2018 Stranger Things Trading Cards with J-Dub

More blog by J-Dub

There are only a few components of my childhood that I have been able to truly carry with me into adulthood. I love nostalgia but a lot of it remains in my mind and isn’t something I can put into tangible practice on a daily basis. I love the old Nintendo Entertainment System but I can’t play it every day like I used to. Video games in general have become difficult to focus on with bills, work, kids, and a marriage to tend to. I enjoy the old 80’s sitcoms but they aren’t always available in syndication. And Basketball in the back yard was a lot easier before I hit 40, fell out of shape, and had those responsibilities above that take up most of my free time.

Those aren’t the only things that I think of often but can’t actually physically enjoy. The closest I can get to an actual video store is following the Twitter account, “The Last Blockbuster”. So many good times are locked away inside those dusty, brick and mortar stores that vanished along with VHS tapes several years ago. I asked girls out, got shot down by most of those girls, broke up with girls, made new friends, got in arguments with current friends, managed a full time social schedule, learned about the value of money, found out why it was important to “Be Kind, Rewind”, and honed life skills such as alphabetizing, window cleaning, and basic late fee math in one tiny shop named, “Video Superstore.” It was very much a video store but SUPER was even more descriptive of those 4 walls. I have the memories but I no longer have the store.

I can’t scarf down Totino’s pizzas at my leisure anymore. I can’t load up on Mountain Dew and stay up all night. I can’t go to an arcade and enjoy games for a measly quarter. I can’t go to the American Legion Pool and ride down the “Super Slide”. I can’t ride up and down the strip in Panama City with my radio blaring (at least not as a reasonable adult). Come to think of it, there are actually a lot of things I can’t do as a reasonable adult in Panama City anymore if I’m being honest. My trips to Panama City Beach now include walking down to the pool, constantly coating myself in sunscreen, and occasionally making my way out to the ocean. When I was a teenager, the fun didn’t start until around 6 PM. In 2019, if I haven’t gotten some firm understanding of what supper plans are by that time, I am not a happy camper.

But even though this has started off on a depressing note, I am actually going somewhere fun with it. You see, of the things that I can bring with me into 2019 that were so enjoyable in 1989, Trading Cards and Scary Movies are at the top of the list. You likely aren’t surprised that I am a big trading card fan, considering my monthly blog here in the Bags Unlimited Newsletter. But my second material love is scary movies. I have loved them since I saw “The Shining” at an age that I never should have seen it at (maybe 7). That led to sneaking into the living room and watching Friday the 13th after my parents went to bed when I was 10. And that eventually led to me stalking the Horror section at “Video Superstore” on a quest to see every gory movie that ever graced the doors.

I watched USA’s “Up All Night” every weekend, I drew pictures of Freddy and Jason in my notebook at school, and I recorded movies on Showtime so I could watch them over and over until I knew every line. In fact, some of my earliest writing consisted of short stories that were concocted from my fascination of horror movies. Now I am subscribed to Shudder, which is an app on my iPhone like Netflix but has all horror movies. I am a Patron to “Nightmare on Film Street”, a wonderful podcast by Jon and Kim DeHaan, and listen to multiple podcasts like “The Horror Virgin” and “Music City Horror”.

My favorite movies are some of the lesser followed titles like Silver Bullet and Maximum Overdrive but I like some of the usual suspects as well; Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Halloween. But as you may imagine, if you are a frequent visitor of my blog www.dubmentality.com, all of my favorites are from the bygone era of the 80’s and early 90’s. In fact, just today, I received a DVD copy of 1982’s “Poltergeist” that I ordered off of eBay for a mere $6.50. I have a lot of the classics on DVD but I add more when I can because you can never have enough.

This is what I am choosing to pass along to my kids from my own childhood. I have two daughters so I can’t really compare my childhood with one brother to what they are experiencing. But what I can do is show them the love I had for trading cards and cheesy old horror movies. My oldest and I are slowly making our way through the horror collection of classics because they really aren’t all that scary in 2019. There are scarier videos on YouTube than the original Poltergeist. She never even jumped during Silver Bullet and I distinctly remember lying in bed awake, staring at the ceiling the first time I saw it, because I couldn’t fall asleep.

Occasionally, something new will come along that is scary enough for me to enjoy but not so scary or grotesque that I wouldn’t allow her to watch it. She hasn’t reached “The Walking Dead” age but she did get to enjoy another recent phenomenon, “Stranger Things”. This series exploded onto the Netflix scene a couple of years ago and has enjoyed 2 full seasons to date, with a 3rd set to release in July of this year. Not only is this series a Sci-Fi/Horror, it is also chock full of nostalgia for a guy my age.  There are Dungeons and Dragons references, call backs to Ghostbusters, walkie-talkie’s, and lots of BMX riding around the town. So in this case, I am introducing my daughter to something scary while also educating her on how awesome the 80’s were. It is truly the best of both worlds.

This isn’t going to be a review of the Netflix Series, but suffice it to say, I would give it a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. No, this is going to get back to trading cards, as Topps released a card set for Season 1 in 2018. This set includes Autographs, Sketch Cards, Costume Relics, and Inserts, just like your standard sports card run of today. The hobby box is rumored to build the full 100 card base set and all of the cards are retro themed. There are even parallels such as; Upside Down (/99), Waffle (/11), Christmas Lights (1/1), and Printing Plates (1/1). The purchase options include Retail Blaster Boxes, Retail Packs, and Hobby Boxes. The Hobby Box consists of 24 packs with 7 cards per pack, and 2 hits (1 Autograph or Sketch Card Guaranteed).

Trading Card Archival Storage Boxes

Museum Grade Trading Card Storage Box. Holds ​1000 cards. 3-3/4 x 2-3/4 x 16-3/8″ (inside). Made from Blue-Gray Archival Corrugated Cardboard.

My daughter and I sat down recently and ripped through a box of this retro themed goodness to see if it could match the hype of the show. Here is what we found!

As with most entertainment cards, the base set covers various parts within the series. The photo on the front has some detail on the back of the card. The set is numbered 1-100 and is in chronological order with Season 1.

As you can see from the base card, it has a very retro theme. The colors are dulled somewhat to represent old television images.

This card represents one of the scariest scenes in the entire season. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it. But let’s just say that Barb’s Nightmare is a big catalyst for what happens throughout the remaining episodes.

One of my favorite scenes is when Eleven discovers television at Mike’s house while there alone. She is flipping through the channels and seeing all of the great 80’s images we saw growing up on the TV.

If you know anything at all about Stranger Things, you know that Eleven loves Eggo Waffles. In fact, as mentioned above, one of the parallels is a waffle version. Unfortunately, I did not pull one of those.

This card sums up the 80’s. This could be a scene from Karate Kid, Goonies, or Rad! The bandana with the bright jacket was a staple in 80’s kids/teen movies.

There is a sticker set that is numbered to 20 that features all of the main characters of the show. Jim Hopper is as important a figure as Eleven in this series. I really enjoyed his character and can’t think of anyone that could have played a better part.

One of the Series’ most beloved characters was Dustin Henderson, also known as Dusty and Compass Genius. He is also known for one of the greatest lines in the series. As he is trying to get their Science teacher to open up about inside information on other dimensions, he says, “You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find. Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?”

The “Love Interest” in the series was Nancy Wheeler. She was also Mike’s sister but she spends a lot of her time balancing the advances of Steve Harrington and what seems like legitimate feelings for Jonathan Beyers. She plays a really good character! This is also a sticker but more in line with the “described action” in the base set.

There is also a 20 card set of Character Cards. These are the vertical cards with each character from the show. These are like the stickers but are cards like the base set. I like the border on these as it encapsulates the imagery of the show and landscape. The Monster, also known as the Demogorgon, was the ruler of the “Upside Down” world. If I told you any more, I would be giving away secrets of the show. It’s pretty scary, trust me.

I did pull one “Upside Down” parallel and it was true to its name. In the series, the “Upside Down” is basically another dimension that mirrors the world we are living in but it is all gray and blue, and decaying. I really like these but they would be hard to pull together for a full 100 card set at a rate of 1 per box.

We pulled this fine relic of Mike Wheeler. Mike plays a pivotal role as Will’s best friend and also Eleven’s protector/friend/guide in our dimension. This is a pretty cool 4 color patch and the back of the cards authenticates it as a true relic from Season 1. I am pretty sure I had this shirt one time as well!

And finally, the big hit was a redemption. Usually I am bummed about redemptions but I’m ok with this as I’ve seen several on eBay so they are being redeemed now. This is the Green Parallel numbered to 50 of Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington. I don’t really know how to describe Steve from Season 1 as he starts out as a real tool, turns into someone that isn’t all that bad, and then you actually kind of like him by the end. I’m happy to add this one to the set.

In summary, we really enjoyed ripping this box. It is always fun ripping a box for the first time and not knowing anything about what you might pull. I had not opened any packs or even bought any singles at this point. I wish I had pulled a Christmas Light or Waffle parallel but I am sure I will try another box soon. I would also like to see what a sketch card looks like in the set. Each box promises a sketch or autograph so you really can’t go wrong. If you haven’t seen Stranger Things, I would highly recommend it. If you have, I would recommend you ripping some of these cards, because they were a lot of fun and a great companion for the show. What do you think about Stranger Things and this Topps entry?


Archival Box Spacer for Top Loaders

Top Loader Box Spacer. Museum-grade archival. 11-15/16 x 4-1/8″. Fold on scores as boxes fill.