themed scenes with them (snorting coke, having their junk out in front of nice lady cops, or taking hazardous baths in toxic waste) I have since had a very hard time not associating the characters with the actors ever since.  In some cases this did nothing but enhance their performances in later projects (Kurtwood Smith as Red Foreman in That 70s Show for instance), but in others it made it nearly impossible to watch them in other parts (like Paul “Emil the Melting Man” McCrane as Dr. Robert Romano in ER.)  So seeing them in this behind the scenes group photo ass giggling an huggy just feels extra sleazy to me.  I know it’s irrational, but it’s just disturbing.  Granted, not nearly as disturbing as this next set of cards…


I’ll be honest, I’m a horrible judge at what is and isn’t appropriate for kids.  Sure, I can easily say porn is not for kids (or honestly for me, but whatever), but when it comes to things like violence and horror movies I have a harder time finding the line.  As I’ve mentioned, I saw Robocop in the theater when I was 10 and even though a lot of the stuff make me squirm in my chair, I still loved ever single minute of it and unless there’s some stuff I’ve done during a blackout where I don’t remember, I’ve never hurt anyone and am a pretty nice, compassionate and grounded individual.  But even I would say that some of these bubblegum cards are pretty rough and probably not the kind of thing you want your kids taking to school and trading for stickers and Hot Wheels.  Did they really need to single out the attempted rape scene for a card?  Hell, I’m surprised there isn’t a card featuring Bob Morton snorting blow off of that one hooker’s boobs.  The Murphy execution cards are the worst (though I do have a couple others that are right up there that I’ll be sharing on another day.)


For the record, if you are going to feature a card with Murphy in mid hand-ectomy, please title the card “Give the Man a Hand”…  Oh, and I shared the sticker card subset from this series a while back in the Peel Here column…