Tag Archives: Stickers

Wax Paper Pop Art #31:Duh Da Duh Duuunnnn, Dun Dun Dun!

Since I’ve been starring at my tiny Hot Wheels A-Team van all week, and since I have a contest going where you can win one of these toys, I decided that this would be a good time to share my 1983 Topps A-Team wax wrappers…

I talked about the stickers from this card set a while back too.

Wax Paper Pop Art #30, the Big Hairy Ape edition…

This week’s Wax Paper Pop Art is all about big hairy apemen.  Whether it’s the hilarious misadventures of an unruly adopted sasquatch with the 1987 Topps Harry and the Henderson’s card and sticker set (which I talked about here)…

…the weird romance and ennui of the master of the apes, from the 1976 Topps King Kong card and sticker set…

…or these next two wrappers from 1967 and 1969 (respectively) featuring the Topps Planet of the Apes card sets.

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Which reminds me, I need to break out my Planet of the Apes cartoon DVD and watch it again…

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Wax Paper Pop Art #29, Assembling some of the Avengers…

Well, it’s Friday and I’m really looking forward to the weekend and catching the Avengers sometime tomorrow morning.  Seems like a good opportunity to share my two main Marvel comics wax wrappers.  First up is the wrapper for the Topps Marvel Comic Book Heroes Stickers from 1974

I didn’t have any wrappers that were more in line with the Avengers, so I figured it’d be fun to pair the above with my favorite wax wrapper of all time from the 1979 Topps Incredible Hulk card set!

Here’s to hoping the Hulk gets to smash a bunch of stuff tomorrow…

Wax Paper Pop Art #28, The Ewoks Join the Fight!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I slapped together a Wax Paper Pop Art post.  I’ve got to get on the ball and finish scanning my collection so I can start these up again.  In the meantime, and in honor of my BFF Wicket W. Warrick stuffed toy, here are a couple of wrappers from Topps Return of the Jedi card series circa 1983…

I find it fascinating that the designers decided that out of all the Ewoks they could have featured on one of these wax packs they decided to include a baby.  Granted, they were cute as hell, but aesthetically speaking wouldn’t Logray or Chief Chirpa have been a better choice?

I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite book ever!

Yesterday I opened the mailbox to see a package from Amazon and my heart skipped a beat. For well over 15 years I’ve been dreaming about the idea of my perfect coffee table book, and in that little brown box I knew it was about to become a reality.  For anyone who’s been reading the site for any length of time probably already knows, I’m a huge Garbage Pail Kids nut.  Collecting and trading those stickers was a very big part of my youth, and though my original collection was lost decades ago I still cherished my memories of those gross and funny sticker cards.  By hook and by crook I’ve managed to rebuild a pretty decent collection of the vintage GPKs, including a near complete series one set that I never thought I’d manage.  All the while though I keep hoping that one day Topps would step up and release a nice photo book that reprinted all the awesome artwork from the original 15 series.  Heck, at least the first three series would have been awesome.

A few years ago my hopes got a big boost when Abrams and Topps released the first two volumes of their Wacky Packages retrospective (Volume 1 and Volume 2); I mean a nice GPK book would surely have to follow.  Well, one of the wonderful editors at Abrams assured me that something was in the works, and for the past six months I’ve been dying to see the final product.  Well, the wait was finally over…

Needless to say I ripped through the Amazon packaging so that I could finally put my hands on this coveted Garbage Pail Kids  tome and it’s pretty much everything I could ever want in a coffee table book.  This volume reprints the first five GPK series (206 separate paintings in all) which covers the initial boom of the phenomena.  There’s a forward by series mastermind Art Spiegelman that gives a nice overview of how the original series came about, and a short but sweet afterword by the original GPK artist John Pound which has some fun insights into his participation as well.  This book isn’t about the history of the stickers though, it’s all about a gorgeous presentation of the cards themselves.  In that department I think the book is amazing with only a few caveats in the missed-opportunity department.

  

First and foremost, the volume is beautifully designed in the same fashion as the Wacky Packages books, including a wax paper dust cover (which is still a very clever detail) and various bits of GPK collecting imagery (empty sticker backs, empty card boxes, stale sticks of chewing gum, and examples of the first five wax packages.) T he artwork of the cards themselves is presented pretty close to the actual size of the original paintings if I’m not mistaken, which is a very nice touch as well.  There was also a lot of care in how the “sister/brother – A& B” naming of the cards was represented, as well as working in imagery from the checklist design, and a handful of the series one Nutty Awards cardbacks.  There are even 4 included stickers that never made it press in any of the original series (for various reasons, but mostly due to overly violent imagery is my guess.)

There are a couple details that I think would have been nice to see though.  Since part of the deal with Topps was that the artists didn’t sign their work, it would have been nice if the various artists had some sort of attribution by each piece in the book.  Granted, John Pound did all the sticker artwork for the first two series, but Tom Bunk joined in on series three, and for those not versed in telling the two artists apart it would have been a nice touch.  The other thing that I would have wanted to see would have been a better representation of the cardbacks for each series.  As I mentioned above, there are a handful of the series one Nutty Award backs on the inside front cover of the book, but there aren’t any from the remaining 4 series in this volume at all.  Even if there were only a couple sampled at a smaller size in each chapter it would have gone a long way to completing the experience of collecting these sticker cards in the book.  Again, not a huge complaint, just a missed opportunity.

  

All in all though, I am so excited that this Garbage Pail Kids book finally exists and is sitting here right in front of me as I type this.  I’ve already flipped though this book 10 times and I still kind of can’t believe it’s actually real.  I know that may sound like hyperbole, but it’s true.  The only thing that could top this would be seeing two more volumes collecting the remaining ten vintage sets in the near future. Abrams, are you listening?

Peel Here #112, Of course Robo Force stickers are puffy, makes them more hugable!

I was rifling though my personal cabinet at work looking for my sketchbook when I came across this sheet of Robo Force puffy stickers that I meant to scan and write about awhile ago.  Though I’m sure there was a name brand version of these stickers, I’ve only ever seen them issued as generic unbranded knock-offs on eBay and elsewhere.  I’m pretty sure these were released in 1984 along with the rest of the toy-line and Robo Force merchandise before the franchise took a nose dive into obscurity.  I’ve written about these toys on the site before, and actually I just recently managed to find a mint in box S.O.T.A. figure (pictured in the stickers below to the left) to add to my 80s robot collection…

The other sticker featured is Wrecker which has a bit of resonance with me since he was the only Robo Force figure I had as a kid.  The missing sticker on this sheet featured one of the cooler Robo Force characters, Sentinel, which is probably why he’s absent.  There was also a second set of three sticker availalbe that featured the main hero and some of the villains from the line (Hun-Dred, Cruel, and Max Steele himself).  I’d also like to point out that these stickers were gifted to my by the gracious Jerzy Drozd of the Art & Story and Comics Are Great podcasts.

In other Peel Here news, yours truly was referenced on the Retroist website recently in a wonderfully odd Alternate History of the Sticker by none other than the Claymation Werewolf himself, J.C. Beirau.  I can only hope to be half as reclusive in my old age as he made me out to be…

Cereal Killers Trading Cards and a Contest!

**Update** Alright, I picked three names at random from a hat (well, empty coffee mug) and the lucky winners are: Laura I., Jeremy T H., Khris L.  Congrats guys and gals (I’ve notified you through the FB messaging system for your snail mail address) and thanks to everyone else for entering!

So I came home yesterday and found a package waiting for me at the door, and upon cracking it open I was excited to see this…

These came courtesy of a contest in the premiere issue of the Strange Kids Club Comix Anthology, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the individual boxes to get a glimpse at the loot.  These Cereal Killer trading cards are pretty darn cool and they follow in the tradition of Topps Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids.  The brainchild of artist Joe Simko, this set of spoofs perfectly blends a childhood love of sugary cereal with a score of monsters and horror movie icons.  These sets come with three mini cereal boxes, each containing 20 cards, a special prize and a gross piece of eyeball gum.  As for the special prizes you can expect to find black-light stickers, magnets, gold foil cards, and if you’re lucky an original sketch card from Joe himself.

One of the cool aspects of the set is the social networking built into trying to complete a set.  Wax Eye has set up a thread for trading doubles over at the Wacky Packages forum.  Sure you can buy additional packages, but it’s kind of cool to get back to what it was like in elementary school trading with classmates trying to complete the latest series of Garbage Pail Kids.

In the spirit of this, I’ve decided to hold a mini contest to get my doubles out into the world.  I’m offering up three prizes, a stack of 20 cards, a stack of 10 cards, and one of the super cool black-light stickers.  To get your grubby hands on these all you have to do is head on over to the Branded Facebook Page and leave a comment in the Discussions tab on the left (you can also click on the cards below).  I’ll be picking three winners at random this Friday, May 20th at 3:00pm est.  Good luck, and go check out Joe Simko’s Cereal Killers trading cards!

Wax Paper Pop Art #27, The most powerful wrappers in the universe!

Today is Friday the 13th which seems like the perfect opportunity to share some cool Jason Vorhees themed bits of Wax Paper Pop Art, but alas none exist.  This reminds me of one of my favorite blogs that is sadly defunct, the Bubblegum Fink.  BF was a huge influence on Branded, and one of the really cool things he did was to create sets of digital trading cards that aped the style of Topps sets back in the 70s and 80s.  One of my favorite would-be sets was for Friday the 13th, and it would have been awesome had it actually existed.  I never saved any of the images sadly, but here’s a post of someone else who took notice of these awesome pieces of should-be-nostalgia

Anyway, in lieu of simplistic Hockey Mask art I thought I’d share a set of some of my favorite Topps card wrappers from the Masters of the Universe series circa 1984…

These images, in particular of He-Man and Skeletor were very prevalent on MOTU merchandising back in the day.  Actually both of them also grace the two Lazer Blazer sticker sets as well.  It’s kind of cool to get a chance to see the same image in so many iterations over the years…

   

I talked about the sticker cards from this set, as well as a bunch of other MOTU stickers in an older Peel Here column.

Peel Here #111: A Grossville High School Reunion!

It’s not very often that I get a chance to revisit a set of stickers I’ve shared before with some interesting behind the scenes updates on the production and input from those involved in creating the set.  I was really happy to have a chance to do just that this past week when Gary Cangemi the co-creator, artist and writer behind Fleer’s 1986 sticker set called Grossville High paid a visit to Branded.  Not only did he share some of his experiences working on this set, but he also graciously provided a scan of the original artwork for one of the cards to share here as well as to clean up a bit of a buggy mystery.

About a year ago, a reader of the site named Joe pointed out one of the obscure facts about this set that I neglected to talk about when I first posted about the Grossville High cards.  Basically, the Grossville mascot (named Ronnie the Roach) is hidden in the artwork for each card in the set, so there was a additional bit of fun to be had in searching for the little bugger.  Joe had also pointed out that there was one card that didn’t feature a hidden Ronnie, sticker card #58, Miss Body English (pictured below at the center-left.)

As you can see in the original artwork below, Ronnie is indeed there, he was just cropped out of the final card art by Fleer…

What I really love about getting a chance to see this original artwork is the little details and differences between it and the final printed card.  First of all, one of the things that I’d appreciated about the artwork when I first took a look at this set was the care that was put into the aesthetics of the color when it came to the backgrounds.  This set is very loud with a lot of neon yellows, neon greens, reds, oranges and purples, and it can be an assault on the eyes at times.  One of the ways that I assumed Fleer tried to tone this down was by dimming the backgrounds, which both highlights the main characters and reduces the color “volume” so to speak.  Well, with the original piece, we get a chance to see the artwork as it was intended without the background obscured, and honestly it’s not nearly as eye-strain-inducing as I’d imagined.  Actually, the overall art seems less garish and less intense.  I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Fleer went with a very vivid and saturated look to the set instead of using the more subdued palette Cangemi originally chose.

Closer inspection of the piece also reveals some changes in the art that Cangemi noted Fleer had asked him to make.  In particular you can see a reduction in Miss Body’s bustiness…

Anyway, here’s what Gary had to say about working on Grossville High…

“My business partner Larry Newman came up with the concept of a gross high school and most of the names.  I did all the writing and artwork for the series.  There are some creative and design problems with the series caused mostly by the lack of time given me to complete 66 designs PLUS the humor on the backs.  I remember doing the whole thing in 5-6 weeks.  Some of the stuff got repetitive because there wasn’t enough time for creative development and feedback.  You will notice there are no African-American characters in the series.  Joe Stereo WAS black originally but fleer was so afraid of being accused of racism they made me turn him into a white guy.  I told them they were wrong, that to exclude African Americans was more racist.  Of course they had no objections to my stereotypes of Chinese, Italian, or Latino characters…go figure.  Some of these cards wouldn’t survive today’s hypersensitive market and others make me cringe a little, but the 70s-80s were a different time when people could kid around about race without all the political correctness.  Sitcoms were loaded with these stereotypes.

The only resemblance I see to GPK (in response to my assertion that Fleer was riffing on Topps’ GPK stickers – Shawn) is the naming scheme and the grossness, but I tried to be as original as possible and more MAD-like.  The faded backgrounds were fleer’s decision.  The original art, which I still possess, is rich in color depth and detail, too much so.  Fleer said the characters didn’t stand out enough like the GPKs did so they cut masks around the characters and lightened the backgrounds.  There IS a roach on the Miss Body English card, you just need to look harder.  I had a great time designing these cards but wish they had given me more.  They would have been much better.  By the way, the GH originals were not painted, they were done in Prismacolor markers, ink and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper.”

As for the future of Grossville High, Gary had this to say…

“I now own the exclusive rights to Grossville High and plan on resurrecting them in some form or another, either a class reunion or a next generation concept.  I also wrote a script for a GH graphic novel which I would like to produce someday.  I think Grossville High, with some updating, would make a great CGI film.”

Also, another bit of fun trivia for this set is that it was originally intended to be called Grossburger High, but Fleer nixed that idea for being too close to yet another of their rival Topps’ products, Gross Bears (their Garbage Pail Kid-like parody of the Care Bears released in 1985.)

I really want to give a huge thanks to Gary Cangemi for sharing his thoughts on the set and for giving the Branded readers a chance to look at some of his original untouched artwork!  I also hope he gets a chance to bring these characters back to life in a new project, and I’m really excited to see what might come in the future…

Peel Here #110: Presto Magix, or scrapbooking for nerdy children…

I was picking through a pile of ephemera that I plan on sharing on Branded in the future when I came across my meager collection of sticker transfer sets.  I bought most of these around the time I started this website and for some reason I never got around to really talking about them.  Though not stickers in the most accepted sense, these sets pretty much hit on all of the reasons why stickers were/are cool, and they’re an example of an interesting microcosm that exists within the hobby.

Basically these sets were a much cheaper variation of the Colorforms playsets (which debuted in the 50s), both of which are plays on the evolution of paper dolls.  While Colorforms were a bit sturdier, consisting of cardboard background scene and a bunch of re-useable vinyl cut-outs featuring pop culture characters and imagery, the various brands of transfer sets were much cheaper, featuring paper backdrops and single use transfer “stickers.”  Like coloring and activity books, these sets were designed as a way for children to use their own imagination to create a story with pop culture imagery.  I loved these sets when I was young because I always had more fun setting up a scene when I was playing (be it with actual toys or when I’d draw) then actually executing my ideas.  These sets play on that part of the creative brain that leads kids to drawing scenes of two opposing military forces where you see the cut-away of bases and underground drilling machines.  Best of all they were really cheap, around $0.50 to $1 in most cases, so it was much easier to convince parents that they were a worthwhile purchase.

Though I’m sure there are more, I’m really only aware of two brands for these transfer sets, Colorforms Rub N’ Play sets and Presto Magix.  The Colorforms sets tended to feature more transfers in their sets, but Presto Magix always had cooler backdrops…

Here you can see an example of a Presto Magix Thundarr the Barbarian set from 1981.  Each package had a small sheet of transfers and a fold out scene with which to place the action…

To transfer the stickers you simple had to place the sticker sheet in the desired position and then use a pen or pencil to rub over the area you wanted to transfer.  Some of the more deluxe sets came with a little red plastic tool with a rounded tip that you used to rub the transfers off the sheet.

When seeking out these sets after 20 odd years I was surprised at how many I managed to find.  Like stickers, these sets seemed destined to be used, and afterward I’m sure that most of them ended up in the garbage.  Since they’ve quadrupled in value over the years I limited my shopping spree to 8 sets.  In addition to the Thundarr set above I also picked up a handful of Star Wars Return of the Jedi Presto Magix sets…

      

…as well as three Colorforms Rub N’ Play sets featuring Michael Jackson, Masters of the Universe, and Gremlins.

   

Aside from the single use aspect, the biggest drawback of these sets was getting the transfer on the backdrop in one solid piece.  The heavier plastic material that these transfers are housed on tended to stretch and distort when you’d rub the stickers off of them and since they were so thin and fragile they’d often break in half or have a bunch of cracks in the image.  Sometimes it was also easy to mistakenly get a second transfer stuck to the backdrop while you were working on a separate one simple by the pressure of your hand on the transfer plastic.  For $0.50 though, it was worth the risk.

One of the other things that I loved about these sets was the opportunity to mix and match characters from my favorite TV shows and cartoons.  Why wouldn’t Scooby Doo go on an adventure with Ookla the Mok from Thundarr?  Breaking these sets out again seemed like a great opportunity to put together that dream super-band I’ve always wanted to see…

I always imaged Admiral Ackbar had a very William Shatner-like delivery when singing, and you have to dig those hairy back-up singers!