People who haven’t spent a lot of time in NYC like to ask how anybody could possibly want to live here. After 12 years of rush hour subway commuting and dirty, overpriced apartments, it can be difficult to come up with an answer to that question. Places like Economy Candy make answering the question a little easier. Economy Candy is one of those stores that you only find in places like New York. It carries an assortment of candy from around the world, a lot of traditional candies, and various nostalgic collectibles, including cards.
In addition to boxes of 1990s football, baseball, and basketball cards, Economy Candy offers a random assortment of non-sports cards. Most of them are licensed cards for sitcoms and movies. Based upon absolutely nothing, I’m willing to bet that boys born between 1978 and 1985 bought more trading cards (not including Magic or Pokemon) than any other group of people. I started in 1986 with baseball cards, and between 1986-1993 I purchased pretty much anything with a glossy photo on the front and stats on the back. I definitely didn’t limit myself to sports, either. I collected cards for pretty much anything I was interested in, and several things I honestly didn’t care about at all.
I decided I wanted to write an article about some of the non-sports cards I used to collect, and instead of just grabbing some images off of the Internet, I thought it would be fun to stop by Economy Candy after work and grab a few actual packs to open up. Now I have a stack of cards to drop in some corner of my apartment and forget about, and this article for you to enjoy!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Photo Cards
For a little while after I started collecting cards, the only name in the business I knew was Topps. Theirs were the first baseball and football cards I ever bought, and until I was suckered into the holographic and ultra-glossy offerings from other companies around 1992, I stuck with Topps, for the most part. Topps also leaned heavily into licensing kids’ movie properties, including the 1990 live action debut of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you read Wednesday’s article you know a bit about my history with the Turtles (and if you didn’t check it out here).
I bought these packs because they featured the Ninja Turtles, but if I’m being honest the cards themselves are pretty lackluster. They’re dull, and the animated border is very generic looking. I did get a Raphael sticker, which is pretty rad. No Sam Rockwell card, sadly.
Dick Tracy Movie Cards
Dick Tracy is one of my favorite movies of my childhood, and in my opinion, the best looking comic movie ever made. Like the Ninja Turtles, it was released in 1990. Like the Ninja Turtles, Topps released cards as a tie-in to the movie. Like the Ninja Turtles, I bought them. Unlike the Ninja Turtles. The Dick Tracy cards look great!
The Dick Tracy cards are bursting with bright colors, just like the movies, and feature thematically appropriate bordering. It’s a little difficult to tell from the photo below, but they also feature a high gloss coating that makes them pop in a way that the Ninja Turtles sorely lacks. These are my favorites of the cards I’m covering today, and apart from the Superman: Doomsday Sky Box set (which unfortunately Economy didn’t have) they are my favorite non-sports cards. I like these so much that when I have a Secret Santa to buy for I’ll pop into Economy and get a pack of Dick Tracy cards to include just because I think they’re a neat gift.
Ghostbusters II Movie Cards
It’s another movie geared towards kids coming out around 1990, so you better bet it’s a Topps release. This is the first and only entry that came with gum. I generously offered the stick of 30 year old chewing gum to my wife, but she declined. So I took it instead and instantly de-aged by 30 years! I am a 38 year old man in the body of an 8 year old now! It’s very awkward!
I have some opinions that are weird and frankly sort of indefensible. One of those opinions is that Ghostbusters II is a more entertaining movie than the original. I refuse to elaborate, I’m just gonna let that one sit for a minute…and we’re back! I’m sure no Ghostbusters fans and children of the 1980s tossed their phones down in anger, so let’s talk about these crappy looking cards! The good news when it comes to these cards is that they did a decent job on the borders. The bad news is everything else about the cards. They look dull, they are actually dull (no gloss), and they’re not a good representation of what is a bright and dynamic movie.
Marvel Universe Series III
Our first non-Topps entry! I picked these up to represent all of the comic book cards I used to buy. I got into comic books around 11 or 12, and I greatly preferred Marvel. I think I started buying cards as a method of discovering characters in the greater universe outside of the books I was reading at the time. I also bought Wizard at the time, and they often packaged some limited edition hologram card with the magazine.
I mostly know Sky Box for basketball cards, but it looks like the company produced most of the Marvel and DC cards. I mentioned Superman: Doomsday earlier, which was also a Sky Box release. I wasn’t a big DC reader then or now, but if you were an adolescent around the time of the Death of Superman, you probably remember the insane HYPE surrounding the event. I got my hands on everything I could related to the release. Plus the cards were cool.
The Sky Box designs were solid. It helps that they were essentially just transferring the actual comic book art over to card form, and slapping a clean looking border around them. Kurt Russell in the top right is looking a little rough though, I’ve got to say.
Yes, I realize that these are not actually cards! It says stickers right there on the package. But they were released by Topps and sold with cards, and I bought a metric ton of them, so they’re going in this article. I mentioned Wacky Packages in my Garbage Pail Kids article, and I still believe that they are some of the best produced comedy related cards for children. Sure, the jokes are dumb but they’re not lazy. Actual work was put into these. Unlike a lot of jokey products geared towards children, I don’t feel like the kids are being condescended to.
Again, these are stickers and not really cards, but just evaluating the sticker design, the the artwork is outstanding. If the kid purchasing them doesn’t understand what is being parodied it’s going to be because the kid doesn’t know the product, not because it wasn’t depicted well. This is the sort of design work that today would do very well blown up and painted (I’m sure they’re probably for sale in that form somewhere).
Comic Ball Comic Bowl IV
I guess technically these are sports cards, but there are only four athletes involved with the whole set and have Looney Tunes on them, so I decided to include them. These cards are actually incredibly dumb. I grabbed them because I remembered owning some when I saw them in the store. I think that the concept here is the Looney Tunes characters are playing a full game with the four NFL players, and the cards tell the story of the action. It must have been difficult to keep straight who was on which team since they’re all wearing different uniforms, but I’m sure that sticking Porky Pig in a Browns uniform was how they got me to purchase them in the first place.
The cards themselves look good. Upper Deck was the first brand of card I considered to be upscale. They had clean, glossy designs, and they weren’t shy about incorporating holograms. I was one of millions of very dumb children who thought he was going to be a millionaire one day because he got a hologram card of Ken Griffey, Jr. hanging out with Taz or whatever. Unrelated, I have this amazing Bugs/Dan Marino hologram card that I’m willing to part with for $1,500. Serious inquiries only.
So that’s today’s dive into non-sports cards. I’m sure we’ll revisit cards often in the future.
Did you collect non-sports trading cards as a child? Which ones did you have? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.