Saturday, July 28, 2018

Look What Just Popped Up

Good news everybody! I've managed to finally secure an example from a very elusive metamorphic Topps set, namely Pop-Ups. My records show they are attributed to 1971 but I am not at all sure about that.

Here is how one of these would have (mostly) looked as it emerged from its pack:

We'll get to the mechanics of it in a second.  Let's look at the back first, as it shows how these were clearly designed to be worn as a gag.  There were twelve in the series, so this is the last in line.

Now, about those instructions.  What you couldn't see then (and what is missing now) was a small rubber band that allowed the Pop-Up to, well, pop up.  When popped, you get this result:

That measures 7 3/16" tall when opened!  I assume there was some small variance among subjects but that's what I came up with. The width would be a constant 2 13/16".

The back of the pop up piece is unfinished cardboard:

It's a tough set and you can see why very few have survived; this was the first example I had ever seen.

The dating is a guess, there's no clue on the wrapper, which was drawn by Wally Wood, and that seems a little late for him at Topps. Indeed, the Wally Wood checklist I have shows his art being from 1968 but I do not know how accurate that is either. Certainly, 1968-1971 is when they came out though.

No help on the back, although Hong Kong is not that common on the "imported" Topps novelties.  Most of their packs that sold confections and /or cards were indicating Duryea, PA by 1971 but if an item was simply distributed by them with no candy or gum, it was still Brooklyn:

Here's a gnarly looking box:

As with the wrapper, the bottom does not help with dating and I don't have any side panels in my scans:

Most of the tougher items on my Topps want list are types like this, or stickers, both things that would essentially be destroyed once played with or used.  So it goes.....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fold Over

The parade of hard-to-find Topps non-sports items continues unabated this summer. Today's topic: 1966 Topps Fold-a-roos, a super tough test issue that most collectors have never heard of.

Skip numbering from 1-36 indicates the test was partial (unissued nos: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29) and the extreme lack of extant examples indicate it was unsuccessful. I've covered the set before, although as I explained in my prior post, it seems the date should be 1967 or later. 1966 is based upon the Topps COA's, these being sold by the Topps Vault, but they have been off on some of their dates before!

In case you don't remember, here is what an unfolded subject looks like:

Now that Topps Vault is selling production proofs of these, here is part of that Fold-a-roo, even though it's a proof:

The "We know someone who likes you" straight line would appear to apply to a gag that ends " because he's bats" so maybe these were cut wrong.  For fun, here's the gag, right side up (the straight line is "I really like you a lot...)":

That was from an old Legendary Auction that seems to have had a mix of issued and unissued subjects.

Here's a couple more proofs:

Neat little set, tough little items! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Get In The Groove

Further to some recent posts on the 1966 Topps Wacky Labels, a tough test set if there ever was one, Friend o'the Archive Jason Rhodes has sent along a well formed observation on a related set, namely 1969 Topps Groovy Stick Ons. Jason notes that, in true Topps tradition, subjects of the former set popped up in the latter three years later.

Groovy Stick Ons (GSO) were a fairly well distributed set I think.  While they were, of course, stickers--which led to pure destruction of the set back in the day, they seem to be somewhat available today and, unlike Wacky Labels, a full checklist is know, albeit one that is maddeningly imprecise, especially for those of us trying to tie the two sets together.

The basics on GSO are few but with a small twist. The product (72 in number, with multiple "apply moisture" stickers on each) first appeared in a five cent format in 1969:

Looks like it was a summer issue as the Duryea address appears-Topps switched from Brooklyn to Duryea for most wrapper indicia in mid-1969. However, there is also a ten cent variety,as this pack from Komodo Cards shows:

You can't see it but the commodity code is: 444-96-01-9 so it's also a 1969 issue. Topps was transitioning most products to 10 cents by the middle of 1969 but it's rare that a product had two price points in one year while in the otherwise same packaging.

The set looks like this:

You can see how the long, rectangular stickers look just like Wacky Labels! It's looks possible too that some of the smaller or odd-sized stickers reuse Wacky Labels themes. Jason's thought is that the GSO labels might yield the full Wacky Labels checklist, which is woefully incomplete, but it looks to me like there would be too many subjects given almost every number has at least one sticker that could be from that earlier set.

Now the other big problem is that the checklists for GSO all go by the first given name on each large sticker, so there's no extant list of all stickers out there.  Something to ponder, unless someone out there has a full checklist.  Anybody? Bueller?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Before The Buttons

Friend o' the Archive Keith Olbermann recently passed along three very interesting and enlightening scans of some Topps mockup are related to the "1967" and "1968" Baseball Discs.  You will recall, dear reader that there were three "sets"of these "produced", two of MLB All-Stars and one solely of San Francisco Giants.  In reality I think the first two were, at least in the case of the All Stars, a series of proofs produced for a set that never saw the light of Sheepshead Bay.

The dating accepted by the hobby on these is suspect and my take is that the "1967" set was begun after the end of the regular season in '66 and then the "1968" set came around not too long after in 1967, probably updated for player selection. The SF Giants set I believe is more related to the Red Sox and Pirates Stickers that actually were sold to the public in 1967. What Mr. Olbermann has sent looks like mock up art for what would have been a series of Baseball Buttons.  Remember too, that in 1956 Topps released a set with that exact name, containing 60 subjects. Ten years later it must have looked ripe for revisitation.

Check it out:

OK, left to right we have Carlton Willey, Jim Bouton, Norm Cash, Ron Perranoski and Dick Radatz. One household name and I guess Bouton was a real live one still when this was first developed, but this box art is typical mockup in that it seems like Topps used photos lying around the art den to create it. Some pictures had already been used on cards, others were fresh.  The Bouton is an example that was taken from a card:

Here's Dean Chance, a hot pitcher for awhile:

Looks a bit like a whoopee cushion, doesn't it?!

Mr. O has the artwork dated from 1963-64. Here it was enhanced with descriptors circling around Bob Veale's scowling mug. I have to think this particular one came after the Chance and other box art was created as it's closer to the (almost) finished product.

The mockup art apparently originated with Bill Haber. I think the "discs" originated from Woody Gelman.  Here's what must have been close to the finished products, from "1968":


I'm not sure why the set got killed but possibly due to US Customs duty assessments being higher for toys vs. novelties. It also could have tested poorly. I don't think we'll ever know.

As seen with other sets, the two or three year time frame from mockup to execution is not exceptional. Too bad it never got released, I love the 1956 Baseball Buttons and these would have been just as nice and apparently a little bit larger.