Star Wars has become an icon of popular culture throughout its iconic movie series’ lifecycle and across various mediums, including TV, comics, video games, and trading cards.
Topps began producing various Star Wars trading card series upon the 1977 debut of the first movie. Topps produced four additional series over time, starting with a blue-border set featuring stills from that film.
1977 Topps trading cards are an icon. Their 660-card set offers numerous subsets and rookie cards from players like Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, Mark Fidrych, Jack Clark, and Dennis Martinez, along with being filled with many Hall-of-Famer players.
Collectors of the 1970s will love collecting this set, mainly because its cards feature an instantly recognizable blue Starfield border recognizable to anyone who’s seen Star Wars films. Topps first released five Star Wars sets that continue to thrive today – rare cards in mint condition could bring in thousands at auction!
When shopping for 1983 Topps cards, collectors should remember that condition is vital to their value. For best results, collectors should aim for cards certified as mint by professional grading companies such as PSA, BGS, or SGC.
Produced just before the junk wax era hit, this 792-card set was distributed in both wax and cello packs, rack and vending boxes, as well as an exclusive fin-sealed pack known as Michigan Wrapper that prevented wax stains while being tamper-proof.
This set features many notable rookie cards from Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, and Ryne Sandberg, as well as an exclusive 35-card subset known as Super Veterans that showcased veteran players with current and earlier photos.
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It was the set that would define an entire generation and bring back memories – even today, cards that once graced gas station parking lots are valued in four and five figures.
George Brett’s 1980 Topps card depicts him watching a baseball game while probably thinking about swinging for the fences or trying to avoid making another embarrassing error at third base. It accurately describes this Royals star, who won his only MVP award and missed hitting 400 that season.
The 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back trading cards may not have quite the same iconic cachet as its 1977 predecessor, but they indeed hold their own. Like its movie counterpart, this set provides more context and growth.
Collectors love 1987 Topps sets because they provide access to all the significant aspects of collecting. While not as likely to yield Hall-of-Famer rookie cards, such as Pete Rose or Bobby Bonilla, it offers a nice mix of players.
Topps’ annual designs reflected and reinforced broader cultural trends. Whether it was wood-grain in 1975 or the psychedelic patterning in 1988 – Topps’ visual identity often set the scene for subsequent products.
This 132-card set included players who had been traded during the season and some notable rookies, such as pitcher Greg Maddux who got his very own card featuring white borders with silver backs containing player information such as name, team, and position.
As sports card popularity declined, Topps switched focus and began producing trading card sets focusing on non-sporting subjects instead of sports. These included movies, television shows, and cultural phenomena that would appeal to an adolescent male market; Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids series are particularly well received among these.
Topps released a rare card featuring Lawrence Timmons – who inspired fear in opponents by running like an angry rhinoceros – that can fetch five-figure prices among collectors.
While most errors and variations of Topps cards are collected primarily by player or team collectors, the Frank Thomas No Name on Front error card has become a crucial part of baseball history. Only 100 copies were produced and given as gifts to President Bush; PSA noted that one card submitted by former Governor/White House Chief of Staff Sununu featured a glossy coating instead of its usual rough surface coating on its front face.
1991 Topps has long been considered an essential set for collectors due to its stunning photography and many variations, and it can still be hard to come by in high-grade condition. While not as scarce as some other junk wax sets from this era, collectors who desire this edition could do worse than picking it up today!
Topps recently marked their 40th anniversary by including several rare variations into their regular set, one of the most sought-after being Mark Whiten’s card with his hand over the border – while many of the other cards feature hats, bats or other forms extending past it – Topps decided to make an exception here and correct an apparent error on Whiten’s card instead of leaving this error uncorrected.
Other rare variants include cards with an impressive 40th logo on the back, which may be harder to come by. Still, nonetheless collectible – these also glow under black light, making for a fun collectible!
Topps baseball cards had evolved, inspiring artists to expand their artistic expression beyond baseball-specific topics and focus their talents on non-sports trading card themes such as satire and parody, such as Wacky Packages satirizing consumer products and the Garbage Pail Kids series featuring Norman Saunders artwork.
Topps also produced several sets of cards with humorous cartoons designed to appeal to semi-rebellious adolescent boomer audiences, such as insult epigram cards and its series of “Funny Monsters.” Finally, Topps also created sets with Western themes, including Hopalong Cassidy cards and Civil War news cards.
The 1993 Topps set marked its return to series-based releases and was the company’s most extensive offering to date. It included Derek Jeter’s rookie card in Topps and those for Marlins and Rockies expansion teams (with stamps featuring these expansion teams comprised as a particular parallel set), plus nine-card Pre-Production Sample sets specially marked factory sets.
Topps had previously tried its hand at die-cutting cards, with intricate designs cut directly onto each one. This project marked their largest-scale effort yet.
Topps began differentiating hobby and retail packs for the first time with Profiles and Wrecking Crew insert sets while introducing subsets like Prospects, AAA All-Stars, Now Appearing, and commemorative products like Mickey Mantle.
Ken Griffey Jr, Seattle Mariner’s outfielder, made headlines this year by signing a multi-year deal to make him one of the highest-paid players ever seen in baseball history and appearing in Nike commercials, becoming an American household name. Ken was featured prominently throughout this set with various cards depicting different aspects of his season broken down month by month – all the same player.
After an incredible 1998 season in which Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit 70 homers each, Topps honored their achievements by including cards dedicated to them in series one and two sets – with Nolan Ryan featured as an extra special tribute card!
Topps was known for its longstanding tradition of satire and parody, producing series such as Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids that made fun of popular consumer goods, while they also created cartoon cards that poke fun at Cabbage Patch dolls.
Topps sold candy and non-baseball-related products such as gum and lollipop aside from baseball cards. Bazooka bubble gum became immensely popular due to the comic strip on its wrapper; later, push pops, Baby Bottle Pops, and Western-themed candy sticks called Wazoo bars were all added by Topps to its product offerings.
Topps had produced trading cards for over 50 years by 2001 and earned itself an esteemed reputation with sets like its Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids collections of humorous, satirical cards.
Topps was in full celebration mode during its 50th anniversary year. To commemorate this event, it issued a collection of classic cars from past seasons alongside a few new ones. It marked it by giving unique edition cards celebrating this milestone event.
Reprinted tribute cards featured Mantle, Mays, Clemente, and Aaron; manager cards and dual-player prospect cards were added to the base set.
The card fronts were bold and vibrant, featuring a gold foil 50th Topps anniversary logo in one corner. Some cards featured intricate details, like flame backgrounds or broken glass; others featured subtler depictions, like scribbled lines or jagged fonts.