The Wacky World of Wacky Postcards!
By Kurt Kuersteiner © 2011 Monsterwax Trading Cards
It seems like only yesterday when collectors were begging Topps to resurrect Wacky Packages. The stickers are arguably the most popular non-sports parody series of all time. They literally made Topps million$ in the 1970s, but discontinued after series 16. Topps put their tepid toe in the water in 1985 and 1991, but it wasn’t until 2004 that they actually dove in. We’ve been swimming in Wackys ever since, getting a new series nearly every year thereafter. Not surprisingly, the popularity of the stickers has inspired a host of other Wacky items, including binders, erasers, magnets, posters, T-shirts, books, and Wacky Postcards.
Enter Neil Camera. After the release of All New Series 6, he approached his editor at Topps about doing some special limited edition postcards, and they agreed, starting in 2007 with series 1. It was a small three card series painted by Camera, signed, numbered and limited to only 100 sets. It also included a bonus card and sketch card. They quickly sold out, providing the impetus for Topps to release a regular set based on the same titles but with a different bonus card (and no sketch card).
That formula has basically been followed with every Wacky postcard series since then. The limited edition series (now averaging 500 numbered sets per series with a hand numbered certificate of authenticity) are offered for about $40. They’ve increased in size to either five or six cards plus a bonus card and artist sketch. They also include “post card minis,” which are technically half size postcards, but in a practical sense, they are typical trading cards (2.5 x 3.5”). It is worth noting that when the limited edition sets are offered, collectors are supposed to be cut off at just five sets per household. They typically sell out in an hour or two, but then the regular card set (with the same art but a different bonus card and no sketch or minis) is offered for $7. Starting with series 4, additional artists were added to the production of each series. Unlike typical Wackys, their names are included in the credit line on the backs, along with the name of the writer of each gag. The backs otherwise look very similar to typical postcards. Also of note, are the Artist's Bio Cards that come in each set. These mirror the postcard art in a standard card-size format with additional information about the artist on back.
Topps is currently up to series 7 (that’s about two series a year), and for series 8, they plan to offer many more than just six cards in the set. Although the previous limited edition sets are all gone, there seem to be plenty of the regular series still available at shoptopps.com. That’s good news for collectors like me, who were unaware of the postcards until recently and are late to the race.
Some collectors may be unaware of the Wacky Halloween Postcards. These feature Halloween themes, including various monsters. This series has been available annually since 2009. The first series was a single postcard featuring three parodies by Camera (similar in style to the Wacky Ads released in 1969). It was released as a supplement to the series 4 postcard sets, but featured new sketch cards and collectible trading cards. A promotional version of the Halloween postcard was also released at the Philly Show that year. It was labeled Wacky Packages “Tricky Treat” Halloween postcard on back. The second Halloween series (2010) jumped up to six cards, and the third series (2011) seven cards. 500 of the 2nd Halloween series were made, and 650 of the third were issued. Additional artists were added in 2010, including Brent Engstrom, Matthew Kirscht, Joe Simko, Smokin’ Joe, and John Zeleznik. In the latest set, Topps has added Pat Chaimuang, Jeff Zapata and Jay Lynch, whose sketch cards for this series inspired Camera to develop a whole new product - Wacky Packages Comics!
Completing the Wacky postcard sets is a genuine challenge. Between the different releases, the sketch cards, artist's bio cards, promo cards and assortment of chase cards, you may have to really dig to find all of the pieces. Plus, these sets typically sell out quickly as was the case with the Halloween set. Released in mid-October from shoptopps.com for $40 per set, they were gone in just a few hours. So if you’re a Halloween / monster fiend, you’ll want to line up early when Topps releases them next year. Unlike the other limited edition series sold there, they are not reprinted as regular sets.
Overall, one of the biggest advantages to the Wacky Postcards is that they are big. Unlike the classic stickers, they are reproduced at a size ratio much closer to the original art, which is typically painted on a 5 x 7” art board. Wacky aficionados will appreciate seeing the art as was originally created. Even if one doesn’t collect them all, it’s still interesting to have at least some in your Wacky collection. They are legal to mail as regular postcards, but since most collectors sleeve or slab their cardboard treasures, don’t expect to get any in your mailbox. You’ll have to order them online like everyone else!
To see a complete checklist of all the various Wacky postcard series, go online and visit www.monsterwax.com/WackyPostcards
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