Trade or Die: Topps Goosebumps Trading Cards (1996)

Trade or Die

Over the course of this particular column, we’ve learned that Topps isn’t afraid to slap anything of popularity onto the face of a trading card. They’ve has sets featuring hairy aliens, man eating plants, Bigfoots (or do we call those dudes Bigfeet?) and children that supposedly come from garbage cans. So…cashing in on a hit horror novel series for kids sounds like the next logical step, right? RIGHT! Because that’s exactly what those guys did 19 years ago with this 54 base trading card set highlighting R.L. Stine’s famous fright series.

tod-goosebumps-3Now, personally, I owe a lot to Goosebumps…I probably would have never completed a book report in grade school if it weren’t for this series! So how do I express my love for it? like I have with so many other things, through collecting trading cards!

Cards 1 through 36 contain three images dedicated to a particular novel illustrated by Walter Velez, David Chelsea and Wayne Murray. The layouts are pretty remarkable, with a minimalist look and a wonderfully horrific image portrayed on the front alongside a small Goosebumps logo in a corner. Topps did a good job with the artists they selected as well—they do a wonderful job capturing the imagery brought on by R.L. Stine’s stories.

Flipping these guys over, however, expresses the era they come from all too well with bright 90’s neon, though it fits the theme of Goosebumps so it’s not that bad. I can’t really imagine any other color schemes which could fit the series any better, to be honest. Also featured on the back of each card are exerts from the books, normally two paragraphs.

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The second half of the set (cards 37-45) kept the “binder guys” in mind with a nine-piece puzzle spotlighting some of the more notable Goosebumps characters. On the reverse side of these, Topps included trivia questions to test your knowledge on the series…most of which are not too hard to answer. The last nine cards are dedicated to the TV series that debuted around this same time. Each of these had an image of the monster of an episode with the reverse side containing a trivia question.

Around this time Topps started putting a little more love into their sets and the overall quality of these cards are pretty nice. They’re on thick stock and contain nice heavy gloss on the front. The collection itself isn’t very large, as I mentioned just a 56 base set, but they definitely pull your nostalgic heart strings. This set typically runs anywhere from $20 (base set) to $45 (with extras). I feel it’s worth it and I imagine if the movie is successful it will drive this set up a few dollars as tends to happen with these kind of franchise reboots. Happy hunting!

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Written by Christopher Bacon

Mister Bacon tries really hard to define the line between collector and hoarder. Between comics , cards , video games , metal and horror movies the only thing he likes more than obtaining them is talking about them. Beer is good too.

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  • These are great. I want an RL Stine card! So funny.