1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Trading Cards Checklist and Breakdown

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When they originally came out, 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back trading cards faced a challenge. Thanks to the blockbuster success of the first Star Wars film three years earlier, both on the screen and with its accompanying five series of cards, expectations were high. How could they possibly reach that same level? As far as recognition goes, the Empire Strikes Back cards don’t reach the same heights. But if you really dig into the checklist and its many aspects, this might be the better set. Sounds like the perfect parallel to the film itself.

Like 1977 Topps Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back uses a multi-series format to fill out its checklist. However, instead of five, this time it’s three. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that things are smaller. They’re not. Overall, 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back is actually the bigger set. It also has a better flow from one series to the next. Like the sequel it’s based on, there’s growth.

1980 TOpps Empire Strikes Back Series 1 Box

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Overview

Overall, the base set has 352 cards. Series 1 and 2 are both 132 cards. This is double the 66 of each individual 1977 Star Wars series. Even winding down with 88 cards in Series 3 is still bigger.

As one would expect, much of the set adapts The Empire Strikes Back to the trading card format. When focusing on what’s shown on the screen, each series takes a chronological approach with major moments and developments. That reveal wasn’t revealed, though.

Series 1 and 2 carry virtually the same front designs. They opt for a cold steel border, invoking both the Hoth weather and tone of the film. The easy way to tell the two apart by the fronts is the inner frame and text color. For Series 1 it’s red. Series 2 goes blue. Series 3 goes in a different direction. The layout is similar but the borders are yellowish gold with green text.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back 107 Duel of the Lightsabers

Back themes for the main cards differ in each series. The first, appropriately, covers the story. Not only is the size of the checklist large, but there’s a lot of depth included, perhaps because now there was some context. With the original Star Wars, there were a lot of unknowns and how things would play out. Series 2 backs go with a “Star Quiz” theme, peppering collectors with trivia questions and answers. Finally, there are “Star Quotes” in Series 3 with snippets of Empire Strikes Back dialogue.

Digging Deeper

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back has a handful of additional subsets that go beyond just the movie and more into its background and characters.

It’s right there at the beginning of each series with a title card that introduces some the features found within. This was a relatively new concept for Topps entertainment sets that was previously used for their 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture release.

Series 1 also has a Star Files subset, offering a look at the basics of the film’s major characters. Whether or not it’s canon, you get things like ages (Did you know Yoda was 973? Boba Fett, 43?), eye color, whether they were human or something else as well as other factoids on their background.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Star File Princess Leia

Some of the most iconic Star Wars artwork ever is showcased at the end of Series 1 and again in Series 3. Space paintings showcase the illustrations of Ralph McQuarrie. Rather than cropping them to work for the dimensions of the cards, they were kept in their original aspect ratio and given top and bottom borders.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Space Paintings

The spaceships of The Empire Strikes Back are in Series 2. Pictured on their own on the front, backs give a description of their strengths and uses.

Movie Facts, which are at the end of the final two series, look to the other side of the camera. They show the making of the film and some of the faces and craft of the unsung filmmakers of the franchise.

Series 3 offers a different take on characters with some illustrated cards towards the front of the checklist.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Stickers

What would an ’80s Topps non-sport set be without a sticker and a piece of gum?

A total of 88 are in the set: 33 each in Series 1 and 2 plus 22 more in the shrunken down Series 3. But, for the most part, it’s not the usual character stickers. The vast majority are letter stickers. They’re die-cut into a part of the alphabet, filled in with a random character. Each sticker has two letters. It’s one of the more memorable sticker sets Topps did during the era, even revisiting the concept in 2004 Topps Star Wars Heritage.

Series 1 has 11 stickers with characters. Most of these are small headshots with multiple characters on each. Series 2 has 11 character-driven Rebel Forces and Empire Forces.

Sticker backs double as puzzle piece, a common theme among a lot of Topps entertainment sets.

Is the Sequel Better Than the First?

Putting it all together, 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back really digs into the film. And while 1977 Topps Star Wars may have the iconography cornered in the trading card department, it really does bounce around. Some of that was due to limitations in what could be used, some of it due to putting a set together for something that hadn’t been seen. It’s doubtful that anyone, including Topps, expected such a phenomenon when Star Wars arrived.

But with The Empire Strikes Back, the surprises were left to some big plot points. This time around, Topps had context to work with. Expectations went to the opposite end. Everyone expected it to be big.

The planning and overall consistency of 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back can be appreciated when you flip through a full collection. But it also works on a series-by-series basis in its individual parts.

Values have been starting to creep up, particularly for unopened packs and boxes and high-grade cards, but this set still lags behind 1977 Topps Star Wars. That’s more a reality of being the sequel instead of the older groundbreaker.

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back trading cards at a glance:

Shop for 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back trading cards on eBay:

Cards per pack: 13
Packs per box: 36
Set size: 352 cards

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Checklist


Base Set Checklist

352 cards.

Check 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back card values in the Beckett Price Guide.

Buy on:

Series 1

Set Size: 132 cards (#1-132)

1 Series 1 Header
2 Luke Skywalker
3 Princess Leia
4 Han Solo
5 Chewbacca
6 See-Threepio
7 Artoo-Detoo
8 Lando Calrissian
9 Yoda
10 Darth Vader
11 Boba Fett
12 The Imperial Probot
13 Planet of Ice
14 Where’s Luke?
15 Droids on Patrol
16 The Hidden Rebel Base
17 New Rebel Strategy
18 General Rieekan
19 Leia’s Plan
20 Prey of the Wampa
21 Examined: Luke’s Tauntaun
22 But Sir, I MMH
23 In Search of Luke
24 Frozen Death
25 Skywalker’s Rescue

26 Luke’s Fight for Life
27 Rejuvenation Chamber
28 Surgeon Droid
29 Artoo’s Icy Vigil
30 Metal Monster
31 Zeroing in on Chewie
32 Han Aims for Action
33 Destroying the Probot
34 Death of Admiral Ozzel
35 The Freedom Fighters
36 Rebel Defenses
37 Armed Against the Enemy
38 Joined by Dack
39 The Sound of Terror
40 Suddenly Starfire
41 Rattled by the Enemy
42 Might of the Imperial Forces
43 The Snow Walkers
44 Luke Trapped
45 Escape from Icy Peril
46 Retreat! Retreat!
47 Headquarters in Shambles
48 Solo’s Makeshift Escape
49 Invaded
50 Vader and the Snowtroopers

51 Snowtroopers of the Empire
52 Millennium Falcon: Getaway Ship!
53 Emergency Blast Off
54 Battle of the Star Destroyer
55 Fix-It Man Han Solo
56 A Sudden Change of Plan
57 Misty World of Dagobah
58 The Creature Called Yoda
59 Welcome, Young Luke
60 Journey Through the Swamp
61 Yoda’s House
62 Artoo Peeking Through
63 The Secret of Yoda
64 The Princess Lends a Hand
65 Repairing Hyperdrive
66 Star Lovers
67 Pardon Me, Sir But OHHH!
68 Mysterious and Deadly Chamber
69 Attacked by Batlike Creatures
70 Use the Force, Luke
71 Raising Luke’s X-Wing
72 A Need Beyond Reason
73 A Gathering of Evils
74 The Bounty Hunters
75 IG-88 and Boba Fett

76 Enter Lando Calrissian
77 Warm Welcome for an Old Buddy
78 Conniving Pals
79 Greetings, Sweet Lady
80 Calrissian’s Main Man
81 Pretty as a Princess
82 A Swarm of Ugnaughts
83 Threepio Blasted to Bits
84 A Pile of See-Threepio
85 Escorted by Lando
86 Dinner Guests
87 Host of Horror
88 Deflecting Solo’s Blasts
89 Alas, Poor Threepio
90 The Ordeal
91 The Prize of Boba Fett
92 His Day of Triumph
93 The Carbon-Freezing Chamber
94 End of the Star Warriors
95 Pawn of the Evil One
96 No This Can’t Be Happening
97 The Fate of Han Solo
98 Boba’s Special Delivery
99 Observed By Luke
100 Luke Arrives

101 Ready for Action
102 The Search for Vader
103 Where Are You, Skywalker?
104 Dark Lord of the Sith
105 Weapon of Light
106 The Confrontation
107 Duel of the Lightsabres
108 Escape from Their Captors
109 Lando, Friend or Foe?
110 Leia Takes Control
111 Blasting the Stormtroopers
112 Artoo to the Rescue
113 Spectacular Battle
114 Embrace the Dark Side
115 Hate Me, Luke Destroy Me
116 Luke’s Last Stand
117 Do You Have A Foot in My Size?
118 Probot
119 Falcon on Hoth
120 Snow Walkers
121 The Pursued
122 Darth Vader
123 Swamps of Dagobah
124 Cloud City
125 Lando’s Greeting

126 Threepio’s Destruction
127 Luke Battling Darth
128 The Final Stand
129 Rescue
130 Ion Cannon
131 Checklist #1-66
132 Checklist #67-132

Series 2

Set Size: 132 cards (#133-264)

133 Series 2 Header
134 Millennium Falcon
135 The Executor
136 Imperial Star Destroyer
137 Twin-Pod Cloud Car
138 Slave!
139 Rebel Armored Snowspeeder
140 The Avenger
141 The Fighter
142 Rebel Transport
143 TIE Bomber
144 Preparing for Battle
145 Seeking the Missing Luke
146 The Searcher
147 Star Pilot Luke Skywalker
148 Luke’s Patrol
149 Shelter on Icy Hoth
150 Imperial Spy

151 Tracking the Probot
152 Han Solo, Rescuer
153 Medical Treatment
154 Worried Droids on Hoth
155 Imperial Assault
156 Narrow Escape
157 Fighting Against the Empire
158 Roar of the Wookie
159 Chewie’s Task
160 Moments Before the Escape
161 Last Stages of the Battle
162 Gallant Warrior
163 Raise Those Ships
164 The Awesome One
165 Vader and His Snowtroopers
166 Takeover of Rebel Base
167 The Man Called Han Solo
168 The Falcon in Repairs
169 Skills of the Star Pilot
170 Sir Wait for Me!
171 Han’s Desperate Plan
172 An Overworked Wookiee
173 Oh, Hello There, Chewbacca
174 Artoo’s Bumpy Landing
175 Mysterious Planet

176 Luke In Trouble?
177 Working Against Time
178 Han and the Princess
179 Soldiers of the Empire
180 The Wookiee at Work
181 Vader and Bounty Hunter
182 World of Darkness
183 Taking No Chances
184 Farewell to Yoda and Dagobah
185 Racing to the Falcon
186 The Ominous Vader
187 The Dark Pursuer
188 Young Senator From Alderaan
189 Don’t Fool with Han Solo
190 Kindred Spirits
191 Lobot’s Task
192 A Brave Princess
193 Corridors of Bespin
194 Lando’s Aide Lobot
195 Get Back Quick It’s Vader
196 Held by the Stormtroopers
197 Han’s Torment
198 Lando’s Game
199 Deadly Device
200 In Vader’s Clutches

201 A Tearful Farewell
202 Han Faces His Fate
203 Into the Carbon-Freezing Pit
204 An Ugnaught
205 Tears of a Princess
206 Suspended in Carbon Freeze
207 Gruesome Fate
208 Evil Threatens
209 This Deal is Getting Worse
210 The Captor, Boba Fett
211 Fear on Cloud City
212 A Warrior Driven
213 Courage of Skywalker
214 The Pursuer
215 Stalked By Vader
216 A Droid Gone to Pieces
217 Threepio’s Free Ride
218 Stormtrooper Takeover
219 Princess Leia Under Guard
220 Bounty Hunter Boba Fett
221 Lando Covers Their Escape
222 Tumbling to an Unknown Fate
223 On the Verge of Defeat
224 Gifted Performer
225 Actress Carrie Fisher

226 Harrison Ford
227 Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
228 Our Favorite Protocol Droid
229 Kenny Baker as R2-D2
230 Mynocks Outside? Oh My!
231 Actor Billy Dee Williams
232 Galaxy’s Most Loyal Droids
233 Dashing Han Solo
234 The Force and the Fury
235 Yoda’s Squabble with R2-D2
236 Blasted by Leia
237 The Art of Levitation
238 Snowswept Chewbacca
239 Dreamworld or Trap?
240 Swampland Peril
241 Tried, Have You?
242 Encounter on Dagobah
243 Captain Solo Senses a Trap
244 A Test for Luke
245 R2-D2 on the Misty Bog
246 Confronting the Dark Side
247 Luke Battles Himself?
248 Blooming Romance
249 Chewie Retaliates
250 Stormtrooper Battle

251 Director Irvin Kershner
252 Spiffing up a Wookiee
253 Filming the Falcon
254 Kershner Directs Mark Hamill
255 Shooting the Exciting Climax
256 Filming Vader in his Chamber
257 Dagobah Comes to Life
258 Building the Falcon
259 Hoth Rebel Base Sequence
260 Filming An Explosion
261 Spectacular Swampland Set
262 Acting Can be a Dirty Job!
263 Checklist #133-198
264 Checklist #199-264

Series 3

Set Size: 88 cards (#265-352)

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back 327

265 Series 3 Header
266 Han Solo
267 Princess Leia
268 Luke Skywalker
269 C-3PO
270 R2-D2
271 Darth Vader
272 Boba Fett
273 Probot
274 Dengar
275 Bossk

276 IG-88
277 FX-7
278 Chewbacca
279 Lando Calrissian
280 Stormtrooper
281 Yoda
282 Imperial Ships Approaching
283 The Courageous Trench Fighters
284 Too-Onebee
285 Rebel Protocol Droids
286 Within the Hidden Base
287 Calrissian of Bespin
288 Testing the Carbon-Freezing Process
289 Flight of the X-Wing
290 Dodging Deadly Laserblasts
291 The Lovers Part
292 Canyons of Death
293 Magnificent Rebel Starship
294 Old Friends Or Foes?
295 Power of the Empire
296 Threepio in a Jam
297 Swamp Planet
298 A Hasty Retreat
299 Hostile World of Hoth
300 Descent into Danger

301 Luke Long Overdue
302 Toward the Unknown
303 In Search of Han
304 Luke’s Desperate Decision
305 Emerging from the Pit
306 Busy as a Wookiee
307 Portrait of an Ugnaught
308 The Wizard of Dagobah
309 Emergency Repairs
310 Han on the Icy Wasteland
311 The Walkers Close In
312 Toward Tomorrow
313 In the Path of Danger
314 The X-Wing Cockpit
315 Hero of the Rebellion
316 Vader’s Private Chamber
317 Aboard the Executor
318 The Ominous One
319 Lord Vader’s Orders
320 He’s Still Alive
321 Lando’s Warm Reception
322 The Landing
323 Their Last Kiss?
324 Bounty Hunter IG-88
325 The Icy Plains of Hoth

326 Luke Astride his Tauntaun
327 Rebel Snowspeeders Zero In
328 Champions of Freedom
329 Inside the Falcon
330 The Training of a Jedi
331 Yoda’s Instruction
332 The Warrior and the Jedi Master
333 Imperial Snow Walker Attack
334 The Asteroid Chase
335 Approaching Planet Dagobah
336 Power Generators
337 Beauty of Bespin
338 Dreamlike City
339 Luke’s Training
340 Snow Walker Terror
341 Tauntaun
342 Cloud City Reactor Shaft
343 Yoda’s Home
344 Escape from Bespin
345 Deadly Stompers
346 Snow Walker Model
347 Of Helmets and Costumes
348 Filming the Star Destroyer
349 Millennium Falcon Miniature
350 Launching An X-Wing
351 Model Star Destroyer
352 Checklist #265-352

Checklist Top


1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Stickers Checklist

Check 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back card values in the Beckett Price Guide.

Set Size: 88 cards.
Inserted: 1 per pack.

Buy on:

Series 1

33 cards (#1-33)

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Stickers 1

1 F O
2 R I
3 A E
4 B X
5 U I
6 W U
7 M N
8 C D
9 O U
10 H E
11 E O
12 Y U
13 A K
14 A V
15 E S
16 Q L
17 A I
18 I O
19 Z T
20 G J
21 E I
22 A P
23 Luke, Darth, Luke, C-3PO
24 C-3PO
25 Luke & Yoda; Han & Tauntaun
26 Stormtrooper, Boba
27 Stormtrooper, Luke, Yoda
28 2-1B, Bossk, Lobot
29 Leia, Luke, Han, Chewie
30 Boba Fett
31 Stormtrooper, IG-88
32 C-3PO, Lando, R2-D2
33 Darth Vader

Series 2

33 cards (#34-66)

34 F O
35 R I
36 A E
37 B X
38 U I
39 W U
40 M N
41 C D
42 O U
43 H E
44 E O
45 Y U
46 A K
47 A V
48 E S
49 Q L
50 A I
51 I O
52 Z T
53 G J
54 E I
55 A P
56 Darth Vader
57 Boba Fett
58 Probot
59 Luke Skywalker
60 Princess Leia
61 Han Solo
62 Lando Calrissian
63 Chewbacca
64 R2-D2
65 C-3P0
66 Yoda

Series 3

22 cards (#67-88)

1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back Stickers 86

67 F O
68 R I
69 A E
70 B X
71 U I
72 W U
73 M N
74 C D
75 O U
76 H E
77 E O
78 Y U
79 A K
80 A V
81 E S
82 Q L
83 A I
84 I O
85 Z T
86 G J
87 E I
88 A P

Checklist Top

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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