Friday, July 5, 2013

The Toys R Us Cubs

Up for review today are the Toys R Us Topps retail sets.

After collaborating with Kay Bee Toys in 1986, Topps hooked up with a second toy company in 1987.  The relationship produced five consecutive years of 33 card sets, and then following a year off, a monster set of 100 cards in 1993.

All six years had the same rookie theme.  Because of that, very few players appeared in more than one set.  It also means we don't get an overload of Sandberg and Dawson cards.  But since the Cubs weren't turning out many rookie stars, we don't get many Cubs at all.

During the first five years of the set, the cards featured the same design, with just the color palate changing.  The backs also had the same basic horizontal design.

Here's the box from the first Toys R Us release in 1987.  

No Cubs made the list, but the Cubs current skipper Dale Sveum did.

In 1988 the Cubs came up empty again.  

Randy Myers, who had a nice run as Cubs closer in the mid-nineties, will have to do.

After two years of nothing, the Cubs got three cards in the 1989 set...

.....Mark Grace, Damon Berryhill, and Darrin Jackson.  The first two belonged, but Jackson, not so much.  

In 1990, Topps got it right by including both of the Cubs outfield rookie stars from 1989,

...Dwight Smith and NL 1989 Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton.

The 1991 set was Toys R Us' final 33 card box.  Just a single Cub was on this checklist,

pitcher Mike Harkey.

Topps and Toys R Us took a break in 1992 before returning with a similar, yet different product in 1993.

The rookie theme was still being used, but the design switched to a Stadium Club spinoff.  The checklist exploded to 100 cards.  All the players were designated as either young stars, rookie stars, or future stars.  The set came in a large box with the cards enclosed in a smaller box in a plastic Toys R Us store replica.  Seems like packaging overkill.  The black box the cards came in didn't have a checklist like the 33 card boxes, so the one I've got pictured is my fake.

The Cubs didn't fare too well in the young stars, no future stars, and three rookie stars.

None of the three went on to be what I would consider "stars."  

The final Cubs tally with Toys R Us is eleven cards.

As as I did with Kay Bee, here's a tile to compare all the boxes and cards with one another.


  1. I wish Topps would do this kind of thing again. I love oddball stuff with tie-ins to stores, cereal, etc.

  2. Is that Grace picture from his junior high yearbook?

  3. The TRU Rookies was one of my favorite sets. I could have sworn Maddux was in that first year. I agree with David, there needs to be a resurgence of oddball sets at retail stores.

    JT, The Writer's Journey

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