Mars Attacks

Mars Attacks See the full Mars Attacks trading card set here

Mars Attacks was released by Topps (identified on the cards as 'Bubbles Inc.') in 1962. The set consists of 55 cards and no stickers. The fronts of the cards featured color artwork by artist Norm Saunders, with the backs of each card telling complete story of a Martian invasion of Earth (which is ultimately thwarted). There is one checklist. Text boxes bearing the logo 'Attack From Space' have been found, leading to speculation that the cards were test-issued under that title.

Mars Attacks cards are notorious today for the unrelenting celebration of violence and gore that the cards depict. The Martians attack Earth with a variety of creatively homicidal futuristic weapons - everything from freeze rays and heat rays to giant robots and giganticized insects. Humans (and occasionally animals) are shown being disintegrated, burned, crushed, sliced open, and subjected to all sorts of other tortures. Naturally, parents objected to the explicit artwork - but the kids loved it. Besides, this was during the tail end of the period when B-movies were featuring all manner of giant monsters and radiation-mutated menaces on the screen. The cards fit in with this theme perfectly.

Despite all of this (or perhaps because of it), this is one of the most beloved and most easily recognizable trading card series of all time. Mars Attacks cards, as well as accompanying wrappers and boxes, are highly prized by modern collectors and consequently command a relatively high price.

Note: Mars Attacks sets were also released in England (still with the 'Bubbles Inc.' tagline rather than AB&C, although the cards were still the same smaller AB&C size) as well as Argentina, where they were known as 'Marte Ataca'. The Argentinian card set is difficult to find in the U.S. and consists of 53 cards rather than 55.

In 1996, a big-budget, highly effects-laden Mars Attacks feature film was released, directed by Tim Burton. Although millions of people have watched the film, probably only a tiny fraction of them know that the premise originated with a humble kids' bubblegum card set.