Friday, August 8, 2008

Topps Insert Set of the Week: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Flags of All Nations

Don't tell anyone this, but I am a closet geography buff, and an amateur vexillologist (one who dabbles in the study of flags). I love this stuff, and have loved learning about countries and their flags since I was in kindergarten. So when the Insert Set of the Week was included in last year's edition of Topps Allen & Ginter, I had to have it, no matter what the cost. And with today being the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it is only fitting to honor the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Flags of All Nations set.

Inserted into packs of 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter (1:12 hobby and retail packs) were cards that comprised a fifty card set called Flags of All Nations. Now Topps A & G honors one of the oldest sets created, all the way back into the 1880's. Tobacco companies included cards depicting all different kinds of subjects in their cigarette packs and cartons back then. Flags, birds, animals, women wearing hats, jewels and gems, athletes, you name it, they had cards for them. Now the original A & G also included flag cards (see Cardboard Junkie for more details on those beautiful cards). Topps, in honor of that set, designed and distributed these beautiful cards with the flag waving proudly in front of a scene that masterfully represents each country.

Each of the fifty cards here (I am not going to list each country, you can clearly see them on the cards) was beautifully done, and the vexillologist in me was pleased when they started appearing on the Bay. My mind started thinking of ways to use these cards, not only as a superb addition to the A & G set that I was going to buy, but as a way to teach my kids about the different countries and better still, what pictures were included with each flag. For example, the Denmark flag has a picture of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, inspired by the fairy tale's author, Hans Christian Andersen. And the China card includes a picture of the Great Wall. The Philippines flag card (so near and dear to my heart) has a picture of the Mount Mayon, the world's most perfect cone shaped volcano, and it still erupts from time to time (not in catastrophic terms, but the smoke coming out of the top kinda gives you an idea of when it could blow).

The day the cards arrived in the mail, my family went on a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I used these cards as entertainment for my daughter, who wanted to learn all about the countries. I couldn't bring my atlases, or my geography books, or even my flag books. I was able to use these cards as a sort of reference tool, being able to sort them by continent, by name, and as best as I could, tell her what the landmark is on each of the card or what the included picture meant.

I will admit that I don't watch all the Olympic events (I mean, who does). But when the summer games (or the winter games for that matter) come, I make sure to watch the Opening Ceremonies, especially the parade of countries. To see each country represented, the beautiful colors of the costumes, and to compare the number of athletes each country sends to the games makes for good tv watching at our house. I remember the uproar in 1996 when the games were in Atlanta, and NBC decided to go to commercial as soon as the contingent from the Philippines arrived at the stadium. Oh the uproar from the Filipino community. Shouts of boycotts were everywhere. What actually happened was that the group had just arrived at the stadium, and then they were cut off by commercial. Now normally, the networks would recap who arrived while they were on break. They didn't show the athletes from the Philippines once they came back. They skipped them for the next country over. I think since then, NBC has made sure to televise when the athletes arrive. Maybe they've stopped cutting for commercials now for the parade, so as not to leave any country out.

Back to the cards.

You have to agree that they look great. Click on any of the ten pictures to get a closer look at each of the cards.

I was hoping that they'd do a second set this year to feature the flags of countries that they missed in the first set, (would have been cool to see Nepal's, or East Timor's, or Eritrea's, or Andorra's flag in cards like this).

But until then, Topps did something right when they created, designed, and included this set with the Allen & Ginter product. For me, this is, without a doubt, my favorite insert set ever.


JayBee Anama

1 comment:

dayf said...

This is a really great looking set. This year's set of World Leaders is also sort of based on an original A&G set, World's Sovereigns. It's neat because the set is designed completely differently from the original, but it does have an original A&G feel if you know what I mean.