Sunday, September 28, 2008

That's A (Re)Wrap!

For a brief period, most likely from 1969-71, Topps would rewrap some of the inserts that came with their baseball cards in stand alone packs. I thought I would take a look at these today. None of these scans are of items I own by the way (unless indicated otherwise), I don’t really collect wrappers or packs, although I might someday. A couple of scans are from Mark Murphy’s invaluable “Unopened Pack, Wrapper & Display Box Guide.”

The first Topps rewraps occurred well before the 60’s, with many sets (especially non-sports) repackaged and resold over the years. Even 1952 Topps High numbers suffered this fate (as inserts in some1953 Topps packs and --as legend has it --also in cello overwrapped bricks designed for either discount store shelves or summer carnival stands in the late 50’s). If Topps had excess supply after a set did not sell through its order, or if there were excessive returns, new methods of distribution would be created, sometimes years after the initial product was released.

This practice continued from the 1960’s into at least the mid 1980’s with Topps Fun Paks, a bag full of miscellaneous cards and confections, likely sold between the Halloween and Christmas shopping seasons each year. Sometimes cards and stickers in the Fun Paks had their original wrappers, other times they were inserted one, two, three or four cards at a time into a semi-generic wrapper, leaving it a mystery as to what lay within. Here is a wax fun pack scan with a ’68 Topps BB card showing through (from Murphy’s guide); there were variations on this theme throughout the years but you can see the wrapper makes it possible to put anything inside:

Even the ultra-rare Flash Gordon test cards were distributed this way:

Here is a closer look at that unopened fun pack:

What was in a Fun Pak? Well, I still have a couple of thousand 1978 Topps Football Cards I obtained when I purchased a large amount of Fun Paks on liquidation at Newberry’s in 1982. Also in those Fun Paks were first series Empire Strikes Back cards and ’82 Baseball Stickers. I also remember chewing a lot of gum! Oddly enough, when I put together all of my cards into ’78 Football Sets with a friend (and later co-dealer partner) of mine, we were always two cards short: the Seahawks and Buccaneers team cards were nowhere to be found. Out of 7 or 8,000 cards that could not have been a coincidence, but I digress.

Sometime after they were issued as inserts in the ’68 Baseball packs, most probably in 1969, Topps packaged up all 33 Card Game cards and sold the set as the “Batter Up” Baseball Game. Oddly, they marketed these in a small box that concurrently retailed for either ten or fifteen cents. There is also a version with the 15 cent price marked out, but that may not have been done by Topps.

A proof sheet shows both the ten and fifteen cent boxes were printed at once and Topps was likely testing the market to see which price point would sell best. These are scarce and may only have been tested near Topps HQ in Brooklyn and their printing plant in Duryea, PA, although I recall seeing a box on Long Island at some point.

The box is similar to the 33 card cello pack box issued in 1970 (30 cards in 1971 as inflation took hold; I think only 25 in ‘72), without the little “peek a boo” window. The 70's are green, the 71's red (I think) and the 72's blue. If I find a '71 scan somewhere I'll post it. This 70 is from Unopened Pack Guy's cool site.

Bazooka cards also got in on the act, as ’68 Tipps from the Topps” were reissued in booklet form (these scans are actually mine!):

The 1970 Story Booklets were also issued in Test Packs (note the white wax paper with Sticker on the front, a sure sign of a test pack), maybe in ’70 but possibly ’71. The test must not have been successful as I cannot recall ever seeing a retail pack or wrapper anywhere. Three booklets for ten cents, not bad!

The 1970 and/or ’71 Scratch Offs were sold this way as well, as “Pocket Sized Baseball Game” but I do not have a scan. These must have been test packs as well. Can anyone help?! (EDIT: The Scratch-Offs wer enot the same product as Pocket Sized Baseball Game.)

Penultimately, while not inserts, the 1968 Player Posters, originally sold in red wax wrappers for a nickel, were reissued in 1970 in dime packs.

The 68's were sold in this box:

The red ’68 pack is from Murphy’s guide, the blue ’70 version is from the amazing collection of Bob Fisk.

I wonder if the Mantle poster was in the 70 packs?

I am not certain the rewapped posters came in this box, but it has a product code that indicates a 1970 issue:

Let us not forget at the end the Milton Bradley “Win a Card” game, which also cleverly resold some Topps product.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From the Unopened Pack Guy...

Great Page - I really appreciate it when others take the initiative to share information on the old Topps products. To help out with some additional specific information, I created a new page

Keep up the good work!