Tag Archives: Topps

These Should Exist: The Lost Boys Edition!

Over the past year I’ve been having a lot of fun with my latest Branded in the 80s project where I try and fill in some of the pop culture gaps when it comes to properties that weren’t merchandised nearly as well as they could have been back in the day.  The basic gist of the idea for me is creating mini sets of Topps trading cards for movies, TV shows and cartoons that never had sets of cards, but totally should have.  This idea started last year when I was working on my Countdown to Halloween theme of 31 days worth of articles and appreciate for one of my all time favorite flicks, The Monster Squad.  While putting that month’s worth of content together I thought it would be fun to create a digital set of trading cards that looked as accurate as possible to actual vintage Topps releases, up to and including recreating wax wrappers.  I had such a blast creating these and sharing them that I’ve worked on 5 additional sets in the last 12 months (including sets for Adventures in Babysitting, Rad, Jem & the Holograms and a couple sets that I co-created with my Cult Film Club co-host Paxton Holley for Young Guns & Young Guns II.)  Around June of this past year I started jotting down a list of all the flicks and shows that I felt needed card sets, and when the one-year anniversary of the Monster Squad cards was about to hit I went back to the list to find a flick that would be an appropriate Halloween-y follow up.

Lost Boys Wrapper A

The movie that immediately jumped out at me was The Lost Boys, which along with The Monster Squad were my first two big forays into watching horror flicks back when I was 10 years-old in 1987.  My parents had been very strict with my sister when it came to letting her watch R-rated movies, or anything even remotely resembling the horror genre, but they were a little bit looser with me.  For all intents and purposes 1987 was the year they gave up trying to keep me from watching more adult flicks, but before they completely let me loose in the horror section of the local video rental store with their rental card there were a handful of flicks that were sort of baby steps into horror for me.  The Monster Squad and The Lost Boys were these movies, and the latter in particular as it was aimed at a slightly older audience with the level of gore and intensity.

Lost Boys Wrapper C

Unlike most of the sets I’ve worked on so far, with the Lost Boys set I felt the urge to start with creating the wax wrapper and then work out from there.  When I sat down to tackle the wrappers I kind of wanted to go in two different directions with the style.  The mid-eighties was a time of transition for Topps in terms of style. They had begun to phase out the bold, italicized logo (the one on the wrappers above) in lieu of a more spindly, art deco logo.  There was also some shake up in terms of the pictures on the wrappers.  For a few sets they moved away from the high contrast, thick line art illustrations and instead went with photo realistic images that used black and white halftone shading and minimal color fills.  You can see this on the Supergirl and Cyndi Lauper wrappers.  So I got it in my head that I’d try my hand at doing both styles for the wrappers.

Lost Boys 1 - combo

As for the cards themselves, I knew I wanted to go with something stark and dark for the border colors and I hadn’t really done any black-bordered cards yet.  So I dug up some Jaws 2 cards and took a lot of inspiration from the fin design in the border to create a bat for the Lost Boys cards.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Lost Boys 2 - combo    Lost Boys 4 - combo

Lost Boys 3 - combo

Lost Boys 5 - combo    Lost Boys 6 - combo

This is also one of those movies (like the Monster Squad) where I could easily have created 80+ cards, but I decided to keep it tight with 15 cards.  Otherwise I’d probably still be working on this set next Halloween…

Lost Boys 10 - comboLost Boys 7 - combo    Lost Boys 8 - combo

Lost Boys 9 - combo

I did want to make sure that I hit on all the major characters though.  On my short list for cards that didn’t make the cut were Big Ed (the boardwalk cop), the punks, Nanook & Thorn, Michael eating Chinese takeout, and the Vampires Everywhere comic book…

Lost Boys 14 - combo

Lost Boys 11 - combo    Lost Boys 12 - combo

Lost Boys 13 - combo

Even though I skipped over some cards that I wanted to make, but didn’t.  There was one card that absolutely had to be made no matter what, Tim “Sax Man” Capello.  He “still believes” his card is the best in the set, and therefore I still believe that it’ll probably be the first one folks right-click on and save for their digital Lost Boys cards collection…

Lost Boys 15 - combo


These Should Exist: the Jem & the Holograms edition!

With the release of the first two trailers for the new big screen, live action adaptation of Jem & the Holograms only a couple of months away it’s had me thinking a lot about the original cartoon and toy line and what made those so special to me growing up in the 80s.  I pretty much have zero interest in the new movie because I feel like the production has completely shrugged off the original concept and vision of the property that it’s all but unrecognizable.  In fact it feels like a more earnest adaptation of the Hannah Montana television series, which was itself a lesser derivative of the original Jem cartoon.  On a brighter note, I finally managed to pick up the first five issues of the IDW comic book adaptation of Jem written by Kelly Thompson and lavishly illustrated by Sofie (formerly Ross) Campbell, a favorite artist of mine for the past 15 years or so.

Jem comic

The comic series is great and manages to hit all the notes of the original while still updating the plot and characters into a more modern take.  We hear a lot about comic book adaptations and mining comics for film these days, but this is the type of material and a philosophy for how to write fan favorite material that Hollywood just isn’t grasping.  That said, I’m not trying to knock the wind out of the film industry, though if there are ever any executives out there reading this, you’re getting it wrong.  Anyway, since I’ve been diving back into the story of Jem a lot lately I thought it would be the perfect time to try my hand at designing another set of trading cards that SHOULD have existed back in the 80s but for whatever reason never happened…

Jem_Wrapper_v1    Jem_Wrapper_v2

Like the previous sets I created (or co-created) for The Monster Squad, Adventures in Babysitting, Rad, Young Guns and Young Guns II, I had a blast working on these.  I love trying to slip into the creative mindset of a Topps employee circa 1985 when laying out and utilizing artwork to create these wax wrapper and card designs.  Finding colors that work well with the content or trying to make the cards dynamic yet still true to the aesthetic of the 80s…


Jem_Cards_1_combo     Jem_Cards_3_Combo

First and foremost, since there is a lot of gorgeous Jem & the Holograms toy box art for each of the characters I wanted to highlight that before utilizing any of the animation imagery.  Though there were some cartoon series that had trading card sets in the 80s (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Masters of the Universe immediately spring to mind), the majority of trading card sets seemed to focus mainly on film and live action TV.  Also, the cartoon sets tended to add speech bubbles with puns and dialogue to the cards and I really didn’t want to do that.  It’s not like I feel I’d have to per-se, but it would be more accurate which is half of what I’m striving for when making these sets…

Jem_Cards_4_Combo     Jem_Cards_5_Combo


Jem_Cards_7_combo     Jem_Cards_6_combo

The crazy 80s-inspired design of these cards is also a bit personal for me because I was able to tap into my childhood experience growing up in central Florida.  The color scheme I went with is heavily evocative of what I remember seeing all over the place from the design on the scratch-off lottery tickets that became legal around 1988.  It’s a mix of a beachy feel with a splash of flamingo, aqua and neon.  I had so many pairs of surf & skate shirts and shorts that sported these colors…


Jem_Cards_11_combo     Jem_Cards_12_combo


Making these cards was also an excuse to seek out a ton of Jem-related research materials including interviews with series mastermind Christy Marx, making-of featurettes from the Shout! Factory DVD release, as well as diving back into watching the cartoon itself.  I always love re-watching cartoons when I’m doing research for a project like this because it makes me stop and take a closer look at what’s going on both in the episode and behind the scenes…

Jem_Cards_13_combo     Jem_Cards_17_combo



Jem_Cards_16_combo     Jem_Cards_15_combo

All in all, I think this is my favorite of the digital trading cards sets I’ve worked on solo thus far.  And at the risk of sounding like a broken record I really wish that I had a set of these in hard copy cards to stick in my collecting binders sandwiched in between my Robocop and Harry and the Hendersons cards.  Maybe someday.

*UPDATE* this is pretty darn cool

These are excellent. Hasbro should totally do these.

Posted by Christy Marx Clubhouse on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

These Should Exist: the Young Guns II Edition

A couple months ago my buddy Paxton and I shared a set of digital vintage-style trading cards we created for the woefully under-merchandised film Young Guns (here’s the half I shared, and here’s the half that Pax shared.).  We’re both huge fans of the flicks, which if you give our Cult Film Club podcast double feature episodes a listen – part 1 & part 2,you can plainly hear. Of course, like most fans of the Young Guns movies (as well as Billy the Kid on film fans that dig these 80s interpretations), it’s hard to consider the one flick without the other. Though it’s considered a sequel, the continuing story of Billy the Kid and the Regulators of Lincoln County New Mexico in Young Guns II really is just the second half of a larger single story. So when we set out to make these cards for the 1988 film it was a given that we’d also have to create a Series 2 set.

Like before we’ve split up the set between our respective sites, so collect them all by heading over to the very aptly named Cavalcade of Awesome and check out the rest of the cards (and some really awesome variants!)

Wrapper YG2 B

Wrapper YG2 A Wrapper YG2 C

Again, we wanted to set the tone with some awesome wax wrappers, this time featuring three different variations. Billy’s hero wrapper, Pat Garrett’s “villain”, and newcomer Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh (played exquisitely by Christian Slater.) A keen eye will notice that we chose to go backwards in terms of the Topps logo (this was the logo they used in the late 70s/early 80s and by 1990 when this flick came out Topps had moved onto a more spindly art deco font. I’ve never been a fan of that late 80s early 90s logo personally (you can see it on this Who Framed Roger Rabbit wax wrapper.)  So we thought it would be fun to throw back to the 70s, early 80s version of the logo…


YG2_23_Chavez YG2_25_Dave

Working on this project with Pax was the first time I’ve done a series two of a digital card set so we had to think about some minor aesthetic design elements that we wanted to work with. One of them was the idea of carrying over the numbering from the first set, picking up where that one left off. So instead of starting the number over at “1″, we chose “21″. This was common for Topps in the 80s with sets ranging from Garbage Pail Kids (which had consecutive numbering from sets 1-15) to the various Star Wars sets (that first movie had five separate series, each picking up the numbering where the last left off.)

YG2_27_Tom YG2_29_Chisum

We also felt it would connect the sets by keeping the card backs relatively the same, just shifting the coloring scheme to fit the sequel a bit better. In keeping with the natural realistic border motif, we made sure to work in the purple and black tribal blanket pattern that was used in the Young Guns II marketing. I like that both sets have a textural boarder (the first with the wood grain, and now the blanket.)  I was really happy with how both sets came out and how they compliment and contrast each other…

YG2_31_Ollinger YG2_33_Poe


All in all making these cards with Paxton was a hell of a lot of fun, and to beat this dead horse a bit more, I really am surprised that there was never any sort of marketing push for these films. Sure, westerns in the 80s weren’t as popular as they were in the 50s and 60s, but with the cast and the amped up action, these movies were ripe for cool products like this. Hell, Robocop and Robocop 2 had a combined card set, why not Young Guns?


Once again, if you dig these digital trading cards, please head on over to the Cavalcade of Awesome and complete your set! For those taking a close look at the numbering, you might see that there are some chase cards for these sets that we’ve be shared elsewhere as well!

As a special bonus to these sets Pax and I created a couple more fun “These Should Exist” style pieces for the two Young Guns films.  Not only are we huge trading card fans, but both Pax and I have a great love of movie novelizations and these two films were also snubbed when it came to that particular marketing push as well.  So we took it upon ourselves to create novelization covers that we thought looked accurate and vintage, as well as being something we’d love to see on our bookshelves…

Young Guns Novelization        YG2_novelization

Now at some point Pax and I have to create that exhaustive movie souvenir magazine for these flicks we’ve been talking about…

For me the 80s didn’t end with a whimper or a bang, but with a fake puking noise…

5741481453_25e5050515_oI spend a lot of time writing and creating stuff for Branded to celebrate all the things that I loved about growing up in the eighties.  Part of why I do this is to share my collection of junk that I’ve amassed over the years, and part of it is trying to capture and share that intense feeling of “holy crap, I had that” that one feels when they encounter something that had been completely forgotten up until that point.  That rush of memory and familiarity is like a drug to me, and it’s as rare as it is fleeting.  It’s basically chasing the dragon of nostalgia.  I can only hope that there are folks who visit this site and are reminded of something lost from their childhoods.  Something small and relatively inconsequential that they’ve completely forgotten about and that by stumbling across a post or picture they stop whatever they’re doing and get that wave of sweet nostalgia that starts in the pit of your stomach and quickly spreads like adrenaline through the rest of your body.

This past week I had one of those magical moments where I was just scrolling through facebook and then all of the sudden I felt like a Mack truck slammed into me as my eyes landed on something that I hadn’t seen or thought about since 1989…

Barfo Candy Ad

Facebook friend and all around awesome vintage candy collector R. Vandiver shared the above Topps sales sheet to the Novelty Candy Marketplace FB group and I just froze for a few minutes in disbelief.  I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten about these Barfo Family Candy containers!

Barfo Candy Box 1Not only had I forgotten about these, but on a personal level, this amazingly gross novelty candy is one of the last official pop culture experiences I had during that golden decade as a kid.  I spend the entirety of the 80s living in central Florida (in the both the Tampa and Orlando areas) and it was on the last day of December of 1989 when my family packed up, picked up stakes, and moved north to the Massachusetts/New  Hampshire area.  My father had recently been transferred to a new office and he’d already taken a trip up by himself to drive one of our two cars up to the small apartment we were going to stay in for a couple of months while our new house was being built.  I distinctly remember we kicked off a two-day road trip on New Years eve as there was a live band playing Auld Lang Syne in the motel restaurant/bar we stayed at that night in Virginia.

That morning, after we’d been on the road for a couple hours, my dad stopped at a Stuckey’s somewhere in north FL to fuel up.  I think I’d begged for some money so that I could go inside and load up on Yes & No Invisible Ink Question & Answer books, Slim Jims and candy for the trip.  The particular Stuckey’s we stopped at was a weird combination of gas station and diner, with two separate buildings.  I poked my head in the diner area first where there was an area towards the back that a had a spinner rack full of comics and the Yes & No books as well as coolers full of soda and a rack full of beef jerky.  I couldn’t find any Slim Jims, so I settled on a small bag of jerky, a glass bottle of blue Fanta, and a Battleship heavy edition of the Yes & No books.  Strangely, there was no candy in this section, so after I paid for my junk I headed over to the gas station building next door to see if there was any in there.  I’d already spent the majority of the money my dad gave me (beef jerky is always so damn expensive) and I think I had about a dollar and a half left when I stumbled unto candy nirvana.  I definitely considered myself a sort of candy connoisseur at this point in my life having spent endless hours in our local 7-Elevens and Walgreens trying every possible thing that I could get a sugar high off of, but this Stuckey’s had some stuff that I’d never even dreamed existed.  I was hoping I’d find some of those little cartons full of orange and fruit punch-flavored bubble gum, or maybe a Mr. Bones Coffin full of the chalky Sweettarts-like candy, but there was a whole shelf full of novelty plastic heads full of candy as well as a full box of Barfo Family candy that just about made my head explode.

Barfo Candy Box Art

I was still a huge fan of Garbage Pail Kids at the time and was all into the super gross art in MAD and Cracked magazines, so when I saw the Barfo candy I was in love.  Sitting right next to these were a box full of plastic Batman heads full of candy, and I was also a super fan of that film, so I was torn trying to decide how to spend the rest of my loot.  In the end I had just enough for one Batman head and one Barfo head, but I vowed that I’d find a place to pick up the rest of the Barfo heads as soon as I had more money…

Barfo Candy Box 2

The Barfo head that I chose was Ralph, the kid, and if I’m recalling correctly it was filled with a grape flavored goo that came oozing out of his mouth when you pushed down on the accordion plunger.  This terrified and sickened my parents, but I loved it.  It didn’t even bother me that I was basically making out with a tiny candy dispenser.  I spent the next hour in the backseat making fake puking noises in between squirting the liquid candy into my mouth.  I’m sure my parents thought long and hard about leaving me on the side of the road all throughout that trip…


In doing some research it turns out there were four members in the Barfo family, the kid, Ralph as I mentioned above, his two parents What’s Up Chuck and Oozie Suzie, and the family dog Arf-Barf.  The concept of these little disgusting novelties was the brainchild of Abe Morgenstern who, according to Topps alum Drew Friedman, came into the office with a turkey baster one day after Thanksgiving and demanded to know how they could turn the baster into a candy dispenser.  From there it was passed on to a few folks at Topps including Art Speigelman & Mark Newgarden who came up with the idea to model the dispensers after a 50′s era nuclear family, and eventually Drew Friedman and Patrick Pigott who designed and illustrated the box art.  Stan Hart, a MAD magazine writer, coined the Barfo name.

Barfo Candy Family

Whats Up Chuck                   Oozie Suize                   Arf-Barf

After we got up to New England I recall searching for stores that had the Barfo candy on sale, but sadly I never found any.  Not only were these amazing designs in terms of gross-out candy dispensers, but as far as I can remember these were also years ahead of of the whole liquid lollipop phenomenon of the mid 90s.

Man, I can’t thank R. Vandiver enough for reminding me about these, and Drew Friedman for detailing the history of the development of the product over on his blog.  He even posted pictures of the super rare prototype dispenser that is perhaps even more nightmare inducing than the final candy heads!  All in all, as far as the 80s go, literally, one of the last pop culture memories I have before ringing in 1990 with the house band at some less than memorable motel bar is of making my own personal Sofie’s choice as to which member of the Barfo family I took home with me on the morning of December 31st 1989.  That and all the fake puking sounds I made in the car while eating the candy…


These Should Exist: The Rad Edition

I’ve been having a ton of fun creating digital trading cards recently.  I think this project sort of falls inside the dead center of my Venn diagram that is a mix of being creative, learning to hone my Photoshop skills, and geeking out about all the 80s stuff that I love.  With that in mind I’ve had a hard time focusing on much else for the past few weeks and decided I might as well dive into creating another set of cards while I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  So over the past week I tackled another of my all time favorite films which also just happens to be criminally under-merchandused, the 1986 BMX-ploitation flick Rad!

Rad Wrapper

For anyone that’s been reading this site for any length of time or listened to the podcast I co-host, The Cult Film Club, it should be pretty clear just how much I love this flick. I must have rented this flick from the local mom & pop video store 2.6 million times as a kid and I was always bummed that it never caught on with audiences in the theater the way that it did on VHS and on cable.  Though this isn’t the sort of film that made sense to spawn a toy line, I always felt that the movie would have been perfect for adapting into one of those youth novelizations or, well, a trading card set…


Rad_1_Cru_combo     Rad_2_Cru_Cant_combo

Rad_4_Bart_Taylor_combo     Rad_5_hanging_out_Combo

It’s weird, when I tackled this set I thought it was going to be a cake walk in terms of picking what scenes and characters to include on the cards.  I mean I love the crap out of this film.  But that actually became a problem because after I started compiling a list it was quickly topping out at one hundred cards.  Creating that many cards would have taken forever and I knew that I had to draw a line at around 30 cards.


Rad_7_SgtSmith_Combo     Rad_10_DukeBest_combo

Rad_8_Wesley_combo     Rad_9_Mopheadboy_combo

Narrowing the list down was tough.  Sure, there were a bunch of cards I wanted to make that highlighted some of my favorite lines (“The only thing I’m good at is riding THIS bike!”, “Let’s Walk this sucker”, or “Gnarly!”), but when I was limiting myself to 30 these were some of the first to go.  I also wanted to include at least one card for ever major pro BMX rider featured in the film, but that would have been half the set right there.  So I ended up making sure that I at least included cards for the two main stunt doubles, Martin Aparijo and Eddie Fiola.



Rad_11_pegride_combo     Rad_15_qualifier_combo

Rad_13_wannadance_combo Rad_14_bikedance_combo

I also wanted to include cards for all the awesome bands and musicians on the soundtrack, I mean what is this movie without the sweet dulcet tones of John Farnham or Sparks?  Again, these had to go…


Rad_16_asssliding_combo     Rad_27_Timmer_combo

Rad_28_radracing_combo     Rad_29_bestbuds_combo


There was also an issue trying to source enough interesting radical facts for the card-backs.  Again, since this movie never got the DVD treatment there were never any making-of documentaries shot, no director commentaries, etc.  There were a handful of BMX magazine articles and the official/unofficial commentary track that Bill Allen, Bart Connors, Sam Bernard, Martin Aparijo, Eddie Fiola, and Jose Yanez recorded last year that were invaluable for compiling the facts that made it onto the card backs.


Rad_18_Cru_Bart_combo     Rad_19_Cru_360_flip_combo

Rad_20_Hulk_Hogan_combo     Rad_21_Bart_takesout_Rod_combo


All in all, I’m really happy with how the set turned out and I can add it to the list of digital trading cards that I can only dream about being real, sitting in binders between my Goonies and Little Shop of Horrors cards…

Rad_25_mikemiranda_combo     Rad_30_bicycleboogie_combo


These Should Exist: The Young Guns Edition

I’m still toying around with the idea of making this a regular feature here at Branded, but after recently creating the sorely needed and non-existent Adventures in Babysitting cards a couple weeks ago I got to talking with my pal and Cult Film Club co-host Paxton about collaborating on a set of Young Guns and Young Guns II digital trading cards.  We both love those movies (as evidenced in our two-part double feature podcast from this past year), but I’d say that the love Pax has for the films is way, way up there, most definitely in the realm of my love of The Monster Squad.  So we hunkered down, traded notes on design and Photoshop secrets, and proceeded to create our own sets of Young Guns trading cards that we both believe should really have existed.

I’ll start off with series one, and as with any good set of 80s era trading cards we felt like we needed some rad wax wrappers.  For this set we created two, a hero…

Wrapper YG1 A

and a villain…

Wrapper YG1 B

As for the cards themselves, Pax and I are gonna split up the set we designed, each showcasing half.  If you want to “collect them all”, you’ll have to head on over to his bitchin’ site the Cavalcade of Awesome to get the rest.  Also, in terms of design, this Young Guns series one set provided the perfect opportunity to tap into a wonderful and wonderfully misused 80s era Topps card flourish, the mystifying real wood-bordered 1987 Baseball cards!


So, from my perspective, I both loved and loathed that ’87 wood border design back in the day.  That was the year I picked up the baseball card collecting bug and that Topps mega set (over 700 freaking cards) was my jam that summer and fall.  I mowed so many lawns to save up enough dough to collect that entire set one wax wrapped pack at a time, so I loved the entire experience collecting it and trading cards with my friends.

YG1_4_Chavez    YG1_6_Steve

Much like in the flick Big, there were plenty of “…need it, got it, got it, need it…” sessions with my buddies, but all of us were scratching our heads as to why Topps chose that weird ass border design.  Was it supposed to represent a close-up of a baseball bat?  Who knows.  What I thought at the time was that it made the set look like they were Bonanza cards, so when Pax brought up the idea of doing this Young Guns set I felt it was finally time to utilize this design in a way that it would truly shine…

YG1_8_Buckshot    YG1_10_Murphy


Though these sets are pretty damn time consuming to make, I love the challenge they present to try and nail that 80s aesthetic in the look and “feel”.  With each passing set I work on I feel like I’m getting better and better at nailing that vintage look.  While Pax and I were making these and passing them back and forth we were both feeling that need to have these printed up for real so we could stick them in binders and stare at them all day long…


YG1_16_Iron     YG1_18_Pals

As I mentioned above, these are only half of the cards Pax and I designed.  If you want to collect the rest (of course you do!) then head on over to the Cavalcade and unwrap his Series 1 pack!

Of course, like most fans of the Young Guns movies (as well as Billy the Kid on film fans that dig these 80s interpretations), it’s hard to consider the one flick without the other.  Though it’s considered a sequel, the continuing story of Billy the Kid and the Regulators of Lincoln County New Mexico in Young Guns II really is just the second half of a larger single story.  So when we set out to make these cards for the 1988 film it was a given that we’d also have a Series 2.  Here’s a tease of one of the wrappers for that series we did, and we’ll release the full set of cards soon!

Wrapper YG2 B

Once again, if you dig these digital trading cards, please head on over to the Cavalcade of Awesome and complete your set!  For those taking a close look at the numbering, you might see that there are some chase cards for these sets that we’ll be sharing elsewhere as well!

These Should Exist: Adventures in Babbysitting Edition

This past October I had a whole hell of a lot of fun spending the entire month talking about one of my favorite movies of all time, The Monster Squad.  Part of what made those 31 days exciting for me was working on a project where I I got a chance to utilize my meager design skills to fix a hole in the pop culture past by creating a small set of vintage-style Topps trading cards for the film that never existed, but should have.  Not only was it fun to design and create them, but through doing that and sharing them I was able to chat a bit with a bunch of the cast and crew from the flick, and eventually a friend of the site (Justin) even took the time to actual print out a set of the cards and ship them to me from Australia!  So now I have them in 9-up card pages in a binder right next to my Goonies cards and Garbage Pail Kids, a true dream come true.


That got me thinking about all the other films and TV shows that were never really merchandised back in the day, properties that I felt should definitely have left more collectibles in their wake.  So this past week I carved out some time to work on filling in another hole in the “These Should Exist” category by designing and creating a mini set of Topps-style trading cards for the flick Adventures in Babysitting!  So without further to do, here are some more digital trading cards to collect from Branded in the 80s…

Adventures in Babysitting Wax Wrapper

Part of what I love about working on stuff like this is getting a chance to visualize and design aspects of branding that could have existed 28 years ago.  I love wax wrappers from trading cards as it is, so screwing around in Photoshop designing them is a real blast.  They’re far from perfect, but I feel like they push that nostalgia button fairly well.

1 - combo

I also love the excuse to dig into a film I love to both take a closer look at it (sort of like I do with the Awesome 80s Bedrooms breakdowns, including the one I did featuring Sara’s room from Adventures in Babysitting) and find the little things that I never noticed before while passively watching, as well as curate a bunch of trivia for the flicks that not everybody may know.

2 - combo   3 - combo

4 - combo   5 - combo

That really applies to flicks like Adventures in Babysitting that have never had a real public outlet for discovering these kinds of behind-the-scenes facts and trivia.  Though the film has been released on every home video format from VHS & Laserdisc to DVD & Blu-Ray, there has never been an official making-of or any released commentary tracks.  All these home video releases have been bare bones affairs.

6 - combo   7 - combo

8 - combo   9 - combo

Similarly there was never an official souvenir magazine, and I haven’t been able to track down that make vintage articles about the making of the film because it wasn’t the sort flick that was covered by the geekier rags like Starlog or Fangoria.  In fact, the only piece of official non-video release merchandise that I know exists is the 1987 Scholastic/Point novelization of the flick.

10 - combo  11 - combo

12 - combo

13 - combo  14 - combo

So after combing through a bunch of more recent website interviews with the stars I was able to gleam some fun facts to share and ended up learning a lot more about the the film that I have previously known.  I guess that’s another great side effect of tasking myself with a project like this, it gives me an excuse to discover and read a bunch of interviews that I usually don’t feel like I have the time to dig into.

16 - combo

Bottom line, it’s a shame that a flick like Adventures in Babysitting never had fun junk to collect like souvenir magazines and especially a set of Topps (or Fleer or Donruss) non-sport trading cards back in the day.  So hopefully this scratches an itch for anyone who also wishes that these existed.

15 - combo

What other flicks and TV shows do you think should have had sets of trading cards?  I know I have a dream list that I’d like to work on.  Share your suggestions in the comments section below!

Peel Here #116: The Extra Terrestrial Edition…

4560287382_404990f06c_oLately I’ve been going back through some of my older sticker posts here at Branded and looking for gaps in what I’ve covered (80s pop culture-wise.)  I was kind of surprised that I never invested in any E.T. stickers when I initially started collecting.  So I’ve since remedied that and thought it was high time I shared the handful of stickers I’ve picked up over the last year.  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is one of those touchstone flicks that basically defines the childhood experience of the early 80s, establishing and creating the template for the glut of kid adventure films that would come in its wake.

The merchandising blitz for the flick touched on pretty much every possible product from lunchboxes to toothbrushes, so it was no surprise when Topps released a set of trading cards and stickers in 1982…

Topps ET Wax Wrapper

Like a lot of the Topps card sets this one featured a sticker-card subset which featured 12 cards instead of the normal 11 that Topps typically issued.  Not only was there an extra sticker to collect, but it was presented in a slightly weird format.  Usually Topps featured full card size, die-cut stickers, and this one did have a lot of them, but two of the cards are actually comprised of 16 mini sticker sheets.  I think this is the only time Topps did this if I’m not mistaken…

1   3   5

2         4


7   8   9

10   11   12

As was pretty standard for the time there were 9 different card backs which form a puzzle poster…

cardback poster

Topps wasn’t the only E.T. sticker game in town though as the merch blitz for the film was pretty damn intense.  I’ve only managed to pick up a few other examples of stickers, though I think they’re pretty cool, in particular these Diamond Toymakers Sniff-Ums scratch and sniff stickers (also from 1982)…


There were at least 4 different scents; from left to right Flower, Grape, Peanut Butter and Pine.  I love that the line art on these was repurposed so much within the set…

Next up is a Hallmark sticker sheet that I assume was meant for teachers to use on homework and tests….


I freaking love the idea of E.T. playing arcade games and I feel like this was a total missed opportunity in the film.  I was wonder if there were any Atari commercials featuring E.T. playing his doomed game, and sure enough there is a Christmas themed one where he does just that!  Also, while I’m on the subject there’s also another rad E.T. Atari commercial that features Andre Gower (Sean from Monster Squad) as Elliot too…

The last sticker I have to share today is another Hallmark sheet, though this one features just one single giant sticker…

Giant Sticker

I know there are way more E.T. stickers floating around out there (I’ve seen pictures of plenty of puffy and fuzzy stickers as well), but this is all I have in my collection.  Anyone have any other favorite E.T. stickers in your collections?

Wax Paper Pop Art #35: No-stal-stal-N-N-N-Nolstalgia

4563734703_e2e99528d2_oSince it’s sort of been a week or two of a bit more old school Branded-style pieces I figured I’d cap it off with a piece of Wax Paper Pop Art that I’ve been meaning to post for ages.  Of all the semi-definitive pop culture icons that could be used to encapsulate the80s (Pee Wee Herman, The Smurfs, the California Raisins), none feel as ahead of their time and yet so completely rooted in that decade as Max Headroom.  Genius advertising mascot, social commentator, star of a wickedly weird, under-appreciated TV series, and a CGI character created with almost wholly practical effects.  An truly ironic icon…


I talked about this 1986 Topps sticker card set a few years ago.  I still need to track down a set of the foil stickers though…

A Month of the Monster Squad comes to an end…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFirst off, Happy Halloween folks!  This past month has been an absolute blast for me.  Not only did I get a chance to talk (a lot) about my favorite movie of all time, but it’s been super rewarding for me on a personal level.  Whether it’s been through doing research for the articles, sharing them or the reactions I had some amazing experiences over the past 45 days.  Getting to chat with some awesome die-hard fans, sharing some stuff from my collection that a lot of people hadn’t seen before, or connecting with a bunch of the people who worked on the film (including director/writer Fred Dekker, stars Andre Gower, Michael Faustino & Ashley Bank, and amazing artists Craig Nelson and Steve Wang.)  It makes my head spin!

tumblr_mt1mpxrnUh1shliigo1_500Seriously, this has been the October to top all others in my book.  I also had an absolute blast making the set of Topps-style trading cards and sharing those all month.  My initial idea when I set out was to make the set of cards and have that be my primary content for the month along with writing about a week’s worth of articles that I would pepper here and there.  As I started writing the articles though I found more and more things that I wanted to discuss until it got to a point where my to-write list was becoming longer than the days available in October to share them!  Then my good friend and co-host on the Cult Film Club podcast, Paxton Holley, sent me a rad piece of MS fan art that completely summed up what I really wanted to do…


Do you remember back in the 80s before DVD special features, back before there were bootlegs at conventions with special rare director’s cuts of film, when the only way to get the inside dirt on your favorite flicks was via Official Souvenir Magazines?!?  I used to love these things and had them for films like Batman, Back to the Future, Gremlins, Karate Kid I & II, and The Explorers.  These magazines were a treasure trove of trivia, behind the scenes photos, and promotional art (like these two articles I wrote about The Goonies magazine.)  Well, The Monster Squad never had one of these, and even though there has been a cult following of fans over the years that have been singing the praises of the film and writing short pieces online, there was no good place to collect all this awesome information.  So when Pax sent me that rad cover above it really hit me that I was really trying to create a digital version of just that.  Whether I was successful or not, eh, who knows, but I had a blast trying and knocked a bunch of stuff off the bucket list in the process of creating this content.

So thanks for reading, coming by to scope out the cards, or comment on any of these articles! If you like what you read here and want to do something that I think would be fun, do me a favor and go Like Fred Dekker’s facebook page (he was super freaking awesome and shared a bunch of my posts this month which kinda blew my mind – see the Beetlejuice gif above for my reaction), follow Andre Gower (a really swell guy who was also super gracious to retweet and respond my my silly posts), Ashley Bank, and Ryan Lambert on twitter and let them know Branded sent ya.

And last but by no means least, today I have the final two Monster Squad trading cards.  Here’s the second to last card #33, Van Helsing Stakes Dracula!

33 Van Helsing Stakes Dracula F-B

And finally, to complete your set of unofficial Topps-style Monster Squad trading card set here’s card #20, Sean Gets Some Help!

20 Sean Gets Some Help F-B

I also wanted to take a second and pull all the custom Topps-style trading cards I made for the film together in one post, in order, cause I’m pretty proud of these…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Alright, THAT’S A RAP!