Intrepid reader chickcomics left an informative comment regarding my last post on King Kong. His message reminded me about a fantastic article in The Wrapper #150 by Jeff and Bob Marks, two well known Non-Sport collectors, dealers and authors who are extremely well-versed in Topps test issues, uncut sheets and the like. The article addresses in detail three tough Topps black & white test issues: King Kong, Flash Gordon and Daniel Boone (which is not sepia, that's just how the cover of The Wrapper looked).
(Thanks to Les Davis for permission for the above and two scans below)
The article also showed, ironically in black and white, the boxes the first two sets were sold in. The King Kong box is described as having "hot pink/red with black accents."
Flash Gordon is described as being from 1968 with the box being printed in "electric blue with black and white accents."
Amazingly, four full boxes of ol' Flash were found by the Marks brothers in 1984 and all of the packs had the clear cello wrappers with the Fun Pack "Trading Card" overwrap described here previously.
Why they would be wrapped like this, I cannot even begin to speculate. They do not specify how King Kong was wrapped but as mentioned last time, it is believed a wax wrapper exists.
Now, the article goes on to describe how Topps staff used a rented moviola to view an actual print of King Kong to identify which scenes (or more specifically frames) they would want to use in the card set. Apparently Topps declined to proceed on the set and the images they had selected were sold by them to Donruss for use in their King Kong set.
You can read more if you want to; Les Davis, who publishes The Wrapper sells article reprints for a nominal fee. To purchase, contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is interesting to note the Daniel Boone set shown on The Wrapper's cover, also an infamously tough test issue.
Why, when the world was turning to color around 1965, did Topps persist in issuing black and white card sets of TV shows? In addition to the above sets (I count King Kong and Flash Gordon as a TV staples by the mid-60's), black and white sets were issued as late as 1969. I believe these are most, if not all of the TV-themed sets issued (or at least printed) sans color in the 1960's by Topps:
1965 Soupy Sales
1965 Gilligan's Island
1966 Get Smart
1966 Lost In Space
1966 Man from U.N.C.L.E.
196? Bonanza (possibly the rarest of them all)
1969 Room 222 (also exists in a color version)
Some of these sets are among the rarest Topps ever printed, perhaps their lack of color contributed to this state. Some even share common design elements.
Well, maybe we should not be surprised. Why, even some of their baseball sets were issued in black & white up until 1974:
(12/28/08-Edited to add 1966 Flipper and Man from U.N.C.L.E. to list of B&W TV Cards)