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Old 12-04-2007, 09:08 AM
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Default 1973 Topps Oddball Sets - Where's the logo?

Posted By: Dave Hornish

I am going to whip up a Candy Lids thread in a week or so but I figured with Marvin Miller (and Gil Hodges, but he is not germane to this discussion) getting shafted today and his opposite number Bowie Kuhn gaining enshrinement that I would bring up some 1973 Topps sets that Miller may have had an indirect hand in creating. There's not much more to know on Topps' oddball offerings in 1973 as they are well documented and checklisted but there is a common thread linking the Candy Lids, Pinups and Comics (and also the Action Emblems that were issued the following year.

I'll start with my original, slightly abridged comments from the website on these (the 72 Lids were unknown when I wrote the original pieces):

1973 Topps Candy Lids

Three years after they were test-marketed, little tubs of Baseball Stars bubble gum hit the candy counters of America. There sure were differences though. For one thing, candy was replaced by gum, Frank Howard was gone from the reverse of the lid and where oh where were the logos on the caps (more on that in a minute)? At 1 7/8" in diameter these colorful lids are somewhat hard to find, but not overly scarce, which means they must have sold fairly well. But no logos, what happened? Well, Topps designed two other sets for actual release in 1973, neither of which saw the much light behind the candy counter. Both sets had the logos airbrushed off them, just like the candy lids. Even the Yaz and Seaver photos on the lid backs had the logos removed; they were there in 1970. The lone Topps insert for the year were team checklist cards which featured no logos or photos. If you guessed licensing dispute, you guessed right. I would think Topps got into it with Major League Baseball Properties (the Owners) over the rights to use the team logos. They probably also got into it with the player's union over fees (this had happened previously in 1969). The result of all this is that Topps started shutting down production of supplemental and insert sets, putting and end to the most glorious run in the history of bubble gum cards. After 1974 there was the odd set here and there, plus the 1975 minis (Topps reportedly cut production back on the regular set to produce the minis, so the players and Owners probably got nothing extra that year), but nothing of real significance until the Cloth Stickers of 1977. Notice a trend there? 1969, 1973, 1977...1981 also fits the picture. Every four years the players and Owners re-negotiated the Basic Agreement. Topps started turning its attention to producing sets for other distributors like Burger King in the late Seventies, and I would think they had the distributors cut the licensing deals, thereby saving much aggravation. Collectors generally disdain unlicensed sets, which is what Topps was doing in 1973, but when it comes to Topps, almost everything is collectable.

1973 Pin Ups (24)

1973 Comics (24)

The dreaded licensing woes continued with these companion sets (they have the same checklist). Both types are 4 5/8" x 3 7/16", although the comics are oriented horizontally and both appear to have been halted before production really began. Meant to wrap a large slab of Bazooka Gum, all the copies extant today have no fold lines. They are also quite gorgeous, especially the comics. The first panel of each comic is actually a photo, while the Pin Ups are very close in appearance to the 72 Posters, just smaller and with borders. In fact, the Comics look too large and the Pin Ups too small. Very, very hard to come by; commons are currently selling for $200 each, despite what the Standard Catalog says. Ouch!

1973 Action Emblems (48)

Baseball Coin Rub Game (1)

Not quite sure what's up here so let me try to explain this mess. Standard Catalog says 1974, I believe the year of issue to be 1973 for reasons stated in the Candy Lids essay. Each emblem has two parts, a larger upper area, with a team logo (not the real logo, ones made up by Topps!) with an drawn action shot of a ballplayer superimposed. The artwork is pretty basic and I can't tell if the players are actual stars or just representations. The smaller bottom portion has a city name, though not matching the logo above. There's also a game card a little like the 70/71 inserts, but with no player photos. My gut feeling is Topps put this set out to tweak the Owners. I mean, why else would they go and create 24 new team logos? Whatever it was though, it worked-briefly; in 1974 the logos were back on the supplemental issues, but after that they laid off the special sets for a while.


I think now the sticker version Action Emblems were from 1974 as Topps Vault was selling them that way but the cardboard proofs of these cards are clearly from 1973 as production dates are noted by Topps. It is also worth noting the 1972 Candy Lids have essentially the same reverse as the 73's and that the player pictures I have seen from these two lid sets have no logos on them. The wrapper of both the Pinups and Comics from 1973 feature Johnny Bench on the exterior design, sans logos.

Now here are pictures of each issue so you can see for yourself.

First the 72 Candy Lids (not mine), with Stargell's "P" on the Pirates cap airbrushed out but barely visible. Ignore the uniform top team name, it would have been cropped out. A front and back from the Ryan (also not mine) is shown too. The front resembles as 1970 Lid (no color border).

Here the front and back of my 1973 Mayberry Lid (Red Stars on the back in 73):

Next is a 1972 or 1973 Lid Proof Sheet, note the lack of logos:

And here is a front and back for the Comics and Pinups (Stick gum, like Juicy Fruit, not slab gum like Bazooka):

And finally some Action Emblems (proofs as they scan better)where Topps just made up their own logos:

Also worth noting, the 1970 Candy Lids had logos, as did the 1972 Posters, which the 73 Pinups resemble. 1974 Deckles had logos as well, so the lack of team logos was a 1973 phenomenon for the most part. Did Marvin Miller's success at extracting better royalties for the players have an effect on the teams negotiating harder with Topps on licensing fees for use of the logos? I think it did.

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Old 12-04-2007, 08:49 PM
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Default 1973 Topps Oddball Sets - Where's the logo?

Posted By: Paul

The teams control the team logos, not the player's union. I think what happened here is that Topps received the player's union's permission for these test issues, but not Major League Baseball's permission.

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