Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Plug Ugly

One of the more bizarre Topps products I have ever encountered is actually a toy. Since I am knee deep in reconfiguring the Topps Archives Research Complex this week (otherwise known as moving piles o'crap around my office to make room for my new scanner) I thought I would direct you all to the Norman Saunders Website, which explains a little about these darling creatures:

That scan is from what looks to be an extinct site called gumballcharm.com. These are based on the 1965 Topps Ugly Stickers,

a very popular set that deserves a lot more attention here someday but given this fabulous site, that may not be necessary.

Basil Wolverton, the erstwhile MAD magazine artist and all around tortured genius, came up with a number of the designs for the Ugly Stickers and his style is felt throughout. The great Wally Wood was also involved in addition to Norm Saunders and a mysterious west coast finishing artist. Draconian business practices by Topps appear to have influenced events as well (starving artists, indeed) with all things Ugly.

The US version never really seems to have been publicized, sadly, but a 1967 test seems to have morphed into a vending issue-designed to be sold in gumball machines via in those little plastic capsules we all remember. A number of the creatures were later blister-packed and sold as Teacher's Pets in the early to mid 70's. If you click here you can see what looks to be a complete set. These are really cool!

I am trying to track down a scan of one of the Ugly Flicker Rings, which has to be a rare bird.

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