In recent months humanity has been warned of asteroids, expiring calendars and and self-proclaimed doomsday prophets. A new threat is on the horizon. Martians are planning to invade Earth in October. Consider yourself warned. But there's no need to build a fallout shelter, stock up on canned peaches or learn how to use a CB radio. Rather, it's Mars Attacks: Invasion, an all-new set of trading cards based on the classic Topps brand.
Debuting in 1962, the original Mars Attacks set is part of hobby history that reaches far beyond just cards. And while there have been follow-up releases, most have been primarily reprints and cards based on the 1996 film by Tim Burton. 2013 Topps Mars Attacks: Invasion is the first all-new set for the franchise since its inception. The 63-card base set features a new storyline and fresh artwork that sticks with its roots in the pulp style of Norm Saunders.
"Our goal for this set is to retain the look and the feel of the original— keeping it very vintage looking— while bringing it up to date," said Topps Licensing Manager, Adam Levine. "We've hired some of the best pulp painters that are around today."
The list of confirmed artists for 2013 Topps Mars Attacks: Invasion is impressive. Joe Jusko, Earl Norem, Ed Repka, Glen Orbik and Gregory Staples are all contributing artwork for the set with more to be announced. They will all do subsets that will be brought together to tell a single overall story.
"One of the ways we chose to bring the series a more modern edge was to use current card stock and full bleed art, with no title bars this time around," said Levine. "Len Brown himself told me that he always regretted using those big titles and covering up so much of the great art, even back then." Brown helped create the original Mars Attacks set.
"Topps hasn't done a set like this in more than 20 years," said series editor David Waldeck. "It's a return to the days when trading cards hooked audiences with incredible imagery and imaginative storytelling. We've loaded the set with everything fans know and love about Mars Attacks: giant insects, flying saucers, ray guns, robots, damsels and death rays!"
2013 Topps Mars Attacks: Invasion will come with a full slate of inserts that will be announced at a later date. What has been confirmed are original Mars Attacks buybacks. Topps has purchased original 1962 cards for the product. They will have a special foil stamp added to them, similar to buybacks found in Topps Heritage Baseball sets and 2007 Topps Star Wars 30th Anniversary.
When Mars Attacks debuted in 1962 the world was a different place. It struck a chord with collectors, one that lasts today.
"I think it was the time in American history it captured -- the Cold War, civil rights, the Space Age and dawning of new technology. The world was changing by leaps and bounds and anything seemed possible," says Levine. "So then this card set shows up -- and at the time card sets were like today's video games -- this card set comes along and it's extremely violent and risque. There are burning dogs and provocative scenes of women getting attacked. There's some real adult stuff in there. There weren't a lot of things like that around. Most TV shows and movies for kids at the time were very saccharine. So combine that with some of the best pulp Sci-fi artwork around at the time and you've got an instant pop culture classic that kids just could not get enough of. In a lot of ways its success was mirrored years later by the Garbage Pail Kids, with subversive themes and dazzling artwork."
2013 Topps Mars Attacks: Invasion follows Mars Attacks Heritage, a revival reprint that celebrated the franchise's 50th anniversary. The card also came with new cards in the form of inserts and the first official Mars Attacks sketch cards. Mars Attacks has also been featured in many licensed products since the anniversary, including an ongoing comic line from IDW.
When asked if Topps has plans for even more Mars Attacks down the road, Levine said, "If fans respond the same way they did for Heritage, we'd love to continue the series, and we've fashioned the story in a way to leave room for future adventures. We know that a lot of stores were caught short-handed when Heritage released, so we hope this time around retailers are prepared for the interest this set is sure to receive from fans."