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April 3, 2012

Book Review: Garbage Pail Kids (2012, Topps)

When I was a kid, there was a huge toy craze that I still don't understand. Before people trampled each other for a Tickle Me Elmo, parents clamored for Cabbage Patch Kids. They were extremely popular, and I never knew why. My mom bought one for each of us, and I don't remember any of us asking for one. I certainly never would have. I was always too busy with my Star Wars toys. One thing I did love as a kid, however, was parody. It started with "Weird" Al Yankovic and Saturday Night Live, and it continued with the arrival of Topps' Garbage Pail Kids. They took the kids from the cabbage patch and dropped them in a landfill. My friends and I were all extremely delighted.

Buy Garbage Pail Kids Hardcover Edition

When I walked into my favorite bookstore a few days ago, my attention was immediately grabbed by the familiar image of a cherubic kid with a mushroom cloud shooting out of the top of his head. I had to take it home with me. The book has a nice little introduction and afterword, but I wanted to get to the meat of it. The first five series are beautifully displayed, one card per page. The book is digest size, so it's easy to flip through.

Collectors will remember that each card had an a and b version. A character would have basically two names on the same image. The book shows the a card, and it shows the name that appears on the b card underneath. It's not necessary to show both cards, but it is a slight letdown when your name is on the b card (like King-Size Kevin). That's not really a complaint. The only actual complaint I have is that while the portrait style cards fill the page, the few landscape cards are centered instead of being printed sideways. This makes the image smaller and leaves two thirds of the page blank. I would have been fine with turning the book sideways to see these.

The design of the cover is great. The front shows a piece of that horrible gum that used to come in the packs, and the back shows it in its usual form, broken into several pieces. The book jacket is made of the same type of wax paper that the cards were packed in, and it's designed to look like a first series card pack. I worry about the longevity of the jacket, but it really does the old cards justice. Four bonus cards are included with the book, but I refuse to open the pocket for fear of losing the cards. Images are already available online, so that's not a big deal.

I've seen some complaints about not having more content in the book, but I think it's perfect for the coffee table. It's fun to pick up and flip through, and it's always nice to remember those childhood days. The Garbage Pail Kids were a fun part of that for me. Hell, I even made my own cards with a friend. If you want a great little piece of nostalgia, this is it. I'm sure it will serve as a nice pick-me-up whenever I'm having a rough day.

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