I think everyone would agree Mars Attacks was a milestone moment last years for both Topps and the industry. So how does Topps follow-up? With a second series, of course. Topps’ Licensing Manager Adam Levine spoke a good deal about this at last October’s Philly Non-Sports Card Show (you can see video of that presentation here).
Here at the NSU office, we’re now starting to hear rumblings of the Topps machinery gearing up for the second series. We thought it was a good time to check-in with Levine and company and see the direction they are headed with the next invasion. Below is a quick Q&A with Topps’ Licensing Manager Adam Levine.
We’ve heard some rumblings that you’re scouting for pulp artists, possibly for a new Mars Attacks card set. True?
I don’t want to say just yet. I will tell you that MA Heritage was very well-received last year. Fans really supported it in a big way—I think more than we were expecting—and it has everyone talking about bringing back Mars Attacks on some kind of ongoing basis. Does that mean a new card set? That would make sense!
So if you did do a second series, what would it contain?
One thing is clear, whatever we do with Mars Attacks moving forward has to be all-new. The original set occupied a certain point in time, a unique mindset that can’t be replicated—being a rebellious kid in the morally uptight 60s, living in the midst of the cold war and the dawn of space exploration and new technologies—that it would be impossible for a direct sequel to do it justice, as enticing as the idea is. So I think to keep Mars Attacks relevant and exciting we need an all-new story that can create a world for artists and writers to play in. At the same time, it’s critically important we not take it too far from it’s roots, and try our best to retain the look, feel and spirit of the original. Luckily, we’re at a point now where 60s retro is cool again, if done the right way. Does that mean we do a trading card set on Heritage stock with chase cards and hits, or is that where pulp artists fit in? We don’t want to give anything away right now, but we’re definitely working on something big.
Mars Attacks Heritage sketch cards by Brent Engstrom and Jeff Zapata
At the last Philly Show, you said Topps hopes to keep Mars Attacks cards going for some time. How do you see things going—will there be one set a year? More?
Again, way too early to tell. But Heritage was a success, so it follows that we’ll want to try something, and if fans continue to respond, why not keep going? As we develop new ideas, we definitely have future possibilities in mind.
The first series did not reference the movie and I think the comics don’t either. Do you think this might change at some point?
The movie has become a bonafide cult classic over the last fifteen years or so and we’d love to do some something with the film if we could. Still, we don’t control anything relating to the movie, so even if we wanted to, it would really be up to Warner Bros.
Since you have your finger on the pulse of all things Mars Attacks, can you tell us if there are any new Mars Attacks licensed products from other companies in the works?
We do have a few very exciting things kicking around that we hope to share very soon. I think fans are going to be surprised and delighted (the best combination I think!). What I can tell you is that fans who follow us on facebook may have a better idea of what we’re up to if they read between the lines a bit. We love teasing our facebook fans and will continue to do so with behind-the-scenes glimpses of what we’re working on whenever we can.
And while I have you here, what about that Dinosaur Attacks rumor? Can you tell us if/when we might expect to see Dinosaurs Attacks Heritage or some sort of DA series?
I don’t know about a re-issue, but Dinosaurs Attack was a great set with a lot of rabid fans, so we’ll definitely be doing something to commemorate its 25th birthday.
Lastly, might there be other Topps creations that are ripe for new innovations? Any hints?
I’m not sure. We’re always dipping into the well (so-to-speak) and we’ve got a large stable of old properties that we can draw from. Whether it’s vintage sets like Ugly Stickers or Weird Wheels or even something as recent as Hollywood Zombies, I think there’s lots of opportunities to re-introduce our older brands to a new generation of fans and make a lot of long-time collectors happy at the same time. For some it might be new cards, others it might be a cartoon series or a line of toys. Mars Attacks just made the most sense for a variety of reasons: not only was it turning 50, it was the most famous non-sport card set ever made. It was also one of the few sets we’ve had with a really rich narrative, complete with heroes and villains, and a name that people recognized. It lends itself well to ongoing stories, comics, cards, toys, you name it. Bowman’s [Jets*Rockets*] Spacemen cards could be something fun to resurrect, and we’d love to hear fans might want to see, too.
NSU thanks Levine very much for his time and we look forward to seeing what’s on the horizon for Mars Attacks.