Pop music is a fickle beast. What's hot today is often fodder for bad jokes a week or two down the road. When we look back on the bands and beats that used to make us dance, there are often some cringes involved. Over the years there have been plenty of music trading card sets that capture those brief moments in time. And while you might not feel the urge to pull out that Menudo vinyl, the cards can be lots of fun to revisit and flip through.
10 Delightfully Bad (or Laughably Great) Music Trading Card Sets
The Bay City Rollers were groomed as the second-coming of The Beatles. While things didn't quite work out that way, Rollermania led to a set of trading cards that are easy to look back and snicker at. While there's plenty of in-concert action, the real fun comes from their shopping and grooming habits.
1975 Topps Bay City Rollers trading cards aren't the easiest to find today. Either they weren't printed in huge numbers or those that have them keep them in a private stash. A full set has 66 cards.
At their peak, Menudo was an international sensation. The Latin American boy band, which featured a massive amount of turnover in its history, has one of the strangest and most colorful sets of trading cards ever produced. In standard fashion for the era, 1985 Topps Menudo has both a base set (66 cards) and sticker inserts (22 stickers). This isn't the last you'll see of Ricky Martin either.
All right, Cyndi Lauper is a legitimate great of 1980s music. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" remains an anthem for a generation. "Time After Time" and "True Colors" are classics in their own rights.
That being said, 1985 Topps Cyndi Lauper trading cards are an extension of her eccentric personality. Bold colors, splatter paint and almost cartoonish photos capture Lauper's energy and style in true '80s fashion.
For those of us who grew up at the time, the look is certainly appropriate. But to those who came along a generation later, it's probably a little too extreme.
The set has an even split between cards and stickers. Wrestling card collectors can find a few WWF stars in the set like Hulk Hogan and Captain Lou Albano.
Want to teach your kids about wild '80s hair styles? Look no further than 1985 Topps Duran Duran. Done in a similar format and style to Topps' Cyndi Lauper set from the same year, there are 33 cards and 33 stickers. It's not the worst set ever produced, but it's definitely a time capsule.
From a collectible standpoint, while not overly valuable, it's also not a set you come across all that frequently.
Every decade seems to have its seminal boy band. For those coming of age in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was New Kids on the Block. Like all boy bands, their shelf life wasn't expected to go much further once Joe's voice changed. So Topps joined the poster and pillow makers of the world to pump out what merch they could before their fame faded.
Topps actually managed to get a pair of sets to market, both of which are bright, fun and filled with baggy clothes and polka dot shirts.
This set is like a Dickens-ian "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." On the one hand, this is one of the greatest music trading card sets of all-time. It's comprehensive for its time, covering several generations of popular music. Several genres are also covered as well, giving space to acts ranging from John Lennon to B.B. King to U2. But then there's the plentiful one-hit wonders that ushered in the 1990s. There's also lots of Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and his genie pants. The mix of dwindling hair rockers and pop rap singers makes for some fashion clashes as well that are fun to look back on.
Like their mass-music set, 1991 Pro Set Yo MTV Raps trading cards are exactly bad. After all, the product has cards of the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and even an appearance by 2Pac courtesy of his time with Digital Underground. But there's also lots of bands that had disappeared once the cards hit the market. And lots more Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer.
Told you there'd be more Ricky Martin. While he got a start in Menudo and grew up to be a handsome lad, Martin managed to get a lot of mileage out of his breakthrough solo hit "Livin' la Vida Loca." Enough so that Upper Deck entered the music trading card market to get him in the fold. While the set is of high quality and has lots of inserts, it's hard to take it seriously today.
Topps has a long history with music trading cards. But since 2000 Topps NSYNC, they're pretty much bowed out. The set is a mix of the traditional and the modern with basic cards, stickers and foil inserts all part of the master set. With Justin Timberlake moving on to be one of the most famous celebrities in the world (and Joey Fatone finding his way as a cable TV game show host), you can still find some relevance here. There's more hair gel, though.
Too soon? No way. Panini's run with Bieber was actually a good one -- if you're a Bieber fan. They managed to get a pair of sets out of him including plenty of inserts and stickers. Autographs and memorabilia cards are also part of the equation. But we're talking Justin Bieber here. Taking shots at his career trajectory is easy so we'll just leave it at that.