Trading and Arcade Cards
Arcade photo cards were dispensed by vending machines located at "penny
arcades" in amusement parks and traveling carnivals. Patrons inserted a coin, or
sometimes a token won at a carnival game, in the machine to obtain one of these
black-and-white cards that had a photo with a printed autograph of a celebrity. These
arcade cards were popular items at carnivals in the '50s, but by the time Combat!
came along their popularity was waning. Two Combat! arcade cards were issued: one
of Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley and Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders.
Trading Cards (Gum Cards)
company, known primarily for their baseball cards, produced two sets of black-and-white Combat!
trading cards. Each set contains 66 cards depicting characters and scenes from the
television show. Cards were originally available in wax packs of 5 cards containing a
stick of gum. The captions on the backs of the cards often have little to do with the
picture on the front, but if you read the cards in order, then each set of captions tells
a complete (if not very well-written) story. (Image at right is from card #53.)
They only had a license to use the images of the regular cast members. If an
"extra" was also in the photo, instead of using a different photo, they
hand-drew new faces on the extras. This make some of the cards very cartoonish.
Series 1: Issued 1963
The story on
this set of cards is about the squad being captured and then escaping from a POW camp.
Throughout the story, the characters are identified by the actors' names, instead of the
character names (for example, Sgt. Morrow, Lt. Jason, Pvt. Rogers). Besides scenes from
the show, the cards also depict formal studio portraits of Morrow and Jason and posed
shots of the squad in uniform. (Photo of series 1 wrapper provided by Dave Sanders).
Don Russ had licensing problems while creating these series.
Typical cards include:
- card #2: "Vic Morrow As The Tough Sergeant"
- This card shows Morrow in a scene from "A Day In June." He is pictured wearing
full battle gear and carrying an M-1 rifle. A cigarette dangles from his mouth. It's one
of the few cards showing him without his trademark Thompson and and camo helmet.
- card #40:"Run For Cover!"
- Though a Rick Jason photo, the card identifies him as Pvt. Rogers.
- card #55:"Fire From The Sky"
- Littlejohn is attacked as the squad attempts to cross a bridge.
Series 2: Issued 1964
This set features scenes from episodes shown during the latter half of the 1963/64
season. The cards also document military equipment and hardware used in the series
(radios, tanks etc.). The captions for these cards show none of the naming errors so
prevalent with the first series. This second set had a much shorter print run and is the
more valuable of the two sets.
As of December 1994, the price guides list the value of each card (in near mint/mint
condition) to be $2 to $3. "Star" cards (those with Vic Morrow or Rick Jason)
are the most expensive with "commons" often going for as little as $1 each. A
complete set of series 1 and 2 in mint condition can cost upwards of $350 (U.S.). By 2002,
it's much more difficult to find mint condition original sets.I've seen combined series 1
and 2 sets in mint condition sell for over $500. Good to fair condition individual cards
comes up frequently on eBay.