Sherman! Set the Wayback Machine for 1976!
Young Dayton is but nine years old, running around his neighborhood playing with his friends. Every so often, between this all-important activity and other, mundane pursuits like school, Dayton finds time to catch reruns of the original Star Trek every afternoon on his local UHF television station (WTOG-44 - Tampa/St. Petersburg FTW, baby!). His parents have thoughtfully provided him with the odd Trek-related toys like Mego action figures, AMT models, utility belts and “exploration sets,” and so on.
Whenever he scrounges together some odd dollars and cents here and there, he journeys to the local convenience store to avail himself of their rather sizable candy and soda selection. Oh, and he’s also started buying football cards, as Tampa has recently acquired a football team of its own, and Dayton does not yet know just how sucky the team will be in its first year. But, that is another story.
Then, one day, he happens across something interesting shelved alongside the baseball and football cards….
Released in 1976, this series from Topps consisted of 88 cards and 22 stickers. Each pack contained six cards and a sticker and…of course…a stick of that wondrous bubble gum. I’m pretty sure some of that gum is still being used to hold fenders and other accessories onto cars somewhere in Thailand. As for the cards, they feature scenes from across all three seasons of the show, with the stickers highlighting the main cast as well as prominent alien characters.
(Trivia: Sulu appears on none of the cards or stickers. There’s even a card with the cast listed on the back, and George Takei doesn’t even make that cut. Weird, that.)
I have no idea how many packs of these things I bought, but at 10 cents a throw, I’m sure I was channeling whatever loose change I could find into the endeavor. Thinking back on it, I don’t remember ever acquiring a complete set, and the cards I did amass are long gone. I’ve considered buying a set whenever I happen across them at conventions, but in those instances the dealers are asking for more money than I’m willing to pay.
Thankfully, the good folks at Abrams Books have seen fit to do something pretty snazzy. Behold, yo:
As they did last year with their book celebrating the classic 1960s Mars Attacks trading cards, Abrams has created a book showcasing the entire 1976 series of cards. As with that tome, the Star Trek card set will be presented here in book form. Each card will get its own dose of love, showing both the front and back art and text along with anecdotes detailing some bit of trivia about the cards or Star Trek in general. The book also will feature “bonus cards,” designed as add-ons to the original set, and the dust jacket will have the look and feel of one of the wax-paper card wrappers. All that’ll be missing is the gum.
Shut up and take my money.
At the helm this time are friends and fellow word-slingers Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, veteran fans with a very long and distinguished Trek-related resume. They’ve written several books focusing on various behind-the-scenes aspects of Star Trek in its different incarnations, including one of my favorites from recent years, Star Trek 365. Paula and Terry are good people, and they know their Trek, so anything with their name on it is a sure thing.
For those fans who never got a chance to collect the cards, or whose collections have gone the way of the dodo, this book promises to be a perfect way to revisit a fun piece of old-school Trek fandom. It’s listed as being published on September 10th with a price is $19.99, but it’s also up for pre-order at Amazon at 40% off:
That, my friends, is a frappin’ steal.
Here’s hoping this book does well enough that Abrams will consider similar efforts for other card sets, such as the Topps series for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But for now? My copy of this book is pre-ordered. That’s right: I shut up, and they took my money.