During the ‘80s and ‘90s, a new craze turned the attention of baseball-card-amassing kids everywhere to cards of a much less wholesome variety. The hottest collector’s commodities shifted from Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth to the Garbage Pail Kids, infamous for uncouth characters like Adam Bomb and Up Chuck. Topps, a brand known for chewing gum, first introduced the rotten rascals in 1985. Originally a promotional vehicle for the company’s product, the cards came in packs of five — and (duh!) — contained a signature stale stick of Topp’s chewing gum.
Each card showcased a different member of the Garbage Pails Kids motley crew, whose likeliness could be peeled off the card in sticker form. Each sticker card character possessed a name indicative of whatever comical affliction or humorous fate it suffered from, and each character had a doppelganger with a different name within the collection — Adam Bomb had Blasted Billy, and so forth. From Flat Pat, who was pancaked by a steamroller, to Electric Bill, who was strapped into a high-voltage chair, these guys were wildly inappropriate… and mildly addictive.
Unlike the Cabbage Patch Dolls, which they parodied, the Garbage Pail Kids didn’t sprout from rows of garden greens. Instead, they were spawned from the gloppy goop coming out of a garbage can. Topps released 15 original series of the sticker trading cards in the United States, along with fold-out posters and sets abroad (potty humor is apparently hilarious no matter which way the water in your toilet bowl flushes). The hype surrounding these gross little guys reached a fever pitch in 1987 with the release of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Coincidentally, the film flopped harder than GPK Fat Matt cannonballing into a kiddie pool.
A box office bust turned out to be the least of the worries for the Garbage Pail Kids. First, schools began banning the cards for being class distractions. Then came the trademark infringement suit by the makers of Cabbage Patch Kids. Topps settled out of court, agreeing to slightly alter the appearance of the GPK gang so they didn’t look exactly like — er, favor — the Cabbage Patchers. The damage had been done, however, and sales had dwindled so much by 1988 that another series was never produced.
To the delight of fans, the Garbage Pail Kids belched their way back onto the scene in 2003 by way of Topps’ All-New Series (ANS). The following five years brought more crass kids courtesy of ANS2 through ANS7. And then there was about zilch on the gag-inducing gang… until now. Earlier this year, Topps announced plans to launch a new GPK franchise full of new characters more reminiscent of the rabble-rousing ‘80s originals. The set, which will be called Brand New Series 1 (BNS1), is slated for release on Oct. 24. And, as if that weren’t enough news for fans to begin steeling their stomachs in preparation, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has declared his company will be producing a new movie based on the slovenly brood.
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