Oddball Monster Attacks!
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©2012 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards for The Wrapper Magazine
Welcome to the 20th annual installment of the Oddball Monster Cards Review. That’s where we corral everything monster related on cardboard that hasn’t been reviewed elsewhere in previous issues of The Wrapper. Some of them are super obscure—others, not so. But if it’s a card and has monsters on it, we want to document its existence in this series each Halloween.
First up on the examination table is an alien autopsy of sorts—an extraterrestrial body that first landed on Earth 50 years ago. Every time it’s destroyed, it keeps coming back for more: Mars Attacks! was recently reissued by Topps in a “Heritage” format, meaning the card stock is the same as it was back in 1962. In fact, you may need a magnifying glass to see the 2012 copyright date on the back (listed as Topps instead of Bubbles, Inc.). Otherwise, the cards look like the real thing. And they’re cheap, too. I got mine from a Wrapper dealer for $10 a set! And that included the 10 new “deleted scenes” cards drawn by Jason Edmiston. They are based on the sketches originally drawn by Wally Wood and Bob Powell that didn’t make it into the original series. (The original line art can be viewed in the preview thumbnail on the backs.) Plus the 15 “New Universe” cards drawn by John McCrea, who also illustrates the new Mars Attacks comic book series being published by Topps. The Deleted Scenes try to replicate the old style of illustrating (not Norm Saunders’ quality, but that style of art) while the New Universe cards are much more modern and stylized.
Mars Attacks Heritage (2012)
Also available from that series are five different 3-D (lenticular) cards which are pretty cool and worth getting. They recreate five of the more famous scenes from the series, like “Destroying A Dog.” And to help sell even more boxes, Topps offers not one, not two, but three parallel sets. They have green-bordered cards (1 per 3 packs), silver-bordered cards (1 per 24 packs), and gold bordered-packs (just fifty of each card overall). While I could care less about the parallel cards, rest assured that someone out there will spend more money trying to chase them down, and maybe that will help the economy, so more power to ‘em!
There are also art sketch cards available, but only one per every four boxes. Moreover, Len Brown, the Topps employee who first proposed doing the series and wrote most of the text, signed 550 cards (ten of each of the base cards) and inserted them randomly. And the printing plants were also cut up and randomly inserted into packs (four of each design since there are four color plates used). Also of interest is the Attack From Space variant box, made to duplicate the original super-rare test box. Only 1,500 of those are printed (while an undisclosed number of the regular Mars Attacks boxes are made). Both boxes contain 24 (8 card) packs, but the regular hobby box also includes a nine card mini sheet.
There is plenty of Mars Attacks swag, so much so, it’s overwhelming: T-shirts, comic books (including 55 variant covers), statues, busts, action figures, costumes, bobbleheads, Xmas ornaments, and a limited edition (999 total) box of postcards featuring the regular cards in postcard size. At first, the postcards sounded like a pretty good deal at $30 (that would be 55 cents each). But then it turned out there are only ten cards in each box (making it $3 each— and even a Martian tourist knows postcards shouldn’t cost that much). But even though they went overboard (IMHO), no one’s making us buy it all, so overall, it’s a fun tribute. So happy 50th Mars Attacks!
Silver Scream Spookshow (circa 2010?)
Now from the mainstream to the truly obscure: Silver Scream Spookshow trading cards are a series of 36 green-bordered cards featuring color photos of a modern Ghostmaster, Professor Morte. Morte performs his live horror shows in Atlanta on select dates (www.SilverScreamSpookShow.com) and he issued these cards around 2010 in six card packs. Good luck finding them though. I can’t seem to find any Google info on them at all. I’ve met Morte though, and he’s not only a ghoulish performer, he’s also a musician and artist. He’s produced his own CD of monster music and illustrated much of the creepy cover art. You can bet he’ll be doing something fun for Halloween! These shouldn’t be confused with the Spook Show cards I produced last Halloween (via Monsterwax), nor the Spook Show Funnies by Matthew Kirscht in 2009 (via Shiver Bones Group).
Horror Hosts Collector Cards
Another real oddball series is one I found on eBay called Horror Hosts Collector Cards (aka Creatures of the Night That We Loved So Well). It was a 43-card set with black and white photos/ publicity images of Southern California horror hosts. The green-bordered series was printed on flimsy stock and supposedly limited to just 50 sets (but not numbered). Be aware that the numbering sequence only goes up to 32, and the other eleven cards are bonus cards (usually with the letter "A" after the number). The series was issued to promote a self-published book by Jim Fetters on the same subject (Creatures of the Night That We Loved So Well).
Another series with a similar name was the Horror Host Graveyard trading cards, a mostly color series on more recent horror hosts. We reported about the first series (of ten cards) in 2009. Now, there’s a second series. Like the first series, series 2 is sold as a complete ten card set in a red pack, and there are also said to be randomly inserted autograph cards as well. For more info, see www.HorrorHostGraveyard.com
Dinosaur flash cards
Although some people might debate whether or not dinosaurs are real monsters, I have little doubt they would run away from such a giant creature and call it a monster if they actually encountered one today. Non-sports used to get a lot of dinosaur sets in the 1980s and 1990s, but as the original art sets have gone the way of the dinosaur, so have the dino cards. So I was surprised and delighted to find a new dinosaur set at Target for just $1. That’s right, just $1 for all 36 cards inside a slim box! Granted, it was a flash card set of oversized cards measuring 3.25” by 5.25”, but that provides more detail. The artwork is really colorful and cool. The write-ups on the back are rather sparse, but all the latest “facts” and discoveries are included. You know, all those things they would have laughed at and deducted points if we had dared suggest them on our science tests growing up, but are now all the rage and the theory du jour. After just one generation, Dinosaurs are suddenly warm blooded, their ancestors were birds, and some were probably covered with colorful feathers… Hey, it may be true (or not), but I’m always amused how confident paleontologist of the past and the present were of their theories, presenting them as facts, even though they often contradicted one another!
The series is called (surprise!) Dinosaurs. The copyright states it was published by Dalmatian Press in 2012. My only complaint about it is that the dinosaur name is also on the front of each card. (Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of a flash card? Just say’n!) They also had nice $1 sets for Astronomy and the US Presidents. Oddly enough, they list Ron Paul as our 45th President! Was it a typo or do they know something we don’t? (Okay, that was only a joke, but it’s almost Halloween, a traditional time for pranks, so don’t panic!)
Well, that wraps it up for this year’s installment of Oddball Monsters. Don’t forget to include some inexpensive trading cards in your trick-or-treat tray to encourage our hobby for the next generation.
Oddball Monster Card Article Index
The Non-Sports Trading Card Article Index