Thanks to a forthcoming book on the colorful subject…

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a piece spotlighting cartoonist Karl Heitmueller Jr.’s painstaking, illustrated recreations of classic trading-card wax wrappers. It’s seriously groovy stuff and you can click here to  check ’em out.

Little did I know that 13th Dimension reader Jason Young was hard at work putting together an 80-page book celebrating these little pieces of pop-culture kitsch.

The Wonderful Artwork of Wax Wrappers is a full-color, 80-page digest that shows off samples from the late ’50s to 1990.

“This is an unofficial book with no affiliations, made purely for collector enjoyment,” Jason told me. He’s publishing a limited run at $20 a pop and you’ll be able to get your hands on one soon enough. (Ordering info below.)

Anyway, similar to how we ran 13 of Karl’s illustrations, Jason has put together a list of THE TOP 13 TRADING CARD WAX WRAPPERS — RANKED.

Dig it.

13. Welcome Back Kotter (1976). Purely sentimental reasons here. Seeing this image brings back memories for me.

12. Six Million Dollar Man (1975). I would’ve killed for these as a kid. First time I ever saw this wrapper in person was a few years ago.

11. Superman (1966). I’m a Superman guy, 100 percent.

10. Rocky IV (1985). Huge fan of this franchise and loved how they made Balboa AND Drago on separate wrappers.

9. WWF Wrestling (1987). I vividly remember collecting these.

8. Planet of the Apes (1975). Never had these as a kid but this wrapper art is just darn cool. (Copyright says 1967 but these are from ’75.)

7. Grease (1978). I remember seeing these card packs A LOT in my house as a kid. My brother had a thing for Olivia Newton-John.

6. Elvis (1978). My entire family are HUGE Elvis fans so these cards were a must in my house.

5. Battlestar Gallactica (1978). My brothers used the back of the cards and taped them together to make a wall poster.

4. Jaws 2 (1978). The sticker of the sunset was stuck on the headboard of my bed throughout my entire childhood.

3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980). I spent more money and time collecting these as a kid than any other set. The blue-wrapper series specifically.

2. Happy Days (1976). My all time fave TV show, plus I remember buying these a lot as a kid.

1. Superman: The Movie (1978). Nothing beats this. Hits all the buttons for me as a fan of the Christopher Reeve movies, comic books, memories of buying them, and so on.

Jason is taking pre-orders for The Wonderful Artwork of Wax Wrappers, at $20 each. You can email him at


— WAX PACKS FOREVER: Dig These 13 Artful Remakes of Classic Trading Card Wrappers. Click here.

— FAR OUT! MARVEL Reprints Classic Vintage Stickers From ’60s and ’70s. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. amazing job by my baby brother!

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  2. Those are some cool wrappers. I did look at a lot of them and thought, “That had trading cards?” I’m looking at you Saturday Night Fever.

    Thing is, we never thought to keep our wrappers back then. I collected several of these, but always got close to complete sets but could never get those last few.

    Recently, I did pick up complete sets of Superman 1-3 and the set came with a Superman wrapper. Ditto for the Hulk TV show.

    Also got the complete Elvis set with a wrapper. My whole family aren’t Elvis fans, but my mom and I both are. Really need to get off my duff and get the Elvis cards in a binder so mom can look at them. The complete set I bought had several different series of Elvis cards in addition to the one picture here that came out just after he died. One last thing about the Elvis cards : the wrapper pictures the 1970s jumpsuit wearing Elvis since that would have been the “modern” Elvis when the cards came out. The latter sets all had a younger 1950s Elvis or 1968 Comeback Special Elvis on the packaging. Sorry to go on so, but I don’t get to discuss Elvis very often.

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  3. ‘Outer Limits,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ and ‘Space:1999’ wrappers should be in any top ten.

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  4. There are so many better ones to choose from! Not tagging on the selection, but what about CHiPs? Charlie’s Angels, Gilligan’s Island, Buck Rogers, CB Convoy, CB Talk, Good Times…oh man I could go on! Can’t wait to see the book and maybe we can rank them all!

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