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Nineties collecting nostalgia

Remember Hoppies, Flippos, Spacix or Panini stickers?

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A week ago, a friend and I were relishing various nostalgic collecting memories. He saw my “is collecting physical games worth it?” blog post - I probably talk too much about retro games, sorry! - and the conversation evolved from Kirby’s Dream Land on the Game Boy to collecting Flippos and Hoppies in 1995, a year before Duke Nukem 3D’s release. I had no idea those round plastic or cardboard collectible things that come with a bag of potato chips are universally called “milkcaps” (or pogs).

The website Milkcap Mania stores an archive of all possible caps and contains a lot of memorabilia from our youth. Looney Tunes' World Flippo collection, for example. Or the ones with notches you can click into each other and with a little bit of added friction can send flying all over the place? My friend mentioned Hoppies, which apparently is a specific brand of caps. I completely forgot about the name. Most Flippos here in Belgium came for free with some sort of food as an incentive for mothers and fathers to buy more Lays/Smiths chips, but Hoppies you had to buy yourself. They came in separate plastic seals, like Magic: the Gathering booster packs:

Various Hoppies including a Zapper! Courtesy of milkcapmania.co.uk.

Magic itself isn’t that much older: it was conceived in 1993. I still remember buying Fourth and Fifth edition packs, and later Tempest and Apocalypse.

And then there’s of course the “Zapper” (slammer), pictured on the right: a bigger and heavier plastic coin-like thing with rimmed edges you use to whack a stack of Hoppies. I had to look up how to play the game again - all I can remember is those things occasionally got nicked at the playground. I can’t remember anymore what I did with the Hoppies I owned, but the Flippos were supposed to go inside a nice looking sleeve in a ring binder. Of course, the end goal was simply to get parents to buy more potato chips. Still, as far as I remember, that was quite effective. And then the second hand “trading” market exploded. You could even make your own series using the venerable Milkcap Maker machine!

I myself have never been a fan of potato chips. I did, however, drink a lot of Minute Maid fruit juice back in the day, and those packets (And everything else Mars-related) came with a collectible card game: SPACIX. It looks like it’s a Dutch-only thing, but I do remember that fondly. The cards had an holographic effect and you could play with them: each card display four basic properties; speed, attack, life, intelligence. Oddly enough, I can’t find a good reference except many second hand market site advertisements either wanting to sell or still looking to finish the collection. And yes, the true collector also bought the official ring binder!

Of course one of the granddaddies of collecting is the Italian Panini Group, which has been going strong since 1960! Mass sticker trade appointments started popping up shortly after commercializing world cup football sticker books, and that tradition hasn’t really stopped since. The only thing that might have slowed this down is the rise of the smartphone. I occasionally still see desperate parents peddling their (children’s) stickers in local malls, especially since the European championship is finally taking place this June. According to Wikipedia, during the 2018 World Cup, Panini produced an average of 8 and 10 million card packages - per day. Yesterday, I discovered this in the local ad brochures:

PANINI - 'Get Ready for the European Championship!'

The system again works similarly to MtG booster packs: you (let your parents) buy a set of 35 random stickers for €7 (ouch!), praying you picked the right pack that contains the one sticker to complete the collection. Too bad that MtG’s mythic rares aren’t part of the craze - but foils are! I can’t remember these things being that expensive though. MtG packs have gone up dramatically too. Our local game store asks €5 for ‘em, while five of years ago, while we visited Lecco in Italy, I only had to dish out €3

Gotta stick ‘em all!

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a level 36 Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

If you found this article amusing and/or helpful, you can buy me a coffee - although I'm more of a tea fan myself. I also like to hear your feedback via Mastodon or e-mail. Thanks!

More nineties collecting nostalgia. After I wrote about it at https://brainbaking.com/post/2021/05/nineties-collecting-nostalgia/ my wife dug up a shoebox full of… well… judge for yourself. From left to right:Kinder Surprise figurines, Polly Pock...

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