The 13 Greatest Garbage Pail Kids

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists, Miscellaneous
Monday, March 9, 2009 at 5:05 am
By Kevin J. Guhl

The Garbage Pail Kids were a total win for kids of the 1980s -- they were both gross and funny; they poked fun at the sugary cute Cabbage Patch Kids that were so popular; and, most importantly, they drove parents and teachers up the wall, bringing out such an exaggerated outcry that you would think kids had taken up full-on Satanism. It was hilarious. The Garbage Pail Kids stickers were masterpieces of the trading card genre, and it's extremely difficult to pick the 13 best out of the hundreds of cards released. But Topless Robot was up to the task, willing to roll up our shirtsleeves and thrust our arms deep into the dumpster to pull out a baker's dozen of the greatest Garbage Pail Kids ever committed to cardstock.

13. Snooty Sam/U.S. Arnie (Series 3)

One thing the very talented artists who drew Garbage Pail Kids were great at was putting a twist on already iconic images and making those images iconic on their own. Snooty Sam was basically Uncle Sam telling you what he really thought of you in modern times, when many people suspected the U.S. government did not have citizens' best interests at heart. Or maybe it was just Uncle Sam looking like a Cabbage Patch doll and picking his nose. Either way, there was an adult level of humor in the original cards that has mostly gone missing in some of the more recent editions of GPK.

12. Have A Nice Dave/Miles Smiles (Series 7)
This is what will happen when we begin to fully rely on emoticons to express our feelings. Garbage Pail Kids were good at offering a fascinating image that could lead to all sorts of stories popping up in your mind to explain the incident you were glimpsing. In this simultaneously horrifying and amusing card, a smiley face pin has apparently decided to violently switch places with a Garbage Pail Kid's now-pissed-off real head. Who thought of these things?

11. Missing Marcia/Hidden Heidi  (Series 13)
Topps had some balls. While some of the more obviously controversial Garbage Pail Kids went unreleased (such as  a couple showing characters committing suicide with handguns), the more subtle subversities often got through. Missing Marcia, for example, is clearly an inappropriate but still evilly humorous joke about an unfortunate missing child who can be found at the bottom of a swamp.

10. Cut-Up Carmen/Dotted Lionel (Series 7)
GPK liked to break the fourth wall on occasion, and there are some excellent examples of characters escaping their cards. The best is Dotted Lionel, who is an intriguing case of a Garbage Pail Kid paper doll who has taken it upon himself to cut himself out, even though he's not the most accurate with scissors. Ouch!

9. Hollow Wayne/Jacqueline Lantern (All-New Series 4)
The Garbage Pail Kids sets released in the 2000s lack much of the panache of the originals. There's too much of a reliance on snot, piss and farts to try and be outrageous and funny. And the artwork isn't always the best, despite many of the artists from the original GPK sets returning. Garbage Pail Kids were always gross, but often managed to also be somehow visually appealing, with a larger variety of jokes. That said, there are a few awesome stand-outs in the new sets. And one is Hollow Wayne, which captures a WTF?! moment of horror perfectly. There's a pumpkin being carved, but he/she has human organs inside! Why? Who knows?! The pumpkin is screaming! And in a fantastic, classic touch, you can see the face of the person who carved the pumpkin, screaming and reflected in the knife! This card deserves an award for being so truly creepy.

8. Smelly Kelly/Doug Plug (Series 2)
Ah, you gotta love those GPK cards that capture a character at the moment they realize disaster is about to happen. Or in the case of poor Doug Plug, a really smelly indignity. The funniest part is left to the imagination. Being the good source of child entertainment that they are, Garbage Pail Kids are quite adept at presenting characters just before they meet horrific fates (or have already but haven't died from them yet).
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