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Wrestling trading cards have been around since the late 1800s, but few sets are as infamous as the 1986 Monty Gum Wrestling Stars. This bootleg set is full of typos, misspellings, wrong pictures, bad cropping jobs and more. However, these gaffes only endear the Monty Gum cards to some collectors.
These unauthorized trading cards were produced in Holland in 1986, and feature many top stars from various territories. The cards have a color photo of a wrestler surrounded by a yellow border, with a blank cardboard back. The wrestlers’ names and card number are printed in the upper left hand corner on the front. The cards have perforation marks on the tops and bottom where they were connected to one another in packs. These are smaller than traditional trading cards.
The 1986 Monty Gum cards were sold in paper packs that didn’t seal at the top. Packs cost 25 cents each, and there were 50 packs per box, with usually between 7-10 cards per pack that were connected at the top and bottom.
One of the highlights of the 1986 Monty Gum Wrestling Stars set was one of the earliest known trading cards of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The set also includes cards of wrestlers who haven’t appeared on many other trading cards, such as the Fantastics, Joe LeDuc, Gino Hernandez, Bobby Jaggers and the Rock and Roll RPMs, among others.
Most of the photos were swiped from the Apter and Napolitano magazines of the 1980s, along with more mainstream entertainment magazines likePeople. Cards like the #22 Hulk Hogan still have the caption from the magazine that the card company couldn’t quite crop out.
The 1986 Monty Gum Wrestling Stars set is notorious for its typos and misspellings. Ric Flair appears as “Rick Flair” on cards 88-90, and card #34 has “Eric Flair” locked up with Kevin Von Erich. Card #34 features “the Juneyard Dog,” and card #79 identifies Greg Valentine as “Greg Allen.” Card #52 has a picture of Hulk Hogan choking Sylvester Stallone from “Rocky III,” but hilariously reads, “Hulk Hogan & Muhammed Ali.”
Some bad crop jobs identify wrestlers who aren’t pictured. Cards #7 and #21 both say “the Road Warriors,” but one card shows just Paul Ellering and Animal, while the other shows just Hawk. Card #66 has a photo of Dusty Rhodes dropping an elbow on an unseen King Curtis.
But the single most awesomely bad card in the set has a combination of all those flaws. Card #72 is technically the first trading card of Jim Cornette; however, his first name is misspelled “Jin.” The only part of Cornette that appears on the card is his right hand, which is holding a tennis racket that is being used to help Bobby Eaton choke an opponent.
Today the Monty Gum cards are plentiful and can easily be found on eBay and other sites. A full 100-card set usually sells in the $70-$100 range. Most cards don’t go for more than $5 each except for the Savage card, which can fetch $10-$30.
The 1986 Monty Gum Wrestling Stars set has left a lasting impression on collectors, fans and even artists. CanadianBulldogsWorld.com published a hilarious take on this set (https://www.merchandiseandmemories.com/card-corner-wrestling-stars). Trading card artist Cuyler Smith used the design of the Monty Gum cards as the basis for two wrestling-related cards: Danny Devito as “the Trashman” from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and Jack Black as “Nacho Libre” from the film of the same name.
Graded cards with high grades are generally difficult to find, due in part to the perforation marks on the tops and bottoms making the cards very condition sensitive. Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) has graded 583 total cards, with only 149 (about 25%) receiving a grade of Gem Mint 10. Beckett Grading Services has only graded six cards, and not one received a grade higher than an 8.5.
PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @MMooreWriter on Twitter.
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