The Perfect Valentine’s Day Set – 1954 Red Heart

I don’t believe there could be a more appropriate set to talk about on Valentine’s Day than 1954 Red Heart.

If you were a card collector and had a dog back in the 1950s, Red Heart Dog Food is what your pooch would have eaten.  From a collecting standpoint, there couldn’t be a better example of a regionally issued set.

Coming in at only (33) cards the set is relatively small.  It is split-up between (11) red, (11) green, and (11) blue background cards.  Red backgrounds are said to be the most difficult to find.

Mailing two Red Heart Dog Food labels along with 10 cents to the John Morrell & Company would’ve gotten you (1) 11-card series.  The color you received depended on where you lived.  Certain colors seem to be more/less popular in different regions of the country.  This type of distribution method made it difficult to complete a set.

The checklist is packed with Hall of Famers – Richie Ashburn, Ralph Kiner, Duke Snider, and Enos Slaughter to name a few.  Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial are two of the most popular subjects.  Stan Musial doesn’t appear in either the 1954 Topps or 1954 Bowman sets.  His card from 1954 Red Heart isn’t easy to find (red background), and has a high demand due to his lack of main-issued 1954 cards.  Mickey Mantle is also absent from 1954 Topps, but does appear in 1954 Bowman.

Collectors could take advantage of this mail-in offer all the way through the early 1970s.  That’s a long time for a promotional program to go on.  You can’t say collectors didn’t have enough time to get their hands on them.

Tombstone Pizza’s 1995 Super-Pro Series Could’ve Landed You An Autograph

Happy National Pizza Day!

Food manufacturers have included sports cards with their products for decades.  It still happens today, but not quite as often.  At one time sports cards were offered with potato chips to dog food.

The folks at Tombstone Pizza created a few different sets throughout the 90s.  In 1995, I remember pulling a Frank Thomas card from one of their specially-marked frozen pizza boxes.  The 1995 Tombstone Super-Pro Series Baseball set consists of (30) cards.  (15) players from the National League, and (15) players from the American League.  Inside each Tombstone Pizza box you would find (1) card.  Randomly inserted autographs could also be pulled.  Some lucky pizza lovers opened their box and found an autograph card of George Brett, Johnny Bench, or Bob Gibson.  Tombstone included 6,000 total autographs.  That’s 2,000 autographs a piece.  In order to get the certificate of authenticity you needed to send away for it.  You could also send away for a complete set with (5) proofs-of-purchase.

Topps Surprises Hockey Fans With Brett Hull Signed Stickers

Topps left the NHL licensed card business in 2004.  In 2017 they jumped back in with their Topps NHL SKATE digital trading card app.  In 2019 Topps took things a step further acquiring a license to produce NHL stickers.

Leading up to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, hockey fans enjoyed the events at the NHL Fan Fair.  One of the biggest moments took place at the Topps booth when St. Louis Blues legend, and 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Brett Hull arrived.  Topps printed stickers which resemble Brett Hull’s 1988-89 Topps #66 rookie card.  Fans were quite eager to snatch the stickers up, and have him sign them.

They might not be “cards”, but these stickers look darn good.  Topps is as close as possible to making NHL licensed cards as they can get.  Upper Deck currently has an exclusive NHL license to make cards.

Spontaneous Explosions, Fire Pits, & Bribes – THIS… IS… MUTANT LEAGUE FOOTBALL!!!

An apocalypse is no excuse for that football game to go unfinished.  That’s what the people at Electronic Arts thought when they decided to release Mutant League Football for the Sega Genesis in 1993.

As you can tell from the box art, this is not your typical lifelike football simulation.  Radiation has caused humans to mutate, and the dead are rising from the grave.  The reason for the post-apocalyptic environment hasn’t officially been explained.  According to the instruction manual, the reasons were lost do to an alien invasion, spin control, a sloppy filing system setup by a temp, and/or BBQ sauce.  The investigation continues to this very day.

Playing fields can be made of rubber, toxic waste, ice, and rock.  You’ll find many hazards on these fields that you certainly won’t find on any normal gridiron.  Hazards include fire pits, landmines, and you can even fly off into outer space.  If members of your team hit any of these hazards they can easily lose health or even die.  If they die while carrying the ball, don’t look for any sympathy.  The opposing team will just pickup the ball as if it were a normal fumble.  Each team has what they call Nasty Audibles.  These involve using items such as jet packs, electric shocks, invisibility, and even exploding footballs to intentionally hurt players on the other team.  You can even attack the quarterback with the intent to kill.  If you eliminate enough players, the opposing team has to forfeit.  One of the most popular things you can do is bribe the referee.  You can do this twice per game.  A bribed referee will make fake calls.  This doesn’t last very long.  As soon as the first fake call is made, the other team usually kills that ref.

With all of this violence and additional features, I bet your thinking this game probably sucks when it comes to playing real football.  That’s not the case at all.  Its hard to find a game that has a good balance of comical violence, yet retains that excellent football game play.

Inside specially marked copies of the game you’ll find two trading cards.  Its cool to see cards included within a video game.  There were a few spin-offs.  They made Mutant League Hockey, and there was a Mutant League Basketball game in the works but it never saw the light of day.

Lyle Alzado would’ve done well in this league if it had existed in the real world.

If you play this game on full-season mode and end up winning the championship, the losing team spontaneously explodes.

Running for two seasons an animated cartoon was even inspired by these video games.  Along with the show came a series of crazy action figures.

Between 2017 and 2018 Mutant League Football received a revival for the PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

Preview: 2020 Onyx Vintage Baseball

Scheduled for a late March release, Onyx Authenticated plans to bring back it’s Onyx Vintage Baseball product that debuted last year.  From my 2019 box I pulled autographs of Nolan Gorman and Ronny Mauricio.  Jo Adell and Noelvi Marte were my base.

Its a fun, quick-thrill product with an old school look.

Product Highlights:

  • All on-card autographs
  • (2) autographs per pack/box ((4) cards total – (2) base and (2) autographs)
  • (31) different players – a mix of both active players and legends
  • Blue, Green, and Red signature versions
  • Rare photo variations for certain players
  • (24) boxes/packs per case
  • (135) total cases

Fleer’s 3D Acrylic Basketball Cards Are Junk Wax Era Gems

1991-92 Fleer Basketball isn’t much to talk about.  The set consists of (400) cards which were distributed between two series.  It does have it’s share of rookies such as Kenny Anderson, Steve Smith, and Dikembe Mutombo.  But these cards are so overproduced their value is next to nothing.  It doesn’t seem to matter how overproduced a product may be, there almost always is some type of scarce version.  That holds true for this set.

Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, card manufacturers weren’t afraid to make what they call 3D cards.  99.9% of the time this involved using lenticular technology.  That’s the stuff that makes a high-pitched sound when you run your fingers over it.  This noise is the perfect sound that would make your dog do that head tilt thing.

On the backside of these packs you’ll see a special offer from Fleer.  For the price of $4.99, plus shipping and handling, and (3) pack wrappers, you could’ve gotten yourself a 3D parallel of any card from the base set.  Unlike other 3D cards at the time, these do not use lenticular printing.  They’re made up of multiple layers of an acrylic, acetate-like material.  Fleer even included a display stand for each card.  The images really do jump out at you, and live up to the 3D name.  In order to get the full experience, you need to see one in person.  Scans aren’t always the best.

Like I said before, many overproduced sets have some sort of scarce parallel.  These 3D cards are it for 1991-92 Fleer Basketball.  Apparently not a lot of people took part in this wrapper redemption program.  The collectors who did, found out these cards are very condition sensitive.  Regular base cards are barely worth a thing, but 3D versions reach into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Fleer could have made up 3D versions of every base card.  Whether or not each card was requested at least once is a mystery.  Top players like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Larry Bird, and John Stockton were popular requests.  Fleer could have easily destroyed whatever they had leftover once the promotion ended.  A 3D parallel may have been made for each base card, but I can guarantee you not every one has surfaced.  A print run for the cards that were distributed would massively help.  If that info ever existed it is long gone.

Another possibility is that Fleer had these 3D parallels made as they were requested.  If a player wasn’t requested, there may have never been a 3D parallel.

Basketball collectors definitely had the better mail-in offer from Fleer in 1991.  Football collectors had the opportunity to get a pin, while baseball collectors could’ve gotten (10) heavy-duty top loading album pages.

True gems from the junk wax era.

Don’t Mess With This Santa – Parkside’s 2019 Santa Claus Promo Card

Parkside Collectibles is a new card company.  Right now they specialize in making cards for the Big3 3-on-3 basketball league, Major League Lacrosse, and Santa Claus.

Santa Claus has been appearing on cards for decades.  His appearance on modern day sports cards began with his 1989 Pro Set Football Promo.  Since then, pretty much every card company that ever existed has made cards of Santa Claus.  He has quite the following, and collectors aren’t afraid to spend tons on that rare Santa Claus card they need for their collection.

Between 12/1/19 and 12/25/19 anyone who made a purchase on the Parkside Collectibles website received this special Santa Claus card.  It features an artistic Santa Claus holding a basketball in one hand, a red sack of sports equipment in the other, all while wearing a Big3 Enemies jersey.  According to Parkside Collectibles, (500) cards were printed.  A handful were also given away to some of their social media followers.  Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I wouldn’t mess with a Santa Claus wearing a jersey that says “Enemies” on it.