Monday, July 17, 2017

Collectible TIme #89: Planet of the Apes, The Original Topps Trading Cards Series Book

To coincide with Matt Reeves' "War for the Planet of the Apes", Abrams ComicArts has granted us evolved-simian fans an extra treat by releasing the hardback "Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series": a chunky (6" x 1.7 x 7.2 ") collectible about a specialized type of collectible, which youngsters (and many adults) avidly consumed in '69/'75 and beyond. 

Author Gary Gerani (who's taken a similar approach for volumes on Topps' "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" trading cards) presents all three "Apes" series for our heartfelt delight.

The initial set stems from the Rod Serling/Michael Wilson adaptation of Pierre Boulle's "Monkey Planet, which hit mom-and-pop stores a year after Franklin Shaffner's "Planet of the Apes" became all the rage. 

The second is derived from the short-lived '74 CBS series, which spawned a profits bonanza which (as Roddy McDowall so astutely acknowledged at a Fangoria convention I attended in the '90s) could have sustained the show for an indefinite time. Oh, well...

The third set comes from the Tim Burton's controversial, though financially successful 2001 reboot, which in its own right, spawned a slew of toy and novelty tie-ins.  

What made the '60s/'70s sets particularly endearing was their convenient reproduction of story lines. VHS, after all, hadn't yet hit the scene, and the Super 8 "Apes" offerings were at best abbreviated and often in black-and-white. Through these cards, one could relive "Planet of the Apes" via a string of dynamic, mini stills and at an affordable, stick-of-bubble-gum-included price. 

Also, as with other such card sets, the "Apes" entries featured illustrated, back-of-card data on the characters and their related scenarios. The photo reproductions were for the most part clear and focused; and in the case of each release, designed similarly, with the '60s/'70s versions featuring curled captions at the bottom, right-hand corners. (The '70s release even allowed one to construct puzzles of scenes.) Though the Burton set has a border-less distinction, it nonetheless imitates the back-of-card format and included among its content (if one were lucky to land the right packs), authentic, autographs from the cast. Wow!

The book's graphic design is most pleasing, printed on high-quality stock and features such supplemental images as the cards' display boxes and fanciful wrappers. The book, itself, is adorned by a simulated card-wrapper jacket, taken from the '70s release. 

For those who experienced these sets (particularly the '60s/'70s ones), their pop-cultural impact goes without saying, but for those out of the loop, the "Apes" tie-ins (cards and otherwise) set the marketing standard for later merchandising sprees, including Fox's next, big franchise: "Star Wars". 

As an incentive, Gerani's book costs under $20, with each volume containing several, reproduced "Apes" cards: a nice touch to an homage that's certain to bestow readers with hours of enjoyment. Ah, how sweet those apocalyptic memories can be...

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