Unlike the other trading cards books Abrams have released so far, ‘Planet Of The Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series’ introduced by former Topps creative director Gary Gerani, this book covers all of their Apes card sets. So what you have is a 46 card set for the original 1969 film ‘Planet Of The Apes’ and the 1975 TV series at 66 cards and finally, the 90 cards and all their extras for the 2001 film. You get a lot of other things including seeing the wrappers and boxes they were put on the shelves with.
On each facing page, you have the front picture on the left and the right showing the back caption card at their original sizes. Throughout, Gerani occasionally points out various tip-bits of information that will show what was going on at the time.
With the first card set, for instance, actor Charlton Heston would only allow 9 cards to feature his likeness so rather have him being a guest star in the cards, Topps cut the number of cards. Oddly, only three really featured his face, the other ones were more a case of seeing parts of his body or a distance shot. The likes of Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans were in ape make-up and therefore not showing their real faces could be used with impunity because Fox didn’t think they needed payment. If I had seen these cards in the UK, this would have answered my question as to why didn’t they show them unmasked. Back then, it took a lot of hunting to find out what Kim Hunter looked like when film repeats on TV were scarce and few cinema books around. The same applying to any of the savages with beards. Linda Harrison doesn’t even get a look in, well not by her face anyway. Oh, one of the cards showing an orang-utan was a screen test of disguised actor Joe Wong.
With the TV card set, only the three leads were allowed to be shown. Gerani also points out that they were all prepared for big sales and then saw the show start failing in viewer numbers from its first episode. If anything, it illustrates how far ahead merchandise is prepped before release and all Topps had were stills from the off. One detail I love is pointing out that Irwin Allen bagged one of the original gorilla masks from the first film, bleached it white and used it in on the ‘Lost In Space’ stories. If memory serves, it’s the prison planet one, ‘Fugitives In Space’.
It’s hard to believe that Tim Burton’s version of ‘Planet Of The Apes’ is 16 years old now. It was also rather weird reading the story again and looking at the Rick Baker make-up and the fact that for the key actors it took 6 hours each to put on. You can’t really compare the cards from across the generations other than how they’ve changed. It’s like seeing how American comics switched from the old pulp paper to the glossies we have today. Certainly there is more detail on the backs of the cards about the scenes. Gerani points out that they weren’t given a still to use for when Leo Davidson returns to Earth but that was supposed to be the surprise at the end of the film, even if it was the closest thing to Pierre Boulle’s original book, ‘Monkey Planet’.
No restrictions on who could be shown in the cards these days although there is no indication whether this is part of the studio contract or payment. Mind you, a lot of actors are chuffed to be on a trading card or even a figurine. For those who don’t remember, both Chuck Heston and Linda Harrison had small parts in the film.
I think my favourite line is when a five year-old human child is picked for a pet but warned to get rid of it when it reaches teen-age for being uncontrollable. Some things never change.
On top of this, you get copies of all the chase cards so if you missed them the first time around at least you can see what they look like although I doubt the embossed foil or suede cards have the same texture.
Inside the back cover, in a little plastic pocket are four promotional cards made for Abrams for the current films. I haven’t broken the seal on that but I’m sure that won’t stop many of you or buying a second copy.
All in all, this is a good reminder of the past and present of the ‘Planet Of The Apes’ material and I hope Abrams continues with these books into other series.
(pub: Abrams Books. 480 page illustrated small hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK), $24.95 (US), $29.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-2613-2)
check out website: www.abramscomicarts.co.uk