Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REVIEW: Topps' Mars Attacks Trading Cards

Produced by Topps | Released July 2012

To mark the 50th anniversary of their original release, Topps has reissued the classic Mars Attacks trading cards. Controversial at the time for their depiction of wanton violence and gory deaths, the cards are now available for a new generation of collectors to enjoy. But will the over-the-top violence and kooky ray-gun toting Martians strike the same chord as they did half a century ago? Read on and find out!

The Mars Attacks cards feature what I believe is a pretty accurate recreation of the original 60s artwork, with a couple of twists, namely that the packs no longer contain ''space gum'' nor are they just 5c a pack, so the new packaging has been modified to remove any references to either.

And although I can't confirm it, I'd suspect the original packaging was made from waxed paper rather than plastic. But still, Topps has done a great job of retaining the retro look of the original.

The Cards
Split the packaging open and within you'll find six ''spare adventure trading cards'' (I love that Topps has captured the charmingly clunky copy of the original), featuring a mix of reproductions of the original releases, plus an assortment of chase cards, including ''deleted scenes'' (i.e. cards based on sketches that didn't make the final cut), sketch cards, 3D cards and more.

My pack featured a modern IDW ''New Universe'' card, a deleted scene card (#2 Moscow Under Siege), a green bordered Horror in Paris variant and three ''regular'' cards.

The outstanding artwork by Wally Wood (of, among other things, EC Comics fame) has been reproduced with an incredible level of detail. The colors ''pop'' in a superbly grisly manner and the ghoulish glee of each death or act of destruction jumps from the card. Sure, by today's standards it's not that explicit but such cards as Death in the Cockpit - pictured above - which features a fear-stricken pilot being burned alive in his fighter plane are pretty typical of the kind of thing you'll find within each pack. It's no surprise learn that the original releases caused such an outcry.

The rear of each card also features a reproduction of the original card back, including a preview of the next card in the line plus a description of the action depicted on the flip side. What I really like about the text is the way each report is presented in an almost documentary fashion. It put a wonderfully detached, cold style on the events shown, which makes the horror seem all the more real. The lack of hyperbole and exclamation points adds a weirdly clinical feel to it all, almost as if it's a new report of events that actually happened and it's a superb juxtaposition against the over-the-top violence depicted on the card front.

The only slight disappointment I have is that my selection of cards didn't actually feature any of the Martians themselves. Sure, I have a couple featuring their saucers and the giant bugs are pretty awesome but I'd have really liked to find a card here depicting one of the actual invaders. Still, that's only a minor point and I can hardly fault Topps for that, given that they've based the line-up on the original art.

With 55 original cards to collect along with chase variants and new inserts, the odds of getting duplicates are pretty low. I'm not sure of the exact number of cards in total, but with the addition of variant borders, deleted scene cards (of which there are 10) plus the new inserts, I'd estimate there's somewhere in the region of 80 or so cards to find.

Final Thoughts
For fans of retro sci-fi, these cards are an absolute must. Topps has done a superb job of recreating each card with the minimum of change and they've nailed the artwork, right down to the dull brown/tan ''cardboard'' look of the rear. They absolutely ooze nostalgia and although I wasn't around when the originals hit, I was immediately transported back to my childhood days of buying cheap monster/sci-fi cards the moment I saw the pack. It's just too bad they didn't (couldn't?) include a slab of nasty pink bubble gum to complete the retro awesomeness.

Superb fun.

Final Score: A-

Image Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...