The Mess on Ryan’s Desk: 1985 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 1 Jay Decay


Visit my desk and it’s usually messy. Some of it is papers and sticky notes that need to be dealt with (one day). Most of the mess is stacks of cards yet to be sorted, cataloged and put away. I believe that every card has a story. Sometimes it’s the card itself. Other times it’s about the person collecting it.

This mess on my desk has a lot to tell. So I’m going to delve in, hopefully once a week, and see what there is. The exercise is a little self indulgent. It’s about what I collect. But one of the aims to to help me, as a collector, get a little closer to what I love. I have no apologies for that. The payoff for you, the reader? Maybe you’ll see something you think is cool. Perhaps you’ll gain an appreciation for a card you’ve never thought much about. Maybe you’ll just get to know a fellow collector a little bit more.

To kick things off, I’m going to delve into one of my favorite projects at the moment.

Going Back to Garbage Pail Kids

One of my long-term collecting goals is to put together a full fun of original Garbage Pail Kids — the 15 series released between 1985 and 1988. I’m done or close to being done on 14 of them. But Series 1 is the challenge. Rather, Series 1 is expensive.

For a little perspective, you can expect to spend more today on an original Adam Bomb in decent shape than a 1985 Topps Mark McGwire. Heck, what I’m spending on most singles is probably comparable to a McGwire these days.

I’m going to be working on my GPK Series 1 set for a few years still. I’m good with that. I have dozens of sets I’ve been piecing together for more than a decade. To that end, I’m both patient and impatient. I don’t mind the long game but I definitely have a habit for delving into new projects before the last one is done.

That said, the GPK project is a priority. One of my main collecting goals for 2016 was to knock ten Series 1 cards off my list. I think I managed to find 25 or so.

Things got kicked into high gear when I landed a gorgeous Adam Bomb, along with his “brother,” Blasted Billy, earlier in the year. They’re tucked into the appropriate binder and not part of the current mess on my desk. Those two ranked as my second favorite GPKs, trailing only New Wave Dave and his safety pin nose piercing.

Coming in at number three? My latest get — Jay Decay.

GPK Perfection

This is a card that captures both the cute and the horror that made Garbage Pail Kids such a hit among me and my friends. The horror side also brought out the wrath of mom, which made them even better.

From a visual perspective, this might be the perfect Garbage Pail Kid. It’s fun. It’s gross, but not too gross. It doesn’t opt for the cheap toilet humor. Above all, it’s a beautiful piece of art brought to life by John Pound.

Although I didn’t get into Garbage Pail Kids until around Series 6, this card is emblematic of why I fell in love with the line in the first place. And why I continue to pursue the Series 1 set rather than hoard 80-or-so 1985 Topps Mark McGwires.

Did you collect Garbage Pail Kids (or still do)? If so, do you have any memories connected with them like trading with friends, getting them confiscated by a mean teacher or using them to decorate your Trapper Keeper? Feel free to share in the comments below or drop me a line on Twitter.


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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  1. Kerry 29 December, 2017 at 14:17

    The spare bedroom I use to house my card collection (and a pet hedgehog) has a natural shelf on one wall that I put all my stacks of cards to be put away. Sometimes it covers 4-6 feet in length, but most times just a few stack separated into: Trade away, Vikings, Twins, other PC players, junk to be boxed.

  2. Shaun Cochran 29 December, 2017 at 16:40

    I started collecting cards with GPK’s and not baseball cards, UNFORTUNATELY. My father first brought me home a pack of the series one when I was 11 years old, I remember laughing at the names and pictures. I got a Blasted Billy, a Potty Scotty and a couple others that survived in horrid condition, some missing the sticker bordering around the sticker, and corners rounded so badly, its as if it were done on purpose! lol! That was the only first series pack that I got, much to my chagrin. But, I began helping my father deliver papers in the early mornings and discovered them again around the 4th series and loved picking up a pack or two every night that I could for a few series. A good memory in my childhood, and a kickstarter for my baseball card obsession that still rules over me to this day! I too have a mission to complete a GPK collection…graded! I just started last month with a Gem 10 PSA series 4 Incomplete Pete! I love calling people their GPK name in my head sometimes…lolol

  3. Mary Tyler Mahaney 1 January, 2018 at 17:48

    I just found out that my children’s Garbage Pail card collection is very valuable! I think I have the whole set from 1985 with extra cards too. How do I find the true value and what I should sell them for?

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