After adjustments, Topps' bubble gum cards may stick this time

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Next month, Topps goes retro with gum in card packs that sell for 50 cents.

Topps put gum with its cards until 1992, but there were two problems. The gum stained the cards, and it wasn't Bazooka. It was a flat sheet of something comparatively tasteless that shattered if dropped.

Those won't be problems next month, when Topps Bazooka Major League Baseball Bubble Gum Cards (will all these words fit on a pack?) reach store shelves.

"Those who used to complain that the gum left a residue won't have to worry," says Topps' Marty Appel.

Each pack will have five cards and a wrapped piece of Bazooka gum, complete with the Bazooka Joe comic and fortune.

Wrappers will be foil, says Appel, because Topps no longer has the machines that wrapped cards in wax.

"It's almost become a generic term to call them bubble gum cards," says Appel. "Now there is a product called bubble gum cards."

The cards, says Appel, are being targeted to younger collectors who can buy packs with pocket change. Also, their parents (and other adults) who bought cards with gum might buy for nostalgia's sake.

There are 132 cards, plus a 22-card insert set. Cards feature 1994 and career statistics as well as batters' performance against left- and right-handed pitchers and how pitchers do against left- and right-handed batters.

Cal Ripken collectors should note that he rates a regular and an insert card.

Stadium Club II

Topps is putting away the computer after releasing Stadium Club Baseball Series II and the rest of the projections for the 1994 season. The set has 135 Virtual Reality cards and 225 regular cards.

(According to Topps' computer, Barry Bonds hit 61 homers, Jeff Bagwell didn't, Tony Gwynn finished with a .391 average and Greg Maddux had a 1.69 ERA.)

Trade for updates

Upper Deck is bringing back Collectors Choice, a single-series set of 530 cards. Among the inserts are five "trade" cards, each redeemable for 11 cards. Those 55 cards will have free agents and traded players in their new uniforms.

There are also cards honoring retired greats Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, Ryne Sandberg, George Brett and Mike Schmidt.

A subset features 15 highlights of the first half of the '90s. Each 12-card pack has a facsimile signature card, and Upper Deck says there will be factory sets later in the year.

Press Pass Premium

Press Pass says its 36-card Premium '95 set will be its most limited run, 18,000 boxes. The set features "Red Hot Foil" and holofoil parallel sets. There is a nine-card insert set of phone cards with a top value of $1,995 worth of phone time.

Hardcourt Legends

Highland Mint has added Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West to its lineup of Hardcourt Legends metal basketball cards. The set, whose cards are available in bronze, silver and gold, started with a Larry Bird card.

Coming events

Today, Hall of Fame Weekend card show, Essex Community College (expected signers are Harmon Killebrew, Bob Lemon and Bobby Doerr), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (800) 542-3976.

Thursday, athletic memorabilia auction to benefit Eastern Tech athletic department, Eastern Tech gym (1100 Mace Ave., Essex), bidding begins at 7 p.m.

Friday-May 29, card show, Golden Ring Mall (expected signer is Jearld Baylis, Saturday), mall hours.

CARD OF THE WEEK

SkyBox's first Indy 500 series has 108 oversized cards, including all 33 drivers who started last year's race. There are three insert sets, including 18 past champions, and an exchange card redeemable for a card of the 1995 champion. Cards are eight to a pack. (Shown is Scott Sharp, who finished 16th last year.)

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