So Long, Toys “R” Us and Thanks for All the Baseball Cards

For millions of people, trips to Toys “R” Us were a seminal part of growing up. Wandering the aisles, the rows and rows of soaring shelves looking even higher from the low kid vantage point. The Empire State Building might as well have been made out of LEGO boxes, Transformers and Barbie dolls.

Sure, it was expensive, but that was for the adults to worry about. As kids, we had no concept of money. We either had enough or we didn’t. And even if we had enough, it didn’t mean our parents would let us spend it.

Full disclosure, I didn’t have a Toys “R” Us close by until I was a teenager and had moved on from He-Man and G.I. Joe. That didn’t mean I didn’t view the chain through a magical lens of awe. In Canada, I still saw the commercials on the American channels beamed north from Washington State. I saw the ads in my comic books. I hummed the jingle walking to school. I wanted Geoffrey the Giraffe to come to my birthday party.

And now, it’s coming to a close, at least in the United States. Toys “R” Us is set to suffer the same fate as a cancelled toy line. Whether it comes back in some new form or we compromise for some kid nostalgia watching old commercials on YouTube remains to be seen. For now at least, there’s the option of taking a trip to Canada where stores are still open. But it’s safe to say the days of burning rubber with a Big Wheel up and down the aisles are over.

It also means one less place to go to hunt for sports cards. The selection might not be as strong as other retail spots like Walmart and Target, but there are still cards to be found. That includes the flagship Topps Baseball Purple parallels that have become popular in their own right, in part due to their rarity on the secondary market.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in the heyday of the franchise, sports cards were at their peak as well as far as number of collectors. Put the two together and you’ve got a string of exclusive sets that are largely relegated to oddball status today.

Between 1987 and 1991, Topps and Toys “R” Us teamed up for annual mini sets highlighting the years’ rookies. Each has a 33-card checklist and came packaged like a deck of cards.

In many instances, the rookies on the cards didn’t match up with their Rookie Card years. For commons and minor stars, it doesn’t mean a lot. But there’s a big difference between a 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. card and one from 1990.

Today, these sets aren’t particularly scarce. And while some key players like Griffey, and Barry Bonds and Bo Jackson in 1987, can garner some attention, it’s relative. You’re not going to get rich off of Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies sets.

On the strictly collecting side, they look pretty good. The TRU logo alone makes for a bright color palette. The design for the glossy Toys “R” Us Rookies sets didn’t change up much from year to year. Topps stuck with the same layout but the border color changed.

After there was no set in 1992, the format was overhauled for 1993 Topps Toys “R” Us got an overhaul. For starters, the rookie-only approach was abandoned and young stars were added to the mix. The set size also tripled, going to 100 cards.

Topps went with Stadium Club branding on the cards and also included 12 Master Photos in each set.

The cherry for the 1993 Topps Stadium Club Toys “R” Us set is the packaging, particularly in light of the toy store’s fate. Rather than a basic box, it comes in one designed to mimic a Toys “R” Us store, complete with Geoffrey smiling down from the front.

From overhead, it shows those glorious rows upon rows of toys.

1987 Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies

Set Size: 33 cards

Top Players: Barry Bonds, Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco, Will Clark

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Andy Allanson, Cleveland Indians
2 Paul Assenmacher, Atlanta Braves
3 Scott Bailes, Cleveland Indians
4 Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates
5 Jose Canseco, Oakland Athletics
6 John Cerutti, Toronto Blue Jays
7 Will Clark, San Francisco Giants
8 Kal Daniels, Cincinnati Reds
9 Jim Deshaies, Houston Astros
10 Mark Eichhorn, Toronto Blue Jays
11 Ed Hearn, New York Mets
12 Pete Incaviglia, Texas Rangers
13 Bo Jackson, Kansas City Royals
14 Wally Joyner, California Angels
15 Charlie Kerfeld, Houston Astros
16 Eric King, Detroit Tigers
17 John Kruk, San Diego Padres


18 Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds
19 Mike LaValliere, St. Louis Cardinals
20 Greg Mathews, St. Louis Cardinals
21 Kevin Mitchell, New York Mets
22 Dan Plesac, Milwaukee Brewers
23 Bruce Ruffin, Philadelphia Phillies
24 Ruben Sierra, Texas Rangers
25 Cory Snyder, Cleveland Indians
26 Kurt Stillwell, Cincinnati Reds
27 Dale Sveum, Milwaukee Brewers
28 Danny Tartabull, Seattle Mariners
29 Andres Thomas, Atlanta Braves
30 Robby Thompson, San Francisco Giants
31 Jim Traber, Baltimore Orioles
32 Mitch Williams, Texas Rangers
33 Todd Worrell, St. Louis Cardinals


1988 Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies

Set Size: 33 cards

Top Players: Mark McGwire, Ken Caminiti

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Todd Benzinger, Boston Red Sox
2 Bob Brower, Texas Rangers
3 Jerry Browne, Texas Rangers
4 DeWayne Buice, California Angels
5 Ellis Burks, Boston Red Sox
6 Ken Caminiti, Houston Astros
7 Casey Candaele, Montreal Expos
8 Dave Cone, New York Mets
9 Kelly Downs, San Francisco Giants
10 Mike Dunne, Pittsburgh Pirates
11 Ken Gerhart, Baltimore Orioles
12 Mike Greenwell, Boston Red Sox
13 Mike Henneman, Detroit Tigers
14 Sam Horn, Boston Red Sox
15 Joe Magrane, St. Louis Cardinals
16 Fred Manrique, Chicago White Sox
17 John Marzano, Boston Red Sox


18 Fred McGriff, Toronto Blue Jays
19 Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics
20 Jeff Musselman, Toronto Blue Jays
21 Randy Myers, New York Mets
22 Matt Nokes, Detroit Tigers
23 Al Pedrique, Pittsburgh Pirates
24 Luis Polonia, Oakland Athletics
25 Billy Ripken, Baltimore Orioles
26 Benito Santiago, San Diego Padres
27 Kevin Seitzer, Kansas City Royals
28 John Smiley, Pittsburgh Pirates
29 Mike Stanley, Texas Rangers
30 Terry Steinbach, Oakland Athletics
31 B.J. Surhoff, Milwaukee Brewers
32 Bobby Thigpen, Chicago White Sox
33 Devon White, California Angels


1989 Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies

Set Size: 33 cards

Top Players: Gary Sheffield, Roberto Alomar, Mark Grace

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Roberto Alomar, San Diego Padres
2 Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles
3 Tim Belcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
4 Damon Berryhill, Chicago Cubs
5 Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners
6 Sherman Corbett, California Angels
7 Kevin Elster, New York Mets
8 Cecil Espy, Texas Rangers
9 Dave Gallagher, Chicago White Sox
10 Ron Gant, Atlanta Braves
11 Paul Gibson, Detroit Tigers
12 Mark Grace, Chicago Cubs
13 Bryan Harvey, California Angels
14 Darrin Jackson, Chicago Cubs
15 Gregg Jefferies, New York Mets
16 Ron Jones, Philadelphia Phillies
17 Ricky Jordan, Philadelphia Phillies


18 Roberto Kelly, New York Yankees
19 Al Leiter, Toronto Blue Jays
20 Jack McDowell, Chicago White Sox
21 Melido Perez, Chicago White Sox
22 Jeff Pico, Chicago Cubs
23 Jody Reed, Boston Red Sox
24 Chris Sabo, Cincinnati Reds
25 Nelson Santovenia, Montreal Expos
26 Mackey Sasser, New York Mets
27 Mike Schooler, Seattle Mariners
28 Gary Sheffield, Milwaukee Brewers
29 Pete Smith, Atlanta Braves
30 Pete Stanicek, Baltimore Orioles
31 Jeff Treadway, Atlanta Braves
32 Walt Weiss, Oakland Athletics
33 Dave West, New York Mets


1990 Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies

Set Size: 33 cards

Top Players: Ken Griffey Jr., Albert “Joey” Belle

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Jim Abbott, California Angels
2 Eric Anthony, Houston Astros
3 Joey Belle, Cleveland Indians
4 Andy Benes, San Diego Padres
5 Greg Briley, Seattle Mariners
6 Kevin Brown, Texas Rangers
7 Mark Carreon, New York Mets
8 Mike Devereaux, Baltimore Orioles
9 Junior Felix, Toronto Blue Jays
10 Mark Gardner, Montreal Expos
11 Bob Geren, New York Yankees
12 Tom Gordon, Kansas City Royals
13 Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
14 Pete Harnisch, Baltimore Orioles
15 Ken Hill, St. Louis Cardinals
16 Gregg Jefferies, New York Mets
17 Derek Lilliquist, Atlanta Braves


18 Carlos Martinez, Chicago White Sox
19 Ramon Martinez, Los Angeles Dodgers
20 Bob Milacki, Baltimore Orioles
21 Gregg Olson, Baltimore Orioles
22 Kenny Rogers, Texas Rangers
23 Alex Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays
24 Gary Sheffield, Milwaukee Brewers
25 Dwight Smith, Chicago Cubs
26 Billy Spiers, Milwaukee Brewers
27 Greg Vaughn, Milwaukee Brewers
28 Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
29 Jerome Walton, Chicago Cubs
30 Dave West, Minnesota Twins
31 John Wetteland, Los Angeles Dodgers
32 Craig Worthington, Baltimore Orioles
33 Todd Zeile, St. Louis Cardinals


1991 Topps Toys “R” Us Rookies

1991 Topps Toys R Us Rookies Frank Thomas

Set Size: 33 cards

Top Players: Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Dave Justice

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Sandy Alomar Jr., Cleveland Indians
2 Kevin Appier, Kansas City Royals
3 Steve Avery, Atlanta Braves
4 Carlos Baerga, Cleveland Indians
5 Alex Cole, Cleveland Indians
6 Pat Combs, Philadelphia Phillies
7 Delino DeShields, Montreal Expos
8 Travis Fryman, Detroit Tigers
9 Marquis Grissom, Montreal Expos
10 Mike Harkey, Chicago Cubs
11 Glenallen Hill, Toronto Blue Jays
12 Jeff Huson, Texas Rangers
13 Felix Jose, St. Louis Cardinals
14 Dave Justice, Atlanta Braves
15 Dana Kiecker, Boston Red Sox
16 Kevin Maas, New York Yankees
17 Ben McDonald, Baltimore Orioles


18 Brian McRae, Kansas City Royals
19 Kent Mercker, Atlanta Braves
20 Hal Morris, Cincinnati Reds
21 Chris Nabholz, Montreal Expos
22 Tim Naehring, Boston Red Sox
23 Jose Offerman, Los Angeles Dodgers
24 John Olerud, Toronto Blue Jays
25 Scott Radinsky, Chicago White Sox
26 Bill Sampen, Montreal Expos
27 Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox
28 Randy Tomlin, Pittsburgh Pirates
29 Greg Vaughn, Milwaukee Brewers
30 Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
31 Larry Walker, Montreal Expos
32 Wally Whitehurst, New York Mets
33 Todd Zeile, St. Louis Cardinals


1993 Topps Stadium Club Toys “R” Us

1993 Toys R Us Mike Mussina

Set Size: 100 cards

Top Players: Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza

Price Guide Access
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Checklist


1 Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
2 Chad Curtis, California Angels
3 Mike Bordick, Oakland Athletics
4 Ryan Klesko, Atlanta Braves
5 Pat Listach, Milwaukee Brewers
6 Jim Bullinger, Chicago Cubs
7 Tim Laker, Montreal Expos
8 Mike Devereaux, Baltimore Orioles
9 Kevin Young, Pittsburgh Pirates
10 John Valentin, Boston Red Sox
11 Pat Mahomes, Minnesota Twins
12 Todd Hundley, New York Mets
13 Roberto Alomar, Toronto Blue Jays
14 David Justice, Atlanta Braves
15 Mike Perez, St. Louis Cardinals
16 Royce Clayton, San Francisco Giants
17 Ryan Thompson, New York Mets
18 Dave Hollins, Philadelphia Phillies
19 Brien Taylor, New York Yankees
20 Melvin Nieves, Atlanta Braves
21 Rheal Cormier, St. Louis Cardinals
22 Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers
23 Larry Walker, Montreal Expos
24 Tim Wakefield, Pittsburgh Pirates
25 Tim Costo, Cincinnati Reds
26 Pedro Munoz, Minnesota Twins
27 Reggie Sanders, Cincinnati Reds
28 Arthur Rhodes, Baltimore Orioles
29 Scott Cooper, Boston Red Sox
30 Marquis Grissom, Montreal Expos
31 Dave Nilsson, Milwaukee Brewers
32 John Patterson, San Francisco Giants
33 Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers
34 Andy Stankiewicz, New York Yankees
35 Bret Boone, Seattle Mariners
36 Gerald Williams, New York Yankees
37 Mike Mussina, Baltimore Orioles
38 Henry Rodriguez, Los Angeles Dodgers
39 Chuck Knoblauch, Minnesota Twins
40 Bob Wickman, New York Yankees
41 Donovan Osborne, St. Louis Cardinals
42 Mike Timlin, Toronto Blue Jays
43 Damion Easley, California Angels
44 Pedro Astacio, Los Angeles Dodgers
45 David Segui, Baltimore Orioles
46 Willie Greene, Cincinnati Reds
47 Mike Trombley, Minnesota Twins
48 Bernie Williams, New York Yankees
49 Eric Anthony, Houston Astros
50 Tim Naehring, Boston Red Sox


51 Carlos Baerga, Cleveland Indians
52 Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles
53 Mo Vaughn, Boston Red Sox
54 Willie Banks, Minnesota Twins
55 Mark Wohlers, Atlanta Braves
56 Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros
57 Frank Seminara, San Diego Padres
58 Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox
59 Alan Embree, Cleveland Indians
60 Rey Sanchez, Chicago Cubs
61 Delino DeShields, Montreal Expos
62 Todd Van Poppel, Oakland Athletics
63 Eric Karros, Los Angeles Dodgers
64 Gary Sheffield, San Diego Padres
65 Dan Wilson, Cincinnati Reds
66 Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox
67 Tim Salmon, Anaheim Angels
68 Dan Smith, Texas Rangers
69 Kenny Lofton, Cleveland Indians
70 Carlos Garcia, Pittsburgh Pirates
71 Scott Livingstone, Detroit Tigers
72 Sam Militello, New York Yankees
73 Juan Guzman, Toronto Blue Jays
74 Greg Colbrunn, Montreal Expos
75 David Hulse, Texas Rangers
76 Rusty Meacham, Kansas City Royals
77 Dave Fleming, Seattle Mariners
78 Rene Arocha, St. Louis Cardinals
79 Derrick May, Chicago Cubs
80 Cal Eldred, Milwaukee Brewers
81 Bernard Gilkey, St. Louis Cardinals
82 Deion Sanders, Atlanta Braves
83 Reggie Jefferson, Cleveland Indians
84 Jeff Kent, New York Mets
85 Juan Gonzalez, Texas Rangers
86 Billy Ashley, Los Angeles Dodgers
87 Travis Fryman, Detroit Tigers
88 Roberto Hernandez, Chicago White Sox
89 Hipolito Pichardo, Kansas City Royals
90 Wilfredo Cordero, Montreal Expos
91 John Jaha, Milwaukee Brewers
92 Javier Lopez, Atlanta Braves
93 Derek Bell, Toronto Blue Jays
94 Jeff Juden, Houston Astros
95 Steve Avery, Atlanta Braves
96 Moises Alou, Montreal Expos
97 Brian Jordan, St. Louis Cardinals
98 Brian Williams, Houston Astros
99 Bob Zupcic, Boston Red Sox
100 Ray Lankford, St. Louis Cardinals


Master Photos

Set Size: 12 cards

1 Moises Alou, Montreal Expos
2 Eric Anthony, Houston Astros
3 Carlos Baerga, Cleveland Indians
4 Willie Greene, Cincinnati Reds
5 Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners
6 Marquis Grissom, Montreal Expos
7 Chuck Knoblauch, Minnesota Twins
8 Scott Livingstone, Detroit Tigers
9 Sam Militello, Baltimore Orioles
10 Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers
11 Gary Sheffield, San Diego Padres

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks or by email.

3 Comments

  1. John S.
    Posted March 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    How is the only HOFer in the 1987 set not one of the top players?

  2. Jason H.
    Posted May 10, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I have a Bo Jackson card with Mitch Williams info on back, worth anything?

  3. Ryan Cracknell
    Posted May 10, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    @Jason — More of a novelty. Might interest a fan of either player but probably not a big money card. This article may help: https://www.beckett.com/news/sports-card-printing-errors/

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