The last two days I have done Star Wars related posts so I decided to make it a trilogy with today’s post, as suggested by Fuji, and I am going with the famous C-3PO golden rod error card. This is one of my Top 10 Wants cards that I recently picked up.
The card is from the 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 4 (Green) release and is card #207, which depicts a scene of C-3PO (Anthony Davis). Now the scene itself is nothing special but what made this card collectible is the additional “unit” that C-3PO is sporting making him look more like a porn star than a human-cyborg relations protocol droid.
There have been a couple of explanations, that seem reasonable when considered, as to why C-3PO appears to have an erection. Some claim it was a disgruntled Topps employee but Topps has been clear that the image came directly from LucasFilms, and contact sheets show that the original image sent to Topps does contain the shot of C-3PO packing so Topps is off the hook. LucasFilms responded by stating it was just a case of bad timing and that when the picture was taken a piece of the C-3PO costume was falling and just happened to be a case of “Whoops” and not noticed when the image was sent to Topps.
But we may finally have an answer from author Gary Gerani in his recently released book Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One. In the book, which is dedicated to Topps Star Wars trading cards, Gerani (Who worked for Topps at the time) states that he was on the set while the movie was being filmed and one day the employees of the LucasFilms costume department were screwing around and gave C-3PO the extra equipment and taking pictures and somehow one of the pictures was included in the contact sheets sent to Topps.
Considering that Gary Gerani worked for Topps at the time and was present on the movie set during the filming of Episode IV and has nothing to gain by making this claim (His book would have sold no matter what he said about the card) I am apt to believe him.
Topps eventually airbrushed out the unit and re-released the card. There has never been an announcement as to how many of the error card and corrected card were released but it is believed that the corrected clean version of the card may actually be more limited than the X-rated version.
The prices of the individual cards can vary greatly, I have seen some of the corrected versions sell for anywhere from $8-10 up to $25-30 for ungraded versions while the Golden Rod version running from $20-25 up to $100 for ungraded versions. I picked up both of the cards in one purchase and while they are not pristine cards they are in reasonable condition but with slight paper separation at the corners, the corrected version is significantly off-center and the coloring is not as brilliant as the Golden Rod version.