Welcome Back, Wacky Packs!

The other day I was going through some small, random items that had been sitting on a bookshelf untouched for a few years.  In that stack of items, I found an odd assortment of cards, including a 2006 Topps Steelers team set I’d completely forgotten I had…

2006 Topps Troy Polamalu
(Well, there are a bunch of cards I can remove from my football wantlist…)

…Also a few 1983 Topps Hockey Stickers:

1982-83 Topps Hockey Sticker Glenn Resch
(Wow, Chico Resch with the Colorado Rockies.  I’d forgotten he’d played for them.)

But the main bit of excitement in the stack were some 1970’s Wacky Packages stickers and Topps “Welcome Back, Kotter” cards… Cards I had since I was a kid, but got misplaced as did so many things in my house (and my life).

I’ll start off with the Kotter…  For you young’uns, “Welcome Back, Kotter” was a TV show in the mid-to-late 1970’s that was meant to be centered around comedian Gabe Kaplan, but is now better known as the launching point of John Travolta’s career.  This was before “Saturday Night Fever” or even “The Boy In The Plastic Bubble”

1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter_0003

When I was a kid, I loved this show.  It was relatively smart-ass for its time, which fit right in with my sense of humor.  That being said, it was very much a sitcom, and hasn’t aged all that well…

1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter_0002

…But if you’re around anyone of a certain age, raise your arm like Horshack above and go “OOH!  OOH OOH!”, you will get a reaction.

Many of the card backs have jokes that I’m pretty sure were from the Topps staff and not from the show.  This is one of the better jokes from the cards I have:

1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter_0004
…straight out of a Bazooka Joe comic.

These cards fall into the same category as the handful of Star Wars cards I had as a kid — I will never get rid of them, but I can’t see myself getting any more.

Moving on to something I may (or may not) start collecting again at some point…

Back in the 1970’s, Wacky Packs were one of those kid crazes that swept across the country and it seemed that no kid was immune to it’s allure.  Everybody I knew bought them and stuck them on notebooks, doors, and whatever else kids put stickers on.  They were pretty much the Silly Bandz, Webkinz and/or Pokemon of the day.

1970's Topps Wacky Packages_0001

To me they fell into the “sweet spot” for a kid: Subversive enough that your Mom didn’t like them, but not so subversive that your Mom wouldn’t let you have them.

1970's Topps Wacky Packages_0002

A lot of my Wacky Packs came from the “ice cream man” who parked outside of my elementary school when school let out. Now there was an astute businessman…

1970's Topps Wacky Packages_0003

The majority of my Wacky Pack collection ended up on the cover of one of my loose leaf notebooks. The spine of the notebook is long gone, but I held on to the sticker-covered front and back covers. I’ve been meaning to scan that and share it sometime, but I’d have to remember where it is first.

1970's Topps Wacky Packages_0004

I could see myself going back and collecting more of these, but right now I’ve got far too much on my wantlists to even think about it.

Are there any active Wacky Pack collectors out there?  Does anybody else still have your original Wacky Packs, or were yours all stuck to items you no longer have?

If anybody has a Wacky Pack-related blog post or some such, I’d love to see it; feel free to leave a link in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Welcome Back, Wacky Packs!

  1. Very cool post. I need to hunt for my Wacky Packs. When I was a kid I had man of those. Some were lost to foolish childhood experiences like purchasing a full set from a friend and selling most of them to other classmates that same day going home with only a handful of stickers from what was a full set.

    Oooooh OOOOOh The Welcome Back Kotter cards. I have a partial set I need to check what I actually need to finish it, and I have many dupes. I also have about 30 wrappers . A few years back I had bought a huge bunch of them I think it was with a small lot of the cards, but it might have just been a lot of about 30 Kotter wrappers.

  2. I have that Kotter set in OPC! Used to pick them up from the camp store when I was a kid. I’ve posted half a dozen on my site.

    The Resch has to be older than 1983, I’d think. The team moved after ’81-82.

  3. Man, I wish I still had my Wacky Packs. I’m sure they were all stuck on some stuff that I threw out a long time ago. I’d love to collect them again — but I don’t think it’ll ever happen.

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