Tag Archives: Trading Cards

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…

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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…

Saving the world from genre fatigue one Stupid Hero at a time!

There are a lot of really cool small independent companies making some really awesome toys, stickers and clothes these days that cater to the pop culture nostalgia addict like myself.  At times I find it hard to keep up with all of the kickstarters, announcements and product releases, but there are a handful of folks who I make a point to follow closely and always eagerly await what they’re coming out with next.  One such company is Wax Eye, headed up by Joe Simko and June Gonzales, which has been creating and releasing some seriously awesome trading cards, stickers and mobile games based on their Cereal Killers brand.  When I heard that their next project was going to branch out from their horror cereal concept into the world of super hero trading cards I was ecstatic.

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For one, I really dig Joe’s paintings and really wanted to see him (and the other great artists he recruited to assist on this new project) tackle a genre that is ripe for satire and parody.  But I was also excited because the new Stupid Heroes cards reminded me of one of my favorite 80s sticker card sets, Zero Heroes by Donruss.  I’m not sure how many folks remember those as they were pretty obscure and only had one set back in 1983…

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I loved those goofy, silly super hero parody stickers so I was really hoping that Wax Eye was going to do something similar.  Boy did they ever, and this new set of Stupid Heroes trading cards really knocked my socks off!

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The set consists of 55 character cards painted by Simko, Brent Engstrom, Neil Camera and Jeff Zapata, with bios and gags written by the four artists and June Gonzales, as well as a series of chase sketch and x-ray sketch cards.  Much like the Garbage Pails Kids (a brand all four artists have also worked on in recent years) each character has an A & B card which feature different card backs (each character gets a bio card back as well as puzzle backs) so there are 110 cards in the base set.

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I really dug the way the artists took the time to design logos for each character, and I like the addition of rough sketches, concept drawings, or alternate art on the bio backs as well.  Being based on the super hero genre there are a lot of great character parodies from DC and Marvel comics (X-Men, Superman, and Wonder Woman are some of my favorites), but the set isn’t limited to just that as there are a lot of original concepts and characters mixed in as well.  And the art is pretty damn superb across the board…

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With each pack I opened I felt like it was 1983 and I was six years old all over again.

You can order single packs or hobby boxes from the Wax Eye site.  I was able to put together a full base set with a single hobby box, but if you’re looking for something neat to put up on your wall they also have really cool uncut sheets of the complete set available as well!  If you dig Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, or Mad Magazine, I think you’ll really enjoy Wax Eye’s Stupid Heroes.  I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see a second series that works in more comic book parodies and even more original characters!

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Also, speaking of Joe Simko, June Gonzales, and Jeff Zapata, all three are also producers on Sean Tiedeman’s new documentary centering on the phenomenon of the Garbage Pail Kids called 30 Years of Garbage!

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Though the project stalled out in its initial kickstarter campaign, the crew has been working hard behind the scenes and after launching a very successful Indiegogo campaign have finally received enough backing to make this film a reality!  You still have a few days to back it and get a copy of the film!

Brent Engstrom and Joe Simko on the set of 30 Years of Garbage

Brent Engstrom and Joe Simko

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…

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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!

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

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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!

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My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Advertising Detective…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThis past Friday a super cool Branded in the 80s reader from Spain (Emilio D.) sent me a bunch of pictures of cool Spanish VHS and DVD releases of The Monster Squad in response to my Dead Media Library article showcasing a bunch of the home video releases of the film.  Included in the batch of pictures was also an interesting Spanish newspaper advertisement from 1988 (that he found here) for the movie that was a little “mixed up”.  I wanted to take a second and examine it for a bit because there’s some really fun aspects going on in this 26 year old piece of amazing ephemera…

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So first and foremost, the Spanish title of the film is Una Pandilla Alucinante (also the title used in Latin America), which roughly translates to An Amazing Gang (squad is Escuadrón, which we’ll see in some other posters later in the week by the way.)  Right off the bat (pun fully intended) Monster Squad super fans will notice the font in the title is the same for the North American release, but if you scroll down to the bottom you can also see the credits are clearly in English (well, mostly) and are for MS.

Now, the artwork.  So, that’s clearly a painting of Vincent Price on the left there, and as any fans of his later work will know this artwork comes from the poster for his 1981 anthology horror comedy The Monster Club (directed by Roy Ward Baker and also starring John Carridine and Donald Pleasence.)

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So, weighing this, The Monster Squad/The Monster Club, I can see how this goof up happened, especially when you consider it was in another country where they might not be as versed in our films, etc.  In fact, for years before Monster Squad was available to purchase to the public on VHS (or more importantly DVD) my mom would always try and hunt it down for me as a birthday gift.  Being on top of the scuttlebutt of the film’s release I would always tell her not to bother, that it wasn’t available, but she was adamant and would call every Suncoast, Best Buy and Media Play in town and try and order me a copy.  Of course she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted, so aside from being super caring and sweet she would always inadvertently order copies of The Monster Club (or Little Monsters on occasion)  as it was all these folks could order from their distributors!  So I kind of have a strange affinity for this foreign newspaper editorial mix up!

But wait, look more closely at the ad, because this is just where it starts getting interesting (I say realizing that I’m quite possibly the only one who actually finds this interesting…)

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Is that Herman Munster off to the right?!?  Why yes, yes it is!  He is very obviously missing from the original Monster Club artwork.  Now aside from it being a cool little addition (I do so love that TV series), it kind of becomes clear that the reason he was added into the art is so that all five Monster Squad monsters are present and accounted for!  So this wasn’t actually a mix up per se, but intentional.  Weird.

HermanBut wait, there’s more changes.  The Mummy and the Creature?  Though they look really neat, they were also NOT in the original artwork!

Mummy Creature

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There was a weird four-eyed beast, and, well, I think that might actually be a Frankenstein-esque monster that they changed into a mummy.  My head is spinning.  At this point I’m wondering what actually happened that lead them down this convoluted path to get to the final advertisement?!?  Why didn’t they just use the Craig Nelson artwork like 90% of the other countries in the world?  So.  Weird.

Then there is the tagline/artwork text which reads…

El Conde Dracula
Frankenstein
El Hombre Lobo
La Momia…
Nos visitan juntos por primere vez.

Which roughly translates to: Count Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy… Visit us for the first time.  The Creature (or Gillman) totally gets the shaft.

Well, there you have it.  This is the kind of stuff that both excites me and makes me wonder if I chose the wrong career path in life.  How can I make a living out of staring at 30 year-old ephemera to figure out mysteries that absolutely no one on Earth cares about?  My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Ephemera Detective…

 Well, now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #3, My name…IS HORACE!

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There’s only one thing to say about the Topps Mars Attacks Book: Ack Ack Ack!

As an avid collector of trading cards, specifically those non-sports pop culture sets released by Topps over the last 50 years, I have to say that there has never been a better time to be steeped in the hobby.  Between re-releases of classic cards and stickers (ala the Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages flashbacks series) and new sets there is plenty of pieces of cardboard crack to procure and spend hours organizing, trading and starring at.  By far though, my favorite aspect to the card collecting hobby of late has been the team-up between Topps and the fine folks at Abrams books to bring the community a series of well-crafted and beautiful volumes archiving some of my favorite sticker and card sets.  I’ve mentioned my love for some of the previous books including the two Wacky Packages and first Garbage Pail Kids entries, and I was equally excited to finally receive my copy of the Topps Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection

  

As with all the volumes in this series the book features a clever wax paper-inspired dust cover that recreates the appearance of the original pack of Mars Attack cards, a set of 4 never before printed trading cards, and large-scale images of all 55 original cards in the set.  But for the first time the folks who designed and compiled the content for this volume went the extra mile and included all 55 card-backs, as well as photos of rare test-run packaging, pre-production sketches, running commentary throughout the book, as well as images of some of the Mars Attacks spin-off card sets and paintings from the last 50 years.

The introduction (by Len Brown) is also much more in depth than the previous Abrams Topps books, not only summing up the events that led to the production of the set, but also featuring photos of previous/similar card sets and influences.  There’s also a touching afterward by Zina Saunders, artist and daughter of Mars Attacks main artist Norm Saunders.

 

All in all, this Mars Attacks book not only lives up to the previous Abrams/Topps volumes, but it also raises the bar in terms of how exhaustive these retrospectives can be, and hopefully sets the standard for any future entries into the series.  I’d love to see volumes tackling the Civil War, Ugly Stickers, Weird Wheels, Monster Valentines, and of course a continuation of both the Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids sets.  There’s a ton of great material left in the Topps vaults that would make for some amazing books and could serve as love letters to such great artists as Wally Wood, Jack Davis, and B.K. Taylor…

You can get your own copy from Amazon right here!

Wax Paper Pop Art #34, A Very Special Episode in which Klinger Doesn’t Cross-dress…

I had a fun conversation with a fellow on twitter this week about the line of M*A*S*H action figures that was released back I the early 80s.  I find it fascinating that series like M*A*S*H and Dallas were merchandised as much as they were considering they’re more or less aimed at an adult audience.  In particular, the idea of dedicating a line of trading cards to a dramedy like M*A*S*H just seems insane.  “Got it, got it, got it, ooohh, a Hot Lips Houlihan!  I’ll trade you two Klinger’s for your Father Francis…”

1982 Donruss M*A*S*H trading cards

I guess when Doc and Lifeline weren’t enough medics to collectively care for your battle-damaged G.I. Joes, you could always call in the M*A*S*H unit.  And it lightens my heart to know that kids had a Father Francis figure to see those poor souls, the ones with the broken O-rings, got the last rites they deserved…

Wax Paper Pop Art #33, The Arcade and Video Game edition…

It’s been a long time since I was super excited to catch an upcoming Disney animated film that wasn’t a Pixar creation.  That’s why I was so happy after catching the Wreck-It Ralph trailer that was released this week.  Though I’m not usually all that happy with non-voice actor casting, John C. Riley sounds great as the titular character, and the film has the potential to do for video game characters what Roger Rabbit and Toy Story did for cartoons and toys respectively.  In honor of the trailer, here’s my collection of arcade-centric Wax Wrappers from the 80s…

1st up is the 1980 Fleer Pac-Man wrapper…

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Next, from1982, the Topps Donkey Kong stickers

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Moving right along, we find ourselves in 1983 with the Topps Video City set

Finally, here are four wrappers from the 1989 Topps Nintendo Game Packs featuring Mario, Link, The Princess, and the spin-off set of Temporary Tattoos released later that year.  By the by, I talked about these Nintendo stickers in the Peel Here column before

 

 

Wax Paper Pop Art #32, Drawn to women who are drawn bad…

It seems odd that in just over six years of running Branded in the 80s I haven’t really talked about a film like Roger Rabbit.  Hmm, I’ll have to remedy that in the future.  In the meantime, here’s the wax wrapper for the 1987 Topps card and sticker set…

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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