Peel Here #104: Holy Crap!

By Shawn Robare

I’ve talked a lot about collecting here at Branded, and on a few occasions I’ve discussed how the hobby leads to certain unobtainable “holy grail” items.  The hobby is, by nature, goal driven; when you find one thing, one object that you desired and enjoyed, as a collector you’ll inevitably seek out another item linked to the first and so on.   It’s these goals that keep you going, looking for the next piece to acquire, and the beauty of most collections is that there is usually one item that is really hard to obtain.  Personally, though it’s frustrating during the hunt, this unobtainability is what keeps the fire stoked; it’s what keeps it interesting.

Though I’d consider myself a collector, I’ve always been hampered by my own frugality.   As much as I’ve wanted certain expensive things over the years I’ve found that I have a hard time paying much more than bargain prices.   If I can’t find it cheap, then it can wait.  So even though some of my “holy grail” items are available, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever add ’em to the collection based on crazy high collector’s prices.  I’d resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much I wanted a set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers, it just wasn’t going to happen.  The set runs upwards of $300 on eBay, which is roughly $280 more than I’d ever be willing to pay for 82 sticker cards.  But the hunt kept me searching.  About seven months ago I stumbled across a single 1st series card, 36a Wrapin’ Ruth, in a comic shop.   I was so stoked because I’d never seen one up close, and it was only a buck.  I snatched it up and put it proudly at the beginning of my collection, just waiting for the other 81 stickers to eventually join it.  I wasn’t holding my breath.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, a co-worker came in with a big bag of miscellaneous Garbage Pail Kids cards.  Her son had just gotten into the newer series and one of her friends had given her a bunch of their old stickers to pass on to him.  Since they were older and because she knew that I collected them myself, she gave me first crack at them considering that her son would be more interested in using them as stickers than collecting them.   This has happened before, people have given me a stack of cards to rifle through, either to help them find anything “worth some money” or to add to my collection.   Typically there isn’t anything of value, and usually the cards are in pretty bad shape.  This stack was no different as you can see in the 1st picture above…

Some of the cards looked like they’d been dipped in beef stew, while others suffered from the normal issues; checklists had been ticked off and there was a fair share of cards that were either written on or were missing borders.   But as I started sorting the stickers into piles (beef stew, borderless, doubles of stuff I already had), I found a pocket of cards that were stuck together.  As I carefully pried them apart I realized that they were 1st series cards, and they were in pretty good condition.  Well, they were actually pretty bad in that they all had a thick line of residual tape glue on the backs where they’d been taped into a picture album, but none of them looked like they’d been dipped in stew.

I decided to take my lunch so that I could concentrate on the stickers, and a half an hour later I was staring at a sight that I honestly never expected to see, a near complete set of 1st series Garbage Pail Kids stickers!  I kept muttering, “Holy crap…” under my breath as I was sorting and I found more and more of the set.

All told, the set was only 14 stickers short (including my Wrappin’ Ruth), and whoever had collected these as a kid had managed to at least get at least one of each of the A&B stickers except for one set.  So even though the set isn’t complete, all but one of the John Pound paintings are accounted for, as well as most of the Tom Bunk illustrated certificate backings.

After spending a good four hours rubbing off the residual tape glue, and putting them into card pages that evening I was finally looking at something I never thought I’d have.  Granted, the cards aren’t in the best condition, but who cares!

Not to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I was a little bummed that there wasn’t a Potty Scotty sticker.  Growing up, though I never managed to see any of these stickers firsthand, I was aware of a handful of the cards based on other GPK merchandising.  In my eyes there were six main cards that sort of defined the series and Garbage Pail Kids as a whole, Adam Bomb, Dead Ted, Nasty Nick, Bony Joanie, Brainy Janie, and Potty Scotty.  In fact, any GPK that featured a toilet was sort of like the equivalent to Bobba Fett or Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars Universe.  I’m glad I snagged a Jason Basin though…

This is kind of a silly thing to admit, but for years I used to have this reoccurring dream where I was in an orchard of trees that had GPKs instead of leaves.  It was perpetually Fall and the stickers where falling to the ground in big heaps and I’d spend the whole dream raking up the cards and sorting them by series.  I’d always get so depressed after waking up and realizing that the big pile of 1st series GPKs weren’t real.  The past two weeks have felt like that dream.  I guess in some way, as glad as I am to have finally scored these stickers, it’s sort of anticlimactic in a way.  The hunt is mostly over.  Sure, I can pick up the missing 14 stickers over time (if I can find the damn things cheap enough), but I almost don’t want to.

I did decide to go ahead and order one sticker, 35b Rockin’ Robert.  Seemed like a shame to be missing the one John Pound painting.  I think I’m going to have to consider Potty Scotty as the new holy grail for my GPK collection…

Anyone out there have any stories of stumbling on your own holy grail items?

Update!! I received my Rockin’ Robert…

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  • Tim L.

    Nice! Unfortunately, I’m still in search of my personal holy grail: the late 1970’s Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe Playset made by Ideal.

  • Slick McFavorite

    I agree about Potty Scotty, but for me it was Jason Basin. Mainly because when I’m not going by my alias, I use my real name, Jason. Mrs. McFavorite actually gave me a Jason Basin card out of her collection when we were dating. I never had any idea it was a first series. I’ll see if we can dig out her collection, maybe she has your Holy Grail.

  • Rondal

    Such a sickly sweet run of cards. I remember when I was younger and I used to have to sneak Garbage Kids cards behind my parents back. We used to have “”super secret”” school gatherings where we would trade them as well. Garbage Pail kids were like the E.C. comics of my generation for sure. Congrats on the find, Shawn!

  • Brooksie

    Oh… the sweet nostalgia pangs! Is it wrong to want to spend vast amounts of cash getting all the sets? Each piece of the puzzle just leads on to the next, but oh… the satisfaction of ownership! Followed by the slow realisation that your life is *still* incomplete without… *FILL IN THE BLANK*.

  • Brooksie

    Amen! A big part of the thrill is in the chase! The internet killed a lot of that for me. I found it just too easy to get many of the things I wanted, so I had to diversify and ratchet-up what I was looking for!

  • Paxton Holley

    Hey Shawn, I was cleaning out the garage this weekend and I found my collection of Garbage Pail Kids that I thought my parents threw out. It included a full set of Series 3 and a nearly complete set of Series 4. Series 4 is missing only 2 of the John Pound paintings. Plus there are 3 or so A/B cards I don’t have. There were also a ton of misc Series 5-9 cards. I was sooooooo happy to find them.