SW Topps Trading Cards (series 4, 1978)! An Obscene Mystery?!

Continuing our examination of the Topps SW set, we now move into some interesting territory with the "Green" series...that of the first Star Wars scandal.  But more on that in a moment--let's look at some other highlights first!

This series began to get very heavy in its use of Lucasfilm reference shots.  Understandably, they were running out of what stills were available, and overall this is a good thing, really.  Where else could you see stuff like that back then? At this point, Topps was still trying to avoid "behind-the-scenes" shots, perhaps insisted on by Lucasfilm, but this would all change with the fifth and last series.
I've always thought this card's title was strangely prophetic...there was an early Marvel SW comic with the same title, too.
The problem comes when they start to "phone it in," when images are chopped up to make new cards.  Case in point:
I mean, that was three CONSECUTIVE cards, there...at least mix it up a little, Topps!  Overall, a nice set, though.  Having more non-movie photos really gives it more of a harder core, collector focus.

And now, we move on to darker waters...the card nobody wanted to admit existed.  The first real Star Wars scandal.
YOU know the one.
I remember, somewhere around the age of five, my parents coming into my room and insisting on going through the shoeboxes of Star Wars trading cards that I had amassed.  I also remember it was a weird situation--they were looking for something, but not exactly sure what they were looking for.  In the end, they never told me what was going on, but I could pick up on the serious vibe...but I don't think anything was taken. 

If somehow you have no idea what I am talking about, word got out that somebody had hidden something DIRTY on a Star Wars card, and the youth of America was in dire peril. I guess the missing piece of information here is, exactly how the word got out.  That's one part I haven't researched.  Was it an urban myth being passed around? Did it make the nightly news? Was it just whispered about in PTA meetings? Try to think back to the 1970's.  Today, it would be flashed across the world in an instant, blow up, and be over with.  Back then, telephones had rotary dials.  If I had to guess, I would say that the information was very non-specific...sort of like the song "Louie, Louie."  For years, it got passed around that there was SOMETHING dirty in that song, but as nobody could understand the words, nobody knew what it was, so the legend continued. (By the way, there IS something there, just not where people thought it would be...but this isn't the time or the place to go into that.)

Back to the subject:  it wasn't until years later that I was able to buy the "X-rated" version of the card, and it really is bizarre.  The vintage story going around at the time was that it was a "disgruntled Topps employee" who altered the card.  The "official" story that has emerged in recent years was that the C-3PO costume was coming apart, and that's merely what happened during the moment the photo was taken.

Now, let's think about this.  It IS well-documented that the original C-3PO costume was problematic, and that it often had to be patched and wired together during filming.  This is evident in the documentaries.  But why haven't we seen any other similar photos come out after all these years? I guess the next logical question would be: did the costume have strips like that at the hips that were likely to pop out? That part is strange to me. 
So far, I don't see how any strips would be popping out...but then again, there is probably a big difference from a test-fitting costume, to a film-used one, to one made for promotional appearances, and who knows which we are looking at in the above shots.  So let's press on...

A while back, a roll of on-set reference shots were sold on Ebay, and they were exactly from the filming of the oil-bath scene.  Let's muddy the waters (or the oil) a bit more:
Here's our droid, emerging from his oil bath.
Huh, that's weird...why is the hip flaring out like that? Could it be the suit had a "codpiece" of some sort that was an extra layer? Or a part that wanted to come loose?

So what have we learned? Well, if a disgruntled Topps employee hid extraneous droid anatomy, first of all, he didn't do a very good job "hiding" it...while it is more fun to believe that adults are hiding little in-jokes for themselves (see THE RESCUERS, or for that matter, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? for just two real examples), I think in this case, it's just not true.  It doesn't say much for Quality Control, but it was a far less complicated time.  Keep in mind also that altering the card, while completely possible, would have taken a bit of effort in the pre-Photoshop era.

One more thing: both versions of card #207 are included here, just for completeness of course.  I guess at the end of the day, the real question is how anybody ever let it get printed...and I'm not saying it in the silly way that Americans find obscenity in the strangest places, but just as an obvious, glaring error.  Wasn't anybody proofing these things?


SW Topps Trading Cards (series 3, 1977)!

I have a lot of things I want to post, suddenly, but we can't get too far off track before we finish our coverage of this great series...I hate it when blogs or websites make grandiose promises and never fulfill them...now where were we? Oh yes, Series 3, the famous "yellow" series, which is probably the most common, along with the "red" series we looked at last time.  
It's a more straightforward set of images, almost totally comprised of movie stills and promotional or reference shots of characters.  There are a couple of items of interest, though:

Note this--until the fifth series, the last ("Orange"), only cursory mentions were made of the Cantina scene at all, and only involved main characters.  In other words, no aliens, and even then in the last series there are only like five cards.  I went into detail on this in my book on the Cantina, but I point it out here as a matter of interest.
A rare off-camera moment for the Yellow series. 
And another one.  I imagine this as two people in really painfully uncomfortable costumes looking at each other in complete empathy.


SW Trading Cards (series 2, 1977) !

The "Red series" is the first one I remember from childhood, and I think it is because these cards were widespread and plentiful by the time the second series came out.  Also, I think they began to sell the larger multipacks of leftovers during the second and third series, which made them plentiful.  I even could work the Tusken Raider puzzle, which gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment!
This second series covers cards #67 to #132, and does have a few notable moments, which really expanded the film for fans.  Besides a few alternate-looking shots, and reference or publicity photos, fans also got to see these:
People probably wondered where THIS shot was in the movie, but if you read the Marvel comic, etc., you knew that Luke was supposed to be watching a space battle, which he later ran and told his friends about...which was also cut.
Not exactly "behind the scenes," but more like "between the takes," as Vader has no cape at all.


Topps SW Trading Cards (series 1, 1977) !

This is just about the most popular trading card series of all time.  Heck, Topps introduced most of us to what trading cards even were through this series.  I had shoeboxes of these as a kid, and finishing the set was one of my first goals when I started to really collect stuff as an adult.  In fact, my very first E-bay purchase in 1996 was a Star Wars card!
But enough reminiscing.  You would think there was an easy way to find a digital set of these cards online, but there isn't.  At least not that I can find.  Therefore, I've assembled my own over time, scouring sites, auctions, and occasionally supplying my own scans.  I've resized and cropped everything as I went along.

Included in these downloads will be wrappers, photos of what the completed puzzles looked like, as well as the full set of each series of cards, including a few card backs where available. 
The set numbers 330 cards, and had five series.  Serieses.  The first series was the "blue" one, and there are 66 cards.  By the fifth series, several behind-the-scenes photos were appearing, and I should mention that you do get the occasional error that creeps in:
Oops! Somebody's lightsabers aren't colored! (And even the comic was using the British spelling of "sabre" at the time.)
And I haven't even shared any of my fond memories of the stick of gum that came in each pack! (It was pretty bad.)

BONUS: An original order form introducing the cards!


A Field Guide to Bird Songs (H-M, 1959)

When you woke up this morning, was your first thought something like "if I could only find four sides of non-stop recordings of nearly every bird in the world, singing, squawking, and screeching away, my life would be complete"???
Well, if you are that person (and notice I use the singular term, "person"), then you are exactly in the right place.  And let me be the first to congratulate you on completing your life! You must feel so lucky.

Also, just know that I am as confused as you must be as to why I would buy this, convert it, and post it.  I  have no good answers.
Only questions...like, why is the poor puffin beheaded?? There's even strings hanging down. Eww!
This 2-record set could be the soundtrack to an Audobon Society convention of some sort, but I prefer to think of it as an audio book...only in this case, the book looks more like this:

Also, if you own a parrot or parakeet, you can burn a disc, set it to repeat, and leave for the day.  It's like Rosetta Stone for birds! Just wait for the fun to ensue!


Star Wars Costume Patterns (McCall's, 1981)

Sometimes, if I am lucky enough to leave a flea market with an item I've found, it is usually the most random, bizarre item that is there...case in point, this unused set of Star Wars costume patterns!
Think back to (or, if you weren't there, just try to understand) a time when most store-bought Halloween costumes were plastic jumpsuits (see my Godzilla Halloween costume post for a nearby example).
But if you wanted something fancier--or just something that looked more like a representation of the character you wanted to be--you had to go to a "fabric store" and buy patterns.  And you had to have somebody who could sew.  I can recall many hours in childhood spent in these stores, because my mom always had to make my costumes for whatever school or church play was going on, which were legion.  It seemed like there was a stupid musical, for one reason or another, every three months.

As a Star Wars item, the packaging escapes the controlling "Lucasfilm" standards.  There is no official STAR WARS logo anywhere, and by 1981, we were two movies in.  The white backgound is apparently meant to suggest Hoth, which leads to some other weird thoughts...Jawas on Hoth?
Also, I am confused as to what the user was meant to do for masks, wigs, and props...are the masks pictured just cribbed from Don Post boxed costumes? And if so, why does Darth Vader have huge, Cookie Monster eyes?  And what is the white spike he is holding? Is it supposed to be a lightsaber, or a huge icicle he just broke off from the ice cave behind him? I see that Chewbacca is holding a Kenner rifle, which makes sense...but I feel sorry for the kid in that furry suit...I had a chicken costume made of similar material and it was super hot.  And is the Jawa kid just in blackface, and wearing sunglasses??? Oh, I could go on and on.
Not that we need to over-analyze this, but it's such a strange and bizarre vintage Star Wars item, it was worth a look!


Popeye - Flea's A Crowd (Peter Pan, 1976)

I picked up this old, scratchy record thinking I would find scans of the book later (I did find photos of the front and back cover, though).  The good news is, there is no book! The bad news is, there is also no Jack Mercer...instead, we get a guy who does his best, but ends up sounding more like Jimmy Durante.  I have only listened to this while transferring and cleaning it, so I haven't given it an "official" listen, but what I've heard is pretty ridiculous.

POSTSCRIPT:  Check out some of the characters on the back cover! Note late Warner Bros. characters like Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse! Weird!


Engrish With Ultraman Jack (part four)

We now conclude this feature, especially since I have completed my journey through this great series.  Here are the last bits of Engrish that stood out to me as I watched:
The members of the team (MAT) go out in disguise...
This was a common occurrence in the translation, where instead of a word like, oh, say, "explode," they would choose "burst," which made for some amusing situations.
This was another thing that happened all the time! When somebody was hurt or down on the ground, they would be yelled at to SCREW UP! I think the intention is as in "Screw up your courage..." which, though rather archaic, is still entertaining.
Not only is this funny, but what in the name of all that is holy is that man-statue doing to that goose???!!!
I know this feeling!
And now, our grand finale.  I started to give you some context, but I think it best just to play the ball where it lies:



Another rare vintage Godzilla cover appearance, and small article on Tsuburaya, with some of the same old errors, but some good behind-the-scenes photos too.  Enjoy!
inside front cover
Note that the top photo is NOT from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS like the fine print on the previous page says.  It's from INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTER, or MONSTER ZERO if you like! In fact, they both are.


"You'll Die Laughing" Godzilla cards (1973)

Card #109 (front)
Here are a couple of Godzilla-related cards from a Topps trading card series called YOU'LL DIE LAUGHING.  This second series was put out in 1973, and was a throwback to the old "horror cards with jokes" type of thing that was already really old the first time (covered here more than once).  Interestingly, this first card is the only vintage American trading card featuring a photo from GODZILLA vs THE SMOG MONSTER that I know of.
Card #109 (back)
And here's one featuring a much-used photo from KING KONG vs GODZILLA.  There are at least three different series using this exact same picture in the exact same way that I know of, by Donruss, Leaf, and Topps! Yes, jokey horror cards were a thing, once, and everyone was doing it.
Card #87 (front)

Card #87 (back)