Bluebird Multipack Episode 1 Gold Cards (1999)
In 1999, Bluebird chips released 2 sets of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace collectible cards: a gold-bordered series with glow-in-the-dark images on the back of each card, and a red-bordered series with chrome-bordered variations. Taking a look at the gold-bordered cards first: we have here 30 cards in the basic set, of similar dimensions to a standard trading card (a little shorter along one side, at about 63 x 87mm). The cards came in multi-packs of Bluebird chips and related foodstuffs (e.g., ‘Cheezels’); 2 cards per 12-pack, and 3 cards per 18-pack.
The first ten cards have portrait orientation, and depict major characters from ‘The Phantom Menace’. The remaining cards are of a landscape orientation, and, generally speaking, depict scenes from the movie in approximate chronological order. The image on the back of each card is a simplified, line-drawing glow-in-the-dark version of a picture related to the photograph image on the front.
As well as the basic set, a couple of variation cards have been found. The most well known is the number 15 error card, that has the image and caption from card 16 but is declared as card ’15’ (cards 15 and 16 both have the same simple caption, ‘Podrace’, but on the real card 15 it is on the top left, and on the real card 16, on the bottom left). And for the completist, there exist occasional variations (errors) wherein the glow-in-the-dark image from the back of the card is entirely missing.
The 12-pack and 18-pack bags are also collectible, of course. They are emblazoned with larger-than-life representations of the collectible cards, but it is interesting to note that the titles on some of the cards differs from those used in the final set (card 20 changes from “Darth Maul” to “Sith Lord”, and card 27 changes from “Battle Droids” to “Ready for Combat”, for example). The packaging references the Official Star Wars website, and summarises the mythos and the detail of the Star Wars saga: “The original Star Wars trilogy told the story of Luke Skywalker, a young farm boy who became a hero in the struggle to overthrow an evil empire, and had to confront one of the Empire’s staunchest henchman, his own father, Darth Vader. The new Star Wars trilogy will go back in time a full generation to reveal the origins of Darth Vader. In Episode 1, Darth Vader is a hopeful nine-year-old boy named Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi is a brash young Jedi Knight. This first chapter in the Star Wars saga follows Anakin’s journey as he pursues his dreams and confronts his deepest fears in the midst of a galaxy in turmoil”.
Also included in the gallery of cards and chip packages below are some cardboard shelf advertisements, a magazine advertisement, and a segment from a roll of a plastic, repeating banner (approx 41cm tall) – presumably this could be cut to length to be used in a variety of displays. And finally, a large advertising poster, with, curiously minimal branding, seen only in the bottom right corner.