TOYHEM! A long time ago, at a convenience store near you…
UPDATED 12/19/19: I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the final installment of the Skywalker Saga is out Thursday night. Since I was there at the beginning — and since it’s TOYHEM! (click here for all that coolness) — it’s time to enjoy this one from 2017 again! — Dan
I don’t write about Star Wars as much as I probably should. I can’t put my finger on why but what I can tell you is just what a profound impact the movie had on me when it came out.
I’m not alone, obviously, but as a 10-year-old in 1977, I was supremely primed to have my world rocked and rocked it was. I was there the first weekend (click here to find out/remember what that insanity was like) and like most red-blooded American boys, all I wanted after I saw it was A) to see it again and B) get my hands on as much Star Wars stuff as I could possibly muster.
As it happened, A proved a lot easier than B. At the time, going back to see a movie over and over wasn’t a typical thing. But I managed to plead my case enough times to see it in the theater five times, a personal record that wasn’t eclipsed until well into my teens, when I got a job at the local theater.
Getting Star Wars toys and merch, on the other hand, was more difficult. By the end of 1977, there was a lot to be had — nothing like today but still a lot of options — but I was limited by my Mom’s unwillingness to bankroll my latest obsession. We just didn’t have a lot of money, so she shut me down on the Kenner action figures, for example.
I had plenty of Megos, she reasoned — to be fair, she was 100 percent right about that — but I think privately she didn’t want to encourage her prepubescent son to buy any more toys. (My solution? A remarkably complete set of paper finger-puppets that I constructed with tape, magic markers and ingenuity: The lightsabers were toothpicks I colored.)
But I still had an allowance and a lot of freedom. Maybe I couldn’t get Mom to drive me to a toy store, but I could ride my bike to the stationery shop or convenience store down the street and pick up the Marvel treasuries that reprinted the movie adaptation and … Star Wars trading cards.
I was an old hand at Topps cards: I was a devout baseball-card collector and had already whet my appetite for pop-culture offerings by collecting the Planet of the Apes and the Monkees series.
Star Wars cards were in my wheelhouse. And in those pre-VCR, pre-DVR, pre-Blu-ray, pre-streaming days, these cards, along with those Marvel treasuries, were the best way to replay the movie in your head. Maybe I saw Star Wars in the theater five times, but I saw it in my mind hundreds more.
I quickly collected the first blue series and later even got a whole unopened box of the follow-up red series. I even managed to somehow land the non-Topps Wonder Bread series that came out. (For whatever reason, the later yellow, green and orange series passed me by.)
Decades later, I sold them all off, but thanks to Abrams ComicArts, I have them back — plus the Wonder Breads and later series. Sort of.
How? Through their fantastic book Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume 1.
The $24.95 hardcover came out a few years ago but it’s worth picking up. The book, which features great historical info and commentary by Gary Gerani and an afterword by Robert V. Conte, includes scans of every card, card back, sticker and puzzle produced for that original run, as well as packaging pics and four bonus cards that celebrate the series. (There are other books covering other Star Wars releases, as well.)
Anyway, with The Last Jedi out this week, I thumbed through the book and picked out 13 favorites of the ones I actually owned. These aren’t necessarily even the best cards. It’s just that these are particularly memorable for whatever reason.
So here are 13 FAR OUT 1977 STAR WARS TRADING CARDS:
–– The 13 Grooviest PLANET OF THE APES Cards. Click here.
— The 13 Trippiest STAR TREK Cards. Click here.