11th series sticker (1974)
Wacky Packages are a series of humorous trading cards and stickers featuring parodies of North American consumer products. The cards were produced by the Topps Company beginning in 1967, usually in a sticker format. The original series sold for two years and the concept proved popular enough that it has been revived every few years since. They came to be known generically as Wacky Packs, Wacky Packies, Wackies and Wackys. According to trader legend, the product parodies once outsold Topps baseball cards.
- 1 Concept
- 2 1967 and 1969
- 3 1973 to 1976
- 4 1985 and 1991
- 5 2004 and beyond
- 6 Reprints
- 7 Promotional items
- 8 Spinoffs
- 9 Garbage Pail Kids connection
- 10 Merchandise
- 11 Recent releases
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
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Relying on the talents of such cartoonists and comics artists as Kim Deitch, George Evans, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, Norman Saunders, Art Spiegelman, Bhob Stewart and Tom Sutton, the cards spoofed well-known brands and packaging.
1967 and 1969
The very first Wacky Packages series was produced in 1967 and featured 44 die-cut cards that were similar in size to baseball cards (2.5” × 3.5” or 64 × 89 mm) and were made to be punched out, licked on the back and stuck to anything in a manner similar to a postage stamp. This series featured parodies created by Spiegelman and primarily painted by Saunders. Two of the cards – "Cracked Animals" and "Ratz Crackers" – were pulled from production after an initial run and have since become extremely rare. "Moron Salt" was pulled later and replaced by "Jolly Mean Giant", which was also pulled soon after that, with both of them becoming almost as rare as Cracked Animals and Ratz Crackers. In all, 14 cards were removed from this series (and one more was planned for it but never released until years later, as a peel-and-stick sticker in Wacky Packages Old School Series 3 (see below)). This series was followed by a somewhat different series called Wacky Ads in 1969, featuring parodies and roughs by Lynch and Deitch with finished paintings by Sutton. These 30 cards (out of 36; see below), approximately three-by-five inches (76 × 127 mm) long, were designed to look like miniature billboards with a die-cut around the parodied product, so it could be punched out of the horizontal billboard scene, then be licked on the back and stuck to anything. Card #25, "Good & Empty", was removed from the initial release after Leaf Brands sued. A substitute card #25, "Mixwell Hearse Coffee", was made to replace it but never released (and remains so to this day). There were two different versions of the Ads: the long perforations (believed to signify the first printing) and the short perforations (believed to signify the second printing), as well as an early five-cent wrapper for the first printing and a later ten-cent wrapper for the second printing.
1973 to 1976
Wacky Packages returned in 1973 as peel-and-stick stickers for a highly successful run. From 1973 to 1977, 16 different series were produced and sold in five-cent to ten-cent packs originally containing three stickers (two stickers beginning after the second series; three stickers returned in the 16th), a stick of bubble gum, and a puzzle piece with a checklist. Series 7 was available without bubble gum for a short period of time. There were anywhere between 27–33 cards in each series and nine puzzle cards with a series checklist on the back of each of them. Series 1 re-used designs that were issued on the 1967 die-cut series (except for 14 of the original 44 cards) and Series 2 re-used designs from the 1969 Wacky Ads (except for five of the 25 out of 30 Ads used; one of the 25 had its name changed from the original Ad and six more cards in that series each had four small re-releases of some of the 1967 cards), with eight extra designs that were brand new. In all, there were 488 different cards over 16 series (one card from Series 2 was used again in Series 14). These cards can be distinguished from all later releases by a lack of a number on the front of the card and having tan and white backs instead of puzzles and checklists (the first three series and Series 13 and 14 all had both tan and white backs, Series 15 and 16 both had white backs only and all of the other series had tan backs only. In addition to this, Series 1 and 2 also had black and red Ludlow backs, which are very rare).
1985 and 1991
Newly designed series were produced in 1985 and 1991. They were not as successful as the original run; however, the 1991 series was successful enough to begin production of a 1992 series, but this series was cancelled prior to mass production. Many of these unused parodies were eventually released in recent years, mostly in All New Series 1 and Wacky Pack Flashback 2.
2004 and beyond
Wacky Packages returned in 2004 with the release of the first All-New Series (ANS) set of stickers. New series have appeared almost annually, on average, between that time and 2013. The first five series consist of 55 base cards with two levels of chase cards. Series 6 was released as a Jumbo Series (the only one in the run to be so) and consists of 80 base cards and three levels of chase cards. Series 7 saw the return of the 55-card base set, but with more chase card sets, as well as border color variations and sketch cards (note: the All-New Series name was briefly dropped for this series, but returned for Series 8 through 11, with Series 11 being the last one to use it). Series 1 was released on May 17, 2004, Series 2 on February 28, 2005, Series 3 on December 12, 2005 (regionally) and on March 1, 2006 (nationally), Series 4 on August 22, 2006, Series 5 on February 24, 2007, Series 6 on September 12, 2007, Series 7 on August 25, 2010, Series 8 on July 25, 2011, Series 9 on July 23, 2012, Series 10 on March 14, 2013 and Series 11 on September 25, 2013. The ANS sets have been very successful with the return of original 1970s Wacky Packages cartoonist Jay Lynch, plus newcomers David Gross, Strephon Taylor, Neil Camera, Fred Wheaton, Smokin' Joe McWilliams, Mark Parisi, Brent Engstrom, Mark Pingitore, Sam Gambino and Joe Simko. Series 3 and 4 included the work of underground artist M. Wartella.
Many of the 1973–1976 cards have been reissued over the years in various series.
1979 and 1980 rerun series
Four series with 66 cards each were produced, for a total of 264 cards. These series consisted of images from the 1973–76 cards as well as one previously unused image – Series 4 Card #235 "Frosted Ice Krunkles" – which was exclusive to the rerun series (it was originally intended for the 12th series, but was never released in it). Each card can be distinguished easily, not only from its copyright notice, but its number (e.g., "No. 1 of 66") printed on the front. A fifth rerun series, with the stickers numbered 265–319, was planned for 1980 but never released.
1982 and 1986 album series
Two series of album stickers were produced in both 1982 and 1986 and consisted of 120 and 77 stickers, respectively. These stickers were of a reduced size in comparison to the standard cards (2.125 by 3 inches (54.0 mm × 76.2 mm)) and were designed to be affixed to a display album that was sold separately. Only the 1982 series and matching album were actually released to stores; for unknown reasons, the 1986 series was never released (even though a large number of stickers were actually made) and no album or checklist exists for it.
2008 Flashback series
On March 30, 2008, Topps released a series of Wacky Packages called Wacky Pack Flashback. This series contained parodies from previously released series and the spinoff posters, as well as unreleased parodies from the original run, to make a series of 72 base cards. Moving towards the trend with other types of trading cards, this set also featured a number of rare chase cards. On December 10, 2008, Topps released a second series called Wacky Pack Flashback 2. This set also contained more parodies from previously released series and the spinoff posters, as well as parodies based on a test-marketed Wacky Can Labels series (which was a series of 12 small plastic cans of fruit-flavored candy shapes with a paper label adhered to each of them; six of the 12 were herein released as stickers, while the other six remain unpublished) and unreleased parodies from the aborted 1992 series, to make a series of 72 base cards. No new Flashback series have been released since 2008.
2014 Chrome series
On July 23, 2014, Topps released a series called Wacky Packages Chrome. This series contained a foil card set of 110 base cards consisting of the 1967 die-cuts and the 1973 Series 2 and 3, as well as four foil card sets of chase cards containing the 36 1969 Wacky Ads, 30 unreleased parodies both old and new and five parodies taken from the base cards and done with modern (i.e., 2014-style) packaging artwork, for a total of 181 cards. No new Chrome series have been released since 2014.
Wacky Packages have been used in numerous products since the 1970s as incentives to purchase the product or to promote a new series release. The promotional stickers were highly successful as inserts in bags of Wonder Bread during 1973–74, running for three series of stickers (all of them reprints from the original 1970s run). Promotional stickers have also appeared in Hostess products, Shedd’s Peanut Butter plastic containers, Ralston Purina cereals and, more recently, in a number of DC Comics publications (to promote ANS1) and in the Abrams Books line of products.
The success of the Wacky Packages concept has led Topps to create a variety of additional Wacky Packages products over the years.
Wacky Package Posters
In 1973, a series of 24 oversized paper posters was produced. 22 of the 24 parodies were from the original run, with the remaining two parodies being originally made for the series. These posters were created from new artwork painted at a significantly larger size than was done for the stickers. In addition to being sold in stores, the posters were also advertised on Wacky Packages wrappers and could be obtained by sending $2.00 to Topps. A second series of posters was produced in 1974 with a differently colored wrapper, but it was nearly identical to the first series, except that three of the original posters were replaced with three new ones. One of the replaced posters was one of the two original parodies from the first release and since it appeared nowhere else and was never released again, it has become the most valuable of the original posters. One poster that was intended for the first series was made, but never released. Instead, it was replaced by another one (it was, however, finally released as a sticker in Wacky Pack Flashback (see above)). Packs in the 1973 release contained one poster and a piece of bubble gum, while packs in the 1974 series contained only one poster and no piece of bubble gum.
On August 30, 2012, a modern-day series of 24 oversized paper posters was produced as a new Series One set, with the majority depicting enlargements of re-used art from the ANS card sets, as well as including three new parodies that were originally made for this series. As this series maintained the aspect ratio of the original art, the posters were significantly wider than the 1973–74 posters. This new series was sold exclusively through the Topps Online Store. No new series in this modern-day version have been released since 2012.
Wacky Packages Postcards and Wacky Halloween Postcards
On November 21, 2007, Topps released the first of its Wacky Packages Postcards series. Originally created by artist Neil Camera, the first three-card series was released in two editions: a limited release of 100 signed and numbered sets and a regular unsigned edition. Since then, the Postcards series have been expanded to include additional titles and artists. Currently there are nine regular series that were released between 2007 and 2013 and five special Halloween series called Wacky Halloween Postcards that spoofed mostly candy products and were released in October 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively, as well as several promotional cards that were released at trade shows. Two three-ring binders were also made for the Postcards series (the first with a red cover and the second with a yellow cover) and one three-ring binder was made for the Halloween Postcards series. One of the biggest draws of the Postcards and Halloween Postcards series was the inclusion of artist sketch cards, which feature original drawings by popular Wacky Packages artists such as Neil Camera, Smokin' Joe McWilliams, Sam Gambino and Brent Engstrom. Wacky Packages Postcards and Wacky Halloween Postcards were both sold exclusively through the Topps Online Store, but no new series of either one have been released since 2013.
Wacky Packages Old School
On February 23, 2010, Topps released Series 1 of an ongoing series called Wacky Packages Old School. The Old School line, created by David Gross, is designed to resemble the box, wrappers, stickers and puzzle pieces/checklists of the original successful 1973–1977 run. Each series (except for Series 6 and 7) consists of 33 stickers, along with a nine-piece puzzle checklist (this was missing in Series 6, but returned with Series 7; however, the checklists and puzzle pieces were made as separate items in the latter), and with the parodies based on products from the 1970s that Topps did not do in the original 1970s run. Also included are various chase cards and a sketch card in every box (again, this was changed with Series 6, but the sketch cards returned in Series 7). The Old School Series 1 sketch cards were all done by Jay Lynch. Old School Series 2 began shipping on March 28, 2011 with sketch cards by Lynch, Bill Griffith, Bhob Stewart, David Gross, Fred Wheaton, Brent Engstrom, Jeff Zapata, Joe Simko, Neil Camera, Sam Gambino, Smokin' Joe McWilliams and Mark Parisi. Old School Series 3 shipped on February 16, 2012 and Old School Series 4 on December 26, 2012. Old School Series 5 came out on September 17, 2014. 10 more Old School stickers were released on March 29, 2017 as a subset of the Wacky Packages 50th Anniversary series (these were the only ones that were not sold exclusively through the Topps Online Store, but in special Collector Packs that were part of that series). Old School Series 6 came out on November 15, 2017, but this time with 30 stickers instead of the usual 33 that all of the other series had. It was also the first series that was sold as individual complete-series sets in plastic boxes and the first (and, so far, only) series that did not have die-cut cards and had no cardboard product boxes with packs inside, wax wrappers, checklists with puzzle pieces or chase cards (the last of which were included only in Series 1, 3, 4 and 5, with Series 4 having two sets of chase cards and Series 1, 3 and 5 each having one). Old School Series 7 came out on November 20, 2018, also having 30 stickers, and was the second series to be sold as individual complete-series sets in plastic boxes, but this time with checklists and puzzle pieces (which were on the backs of rough art cards) included. Sketch cards were also included in this series. There were also different card backs in each series as well (white only for Series 1 and 2; white, tan and black Ludlow for Series 3, white, tan and red Ludlow for Series 4, white, tan and black Ludlow again for Series 5 and white, tan, black Ludlow and red Ludlow for Series 6 and 7). There were 230 total Old School stickers as of November 20, 2018. Wacky Packages Old School is sold exclusively through the Topps Online Store.
Wacky Packages Erasers
Topps released two eraser series in 2011, the first series in March (with a yellow wrapper) and the second series in October (with a blue wrapper), each of them with 24 Wacky Packages All-New Series designs. Four of the erasers in each series are rare.
In addition to the erasers, which consisted of paper labels adhered to a shaped eraser core, each eraser also had a corresponding miniature sticker included in the pack. No new series have been released since 2011.
Wacky Packages Comics
Topps has released six comic books in the Wacky Packages line. The panels of just the first two issues consist of reproductions of Wacky Halloween Postcards sketch card artwork by Jay Lynch for issue #1 (released on October 22, 2011) and by Joe Simko for issue #2 (released on October 18, 2012) that were each specifically designed to depict a story when set out as sequential art. Issue #3 was created by Neil Camera and released on December 14, 2012, then issue #4 was created by Brent Engstrom and released on January 30, 2013. Issue #5 was released on April 1, 2013, Topps' self-proclaimed Wacky Packages Day, and was a double-sized April Fool's Day issue drawn by multiple artists. Issue #6 was released on October 24, 2013 and was also a double-sized issue, this time for Halloween, again drawn by multiple artists. No new issues have been released since 2013.
Garbage Pail Kids connection
Tie-in merchandise of an endless variety has been, and continues to be, produced by both Topps and by third-party companies ever since the initial success of Wacky Packages in 1973. Examples of recent licensed merchandise include a line of T-shirts from 10 Again Clothing, two coffee table art books from Abrams Books (the first book, called Wacky Packages (first printing 2008; second printing 2009), containing Series 1–7 and the second book, called Wacky Packages New New New (2010, one printing only), containing Series 8–14 (Series 15 and 16 currently remain unpublished in book form)) with each book containing a cellophane-wrapped package of four chase cards adhered to the inside back cover (two different sets in the two printings of the first book and one set in the first (and only) printing of the second book) and wall graphics from LTL Prints. Current items also include wall graphics from walls360.com and a series of 17 collector's three-ring binders from Topps using artwork featuring parody characters from the original 16 series and an imaginary "Series 17". Several of these binders have included unique promotional items such as wax wrappers, stamp sheets or chase cards. The artwork from the 17 binders has also been released by Topps as canvas art (and the artwork from the "Series 17" binder has also been made into 20 full-fledged parodies in the Wacky Packages Chrome series as one of four subsets in that series (see above)). The binders and the corresponding canvas art were available exclusively at the Topps Online Store. Topps also released two small ANS collector's albums with a red and a yellow cover, respectively (with the second one containing a chase card that was part of ANS4), and a generic ANS three-ring binder with a red cover that were available in stores, as well as five three-ring binders that were made specifically for ANS7, ANS8, ANS9, ANS10 and ANS11 (with the first one containing a chase card that was part of ANS7) that were also available exclusively at the Topps Online Store.
Wacky Packages ANS 10 was released on March 14, 2013 and featured first-ever Collectors Edition boxes. Other recent releases include Wacky Packages Old School Series 4 on December 28, 2012, Wacky Packages Comics #5 on April 1, 2013, the first set of three-ring binders in the Original Series Binder Collection set in May 2013 and Wacky Packages Postcards Series 9 on June 25, 2013. Later releases included ANS 11 on September 25, 2013 and three additional three-ring binder sets in July, September and November 2013. Two more series (both of them labelled 2014 Series 1 and 2015 Series 1 instead of ANS 12 and ANS 13) were released on November 11, 2014 and June 3, 2015, respectively. A Wacky Packages Chrome series and Old School Series 5 were released on July 23 and September 17, 2014, respectively, a MLB Wacky Packages series was released on March 9, 2016, a Wacky Packages 50th Anniversary series and Old School Series 6 were both released on March 29 and November 15, 2017, respectively, and a Wacky Packages Go to the Movies seriesand Old School Series 7 were both released on March 13 and November 20, 2018, respectively.
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- Leopold, Todd (August 12, 2008). "When Wacky Packages ruled". CNN. Retrieved June 16, 2009.
- "Topps Wacky Packages 6th Series 2007 (ANS6)". Greg Grant. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Toser, Harris (February 11, 2013). "April 1st is Wacky Packages Day...No Foolin!". Non-Sport Update. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
- Pound, John. "Unpublished Garbage Pail Kids". Retrieved June 16, 2009.
- Cracknell, Ryan (March 14, 2018). "2018 Topps Wacky Packages Go to the Movies and Take on Blockbusters Along the Way". Beckett Global. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Fleer Corp. v. Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., 501 F.Supp. 485 (E.D. Pa. 1980).
- "Digging in the Vault for the Secrets of Wacky Packages: Topps Goes Back to Class in Wacky Packages Old School Series 2", Non-Sport Update Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 6, December 2010 – January 2011. (Roxanne Toser Non-Sport Enterprises, Inc.)