Product Highlight: 1998 Riddell Game Greats

Why?  Its a simple question that is asked quite a bit in this hobby.  Sometimes you just have to wonder what people were thinking when it came to giving the “ok” to a new product.  Maybe they deliberately wanted these products to flop just to create good blogging material twenty years later.  If that’s the case, then I’d call it a success.

Traditionally, Riddell is known for making sports equipment.  Over the years though they’ve dabbled in the collectibles market.  One of their collectible ventures came in 1998 with Game Greats.  These miniature busts feature 360° wrap-surround digital imaging.  That’s just fancy talk meaning they printed a digital picture and folded it into a loop.  I guess using an actual image was the main selling point verses having a molded plastic face.

Riddell made a series for both baseball and football.  The baseball set consists of six players – Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Sammy Sosa.  Football has seven – Troy Aikman, John Elway, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Kordell Stewart, Steve Young, and Barry Sanders.

In order to obtain the Barry Sanders bust, you needed to mail-in three proofs of purchase along with the original register receipt.  Barry Sanders wasn’t sold in stores like the others.  If you didn’t want Barry Sanders, you could still request one of the other busts for free.

Riddell offered a mail-in program for baseball too, but I’m unclear as to what you’d get in return.  On the proof of purchase for the football busts, it states the exact name of the bust it came from.  For example, the proof of purchase for the John Elway bust says “’98 Elway – Blue Jersey”.  The proof of purchase for the baseball busts is a little different.  For example, Mark McGwire’s just says “’99 McGwire”.  Just like the football, the baseball busts were released in 1998.  The checklist on the backside of the baseball packaging identifies them from 1998 too.  So why do the proof of purchase for the baseball players state they’re from 1999?  Unlike football, nothing is stated on the back of the baseball busts as to what you’d receive.  I’m thinking the baseball proof of purchase were going to be used for a future product that never arrived given how poorly Release 1 sold.

You can easily find these for sale.  Sellers can’t give them away.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone at Riddell is sitting on a few rare prototypes.

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