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A popular non-sports related card set is the Mars Attacks card
Mars Attacks Cards Checklist
Most of these cards are great and highly desired, although some are more valuable than others due to their artistic value, or emotional value. Let’s take a look at them from the first one to the last one and how they portrayed the story (as well as their approximate values).
#1 The Invasion Begins
This card is among the most popular cards from this set. It marks the beginning of the Martian invasion of Earth, and it’s a highly iconic card – perhaps one of the more symbolic ones you’ll find in this set.
On the back of the card, there’s a description of it, or rather, the part of the story it depicts. On this card, it says that Martians are preparing to attack Earth as the government is seeking a new living space for the Martians, with the atomic explosion threatening Mars to go extinct.
The card can fetch several thousand dollars, especially if well kept.
#2 Martians Approaching
The long journey to Earth starts for the Martian soldiers, awaiting further instructions from the command center. This card depicts the act of a haunting preparation for the attack as the Martians start transporting troops and weapons to Earth in order to start the invasion. You can see their ghastly appearance and some fear-inducing weapons never seen before.
This card inspires almost anxious feelings of anticipation and even fear of extinction for humans. It’s among the more valuable cards, although not as expensive as the first one.
#3 Attacking An Army Base
The Martian attack starts on a “quiet Sunday afternoon that was turned into tragedy”. Their first attack was on an army base which was quickly turned to dust by powerful attacks by saucers and powerful Martian weapons of destruction.
The card shows us the haunting images of human soldiers turned ablaze by the powerful rays of saucers. It’s among the more vivid and graphical images from this set.
#4 Saucers Blast Our Jets
Next on the chopping block was the human air fleet. The human army sent jets to attack the spaceship that invaded the military base, although this jet fleet was quickly intercepted by exceptionally quick saucers that destroyed the jets without taking any damage.
There seems to be no hope for the humans at this stage of the story, even though they used one of the most powerful means of warfare to attack the Martians.
#5 Washington in Flames
There’s no stopping the alien attack and Washington seemed like a vulnerable place that Martians wanted to attack next. The entire city of Washington is under siege, while the nation is awaiting reports on how the president is doing during the attack.
However, the communication seems to be compromised as the Martians quickly swooped in to destroy the White House, among all the more important landmarks of Washington like the Lincoln Memorial.
#6 Burning Navy Ships
The air force was already destroyed by the Martians – their next target was the American navy, which found itself in the Philippines. Quickly, they found themselves surrounded by Martian saucers, which attacked vigorously and at abnormal speeds, burning the ships and leaving only a handful of ships alive.
#7 Destroying the Bridge
The next card depicts a Martian attack on the Golden Gate Bridge just as thousands of people were leaving their work for home. The Martian Mammoth strikes at the height of the rush hour, destroying the bridge while killing thousands of humans trapped on the bridge.
This card is the next in the series of cards that depict Martian attacks on humans, and it’s among the more affordable ones from the set.
#8 Terror in Times Square
But the Martian attacks didn’t stop in Washington or on the West Coast – instead, they marched on the entire country, swarming New York and catching thousands of people off-guard.
Despite warnings of attacks and raids by the authorities, many people went along with their business as they normally do. So when the attack came, they were unprepared and caught by surprise, as the card depicts the terror on the faces of New Yorkers during the attack.
#9 The Human Torch
There seems to be no hope left for the human race, as the Army swoops into all the major cities across the country. They are helpless against powerful attacks of the saucers, and tanks, soldiers, and other military equipment are turned into ashes almost instantly.
However, this seems to be only the start of much harsher doses of terror. The military is doing all it can to protect human society. But once the military is beaten, the normal folk will have to defend themselves, which will ultimately fail – millions are left to defend for themselves.
#10 The Skyscraper Tumbles
This is perhaps one of the nicest cards in terms of graphics on the card. It portrays New York being burned down, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Skyscrapers are tumbling down, destroying the years and years of work and development it took to set them up.
Thousands of people got caught in the flames and by the Martian attack, just as many of them were leaving for home. New York is crumbling down and there’s no defending it anymore. This card shows how New York would look if it was attacked by Martians.
#11 Destroy the City
#11 is truly one of the most haunting images that you’ll find in this set. It shows dozens of dead bodies of humans, while the Martians are patrolling the streets, carrying the powerful heat guns that incarcerated a human body in just seconds.
Total destruction is coming, with the aliens looking to destroy everything that comes their way. This card inspires shock and horror, and it was initially very hotly debated and discussed – ultimately, it remained a part of the set, gaining its reputation as one of the most vivid cards from the Mars Attacks set.
#12 Death in the Cockpit
Jet fighters were also not spared during the attack, and many of the jet pilots had to face almost certain death. But one pilot, which was depicted on this card, was particularly dedicated to destroying the Martian fleet – but he was unsuccessful. This is how the story goes:
“One jet pilot, more persistent than any of the others, tried to follow the alien ships. Although he knew he couldn’t catch up with the saucers, the pilot hoped to learn where they were stationed. The Martians soon became aware of the jet following them and sent a saucer back to blast him out of the sky. The alien ship soared head-on toward the jet and fired its potent ray. The cockpit was instantly transformed into a flaming coffin, giving the pilot no chance to parachute to safety.”
#13 Watching From Mars
The attack on Earth was progressing well from the Martian point of view, and the Martian leaders enjoyed this success as they watched the Earth crumble. They use advanced technology to watch the happenings on Earth through a television that shows a historical building being attacked by saucers. By now, the attacks have spread to other major cities such as Rome and Paris…
#14 Charred by Martians
This card portrays a chase that was almost typical of a Hollywood movie. In it, the doctor is trying to flee the Martian forces by using a fast car, but that’s not enough for him to escape.
To stop him, the saucers use powerful beams to turn the car over and cause it to burn, leaving the doctor with no chance of survival. This is the next card in the series of cards that show the hopeless nature of the surroundings for human beings and the seemingly endless war that had almost no chance of success for them.
#15 Saucers Invade China
No part of the world was spared. Now that the Martians have dealt with the US and other big nations, they turned their attention towards China. The card shows Chinese farmers and peasants terrified by the saucers, as they were left unprepared for the attack. They believed that the attack was because of the angry will of the Gods!
#16 Panic in Parliament
What next? The Parliament was just discussing the next steps to defend the human race from the attacks when boom, the attacks started. This card shows the English parliament being attacked just as they were discussing the defensive measures they were about to take against the invaders.
It’s an iconic card of the English parliament showing several members of the Parliament unable to escape the horrors of the Martian attack.
#17 Beast and the Beauty
Terror becomes a normal thing, as shown by this card where the beauty is taken away by the beast. The Martians used all possible means to decimate the human population and nobody was spared, even the beauty on the card.
Paralyzed by this horrific attack by the Martians, the humans were unable to strike back and defend themselves. This sort of image pops up in horror movies and nightmares, which is why this card was so hugely popular.
#18 A Soldier Fights Back
The heroic soldier seeks to protect the other human beings that are hiding away from the Martian attacks, hoping that they would never be discovered. The soldier is brave enough to stand his ground against the Martian.
Ultimately, this bravery also costs him his life, as he is shot down by the ray gun from a Martian that creeps up behind his back. But this is the first sign of the human starting to fight back, although unsuccessfully.
#19 Burning Flesh
This is one of the more controversial cards from the entire set. The #19 was hotly discussed by many parents, describing it to be too full of gore and violence. Martians used ray guns that used radiation rays in order to burn down human flesh.
The scary thing is that these attacks only left the skeletons of the human soldiers behind them, depicting the horrors of the Martian attacks but also the bravery of the soldiers that fought these attacks. This card is among the most iconic ones from the set although not for the faint of heart.
#20 Crushed to Death
Not only soldiers but also the normal population were killed in these attacks. The saucers were too powerful for the humans to defend against, and they used shovels to clear the streets of the wreckage and debris that was left behind these attacks.
In one of these attacks, the shovel from the saucer catches a group of human beings, crushing them against the wall. Again, a highly controversial card here but not as much as the previous one.
#21 Prize Captive
Martians liked to capture the beautiful women, as they saw them as the prizes of the highest order. These women fought back, and some of them managed to flee, although many of them didn’t. On this card, the beautiful woman is able to escape:
“The Martians seemed very intrigued by the dresses and suits left in the closets of the frightened inhabitants. In one closet, an Earth girl that had not fled the city cowered in fear behind one of her dresses as a Martian looked over her belongings. Spying the hidden woman, the creature snatched her in his arms. The girl kicked and screamed at the touch of the alien. The Martian was so startled by the woman’s antics, that he released her. Taking the opportunity, the girl fled.”
#22 Burning Cattle
Nobody and nothing was spared, including the pets and the animals owned by the humans. The leaders ordered the saucers to destroy everything owned by human beings, including the cattle. On this card, you’ll see the burning cattle being destroyed by the saucers, with a helpless farmer just watching without hope of salvation.
#23 The Frost Ray
One of the main ways that Martians used to capture large masses of people was to freeze them with the frost ray. This type of weapon was newly introduced, and the Sun seemed to have no power against this weapon – as seen on the card.
#24 The Shrinking Ray
Another type of attack was the shrinking ray, which was used to make the soldiers small and thus not able to defend themselves. Ultimately, this ray would make the human disappear from the surface of the Earth.
#25 Capturing a Martian
Martians were equipped with powerful guns, although one Martian was caught off-guard, watching a building burn with pleasure, leaving itself vulnerable to be captured by humans. With a big fishing net, the human soldiers are able to capture the Martian and take it to the military headquarters where it would be examined and they would attempt to communicate with it.
#26 The Tidal Wave
The saucers turn their attention to the sea, as they try to disturb it in order to bring a large tidal wave that would flood large cities and kill millions of people. You can see this tidal wave on the card, along with the saucers shooting their rays into skyscrapers and the remaining buildings in the city.
#27 The Giant Flies
“As if the Martian death rays hadn’t caused enough destruction and tumult to the people of Earth, a new horror was suddenly released on them. Saucers flew over heavily populated cities, releasing huge insects to destroy property and lives. The Martians had gathered insect specimens from Earth, enlarging them with their scientific equipment to 500 times their regular size.”
These insects are the next weapon of mass destruction from the Martians. They created these huge specimens of insects that would devour humans and kill them. A truly horrific sight.
#28 Helpless Victim
These giant flies were horrible to deal with, and impossible to stop. A normal human being was unable to resist an attack from these giant flies, which is depicted on the card #28.
It’s almost like something you would experience in a bad nightmare, this image. But that’s what makes it special and especially at a time when the genre of sci-fi was still very much in its infancy.
#29 Death in the Shelter
Just like any large war or unpleasant event, people started hiding themselves in shelters in order to try and protect themselves and families. For some time, it worked, but now that the Martians have released these large flies, they become compromised.
These flies were able to locate the shelters and swarm them, killing all the people that were hiding inside these shelters. You can see the horror on the faces of these people as the flies start entering the shelter.
Not only did Martians release flies, but they also created large spiders that would use their webs to capture humans. This card is a truly horrifying one for those who are afraid of spiders.
The card description says that these nets were created by spiders in the country, where they would wrap the net around two trees in order to create an unsurpassable and inescapable barrier for humans.
#31 The Monster Reaches In
This is a truly heartbreaking image, as the couple is desperately trying to fight off a giant creature with tentacles that captured the girl. As she was trying to gather intelligence about these creatures, a tentacle suddenly reached into the laboratory and grabbed the girl, leaving the husband to try and rescue her. The soldier managed to harm the creature, allowing the couple to complete their work. A small win for humans!
#32 Robot Terror
The terror continues and this time, the aliens send out robots. The card #32 shows a robot with multiple arms attacking humans and everything that comes its way, with a Martian operating it from the cockpit.
It’s another in the series of cards that shows a bit more violence and gore, as the robot is holding a dead human body in one of its hands, while also shooting rays at others, fleeing humans who have a terrified look on their faces.
#33 Removing the Victims
“The Martians landed and inspected the damage that they had done. Streets were beyond recognition and mighty cities had been all but leveled. Bodies lay on the streets, unfortunate victims of the Martian destruction.”
That’s a part of the description of card #33, which shows you the Martians instructing these giant flies to remove the piles of bodies from the streets. This was to be one of the final steps of the invasion, as the aliens were preparing the streets for the new inhabitants to come and invade Earth.
#34 Terror in the Railroad
Card #34 shows you the terrors that these giant flies created when they entered the railroad. These insects attacked trains next, and they were full of people that were commuting from work. First, the train driver could not believe his eyes – there was a giant ant walking towards his train, until he realized – it’s the invaders.
Hundreds of people started pouring out of the train, although the bug grabbed the car and started shaking it so that the people inside started to fall out like apples. This is what card #34 is trying to depict.
#35 The Flame Throwers
“Soldiers were given powerful flame throwers with which they were to fight off the giant insects. A patrol of soldiers were marching along the countryside when they came upon a colony of the bugs.”
Humans seemed to have found a more effective weapon against these giant insects. They started using flamethrowers to burn them. These flames killed the giant bugs, forcing them to shriek and scream with inhuman voices that echoed through the streets. This was one of the first effective defense mechanisms against these invaders.
#36 Destroying a Dog
#36 is one of the most iconic and controversial cards from this legendary set. This card was initially met with a lot of disgust, especially from parents who tried to protect their children from the gore and horror that these cards depicted.
On the card, you’ll see an alien ruthlessly attack a dog with his deadly rays, while the helpless pet can do nothing but scream and bark. Perhaps even more iconic is the little boy right next to the alien, trying to fight it off as it incinerates the dog. Again, this card is perhaps not very suited for animal lovers, but many will appreciate this card as one of the more iconic from the set.
#37 Creeping Menace
#37 is called Creeping Menace, and it shows these giant ants in more detail yet again. This ant can’t be stopped by the larger objects and houses, as it comes crashing against them as it chases the remaining humans that were hiding in these houses.
#38 Victims of the Bug
“Riding along a bumpy country road in their jeep, three soldiers looked up in time to see a huge flying insect heading in their direction. “Let’s jump for that ditch,” cried the driver as he jammed on the brakes. The men leaped out of the vehicle as the bug crashed headlong into it. Seeing that the soldiers had escaped, the monster lashed out after them into the ditch.”
These unlucky soldiers met their end on card #38, as they desperately tried to escape the ant but failed. The soldiers were not equipped with the flamethrowers, so they were unable to defend themselves against the big bug.
#39 Army of Giant Insects
Card #39 is one of the first cards that shows us large-scale battles between aliens and the human beings. On this card, the aliens with their bugs prepared to attack a US army base, where the soldiers were unprepared and resting so they had to prepare for the battle quickly.
“Closer and closer the insects came, until the commanding officer gave the order to open fire. Rifle and machine-gun fire crackled through the air and bullets blazed a trail of death to the insects. The towering monsters fell in their tracks as the hard-fighting soldiers won the battle.”
Luckily for humans, their weapons were enough to destroy these giant insects and win the battle.
#40 High Voltage Execution
These giant bugs seemed to be no longer effective against humans, as they started to develop their own systems to kill them. One of the was the “high voltage execution”, which is depicted on card #40.
Here you can see one giant bug that was traveling the Texas plains getting caught in the electrical sparks that were created to trap the bug. It seemed to be effective, as it helped humans to get rid of the patrolling bug and restore peace in this Texas county.
#41 Horror in Paris
For those who love Paris – this card might inspire some fear in you. On card #41, you can see the monsters starting to attack this French city. Attacked by the saucers and the giant bugs, the Parisians seemed to be horrified as they started to run for their lives.
But perhaps the biggest attack on Paris was done by a huge caterpillar, which would wrap itself around the Eiffel Tower and destroy it. This landmark of the city was no more after the attack, and millions of lives perished because of the deadly alien attacks.
“The metal beams, which had withstood vicious hurricanes in the past, had never before been put to such a test of strength. The tower swayed to & fro, until the strain snapped it in two.
#42 Hairy Fiend
Yet another depiction of these giant bugs as they attack helpless soldiers that are fleeing away. The story of this card is that the giant bug almost caught and killed the president, although these soldiers sacrificed themselves to protect the life of the president.
#43 Blasting the Bug
Humans started to fight back, as they developed systems to combat these giant bugs. They knew their location by employing scouts and they would tell the exact location of a bug over the radio, which would then lead to mass attacks on the bug. This is one of those effective attacks that killed the bug. It’s the beginning of the end for the bugs.
“Helicopters cruised over wooded areas, always on the lookout for giant bugs. When one was spotted, word was flashed back to the military forts giving the exact location of the insect. The fort immediately dispatched enough artillery and men to fight the menace.”
#44 Battle in the Air
The battles did not only take place on the ground, but also in the sky. Helicopters were one of the only effective ways to combat the bugs, but they were able to dodge the bullets fired from the soldiers in the helicopters.
#45 Fighting Giant Insects
“A jet bomber on a mission across the country saw a giant bug moving close to a populated village. The pilot flew as close to the ground as he could and released several bombs. Off target, the bombs didn’t kill the bug but badly wounded it. The insect bellowed loudly in pain, terrifying the inhabitants in the near-by village.”
This was only a part of the description that goes together with card #45.
#46 Blast off for Mars
This card represents the turning point in the “war” between Martians and humans. #46 shows preparations as a fleet of brave soldiers – mostly volunteers – blasted off for Mars to attack them in a surprising manner.
These troops were formed by the “Space Committee”, which was formed by every government in the world together. The army was called the “Earth Army”. It’s a truly legendary card, this one.
#47 Earth Bombs Mars
The original plan, which is seen on card #47, was to bomb Mars with atom bombs and hope that there would not be much resistance after. However, this plan turned ineffective as the Martians deployed a large shield that would protect Mars. “The bombs are exploding in mid-air, before they reach the ground. Our men will have to land and fight.”
#48 Earthmen Land on Mars
It was becoming clear that the battle on Mars was to be won on the ground. And this means that the Earth Army had to parachute onto the ground to start wreaking havoc. This card is the exact opposite from some of the earlier cards on the pack – now it’s the humans causing panic and disarray to the Martians on Mars.
#49 The Earthmen Charge
The #49 card is also iconic as it shows one of the first glimpses of how a Martian city would look like. It’s truly a work of art and a masterpiece, which captured the imaginations of the people that found this card in their Mars Attacks pack.
#50 Smashing the Enemy
#50 was also a bit controversial because it shows gore again. On this card, we can see a human soldier bashing the head, or the brains, of a Martian. Humans charged towards the power center which would mean that the entire planet would be without power.
#51 Crushing the Martians
This card has character. It shows a tank marching towards a Martian population that starts to flee in horror. Again, this card is the opposite of what we’ve seen with Martian attacks, when people from large cities started to flee before the deadly attacks of the Martian saucers.
#52 Giant Robot
“The soldiers marched through the city, looking around at the magnificent Martian buildings with respect. The closer they inspected the structures, the more wondrous the alien technology appeared. Suddenly heavy metal footsteps echoed through the streets. Looking upward, the Earthmen saw a 50 ft. metal man rapidly stalking toward them.”
A scary robot defends Mars but it seems powerless against the powerful weapons of the human army.
#53 Martian City in Ruins
Now the Martian city is in ruins, which meant that the impressive architecture that the humans previously admired was completely destroyed. Mars was about to be destroyed soon.
#54 Mars Explodes
This card is the end of the story. After the attacks, Mars started to endure internal pressures which meant that the planet was to explode soon. Human forces evacuated the planet quickly to avoid the apocalypse. The story ends with Mars exploding and human forces coming out of the war triumphant, although with many losses.
#55 A Short Synopsis of the Story
The last card features a story synopsis and a checklist of the card. It’s hard to find in good condition, so it’s among the more expensive cards if you manage to find one that’s well kept.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Mars Attacks Cards?
Mars Attacks is one of the most famous and renowned card sets of all time. It’s a sci-fi set of cards that sparked a lot of controversy when it came out.
As the name suggests, it depicts the act of a Martian attack on planet Earth, designed to wipe out the entire human population. The entire premise of the cards was controversial, especially considering the fact that these cards came out in 1962!
They also included a lot of gore and sexual scenes – pets burned, humans tortured, Earth destroyed. Kids loved it, but parents hated it.
There were 55 cards originally in the pack, and each card was designed to portray a scene of this Martian attack. There’s also an underlying story to these cards. It was commissioned and certified by Topps – originally as an experiment under the name of Attack from Space, although the name was changed to Mars Attacks as the cards started to gain popularity.
Wally Wood and Norman Saunders were the two artists behind the artwork for these cards. The artwork can be described as grotesque, bizarre, and even revolutionary for the time these cards came out.
What’s the Story Behind Mars Attacks Cards?
Each card was a part of a larger storyline, and they complemented each other. They were numbered from #1 to #55, presenting a part of the storyline.
The story starts when a corrupt Martian government decides to attack Earth in order to provide living space for Martians and expand. The attack was powerful and relentless, with the Martians using harsh methods to destroy the human population and enslave them.
As the attack grows stronger, humans decide to counter-attack. They establish a volunteering expeditionary force that was to attack Mars and destroy it, which they succeed with. This forces the remaining Martian forces on Earth to retire and defend their planet, although it’s already too late.
Why Are Mars Attacks Cards so Popular?
In addition to the sci-fi story and grotesque elements on the cards, there’s also a political background to these cards.
You see, at the time when these cards came out in 1962, the USA was in the middle of a cold war crisis. More precisely, this was the year of the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis, which threatened the Cold War to escalate into a real war.
These cards established themselves at the height of the Cold War. Many people connect them to the spirit of those days where the sci-fi genre was starting to become more and more political. And these cards represent that era nicely.
Which Mars Attacks Cards Should I Get?
The entire Mars Attacks set is iconic. Today, we can refer to it as a legendary card pack that marked the start of a new generation of cards. Normally, some cards were more popular than others – #1, #55, and some others tend to be a bit more popular and thus more expensive.
These cards appear sporadically on the card marketplace. Some might never be available, while others will be available for a relatively cheap price.
Which cards you’ll get depends on your personal preferences, and on your taste. If you like a bit of gore, then there’s some great options for you. With a bit of luck, you can become a proud owner of a legendary Mars Attacks card.