Saturday, November 11, 2017

Order Up!

Ahoy campers-I have some really groovy stuff for you today!  Tom Goodwin wrote a long, heavily illustrated article in The Wrapper #308 about the production of the 1975 Topps Comic Book Heroes Stickers that really grabbed my attention. The highlight, at least from my perspective, was his inclusion of pictures of the Zabel Brothers production folder for the set. It was clear from his text that there was a bit more to this folder than was described or shown in the article so I reached out and Tom was kind enough to send a full set of scans.

I'll have to repeat Tom's main cover scan from the article but I don't plan to repeat his words. This cover has oodles of information about the printing and shipping of the set:

Actually, it's two sets (sort of)! We'll get to that momentarily. The 43" x 57" sheet size is important as it confirms the 264 card master sheet comprised a full uncut sheet.  24,000 of these suckers were ordered on pressure sensitive Ludlow stock, which was a type of stock Wacky Packages collectors will be familiar with. Looks like they came up 500 sheets short but it was made up by printing something else as part of the order, namely 500 additonal sheets of insert stickers for the Good Times set. (Update/5/18: It's actually 5,028 sheets of Good Times stickers and 500 additional sheets of Comic Book Heroes Stickers on different -acetate- stock. The delivery order is separate from the purchase order fro the printing of CBHS and Good Times stickers per Lonnie Cummins). We know this because of the bill of lading included in the folder:

I have to say it appears Good Times shipped 5,028 sheets so the additional 500 to make up the original order must have been added to a previous job of 4,528 sheets that was awaiting shipment. (UPDATE: 4/5/18-incorrect as per above update). CC stands for Commodity Code, otherwise known as the Production Code or Commodity number. This system allowed Topps to identify what type of packaging was to receive the cards shipped from Philadelphia by Zabel Brothers to their --wait for it--Brooklyn warehouse.

Brooklyn?!  Hold on Baba Looey, they were doing everything out of Duryea, PA at the time, or so I thought!  It would appear Brooklyn was still in the mix, which I'm quite surprised by.  Bristol Wholesale looks like the shippers, although it could be Bristol Wheels.

And now, math:

23,500 x 264 = 6,204,000 cards, or 112,800 of each impression of Comic Book Heroes on the sheet. It was a 44 sticker set, so six impressions of each would appear on the master sheet.

Good Times stickers?  1,327,392 of them, or 60,336 of each as there were 22 of them in the set.

I wonder if the Comic Book Heroes checklist/puzzle cards and Good Times cards were also printed and shipped together? It would sure make sense if they were.

Are these full production numbers or just one run?  Hard to say.  The folder has some other clues but nothing that will answer that question.

You can see there were a number of shipping batches.  This is a typical count and four such cards are in the folder:

It appears roughly 2,450 uncut sheets were packed per skid (pallet) and you can see which press was used to print the stickers. Card Processing is listed as the Bindery but that is Topps Brooklyn HQ, as we know from the bill of lading.

Here's some old school computer printouts showing a variety of production information (obviously these were two larger sheets):

It appears a proof sheet also made it into the folder:

That date stamp is for September 17, 1975-that must be the approved final artwork proof. It's worth noting I was in my third week of high school at the time-hoo boy!

I find this kind of stuff exciting but then again I'm pretty weird!  Many thanks to Tom Goodwin for peeling back a huge piece of the "cardboard curtain" that surrounds so much of the history of Topps.


John Bateman said...

I had a bunch of these stickers as a kid. I use to have them fight each other. I think the Things Its clobbering time was my favorite. I believe for some reason then Man Thing (top row) was my toughest sticker hero

Xavier Higgins said...


toppcat said...

Seltzer Bottle!