In 1977, Topps released a set of trading cards based on the blockbuster hit movie “Star Wars,” which quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The American Topps Star Wars cards have been well-documented and are highly sought after by collectors to this day, particularly in wax packs and boxes. However, the set was also released in other countries, each with its own unique packaging and variations. Recently, a box of French Star Wars cards surfaced that caught my attention for its distinctive appearance. In this article, I’ll provide a quick history of the American Topps Star Wars cards, discuss the other countries where the set was released, and delve into the mysterious French wax packs and boxes, comparing them to their American counterparts.
The 1977 Topps Star Wars set was issued between the second half of 1977 (for the first three series) and 1978 (for the last two series), featuring 330 standard-sized cards. The set was divided into five 66-card series, each with a different colored border on the front. Wax packs contained seven cards, a sticker, and a piece of gum. The first series is considered the most desirable, with the first card featuring Luke Skywalker usually being the most expensive.
If you want to know more about the cards and the set’s history, check out Ryan Cracknell’s summary on Beckett’s website, or pick up Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One.
Topps had a history of releasing its popular sets in other countries, and this one was no exception. According to Chris Watson’s Non-Sports Bible, Topps also released their 1977 Star Wars cards in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the U.K., with some minor variations better discussed in a future article.
Given this information, there was some buzz on the Facebook Vintage Wax and Packs group when Kurt Christensen, the owner of Vintage Racks and Packs, shared the following photographs of what appears to be a 1977 Topps Series 1 Star War Box but actually has a slightly different box design and is full of what appear to be 2nd Series Packs which at closer inspection, have french writing on the backs of the wrappers.
Another collector on the Facebook group shared his French box that the Baseball Card Exchange labeled as a Series 1 box in Series 2 wrappers.
The big difference between these French boxes and the American Series 1 box is that the American one has a yellow 15c price tag at the top right of the box top, while the French version has the Topps logo on a yellow background. Notice also, on the back of the box, that the product code is 462, and there is no text beneath the whole product number “1-462-70-01-7.”
For completeness, here is an American 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 2 box; you can see a lot more of the set’s unopened items on its Unopened Archive page. This box’s product code is 454 – both American box product codes match the code printed on the wax cases.
Another collector shared a link to South West Figures, who shared more details about one of these boxes purchased directly from the Topps Vault with a Certificate of Authenticity. They wrote that all the trading cards, stickers, and box language/descriptions were in English. But ads are written in French on the back of the 7-card wax packs. Here are the three pictures South West Figures shared:
South West Figures also wrote that the “Series 1 France version does NOT have any text to the left of the packs like the series 2 (USA) boxes have.” I think they are referring to the text to the left of Darth Vader on the wrapper. On the 2nd Series American wrappers (product code 454 visible on the wrapper), it says “NEW SERIES” with the copyright information below it.
The French wrapper is missing the words “NEW SERIES” and has a product code of 431 on the wrapper. Unfortunately, both RVPs and the BBCE-wrapped boxes have the authentication label covering the box bottoms. But you can make out what appears to be some extra text below the whole product number that I wrote did not exist on the American boxes I shared above.
Luckily, I found a YouTube video from Rene and Casey Nezhoda @Bargainhuntersthrift where they shared a find of some Star Wars boxes, including the French version, and they ripped a pack!
First, they shared this photo of an American 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 2 Box. He showed the back of the box with the 454 product code too.
He then pulled out a French box, and you could see the Topps logo with the yellow background rather than the 15-cent price on the American Series 1 and 2 boxes.
He then opened one of his complete boxes (he mentioned having 2.5 French boxes) to show the packs.
Next, he showed the back of the box! This is how we know Topps printed this product uniquely for the French since the product code on the box is 431, matching the wrappers, and there is an extra line of text under the code which says Fabrique Par Topps (Made by Topps).
This is as good a time as any to remind folks that Topps had a distribution deal with O-Pee-Chee in Canada, so while those packs had French on them, they also said “Made and distributed in Canada by O-Pee-Chee Co. LTD” on them, I’ll plan another future article or newsletter around Star Wars country wrappers.
Eventually, he opened the following pack, which had seven blue-bordered series 1 cards, a sticker, and a piece of gum.
He said one of his friends opened a pack from a box with 30/36 packs that had red-bordered cards in them. Another collector on Facebook, not referencing this YouTube video, mentioned that he had a handful of unopened French Wrapper 2nd Series packs, and the cards showing through the back were the red-bordered 2nd series cards. His understanding was that Topps may have used these 2nd Series French wrappers for both 1st and 2nd Series cards. This sounds plausible since the Non-Sports Bible shares that each country had a slightly different series distribution. Also, PSA has graded a couple of dozen packs labeled “2nd Series – French.” I don’t know if they label them based on the wrapper or if they press packs to see the card color.
It’s clear that the 1977 Topps Star Wars set has a rich history that spans across multiple countries. The French wax packs and boxes discussed in this article are a fascinating example of how Topps adapted its products for international audiences. But to truly understand the full scope of the global distributions, I’ll have to track down packaging from other counties where the set was released. If you have any more details or corrections about these 1977 Topps Star Wars French wax packs and boxes, please leave a comment or reach you to me via e-mail. Happy collecting, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Post War Cards Newsletter.