Vintage Star Wars Trading Cards

Vintage Star Wars Trading Cards

With well over 50 different sets of Star Wars Trading cards on the market, George Lucas is credited with starting this collecting trend. Before Star Wars, Topps was primarily a sports card publisher and they didn't have much faith in the popularity of non-sports cards. When George pitched his idea for Star Wars movie cards to Topps, they turned him down. So instead, Mr. Lucas commissioned Topps to print his movie cards. This is why the earliest Star Wars cards available were branded by Lucasfilm LTD, instead of Topps, even though they were printed by Topps. Today, the non-sports market is huge, all thanks to Star Wars, and George Lucas.

There are 3 sets of original Star Wars cards, each consisting of multiple series:

[1977] Star Wars: A New Hope
[1980] Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
[1983] Star Wars: Return of The Jedi

Topps Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

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Due to the age of these cards, it's a very hard set to complete. If you're lucky enough to find a sealed box that has been stored well, then you'll still be met with the realization that the quality of printing in 1977 wasn't the same as it is today. Modern cards will always ship in mint condition, but a sealed box of 1977 Star Wars cards will tend to be near mint and in some cases even worse, and a ton of these cards were printed off center, as seen in the image to the right (get used to OC vintage cards in your collection).

Vintage star wars cards were numbered sequentially spanning multiple series with series one covering cards 1-66, series 2 covered cards 67-132, series 3 covered 133-198, series 4 covered 199-264, and series 5 covered cards 265-330. Stickers were numbered the same way and were packaged 1 per pack so with 11 stickers per series, the stickers were just as easy to collect as the cards.

Each series was easily identified by their corresponding colored border but the series 1 blue border cards with Star-Dotted background are probably the most iconic of all Star Wars cards. This style has been reproduced many times in other sets.

  • Star Wars Series 1 Blue Border (66) and stickers (11)
  • Star Wars Series 2 Red Border (66) and stickers (11)
  • Star Wars Series 3 Yellow Border (66) and stickers (11)
  • Star Wars Series 4 Green Border (66) and stickers (11)
  • Star Wars Series 5 Orange Border (66) and stickers (11)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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The 1980 Topps Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back set contains a total of 3 series each of which are identified by the color of their borders.

The first series of cards in this set contain red borders and a total 132 cards and 33 stickers. Stickers were inserted at the rate of 1 per pack and were not difficult to find. As a result of their abundance, the stickers were commonly seen on student binders and the classic Trapper Keeper as well as lunch boxes. Series 2 of the ESB set of cards are easily recognized by blue borders and includes an addition 132 base cards and 33 sticker cards. As a departure from the 1st series, card descriptions have trivia questions. Series 3 is marked by a yellow border and contains 88 cards and 22 stickers. When combined, the sticker backs will form into a classic puzzle. In this case, one puzzle is of the Millennium Falcon in a space chase and the other is of Yoda. Like the 1977 Star Wars set, each of the 3 series of The Empire Strikes Back were also number sequentially.

  • The Empire Strikes Back Series 1 Red Border (132) and stickers (33)
  • The Empire Strikes Back Series 2 Blue Border (132) and stickers (33)
  • The Empire Strikes Back Series 3 Yellow Border (88) and stickers (22)

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

1983-Topps-Star-Wars-Return-of-the-Jedi-Series-1.jpg

In 1983, Topps published another set of movie trading cards as a companion to the new movie, Return of the Jedi. While Star Wars trading cards remained popular, you can certainly see a decline in an interest to publish judging by the fact that the 1977 movie had 5 series, the Empire Strikes Back had 3 series, and with the release of Return of the Jedi the series were reduced down to just 2. Like the former sets, ROTJ was also numbered sequentially spanning all series.

It should be noted that the both the series 1 and 2 stickers, totaling 33 each, came in two colors so if you're serious about your sticker collection, then you'll find yourself going after 66 stickers for both the red and blue border series.

  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Series 1 Red Border (132)
    • Sticker set 1 (33)
    • Sticker set 2 (33)
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Series 2 Blue Border (68)
    • Sticker set 1 (33)
    • Sticker set 2 (33)

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