Anoka County Historical Society: Desert Storm Trading Cards

Audra Hilse's picture

Although the Gulf War did not have the same impact on home front life as WWII in terms of rationing or sacrifices asked of the general population, it was nevertheless a conflict much in the public eye and mind. For families with soldiers actually fighting in the conflict, it was of course just as difficult as previous wars had been.

Stacy Wendel, of Coon Rapids, MN, was all too aware of the reason for her Marine Corps father’s absence. When several trading card companies began to put out sets of cards relating directly to the Gulf War in 1990, Stacy quickly began collecting them. Of her cards that made it to the Anoka County Historical Society, three different sets are represented. In total during that period, 10 different manufacturers each produced a set of Desert Storm trading cards.

The largest of Stacy’s part collection was the set of Desert Storm Cards by Pro Set. 250 cards in total, they came in their own box decorated with the flags of the countries involved in the conflict. The Pro Set cards covered fifteen different categories, including Geography, Leaders, Intelligence Files, Governments, and Military Assets. The cards themselves have tan camouflage backgrounds, with images and brief titles on the front, and short descriptions on the back providing more information about the subject of that card (for example, “Military Police”). This was the largest single set of Desert Storm cards produced by any manufacturer.

Also represented in Stacy’s collection are a few cards produced by Spectra Star in 1991. Although intended to eventually be a full set of 300 cards, only the first 60 or so were ever produced. These cards were divided into five categories: Troops, Armor, Weapons, Aircraft, and Ships. Stacy’s cards all fall into the “Troops” category. The cards have black and white backs with short descriptions of the subject; the fronts are primarily taken up with images, and have red, white, and blue borders.

Lastly, Stacy had one card from the set produced by the Pacific Trading Card company. These cards were unique in that they addressed Operation Desert Shield, which was the operation that preceded Desert Storm and the full Gulf War. The front of this card features an image of the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, with a red and white border common to the set; the back features a tan camouflage background, and white box with a description of the subject.

The Desert Storm trading cards were popular in 1990 and 1991; manufacturers and retailers alike had trouble keeping them stocked. Unlike the baseball cards which were the main product of many of these card companies, the Gulf War had a broader audience and therefore (temporarily) broader sales. Stacy was one of many who wanted the information that the cards provided.

For anyone who is interested in these cards and other, similar sets, this website seemed to be a good source of both information and sets of the cards themselves: