Star Wars: Remembering That Time Topps Put Out A NSFW C-3PO Trading Card

Today is May the 4th, which many fans recognize as the official "Star Wars Day." This year has been especially unique, as the coronavirus pandemic has forced Star Wars fans all over the world to celebrate virtually together. With the number of fans celebrating on social media, It's a great year to walk down memory lane to some of the more bizarre avenues the Star Wars franchise has walked down, like the time that a questionable photo of C-3PO's ended up on a Star Wars trading card. Some fans think the card highlights C-3PO's junk, and we don't mean "junk" like Jawa scraps. While some think the photo is an urban legend, it really happened.

Topps got the chance to make Star Wars official card sets, after the film blew up in the late '70s, and other competitors passed. However, in designing the line of Topps Star Wars cards, editor Gary Gerani apparently made one very big error, which will likely follow him for a long time to come: He let a seemingly questionable card of C-3PO (Card #207, fourth series) get printed!

c3p0 card

Apparently, Gerani's team had to get the 330-piece Topps Star Wars card line together so quickly, they scoured the film's production for all the behind-the-scenes material they could get, without nearly enough quality control. Theories about an obscene prankster are a common explanation - one that Gernai hinted at in the compilation book Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One:

"Notice anything unusual? I didn't. And neither did anyone else at Fox or Star Wars Corporation... Apparently someone on set strapped a long metallic appendage to the droid's lower half. Was this an off-screen practical joke? And how, exactly, did the image make it into the photo archive? No one knows for sure, but once this curious anomaly was brought to light post-printing, some form of correction was required."

Star Wars C-3PO NSFW Topps Trading Card True Story

However, other Internet sleuths and Star Wars sites have long debated that version of events. Other tellings say that what we're seeing is actually a visual trick, which resulted from tweaks to the lighting and rendering of the image, highlighting background pieces that only look phallic. Other accounts claim that notes from the original photoshoot reveal that a piece of the 3PO costume broke off and was in fact falling when the photo happened to be snapped.

Each explanation offers its own bit of cheeky humor and twist-of-fate delight, but the ultimate reality is actually kind of a letdown: this C-3PO card isn't even valuable. Because the mistake was made during a regular run of the card series, the image was printed on thousands of cards, and owned by many collectors. It is, ironically, the corrected version that Topps later reissued that is now the more valuable collector's item.

1comments

The entire Skywalker Saga is now on Disney+.

(h/t Snopes.com)

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.