Product Highlight: 1996 Upper Deck Folz Vending Machine Minis

The odds are strong that at one time or another you ran into a Folz vending machine.  Folz once had almost 200,000 machines spread across the United States and Canada.  For awhile, it was the world’s largest bulk vending company.  You could find them in mom-and-pop shops, grocery stores, and well known department store chains.  Their vending machines carried a variety of goodies such as candy, stickers, and even sports cards.

In my day, I don’t recall running into many vending machines that dispensed sports cards.  A card shop I visited while in Ohio had one.  I gave it a shot and pulled a Troy Aikman from 1990 Fleer.  It wasn’t until the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention where I came across another.  They make an interesting conversation piece.

Upper Deck made a deal with Folz Vending that involved specially made cards.  You’ll find that (1) baseball, (1) basketball, and (2) football sets exist.  I’ve heard that a hockey set was made, but I have yet to find any cards from it.  Designs look very similar to the Collector’s Choice sets that were released.  Instead of the Collector’s Choice name, just the Upper Deck logo is found on the fronts.  Photos on the backs reach all the way to the edges too.  The biggest difference are the card’s overall size.  They’re smaller in comparison to a standard sports card (2 5/16″ x 3 3/8″).  Most likely so they could fit in the machines better.

Sets consist of (48) cards.  The first six cards in each set are short prints and contain foil on the front.  Condition can be a big factor considering they were stored in vending machines.  Back then, cards with foil were difficult to pull out of a pack in good condition let alone being stored and distributed in a vending machine format.  All short prints carry a premium, especially the Michael Jordan.  Although its not a short print, the Derek Jeter is highly sought after as well.

Lets get one thing straight.  Its “Folz” not “Foltz”.  At first graders rejected these when they were sent in.  When Beckett decided to grade them, everyone else fell in line.  Because of a typo at first, some graded examples identify them as “Foltz”.

A Wealthy Counterfeiter’s Tool – Laser Cutting

Can you believe that some people will spend thousands, yes, thousands of dollars on a machine pictured above?  This is a laser cutter that many “card doctors” use to make the edges of a card look sharper than what they really are.  These machines are extremely expensive and people have been using them to make their cards look better.  What they do is shave off a small portion of the edge taking away the damaged pieces and then what is left is a smooth clean edge.  Most likely “card doctors” will use these for vintage cards.  This is why you should only purchase vintage cards that are certified.  A good grader should know the exact size of the card.  The problem is that these laser cutting machines can get so exact you almost can’t tell.  These are becoming one of the biggest problems in the hobby today.  I would hate to see how many counterfeit cards a “card doctor” would have to sell in order to afford one of these.

Counterfeiting Tool – Serial Number Machine

Some people will do anything to try and make a card look real.  That includes spending a nice chunk of $$$$ on a machine that can make serial numbers for you.  These machines usually are used for making business cards, crafts , and various other things, but there are a lot of counterfeiters that use these machines to place their own serial numbering on cards.  Sometimes it can be hard for a counterfeiter to get the exact font that a major card company uses, so the best thing you can do is compare the card you are thinking of buying with another to see if the numbering matches up.  Its also not a good sign if you look at the seller’s feedback and see they bought something like this.