WACKY PACKAGES GALLERY: by Paul Argyropoulos, Published by Phil Carpenter, 8 1/2” X 11” softcover, 128 p By Dale

Remember Wacky Packages, those colorful packs of stickers that were spoofs on everything from grocery store items –  Hawaiian Punks (Hawaiian Punch) and Baby Runt Candy (Baby Ruth), to popular magazines – Playbug (Playboy) and Jerk In Jail (Jack ‘N Jill), to toys – Shot Wheels (Hot Wheels) and Stinkertoy (Tinkertoy). These damn things kept me fascinated as a kid, especially with how much detail was put into each sticker’s artwork. And that pink stick of awful fricking gum that was like chomping into slice of baking powder. Heh. Years later, I’m surprised to see just how big a deal with collectors Wacky Packages have become, which is clearly obvious after taking a look at this book. (I recently saw a complete first set of cards from 1967 go for roughly $11,000. Crazy insane.)

After reading this beast, I’m convinced that it’s become quite an overwhelming hobby to those who are serious about grabbing up as much of this childhood nostalgia as they can. To say that this book is quite an extensive resource on Wacky Packages stickers and related merchandise would be an understatement. To say that it is the resource is more like it. I had no idea how many series of these stickers were actually produced until I started looking at the full color pictures of all the actual stickers themselves here… that’s right, every single one of them, baby. Unbelievable, but true. And the pics are of a good size, as well. NOT the tiny, itsy-bitsy, fucking annoying, break-out-the-reading-glasses size like a lot of other collectable-type books pass off, ya know? Besides the pics of stickers, there are pics of all the other related Wacky Packages merch, like some original artwork (rough drafts, too), uncut sheets of stickers, store display boxes, sticker package wrappers, cloth patches, temporary tattoos, pogs, and a shitload of other related goods. But it gets a whole lot better. In the few beginning pages of the book, there is a thorough history of the Wacky Packs phenomenon, including its inception, the original artwork paintings, and how they came to pass (1967 to 1994!). The ongoing pages continue with chronologically listing each series, complete with all the variations and recalls. There’s even a section on pricing all the different stickers, as well as all the other Wacky Packages-related items. What I like about this section is that Paul emphasizes that his price guide section isn’t the price guide- that the items are worth whatever you pay for them and you should always use discretion, being that the marketplace for Wacky Packages has become increasingly aggressive and political (please refer to my column in this issue for the special coverage on some of these certain types of collectors). In the back, there is an alphabetic listing for all the stickers and series # for easy referencing. An incredible abundance of other knowledge is also packed in this book, too. Hats off to both Paul and Phil for a very good job here. I heard that this volume of info was years in the making. Well worth the wait. Whether you use to buy these stickers as a kid at your neighborhood liquor store and then stashed ‘em away in the closet years ago, or you happen to belong to a circle of  hardcore Wacky Pack collectors, this book will be enjoyed on ANY level, regardless of the reader’s knowledge on this often forgotten, but always remembered subject. Definitely and highly recommended.  -Designated Dale  (wackypackagesgallery[dot]com)