Way back in the 1970’s, in the age of power-cuts and strikes, when the world was a violent and poor place struggling for identity, there was a little company called Topps who produced one thing that brought light to an otherwise gloomy world.
Bubble gum cards!
Yes, those eponymous relics from times gone by, now deemed to be far too unhealthy for the youth of today to enjoy, in the care-free Seventies and early Eighties this was what your pocket money paid for.
The set-up of the bubble gun card was quite simple: for as little as 10p you could get five cards from your favourite movie detailing scenes and reminding you of the excitement you had when the movie was screened at your local three-screen cinema, captions below the picture would explain what was going on and sometimes on the back you would get information about the film or a part of a giant jigsaw puzzle which would ensure that you had to collect them all in order to finish the big puzzle. To give you a little treat while gazing at the cards you would be rewarded with a piece of dusty bubble gum, a small stick that would generate very little bubbles but tasted nice all the same.
Each card would be numbered, giving you an idea of how many you had to collect, and the playgrounds of Seventies schools would become a hotbed of negotiations as you swapped any doubles you had for that all important one that you were missing.
The cards represented an A-List of blockbuster movies, the most famous of all being Star Wars; but we also had bubble gum cards for Star Trek The Motion Picture and Disney’s epic flop Star Wars rip-off The Black Hole, which I personally quite enjoyed and almost completed the card collection.
There would be some lucky so-and-so’s who had a father with lots of money who could afford to go the newsagent (yes, this sort of thing would never be sold in a supermarket, that was for food) and proceed to buy the entire box of cards, thus ruining anyone else’s chance of collecting the cards and also missing the point of the program, it was to generate excitement and teach children the all important aspect of sharing, coming together or uniting as a collective and rewarding each other by playing swapsies.
I hated those fathers who would buy the entire box in one hit; to me it was Capitalism gone mad and if I knew what that meant in those days I would have told them so.
But the bubble gum cards did not last; sadly they were replaced by a company called Panini who introduced stickers and sticker albums, I remember vividly almost completing my Back to the Future sticker album and my Gremlins one, but not making a dent in my Fox and the Hound one from the Disney film. The mid-Eighties saw the demise in card collection as I presume it was cheaper to produce stickers, and probably more profitable as you had to buy the sticker album to put them in; you were also lacking the reward of bubble gum for your loyalty to such companies.
I have noticed that cards are returning to the fore in the shape of Match Attax or something, predominantly using the WWE wrestlers but also incorporating Star Wars again in the hope of letting fathers see their product through rose-tinted glasses and buying them for the little cherubs. Albeit, these new cards have a hefty price tag, and still no bubble gum in our health-fixed world. So where do you find these box of cards, why by the sweet counter, where else. Needless to say that the if you still needed a fix of movie cards and bubble gum, you could always compromise and buy the two together.