Mental Floss

90s | 80s

10 Trading Cards We All Spent Way Too Much Money Trying To Collect

Mental Floss

Before everything 'cool' transferred online, we had trading cards to show off to our friends.

The thrill of ripping open that wax package to see which cards were inside was exhilarating.

Then we inserted, and organized, each valuable collectible in plastic trading card pages and placed them in a three-ringed binder.

Or maybe you were one of those people who liked to keep them in their plastic wrap hoping that one day the cards will be worth thousands.

Pokemon trading cards.Property Room

We know there were many trading cards that made you look cool, whether they were based on your favorite show or favorite sport, but we'll be looking at a few we particularly enjoyed showing off.

21 Jump Street

The mystery was too good! Which one of these young undercover cops would appear in your package? Which one will you stick to your mirror, and which one will you slip into your binder? It's also nice that it came with chewing gum, even if the flavor lasted for less than a minute.



Before Pokémon Go, you had to go to the store to 'catch them all'. Also, you couldn't walk by these packet of cards without thinking about buying them. Whipping these out at recess made you feel crazy cool.

The X-Files

The only people who understood how cool these were are fans of this classic sci-fi show. The more cards you collected, the more you felt like you were part of the X-Files team. You had all those informative character cards and creepy scenes from the show, it was pretty awesome, right?


Some girls loved these classic cards. Those who did thought they were very cool for owning these. There wasn't much to them, but they were pretty to look at.

Marvel Universe

Although the legacy of the Marvel Universe trading cards hasn't lasted, their storylines have. That being said, the Marvel roster was epic. If you whipped out any of these cards in public, some may have thought of you as a huge geek, and others gathered around you to read about those gnarly superheroes.

These next ones were super-duper gnarly!

Back to the Future II

We loved the first Back to the Future; then the sequel came out and we fell in love all over again. The images were rudimentary, but at least the cards included snappy lines from the movie.  

Garbage Pail Kids

If you never bought one of these wax packs, you definitely saw these bizarre cards in a store. The Garbage Pail Kids are a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that were popular during the '80s.


If you weren't running to the arcade to play Pac-Man, you were running to collect Pac-Man stickers. It also helped that the stickers were funny.

Saturday Night Live

These cards weren't as funny as you hoped, but it was SNL, and you had to get what was cool. Also, Wayne's World was worth it.  

Yo! MTV Raps

For those hip-hop heads, this was the trading card you needed to gain some street cred. Each card had interesting music facts to impress your friends.

Too bad the Yo Moma's trading cards came out in the early '00s. But those ones got you into trouble ...

Do you still have any of these trading cards?