Trading Card Set of the Week (Dreamboat Johnny Depp Special Edition) – 21 Jump Street (1987, Topps)
Long before the 21 Jump Street film became a link in the chain of mimbo Channing Tatum’s inexplicable rise to Hollywood megastardom, there was the original show. A late 1980s staple of the then-fledgling Fox network, it, like its Tatum-infused movie successor/remake, focused on youngish cops going undercover to battle the crime of the week. It was a straight police drama though, with none of the outlandish comedy of the cinema version, and by far its most important contribution to the culture, for better or for worse, was launching the young Johnny Depp into his now decades long acting career. (Edward Scissorhands came out twenty-four years ago. Twenty-four!) Because of the show he became a teen idol back when the term really meant something, when Tiger Beat was still the New York Times publication-of-record for that unofficial status. There would be no Depp without Jump.
Surprise surprise, there were trading cards to go along with the show. Anything to capitalize on Depp’s handsome moneymaker. And, though they ostensibly covered the entire cast, they may as well have been subtitled 21 Jump Street: Johnny Depp’s Face and Crotch.
It’s a smallish set: 44 cards, all stickers, and in that regard somewhat like the similarly diminutive, contemporaneous Max Headroom product. Some cards have backs that combine to form pieces of a puzzle (when completed it’s a less-cropped version of the picture at the top of this post), while others have a dash of explanatory text. All the fronts are bordered by the brick background of the show’s title screen — which is reminiscent of any number of ’80s and ’90s comedy clubs.
But enough about that. It’s Depp that the people want! Depp Depp Depp! And no time is wasted in getting to him. In card #2 we’re speedily introduced to his steamy gaze and a tight pair of jeans that emphasize his batch to a harrowing degree:
GAH I CAN SEE EVERY RIDGE AND CONTOUR. LOOK AWAY LOOK AWAY.
Fear not, true Jump Street fans, as the rest of the cast aren’t forgotten — even if they’re perhaps not as at the forefront as Mr. Depp’s accentuated bulge. Peter DeLuise, son of Dom, is in here as well, despite not having the dreamy good looks of his screen partner. In fact, he looks rather like a cross between his old man and a young Artie Lange:
Maybe it’s just the luster of his costar, dousing him like an eclipse.
You want casual Depp? The set delivers with shots like this one, of Johnny relaxing on set with a cup of joe and a warm smile. You can almost hear the girls swooning!:
And should any avid fans want to get a head start on stalking him, the back of the above card conveniently lists some of his vital information — but not his home address, sadly:
5’11”, 145? Eat a sandwich, Johnny.
There you have it: 21 Jump Street, the cards. You can find sets dirt cheap online, not to mention scads of unopened boxes. For any of you not sated in your Depp-lust by his endless turns as a pirate and in the Tim Burton project of the month, they might be just your thing.