Retro watch–Topps goes back to 1977 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens trading cards

Topps retro cards 2015

I began collecting my first “non-sports” trading cards back in 1976 with presidents cards produced by local bread companies such as Colonial Bread.  I then moved on to Star Wars cards thanks to a very small run of cards released in Wonder Bread loaves.  Hooked on images of Star Wars in an age before VHS, in 1978 I moved to the Topps series with their red and then gold series of Star Wars cards.  Thanks to collecting dimes that fell out of my older brother’s pockets I was able to pick up a pack per week from the Kwik Shop down the street.  At the age of seven, I learned more than you might think from these cards.  I learned vocabulary words.  Words like “peril,” “chasm,” “evacuate” and “triumph,” and I can point to those individual cards that formed part of my education, much like kids today probably credit the Harry Potter series with similar learning experiences.  (I also learned great words from Marvel’s Star Wars comic books, like “armageddon” and “behemoth”).  Star Wars as teaching tool?  Who knew?

Only later I learned I had missed an entire series of Star Wars cards, the original blue cards with a white star field.  None of these Topps series ever got very expensive so I picked up a complete set of the original blue series cards for $10 in college.  Here is what all five of the original series look like:

Original Topps cards Star Wars

As part of the lead-in to Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Topps has produced a new series of 110 cards called “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  They are made to match the style of the original blue series, but also come with rarer background color cards and stores like Target, Toys R Us, WalMart and Walgreens have even more variants by store.  You’d go crazy finding them all, so don’t.  Just pick up the complete sets from eBay card retailers who do the sorting for you.  Or take your chances by the pack.  But don’t look for the bubble gum or classic bubble gum scent of the cards.  You’ll need to find an original set for that.

Here are the checklists of what you will find (click to enlarge):

Topps checklist  Topps checklist II

I have always been fascinated by the selection of photos used for card sets.  If you enjoyed Abrams Books’ Star Wars Frames, reviewed previously here at, you’ll know what I mean.  Why this image over that other memorable shot?  And why the breakdown of this many cards for this movie and that many cards for the other?  You’ll find 20 cards in the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens set for the entire prequel trilogy, 20 cards for A New Hope, 20 for The Empire Strikes Back, and 20 for Return of the Jedi.

The highlight is of course the first look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens scenes, which is covered in 30 never before published cards.  The only quirk is that these scenes were pulled from the extended trailer, so good or bad, you won’t find any spoilers in the set.

Topps Journey cards

Don’t expect the advertisements to match the cards–they appear to have been created before the sets were finalized, but they are close enough.

You might remember that JJ Abrams released a sneak peek at some retro-Star Wars cards for Episode VII:

Abrams early look Topps cards

These appear to be a true teaser set as the numbers don’t match the numbers on the final cards with corresponding photos.  Still–these images do appear in the final set and they got our interest piqued enough to track down our own complete set of base cards on eBay for only $20 (shown above, top).

So grab a set, for yourself or your kids.  The backs feature some good trivia about each of the six original films, and like the original sticker backs you can create “posters” with the backs of the Episode VII cards.


If you really dig the original cards, you’ll be excited to hear you can pre-order Abrams Books’ newest Topps Cards nostalgia book series (we previewed the Topps Bazooka Joe book here, the Topps Mars Attacks book here, and the Topps Star Trek book here at, and will be previewing the Topps Star Wars Volume 1 here soon).  Pre-order the Topps Star Wars book now here at–it even includes exclusive new bonus cards.

Star Wars Topps book

And finally, you can get four exclusive cards in two issues of Star Wars Insider Magazine on newsstands this month.  You can find the new retro-series of cards on eBay or wherever trading cards are sold, including here and here at

C.J. Bunce

Leave a Reply