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1981 Topps

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1981 Topps

This a list with brief descriptions of Topps trading card products for 1981. All sets listed are standard size (2.5 X 3.5 inches) unless noted.


Base Set

The 1981 Topps base set featured 726 cards issued in wax packs, cello packs, rack packs and vending boxes. Subsets include League Leaders, Record Breakers, Post Season, and Team checklist cards. The cards featured a photo with a complementary to the team colors solid border, the players name in the bottom centre in a complementary colour, and a representation of the teams hat featuring the team name and player position. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Topps Traded

The Traded set contains 132 cards issued as a boxed factory set. Identical in appearance to the base set cards they were numbered starting from 727 after the 726 regular cards. This is the first set since 1976 to offer cards of players who had been traded to other teams. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Super Home Team

The Super Home Team set totaled 102 cards and was issued as team sets. Each was individually packed and available in a team box, where some teams were paired. Team subsets included anywhere from 6, 9, or 12 players per team. The teams featured were the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers/California Angels, New York Yankees/Mets, Chicago White Sox/Cubs, and Texas Rangers/Houston Astros. Size: 4 78 x 6 78 inches, 12.4 x 17.5 centimeters

Super National

The Super National set has 15 cards and resembles the Home Team set. Some of the players are featured in the Home Team set and a handful of players like Jim Palmer and George Brett are unique to this set. Size: 4 78 x 6 78 inches, 12.4 x 17.5 centimeters

Team Card Sheet

An uncut sheet of the team cards from the 1981 Topps set available by mail-in offer.

Mets Magic Memories

Topps issued a 4-card set commemorating 20 years of Mets history. There were 20,000 produced of each card and were issud at Mets games. The first three cards are team photos from the years 1962, 1969, and 1973. The last card is of various Mets managers. Size: 6 78 X 4 78 inches.


This is a 108-card supplemental issue sold with gum as three card panels. A player photo on one side is accompanied by 24 black dots intended to be scratched off as part of a game. The players representing the National League have a green background while the American league players have a red background. Size: 1 1316 X 3 14 inches individually.


This 262 count sticker set was produced by Panini of Italy for Topps. The stickers were intended to be placed in an album. Size: 1 1516 X 2 916 inches.


In 1981, Topps issued several promotional sets, primarily for food and beverage companies.


In 1981 Coca-Cola issued "Team Sets" that included 11 players and an advertising card. All together there are 132 cards. The teams featured are the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals. The cards were distributed in the home markets of the aforementioned teams. Most of the photos were identical to those used in the Topps set, despite some cropping variations. Other variations from the Topps base set reflected traded players. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Drake's Big Hitters

Topps produced for Northeastern regional bakery Drake's a promotional set of 33 cards. The cards were issued in boxes of Drake's Cakes and featured position players and no pitchers. The front of the cards have a design that differs from the Topps set while the backs resemble the Topps cards. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters


Topps produced for soft drink company Squirt a promotional set of 33 cards. The cards were issued in 22 panels that attached to bottles of soda. The front of the cards have a design that differs from the Topps set while the backs resemble the Topps cards. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters


Perma-Graphics created two sets using photos provided by Topps. One set was an 18 card set of All-Stars while the other was 32 cards. Both sets were made of plastic and resemble credit cards Size: 2 18 x 3 38 inches, 5.4 x 9.5 centimeters

Licensed sets

For the O-Pee-Chee set that resembled the Topps issue see List of O-Pee-Chee Sports Cards.

Base Set

This set contains 528 cards and was issued in wax, rack, and cello packs. Subsets include Super Action, league leaders, Record Breakers, playoffs, and Team Leader cards. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

A notable improvement to the 1981 set was the inclusion of up to three statistical categories on the backs of cards. Previous sets included only one statistical category for each player, for example, passing statistics for quarterbacks or rushing statistics for running backs. In 1981, running backs would show both rushing and receiving statistics. A defensive back might have interception, punt return, and kickoff return statistics on the back of his card.

Team Checklists

This set has one checklist for each team totaling 28 cards. The set was available as a mail-in offer from Topps. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Topps Coke

This is an 84 card set featuring eleven players from seven different NFL teams. The teams included are the Colts, Cowboys, Oilers, Giants, Cardinals, Chargers, and the Redskins. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters


This set totals 262 stickers numbered on front and back. The fronts have a white border with a color photo while the backs have the player's name, team and position. The set numbered alphabetically by team within divisions. The stickers could be placed in an album that was available by mail. Size: 1 1516 x 2 916 inches

Red Border Stickers

The Red Border set has 28 stickers, one player representing each NFL team. The player's name and position are on the front while the back has the same information as well as the team, biographical data, sticker number, and application instructions. Size: 1 1516 x 2 916 inches


The 1981-1982 Topps basketball set totals 198 cards and was issued in 13-card wax packs. Only part of the set was distributed nationally while the remainder of the set was distributed regionally by East, West, and Midwest. The first 44 cards are the national portion while cards 67-110, although identically numbered, featured different players appropriate for the respective region. Subsets include Super Action and Team Leader Cards. This is Topps last basketball issue in the 1980s. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Ice hockey

The 1981-1982 Topps hockey set was distributed regionally by East and West. Cards 1-66 were available in both regions. The remaining cards (67-132) were issued in two types of wax boxes. The card fronts contain the Topps logo at the top, with team logo, player name and position at the bottom. The team name appears in large letters placed over the bottom portion of the photo. The backs feature player biographies and yearly statistics including minor leagues. As for the regionally distributed portions of the set, the card numbering is in order by team starting with Boston. The Master set totals 198 cards. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches, 6.35 x 8.89 centimeters

Football (Soccer)

Topps released a Footballers set in 1981 for distribution in the UK. The set contains 65 cards.


Thirst Break
This set was issued as part of a multi-sport gum product that was tested in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. They actually are wrappers for the gum which came five to a pack. About the size of a Bazooka Joe comic, they are titled 'Sports Facts' at the top and feature a rendition of the player. There are 56 comics in total with 20 of them being baseball players. Size: 2 12 x 1 58 inches

Animal Posters

There are 12 posters of 'Cute & Cuddly Animals' in this set intended for pre-teens. One poster was issued per pack which was a large paper wrapper without gum. The posters are numbered but bear no captions. Size: 12 X 20 inches

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders

A 30 card set of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders was issued by Topps in 1981. The cards feature a glossy picture on the front while the backs have the set name, card number, caption, and text. Size: 4 78 x 6 78 inches, 12.4 x 17.5 centimeters

Movie Posters

Topps produced a 12 count 'Giant Pin-Up' movie poster set in full color. The posters are large enough that they are folded four times to fit their packaging. Hit movies like Jaws, Superman, and Grease are represented in this set. Size: 12 X 20 inches

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Unlike most of Topps' movie and television sets this Indiana Jones issue includes no sticker subset nor does it have puzzle-back cards. Among the 88 cards however there is one title card, one checklist, and four character cards. The rest of the set features color scenes from the movie inside a snake design frame. The text on the card backs is set inside a red and yellow 'Ark' style frame. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches

Superman II

This set totals 110 cards depicting the second film of the Superman series. There are 88 cards and a subset of 22 stickers. The cards have color photos of film scenes in yellow frames with red borders the backs of which have either captions or combine to form one of six different puzzles. The sticker photos are accented in blue with yellow borders. Size: 2.5 X 3.5 inches


1981 Topps Wikipedia

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