Back in the early 1990s, things were very different. The internet was still in its infancy and cell phones weren’t available. People read books, played board games, watched a lot of cable TV, and played outside. I know, it’s a time for many that is as foreign as the time of the dinosaurs.
‘Jurassic Park’ came out in June 1993. But it wasn’t available for home viewing (via VHS and Laserdisc… which is a whole other topic to explain to some people) until October… 1994! Yes, nearly a year and a half after the film was released in theaters! Back then, theatrical releases for big movies really could last that long to make as much money as they could if popular. And as a kid who saw it during its original release, it was popular. But for me, the wait was painful. Excruciating. I had seen what to me was the greatest thing I had ever laid my eyes on… and waiting almost a year and a half to see it again (my allowance at age 6 couldn’t afford that many tickets) felt like an eternity. I wanted to endlessly watch it, rewind it back to the beginning, and watch it again. But no. We all had to wait.
The Topps Trading Cards, that were on store shelves as soon as the movie was, were a godsend. For ‘Jurassic Park’, they had dozens and dozens of wallet-sized cards that had fantastic stills from the film, concept art, behind the scenes images, and more. And if you got them all, you essentially had the entire story of the film that could fit in your pocket. I remember flipping through them, soaking in every image, reading every detail. For that long wait, those cards were the film. Only the comic book adaptation came as close to truly filling the void as those cards (also produced by Topps).
That’s why the upcoming ‘JURASSIC PARK: THE ORIGINAL TOPPS TRADING CARD SERIES’ book (available April 26th) is such a fantastic compilation of that time for me. And even if you weren’t around to enjoy the cards the way I had, you can still appreciate them as pieces of the film’s rich merchandise history. They are an artistic joy to behold.
“Journey back to where it all started in this deluxe collection showcasing the classic Topps trading cards from 1993—timed for the theatrical release of Jurassic World: Dominion.
When Jurassic Park was released almost 30 years ago, it was an immediate blockbuster and went on to become one of entertainment’s largest multimedia franchises, with five more films, theme park attractions, and a robust consumer product program—including a set of trading cards released by Topps in 1993 to tie into the film. This comprehensive collection of the original trading card series—timed to publish alongside the release of Jurassic World: Dominion—includes the fronts and backs of all of these classic cards, plus the special chase cards and rare promotional material. The book also includes text and commentary by Gary Gerani, editor of the original series, and an afterword by Chip Kidd, who created and designed the cover of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which became the iconic logo for the franchise.“
The book begins with a foreword by Gary Gerani, who happens to have been the co-writer of the film ‘Pumpkinhead’ (directed by the same animatronics legend who brought the dinosaurs of ‘Jurassic Park’ to life: Stan Winston). Before and after that time, he worked for Topps. The ‘Jurassic Park’ cards were all written and edited by him. Before the film was released, he was able to see a myriad of storyboards & fantastic photos of the amazing on-set dinosaurs. Another thing he was privileged to see was the film’s super-secret script; required reading to make the text for all the cards.
Gary goes on to explain how the cards became organized into themed sections and how they gained their appearance & layout. After he selected the images and text, they would be taken to the art department at Topps and turned into their final form.
Speaking of layouts, the main sections of the book feature one side of every card on its own page. Personal commentary is provided by Gary on select cards. He shares his views on certain parts of the film as depicted in the cards and why he made certain choices. Gary clearly had admiration for Stan Winston’s work on the animatronics, likely heightened from his time associated with ‘Pumpkinhead’. It’s always nice to see the animatronics of the film still getting love all these years later.
The first main section of the cards begins with everything from “Series One”: all 88 cards of the original set. This is followed by its 11 sticker cards (which put together would create a cool single picture on the other side), 4 hologram cards, & 4 promo cards. The first series essentially tells the entire story of the film, in a reduced form of course. But it also has cards that focus on certain characters, places, dinosaurs, and some behind the scenes information. There is even a selection of cards that focuses on Crash McCreery’s famous artwork for the film.
From there, we go into everything from “Series Two”, which continues from the first series with card 89 through 154, followed by its 11 sticker cards. This second series was released a few months after the first one and featured a looser approach to conveying the film instead of trying to tell a story. It featured many behind the scenes quotes from people who worked on the film. This series is also the only one that features ILM-produced CGI shots, since Topps did not have access to them until after the first series had to be completed.
The final main section of the book showcases the fantastic 10 art cards that were part of the “Gold Series” (a special gold-embossed version of the cards that was produced after “Series 2”), making for a very showy finish. While the backs of these art cards are for some reason not represented, the artists for each one are all credited with text.
However, that’s not all. The book features an afterward by Chip Kidd, the creator of the ‘Jurassic Park’ novel cover (which later was literally converted into the film’s logo). He details how the cover of the novel came to be, and how he was told to make it be as iconic as the cover for ‘Jaws’. This afterword also includes a note from Michael Crichton that was inscribed to Chip.
The book is about the size of my entire hand, bound in a sturdy hardcover with a thin bubble gum wrapper-style sleeve (which is made to look slightly distressed around the edges). The pages are thick and printed with high-quality vibrant color. The cards represented on each page are about 30% bigger (rough estimate) compared to the actual card size, which is nice to see a bit more detail.
As the cover promises, the book includes four promotional cards, taped to the inside of the back cover in sealed plastic. Luckily, removing the cards from the book did NOT leave any kind of blemish and was easy to do. The four cards are exclusive to this book. Two of the front designs are from actual cards in the series, but the others are new additions. One resembles the cover of the 2011 ‘Jurassic Park’ Blu-ray, while the other features a top view of the retail display box. All four of their backs are the same, but numbered. Overall, this book is even better seeing it in person than it would be as an eBook (in my opinion).
If you remember collecting these cards, or never got to have them, this book offers the perfect way of showcasing them. I must warn you that if you’re like me, you will be overridden with nostalgia. Topps would go on to do cards for the first sequel in the franchise, ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’. Thankfully, Gary teases the possibility of more of that story being told. So, keep your fingers crossed that we get a second book!
You can pre-order the book right now so it can come home to you on April 26th! I can’t recommend it enough.
(Note: Some images are from Amazon’s preview of the book.)
Did you collect any of the Topps cards when the film came out? Were you ever able to get a complete set on your own? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always return to Jurassic Outpost for the latest!