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Blast to the Past and Collect Garbage Pail Kids Cards

Do the names Adam Bomb, Bad Breath Seth, Jay Decay, or Nasty Nick ring a bell? What about Semi Colon, Soft Boiled Sam, or Brutal Brad? These wild characters, dripping with sarcasm, edginess, and creativity, were depicted in the classic ‘80s trading cards: the Garbage Pail Kids.

Whether you’re an eighties baby ready to relive your colorful youth or are someone searching for a fun way to spend your free time, collecting Garbage Pail Kids cards and collectibles is fun for all ages. Learn a little more about the history of these monstrous characters, discover what makes a card valuable, and see if you have what it takes to join the Garbage Pail Kids community!

The History Behind Garbage Pail Kids

Garbage Pail Kids cards in boxes

In 1983, the popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls took over the toy market. With round faces, knowing eyes, and endless clothing styles, these adorable dolls were advertised as having been found in a garden, born from magical mother cabbages. Sound ridiculous? You’re not the only one who feels that way!

The Topps company took one look at this admittedly silly (and beloved) toy and was inspired to parody the Cabbage Patch Kids with a new trading card design—but what to call them? The Garbage Pail Kids (or GPK), of course! Each sticker card shows a different mischievous little tot getting into trouble, and with an almost grotesque design and clever names, the Garbage Pail Kids were an immediate hit. 

When Did Garbage Pail Kids Trading Cards Stop Being Produced?

The creators of the Cabbage Patch Kids were unhappy with the cards, and after a few years, they sued Topps for copyright and trademark infringement. Sadly, in 1986, the judge ruled in favor of the Cabbage Patch Kids, forcing Topps to redo their designs—ultimately leading to their decline. After Original Series 15, released in 1988, the Garbage Pail Kids were over.

Although production ceased in the ‘80s, there was a significant craving for nostalgia in the early 2000s. Topps decided to design a new release in 2003, introducing the All-New Series. The Garbage Pail Kids cards have been going strong for the last 20 years, with no sign of slowing down!

Why People Love Collecting Garbage Pail Kids

Nostalgia is a compelling emotion, and the majority of GPK collectors are those who grew up with them. Whether you remember when they were banned in classrooms or used to spend all your allowance on the newest decks, collecting them in this day and age can make you feel like a kid again. Shopping for these collectibles in Florida is a fun way to spend the day connecting with your inner child!

Some people start collecting GPK cards as a monetary investment. Certain collectors will pay a pretty penny for specific cards, whether they love the twisted sense of humor a character displays or have been chasing the missing piece to their collection for years. If you’re in it for the money, it might be a good idea to set up an antique mall booth or a shop online to reach the right fanbase. 

Are Garbage Pail Kids Cards Worth Anything?

The average value of a Garbage Pail Kids trading card is around $5, but some have been sold for around $200! The value of a trading card depends on a few crucial elements: condition, rarity, and demand. If there are a few thousand cards in circulation, the value is lower. But, if there’s only a couple, the value increases!

The 3 Most Valuable Garbage Pail Kids Cards

  1. Glossy Adam Bomb with Back Checklist—$25,100: a wordplay on the atomic bomb, Adam Bomb is depicted as a little boy in a suit, with his brain exploding into a mushroom cloud.

  2. Nasty Nick—$17,900: this GPK version of Dracula is technically the first card ever released, showing a little vampire with a Barbie victim in his clutches.

  3. Dead Ted in Mint Condition—$2,599.99: a perfect-condition version of this zombified kid crawling out of the grave is incredibly valuable. 

3 Types of Garbage Pail Kids Collectibles

Garbage Pail Kids InterGOOlactic Mayhem collectible cards

From the original collection of cards to the feature film, the Garbage Pail Kids quickly took the world by storm, leading to all kinds of adored collectibles that can be found at antique mall events and stores around the globe:

1. Sticker Trading Cards

Garbage Pail Kids cards were the original item released and have remained the most popular collectible ever since. With a sticker front and a classic card backing, these can be bought or sold individually or in packs. 

Learning about the different series and releases is important to understand the exact value of the card you’re buying. Different design elements can help you determine the exact age of the trading card, such as glossy or matte finishes or die cuts.   

The most important factor in collecting GPK cards is the condition. To professional buyers, the condition is everything, and if there’s any form of damage on the trading card, it could be rendered worthless. But don’t discount those yet! Others who buy purely on nostalgia may still collect these. 

Garbage Pail Kids Card Releases

Garbage Pail Kids 1st series individual stickers

With new cards released each year, there are hundreds of designs to search for. These are how they’re mainly categorized:

  • Original Series 1-15 (1985-1988) 

  • All-New Series 1-7 (2003- 2007)

  • Flashback Series 1-3 (2010-2011)

  • Brand-New Series 1-3 (2012-2013)

  • Yearly Series (2013, 2014, 2015)

  • Chrome Series, Various (2013-2023)

  • On-Demand Series Exclusives (2016-2023)

  • Themed Releases

  • Miscellaneous Releases

2. Figurines

If you want to keep your love of Garbage Pail Kids on display, collecting figurines is the way to go. From the classic Funko Pops to Topps MiniKins and more, countless figurines, action figures, and statues bring your favorite ugly yet loveable characters to life. Discover rare vintage GPK figurines at an antique mall location near you, or shop online for more modern renditions to complete your collection.

3. Clothing

Wearing and collecting vintage clothing never goes out of style, and luckily, there are plenty of pieces featuring Garbage Pail Kids. Keep your eye out for a retro T-shirt featuring Sick Sid or a jersey showing the three-headed Beastie Boyd character. Look through each booth at a Highland vendor mall so you can show off your special interest in your everyday outfits. 

Whether you’ve been collecting trading cards since you were a child or are only now jumping on the Garbage Pail Kids train, there’s room for everyone! After learning a little more about the fascinating history of the trading cards and the various types of collectibles out there, it’s time to head to your local antique mall to start your collection. 

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