Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs: 1979

1979 was the year of the ribbon for Topps's U.S. sports sets. I own examples from baseball, football and hockey.

The blue border really makes the hockey set stand out. The ribbon in that design stretches up and to the left from the round logo almost like a musical note. The football set re-uses the ribbon from the '73 design, just shortening it so it is only at the top of the card. Baseball, meanwhile, has a very simple design with the team name in a ribbon at the bottom.

I didn't have any '79 basketball. I wondered if they used a ribbon too? 

You bet! The entire design is just a big ribbon around a basketball. 

The other sports set (other than a very plain sticker set of U.S. soccer team logos) was a U.K. soccer set which, like other Topps U.K. soccer designs, used a previous U.S. football design, in this case the '78 design.

In 1979 there were several attempts to cash in on the Star Wars phenomenon with space-based movies and TV shows, and Topps produced cards for several of these. Disney's Black Hole was one of the least successful Star Wars ripoffs, and even the Topps design was a ripoff of their Star Wars design with the hand-drawn starfield.

James Bond got into the space race with Moonraker. Topps used a very bland design for this set.

The Star Trek design was only a little more interesting, with a teeny-tiny Enterprise in the bottom right corner. I didn't even notice it at first. Making the ship a little bigger would have made for a better-looking card.

More effort went into the design for the Buck Rogers set. The laser-field design was one of several jagged-edge designs that Topps put out in '79. From the back of this card I learned that Felix Silla was also Cousin Itt on the Addams Family. He was also a hang-gliding Ewok in Return of the Jedi. He passed away last year at the age of 84.

Another jagged-edge design for a space-themed set can be seen on the Alien cards. (Were these marketed to kids? I wonder how many Topps sets were made for R-rated movies.)

Jagged-edges were also at play for the hit TV show Incredible Hulk. Simple but effective.

One final set for Topps in '79 (other than the ubiquitous Bazooka Joe and Wacky Packages). Another simple but effective design, this one for Rocky II. It sure is cold out!


  1. Man, I was collecting pretty rabidly at that time, and I don't remember that basketball set, either! Must not have sold well, which would explain why Topps dropped basketball entirely a few years later.

  2. The Black Hole is an underrated sci-fi movie. If it had been released 5 years before Star Wars it would have been more highly regarded, but just couldn't measure up with the special effects.

  3. Twiki! Loved Buck Rogers when I was a kid. Out of all the designs... basketball is my favorite sports design and Buck Rogers is my favorite non-sports design.

  4. 1979 was another good year for Topps' non-sport designs. And Matt is right, The Black Hole is very underrated.