Product Highlight: 1991 Caesars Palace Lake Tahoe Heavy Hitters

Put on your Rolex and grab the keys to the Rolls-Royce because its time to hobnob with some celebrities.  Or at least people considered to be celebrities in the early 90’s.

Fifty celebrities came to play in the Celebrity Golf Championship that ran from July 4-7, 1991.  It was played on the Edgewood Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and held by Caesars Palace.  It was a private event for those individuals who coughed-up the cash to play with a certain celebrity.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some high-rollers were invited to this event for free too.  The celebrities you could play with ranged from actors, singers, and sports figures.

Along with the invitation, invitees were given a specially made 8-card set to commemorate the event.  The checklist includes:

  • Michael Jordan #1
  • Maury Povich #2
  • Randy Quaid #3
  • Jim McMahon #4
  • John Elway #5
  • Mark Rypien #6
  • Kenny Rogers #7
  • Title Card #8

On the back of the Title Card you’ll find a list of the celebrities.  Why there is a checkbox next to each of their names is a total mystery to me.  Only seven have cards.

The reverse side on the celebrity cards are mostly blank except for the card number, Celebrity Golf Association logo, and a designated area for an autograph.

Very few of these sets are floating around.  The Michael Jordan holds the most value.  Apparently not many people were interested in holding on to them.  The overall consensus is that they were left behind and/or thrown out.  My running theory is that someone like Carl Spackler from Caddyshack picked them up and used them for some elaborate gopher trap.

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Product Highlight: 1977 Star Wars Wonder Bread

Yep.  I’m still on a Star Wars kick.  I saw The Last Jedi over the weekend and think its a great follow-up to The Force Awakens.  Caution spoilers!!!

The Last Jedi takes classic characters in new directions.  Luke Skywalker wants nothing to do with the force or the Jedi anymore.  He feels completely responsible for Kylo Ren’s (Ben Solo) turn to the dark side.  While training the next generation of Jedi, Luke could feel his nephew’s power in the dark side rising within him.  Luke is tempted by the dark side himself and contemplates killing Kylo Ren in his sleep.  At the last second Luke chooses not to do this, but not before Kylo Ren awakes to see his uncle standing over him with a lightsaber.  Then all hell breaks loose and Kylo Ren is fully pushed to the dark side.  The school is destroyed.  I think this is a perfect example showing that no matter how powerful of a Jedi you are, the dark side can still be tempting.  And even the slightest bit of temptation can have major consequences.

I like to think that Luke is the last Jedi when it comes to the old ways of teaching.  Both he and Yoda agree that the Jedi’s 1,000+ year history is filled with one failure after another.  Something has to change.  Being 100% on the light side or dark side just isn’t working.  I believe we’re going to see this needed change with Rey.  She’s very strong with the force, but has a ton to learn yet.  We know she has the ancient Jedi texts.  Pulling info from those with Luke probably returning as a force ghost could help.  In all honesty I believe the next Jedi will be self-taught and use elements of both the light and dark side.  Let them figure out the force on their own without tons of overbearing rules.

Supreme Leader Snoke’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren was a big surprise.  I certainly didn’t see that coming.  After The Force Awakens came out, Snoke was one of the most talked about characters.  This is due to how little we know about him.  What we do know is that he was extremely powerful with the dark side of the force, and lived for a long time.  When the original trilogy was released about the same could be said about Emperor Palpatine.  Theories about Snoke continue to flood the internet even after his death.  Maybe he’ll come back somehow.  Some fans need to calm down and remember that these films are like puzzle pieces.  When all the pieces come together we’ll see the whole picture.  We’ve got two years of speculation to go.  Episode IX opens in December 2019.

The 1977 Star Wars Wonder Bread set is one of the few not to have been issued by Topps.  Although many of the same images are also used on Topps products.  A total of (16) cards make up the set.  It covers a wide range of characters, droids, and spaceships.  The card fronts feature a yellow nameplate showing the character’s name and the actor portraying them.  Going up the right side on all of the cards are the words “Star Wars”.  The backs are very plain and provide a short description of what is pictured on the front.  Card numbers interestingly are spelled out versus being printed in numerical form.

One card came packaged in specially marked bags of Wonder Bread.  These bags and any promotional material advertising this giveaway are highly sought after today.  There was also a mail-in offer for a complete set.  Condition is a major factor with these cards.  Black borders are notorious for chipping.  That goes for no matter how the cards are packaged.  Imagine what happens to a black bordered card that’s tossed in a bread bag and thrown around a grocery store.  Examples that are in pristine condition can sell into the hundreds.

Product Highlight: 1997 Awesome Athletes Bookmarks

Talk about your oddball of oddball products.  This set is really out there.  It certainly isn’t one that every collector knows about.  Not much information about them is out there either… until now.

ABDO Publishing publishes a lot of books which are specifically targeted and sold to school libraries.  In the 90’s, they began publishing a series of books titled Awesome Athletes.  These nonfiction books highlight the careers of many popular sports figures.  The first two sets consist of six books each.

Set I

  • Troy Aikman
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Michael Jordan
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Emmitt Smith

Set II

  • Brett Favre
  • Anfernee Hardaway
  • Grant Hill
  • Tara Lipinski
  • Sheryl Swoopes
  • Tiger Woods

For those at the time who purchased an entire series (Set I and II) received a free set of six bookmarks.  The bookmarks were made up of athletes from Set II.  Much like a trading card, the fronts picture the athlete while the reverse supplies biographical information.

The Tiger Woods bookmark receives the most attention as it is an early item for him.  Sellers usually have high asking prices on that one.  The others are rarely seen.  I can imagine libraries handed them out as prizes.  Most were probably lost and/or so used they ended up being thrown out.

Product Highlight: 1980 Topps Pepsi

You could be the most die-hard Coca-Cola fan in the world, but if you came across one of these cards while rummaging through a dollar box you’d be excited.  Selling baseball cards with food and beverage products has been a standard since this industry began.  In 1980, this was far from a new practice.  At one point in 1980 Pepsi obviously wanted to use a set of baseball cards for a promotion.  They approached Topps who happily designed a 22-card set for them.  The complete checklist includes:

  • Ron Guidry
  • Ted Simmons
  • Rod Carew
  • George Foster
  • Rich Gossage
  • Dave Parker
  • Paul Molitor
  • Bruce Sutter
  • Gary Templeton
  • Dave Lopes
  • Mike Schmidt
  • Jim Sundberg
  • Ken Landreaux
  • J.R. Richard
  • Robin Yount
  • Steve Carlton
  • George Brett
  • Fred Lynn
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Dave Winfield
  • Keith Hernandez
  • Jim Palmer

Now if everything went as planned this set probably wouldn’t get a second look today.  But the deal fell through.  What few cards were printed up for Pepsi never made it out in the traditional manner they were meant for.  Supposedly three years later in 1983 an uncut sheet popped-up.  The cards were cutup and sold through an ad in Sports Collectors Digest.

Not much more was heard of these cards until 2005.  That’s when The Topps Vault sold a set.  In 2011 Topps auctioned off a uncut sheet during the National Sports Collectors Convention.

Only three sheets of cards were originally printed.  All of which have found their way out and into the hands of collectors.  Single cards are extremely rare.  A Paul Molitor #2 recently sold for $1,500.  Test Proofs were also sold through The Topps Vault.

Its too bad Rickey Henderson wasn’t included in this unused promotion.  That would’ve made for quite the rare rookie card.

Product Highlight: NCAA College Basketball 2K3 for Nintendo GameCube

When an athlete doesn’t live up to the expected hype, their cards and memorabilia take a hit in price.  Its the natural law.  Unless that individual goes on to do something historically spectacular outside of their sport, prices will remain in the gutter.  But every now and then we’ll come across a crazy anomaly that defies this way of thinking.  Enter NCAA 2K3 College Basketball for the Nintendo GameCube.

I can imagine that in 2002 cards of Jay Williams carried some weight.  The Duke point guard was drafted second in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.  Right after the Houston Rockets drafted Yao Ming.  He did alright during his first year in the NBA, but nothing mind blowing.  In June of 2003, he suffered a severe motorcycle crash in Illinois.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet, didn’t have a license to drive a motorcycle in that state, and was in violation of the terms of his contract with the Bulls by riding a motorcycle to begin with.  Its safe to say that smarter decisions could have been made.  When he finally recuperated, attempts were made to get back into professional basketball.  None were that successful.  Jay Williams now works for ESPN as a college basketball analyst.

Today you can’t giveaway cards of Jay Williams.  The only cards that carry any real value are ones which have him teamed-up with stars like Michael Jordan, Yao Ming, or Kobe Bryant.  Trust me.  Collectors aren’t buying them for the Jay Williams part of the card.  In fact, they’re probably getting a good deal on a star relic and/or autograph.  Dual relics and/or autographs featuring stars and dud rookies tend not to sell for as much compared to if that star was pictured alone.

Its not uncommon for a popular rookie to be pictured on the cover of a video game.  Jay Williams received this honor with the release of NCAA 2K3 College Basketball in December, 2002.  The game was released for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube platforms.  Copies of this game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox are readily available.  The GameCube version is a completely different story.  The general consensus is that Sega decided they didn’t want to release sports games for the Nintendo GameCube anymore.  NCAA 2K3 College Basketball just barely made it out.  What copies made it to the stores didn’t sell very well.  This led to the game becoming rare.

While copies of this game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox can be bought for next to nothing, complete GameCube examples have been known to reach $200.  Although Jay Williams isn’t the driving factor, its interesting to see him attached to something that continues to sell for so much.

Product Highlight: Greatest Sports Legends – Video Baseball Cards

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Over the years, multiple attempts at merging video with trading cards have been made.  Most were met with poor reviews from collectors.  Upper Deck gave it a shot with their line of Evolution cards in 2011.  They did their best to make them look like a card, but in all honesty I think they resembled a small portable gaming system like the Nintendo Game Boy.  In good old Panini fashion, they too tried their hand at it with their line of HRX video cards.  Despite some coming with autographs, Panini’s HRX cards were met with even a poorer response.  The video on many didn’t function very well or at all.  It wouldn’t surprise me if some collectors are still waiting on their redemption.

Perhaps Steve Rotfeld Productions did it best in 1990.  Greatest Sports Legends is a series of 207 documentaries covering some of the best athletes from the 20th century.  They first began airing in 1972, and even won an Emmy Award for their 1983 film about Jackie Robinson.  Throughout the 80’s, these documentaries were heavily distributed on VHS tapes.  The ones with a 1990 copyright date are my favorite.  You have to admit the words “video baseball card” couldn’t have been taken more literally.  Its very primitive.  The front and back of the VHS sleeves are designed to look like a card.  Whether or not all 207 athletes got this treatment is unclear.  I know it carried over into football too.

Unlike some VHS tapes, these don’t carry much collecting weight.  Its unlikely that many of us still own a device that could play one of these.  Funai Electronics was the last company to make video cassette recorders for home-use, and they ceased production in July 2016.

I use to own tons of VHS tapes, but got rid of them years ago.  Only a few remain in my possession, mainly for nostalgic purposes.  I couldn’t let go of my Star Wars and Batman (1989) VHS copies.

Product Highlight: 1999 Racing Champions MLBPA Superstar Yo-Yos Series 1

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Between seventh and eighth grade there were two big fads sweeping through my school.  The first were those Tech Deck fingerboards.  I never fully understood people’s fascination with those tiny skateboards.  Kids were constantly attempting to make cool jumps by only using one hand.  I bought one off of a classmate for a few dollars, but it wasn’t too long after that I lost interest.  The second fad was the yo-yo craze.  That one kept my attention much longer.  I had three different yo-yos.  It all started with a black-and-white Duncan.

Today it is all about fidget spinners.  Who knows what will be the “must have” thing tomorrow.  But we’re all going to wish we had thought of it first.  Companies like to cash in on these fads.  We’re already seeing officially licensed sports-themed fidget spinners hit the market.  I know the Williamsport Crosscutters are giving one out to kids this season.  It wouldn’t surprise me if lots of other teams do the same.

Racing Champions produced many diecast NASCAR collectibles throughout the 90’s.  To capitalize on the yo-yo popularity, they released more than one set of yo-yos.  It makes perfect sense that they would make a line of NASCAR yo-yos.  Seeing them release more than one set of baseball yo-yos was the real shocker.  With a name like Racing Champions you just don’t think about them issuing anything related to baseball.

It was the summer of 1999 when Racing Champions released Series 1 of their baseball yo-yos.  Although they weren’t licensed by MLB, they did get the ok from the MLBPA.  Each yo-yo in the set features a player on the front while picturing their name, jersey number, and town on the back.  The set consists of the following players:

  • Mark McGwire
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Derek Jeter
  • Mike Piazza
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Ivan Rodriguez
  • Greg Maddux
  • Kevin Brown

Another set of Racing Champions MLBPA yo-yos exist.  The checklist is exactly the same.  What differs are the foil pictures and overall color of the yo-yo.  They almost remind me of a parallel.  All were mass produced, and can be purchased for barely nothing.  Its possible that prototype yo-yos exist or existed at one time before they were put into production.  Most likely they were destroyed or taken home by someone that worked there.

Racing Champions is still around, but in name only.  A company called Round 2 now uses the name.  They still produce diecast cars, but nothing relating to NASCAR.