The Topps Foil Test Technology That Brought Us Desert Shield and Stadium Club

Upper Deck set a new standard for card quality after they released their first set in 1989.  Collectors got a taste of what “premium” cards were like, and they weren’t about to turn back.  Other card companies had to figure out ways to amp-up their cards.  If not, they could’ve easily lost their fan base.  Adapt or die!

Topps wasn’t completely out of the loop when it came to making “premium” cards.  Long before Upper Deck arrived, Topps made Tiffany factory sets.  These mimicked the overall design of that year’s Topps set, but were printed on higher quality card stock.  To this day it still amazes me what some collectors are willing to spend on a Tiffany base card of a star.  Even when its not a rookie.  But just switching to better stock for their normal sets wouldn’t be enough to compete.  It was time to bring on the foil.

1990 Topps Baseball is a poster child of the overproduction era.  Unless you’re talking about it’s Tiffany counterpart, Frank Thomas no-name rookie, or George Bush card, there isn’t much value to look for.  The base design is one of my all-time favorites though – lots of color!  While browsing through the grocery store in 1990, I bet many of you can remember spotting those 100-card bricks known as jumbo packs.  Inside each of those packs was a specially made Glossy Rookies card.  The set commemorates popular rookies from the previous season.  Most of the players have rookie cards in products from 1989.

In order to step-up their game, Topps tested some new printing techniques.  They took tons of regular Glossy Rookies and printed a foil stripe across the front.  You can find them in a variety of colors – blue, purple, green, red, silver, and gold.  The stripe can be in multiple locations as well.  One card may have it straight across the player’s face, while another could be near the bottom.  Multiple colors for each player can be found in many different positions.  Occasionally you’ll see cards with two stripes, but I’ve never seen one with two different colors.  Usually if there are two, the colors match.  If that isn’t enough, the asterisk variations carry over to these foil tests.  Every player in the Glossy Rookies set has a card with one and two asterisks on the back.  For those collectors who are obsessed with variations, this could be an endless battle.  Ken Griffey, Jr. is the most popular foil test.

Looking back at what companies tested in order to stay relevant and in the game can be interesting.  The lessons Topps learned from this foil test issue were implemented in their Desert Shield and Stadium Club sets.

Fidel Castro and Derek Jeter Keep The Little Sun Card Company Relevant

At one time there was a small card company located in Monrovia, CA called Little Sun.  They pumped out mainly baseball card sets between 1988 and 1992.  Along with Upper Deck, Little Sun is one of the first manufacturers to include randomly inserted autographs within their products.  The first Little Sun autographed cards can be found in their 1991 High School Prospects set.  Shawn Estes, Cliff Floyd, Benji Gil, and Al Shirley all have autographs in there.  Each one is limited to (500) copies.  Of all the sets they issued, their final one gets the most attention.  The 1992 High School Prospects set not only includes a Derek Jeter base card, but an autograph as well.  An unsigned Proof also exists.  Those three Derek Jeter cards are highly sought after.  Collectors are willing to spend big money for them.  Other autographs include Jason Kendall, Dave Landaker, and Chad Roper.  Each of these autographs has a (250) copy print run.  You could say that Little Sun went out with a bang with this set.  Derek Jeter is pretty much the only thing keeping the Little Sun name relevant these days.

Early on in Little Sun’s card making career, they came out with a minor league product.  The set is called 1988 Little Sun Minor League Legends.  It only features (11) cards – Checklist #1, Pete Gray #2, Ike Boone #3, Lou Novikoff #4, Luke Easter #5, Steve Bilko #6, Frank Shellenback #7, Smead Jolley #8, Jigger Statz #9, Joe Hauser #10, and Fidel Castro #11.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has a card in here.  Castro was a great athlete who enjoyed playing baseball.  The Washington Senators once held tryouts for Cuban players, but he wasn’t offered a contract.  After he came to power, Castro would occasionally pitch an exhibition game for the Barbudos.  Despite the opposing team always hitting strongly against him, nobody would dare pull Fidel Castro from the game.  Over the years, Castro has popped-up in various products.  Topps even made a few cut signatures of him.  While attending the 2016 National, Iconic Auctions had a Fidel Castro signed baseball on display.

Like most of Little Sun’s sets, this one doesn’t hold much value.  You can easily find the cards for dirt cheap.  I like the artwork.  It reminds me of those Diamond Stars cards from the 1930’s.  National Chicle also comes to mind.  Artist Michael Guccione did all of the artwork for these cards.

Card of the Day: George Clooney 1997 Fleer/Skybox Batman And Robin Auto

Past And Present Cleveland Indians Highlight The Topps 2018 NSCC VIP Set

Cleveland Indians of the past and present will be found in the Topps VIP set this year for those attending the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention.  Its a 5-card set.  I wouldn’t be surprised if packs only contain (4) cards.  Like in years past, Topps wants you to trade in order to get that fifth card.

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp – Official Trailer

Topps and Tiger

Tiger Woods has had his share of ups and downs over the last ten years.  Between his lady troubles, DUI arrest, and injuries, it certainly hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine.  It can be difficult for a normal person to go through all of that, and even worse for someone who is in the spotlight.  Some people would rollover and never be heard from again.  Tiger Woods actually worked through it, and has quite the comeback going right now.  Much better than any of his previous attempts at a comeback.  Not only is he making the cut in tournaments, he’s finishing reasonably high on the leaderboard.  Now ranked 88th in the world, he’s far from the Tiger Woods we use to know.  But still very entertaining to watch.  This recent comeback is stronger than others, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him win another tournament soon.

Even when Tiger was at his lowest, his cards didn’t take much of a hit.  He accomplished a lot in his golfing career before all the problems arose.  What issues he had were all external from the game, and really didn’t hurt what he already had under his belt.  It wasn’t like they found out he was taking steroids and they were coming for all of his trophies.  Something like that surely would have done him in.

Rookie cards of his continue to sell very well.  Autographs easily go for hundreds even thousands depending on the card.  In a world where plain one-colored relics are a dime a dozen, his hold up considerably strong.  In short, pulling a Tiger Woods rookie, autograph and/or relic is still worth bragging about.

When you think of Tiger Woods cards and memorabilia The Upper Deck Company first comes to mind.  Beginning in 2001, Upper Deck inked an exclusive deal with Tiger.  That deal continues to this day.  They never bailed on him like some other sponsors did.  Honestly, it would have taken a lot for Upper Deck to ditch him.  Upper Deck needs all the income they can get.  I haven’t seen a standalone golf product since 2014 Exquisite Collection.  Since then, golfers have been thrown into other Upper Deck sets like Goodwin Champions.

Before 2001, Tiger Woods cards were really hit or miss.  His 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids card was and still is quite dominant.  Another would be his 1997-99 Grand Slam Ventures Masters Collection.  One product that I believe is drastically overlooked is the 1997 Topps Genuine Issue Tiger Woods Photos.  That’s correct.  Four years prior to his Upper Deck exclusive, Topps issued this small Tiger Woods-themed set after he won the 1997 Masters.

Its weird to see Tiger Woods pictured on a Topps product.  Topps isn’t known for it’s rich history with many golfers.  Over the years though Allen & Ginter has had it’s share including Arnold Palmer.  This set consists of six 8″ x 10″ photos.  Every pack has the same six pictures.  There are no autographs and/or relics to look for.

Here is the checklist:

  • #1 1996 US Amateur
  • #2 1997 USPGA Championship
  • #3 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open
  • #4 1997 USPGA Championship
  • #5 1997 Masters
  • #6 1997 US Open

Sealed packs range in price from $50-$75.

None of the photos have any type of design to them.  No borders or fancy coloring.  Just photographs.  In a strange way it kinda gives you a glimpse as to what a golf-focused Stadium Club set might have looked like.

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp – Official Trailer