Sunday, December 4, 2022

A Year of Topps Designs - 1988

Topps used a lot of color in their sports sets in 1988. The baseball set had colorful large team names and a colorful ribbon for the player name, kind of a marriage of the '66 and '67 baseball designs. Football went for a multicolored border with the colors merging into each other, a fairly unique look for Topps.

The hockey set used a clever pushpin design, one that remains a favorite through the years. I bought one pack of this in 1988 and it had the Brett Hull rookie card which was a big deal at the time. I must have traded or lost them all a long time ago, I don't have any of them anymore.

I was maybe a bit old for dinosaurs in 1988 (11 years old) but I'm surprised I'd never heard of this set before. Apparently it didn't do well, maybe didn't get marketed enough, or got buried among a lot of other releases. Dinosaurs Attack, like the old Mars Attacks, was an original card series featuring graphic paintings of dinosaurs running amuck on modern Earth. The simple design is very similar to the 1962 Mars Attacks.

Another one I'm a little surprised I'd never heard of is Fright Flicks. This set featured photos from 15 of the top horror films of the era, including Alien/s, Day of the Dead, The Fly, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist, Predator, and the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Like the campy horror sets of the '60s, the set featured a simple design, undercutting the graphic horror of the photo with a silly one-liner.

Couldn't resist showing a photo of the box, too. 1988 was a different time, wasn't it.

Topps also put out some TV sets in 1988, all of which were pretty colorful. Growing Pains featured an all-yellow border, always a divisive choice. I never watched the show so I don't know if the outline of the house with the TV antenna means something specific, or was just a random choice.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse got a frenetic, colorful design that fit in well with the show's attitude.

For the second straight year, Topps put out a set for an Australian soap opera. Neighbours debuted in 1985 and by 1988 was at its peak of popularity, with the cast being flown to the UK to perform for the Queen. The series still runs today, the longest-running soap opera in Australia. Topps went for the colorful look again for this set, though the busy design doesn't leave a lot of room for the photo.


  1. Dinosaurs Attack! was a pretty big deal back it was new, and was extremely popular amongst my peers. Even the ones who didn't collect cards had some of them.

  2. I recall that the OPC version of that Brett Hull rookie card was heavily counterfeited. Never did get my hands on one, real or fake

  3. Some solid designs from Topps in 1988. My Top 3:

    #1: Football
    #2: Hockey
    #3: Pee Wee's Playhouse