Non-sport trading cards are a particular kind of collectible card designated as such because trading cards have historically prominently featured athletes from the world of sports as subjects. Non-sports cards are trading cards whose subjects can be virtually anything other than sports-themed.
Eventually, as the cigarette makers ceased issuing cards in their products, both non-sport and sports cards were still sometimes given as a bonus with a stick of bubblegum or along with other food products including candy and cereal. By the 1950s both sports and non-sport cards had achieved a popularity that allowed them to become the selling point. A piece of gum was still included in most packs of non-sport cards up until approximately 1990, at which time gum stopped being included in the packs along with the cards. Very few card issues from the past 20 years have included bubble gum in the packs, making the once common term “bubble gum cards” a misnomer in the modern day.
While non-sports cards initially showcased such real world subjects as entertainers, animals, and famous places, their success expanded with the introduction of new concepts created specifically for the cards including the popular Wacky Packages product label parody sticker cards from the Topps company, issued in their original run in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. Cards depicting historical events have also proven popular over the years. Over the past 50 years, cards based on television series and movies have gained much traction in the hobby and today, media-based cards account for a significant portion of the cards produced. Some of the most popular media-based non-sport cards have been based on Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman (television and movies), Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and many others. Other popular modern day non-sport cards are based on comic books including Marvel Comics, DC Comics and independent comic book publishers.
Cards based on movies and TV shows such as Star Wars or Supernatural often relate the story of the movie or series in both picture and editorial form. The front of the cards have a picture of an event or person in the movie or show, while the back describes the event pictured on the front. Often these sets will have character cards as well as behind the scenes or quote cards as well.
While most card sets include a title card and a checklist card, being the first and last cards respectively, most Non-Sport Card sets now include different levels of insert cards in the packs. Topps and other companies started this by including a sticker in each pack of cards. Now inserts can include autograph cards, sketch cards, cards that complete a nine card puzzle, memorabilia, costume and prop cards along with parallel sets which mimic the normal cards in the set with some slight difference like the color of the border or the finish on the card.
In recent years, Non-Sport cards have overlapped with the newer phenomenon of collectible card games. For example, the Pokémon craze yielded a trading card game, produced by Wizards of the Coast, and regular trading card sets by Topps and others that were not designed for gameplay.