Night of the Living Dead Trading Card History

I have been collecting various items commemorating the movie Night of the Living Dead since the late 1990’s when eBay was new and I was in high school, saving my lunch money for things that my dad said were “junk”.  I recently got back into my NotLD collecting and have been fortunate enough to make a fairly substantial amount of money  and find hours of enjoyment from my old “junk.”  The adult me has decided to focus his collecting attention to small NotLD items that needn’t be displayed, risking both damage, as well as scowls and heated arguments with my wife!

And so to that ends, I’ve become quite fascinated with trading cards because I like how they re-interpret the story of Night in still photographs while highlighting the cinematography (I know, I know, it’s generous of me to refer to it as such!).

Here we go!


Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set One aka    “The First Set”

Year: 1987
Manufacturer: Rosem
Base Set: 50 cards
Chase Cards: 1 Checklist Card (included within the 50 base set)
Packaging: Single color black paper wrapper featuring the Farmhouse Corpse
Color: Single Color b&w
Quirks: Captions in block letters below each still from the movie, no border.  Excerpts of the story are present on the bare chipboard back. Weird original zombie illustration on back. Sold in whole set yet comes with a checklist card
Thoughts: Personally, I think I like this set is quite nice.  There are no gimmicky chase to make you keep hunting; get a pack and be done!  The photos are reproduced at pretty poor sharpness, even including motion blurs, and approximate viewing the film on VHS.  No behind-the scenes images are provided and the plain chipboard backs give this set an appropriate vintage style.
Availability: readily on eBay
Value: $10-$25 for a complete master set with wrapper

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Two aka  “Green Border Cards”

Year: 1988
Manufacturer: Imagine/Fantico
Base Set: 68 cards
Chase Cards: blank cards with space for autographs and larger square card featuring Kyra Schon’s face with Night of the Living Dead logo in green
Packaging: Hard plastic trading card case with silver foil 20th-anniversary sticker for full set or green, black and white wax paper wrapper in packs, Kyra’s face is the theme to the packaging
Color: Two Color b&w with green borders
Quirks: First four cards contain short story excerpts on back, remaining cards feature facsimile autograph of either George A. Romero, John Russo, or Russel Streiner
Thoughts:  Image quality here is a big step up from the Rosem cards though still more contrasty than the movie itself.  Still, I think the image quality in terms of sharpness and contrast is much more pleasant than the 2012 Unstoppable cards because details pop nicely on the small trading card format.  Addition of behind the scenes images and the US movie poster are nice.  This set contains the autograph cards that set Night collecting in motion!
Availability: Less common than the Rosem cards
Value: $10-$25 for a complete base set without case, autographs or square card.  Autograph value per card probably varies from $10 to maybe $50 (just a guess).  Unopened small packs are extremely rare.  Square card is often autographed, rare for sale, usually not included with base card set.  Uncut sheets of the full master card set was available as recently as 1998 and sold for about $100 then.

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Three aka  “Red Border Cards”


Year: 1990
Manufacturer: Imagine/Fantico
Base Set: 68 cards
Chase Cards: blank cards with space for autographs, no large square card was made to my knowledge
Packaging: unknown
Color: Two Color b&w with red borders
Quirks: Identical in every way to the green 1988 edition but with a red border instead of green
Thoughts: I never liked the red border as much as the green
Availability: More common than their green counterparts
Value: $10-$25 for a complete master set without case

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Four aka   “On Location Cards”


Year: 1993
Manufacturer: Imagine
Base Set: 8 cards
Chase Cards: n/a
Packaging: unknown
Color: Full Color
Quirks: black borders with NotLD logo in gold.  Cuts of cards are not very accurate. Feature color behind-the-scenes posed portraits taken by Karl Hardman.  Also worth noting is the absence of Fantico from the license, these cards are by Imagine only.
Thoughts: Really beautiful cards, essential for all Night collectors really.  The images are not featured in any other set and they add so much dimension and back story to the making of the film.
Availability: Rarest of all NotLD cards
Value: Unknown.  Often autographed by those pictured including Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Judith O’Dea, Judy Ridley and Keith Wayne.  I have seen totally unautographed sets, sets autographed by all noted but Keith Wayne and sets autographed by all noted.  Because most sets are autographed, I am curious as to how competitively priced an unautographed set would be as these are nice enough images that one might want them “clean”.

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Five aka  “Silver Foil Cards”


Year: 1993
Manufacturer: Imagine
Base Set: 3 (these seem to be “promo” cards, however, I am not sure what they promote, maybe they promoted the 8 color cards?)
Chase Cards: n/a
Packaging: unknown
Color: single color b&w with silver foil
Quirks: Cards 15,  16 and 52 from the 1988 set, featuring John Russo, unnamed ghoul and Marilyn Eastman, identical style front and back of 1988 set but silver foil border instead of green or red border.  On the back of the cards, the text “PROMOTIONAL CARD”, “NOT FOR RESALE” and 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION” were added to the previous green border design, and original card set numbers remain.  These were used for the 1998 Zombie Jamboree as tickets. A numbered sticker was placed on the back of the John Russo card and signed by him.
Thoughts: Really beautiful treatment of already beautifully done cards.  The silver foil with the b&w images is very flattering.  However, the chosen photos are really strange and kinda silly.  Who else is tired of that shot of John Russo that doesn’t appear in the film yet doesn’t really show enough context to be a good behind-the-scenes shot?  And who is that slain ghoul?  You you’re only going to have three cards, why choose a shot of a guy laying on the ground?  The shot of Marilyn is a great choice but why not two more well-composed action shots of principle characters to go along with it?  Very disappointing image selection.  My apologies to Mr. Russo!
Availability: Not terribly uncommon, more available than the Green Border cards, sometimes available in an uncut sheet with You Slay Me
Value: $10-$15

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Six aka  “Poster Cards”


Year: 2010
Manufacturer: Breygent (part of the Classic Vintage Sci-Fi & Horror Movie Poster collection)
Base Set: The base set consists of 49 cards but deals with numerous other films.  There is only 1 NotLD card in the base set and it is considered a promo card.
Chase Cards: sketch cards | 1 NotLD “metallogloss” card | 2 autograph cards
Packaging: glossy paper wrapper
Color: full color
Quirks: These cards are all 3.5×5″ in size so they are quite fun because of this alone.  The color balance on the poster promo card is odd in that the whites of the NotLD poster are more lavender.  I thought this was a mistake but every copy of this card that has passed through my hands (difficult to see in photos on screens) has looked this way.  The autograph cards are for Bill Hinzman and Judith O’Dea and feature their bios on the back.  I find the sketch cards that I’ve seen from this set somewhat unattractive but all seem to be derivatives of Night posters, in keeping with the poster theme of the set.  The metallogloss card is also a sketch card that features elements of the Night British Quad poster.  This card is part of an 18 card set and is actually printed on metal.
Value: Assuming you’re like me and don’t want to purchase a master set of Breygent cards featuring posters from numerous vintage horror movies, I’ll break down the costs per card from what I see on eBay: Poster Promo card – $2-$5, Hinzman autograph card – $20-$60, O’Dea autograph card – $30-$70, metallogloss card – $2-$5, sketch cards – $20-$200

Night of the Living Dead Trading Card Set Seven aka “Unstoppable Cards”

Year: 2012
Manufacturer: Unstoppable
Base Set: 36
Chase Cards: 9 autograph cards limited to 100 copies of each | 9 Movie Poster Cards| artist sketch cards | printing plate cards | promo cards (at least three styles)
Packaging: glossy paper wrapper
Color: full color
Quirks:  High gloss, high-resolution prints
Thoughts: Difficult, if not impossible to get a true, full master set due to the sheer number of cards available, but particularly of sketch cards which are all one-off’s, probably the most professional looking, fun and infuriating of all the Night card sets.  Night logo has a cheesy blood splatter background.  Cards are printed on high gloss paper which will be nice for durability down the road.  Images are sharp and high resolution but contrast is very low with muddy shadow tones and grey whites.  I greatly prefer the reproduction of the images used by Imagine for their sets even though resolution is not as high and contrast is not accurate to the film.  No behind-the-scenes images are included, only stills from the movie but I like the selection of images and feel it’s one of the strongest selections in all the sets.  I particularly like that we finally have a still that features the 1939 Zenith 7s363 radio!  Unstoppable put a lot of thought into these cards.  Every 9 cards of the base set features a piece of a Night movie poster on the back.  So when you fill a standard 9 card plastic sleeve with these cards, you also get a poster on the opposite side.  Very clever.  Unlike previous autograph cards, the Unstoppables feature an image of the actor(s) beside the signature which adds a very nice touch.  There is just TOO much to collect here though, there are about a million sketch cards and they even released the metal plate cards that were used in printing!  It’s just insane, the amount of cards available. (notice the comparison shot of a card from the First Set with this most recent set for image quality differences)
Value: Base set: $20-$30 | Poster card set: $10 | Autograph card set: $200-$300 | Promo card set: $10 | Sketch cards: $10 – $300 per card | Printing plate cards: $20-$40


Well hey, thanks for reading and hopefully the information I’ve compiled has been useful to you, wherever you’re at on your Night of the Living Dead trading card collecting!

If I left anything out, got anything wrong, please let me know!

AND, if you have any cards you want to trade, sell or buy, don’t be afraid to hit me up at JohnnyMartyr@Hotmail.com

Stay scared!

 

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