Sunday, October 26, 2008

Babe in Toyland

In 1967 Topps issued an interactive card set entitled "Who Am I?" which featured 44 cards of famous people with their faces obscured by a coating that had to be scratched off. The backs of the cards had clues you had to guess at before you defaced the card to see if you knew the answer. Topps was perfecting their scratch off coating technology in the mid-60's and Who Am I? was one of the first sets to use the silvery film we know well today from lottery scratch offs and the like.

Topps did a test of the coatings on some baseball cards first:

The finished Ruth was based upon the drawing used in a set from 1952/53 called Look 'n See, also interactive as you would place red cello paper of the back of the card to reveal a quiz answer. These cards were smaller than standard sized at 2 1/16" x 2 15/16". Look 'n See is a landmark non sports set of 135 subjects and Ruth is the only baseball player within it:

A number of subjects repeat from Look 'n See to Who Am I?; I do not have any other than the Ruth's to compare and can't attest if some additional drawings from the older set were reissued in 1967. I suspect many were though. The Ruth was cleaned up a bit but you will see they are they are from the same drawing a little bit further down the page.

Now, there were actually two Who Am I? releases, the 1967 regular issue and then a partial reissue later in the year in Fun Packs, those Hallowe'en to Christmas bags of cards and sweets sold in variety stores. Of the four baseball players in the original set, three (Koufax, Mays and Mantle) did not reappear in the Fun Packs. Here is the Babe unbound, followed by his coated version (all but the cigar chomper are mine, that one is from Ebay):

The backs looked like this (the coated version had scratch off instructions in the "period" at the base of the question mark):

Over the years, Topps has produced a long list of Babe Ruth cards consisting of drawings or paintings. These will be discussed sometime down the road along with the rest of the Ruthian cards made by Topps over the years. My count is as follows:

1952-53 Look 'n See #15 (Painting)
1953-54 Scoop #41 (Painting)
1963 Valentine Foldees Wheel Design #6 Portrait(Drawing)
1963 Valentine Foldees #34 Wheel Design Batting (Drawing)
1966 Comic Book Foldees #12 (Small Version)Babe Ruth the Slugger(Drawing)
1966 Comic Book Foldees #12 (Large Version)Babe Ruth the Slugger(Drawing)
1967 Who Am I? #12 With Disguise (Painting)
1967 Who Am I? #12 No Disguise (Painting) Fun Pack version
1969 Pak o' Fun Foldees (Drawing)
1970 Valentine Foldees Banana Design #6 Portrait(Drawing)
1970 Valentine Foldees Banana Design #34 Batting (Drawing)
1971 21 Tattoos (Inferred from Canadian issue) (Drawing)

In addition, there are four Non Sport sets the Babe appears in as well:

'49 Magic Photos
'55/56 Hocus Focus (Large from "Series of 18" with at least 1 perforated edge)
'63 Famous American Stamps
'64/65 Push-Pull

He also makes a number of appearances on regular issue Topps baseball cards, with one or more pasteboards in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1973 and 1976 plus he shows up in the 1963 Bazooka All Time Great box inserts. He appears in numerous Fleer issues as well over the years.

Considering every Topps card of him was issued after he died, including those in regular series of baseball cards, the iconic status of the Bambino is indeed impressive!

No comments: