Flashback Product of the Week: 1965 Topps Push-Pull

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Test issues can be funny.  Especially the ones put out by Topps.  Many of them didn’t make it past that test phase because they simply weren’t popular.  Ironically they’re popular now since most test issues weren’t widely distributed.  Not being popular decades ago can equal a high demand today.

The 1965 Topps Push-Pull set consists of (36) cards.  Each card comes with two photos inside.  When you push or pull the tab, the photo changes.  There are only a few baseball players within this set – Mickey Mantle/Yogi Berra #6, Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig #17, and Casey Stengel #19.  The other (33) cards aren’t of sports figures at all.  You’ll find cards of famous people, places, and things in here as well.  I’ve always found them to be a bit creepy.  It looks as if someone is looking through your blinds like a psycho.  Whatever Casey Stengel sees through that shutter isn’t making him happy.  I think its the smiling pictures though that scare me the most.

Condition is a major factor, just like it is with any vintage product.  Considering these cards have moving parts, its not uncommon for them to be in bad condition.  Not to mention that 90% of the card is covered in black.  You’re just asking for chipping.  Plus being an odd size doesn’t help for storage.

By far the most popular card is that of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra.  Depending on the condition, that card can fetch over $300.00.  The Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig comes in second, and then Casey Stengel.  All of the other cards aren’t that expensive, and can be picked up for about $20.00 to $30.00.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1988 Burger King Florida Gators

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In honer of Burger King coming out with their Extra Long Buttery Cheeseburger, lets take a look at one of their most popular regionally issued handouts.  Just like many other fast food restaurants, Burger King has had it’s share of sports giveaways.  Not many of them can compare to the 1988 Florida Gators set.

Produced in 1988 by McDag Productions, this 16-card set was given out at six different Burger King locations in Florida.  Not only did it give the Gators exposure, but it was an effort to alert the public about the dangers of drugs and alcohol too.  The most notable card within the set is Emmitt Smith #2.  It predates any of his other rookie cards by two years, and has quite the demand on the secondary market.  Examples that are in exceptional condition can easily go for more than any rookie featuring him in a Cowboys uniform.

You need to be very careful when purchasing an Emmitt Smith card from this set.  There are a ton of counterfeit versions floating around.  Some fakes have even been graded by well respected grading companies.  The most obvious counterfeit versions are the ones that are completely missing the Burger King logo.  How a counterfeiter could forget to put that in is beyond me.  But its just not that simple.  I’ve heard that there are authentic versions that don’t contain the Burger King logo.  They could’ve been made as a mock-up before going into production, and somehow they found their way out.  Other fakes include all the correct logos, but lack any of the registered trademark symbols.  Thin font on the Burger King logo on the card’s back is a dead giveaway as well.  Its a total guessing game when you’re buying one of these.  The easiest way to know if the card you have is real is if you visited one of those Burger King restaurants in 1988 and got one.

Outside of Emmitt Smith, none of the other cards are worth talking about.  If Emmitt Smith wouldn’t have become such a great player, this set would’ve been long forgotten.

Flashback Product of the Week: 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures

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At the end of the year in 2004, I had two of the biggest pulls of my collecting career.  While opening a box of 2004 Fleer Greats of the Game Football I pulled a Steve Young Letterman “U” Game-Used Patch #’ed/5.  A few days later I tried a pack of 2004 Topps Tribute Cut Signature Edition and pulled a Willie Mays Cut Signature #’ed 1/1.  That Mays autograph got me into an issue of Beckett.  At that time collectors still read the magazine, and I sent them an e-mail letting them know what I pulled.  Within that issue of Beckett, I saw the first preview of 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures.

For the most part, 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures is your run of the mill product.  Inside each tin you’ll find (1) pack with a “hit” numbered to 100 or less.  You also get (2) base cards and (1) insert.  Its not really known for rookies, but there are a few in here.  Justin Verlander is probably the most notable rookie you could pull.  Since the time this product was released, many of the other rookies have burned out.  Current stars of the day, and retired/HOFers is what you’ll find.  From a design standpoint, its alright.  There are a ton of foil sticker autographs.

The unique thing about 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures is that it includes the first Jim Thorpe baseball relic cards.  At least that’s what we thought.  Although he is known mostly for football, Jim Thorpe played professional baseball from 1913 to 1919.  We had seen Jim Thorpe football relics for years, but never baseball.  As you can imagine, these cards were hot items when they came out.  Unfortunately, every single Jim Thorpe baseball relic card made starting with this product doesn’t have a happy ending.  None of them are authentic despite what the back of the card says.  The jersey was eventually determined never to have been used by Jim Thorpe at all.  You would think that Panini would address this issue head on with collectors, but that’s never happened.  Panini just sweeps it under the rug as if everything is fine.  People wanting to add these cards to their collection continue to spend hundreds of dollars on them because they think they’re real.  THEY AREN’T!!!  Even though Donruss/Playoff was the purchaser of the jersey, Panini still used it to make cards after they bought them.  Ignoring the issue is what makes me mad the most.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1989 Scoremasters

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Just because a product was released during the great junk wax era and it’s street value is almost next to nothing, doesn’t mean it can’t look good.  This definitely applies to 1989 Scoremasters.

When it comes to a card’s design, simplicity is always the best way to go.  With 1989 Scoremasters you won’t find fancy printing techniques attempting to grab your attention.  Instead you get great action shots with a hand drawn theme.  That’s it.  On the reverse side you’ll see a write up about that specific player.  The set consists of (42) cards, and was only available in factory set form through select sports card shops and/or a mail order program.  Out of the (42) cards, #30 gets the most attention as that is one of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s rookies.  Complete sets are readily available for under $10.00.

No matter how overproduced a product is, there is almost always some type of rare card.  1989 Scoremasters has just the thing.  There were a handful of sample cards made for this product.  How they were distributed is a mystery to me.  They were most likely sent out to card shop owners ahead of the set’s release date.  Or perhaps Score had them worked up during the manufacturing process.  Overall, the samples look just like the cards you’d find in the regular set.  Although some of the card fronts differ from player to player.  The main difference is on the back.  Samples have the word “SAMPLE” written on the back in big black text, and do not contain a player description.  Values of the samples are drastically higher too.  They can range anywhere from $10.00 to over $400.00 per card.

Flashback Product of the Week: Red Grange 1928 Sterling Doll Company

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I don’t know about you.  But if I saw one of these waiting for me underneath the Christmas tree, I’d probably freak out and try to kill it with fire.

Some call it cute.  Others call it creepy.  One thing is for certain, and that its collectible.  During the 1920s, fans saw the rise of two very big sports figures – Babe Ruth and Red Grange.  The Sterling Doll Company decided to capitalize on this by making dolls that sorta carry both Ruth’s and Grange’s likeness.  Neither doll officially looks like Ruth or Grange.  Other than the Babe Ruth doll dressed as a baseball player, and the Red Grange doll dressed as a football player, the two look identical.  Both have the same face with eyes looking off to the right.  What the hell is it looking at?

The first time I saw one of these was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  They have one on display.  You’ll find Red Grange wearing either a red or blue jersey.  The red ones seem to be the most common.  Prices can be all over the place.  It all depends on the condition, and how complete they are.  Examples that are in pristine condition probably could fetch over a thousand dollars.  When they do popup for sale, most are in heavily used condition.  The average price seems to be $200-$300.

There is no way I’d add one of these to my collection.  I’m not taking the chance of it coming to life at night and attacking me.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1984 Topps Milton Bradley Championship Baseball

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Tabletop board games based on baseball have been around a lot longer than you would think.  Some can be dated all the way back to the late 19th and early 20th century.  Those older games can be worth quite a bit depending on the condition.  As the decades rolled by, more and more baseball board games began to surface.  Baseball wasn’t the only sport to get the board game treatment, but that’s the sport I’m dealing with here today.  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the cultural impact of electronic football.

There is a point in time where I believe every baseball superstar either had their own board game, or was included in one.  Guys like Roger Maris, George Brett, Steve Garvey, and Mickey Mantle all had their own board game.  Did any of these games revolutionize the board game industry?  No.  It was a cash grab.  Slapping the names and faces of a famous baseball players on a game can help move them off the store shelves.  The only reason people buy these games today is for the collector value.  I highly doubt collectors are buying them to actually play.

Some of these games are fairly simple.  Others can be very complicated with an endless list of tedious rules.  One of the better reviewed games was released in 1984 by Milton Bradley.  It was called Championship Baseball.  Topps created (30) cards for this game.  The players include stars like Pete Rose, Rod Carew, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Reggie Jackson.  Even though the cards were made by Topps, the set was not licensed by Major League Baseball Properties.  That is why the team names and logos are airbrushed out.  On the back of each card you’ll find batting records that have been converted into dice roll combinations.  You basically roll the two die, compare the results to a chart on the back of the player’s card, and that’s it.  The game play is quite simple.

Given that this set was cheaply made, and contains no rookies, the demand isn’t there.  You can easily pickup a sealed set for under $10.00.  A complete game is worth about $20.00.

Flashback Product of the Week: 2005 eBay Live! Pop Culture Classic Listings

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From what I hear, the eBay Live! annual conference was a pretty big deal.  I personally never attended any of them though.  But reading up on them, it sounds like sellers were treated like kings at one time.  eBay would listen to sellers, and offer fun classes to attend.  eBay is still the main place to buy/sell stuff, but I think that sense of community has really been lost.  Yeah, the message boards are still there, but it just doesn’t seem like it use to be.  eBay tends to care more about the buyers now.

Over the years, eBay has slapped their logo on tons of merchandise.  They use to have a store, but that closed up years ago.  Some of their merchandise has become quite collectible.  During the eBay Live! conference they gave out huge amounts of stuff.  That includes their own trading cards.

There was a card set made for almost every single eBay Live! event.  Each one has it’s own uniqueness about it, but the set made in 2005 seems to stand out the most to me.  Both from a design standpoint and subject matter.  eBay was celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in 2005.  They decided to create a set that commemorated the most notable items put up for sale up until that point.  The set consists of (13) cards.  Card fronts feature an animated drawing of a specific item on foil card stock.  On the reverse side, you’ll find a write-up about that item.  The checklist includes the following cards:

  • Real Arkansas Civil War Dirt
  • Size 12 Wedding Dress/Gown
  • Early Blown Glass Cathedral Pickle Bottle
  • 2005 Jay Leno Harley Davidson
  • The Meaning of Life
  • Gulfstream II Business Jet
  • Kidney For Sale
  • Oldest Known Pair of Levis Jeans
  • Ghost Cane
  • Ten Years of Community and Commerce
  • Pierre Omidyar’s Broken Laser Pointer
  • Shoeless Joe’s Bat
  • Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese

Shoeless Joe’s Bat refers to the famous “Black Betsy”.  It sold on August 7, 2001 for $577,610.  That was Joe Jackson’s main bat he used throughout his career.

These cards aren’t that difficult to find.  Ironically there usually is a good supply on eBay.  Its funny to think that eBay made cards.  But they did.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1962 Topps Baseball Bucks

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The little dude on the cover of this box sums up what this hobby has become about.  Money.  So many people open up products today with the sole purpose of pulling that big “hit”.  When that doesn’t happen they run to the nearest message board to bash both the product and company that made it.  Its sad and quite annoying.  That picture accurately describes what some buyers/sellers were like during the 80s and 90s before the bubble burst.  It kinda looks like a young Mr. Mint.

One of the most unique looking test issued products that Topps has made were the 1962 Topps Baseball Bucks.  It started as a product all on it’s own.  Then Topps decided to throw them in as extras within the 1962 Topps Baseball set.  The set totals 96 cards that all look like currency.  On the front of each “buck” you’ll find a picture of the player, home stadium, and a short write-up.  The back shows the A.L. or N.L. logo along with a team logo.  Its very common to find these with a fold down the middle because that is how they were packaged.  One “buck” came inside a 1-cent pack.  For being a test issue, the cards are very affordable.  If Topps didn’t insert them later on in their regular set, I have a feeling they would be worth a lot more.  Guys like Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron command the most money.  Then again, its all based on condition.  If you can find an original sealed pack, on the back it advertises autographs.  I think they’re referring to the facsimile signature found on each “buck”.  Try doing that with a product in today’s hobby.

I still can’t get past the image on the cover.  Its almost as if Topps was able to predict the future of the card industry.  Topps made a football counterpart, but it never was a standalone product.  Those were just issued as inserts.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1988 Topps Dinosaurs Attack!

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(Not a good day for the Falcons)

Yup.  That’s a dinosaur ripping through a baseball team like a Dallas Cowboys linebacker at an Old Country Buffet.  Instead of having aliens like Topps had with their 1962 Mars Attacks set, this time we had dinosaurs.  Just like Mars Attacks, the 1988 Dinosaurs Attack! set was a nod to all those B-movies of the 1950s.

The story is quite simple.  A scientific experiment goes terribly wrong and transports dinosaurs to the present time.  Havoc breaks out all over the world.  In the end, the head scientist, Elias Thorne, sacrifices himself so his wife can send the dinosaurs back to their own time.  This ultimately destroys the creatures in the process.

This story may lack originality, but it surely makes up for it with the artwork.  Its filled with some of the most bloody, gory, violence ever printed on cardboard.  I’d have to say that its right up there with a lot of those war sets issued decades earlier.  If you’re looking for scientific accuracy, this certainly isn’t the place.  A lot of the dinosaurs that are shown eating people weren’t meat eaters.

Dinosaurs Attack! never met the commercial success that Topps had hoped.  Perhaps it was too similar to Mars Attacks.  Plus it was 1988 which was a time when every card product was being overproduced.  The full set is made up of 55 cards and 11 stickers.  Director Tim Burton was planning to make a movie based on Dinosaurs Attack!, but passed when he heard that Jurassic Park was being made.  He settled to make a Mars Attacks movie instead.  Sealed boxes are widely available and can be purchased for $10.00 to $20.00.  In some cases you can get them even cheaper.  Original artwork probably carries the most weight when it pops-up for sale.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1896 H818 Spalding Die-Cut Advertising Stand-Ups

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This is one of those very obscure sets that even the most experienced collectors may not have heard about.  Koerner & Hayes out of Buffalo, New York printed these up for Spalding back in 1896.  The official name of the set is 1896 H818 Spalding Die-Cut Advertising Stand-Ups.  It certainly isn’t the largest set in the world.  Only (5) cards make up the complete set.  I find it interesting as the cards aren’t of any specific athletes.  All you’ll find are generic people.  Try doing that in today’s hobby.

Like I said before, there are only (5) cards to the set.  Each one covers a different sport – baseball, football, cycling, golf, and tennis.  Spalding had these made up as a way to help promote their sporting goods.  Depending on the card, you’ll find a brief summary of the sport along with a basic outline of how that specific game is played.  The write-up on the cycling card however is basically just trying to sell you a bicycle.  According to the back of the card, a bike from Spalding would run you about $75.00.  That’s a lot of money in 1896.

Baseball Hall of Famer Henry Chadwick did the write-up on the baseball card.  The “Father of American Football”, Walter Camp, wrote the summary for the football one.  Sets like this really have a niche market.  The fact that there are no specific players is a main reason why it doesn’t appeal to many collectors.  But don’t let that fool you.  This set does have some value.  Complete sets have sold for $500.00.  That’s about $100.00 per card.  You’re obviously going to get more or less based on the condition.

Who wouldn’t want to see today’s football players dress like this?  I better not speak too loudly.  Panini might pull something like that.  We all know how much they like to dress up people for their studio shot photos.