Some favorite Non-Sport sets...
Some of you may recall the Feb Issue of Non-Sports Update (Vol. 10, No.1) that listed the 99 greatest non-sports sets of all time. No doubt you agreed with some, and disagreed with others on the list. But looking at other's favorite sets is always a fun way to learn about different sets. Here's my list of favorite (pre 1990) classics that you're welcome to peruse. If you care to send a list of your own favorite sets, along with brief descriptions of what you liked best about them, I'll be glad to post them. Your list does not have to be 25 sets long, or pre-1990... just whatever you feel like. Send your list to email@example.com
Top 25 sets of Kurt Kuersteiner (and no, I don't own them all, but I sure wish I did!)
#1 Dinosaurs Attack (Topps 1980s): I moved this to the top of the list after going though the cards again recently. What a set! It's similiar to Mars Attacks, but with a much more original story (Mars Attacks was an adaption of War of the Worlds, but Dinosaurs Attack is an all new concept.) The dinosaurs are brought forward in time and attack modern Earth. The set has very funny and creative backs as well, including photo backs, newspapers reports, and bloody wedding invitations. And it's cheap too! (under $10). 55 cards, 11 stickers. Don't let the snobs who only like rare stuff fool you: If you judge cards based on good art and great stories, this one deserves high marks indeed!
#2: Mars Attacks (Topps 1960s): Overrated? Not in my opinion. It should probably be top of the list but the story isn't as original as Dinosaurs Attack, and the price is getting rediculous. I think I'd rather have an Outer Limits, Horror Monster series 1 & 2, Civil War News, Battle, and Dinosaurs Attack set for half the price! But there's several cheap reproductions, so you HAVE to have some sort of Mars Attacks. Topps put hard work and imagination into this one. It's one of their most creative sets ever. And that great Norm Saunders pulp style painting never goes out of style. 55 cards.
#3: Horror Monster Green & Orange (Nucard, 1960's): Great Duotone photos with colored borders. The back graphic to the second series was better than the first, but the first (green) series had pretty cool skull designs on the front. A really fun series of 1-66 & 67-146.
#4: Outer Limits (Topps, 1960's)- It combined cool color photos from my favorite black and white TV show! The corny stories on the back only made it more endearing. 50 cards.
#5: Jets, Rockets, Spacemen (Bowman 1951): The original Mars Attacks, full of Forbidden Planet 50s sci-fi flavor, yet original too. If you can't afford the original, get the cheap reproduction. It's what all card sets should be. 108 cards. There was also a 4th and 5th series, but they were never released when the art to the 4th series was lost. (The 5th series was finally released in the 1980s in collector sets.)
#6 Wild Man (Bowman 1950): Plenty of classic art with historical interest, yet plenty of gore too! An expensive ($1000 plus) set but worth it. 72 cards.
#7 Horrors of War (Bowman 1938): Super war scare series. So extensive, it's demoralizing for the collector of today (288 color cards in the series!). But there's some cheap reproductions available, and no collection is complete without it. This series put Gum Incorporated (Bowman) on the map!
#8 Battle (Topps 1960s): Same style as Mars Attacks, only it's the Nazis and Japs doing the dirty on Democracy. Racists stereotypes, lotta swastikas, plenty of gore. What more could little kids want? A vastly underated set. 66 card set.
#9 Civil War News (Topps 1962) The first of the Norm Saunders "bloody" sets (followed by Battle and Mars Attacks). It made a bundle for Topps during the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. It got Topps to invest some time and effort on similar series. No reproductions to date... lets hope it stays that way. 88 cards, fake civil war money too!
#10 Lone Ranger (Bowman, 1940): Super art, tiny script on the back- but fun reading. Certainly one of the best from the 40s (maybe even THE best). 48 cards.
#11Red Menace (Bowman, 1950s): Great Red Scare set directed at brainwashing the kids to remain good capitalists. And who knows? With all the present day efforts to convert everyone to Socialism, the McCarthy-ites might have been on the right track after all! 48 cards originally, but in later years, another 22 cards were released (bringing it up to 72 cards). Read how the Reds were out to destroy our way of life and liberty... Hey! Is that Stalin hiding under your bed!?
#12 Terror Tales (Topps 1967): At first I didn't care for the word balloons imposed over the monster photos, but they've grown on me. And the scary (not!) stories on the back are really great. (They were later repeated on the backs of Fright Flicks). This set is tough to complete, but worth it. 88 cards.
#13 Fright Flicks (Topps 1980s): VERY graphic monster set- but tastefully graphic. Meaning, the violence is done but monsters and not murderers (therefore, imaginary instead of front page newspaper type of stuff). Shots from Alien, Pumpkinhead, Ghostbusters, American Werewolf in London, and more. 90 color cards, 11 stickers.
#14 Shock Theatre (Topps 1975 and 1976): The 1975 set is a test set released in American and twice the price of the 1976 set (released in UK). Both feature lots of color shots from various Hammer horror films. 2/3rds of the sets are identical, but the test sets has more on Frankenstein, while the UK set has more vampires. 50 cards.
#15 Don't Let It Happen Over Here (International Chewing Gum Company of Cambridge 1938): This set is VERY primitive, supposedly drawn by ex-solders who saw the violence (yeah, right). Nazis, lotta violence, murder, death, mayhem. You get the picture. 24 comic book color cards. (There's a cheap reproduction available).
#16 Odd Rods (Donruss, 1960s): Talk about pay dirt, this sticker set of "big daddy Ross" style monster cars did it for Donruss. It started with Odd Rods, then Odder Odd Rods, then Fantastic Odd Rods (series 1 & 2) and several re-issues. (Oh, and Silly Cycles too!). Topps played catch up in the 1980s with Weird Wheels... but it just wasn't the same. First series 44 stickers, the rest 66 stickers each.
#17 Frankenstein Stickers (Topps 1960s) Fun cartoon- but pretty serious renderings- of Universal monsters in the Valentine motif. Hard to find since they were pasted everywhere. 44 die-cut sticker set.
#18 Scoops (Topps 1954) Smaller cards with famous historic figures on the front, fake newspaper accounts on the back. 156 cards (first and second series combined).
#19 Strange True Tales (Woverine Gum 1936) Kinda the pre-curser to Wild Man. Lots of tortures and "man being mean to man" themes. Crammed in text on the backs like Lone Ranger cards, but a fun read! 24 comic book color cards.
#20 Wacky Packages (Topps 1973-74). 16 different series of product parodies. It really brings back the pop culture memories... plus humorous to boot! The great Norm Saunders strikes again! (Probably deserves to be higher on the list) 29-33 stickers per set, 16 original series.
#21 Lost In Space (Topps 1966): Just plain old black and white photos with a story line on the back (along with several different graphics), but the charm of the campy TV show pulls it through. Several fun alien shots too, but mainly the first several episodes are profiled (which were the most serious sci-fi episodes of the show). 55 cards.
#22 Dinosaurs (Nu Card 1960s): Great duo tone set of dinosaurs. All drawings, but almost photo quality. A must for dino collectors. 88 cards.
#23 Star Trek (Topps 1976): One of the most popular of the Star Trek sets. Very colorful and good write ups on the back. Does a decent job recounting show story lines. 88 cards, 22 stickers.
#24 Make Your Own Name Stickers (Topps 1960s) Basil Wolverton monster art, same as Ugly Stickers (also Topps) and Monstickers (also Topps), but these are just a LITTLE more serious. 33 color stickers.
#25 Monster Midgees (Topps 1960s): Mini cards sold in three card panels, broken into separate cards. Same photos as Monster Laffs, but much more enjoyable because of the variety and -perhaps- size.
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The "Guilty Pleasure Award" (Can't list it as a great set because it ain't! But it still gives plenty of pleasure nevertheless.)
Terror Monster Green & Purple (Rosan, 1963): These looks so primitive, you can't help but enjoy it in an immature sort of way. The quality sucks, any kid with a photo copy machine could do a better set today- but that only adds to the charm. (Or am I deluding myself? Hmmm. The high price suggests I'm NOT deluding myself... but you be the judge.) 132 cards (both series combined).
Top 25 of Bill Christensen:
1 Davy Crockett Orange - has my favorite card (#1) in the set
2. Hit Stars - had never seen these until a few years ago but it is a great set
3.Firefighters - only had a few of my older brothers as a kid - check out the fires in the background
4.Pirates Bold - check out how graphic these are!
5.Mars Attacks - I've had a few sets thru the years & am building one in various conditions for myself.
6. Round Up - liked cowboys & Indians as a kid - love card #56
7.Look N See - As a kid sometimes needed a smaller card to play games & this fit, besides I even learned a few things from this set.
8.Three Stooges - As a nine year old I knew about the different color backs & checklist cards
9.Mothers Movie Stars - I have the baseball cards but these are tough to find
10. Who Z At Star - only had a few as a kid and I'll begin to recollect these soon
11. Gee Whiz - How can you not like a set with a cool red paper to see the answers (much better than scratch offs)
12. Power for Peace - an oversize card with a neat insignia on the reverse
13. Wacky Placks - not a great set but I completed it when I was young
14. Planes - bluebacks - we only had series two in my neighborhood. A couple of friends had a few red backs but no one had series one blues.
15. Yule Laff - I was sick when these came out & I bought all kinds when I got better.
16. GPK - I liked them because I collected with my son and still have sets, singles, packs at my house
17. Grease - Collected with my daughter I must have seen the movie a hundred times
18. Scoops - I liked the headline idea & sent Topps some of these with the bands on asking how to get rid of the bands. They sent me back a sweatshirt saying they were stumped.
19. Space - On card #77, how is the guy going to eat the eggs?
20. 1961 Sport Cars - I liked getting oversized cards for the same money as regular cards.
21. Bowman Magic Cards - 6 Panel - Only have a few but I'll collect these as soon as I finish as a few sets I'm working on
22. Original Ripley's Believe It or Not - Also only have a few but I've always been a Ripley's fan
23. 1965 Superman - He's always been my favorite superhero
24. Laugh In - Some clever ideas make up this set
25. Zorro - Started & ended with a Disney set, everyone thought his sword was way cool.
26. Fabulous Rock Records - the pictures in the Benjamin price guide are super but I've never seen one in person.
That is my list. Even thru in an extra #26. Hope this stirs a few memories!
Thanks Bill! You've got some oldies but goldies in there!
Top Ten List of Chuck Ross:
1) Strange True Stories: My all-time favorite. Campy artwork and very tough to find.
2) Believe it or Not: Probably the toughest set I've ever put together. The high numbers are a killer.
3) Tootsie Circus: I love the colors and the feel of the cards...the Dog Act is also one of my favorite all-time cards. Cards are tough to find in nice condition.
4) Don't Let it Happen Over Here: Artwork is a little crude but gruesome and a pretty tough set to finish.
5) Dare Devils: Probably my favorite art work.
6) Wischmann Aeroplanes: Not sure why I like these little guys, but I do.
7) Noah's Ark: Psychedelic colors, very tough to find in decent condition.
8) True Spy Stories: Beautiful artwork and interesting stories.
9) Pulver Pictures: Very strange cards, one of the hardest 30's sets to finish.
10) War News Pictures: Was quite a milestone when I finished this one. The "Dirty Dozen" are super tough to find.
Some more great classics, Chuck!
Top 15 of Joel Bevan
1. Jets Rockets and Spacemen: Optimism, not fear of the future. Golden Age artwork, storyline goes from card to card.
2. Pirate's Picture Bubble Gum: Best of the pirate sets, with all of the elements that make the pirate life so intriguing displayed on the cards.
3.Wild Man: When you get used to the little size, the cross section of man's journey through the ages captured on cards, is irresistible.
4. Tarzan and the Crystal Vault of Isis: A truly mystical set
5. Fight the red Menace: Fine artwork and a slice of history not apologetic over freedom.
6.Tip Top Space: A simple child like set with a space theme.
7.Space (topps 1958): One of Topps best efforts. Creative, but remaining accurate.
8.Lone Ranger 1940: First drawer artwork of the old west. The Lone Ranger remains a self effacing hero who lives free.
9. Civil War News: This somewhat gory set is the only one I have that I hung onto to from when I collected as a kid. The set I possess is the same cards I got when I was 11 years old.
10. Foney Ads (Mr. Fonies Funnies): These cards came along about the same time as Mad Magazine and both appealed to my sense of resisting adult authority.
11. Bring 'Em Back Alive (1950): I 've read the Frank Buck book by the same name and his story, though imperfectly captured by the card set, scores many points.
12. G-Men & Heroes of the Law: Ratta Tatt Tatt
13. America Salutes the FBI: Interesting set, mixed quality artwork. Card theme and text lifted mostly from G-Men Detective Magazine.
14. Mars Attacks: Saucers, saucers. Norm Saunders hit the spot here.
15. Horrors of War: I only own a few cards and the reprint set. Someday I will start to collect this set, I promise.
My favorite sets to collect are as follows :
01. Wacky Packages ( I started in 1973 with series 1 when they were in the store)
02. Ugly Stickers ( Topps 1973/1974 series)
03. Red Menace
04. Jets, Rockets, Spacemen.
07. Superman (1930's Set)
08. Lone Ranger (1930's Set)
09. Star Trek ( Leaf 1967)
10. The Waltons ( Topps 1973/74)
11. Outer Limits ( Bubbles inc)
** I collect many other 1930 - 1975 sets if I get interested. I like to collect Wrappers or unopened Packs from 1930-1975 ( If I can find or afford them) Also, The Waltons Set and The Star Trek Leaf sets are of course on my dream list.lol I have seen some cards and some Waltons Test Packs, however, I need to make a bunch more money, I do have the Leaf Star Trek reprint set, but One day :)>
Favorite Four of Geoff Greene:
1) Mars Attacks - Sure, everybody's favorite, but heck you can see why... because they're amazing and over-the-top fantastic. MA has it all - great creatures, great cheezy storyline (I walked out of the Tim Burton movie very disappointed because there were no giant insects!), first rate Norm Saunders art and of course that terrific, legendary history.
I remember very well the day MA got pulled off the shelves: as usual, before heading to our Monster Club meeting, I dropped by my local 7-11 after school to spend my lunch money on another pack or two - I had about half the set - and the guy said 7-11 wasn't allowed to carry them anymore. That's all he told me, so I rode my bike to TG&Y, John Cobbs Drug store and every other place I could think of, but nobody had anymore Mars Attacks cards... wah! It wasn't until years later that I found out they were censored or recalled whatever.
2) You'll Die Laughing - I'd hafta say the Jack Davis YDL's are number two (btw is there any significant diff between the UK and USA sets?) just because they're so great and sooo under rated by collectors - like I say, I have no idea why but that's fine with me - maybe I'll pick up the UK set too. And might as well get a dupe set while I'm at it.
Also coz I collected them as a kid, and also coz they really were the very first card set to strictly do monsters, with humor - unheard of at the time! Didn't they pre-date HM greens? Plus I love Jack Davis art. Plus they were first to use the YDL title... btw has anyone ever counted how many card sets were called 'You'll Die Laughing'? I think they deserve a prominent place in card history just for that!
Plus my originals - after what, 50 years? - still smell faintly of bubble gum. Okay, that could be the smell of childhood I guess?
3) Horror Monster Greens - The series was before my time, but in 3rd grade we moved to a new city and I went to a new school and was feeling pretty lonesome the first day. At lunch this kid came up to me and asked if I wanted to see something 'neat' and I said yeah and he pulled out a grubby stack of well worn white-backs - probably 2/3rds of the set. He must have had his monster antenna out coz I never met the kid before... or maybe every male 10 year old kid loved monsters back then? Anyway, he sold the whole stack to me for a quarter and we became friends for life.
4) Horror Monster Oranges - Just coz they go with the greens so well. I knew a guy who used to have the full sheet w/all the HM greens on it - when he told me he sold it on ebay for $200, I...literally ... almost kicked him! (In his defense, he did say he considered it "a mistake".)
5) Topps Space (Target: Moon, 1958) I really get off on the colorful artwork from this series and even tho they ain't strictly a monster set I get a real kick out of them. Another set I collected as a kid, which as happened so often got chucked out by my mom when I went away to school - I wonder how many millions of bucks worth of treasure were lost the same way? Later in life I got the old bug back - also pretty common I think - and re-collected the whole set, mostly from ebay and a couple of dealers. That's true of most of my faves for that matter.
6) TCG (aka: Topps) Monster Laffs Midgees (1963 - 1st and 2nd series) Here's another set that had its name swiped a million times but - like the Jack Davis YDLs - the Midgees were first and to me, best. I like 'em coz they were put out in conjunction with AIP (every 60s monster kid's favorite movie studio) and so contain quite a few monsters (Konga, Reptilicus, Night of the Blood Beast) that other sets of the era don't have. And also, let's face it... the mini-size is pretty kewl!
I remember we couldn't wait to tear the 3 card strips apart... another difference between today and yesterday. I never knew a kid who "collected" cards the way people do now - if there was one, he's probably rich right now! We got the cards coz we loved 'em and the last thing anybody thought about was sealing them up so human fingers couldn't sully their edges. We ran through these cards w/our greasy, grubby fingers every day and night, regardless of how much wear it caused - of course that was easier when you could go to the store and get some more for a nickel a pack instead of several hundred bucks!
7) 1964 Outer Limits - Bubbles, Inc (aka: Topps) Just love the monsters - really hi-tech for TV in those days - and the goofy, not-even-close episode synopsis on the backs! All the 60s cards had that great vibrant color, too... in contrast to the actual show which was in glorious B&W! So we were able to see what the show would look like in color... so we thot!
8) Rosan Terror Monster (Green and purple 1962-3) - Even back in the 60s we knew these cards were ripoffs of HM, but collected 'em anyway... when we could find them. I didn't mind the cheezy graphix - they were monster cards! Heck, me and my pals in the Monster Club collected B&W ads for monster movies out of the newspapers and we would go "garbage can hunting" to get more ads... not as grubby as it sounds, or at least not how I remember it.
Now a course, I crave the cheezy grafix - TMs are the only cards I'll probably actively pursue from now on - just because I'm lucky to have VG-NM sets on pretty much every other set I really want.
9) Civil War News (Topps 1962?) Again, not a monster set but some terrific NS artwork and man, did we love the blood n' guts! Topps really had a knack getting at what kids of that era loved - looking over my list most of my fave sets are them, in one incarnation of another.
These are the only non-sports I hd a full set of, and now I'm gonna contradict myself coz I need to het 'em again! I remember in art class we drew our own sort of satire CWN cards based on the card titles - f'rinstance "The Family Fleas", with a dad, mom, sis, bro and dog scratching like crazy... yeah, I know, not funny, but we sure thot it was! And they don't even have art class in schools anymore! Aggh!
10) Jets Rockets Spacemen (Bowman 50s) I've heard these referred to as being like MA but to me they seem more of a throwback than a look ahead as far as innovation goes - I love and collect the set but it reminds me much more of pre-60s era sci-fi than it does MA. There's a 30s/40s, pre-war feel to both the artwork and the style of the costuming, weapons, rockets, etc. In fact, to me the series seems almost entirely derivative - all the monsters, aliens, scientists, rockets, practically everything in JRS seems heavily influenced by the Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers franchises… but to me, what JRS lacks in originality it makes up for in sheer wackiness!