Designing the Hit Show’s Cards
2023 Topps Stranger Things 4 is a modern gem that skillfully taps into the iconic charm of the 1980s just as the show does. Currently captivating audiences worldwide, it’s clear that the magic of this era resonates profoundly even today. Brandon Lesley, Topps’ Director of Innovation, recognizes and embraces this blend of past and present, translating it meticulously into the series’ trading card designs. As we talked, Lesley’s insights and personal memories of the ’80s revealed a design process that intertwined nostalgia with fresh innovation to create the highly anticipated Stranger Things 4 set.
Asked about the 80s aesthetic influence on the 2023 Topps Stranger Things 4 set, Lesley revealed, “I grew up in this era and collected trading cards as a kid. Even though we’re designing for today’s audience, the essence of the 80s is crucial. It’s all about honoring the show’s vision and extending it into the collection.”
The dynamic Vecna’s Curse lenticular cards were a point of discussion, reflecting a challenge for the design team. Lesley noted, “Trading cards are generally static. Yet, with Shay Atwood’s collaboration, we aimed to bring life to those pivotal moments from the season.”
When talking inserts spotlighting fan-favorite moments from the series, he emphasized the importance of collaboration. “Working with the product team, especially with Shay, we envisioned the cards as an extension of the show rather than a traditional entertainment trading card. Discussions with the Netflix team were invaluable in ensuring our design approach aligned with the show’s essence.”
When digging into the design process, Lesley said, “Our team becomes experts for every project. We dive deep into research. For this, understanding what’s been missing in past collections and what die-hard fans would love was vital. Collectors are passionate, and it’s our duty to honor that passion with careful and thoughtful design.”
And as for his favorite card? “Definitely the base card. It’s the backbone of the collection. The designs of the ’80s were simple and bold, and capturing that without overshadowing the character focus was both challenging and rewarding.”
Back to the ’80s
The journey of designing wasn’t just about aesthetics; it also centered around fans’ reactions and their connection to the series. Addressing this aspect, Lesley remarked, “I hope they see these cards as an extension of the brand and a collection they’d be eager for in anticipation of Season 5. A lot of thought went into their execution, all to ensure they felt authentic to the vision of Stranger Things.”
Lesley’s team at Topps has infused every card with careful attention to detail, authenticity, and a deep respect for the fans. The collaboration between Topps and Netflix is a testament to the lengths creators go to ensure fans receive a product that complements and enhances their favorite series.