Collect ‘Em! Trade ‘Em!

Getting back to the usual inanity, have you heard about the clever way JJ Abrams revealed the names of some of the new characters we’ll be seeing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? He had his marketing people take screen grabs from the trailer and mock up eight virtual “trading cards” in the same style as the classic card sets manufactured by the Topps company in the late ’70s, right down to the fuzzy image reproduction, the dust speckles, and the texture of the card stock… all the flaws that lent those old cards so much of their retro charm:


There is a cynical part of me that’s concerned JJ is pressing the nostalgia button a little too hard, and that trying to pastiche the original trilogy too thoroughly is going to backfire on him. I get the motivation — one of the complaints many people had with the prequels was that the look and tone of them was too different from the originals — but it’s not 1977 or even 1999 anymore, and basing too much of his sales pitch on the notion that he’s recaptured the experience we had back then is only going to set us all up for a massive letdown. At the very least, he might be doing his film a disservice by not letting it become a Star Wars for the 20-teens… by not allowing it to find its own identity. (“He’s got to follow his own path, no one can choose it for him.”)

And then on the other hand, my inner ten-year-old is hopping up and down and squealing, “Cool! Topps cards! They look like old Topps cards!” I’ve always loved those vintage trading cards — I still have all the random ones I collected as a kid, as well as complete sets I bought years later, and of all the vast quantities of Star Wars-themed junk I’ve amassed over the last 37 years, they remain among my very favorite items. I’m actually hoping these Force Awakens mock-ups get produced as a genuine, physical card set I can add to the collection. (I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s already in the works.)

To see the other four mock-ups (there are eight total), go here… and may the Force be with you!



3 comments on “Collect ‘Em! Trade ‘Em!

  1. Geoff

    Good point about how “pressing the nostalgia button a little too hard.” could backfire, but I think no matter what, this is going to go down the same path as the reactions in ’99, ’02, and ’05. The experience will *not* be the same as it was before and there will still be the same gripes and grumbling and outright bashing, no matter how good/bad the finished product ends up being. I’m doing my damndest to go into this as spoiler and expectation free as possible.

  2. Geoff

    Oh, and remind me to show you my old trading card collection sometime.

  3. jason

    Geoff, I agree about the grumbling and bashing. It’s inevitable, I fear… the Star Wars brand has a lot of baggage these days. People are going to go in with chips on the shoulders because they were disappointed by the prequels; if anything, expectations might even be HIGHER for this one than they were for the last three, and there’s just no way the movie is going to please a certain segment of viewers.

    I’m with you, though… I’m trying to avoid spoilers, trying to maintain an open mind, and hoping to have a good time with it. I have reservations, yes, but I’m really striving not to pre-judge anything.

    And I will happily look at your card collection! 😀