Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Star Wars Widevision Cards: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One


In the days before Kenner finally shipped their little plastic Lukes and Leias, the most collectible Star Wars product was Topps’ trading card series. Sure the pictures were grainy and blurry, and certain images were repeated ad nauseum while other iconic ones were ignored altogether, but we fans were still in elementary school and gleefully accepted anything remotely related to our favorite movie. Then we grew up. By 1995, all of we kiddie enthusiasts had grown into the maladjusted, overly critical, virtually unlikable adult geeks one now thinks of as a Star Wars fan. Grainy, blurry, and repetitious would no longer do. We demanded a trading card series fit for “adults.” Topps responded with its Widevision series.

As the name implies, the updated cards were bigger than the 3 ½ inch x 2 ½ inch cards of the seventies and eighties. The expanded 5 inch x 2 ¾ inch size allowed a full aspect-ratio view of our favorite Star Wars scenes (and production paintings and poster art), and allowed for more information on the card backs, which included scene descriptions based on the screenplay, concept art, behind-the-scenes photos, and informative captions. Digitally pulled from a 35mm print of the film, the images were much higher quality as well. Even the card stock was a step up. Yes, here were Star Wars cards you did not have to feel embarrassed about framing and hanging on the wall of your mom’s basement.

Continuing its collections of Topps’ sundry Star Wars card series, Abrams Comicarts is devoting its latest volume to the Widescreen series that ran from 1995 to 1997. Once again card scribe Gary Gerani provides an entertaining introduction and fun intermittent card-by-card captions. Abrams does not repeat the mistake it made when it shrank down the majority of its Empire Strikes Back cards. In fact, the already wide-size cards get a bit wider with a very satisfying 6 inch x 3 inch presentation. The slight downside is that if you check the dates the cards ran, you’ll suspect that some Special Additions may have slipped into the series. Indeed we are not spared widevisions of CG dewbacks, Han Solo gabbing with Looney Tunes Jabba the Hutt at Mos Eisley, and a Jawa riding that thing that looks like a cross between a giant alpaca and a scrotum. But that’s only an issue for a third of the 200-or-so cards collected in an overall terrific book.
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