I feel like I always start off these posts by saying that it’s been a long time and apologizing for my inability to keep up on my own posting schedule, so I’ll skip the formalities this time. Basically, I’m here to provide you with some much-needed, culturally irrelevant nostalgia and you’re going to enjoy every goddamn minute of it.
Recently, I’ve been scouring eBay and flea markets for different sorts of items that I can talk about because I feel like so many of my personal memories are of the same 10 subjects or so. It’s time to expand my horizons. Just recently, I even found a blue M&M dressed like Boba Fett and it sparked my interest in the more obscure promotional items.
As my search continued, I discovered a used, incomplete set of Bill & Ted trading cards that caught my eye. They were cheap, dated, and their subject material was little more than scenes from the movie, but I needed to have them. Movie trading cards are often really rushed and pointless, but they have a certain charm to their laziness the same way that children’s book versions of popular movies do. $5 later and these little beauties were in my possession. After picking out what I consider to be the 5 best subjects in the lot, I decided to write some beautiful fucking prose about them.
1. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure group photo
If I was going to strain my vocabulary to write interesting anecdotes about movie trading cards, this was the perfect place to start.
As you can see, the above photo is a group shot of most of the cast from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. We have Billy the Kid, Beethoven, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, Sigmund Freud and Napoleon Bonaparte holding various pieces of equipment from the mall sporting goods store with Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan air-guitaring in the foreground.
If you’ve always wanted something to frame and place above your mantle, this would certainly be a great contender.
The back of the card sports a crude drawing of the “Wyld Stallyns” logo along with a really handy translation guide for Bill & Ted’s iconic San Dimas slang. How else would I have known that “dudes” are “non-babe personages of the Human species?” The more you know.
2. The animated Bill & Ted
I must have totally blacked out during the fall of 1991, but I honestly never knew there was a Bill & Ted animated series.
As the back of the card proclaims “Bill and Ted star as the most atypical and non-bogus cartoon characters ever. Bag it on Fox television this fall.” With a little googling, I discovered that it only lasted 2 seasons and was shown on both Fox and CBS’s Saturday morning line-up.
As far as the card goes, they’re well-drawn and represented. I should have expected nothing less from a Hanna-Barbera-backed cartoon, though. The show even had the benefit of the original actors performing the voice work, so I’m not sure how it bombed so quickly.
Either way, I’m going to spend the remainder of my Sunday afternoon scouring the internet for the episodes.
3. Station’s Non-Evil Bill & Ted robots
After the evil Bill and Ted throw the real Bill and Ted off of a cliff, they’re subjected to a fantastic quest to retake their lives by battling the Grim Reaper in a series of popular board games. Fortunately, their skills in 20 questions and Battleship prove sufficient enough to win them back their freedom from death’s icy grip.
In order to battle the evil Bill and Ted robots, they travel to heaven and God introduces them to a technologically-advanced alien named Station who can split into twins that look like a furry merger between lemmings and the trolls from Ernest Scared Stupid. Station’s technical know-how results into 2 new heroic Bill and Ted robots.
As this card depicts, they may be a little rough around the edges, but their hearts are in the right place. Their purpose in life is dictated on the back of the card:
“Station! The inside of the van is aglow with sparks and smoke as the giant Stiation begins welding and cutting. The most atypical good robots Bill and Ted are created and programmed to find the Princess babes.”
4. Grim Reaper and Station
As described in card 3, Station is an alien the can split itself into twins and they look like lemming/troll hybrids. They’re pictured here in the right of the frame.
On the left, you can see William Sadler’s excellent portrayal of a fun-loving grim reaper. After he is outwitted by Bill and Ted, he decides to join their crusade and help out with some much-needed comic relief.
The back of the card has absolutely nothing to do with the front and describes an entirely different scene from the movie:
“As Bill, Ted, the Grim Reaper and the Stations make their way back to civilization, Evil Bill and Ted go sailing through the living room window, where Missy and the Princesses sit.”
Sweet continuity error, bros.
5. Bill and Ted and the Grim Reaper steal clothing to get into Heaven
The back of the card describes the context of this scene perfectly:
“Bill, Ted, and the Grim Reaper travel to a most atypical place. Only a few short moments in Heaven and they have mugged three people to get their lavender garments. Bill, Ted, and the Grim Reaper must tell the Gatekeeper the meaning of life.”
As unlikely a disguise as any other, you really can’t beat the image of the Grim Reaper wearing a farmer woman’s clothing to try and outwit Heaven’s Gatekeeper. They all look so happy in this photograph and I can only imagine the types of conversations the three of them were having over some In N Out burgers.
It’s behind the scenes photos like these that make movie trading card sets worth looking at. The ones that are just still frames from the movie are pretty boring, but cast and set photos and behind the scenes looks at production are usually way more interesting.
Really, though, cultural artifacts like these are most special when they can remind you of happy memories.
Whenever I think of Bill & Ted, I’m always reminded of the first film. A cult classic in its own right, I remember watching this with my dad on multiple occasions. He always loved moronic comedies and action movies, so that’s where I get so much of my film appreciation from.
The scene that used to always crack him up was when Bill & Ted were in medieval times and called the evil powers that be “Royal ugly dudes.” He still brings that up to this day.
Many of my childhood film memories involve my dad, so it’s nice to be reminded of that sometimes, especially when I’m so far away from home and that kind of familiarity. It just makes nostalgic notes like this even more poignant.