The Topps Company, which has successfully revived its Garbage Pail Kids franchise (the first series of the new cards went back to press five times -- see "Scratch, Sniff, & Pass the Lysol"), has decided to bring back its classic Wacky Packages cards/stickers, which were originally launched in 1967 and enjoyed a remarkable run, which lasted until 1992 and encompassed some 18 unique series of cards. The Wacky Packages parodied TV commercials and the over-hyped consumer products foisted on the American public by Madison Ave. and network television. Cap'n Crunch cereal became Cap'n Crud in the world of Wacky Packages where Wheaties were Weakies ("Breakfast of Chumps").
Wacky Packages were an expression of the consumer revolt against modern advertising, an essential part of a continuity that stretched from the commercial parodies in Mad Magazine to the faux advertisements which have long been one of the best elements on the long-running Saturday Night Live TV series. In fact Stan Hart, a regular contributor to Mad, was the product manager for Topps on the first series of Wacky Packages.
In an inspired bit of marketing, Topps is binding a sticker sampler of 3 new Wacky Packages images into the May on-sale issues of Mad Magazine (as well as the entire DC Comics Kids Group (Scooby Do, Power Puff Girls, Batman Adventures, Looney Tunes, Dexter's Laboratory, etc.).
Part of the appeal of the original Wacky Packages was the painted artwork of Norm Saunders, who also illustrated the classic Mars Attacks cards. Norm's daughter Zina will be working on the new Wacky Packages along with Wacky (and GPK) veterans Tom Bunk and John Pound.
Topps is including three different randomly inserted Wacky Packages promo stickers in its Garbage Pail Kids Series 2 sticker packs, which will be in hobby, card, and comic shops by the end of the month. Every kid who buys GPK stickers is a potential Wacky Packages customer as are millions of 30-50 year-olds, who fondly remember these impertinent emblems of resistance to the smothering influences of "consumer culture." Retailers shouldn't neglect Topps' revived Wacky Packages when thinking about counter items for their stores this spring. Try a box and you might be surprised at how many folks remember these subtly subversive, gaudily colored, pictorial Bronx cheers directed at Madison Ave.