Monday, October 14, 2013

They Came from 1979: Buck Rogers Trading Cards!

"Biddi-biddi-biddi... do the Hustle!"
Returning to the recently discovered box of childhood trading cards, I was very pleasantly surprised to come across some artifacts from one of the greatest television shows of all-time... well, for two short seasons in the late seventies anyway, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century! Though the cards I found are far from a complete set, there are more than a few cards featuring my two favorite characters from the show's first season: sidekick robot Twiki (with the portable Dr. Theopolis, naturally) and sexy sort-of-romantic-interest, Colonel Wilma Deering, played by the fantastic Erin Gray.

If you missed the pilot movie (which premiered in 1979), a loose narrative outline--complete
with goofy one liners) is provided on the back of the cards.
Inspired (like much sci-fi produced after 1976) by the huge financial success of Star Wars, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was must-see fanboy television during the course of its all-to-brief television run. The stills and narrative text from trading cards are primarily from the feature-length television pilot. Like the show itself, the cards must have shown a lack of staying power, as the Buck Rogers trading cards only lasted for one set of 88 trading cards, released in 1979.

"Lucky Buck" appears to be falling asleep at the wheel of his cumbersomely named "Earth combatship."
Trading cards are carries of nostalgia, and this Buck cards are no different. Though I have not actually watched an episode in nearly 30 years, these cards bring back many of the plot points and character beats that made it memorable for newbie sci-fi fans such as myself. As a ten year old, I had little insight to the fact that I as a television viewer was being fed standard action/adventure tropes or character designs ready made with the potential action figure sales. The fact that certain episodes still stay with me ("Space Vampire," anyone?) is as much a credit to Gray and Gerard's easy onscreen chemistry as much as every kids urge to watch all things sci-fi.

Erin Gray... 'nuff said!
Buck Rogers of the 25th Century trading cards are a prime example of the value of childhood collectibles: often in terms of dollars and cents, they have very little value to anyone. They do, however, have personal "value." Old trading cards allow the holder (in this case, me) to briefly revisit the days of my own childhood during which a walk to the corner store to find a brand spanking new set of wax-paper wrapped cards on sale were among the best memories of my youth.

 Twiki does it all: dancing, drinking and lending a mechanical ear to 20th Century barflies.
"Biddi-biddi-biddi... do the Hustle!" (Extended Mix)

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