Pin Highlight: Lord Darth Vader Star Wars Celebration 2017 40 Years Mystery Pin

The Last Jedi is here!!!  So many questions will be answered while new ones will take their place.  Its gonna be good.

Star Wars Celebration 2017 took place in Orlando, Florida.  Disney made a whole bunch of pins to commemorate this event.  One set contains twelve pins.  Two pins come packaged in a blind box.  You have no clue as to which pins you’ll be getting.

The checklist of pins includes:

  • Artoo-Deetoo
  • Han Solo
  • Grand Moff Tarkin
  • Lord Darth Vader
  • Luke Skywalker
  • Chewbacca
  • Stormtrooper – chaser
  • Princess Leia Organa – chaser
  • Aunt Beru – chaser
  • Uncle Owen – chaser
  • Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi – chaser
  • See-Threepio – chaser

The chaser pins are difficult to pull and are limited to 1,500 copies.

If the pictures on these pins look familiar, you’d be correct.  Most come from 1977 Topps Star Wars Series 1 Stickers.  Chewie’s pin uses the image from his Series 2 sticker from that same year.  I don’t believe Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru, and the Stormtrooper have stickers that use those exact pictures.  Those look to have been made just for this pin set.

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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.

Pin Highlight: 2017 Williamsport Sun-Gazette LLWS Gorilla Pin

Baseball season might be over.  The weather is getting colder.  Christmas music has begun to play.  But in my mind though its still the summer.  And that means the Little League World Series.  With that comes pins.  Lots and lots of pins!!!

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette was founded in 1801, and issued their first pin in 2004.  Since then, they have regularly sold pins while the Little League World Series takes place.  Every year its exciting to see what new designs they come up with.

Ten new pins were released this past August.  Each one is limited to only (125) pins.  In terms of pins, that isn’t many.  That’s probably why I haven’t seen any 2017 Sun-Gazette pins show up on the secondary market yet.  The Sun-Gazette never sells them online.  You have to purchase them in person.  Low quantity combined with in person only availability holds them back from surfacing.

Most of their pins are baseball themed.  Some aren’t.  The craziest pin they made for 2017 has nothing on it pertaining to baseball.  It measures 3″ and has a gorilla on top of the Sun-Gazette building.  They sold t-shirts with this image on them.  It reminds me a lot of King Kong or that arcade game Rampage.

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.

Pin Highlight: Olive Garden 2017 Little League World Series Pin

Who doesn’t love the Olive Garden?  That list is fairly short.  Their pasta, soup, salad, and bread sticks are all delicious.  Its been almost two months since the Little League World Series came to an end, and there are still some pins that have yet to popup online.  One such pin comes from the Olive Garden.

During the 2016 Little League World Series the Olive Garden in Williamsport had pins.  A few of them have showed up for sale, but not recently.  This year’s pin has been seen even less.  You would think these would be all over the place given that the Olive Garden is a popular restaurant.  Especially when the world comes to Williamsport and people need to eat.  I think the price has a lot to do with it.  The Olive Garden charged $10 for one of these pins, or it was free with the purchase of a dessert.  Considering their pins are very small in size, that’s a lot of money.  Little was done to advertise them too.  It was basically word of mouth.  You know no advertising was done when you see a local fence company (Kriger Fence) have more pins show up on the secondary market compared to the Olive Garden.  Trust me, more people passed through the Olive Garden during the Little League World Series than Kriger Fence.

Most businesses in Williamsport don’t sell their Little League pins over the internet.  Almost all of them need to be acquired in person or on eBay.  Limited availability like this can drive up the demand for certain pins.  Which pins won’t end up surfacing that much is a total shot in the dark.  Fifty years from now we could learn that a pin was made for the ’17 LLWS and only be hearing about it for the first time.

Pin Highlight: Little League Store ESPN Pin

Exactly one month from today the 2017 Little League World Series begins.  People from all over the world will flock to Williamsport, PA.  Collectible pins sold at the official Little League Store and other businesses throughout Williamsport have begun to slowly popup.  Pins from Dolly’s Diner and the Thomas T. Taber Museum are already available.  As the Little League World Series approaches, many more will follow.  The Little League Store doesn’t sell all of their pins online.  A lot of neat ones can only be purchased in person.  I just added a new glow-in-the-dark superhero-themed Dugout pin to my collection.

ESPN issues pins for the Little League World Series every year.  They have for a long time.  Who and how they are distributed is a total mystery.  They show up on eBay, but I’ve never seen anyone from ESPN hand them out.  Other collectors have wondered the same thing.  While supplies last, the Little League Store now sells an ESPN pin.  This is brand new for 2017.  Enough people complained over the years about not getting an ESPN pin, so they decided to make one for sale.  I bet these will sell fast.  There is no year printed on them.  Because of that, Little League might have plans to use this pin design for a while.  Either way, its an official Little League ESPN pin.