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

The Winners Are….

Written By: Harris Toser - Jan• 05•15

Best of 2014At the end of 2013, we asked Non-Sport Update blog readers to vote for their favorite sets of the year. It was the first time we polled our readers since we last conducted The Gummie Awards inside the pages of the magazine in late 2003. We’re happy to have been able to poll readers once again this past month. We received more votes this year than last.

In last year’s post, we pointed out many of the same “evergreen” properties from 2003 received votes some 10 years later and wondered if that meant some of those same properties would come out on top this year. We specifically mentioned Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Hobbit, and Star Trek. While Rittenhouse’s Buffy set did not materialize in 2014, Star Trek and other mainstays did quite well and you’ll notice the prognostication served our top vote-getter quite well.

So while it may not be a stretch to predict cards like Star Wars and Bond will always finish high on the list, its interesting to see which non-big budget and/or non-multi-series card set catches top interest with collectors. This year’s big winner in that camp is Hallowe’en: All Hallows’ Eve from Perna Studios. The series was beautiful and extremely popular with collectors. Another series from Perna Studios (Spellcasters) was the only series of this type to be included in 2013’s top 10 as well.

So without further fanfare, here are your selections, starting at number ten:

Best Trading Card Set of 2014

#10 Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2 (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2 Trading Cards (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

#9 The Walking Dead Season 3 Part 2 (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

The Walking Dead Season 3 Set 2 - Cryptozoic Entertainment

#8 Star Wars Return of the Jedi 3-D Widevision (Topps)

Return of the Jedi 3D Widevision - Topps

#7 American Horror Story (Breygent Marketing)

American Horror Story - Breygent Marketing

#6 Hallowe’en: All Hallows’ Eve (Perna Studios)

Hallowe'en: All Hallows Eve - Perna Studios

#5 The Walking Dead Season 3 Part 1 (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

The Walking Dead Season 3 Set 1 - Cryptozoic Entertainment

#4 James Bond Archives – 2014 Edition (Rittenhouse Archives)

James Bond 2014 Archives - Rittenhouse Archives

#3 Game of Thrones Season 3 (Rittenhouse Archives)

Game of Thrones Season 3 - Rittenhouse Archives

#2 Guardians of the Galaxy HOBBY (Upper Deck)

Guardians of the Galaxy Hobby - Upper Deck

#1 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Cryptozoic Entertainment


Vote for your Favorite 2014 NSU Cover

Written By: Harris Toser - Dec• 31•14

Vote for  your favorite 2014 Non-Sport Update cover

Happy New Year to all blog readers from Non-Sport Update! While we continue to count the votes in our best trading card set of 2014, we’re asking our blog readers to vote for their favorite Non-Sport Update cover of the past year.

This year, you get to choose from covers covering many facets of media – television, film, animation, and even trading cards and Non-Sport Update itself. Choose the cover you think was executed best rather then simply choosing the property you like best. If you thought one of these covers “popped” well or peaked your interest in a specific show or movie, choose that one.

Vote for your favorite cover here

Once you’ve voted, feel free to tell us what you think might make a nice cover for 2015 in the comment section below. And while we’re talking 2015, the staff of Non-Sport Update would like to wish all of our readers a very happy and healthy 2015.

Please note: Voting ends January 9, 2015. Winner will be announced on the Non-Sport Update Facebook page shortly thereafter.

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