Tuesday, July 28, 2015

THE FUTURE'S IN THE CARDS

Most Legion fans will own Legion-related trading cards in their collection. But these products have been around longer than one might think.

   The first Legion-related trading card was the Topps foldee that featured Saturn Girl, released as part of a 44-card DC Comics set in 1966. The novelty of the card was that it could be folded into different permutations, which offered a variety of looks for each character.




It wasn’t until 1987 that we next saw Legion characters on cards in the US. But before that, interestingly enough, the Legion appeared on cards in various other countries.
   In 1969, a card of some members was released in South America, possibly given away with the country’s Legion reprint comics, published by Ebal.


A Brazilian comic book featuring the Legion.

Meanwhile, in 1970, Mexican residents were able to collect a set of Superman family sticker cards issued with local confectionery, which they could place in an album. Legionnaires were among the characters featured in this set.

The album which contained pages for stickers (see below).







The United Kingdom was not to be outdone. The company Weetabix had long been including collectible strips in its cereal boxes, and in 1978 produced a set of 18 which featured some bizarrely-chosen Legion characters: Worldsmith, the Brain (un-named in the actual comic book), the Galactic Coordinator, and a Resource Raider. It’s likely that licensing prohibitions prevented the use of the Legionnaires themselves, but what’s interesting is that the cards provided new information on the featured characters.

 



The cards were stand-up cards included in packs of Weetabix cereal in the UK. They were meant to be used by kids to stick into slots on various adventure settings printed on the Weetabix boxes. There were four different scenes to play against: Kryptonopolis, Scarlet Forest, Fortress of Solitude, and the Town of Kan. 
   Weetabix customers could also find mini-cutout model kits to build their own Krtyptonian Flyer or Kal-El Rocket, while there were random “picture puzzlers” on the inside of the boxes (three featured the Legion characters Worldsmith, a Resource Raider and afore-mentioned The Brain). Way cool!


Three of the picture puzzlers, featuring Legion characters.

The four adventure settings for the cards

In 1987, DC Comics decided to test the waters for trading card demand in the US market, but chose to release the product in a unique fashion: as part of backing boards for comics sold in three-packs at large retailers. The first set came in six different sheets of eight, with cut-out lines for the cards and a header for hanging the item. A second series with nine sheets was produced in 1989. There are some Legion-related cards in the sets:

A typiccl backing board with hanger and eight uncut cards.




In the 90s, of course, the non-sports trading card phenomenon came into full swing, in all manner of style: ordinary card sets, chase cards, oversized ones, foils, extended art rares, stackers, promotional items, one-off sketch cards, and the like. The Legion formed the basis or part of many a card set, and we’ll cover these separately in a future blog.

Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.

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