Product Highlight: 1999 Topps Action Flats Baseball

I can still remember going into my local card shop and seeing these crazy little dudes for sale.

The Topps Action Flats line actually began in 1998 with the NFL. Football fans got another dose in 1999 as well. But baseball fans only received one set which was released in 1999. Another baseball set was in the works before the product line got officially dropped altogether.

What are Action Flats? An Action Flat is a small (flat) figure that comes on a stand. It was another attempt at competing with Starting Lineup. The 1999 Topps Action Flats Baseball set consists of (12) players:

  • Chipper Jones
  • Greg Maddux
  • Mark McGwire
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Kerry Wood
  • Barry Bonds
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken
  • Juan Gonzalez
  • Nomar Garciaparra
  • Derek Jeter

The Action Flat figure is posed to mimic the image on the accompanying card. Cards look just like the flagship set, but have a “Action Flats” foil stamp on them.

Topps did make some parallels to chase. Away and Classic Jersey parallels apply to the figures only. Classic Jersey parallels are more difficult to find. The cards that come with the figures are the same whether the figure is a parallel or not.

Props to Topps for trying something different. But the Action Flats line never really caught on.

Pin Highlight: 2022 Little League International Congress Pins

For the first time since 1989 the Little League International Congress will be held in Williamsport, PA June 10-13, 2022.

What is the Little League International Congress? Held every 4 years, the Little League International Congress brings together volunteer District Administrators (along with many other Little League officials) in an effort to help improve the Little League program. Various rule and regulation changes are voted on among other items of business.

Pins and Little League go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most of the individuals who attend the Little League International Congress are pin collectors. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if lots of people bring their own pins along to do some trading.

The Little League Store in Williamsport has a few new pins made for the 2022 Congress.

During the late 1800’s Williamsport was known for being the “Lumber Capital of the World”. At one point in time Williamsport had more millionaires per-capita than anywhere in the world. This is why Little League’s mascot Dugout is seen dressed as a lumberjack. Nothing is more frightening than a chipmunk/beaver hybrid swinging a baseball bat with an axe head mounted on the end.

Product Highlight: 1992 MotorArt Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Wow! The 80’s and 90’s really did bring us some unusual card sets.

MotorArt (out of Florida) certainly isn’t the first card manufacturer you think of first. Most likely because they didn’t stick around that long. Thanks to MotorArt collectors were introduced to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race Set.

The 1992 MotorArt Iditarod Sled Dog Race Set consists of (110) cards. You could purchase the cards in two different formats:

Hobby Box
Factory Set

There was also a 4-card promo pack they issued.

Over the course of the set you will find cards of mushers, dogs, and the various survival procedures they go through to finish the race.

No relics. No autographs. No parallels. No chase cards. MotorArt did offer a promotion where you could send away for a complete set on an uncut sheet. They only made 1,049 of these (one for each mile of the race). Each sheet cost $49.

Standalone Iditarod Race sets have never gained much hobby traction. Its not uncommon to find mushers included in products such as Allen & Ginter, Sport Kings, and Goodwin Champions.

Pin Highlight: 1998 Little League World Series Honda Sponsor Pin

Taking place between August 23-29 was the 1998 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA. Toms River, NJ took Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan to the cleaners winning the championship game. Future MLB All-Star and Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier was on the Toms River team. He went 4-4 with a lead-off home run, and was also the winning pitcher.

Pins have always been a huge part of the Little League World Series. Even when the games were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 corporate sponsors and local businesses released pins. Each Little League World Series brings a new wave of pins to collect. Without an official pin checklist it makes the hunt even more exciting.

Honda has been a sponsor of Little League for over 20 years. Their corporate booth on the Little League campus is constantly busy when the World Series is taking place. Eager collectors lineup early in order to get their hands on the latest Honda pins.

One of the most coveted Little League pins was released by Honda in 1998. Due to a lot of rain, Honda decided to pack up early and go home. Before doing so they handed out only a few hundred of their pins. Those factors have led this pin to become very rare. On the secondary market these have been known to reach close to $300.

Pin Highlight: 2020 Little League World Series ESPN Robo Cam Pin

Thanks to COVID-19 the 2020 Little League World Series did not take place. That certainly didn’t stop individuals and businesses from making their pins for fans to collect.

Pins have been a big part of the Little League World Series for years. Some of the more desirable pins come from various people who work for ESPN. When, where, and who distributes them is a total mystery to me. They just seem to popup and find their way into circulation.

A staple ESPN pin that seems to comeback year to year are the ones in the shape of the robo cams. The pin pictured below is what would have been making it’s rounds at the Little League World Series in 2020.

What makes this pin so special is the logo. This is the only pin that I’ve seen which contains the logo which would have been used for the 2020 Little League World Series. Usually the Little League store would sell logo merchandise, but they did very little of that last year. No pins for sure. Little League chose to use the same logo for 2021. The main difference is the year change.

Two of these pins have popped up for sale so far. Both auctions could easily have been for the exact same pin, and sold for close to $50 each time.

Product Highlight: 1997 Topps ProShooters Photo Marbles

Now this is one of those times you really don’t want to lose your marbles. Especially once you see how crazy collectors go for these tiny little orbs.

One of the most sought after Topps test-issued products from the 90s are the ProShooters Photo Marbles released in 1997. Collectors in Canada and Northeast U.S. had the opportunity to buy these before they disappeared off of store shelves.

Packaged inside each box are (24) packs. Inside each pack are (2) marbles and (1) of (2) checklist cards. That’s a total of (48) marbles and (24) checklist cards per box.

Much like a baseball card, each marble houses a picture of a Major League Baseball player. There are (60) total marbles in the set. Guys like Ken Griffey, Jr., Chipper Jones, Hideo Nomo, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa all have marbles made. Many other popular players of the time are also included.

The marbles themselves are difficult to pin down. Only a small handful ever appear on eBay. What is really hard to find are the (2) checklists. Each checklist has (30) player marbles pictured on it. Player collectors go nuts for these because very few surface. Most checklists were likely thrown out by those who opened the packs.

Product Highlight: 1997 Topps Genuine Issue Tiger Woods Photos

In case you haven’t heard, Tiger Woods was involved in a bad car accident. Luckily it sounds like he’s going to be ok. Whether or not he’ll play professional golf again is totally undecided. Its way too early to tell, and by the look of what is left of the SUV he was driving we’re just lucky that he’s still alive. This is Tiger Woods we’re talking about here. A comeback isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. We’ve seen it happen before. He surprised the world when he came back and won the Masters Tournament in 2019. Anything is possible.

When it comes to cards of Tiger Woods the first company that comes to mind is Upper Deck. That makes perfect sense since he’s had an exclusive deal with them going all the way back to 2001. But that wasn’t always the case. Prior to 2001 he didn’t have a dedicated place you could go for his cards. They were kinda hit or miss, and all over the place. Two cards from this time that stick out to me the most would be his 1997-99 Grand Slam Ventures Masters Collection, and 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids.

A 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 Masters in 1997.

Its strange to see Tiger Woods pictured on a Topps product.  Topps isn’t known for their rich history with golfers. This set consists of six 8″ x 10″ photos. 10,000 sets were produced.  Each pack has the same six pictures.  There are no autographs and/or relics.

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

With the recent amplified interest in sports cards and memorabilia over the last year, packs of these photos have seen a big jump in price. Sealed packs now sell for $100-$200.

None of the photos have any type of design to them.  No borders and/or fancy coloring. In a strange way it gives us a glimpse as to what a golf-focused Stadium Club set might look like.

Product Highlight: 1990 Classic Monster Trucks

SUNDAY!!! SUNDAY!!! SUNDAY!!! Lurking in the shadows, taking no prisoners, and prepared to give your kittens nightmares!!!

People are spending stupid crazy money on sports cards right now. Almost everyday another card reaches into the seven figures. This gets lots of people thinking everything printed on cardboard has the potential to hit those highs. Not true. But it certainly is fun to watch certain products, specifically mass-produced junk wax, rise in price for no other reason.

It wasn’t that long ago you could buy a box of 1990 Classic Monster Trucks for under $10. Now we’re seeing them sell for $50-$65 per box. This is absolutely insane. In no known universe are these boxes worth that much.

The 1990 Classic Monster Trucks set consists of (125) cards. Throughout the set you’ll find cards dedicated to both drivers and their trucks. You have all of the classics like Grave Digger, Bigfoot, and my personal favorite Thunder Chicken.

On the back of the driver cards is an empty white box meant to be used for an in-person autograph. I’ve always thought that to be a nice addition.

If you’re looking for chase cards there isn’t a single one. No short prints, photo variations, autographs, holograms, inserts, parallels, and/or 3D cards. You have a 125-card set, and that’s it.

Product Highlight: 1997 Pinnacle Denny’s

Denny’s distributed their final baseball card set in 1997. Upper Deck printed the cards between 1991 and 1995. Pinnacle got the job in 1996 and 1997.

There are (30) cards when it comes to the 1997 Pinnacle Denny’s set.  You’ll find a star player from each MLB team.  Card backs contain a hologram, small amount of stats, and key facts about that specific player. The front utilizes a lenticular 3D picture.

Two cards commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the desegregation of baseball.  One of them is of Jackie Robinson #29, which was distributed along with all the other cards.  The other is of Larry Doby.  His card was only available in Cleveland, which at the time made it more difficult to obtain. It was a promo made for the All-Star Game FanFest, and the National Sports Collectors Convention both of which were held in Cleveland that year. Its also possible that the Larry Doby card was available at certain Cleveland-based Denny’s restaurants.

If you look at the card number on Larry Doby it says “Denny’s 1 of 1”.  Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this is a true one-of-one.  There are plenty to go around. I don’t know why they didn’t make it card #30. When looking at the checklist you’ll see two card #1’s. Tim Salmon being the other.

Purchasing an entree and non-alcoholic beverage allowed you to buy a single card for only $0.59. Most of the money went to Denny’s national charity, Save The Children.

I didn’t even know Denny’s served alcohol. Apparently certain locations do. Can you imagine a couple of drunk idiots just being fascinated with the moving image on these cards?

Product Highlight: 2006 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Baseball

A lot has changed for Upper Deck since 2006.  The company that revolutionized the industry with it’s first set in 1989 no longer makes licensed baseball cards.  Today they stick with their NHL, various entertainment properties, and memorabilia products.  They still make some of the best looking cards in the hobby. Later this year they plan to release some new golf products. Something we haven’t seen much of since 2014 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Golf.

Upper Deck didn’t issue 2006 Exquisite Collection Baseball as a standalone product.  Instead they inserted mystery redemption cards within five of their other sets.  The products you could pull one of these redemption cards out of includes UD2, Ovation, Legendary Cuts, SPx, and Fleer Tradition. Your best chance at pulling one was in a box of SPx (1:2 boxes).  The redemption cards have long since expired, but the cards which were redeemed still live on.

What did one of these mystery redemption cards guarantee you?  Collectors that redeemed them would most likely receive an autograph, relic, or autograph/relic numbered to no more than (65) copies.  Some lucky people received full-sized pieces of autographed memorabilia.  Upper Deck even threw in a meet and greet, custom Exquisite Baseball box, and a chance to win a free box of every Upper Deck/Fleer baseball product released in 2007.

It was a blast to pull one of these.  I got mine from a pack of SPx.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to sell the redemption or redeem it.  In the end, I couldn’t sell it thinking that someone might get a Babe Ruth Cut Signature.  After punching in the code, I got a really neat looking Manny Ramirez Exquisite Memorabilia/Maximum Patch #’ed/25.

When it comes to rookies, Justin Verlander and Cole Hamels are the most notable names that stick out today.