A WACKY TALE? YOU DECIDE.
Once upon a time in late 1972, Topps decided to revive their semi-successful 1967 DieCut Wacky Packages in two new sets. They were designated as 1972 Project Numbers 55 and 56. New projects were assigned a number, and each year began with #00. Previous years' projects kept their number, until that project ended. After that, the number could be reassigned.
See the Topps Production Codes Project
Project #56 went on to become the 1st Series Cloth Stickers, which came out around January of 1973 and continued late into Spring. But #55 drifted into obscurity, leaving behind tiny clues to its existence.
The Project #55 Wacky Packages were to be die-cut cards like the previous 1967 Series. Except this time they would be unnumbered, and include a puzzle/checklist rather than gum. If you look at the back, you can see that besides the missing numbers, they are also a different color than the 1967 set.
The original die-cuts had dwindled from 44 titles down to 30, due to Cease & Desist orders. Topps learned from the 1967 set and the Wacky Ads, that having number variations or dropping a number was tedious and confusing. It would be easier to drop a title from a checklist and no one be the wiser.
Of course the Puzzle subject would have to be a parody of a Topps product, so it couldn't be C&D'd. This would also promote their stance that parodies were both flattering and good advertising. Since the only such title was Gadzooka, it got the job.
Alas, it seems that this set never made it into the public eye. Topps auctioned off an uncut sheet, hinting that the 1973 1st Series may have been intended as die-cuts. And about 20 to 25 individual die-cuts have turned up. Mostly from Topps Vault, and selling in the hundreds of dollars each.
But other remnants of this set still remain. The Puzzle was printed in limited quantity and included in the first run of Cloth Stickers. Many collectors, who bought the Cloths as kids, say their packs never had checklists inside. Others got checklists from later series. If you look at the Cloth set, there is no mention of a puzzle or checklist anywhere on the box or wrapper.
The Cloth Series Checklist itself does not mention that the back is a puzzle. It seems reasonable that the Cloth series was never meant to have a checklist. They were included as an after-thought. On later runs, when the 1972 checklists had run out, Topps included 1st series and even 2nd series checklists with the cloth stickers. Today, the Cloth Series Puzzle is considered very rare, although the stickers are not.
Another clue to the Die-Cut series comes in early 1974, near the end of the 7th Series. Quacker Oats and Weakies have been C&D'd, causing havoc with Wacky Packages. Wrappers and Boxes need to be changed and reprinted. Tattoo and Poster sets are being reassessed. The Wacky Wall Poster is reorganized, and it's corresponding wrapper offer must be updated, causing the first run of 8th series wrappers to be dumped and reprinted. And then a 7th Series Gumless Test Box appears.
This box is very different than the previous 1st through 7th boxes, but looks an awful lot like the old cloth series box from 1972, with Quacker and Weakies removed. It also carries the #55 code, which meant that was that this box was an older design than previous boxes, and even came before the Cloth Set.
It seems that they went back to the Project #55 job bag looking for ideas. Were they desperate for a new box design? Testing a new product? No one knows for sure. But it does give a clue to what the 1972 die-cut box may have looked like.
They also used the older #55 coded wrappers, advertising a puzzle card without gum, and no Wall Poster offer. Both the wrapper and box had revisions made and were printed in 1974. But would the 1972 wrapper have looked like the 7th blue wrapper? Or more of a hybrid between the Cloth stickers and the Die-cuts like this hypothetical red wrapper?
Perhaps one day we'll know for sure. Check out some of the test cards below.
|1972 Test Set||1972 Test Set -- 30 Titles & Puzzle|
|Hard to Find Titles:
|Band-Ache, Breadcrust Hash, Camals, Chock Full O'Nuts, Cover Ghoul, Crust, Dopey Whip, Duzn't, Fink, Gadzooka, Grave Train, Horrid, Hostage Cupcakes, Jail-O, Kook-Aid, Lavirus, Liptorn, Maddie Boy, Mrs. Klean, Minute Lice, Mutts, Paul Maul, Pure Hex, Quacker Oats, 6up, Skimpy, Spray Nit, Tied, Vicejoy, Weakies|
|Variations||Unknown - possibility exists for back variations on repeat titles. (See Test Sheet)|
|Test vs. Regular||The Test set wackys have a different color back than the regular diecuts|
|Search Ebay Auctions||Click here to find Wackys on Ebay|
|Lost Wackys/ Unpublished Titles||The 1972 test series was a reprint of the 1967 Die-Cuts. There were 14 Titles dropped before this Series began, and one title, Janitor-in-a-Slum, which was never published.|
|Rough Art Found||Cover Ghoul Rough Art (1967)|
|The Rare Cloth Series Puzzle
& Checklists were originally printed for this Test Set
Read the whole story here -- 1972 Test Set
Series Gadzooka Puzzle
|Uncut Sheet||Uncoded Test Sheet|
|Wrapper||Hypothetical Wrapper: 0-455-21-01-2|
|Display Box||Hypothetical Box: 0-455-40-01-2|