Product Highlight: 1991 GV Inc. “A Happy Baseball Birthday” Cassette Tapes

The question “Why would they make that?” can be asked about countless products.  Its important to try new things.  Sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t.  The ones that don’t are a real blast to look at.  You really wonder what was going through management’s head at the time these ideas came to be.

When it comes to products that seriously bombed, the 1991 GV Inc. “A Happy Baseball Birthday” series of cassette tapes are at the top of the list.  One cassette tape came inside each blister package.  Recorded on each tape is a personal birthday message from a specific baseball player.  In addition to the message, each player would share their favorite baseball/birthday related memory too.  Recordings were made by Kevin Maas, Wade Boggs, John Franco, Mark Grace, John Smoltz, Tony Gwynn, Nolan Ryan, Ruben Sierra, Dave Winfield, and Lenny Dykstra.  There could be more.

On the backside of the package you’ll find a jumbo card featuring a facsimile autograph.  Despite the copyright date being from 1991, I believe these hit the stores in 1992.  Many cassette tapes came packaged with a 1992 Topps base card.  They were distributed by MDV Marketing, Inc. out of Atlantic Highlands, NJ.

If you owned the Kevin Maas tape, and could find a cassette player to put it in, this is what you would hear:

Can you imagine what it would sound like if you played them all at once?  I wonder what you’ed hear if you play them backwards?  I’m sure there is some nut job out there who got one of these as a kid and actually believes whoever is on the tape is talking directly to them.  Lets hope they never show up to an autograph signing.  I bet if you play Lenny Dykstra’s all the way to the end, he’ll give you some stock tips.

I know there isn’t much to talk about from a design perspective.  But why would they put the laces through the word “BASEBALL”?  At first glance it looks crossed out.

Every now and then these will popup.  They aren’t worth very much.  I definitely place them at the top of the oddball pile.  One thing is for certain.  Kevin Maas really likes German chocolate cake.

Card of the Day: Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen 2000 Mr. Mint, Inc. Auto

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Card of the Day: 1956 Gum Products, Inc. Adventure – The Groundhog’s Shadow #73

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Card of the Day: Dwayne Johnson 1994 University of Miami/Bumble Bee Seafoods, Inc.

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Flashback Product of the Week: 1991 College Classics Inc. – The “Heisman Collection” Series 1

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In 1991, College Classics Inc. entered into a three year agreement with the Downtown Athletic Club of New York.  College football fans know the Downtown Athletic Club of New York as the “Home of the Heisman Trophy”.  Between 1991 and 1993 College Classics Inc. produced three sets of cards based on past Heisman Trophy winners.  Every single player in each set is represented by their famous Heisman Trophy portrait that is on display in the Heisman Room of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York.

College Classics Inc. issued these in full set form.  No packs.  Series 1 consists of 20 cards.  They are individually numbered out of 100,000.  Cases contain 100 sets, and should have at least two autographed cards.  Dealers wishing to buy a case needed to do so from American Card Investors, Inc.  By purchasing two cases, you would receive a double matted, framed black and gold poster that was released by the Heisman Committee.  They were also suppose to produce 500 double matted, framed prints of all the Heisman Trophy winners.  According to College Classics Inc., each were to be signed by Archie Griffin.  Why you would have Archie Griffin sign a print that isn’t of him is beyond me.  I’m not sure how these were distributed, but it probably was another dealer promotion.

Dealers would have to spend $695.00 for a case.  That is about $7.00 per set.  So the original MSRP was most likely around $14.00.  As nice as these cards look, they haven’t appreciated in value much.  Sealed sets can easily be found for under $10.00 now.  The most valuable cards are the autographs.  But even those are extremely affordable.  In some cases these are the only autographed cards these players have.  Each are hand-numbered out of 200.

Series 2 was released in 1992, and is basically setup the same as Series 1.  Series 3 carries the most value because they only made 15,000 total sets.  College Classics Inc. went on to make other sets for baseball and basketball, then ultimately went belly up.  All of the negatives and printing plates used were sent to the College Football Hall of Fame.

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Flashback Product of the Week: 1991 Ace Novelty Co. Inc. Tackling Dummies

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Sticking with the toy theme for Christmas, this week its all about those Tackling Dummies.

From 1991 to 1992 Ace Novelty Co. Inc. released a slew of stuffed toys covering a wide variety of sports.  The football line was known as Tackling Dummies.  With all the success that Tonka was having with their Wrestling Buddies, it only seems natural that other sports would get sucked in too.  I guess Ace Novelty was able to snag licenses to the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL before Tonka could.  Or at least they came to an agreement with certain players.

The 1991 run of Tackling Dummies consists of only four players – Joe Montana, Randall Cunningham, Boomer Esiason, and Dan Marino.  In 1992 they added Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly, and Warren Moon to the checklist.  Unlike most sports collectibles, these guys are made to be played with.  They’re built to take a beating.  Today their value can vary a lot.  Having them in their original box increases their value dramatically.  Mint in box examples can be worth $50.00 to $120.00.  They aren’t quite as desirable as Tonka’s Wrestling Buddies.  Most used versions can be found for under $30.00.

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That is one creepy looking face.

Introducing Lil’ Troops

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The 4th of July is right around the corner.  Time for hamburgers, hot dogs, and the most patriotic collectibles around… Lil’ Troops.

The Party Animal, Inc, makers of such fine products as Lil’ Teammates and TeenyMates, have rolled out a new line of toys that all Americans will love – Lil’ Troops.  Lil’ Troops are fully licensed, 3″ tall vinyl figures.  They’re available at Toys “R” Us, local AAFES Exchange Stores, and various other online shops.  Lil’ Troops also help big troops!  A portion of each Lil’ Troops sale is devoted to U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

Series 1 has 5 figures that have a MSRP of $7.99 each.

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Infantryman

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Desert Trooper

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Recon Scout

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Rescue Pilot

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Urban Trooper

Flashback Product of the Week: 1993 World Wide Collectibles, Inc. Pro Billiards Tour Set

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Billiard cards.  Really?  Freaking billiard cards.  You bet.  Back in 1993 World Wide Collectibles, Inc. issued this 132-card Pro Billiards Tour Set.  It only came in factory set form, no packs.  The set is broken down into four sections: Pro Billiards Tour, Challenge of Chammpions, Legends, and World Team Billiards.  One million sets in various languages were suppose to be produced, but only around 45,000 found their way out do to a printing problem.  The English version is all you can find, and each set is serial numbered out of a million.  You know overproduction is a problem when the manufacturer is trying to convince you that a million sets is a limited quantity.

In 1993 they retailed for about $25.00, but today you can easily pick up a set for much less.   It shouldn’t be a surprise that billiard cards aren’t that popular, at least  not as a standalone product.  Throwing billiard players into products like Allen & Ginter and Sportkings seems to be fine with collectors.

This product certainly won’t drain your “pockets”.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1941 Gum, Inc. Uncle Sam/Home Defense

Gum Inc.’s 1941 Uncle Sam/Home Defense set consists of 144 cards.  #1-96 contain images of the main branches throughout the military, and #97-144 illustrate what it might have been like if WWII action had taken place within the United States.

These cards can be found relatively cheap.  They depict some great artwork.  I thought this would be appropriate for Memorial Day.

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#66 – Machine Gun Practice

Should you be online? – By Terri Rehkop of Press Pass, Inc

This is an excellent article written by Terri Rehkop, who is the Director of Customer Relations at Press Pass, Inc.  It discusses how being online can really help your business, specifically within the trading card industry.

The trading card industry is fascinating. It’s one of the few industries left that is still resistant to the idea that change and new technology can make a business more efficient and effective. Granted, many advancements have made doing business more challenging, but I believe that’s because of how retailers and distributors are implementing these changes, not because the changes themselves are bad.

I have been asked more than once by people in the industry if they should be on the Internet. I have danced around the question in the past because of the negative implications of the question. However, if I were asked that today, I would answer yes. The key objective of any business is to reach its customers. If a big percentage of your customers are on the Internet, how can you justify not being there yourself? As a business, you have to make your decisions based on how you can make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Anything else is counterproductive.

Of course, the question of whether or not you should be on the Internet is driven by price. Early adopters in the trading card industry have made ripples because everything they do is driven by being the lowest cost option for customers. While this strategy can give a short-term bump to profits, over time it erodes both the product value (extremely important for everyone in the trading card industry) and the value your business provides to its customers.

By competing solely on price, you guarantee that your customer will look around before making a purchase. If they find a better deal elsewhere, they will buy elsewhere and you have lost a sale. However, if you look at the Internet and your overall business strategy as a way to build loyalty with your customers, you can go a long way toward ensuring that you keep the largest share of your customers’ trading card spending.

Everyone needs to take a hard look at their business and decide if they are doing everything they can to make their customers loyal to them. Are you talking to them on a regular basis? Are you tracking their preferences and what products they buy? Are you making sure it’s as easy as clicking a mouse to do business with you? All of these things are accomplished by an Internet presence. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated or fancy.

Just think about the companies you do business with. What do you like best? What do you not like? Take that information and apply it to your business. The trading card industry is definitely unique…running a customer-centric business is not.

I would challenge everyone in this industry to make their New Year’s resolution finding ways to make their businesses work harder for their customers instead of the other way around. The more you do for your customers, the more likely they are to resist spending their money elsewhere.