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History of Batman Trading Cards

History of Batman Trading Cards

Since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939, Batman has been a pop culture icon. Outside of comics, Batman trading cards are among the most popular of all his available collectibles. Whether they're rooted in the comics, various TV shows and big screen adaptions, all have been covered on Batman trading cards.

While early Batman trading cards sets and singles can command a premium, the numerous offerings are available at every budget. Whether you are a set collector, chase rare inserts or prefer the high-end chase of autographs, Batman trading cards can meet those needs. Recent Batman cards have introduced modern collectible elements like autographs, memorabilia and sketch cards that have original artwork drawn directly on them.

Here's a look at the major Batman trading card sets released in North America. In addition to these, there are other sets with Batman that focus on the broader DC Comics Universe and the Justice League. Use the tabs to navigate between the different types of cards.


Vintage Batman Trading Cards

1966 Topps Batman

1966 was a big year for Batman cards.  Topps issued in five different series, each with their own unique content. Three of the series focused exclusively on the Batman character as depicted in DC Comics. The fourth series chronicled the movie based Batman TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward.

The set breakdown is as follows:

The first three series are differentiated by the color of the bat logo on the card front. Hobby legend Norman Saunders is credited with the artwork.

As far as the two live-action sets go, Bat Laffs is identifiable by its white borders. Riddler Back cards have black borders and a puzzle on the back.

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In 1989, Topps  reprinted the cards as a factory set. The set consists of 143 cards and covers the three illustrated sets.

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Batman Trading Cards - Movies

The iconic Batman character has made for great great subject matter on film. The self-made vigilante by night and billionaire playboy by day is the envy of millions of people around the globe. Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck are among those donning the iconic cowl. The cast of villains have been played by some high profile celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Pheiffer, Tommy Lee Jones and Arnold Shwarzenneger.

The star-power attached to the film franchise's various incarnations is a testament to the Batman's popularity even among Hollywood elite.

1989 Topps Batman

The 1989 Topps Batman set was issued in two series. Like the movie, it was a blockbuster. The set was packaged in both wax packs and factory set form. Each of the two series consists of 143 cards each. In addition, the Topps set includes a total of 44 stickers, 22 per series. The set was also produced by O-Pee-Chee for the Canadian market. Both sets are identical except that the stickers from the Topps set are cards in the O-Pee-Chee set. The Topps factory sets are printed on glossy card stock and also have additional cards not found in packs.

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1992 Topps Batman Returns

Much like the film sequel itself, Topps' 1992 release of Batman Returns was a scaled down version of the original. The set has just 88 base cards as well as a ten-card Stadium Club insert set that are inserted one per pack.

The basic template was also used to produce a version for the O-Pee-Chee brand for Canadian collectors. The distinguishing characteristic between the two sets can be found on the card backs. Topps Batman Returns cards are darker. O-Pee-Chee Batman Returns also has an additional card -- a checklist.

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1992 Topps Stadium Club Batman Returns

The 1992 Topps Stadium Club Batman Returns set has a checklist of 100 cards. The cards are printed on premium high gloss card stock, something the Stadium Club brand is well known. The cards feature full bleed photography with no borders.

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1992 Zeller's Batman Returns

Zeller's was a popular Canadian discount department store. The company produced a 24-card Batman Returns set that coincided with the giveaway of a Batman jacket. The cards are written in French and English on the back.

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1995 Fleer Ultra Batman Forever

In 1995, Fleer acquired the trading card license for the third film in the Batman franchise. The company produced three sets in total for Batman Forever (Ultra, Fleer and Metal). The Ultra set was produced on a high gloss card stock and features full bleed, borderless movie stills.

There are 121 total cards in the base set. Additionally, collectors can find three insert sets: Holograms (36 cards, one per pack), Acclaim Video Game Tips (two cards, 1:18 packs) and Animation Cards (ten cards, 1:4 packs).

Another premium offered in conjunction with the set was a mail-in promotion for a card with actual film cels ambedded in them. This required sending in five wrappers and $5.95.

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1995 Fleer Batman Forever

While Ultra was geared towards hobby collectors, Fleer also issued a set catered towards the retail market. The cards were distributed under the Fleer name and were produced on a thinner, more traditional card stock. You can also tell the difference by the logo on the front. Fleer Batman Forever cards lack the Ultra name.

This version doesn't have any inserts.

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1995 Fleer Batman Forever Metal

1995 Metal is the third of the Fleer brands produced in conjunction with Batman Forever. Offered as more of a premium brand, the Metal set consists of 100 base cards. The set also includes four chase sets: Gold Blasters (ten cards, 1:3 packs), Movie Preview cards (eight cards, 1:6 packs), Holograms (four cards, 1:18 packs) and one Video Game Preview that is inserted 1:18 packs.

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1997 Fleer/SkyBox Batman & Robin Widevision

Despite being widely regarded as the worst Batman movie ever, 1997 Fleer/SkyBox Batman & Robin Widevision is one of the most valuable set of Batman trading cards. By 1997, Fleer had acquired the SkyBox brand and issued this premium set in an over-sized, 2 1/2" x 5" format.

Keeping up with advancements in the sports trading card market, Batman & Robin Widevision incorporated randomly inserted autographs into the product configuration. The star-studded cast lent itself well to the inclusion. Virtually all of the main stars signed for the set including George Clooney (Batman), Chris O'Donnell (Robin), Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl), Uma Thurman (Poison Ivy) and Arnold Schwarzenneger (Mr. Freeze). Director Joel Schumacher was also included on the autograph checklist.

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2005 Topps Batman Begins

With the movie's reboot under Christopher Nolan's direction in 2005 came a new set of Batman trading cards with Topps back at the helm.

Each 24-pack hobby box includes one memorabilia card from three different movie-used pieces: Batman's Cape, Batmobile Tires, Batman Costume.

2005 Topps Batman Begins also has randomly inserted autographs. Although Christian Bale, did not sign for the product, other key cast members did including: Gary Oldman (Sergeant Jim Gordon), Liam Neeson (Henri Ducard), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) and  Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow). Overall odds of finding a randomly inserted autograph are 1:120 packs.

The set also has several basic inserts in both hobby and retail packs like Holograms, Embossed Foil cards, Stickers and Tattoos.

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Batman Trading Cards - TV Shows

1993 Topps Batman The Animated Series

Issued in two series, this set consists of 190 total base cards as well as several chase sets. The first series includes 100 base cards and two different six-card Vinyl Mini Cel insert sets. The second series rounds out the set with another 90 base cards. This series also has four more Vinyl Mini Cel cards.

Additionally, Danny DeVito signed 2,000 cards Stadium Club Batman Returns cards that were randomly inserted in Series 2 packs. He played the Penguin in the film.

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1995 SkyBox The Adventures of Batman & Robin

A later incarnation of the animated show paired Batman with Robin. The 90 trading cards that make up this set provide a cardboard replay of the TV show's various episodes. Produced for both hobby and retail distribution, chase sets include Pop-Ups (12 cards, one per pack), Color-Ins (nine cards, one per retail pack), Thermal cards (tree cards, 1:36 packs), and Foil cards (nine cards, 1:11 packs).

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1996 SkyBox Batman & Robin Action Packs

In 1996, Fleer/Skybox issued a Batman & Robin set. The 1996 Action Packs version was designed to be used with a game board that was sold separately. Each pack has two Game Cards, two Pop-out Cards, one Puzzle card, one Coloring card, one piece of gum and an Eskimo Pie coupon.

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2005 Topps The Batman Season 1

Released around the time the stylish show's first season arrived on DVD, this version includes many of the innovations and premiums found in other modern trading card sets. In addition to the 90-card base set, collectors can find Flix-Pix Motion Cards (five cards, 1:3 packs), Magnets (nine cards, 1:6 packs) and Sketch Cards (1:12 packs).

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1994 SkyBox Batman: Saga of the Dark Knight

In 1994, Skybox produced a beautiful 100-card set paying tribute to some of the greatest Batman comic book story arcs in history. Some of the titles used to create the set include Year One, The Dynamic Duo, Death in the Family and Sword of Azrael. A variety of artists were commissioned to produce original artwork for the product. Mark Chiarello, B. Stelfreeze, Dave Dorman, John Bolton, P. Winslade created Spectra-Etch Portraits inserts that were found two per box.

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1996 Fleer/SkyBox Batman Holo Series

This all-hologram set consists of a 50 card base set. The base set has a silver appearance. Original artwork was used to produce the set from a variety of artists. There are also two parallel sets: Gold Holograms (one per pack) and Blue (1:12 packs). Four HoloAction inserts follow a similar pattern of silver base versions and Gold and Blue parallels. Six DC Overpoer holograms and one Holocel card are all inserted 1:72 packs.

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1996 SkyBox Batman Master Series

SkyBox incorporated some premium elements in this product to distinguish it from other sets. It includes a 90-card base set featuring various characters from the history of the DC Comic series. Four higher-end chase sets were also included in the product: Master Villains (ten cards, 1:10 packs), Spectra-Etch Batman Fantasy (six card, 1:6 packs), Chromium cards (two cards, 1:24 packs) and ClearChrome (two cards, 1:120 packs)

This is the first set of Batman trading cards with a custom binder. Sold separately, the binder has custom graphics and an exclusive promo card. It also came with ten nine-pocket sheets.

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2008 Rittenhouse Batman Archives

In 2008, Rittenhouse produced its first Batman themed trading card set. The 63-card base set reproduces some of the most iconic Batman comic book covers. The company also incorporated several chase sets including one sketch card per box. Other chase sets include: Retro 1940 Gum Cards (nine cards, 1:8 packs), glow-in-the-dark Dark Victory (nine cards, 1:12 packs) and Lenticular cards (nine cards, 1:24 packs).

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2013 Cryptozoic Batman: The Legend

Cryptozoic Entertainment delivered their own tribute to the Dark Knight in 2012. The 63-card base set features original artwork commissioned exclusively for the set. Card backs are written comic industry veteran, Adam Beechen. The base set also has Foil and Printing Plate parallels.

Leading the chase in 2013 Cryptozoic Batman: The Legend are sketch cards, which are inserted one per box. Three basic insert sets delve further into the Batman universe: The Batmobile (nine cards, 1:12 packs), The Batcave (nine cards, 1:12 packs) and the Carnival of Criminals Posters (eight cards, 1:24 packs).

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Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

User Comments

Patrick John Murphy
Patrick John Murphy

I am new to collecting cards, as a kid I had all the 1966 cards which eventually ended up in the spokes of my bike, but I digress. Nostalgia has me looking at cards and your site has been a great help. It is well structured and chock full of information. Thanks for your hard work!

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