For all the different card sets that are out there, even in a shrinking marketplace, there's plenty of deserving movies, shows and other entertainment/pop culture properties that get overlooked. Some are due to licensing constraints and lack of interest from those who own the property.
Here's a list of ten properties I'd like to see get their own card sets sometime in the future (sooner, please). Some have had sets in the past, but with the evolution of the hobby, I think the time is right to revisit them:
The Muppet Show
A few different Muppet Show sets have been made but none have done the set I envision, although I suspect licensing would be more of a headache than it's worth. Rather than focusing solely on the puppet characters as other sets have done, I'd look more for a showcase of the episodes. Each one had guest stars of entertainment's biggest names at the time.
My Muppet Show set would break down seasons into individual episodes. Each one would get a card featuring the special guest star (in a perfect world, I'd shoot for one set per season but that's so unlikely I won't even go there).
Autographs would be a major part of the chase, offering an awesome cross-section of music, movie, television and stage stars. I'd also want to celebrate the creators and puppeteers of the show. This is a set I'd be happy to see a handful of cut signatures to honor those who are no longer around -- including Jim Henson.
Sketch cards are also a possibility I'd be intrigued to see, although a Muppet art set would probably be more appropriate.
When it comes down to it, just about anything about the Muppets would get me excited.
Pee Wee's Playhouse
Pee Wee Herman is a hot property again, thanks to his resurrected stage show now on Broadway, a new movie and countless late-night TV appearances. And let's not forget the guest host role on WWE Raw a few months ago.
There have been few falls from grace harsher than that of Paul Reubens following his brush with the law in a movie theater. But even with his hands in his pants, there's no denying the originality and energy of Pee Wee Herman and Pee Wee's Playhouse. The show had a crazy set from Topps back in 1988 that mixed cards, stickers, tattoos, lenticular mini cards and activity cards - all in the same pack. The set is notorious for horrendous collation. For example, a couple years back I busted a box and received the same activity card 36 times - the same one in every pack.
This is a license I'd like to see tackled with an all-sketch card series. The world of Pee Wee is zany and crazy, perfect for colorful interpretations from other artists. Autographs from Pee Wee and the cast of his show, stage production, movies and Christmas special would be fantastic too.
Pirates of the Caribbean
A while back, Topps announced they'd be doing a Pirates-themed set but it was quickly canceled before even any details were released. It's time to revisit the opportunities. There's a few approaches for different sets that I could see working.
The first would be a straight-forward set focusing on the films. They'd be complimented by your usual assortment of basic inserts, autographs and costume cards (which would be appealing to me simply because they have such intricate designs). Lenticular cards would be a great fit, showing different characters in their various transformations. Bonus points would be had for the monkey turning into the skeletal monkey.
Another set would be a Masterpieces type set that focuses on artwork. Of course, here is where you load boxes with sketch cards.
The Shows of Stephen J. Cannell
The A-Team, 21 Jump Street and The Greatest American Hero were all big enough at various points to garner their own sets, the latter being an all-sketch set from 5finity last year. Unfortunately I don't see any of them getting their own traditional set any time soon. But what about as a combined set? Now there's some heavy 80s nostalgia.
These shows, along with others like The Rockford Files, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter, Wiseguy and The Commish were all created by the late Stephen J. Cannell. An autograph-heavy release could encompass as many of these shows as possible.
The base set would focus a little on the series and largely on the characters. Maybe one base card to give an overview of the show, and around five cards showcasing the main characters. Between main cast members and notable guest stars there should be plenty of autograph opportunities. Mr. T, Michael Chiklis, Fred Dryer, William Katt, Connie Selleca, James Garner, Steven Williams, Holly Robinson Peete, Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict are just a few of the signers, not to mention cards featuring multiple signatures.
If I were able to make this set happen, I'd play off the sketch-per-pack concept and try and make it an autograph per pack.
The Jim Henson Legacy (Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal)
With the Muppets now belonging to Disney and Sesame Street now owned by Sesame Workshop, the possibility of a massive Henson set is impossible. But there's still plenty from the Henson well to work with, none of which could probably succeed entirely on their own.
The centerpieces of this set would be Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Given the mixed subject matter and tone of the properties, this set I'd go at from an artistic viewpoint. It'd be concept drawings, sketches from Henson's diaries, new interpretations, posters and promotional materials. More or less, Star Wars Galaxy with Fraggles instead of Wookies. This would be another sketch card opportunity, especially considering the broad subject matter.
Of course, I wouldn't object to David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly autographs either.
Dramas like Mad Men haven't fared well in the hobby. Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and a few others have all struggled. But the visual flair that Mad Men brings could make for a fantastic product. Virtually every scene is composed beautifully. The ad-based subject matter makes for lots of other opportunities.
As far as set composition goes, it'd be straightforward. A large base set would cover the series from start to finish. Characters are also important and could potentially make up a second set.
The chase would focus on autographs and any costumes the card makers could get. The period was known for its colors and patterns. That said, if only suits were available, the intrigue wouldn't be so great.
Another must would be to incorporate the look of Lucky Strike cigarettes into the packaging design somehow.
The Art of the Beatles
The Beatles have been done already. I don't need to see anymore photographs. Instead, let's set some artists loose and give The Beatles an all-sketch set. Not just recreations of album covers and Yellow Submarine stills either. Give artists the freedom to draw what they feel when they listen to the music.
The Films of Charlie Chaplin
As much as I love Charlie Chaplin's films and the history surrounding him, I'm not sure what could be done trading card-wise. Still, I want to see something. Even a simple factory set covering all of his films and the artist's personal story would be be great.
The only insert must for me, since autographs are impossible, is lenticular cards of the Tramp getting into mischief.
I'm honestly shocked at how little there is in the way of Looney Tunes sets. They exist, but the ones that are most plentiful have Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner playing baseball with the likes of Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan. I want an exhaustive series that chronologically looks at the various shorts. This could be achieved several ways. The easiest and most gutsy would be throwing it all out there in one massive set, distributed through packs. It'd be a cardboard encyclopedia of all things Looney Tunes.
If that's too daunting a task, another option would be to release them in several sets based on years of release. Factory sets would be ideal for me this way. The final option might be breaking them down into character sets. The risk here is that certain characters get a lot of love while others, not so much, making this method a lot less viable.
Insert-wise, I don't care much. This is a line that's about the base set. I want to study the various cartoons, their plots, characters and release dates. Being a cartoon, sketch cards would be easy. But Warner Brothers appears very protective of the look of Bugs and the gang. I don't see them straying much from their basic design.
I've got a binder full of Alien cards. They come from individual movies, a retrospective from Inkworks about a decade ago, from comics and from those AVP movies. But I want one that covers all of it. And I think I want it in Chrome-form to give it a new spin. Of course, a big part of my desire for this set is based on the potential autographs. And Alien prop cards. Morbid, I know, but they're fake. And from a horror movie.
For kicks, here's a new spin on a used concept. Alien rip cards. Modeled after the idea from Pinnacle baseball and hockey back in the day, and lifted more recently by Topps for their Allen & Ginter Baseball sets, the idea is that there's a smaller card embedded within the bigger card. It might be a parallel, it might be something fancy. But to get them you have to choose whether or not you're going to wreck the main card. Why do this for Alien you ask? Just so I can recreate this:
Update: Upper Deck came through with the art-focused, autograph-heavy Alien Anthology.
What sets would you like to see?