Saturday, October 28, 2017


Well kids, I didn't think I would be able to pull off a Hallowe'en themed post this year but a fortuitous eBay listing (and win!) has come to the rescue. And it features something I never really knew existed.

Topps began Hallowe'en themed sales programs very early in the classic Bazooka era (1947 until 1982, when Bazooka Joe and the Gang got a makeover) and as we have seen, issued a product called Trick or Treat Gum around 1950.  I've seen only a few of their Hallowe'en brochures over the years but a couple feature somewhat klunky "loot bags" that I always assumed were just appropriately themed bags of bubblegum tabs that could be dumped into an existing retail display.  It never occurred to me that these bags, generally filled with 100 or so pieces of Bazooka, were meant to be purchased whole with the contents being handed out by mom while junior grabbed the bag while trick or treating.

This is a prime example of such an offering:

Looks like a paper mask came along for the ride!  The bag itself is the size of a large lunch bag, so I doubt the average kid back in the day would want to deal with something so small. The dating is a little tricky but not too daunting. 

This is a better look at the bag detail:

Prior to the middle of 1958 that upper left corner of the wrapper said "The Atom" before it was changed to "Topps". So it's from 1958 or later.  How much later is a little hard to say without a brochure from the right year but if you look at the graphics there is no little symbol showing Bazooka as a registered trademark after the "a" on the front but it's there on the bottom-whether it means anything having it and not having it on the same item I can't quite say right now and they may have just mixed and matched for years. They were also using full color graphics on the loot bags by 1965, so it's no later than 1964.

The bottom of the bag also has a couple of clues:

"Young America's Favorite" was in use still in 1963 (and possibly '64 but I can't find wrapper scans from that year), tho' I can't quite figure when they stopped using the Parents Magazine seal.  So no help really from the bottom, at least without further research. 

So right now I have a possible range from 1958-64. I'll have to keep digging.

There was no help from the inside by the way:

Oh yeah, I found this next one in some weird Pinterest eBay aggregation.  I think it's from 1949 as Al Capp was doing work for them at the time, or so I believe.  Plus, the Twin Chews (penny tabs) had only debuted that year and the Circus-like lettering at the top fits that year as well:

That is one outstanding piece of Topps history, I'd love to find one of the point of sale posters someday!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Test Pack-o-rama

Some crazy, crazy stuff went down in the recent Mile High auction buccos, which was a veritable field day for Topps test pack enthusiasts!

Hailing from the Tennessee Beer Box Find that gave us the world's only unopened pack of 1968 Topps Basketball, a number of goodies were offered and it's as good a time as any to take a closer look, don't you think?!

leading the way, in a unique type of packaging, is that fab super-model Twiggy:

No gum but a very helpful dating was added. The baggie like pack is the only one of it's type I can ever recall seeing.  These larger than normal cards had no gum included, so letting purchases almost see the pictures within was almost a good idea!

The back could have shown another front I guess, but alas (although the baggie must have been opened to date the insert):

Next up, same date, different set. And I mean different! Angry Signs was sold after the test as Angry Stickers, in a wrapper with similar artwork to this test version:

The backs are a bit revealing:

There's a lot going on there but someone else is researching the set and I'll not step on their findings.

1968 was also represented:

The show was kinda hokey but also fascinating.  The cards are like that as well and feature a comic strip feature on the first 44 cards (out of 55).  Land Of The Giants does not seem to have survived testing though and the cards are hard to find today.

Mod Squad, on the other hand, tested well and made it to retail:

Yup, they are a little ragged.  This back of the pack has seen better days:

Have you noticed what's missing from the three white wrapper test packs?  The ingredients sticker that was stuck on the back and helped seal the pack is long gone in each case.  No surprise there, they don't always survive.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gee Whiz Kids

My rule of thumb putting together my collection of Topps type cards has always been that anything I have on my wantlist appeared in a retail pack or store setting at some point. I exclude standalone candy and gum products for the most part unless they are pretty early (nothing really after the mid 50's) and my interest in Bazooka comics peters out by the mid 60's. I collect some proof items (examples of Bewitched, Bonanza for instance) but they are not part of the core mission.  Those two are in the price guides generally--and are thought of by many as being part of the "Topps experience"-- but there is a lot of stuff that doesn't make the grade or just wasn't known about when the formative guides were published in the 80's and early 90's.  This puts some things into WTF territory!

Take a look at this grouping below:

The little piece of cardboard in the upper left measures 1" x 1 3/4", so you can get a feel for the other items in that scan, which I will address individually.

The cardboard piece is the biggest head-scratcher in this group. I got it from Bob Marcy's amazing non-sports notebooks at the 2015 National, although Bob was not in attendance at the time. He had it with the 1949 X-Ray Roundup cards in a binder and given his depth of knowledge on all things non-sports, that's how I have categorized it.  However, it's slightly bigger than the cards proper and the jagged short edge is interesting.  I am thinking it's related somehow to the vending boxes for this set but I'm really not too sure.

This bad boy seems related to X-Ray Roundup as well. It's 1 1/16" tall and as you can maybe see, is folded in a bit.  I am loathe to unfurl it given its fragility and it seems a little too wide for the set but right now that's the attribution.

This one's easier and belongs to the classic 1952 Look 'N' See set.

Last up, 1957 Isolation Booth as near as I can tell although there's a few later candidates:

Unopened packs likely yielded all the red cello viewers but it's pretty amazing these have survived. Topps would issue sets needing viewers into the 60's; I think they are pretty groovy!.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Every once in a while a Topps item comes up at auction that absolutely floors me.  Presently, this year's winning entry belongs to the good folks and Friends o'the Archive at BST Auctions.

Topps released a scarce set of Baseball cards on the backs of certain Bazooka boxes during the summer of 1959.  Twenty three in number, the set features gorgeous color photography (possibly the best ever done by Topps) and has a number of ridiculously short short prints and two variations of the Hank Aaron card.  471 have been graded as I type this and two boxes are also noted in the PSA pop report.

However, if you really want a scarce Bazooka set from 1959, you need to purse the equally spectacular Football cards. With 18 subjects and two variations of the Chuck Conerly card it's about twice as hard to find an example based upon PSA's grading. No boxes are shown by PSA but BST has one in their upcoming auction of goodies, many of which hail from the formidable collection of yet another Freind o'the Archive: Mike Blaisdell.

Feast your eyes on this:

Wow, right?!  A couple of points:
1) How the cello survived almost 60 years is beyond me.
2) That's the original Bazooka Joe blowing a ginormous bubble around said cello
3) There's no splash on the front saying a football card lurks on the back, which is kinda weird.

The card:

Like the Baseball box, it was the 20 pack that had the goods:

There wouldn't be another Bazooka Football set until 1971, when they issued not one but two sets, one in the US and another, stupendously rare one in Canada with CFL players.  Baseball of course was represented every year through 1971 so it's safe to assume the inaugural issue of Football was a bust, especially since the roylties paid by Topps to the NFL in the late 50's were negligible.

This is the only box like this I have ever seen; I can't find any scans of the two Baseball boxes that PSA has graded so for now this is the only eye candy available.