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?


Anonymous said...

All links for the topps star wars series cards are down now. can you please re-up them?

Sampoerna Quatrain said...

Here you go--the problem is that Zippyshare only keeps links for like 30 days, and it's a nightmare to try to keep everything updated. They are in two groups:


and the second part is here:


They will be temporary, so get them quick!