Son of Oddball Monster Sets
By Kurt Kuersteiner ©1996 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards
It's hard to imagine that some folks want to do away with Halloween because they think it's demonic. They just don't get it. Halloween isn't about "devil worship". It's about dressing up in costume and playing "make believe". It's about spooky stories told around a camp fire. It's about candy and tooth decay. But best of all, (at least as far as card collectors are concerned) Halloween is about Monster cards.
Card makers have exploited the Halloween theme almost as much as Hallmark has exploited Christmas. It's been a popular subject with the kids since the early 1960s. Several new sets have been released which deserve attention, along with a couple of recent nostalgia sets.
We'll start with the new stuff first. Topps has been promoting the Goosebumps series a lot lately. Based on the supermarket books by R.L. Stine, Goosebumps has also become a TV show and popular merchandising vehicle. The card set features covers and illustrations from the first twelve books. There are also two subsets in this 54 card set that feature photos from the TV show and artwork from artist John Pound. Finally, there are three chase sets of six "Glow in the Dark" cards, six "Monster Magic" Cards, and six "Foil Stickers".
Word has it that the box break down on this set is pretty lousy. Topps claims this is not deliberate, but that excuse gets harder to believe every year. If they can get it right for some series, why can't they do it right for the big sellers like Star Wars Finest and Goosebumps?
To add insult to injury, Topps has also released factory sets of Goosebumps that offer the original 54 card set plus six embossed foil cards that were not available anywhere else. These sets retail between $8.99 and $11.99 at toy stores, and are sure to aggravate those who spent time and money breaking down wax boxes.
If you're frustrated with the high prices and collation games of companies like Topps, you can pick up free uncut sheets of Goosebumps at bookstores that sell the series. These 8-card sheets are produced by Parachute Press and feature art from the book covers, calendars, and postcard books. The cards can be broken off the sheet to fit regular 9-card pocket sleeves. There are four sheets in the set (32 cards) and together they form a big picture on the back. Better hurry though, free stuff disappears fast!
Another fun set came out last Halloween from Cornerstone Communications. Hammer House of Horror is an 81 card set devoted to the classic horror films from Hammer Studios. Dracula, Frankenstein, and Werewolf flicks are profiled nicely. There are also six chase cards with art by P.J. Campbell (A1-A6). (Some feel this artwork is a little primitive, while other like it for that reason.) The set breakdown per box is good, and the text on the reverse is a fun read. A second series of Hammer House of Horror is due out this November.
Another fun monster series isn't really about monsters at all, but Munsters. This 90 card set by Dart is manufactured on mirror board, giving it a novel appearance. (How unique this process will appear if others copy it remains to be seen.) The pictures are not duplicates of the Leaf set, but are equally fun. There are also 3 die cut cards randomly inserted into packs, and a "Tall boy" card you can send away to obtain from the company (for $9.95). According to Dart, this series was limited to 500 wax cases.
Anyone who made the Parsippany show probably noticed the uncut sheets of Munsters on display at the Dart booth. Dart was selling these sheets for $75 each. They claim there are only 55 numbered sheets available, and that most of them sold at the show.
And in the Promo Department, Topps gave away promos of the Mars Attacks movie at this year's San Diego Comics Convention. The 2 1/2" X 4 3/4" cards feature an intense close up of one of the Martians... pretty gnarly! Non-Sport Update magazine will include a Mars Attacks movie promo in their Dec/Jan issue (due out in November). If it is a different promo or not is uncertain at this time.
And now for the obligatory oddball set: This one is not only oddball, it's baseball too. Gahan Wilson's Monster Baseball Trading Card Set was released in 1990 by Mirage Publishing. This 10 card set came wrapped in a cardboard wrapper. The artwork is... well, monstrous. (It's Gahan Wilson style, you either like it or you hate it.) The baseball statistics on the back are both gross and amusing. This set popped up in comic book stores for a while, then seem to quietly disappear. Don't expect to find it listed in any price guides. This is definitely a set for hard-core monster card collectors only!
If you have information about other monster sets you'd like discussed in future articles, drop me a line care of The Wrapper Magazine, or e-mail me directly.
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