Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Volume Three) edited by Gary Gerani (2016)
The third installment of Abrams’ Star Wars trading card books focuses on the third (now sixth) movie in the franchise, Return of the Jedi. As with the first two books, product designer Gary Gerani recounts the process of reading the screenplay and selecting photos from LucasFilm’s library for use on the cards. It is clear from his writing that by the time they were readying this product for release, he had become quite a fan of George Lucas’ space opera.
Each Return of the Jedi Topps card is reproduced in this volume, with the front and back of each receiving its own page. This is a change from the Empire Strikes Back book, in which the horizontal cards were shown with the front and back on a single page. Gerani occasionally writes a sentence or two about specific cards, but for the most part they are allowed to stand on their own. As with the previous two volumes, bonus cards are again included with this third volume.
I was not even ten years old when Return of the Jedi was originally released, and while I have a handful of the vintage cards from this series, I never came close to completing the entire set. To have all of the cards presented here in one volume, in a much more affordable format than tracking down the originals, is a fantastic way to relive my formative collecting years without breaking the bank.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani (2016)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two
introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani
Abrams ComicArts, 2016
Many fans of the greatest space opera contend that the best film of the series is Episode V, better known as The Empire Strikes Back. It is fitting, then, that the book chronicling Topps trading cards for the film exceeds the initial volume in quality. The creative driving force behind the design and writing of the cards, Gary Gerani, tells the process of meeting with LucasFilm executives to read the script and select images for the cards. The movie’s big reveal was kept secret from Topps at the time; Gerani recalls the first time he learned of Darth Vader’s familial relationship with Luke Skywalker was when he saw the film in Manhattan.
Initially, Gernai and Topps were told they could not use Yoda in their set, as he was a “mysterious creative element” that George Lucas and Irvin Kershner wanted to keep him a surprise for the public. Lucas eventually relented, and Yoda is prominently displayed on several cards in the series. Gerani wrote the copy for many of the cards, making up dialogue that fit with several of the characters’ personalities.
In addition to the reproductions of all three series of cards, front and back, the book also features images of sell sheets, packaging, stickers, and the 30-card set of giant photocards. Also, as in the first volume, actual promotional trading cards are also including with the hard copy purchase. In addition to that, Topps has included a code for a free pack of digital trading cards on their Star Wars Card Trader app.
Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani (1977)
Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One
introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani
Abrams ComicArts, 2015
These books that reproduce the original Topps trading cards are priceless, especially when the subject matter is Star Wars. In 1977 and 1978, Topps produced five series of cards to promote the movie, 330 cards in all. Topps employee Gary Gerani gives a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the concept and production of the trading cards in the introduction, and provides commentary throughout the book for various cards.
I have seen several of these cards, and own a handful, but having the entire set available in one place is a real treat. I especially love the behind-the-scenes cards that were produced as a part of the fifth series in 1978. In addition to all of the cards, the art from the wrappers and stickers are also reproduced here, as well as a special section at the end featuring the 16 non-Topps cards that were included as giveaways with Wonder Bread in 1977.
Purchasers of the hard copy of the book also get four special bonus cards taped inside the back cover. All in all, Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One is a wonderful look back at a simpler time of collecting.