20 Years Later Topps Crystal Is Still A Mystery

Drawing a blank upon hearing about 1999 Topps Crystal?  I was debating whether or not to use this for a post since very little is known about it.  But then I thought perhaps just talking about it could shed some new light on this set.

Right now, there are only five different cards known to exist that come with the Topps Crystal name – Craig Biggio, Wally Joyner, Ivan Rodriguez, Andy Brown, and Mike Mussina.  Every card that has surfaced is serial numbered to (99) copies.  Given how rarely you see these popup, I highly doubt (99) copies were actually made for each card though.

The reason why you probably haven’t heard of Topps Crystal is because it was never released.  Many people believe that Topps printed these cards as a test for what would eventually become 2000 Topps HD.  The printing technology between the two is very similar.  Topps HD was a minor success, but only survived for two years.  What makes the cards standout is that they are printed on thick plastic.  Its unfortunate that they didn’t catch on.  I think they look really well done.  Especially the handful of on-card autographs that include Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Adrian Gonzalez.

Seeing that Topps Crystal was never officially released, it makes you wonder how these five cards found their way out.  The most logical explanation is that someone at Topps walked out the door with them.  The odds of finding a new Topps Crystal card are slim, but it could happen.  It would be cool to find one from the Phillies.  For all we know, one of Pat Burrell could be out there somewhere.

Card Grading In It’s Current Form Is A @#!%$ Joke – Human Graders Must Go

Years and years ago I gave card grading a shot.  This took place well before Sports Card Info existed.  Because I didn’t do it very often I either went with BGS or SGC.  I had some modest success, but most of the time my cards came back 8’s or 8.5’s.  Those types of grades on the cards I was sending in actually diminished their value.  Two cards came back 9.5’s – 1991 Topps Stadium Club Brett Favre #94, and a Ryan Howard 2003 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Status Die-Cut #’ed/57.

To put it simply, card grading is a scam.  It always has been.  The first card PSA graded is the infamous Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206 which came back a NM-MT 8.  That card was altered and trimmed from day one.  PSA looked the other way because they knew the publicity they would receive.  Looking the other way for publicity and/or giving high grades based on a customer’s grading volume for more profit has been ingrained into grader’s skulls since the beginning.  Its a sickness that needs to be eradicated.

In 2019 we have seen card altering and trimming scandals exposed one after another.  Everywhere you look another one pops-up.  They’re like roaches.  Just check out some of the most recent articles from Sports Card Radio, and what the investigators on the Blowout Cards forums have dug up.  I think its safe to say that every card encapsulated in a grading holder should be questioned.  That’s if you get your cards back at all.  Wait times are atrocious, and PSA has been known to openly admit to throwing cards out.

Grading has a place in the hobby.  Just not in it’s current form.  Right now card grading is way too corruptible.  How do we eliminate this corruption?  Well, I don’t believe we can get rid of it completely.  Removing the human component would certainly help.  An A.I. and/or highly advanced computer system would most likely be the best way to go.  It would need to have a vast database filled with perfect examples of every card ever printed.  Scanning the card down to the very molecules its comprised of would result in an overall detailed grade unheard of today.  I want a grading system so unbiased/advanced when that Mickey Mantle rookie card is placed inside the machine it’ll tell you which part of the country it was pulled and what else the customer purchased that day.

But not even the most futuristic grading system will stop the skeptics.  Who’s to say the system’s designers won’t program it to be biased towards cards in their own collection?  What if someone hacks the system to improve their grades?  Nothing is full proof.  But as we sit today, the human graders need to go.  Humans are too tempted by greed.  Graders, trimmers, and cosigners are all in bed together.  The FBI is coming folks!  Until some drastic changes happen, I wouldn’t take card grading seriously.

We all had a feeling shady stuff was going on behind closed doors, but most simply looked away hoping the talking would stop.  With all of the garbage that’s been uncovered this year nobody is going to forget about it.  This topic and the players in it need to be dealt with.  More and more collectors should be on major alert.  If these graders did what they’re suppose to do, not a single altered/trimmed card should have made it passed them.  Money is more important to them than their integrity.  As long as people continue to turn a blind eye, pay top dollar for high-grade cards, this cycle will continue.  Lets break that cycle and inform as many people as possible about what’s going on.  With each scandal that breaks, more consumer confidence is lost.

With the National Sports Collectors Convention right around the corner, I’m sure companies like PSA, BGS, PWCC, Probstein123, and many more will have some explaining to do.  Some of these people shouldn’t even be allowed in the building.  Lots of great cards will be on display.  Just keep in mind that they might not have always looked so nice.  Promotional subpoenas for everyone!!!

It all started with this one.

Signs That Your Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 Rookie Card Is A Fake Or Reprint

To many hockey collectors, the Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card is the holy grail.  Adding one to your collection can cost a pretty penny.  Especially wanting an example that’s in decent condition.  Its a decision that can cost thousands.

Along with Wayne Gretzky’s 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee #18 RC, Bobby Orr’s 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card is one of the most counterfeited pieces of cardboard in the hobby.  Some of these counterfeits and reprints are very convincing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about purchasing a Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps #35 rookie card:

  • Locate Bobby Orr’s name on the card’s front.  If you see small red dots within the yellow text that’s a sign its not authentic.
  • Take a look at the back of the card.  On a large number of counterfeits/reprints there is a small circle on the grid line right beneath the “1965-66” text.  Not every counterfeit/reprint contains this feature, but a good portion do.
  • Extremely dark/light colors on the front, with a much brighter (sometimes white) back are signs of a counterfeit/reprint.
  • Mint condition – this card is notorious for having major condition issues.  The centering is usually off, and chipping can be a big problem due to the wood-grain border.  Finding an authentic example in nice condition is incredibly difficult.  If its too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If possible, take a common Boston Bruins card from the 1966-67 Topps set and compare it to the Bobby Orr rookie you’re looking at.  The card stock and printing techniques should be very similar.  Special attention wasn’t paid to Bobby Orr’s rookie card during the printing process.  It was treated like all of the others.

Authentic front

Authentic back

Counterfeit/reprint front

Counterfeit/reprint back

Is Topps Returning To Basketball? – Sure Looks Like It

Athletes and celebrities showing off cards on social media that they recently signed for upcoming products isn’t anything new.  But one image has been floating around the internet this week which has a lot of collectors talking.

Former Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyler Herro posted a video which shows three stacks of cards he signed.  What has people all in a buzz is that they seem to be Topps cards.  Topps Chrome to be exact.

Topps hasn’t produced a basketball product since 2009-10.  Panini currently has an exclusive NBA and CLC license.  These cards obviously don’t have any licensed team names and/or logos.

By the looks of it, Topps is working on an unlicensed basketball draft picks Topps Chrome set that features autographs.  With all of the hype around Zion Williamson, Topps seems to have decided to get back into the basketball card business.

Its very possible that a company like Topps could sign Zion Williamson to an exclusive autograph agreement even though they currently don’t have an NBA and/or CLC license.  Upper Deck has done this with Ben Simmons and Michael Jordan in the past.

When the Topps Industry Conference was held earlier this year, rumors were flying around that Panini is deathly afraid that something like this might happen with Zion Williamson.  It doesn’t look good when the exclusive NBA licensed card manufacturer (Panini) can’t strike a deal with the #1 draft pick.

We don’t have any specific details yet.  These cards could be distributed in a number of ways.

COME TO TOPPS ZION!!!

This Is NOT A Lynn Swann Rookie Card

Autograph collectors know all about Lynn Swann.  This Pittsburgh Steelers great, and Pro Football Hall of Famer isn’t the easiest person to obtain an autograph from.  If you’re lucky enough to attend a signing where he’s scheduled to appear, its going to cost you quite a bit.  Anywhere between $200-$300 to be exact.  There’s also a good chance that whatever you plan to get signed has to adhere to his regulations.  For example, Lynn Swann is scheduled to sign autographs at the next Chantilly Show.  He will only do HOF or SB MVP inscriptions.  He won’t sign personalizations or take photo op’s.  Trading cards, Goal Line Art cards, unlicensed jerseys, and signing directly on the jersey number are out of the question.  Its probably easier to list what he will sign versus won’t.  You need a Ph.D. to get his autograph.  I know some other athletes can be like this, but Lynn Swann is one of the worst.

Cards of Lynn Swann are scarce too depending on what you’re looking for.  His autograph isn’t the only thing he’s protective of.  The official Lynn Swann rookie can be found in the 1975 Topps Football set.  Its card #282.  That’s not his only card in the set though.  A 9-card Highlights subset exists.  #459 is of Lynn Swann.  Don’t let anyone convince you that his Highlights card is also a rookie.  It certainly isn’t recognized as one, and doesn’t carry anywhere near as much value.  I see many people attempting to pass this card off as his true rookie.  That simply isn’t the case.

José María Olazábal’s Most Valuable Card Is An N64 Game

José María Olazábal showcased on the cover of PGA European Tour for the N64 is another situation similar to when former college basketball star Jay Williams was the front man for NCAA 2K3 College Basketball on the Nintendo GameCube.

The main difference is this.  Jay Williams crashed and burned when he made it to the pros.  José María Olazábal on the other hand has had a long successful career in his given sport of choice golf.

Cards of Jay Williams are mainly used for kindling today.  Its a fair assumption to say that GameCube game is the only thing with his face on it that continues to hold any value.  Golf collectors don’t have much options when it comes to cards of José María Olazábal.  He only has (18) total cards.  Surprisingly none from Upper Deck given all of the golf products they use to make.  His rarest cards come from 2010 Leaf Sports Icons Cut Signatures Update and 2012 Sportkings.  Five out of his eighteen cards come from those two sets.  Each one is numbered one-of-one too.  Not the easiest to find.

When it comes to the world of golf cards, only a select few have a strong enough following to garner any real value.  I don’t believe José María Olazábal is one of those golfers.  If and when any of his one-of-one cards popup for sale, I highly doubt they would sell for much.  Despite being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, and winning the Masters twice, this is just how things go.  Cards, even rare ones, of great golfers don’t always have the demand.  This is most likely why we haven’t seen a standalone golf product since 2014.  I’ve always enjoyed golf cards, found them fun to open, and wish they’d make a comeback.

PGA European Tour was released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000.  José María Olazábal already had his second Masters win, and made the box cover.  This game was released quite late in the N64’s lifecyle which resulted in not many being sold.  Sealed copies have been known to sell for $100-$200.  Some asking prices are even higher.  That’s a decent amount considering most sports games are rarely sought after for collecting purposes.

I know José María Olazábal is not the reason why this game is so collectible.  It wouldn’t matter who’s on the box really.  Things like this always catch my eye.

Is Goal Line Art Officially Over?

Did anyone realize that Goal Line Art didn’t release a “Class of 2017” set last year?  With the Pro Football Hall of Fame getting ready to announce the 2018 class it got me wondering, is Goal Line Art officially over?  A statement on their website reads “Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to continue this series for the “Class of 2017″.  If anything changes or additional information becomes available, it will be posted on this site.”

Between 1989 and 2016 Goal Line Art released an annual set featuring members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  From 1989 to 1994 sets focused on past Hall of Famers.  Starting in 1995 and up to 2016 they were based on that specific year’s induction class.  Although they only produced one set per year, you have to admit these 4″ x 6″ artistic masterpieces have always been eye appealing.  Artist Gary Thomas painted all of them.  If you’ve ever attended an induction ceremony they are ideal for getting autographed.

So what happened?  That’s a good question.  I contacted them and received the same message they posted on their website.  Nothing more.  A few ideas do come to mind though.

Gary Thomas has been doing artwork for the Hall of Fame since the early 60’s.  Perhaps his age and health became an issue.  I reached out to him and got no response.

In April 2016 Panini’s NFL exclusive went into play.  Maybe that had something to do with it.  Goal Line Art released their “Class of 2016” set in June of that year.  Even though Panini’s exclusive was already in play they may have been allowed to squeeze out one more set.

I’d like to think that this was a one year fluke, but I’ve got a feeling it has to do with licensing.  That’s a shame.  Goal Line Art had a good 27 year run, and a loyal following.  You can still purchase past sets.  But it doesn’t look like they’ll be issuing anything new for awhile.  Nobody is talking.