Garbage Pail Kids Cards

Some facts about the sticker cards known as Garbage Pail Kids and why they are so controversial even after so long.

Garbage Pail Kids, the twisted parody of Cabbage Patch Kids and pop culture, like so many things of the eighties is trying to make a come back. These gross little cards made quite the splash when they first came out and even inspired a movie. Part of the whole attraction to these cards by kids was just how far the cards went. For some time the figure head character of the line was Adam Bomb (aka Blasted Billy), a boy with a mushroom cloud exploding from his head as he pushes a button. In some ways a very fitting and accurate character to represent the collection.

Here is a quick run down on just what Garbage Pail Kids are. They made fifteen series of cards that were released and one unreleased series for their first run over a course of three years from 1985 to 1988. Each card was actually a sticker with a parody of the traditional style collector card backings on the back. Each series had around forty characters, each with two names. The cards depicted Cabbage Patch Kid like children in bizarre and often gross situations. Vomit, bodily functions and dismemberment were common themes on the cards. Such things were more than enough to get attention and upset parents, another factor that made them so popular among kids. Often poking fun at popular culture and some times boarding on adult themes the cards tiptoed on that fine line between being just gross and being too much for kids.

Another aspect that created controversy with the cards was the card backs. They would put awards such as Big Mouth Award or Zero Award and you were given a place to put someone's name. Such a thing in the hands of children was bound to be given out in the cruel fashion children do such things. Add insulting diplomas, wanted posters and the like and you have another aspect where some parents are going to get upset as well as educators and various groups. One back that really got attention was a wanted poster for a barber. It said 'Wanted for running a clip joint'. Even though such a thing would go over most grade school children's head, there was still close enough to a drug reference to upset parents.



During the forth series of cards there were four cards that got attention. Woody Alan, Crystal Gale, Reese Pieces and Salvatore Dolly, all of which were names based off of real people or products. Due to legal reasons those cards were changed and produced with new names. Due to this there are three versions for those cards, compared to the normal two versions of all the others.

With the tenth series of cards there came a big change, the characters looked less like Cabbage Patch Kids. The eyes were no longer the horse shoe shape, but were now full circles and the fingers and toes went from five to four. The basic idea was still the same. Gross, twisted pictures dominated with a weird parody of pop culture, some of which easily went over the heads of the kids who collected them.

At some levels the Garbage Pail Kids pushed the boundaries of good taste, but that is what children go for. They knew their target audience and captured it as perfectly as possible. The merchandising that was launched around the Garbage Pail Kids was something impressive for a simple line of sticker cards. Toy, posters, large sized cards, candies and more were all made with the more popular characters, as well as the before mentioned live action movie. It was a pop culture phenomena that help led the way for some of the twisted concepts that followed.

Garbage pail Kids are back out there with new cards and new characters. A fun hobby if that is your style. A controversial idea that is sure to upset parents for generations to come, as they find new lines of decency to tiptoe along and see just how much the can get away with.

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