20 Greatest Star Wars Trading Card Sets, 1977-2015

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Star Wars trading cards go back to the franchise’s earliest marketing days. Except for a break after Return of the Jedi, Topps has been making Star Wars cards throughout the franchise’s rise to global box office and merchandise domination. There have been plenty of sets so, naturally, some are going to be better than others.

BestStarWarsCards

Here are the 20 greatest released between 1977 and 2015.

20 Greatest Star Wars Trading Card Sets, 1977-2015

1. 2007 Star Wars 30th Anniversary

2007 Star Wars 30th Anniversary Base

Why the Force is strong:

• Comprehensive in all regards (it even includes cards of the infamous Holiday Special).
• First Harrison Ford autograph cards.

2007 Star Wars 30th Anniversary Harrison Ford Autograph

  • Huge autograph checklist that includes much of the main cast.
  • Signers also include unsung heroes from behind the camera and legendary composer John Williams.
  • Stamped buyback box toppers still very popular, particularly the latter series.
  • Lots of high-quality sketch cards.

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2. 2015 Star Wars Masterwork

2015 Star Wars Masterwork Carrie Fisher Autograph

Why the Force is strong:

  • First high-end Star Wars set.
  • Large autograph checklist and all on-card.
  • Plenty of other premium inserts including relics.
  • Challenging base set.

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3. 1977 Star Wars

1977 Topps Star Wars

Why the Force is strong:

  • The set that started it all.
  • Most recognizable set of Star Wars cards of all-time.
  • Still popular with a lot of fans who might not otherwise collect trading cards.
  • Later series have some interesting behind-the-scenes shots.
  • That C-3P0.

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4. 2014 Star Wars Chrome Perspectives

2014 Star Wars Chrome Perspectives Refractor

Why the Force is strong:

  • On-card autographs in a more affordable product.
  • Return to Chrome after a long break.
  • Interesting dual take on characters in the base set.
  • Only the second set of Star Wars trading cards to include Refractors.

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5. 2013 Star Wars Jedi Legacy

2013 Star Wars Jedi Legacy Chewbacca Fur Relic

Why the Force is strong:

  • First pack-inserted Star Wars memorabilia cards.
  • Franchise’s first film cell cards.
  • Strong autograph checklist.
  • Different spin on the stories of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

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6. 1993-95 Star Wars Galaxy

1993 Topps Star Wars Galaxy

Why the Force is strong:

  • Brought Star Wars cards back after a ten-year hiatus.
  • Art-based approach laid groundwork for new styles of sets.
  • Gorgeous.

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7. 2001 Star Wars Evolution

2001 Star Wars Evolution James Earl Jones Autograph

Why the Force is strong:

  • First set of Star Wars trading cards to include actor autographs.
  • Strong autograph checklist.
  • Thematically, spawned a sequel in 2006 and another in 2016.

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8. 2004 Star Wars Heritage

2004 Star Wars Heritage Sketch Card

Why the Force is strong:

  • First set to have sketch cards from the Original Trilogy.
  • Old-school look and feel.
  • Autographs of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones.
  • Retail-only Letter Stickers are tough to find and popular still with set builders.

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9. 1980 Star Wars Empire Strike Back

1980 Empire Strikes Back

Why the Force is strong:

  • Original Trilogy set.
  • Three series are not as many as first film but still comprehensive as a whole with larger checklists.
  • Ralph McQuarrie artwork included on some cards.

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10. 1996 Star Wars 3Di Widevision

1995 Star Wars Widevision 3Di

Why the Force is strong:

  • One of the smallest print runs of any 1990s Star Wars set.
  • First Star Wars cards to use 3-D technology.

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11. 2002 Star Wars Attack of the Clones Widevision

2002 Star Wars Attack of the Clones Widevision Frank Oz Autograph

Why the Force is strong:

  • Like other Widevision sets, base cards look excellent.
  • Large autograph checklist.
  • So far, the only set to have a Frank Oz (Yoda) autograph.

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12. 2004 Star Wars Clone Wars Cartoon

2004 Star Wars Clone Wars Cartoon

Why the Force is strong:

  • First Star Wars sketch cards, period.
  • Cool artwork from overlooked Genndy Tartakovsky short cartoon anthology.

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13. 1977 Star Wars Wonder Bread

1977 Star Wars Wonder Bread

Why the Force is strong:

  • Memorable design.
  • Nice alternative and compliment to original 1977 Topps set.

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14. 1996 Star Wars Finest

1996 Star Wars Finest Refractor

Why the Force is strong:

  • First full chromium Star Wars set outside of inserts.
  • Refractors make their franchise debut.
  • Takes an all-art approach but each artist did a nine-card group based on a similar theme.

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15. 2014 Return of the Jedi 3-D Widevision

2014 Return of the Jedi Widevision 3D Box

Why the Force is strong:

  • Limited print run sold out quickly as an online exclusive.
  • Autographs randomly inserted as bonus hit.
  • Improved technology makes for a stunning base set.
  • Some of the greatest packaging ever for a trading card product, Star Wars or not.

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16. 1996 Star Wars Shadows of the Empire

1996 Star Wars Shadows of the Empire

Why the Force is strong:

  • Based on spinoff novel bridging events between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Every card features original artwork from Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

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17. 1995 Topps/Just Toys Bend-Em Promos

1993 Star Wars Bend Ems

Why the Force is strong:

  • Challenging set available only with toys.
  • Most use character images from original 1993 Star Wars Galaxy.
  • Popular with set builders.

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18. 2015 Star Wars Journey to the Force Awakens

2015 Star Wars Journey to the Force Awakens

Why the Force is strong:

  • First set to have extensive focus on The Force Awakens.
  • Expansive checklist once inserts are factored in.
  • Takes similar approach as 2004 Star Wars Heritage with old-school designs and card stock.

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19. 1995 Star Wars Widevision

1995 Star Wars Widevision

Why the Force is strong:

  • Introduced over-sized Widevision line.
  • Presents images as they’re showcased on the big screen.
  • Backs have plenty of information and production artwork.
  • Extensive promo card checklist.

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20. 1983 Star Wars Return of the Jedi

1983 Return of the Jedi

Why the Force is strong:

  • Last of the vintage Original Trilogy sets.
  • Still very much affordable.
  • Sticker variations provide added challenge for those with the patience to piece them together.

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Matt Bible

Matt Bible is the Beckett non-sport analyst and also covers wrestling, MMA, and action figures. A graduate of THE Ohio State University, Matt joined Beckett in 2014. He collects the Rookie Cards of all Ohio State alumni, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and any and all Funko products that complement his taste in pop culture. For any questions or comments, you can email Matt and find him on Instagram.

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3 comments

  1. Dean A. Beckstein 5 May, 2016 at 08:19

    Did you purposely intend to leave the names of the sets off? Or did you expect us to know the sets by sight?

  2. Leo 6 May, 2016 at 07:51

    Thanks for fixing the list. I am partial to the Galactic Files sets because of their size, EU inclusion and completeness feel.

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