Non-Sport & Entertainment Trading Card News from Non-Sport Update

Non-Sport Update Best of 2014: Vote for your 5 favorite non-sport card series of 2014

Written By: Harris Toser - Dec• 10•14

Hey look, another year end poll! Goodie, goodie, right? Well, at least this one is trading card-oriented. We are seeking out the best trading card sets of 2014 and we want to know what you think tops the list. Please vote for the sets you think were the best produced sets of 2014. Choose up to 5 sets.


VOTING: At the link above, you’ll find the ballot for best card sets of 2014, a list of about 80 or so non-sport and entertainment trading card series released this year.

You may vote for up to 5 series and you’re free to write in other card sets, sets which may still come out before the poll closes, or sets which we may have inadvertently left off the list. Please only vote one time (once again, you may choose up to five series) and feel free to share the poll with your card collecting friends on your favorite social media network so that they can vote for their favorites too. For any card manufacturers out there who might be reading this, please know we love your cards but we do ask that you not rally the troops to vote for your products so that we can get as close to a true year-end list as possible. Thanks!

DEADLINE: Voting ends 5 p.m. EDT Friday, Dec. 26, and results will be posted shortly thereafter. They’ll be no prizes or freebies but we hope you’ll voice your favorites anyway. And check back to see if your favorites won.

Feel free to discuss/list/explain/lobby for your picks in the comments section below or in the poll’s comment section.

Topps Visionary Sy Berger Passes Away

Written By: Roxanne Toser - Dec• 16•14

On December 14, Sy Berger passed away at the age of 91. He leaves behind his wife Gloria, his daughter Maxine, his two sons Glen and Gary, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. When modern-day baseball cards at Topps are mentioned, the name Sy Berger immediately comes to mind because he was responsible for starting their long history of baseball cards in 1951; but he was a friend to non-sport cards, as well.

In 1997, Nick Portantiere wrote an article about Berger for Non-Sport Update in celebration of his 50 years of working at the company. In it, he discussed how Berger had taken a temporary job at Topps in 1947 at their Brooklyn office. He was hired to head a sales promotion for something called “Gold Rush Jamboree.” Fifty years later, Berger was still employed at Topps and remained there until he retired in 2002.

Sy Berger

Also in 1947, Topps introduced Bazooka Bubble Gum which was a fruit-flavored gum and became popular very quickly. There were small comics inserted in the packaging and a premium offer. Kids were told to send for a gift catalogue and the mail really piled up but there was not a gift catalogue so Berger was given the task of putting one together in a hurry. Not only did he have to put together the catalogue but he had to find all the gifts to offer.

In his early years at the company working in sales promotions, he recalled Hocus Focus, a mini-card which was chemically treated so when you wet the wrapper and rubbed it on the card, a picture magically appeared. Another item he remembered was Pixie. When you placed a piece of red cellophane over the card, it made a picture appear.

Later he again became involved with non-sport cards by being a member of the Topps team who traveled down South to meet with Colonel Tom Parker to discuss what would be in the 1956 Elvis Presley card set. In 1964, Topps wanted to do a set on the Beatles. They just couldn’t get it done so he went to visit Brian Epstein and convinced him to let them issue cards. In 1965, Topps issued the first series of Ugly Stickers and one of the stickers is named Sy. I am willing to bet Sy Berger is the Sy they were referring to as they sometimes used the names of their employees in their products.

In 1977, Berger took over Topps licensing business. It was his responsibility to negotiate deals with licensors and because of him, Topps did Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws 2, E.T., New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson, Batman and Batman Returns. Bigger than any of the others was Star Wars. All these years later, Topps still retains the license to do Star Wars cards.

I contacted Ira Friedman, Vice President of Publishing and Licensing at Topps to find out if the company kept in touch with Berger after his retirement. He told me, “His tie to Topps continued well beyond his official retirement. Sy was a special guy who devoted his long career to Topps. He’ll always be synonymous with the company. He was a wonderful, generous guy to work with and a visionary in the sports/trading card industries. Sy was larger than life, yet at the same time so kind and humble. I wouldn’t have worked at Topps and been in my 26th year there were it not for Sy Berger. He not only impacted my life, but his pioneering role in the card industry touched the hearts of millions.”

Over the years, I had occasion to speak with Berger by phone several times. He was very friendly and always returned phone calls. In one of our conversations, I asked him if the story about his dumping of 1952 baseball cards into the Atlantic Ocean was true. He confirmed it and said they over-produced the cards and just couldn’t get rid of them. The cards were dumped in 1960.

Sy Berger will be missed but his name will live on.

Topps Awakens

Written By: Alan Biegel - Dec• 15•14

Star Wars cards (courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Director and co-writer of Star Wars Episode VII:The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams, has “leaked” some pertinent detail surrounding the highly anticipated film exclusively to Entertainment Weekly. Abrams has revealed the names of key characters featured in the recently released teaser trailer via the medium of Topps-style trading cards. The cards are reminiscent of Topps Star Wars cards released in 1977. Abrams told EW that the numbering used on the faux cards has significance.

Topps was unavailable for comment.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens card 76 - Finn on the run! (courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens card 11 - BB-8 on the move! (courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens card 74 - Rey on her speeder (courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Star Wars cards courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Birmingham Buzz

Written By: Bob Hulsart & Harris Toser - Dec• 09•14

MCM Birmingham Comic ConMCM Birmingham Comic Con and Memorabilia recently concluded and NSU was on the scene. The show is held each Spring and Fall at the NEC in Birmingham, England. Within an hour or two of opening each day, the show hall was packed. We’re not exaggerating—the aisles were literally filled with collectors and cosplayers. We even heard from several people who told us they (or their partners) had to leave as the crowd was too much for them. Last year, we reported 26,500 fans attended the two-day fest. This year, one dealer on NSU Card Talk reported attendance had surpassed this number by mid-day on Saturday.

Walking around the show floor, we saw lots of the usual sort of Comic Con items—t-shirts, hats, movie memorabilia, DVDs and Blu-rays, and Funko’s in abundance. British manufacturer Cult Stuff had a very impressive display once again with several tables devoted to artist signings. The company brought in artists Carolyn Edwards, Patrick Hamill, B. Jones, and Huy Truong to speak with collectors and show off their wares. Promos were available as well new releases like Dixon’s Vixen’s Series 2 and other recent Cult Stuff releases. A visit to their table was a must for card collectors!

At the Non-Sport Update table, we had a busy weekend renewing subscriptions, selling our Arrow show exclusive (limited to 250 copies and contained an exclusive Arrow numbered promotional card from Cryptozoic Entertainment), and other non-sport related items were at our table as well. It was good to see many UK collectors old and new at the show, the weekend always goes by fast!

The show was packed both days as collectors shopped for pop culture collectibles, obtained autographs from the many celebrities in attendance, or wander the floor dressed as their favorite character; we saw several impressive cosplayers over the course of the show, a few of which are included in the photo gallery below. The show keeps growing which is a trend we have seen for shows here in the United States as well.

One thing that we see at MCM Birmingham Comic Con (which incorporates the show we used to refer to as Memorabilia) that we don’t see enough of at other shows is non-sport card dealers – the show had several dealers in attendance, including Paul Hart who has an amazing selection of vintage and modern cards, Umbrella Cards, Derek’s Trading Cards, D & M Cards, and Nonsporttradingcards were among the dealers in attendance. New releases such as The Wicker Man and Star Trek Aliens were getting a lot of buzz at the show. Some dealers also had show exclusive promos to hand out to collectors as well.

In addition to all the great card related items available there is a wide range of other collectibles available at the show it’s an experience just walking the aisles and taking them all in. It would take the entire day to try to see everything but well worth the effort.

Enjoy our exclusive gallery of photos from around the show floor below. And mark your calendars for the 2015 MCM Birmingham Comic Con and Memorabilia show dates: March 21 & 22 and November 21 & 22. Cheers mates!