Hobby Oddities: It’s Academic Player Erasers

It’s Academic, Inc. has been around for over twenty years.  They make tons of supplies which can be used in a school or office environment.  Book covers, locker accessories, and scissors are just a small taste of what they’re known for.  Over the years, they’ve worked with all kinds of licensed brands to help sell their products.  At one time (it doesn’t look like it anymore) they had a deal with the MLBPA.  One of their products to come out of this deal was a line of Player Erasers.  These are exactly what they sound like.  Pencil erasers in the shape of your favorite baseball players.  The checklist features twenty players, which seems a lot more extensive than what you’d expect from a product such as this.

  • Sammy Sosa
  • Mark McGwire
  • Derek Jeter
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Mike Piazza
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Frank Thomas
  • Greg Vaughn
  • Ken Caminiti
  • Bobby Bonilla
  • Albert Belle
  • Kenny Lofton
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Jim Thome
  • Chuck Knoblauch
  • Bernie Williams
  • Paul O’Neill
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Juan Gonzalez

Seeing that the deal was only with the MLBPA and not MLB, team names and logos had to be left off.  I see them as more of a novelty.  A good conversation piece to sit on your desk.  As far as functionality, I’m not 100% sure how well they worked as an eraser.  On the back of the package, they advise you to rub-off the portion of the eraser you plan to use on a piece of scratch paper first in order to remove the decorative coating.  Otherwise you’ll end up with streak marks.  Given the checklist, I’d say these were released in the late 90s.

Card of the Day: Luke Richardson 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player Auto

Under The Tree: 1970 Chemtoy Major League Baseball Player Bouncing Balls

Toy manufacturer Chemtoy decided to combine two popular toys at the time – bouncy balls and baseball cards.  The result is a set of bouncy balls with pictures of baseball players inside them.  On the reverse side of the picture you’ll find a red or blue background, name, position, team, and a 4-digit number.  Each team has around (12) balls.  It can be quite difficult to see the player’s picture since the material Chemtoy used is very foggy.  Its not uncommon for them to yellow with age.  Many of them contain bubbles.

Chemtoy distributed them a few different ways.  Full boxes contain (144) balls.  Boxes can be team-oriented.  They can also be a mix of teams from the National or American League.  Blister packs were another delivery method.  Vending machines too.

About (285) balls make up the entire set.  Although when it comes to a product like this a newly discovered addition could popup one day.  Sometimes the most obscure players can be the hardest to find.  Stars like Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Roberto Clemente, and Ted Williams each have balls.  Roberto Clemente can actually be found with two different colored backgrounds.

Collectors can’t get enough of these.  You rarely see them sell for under $10 per ball.  I’ve seen set/player collectors spend hundreds on a single ball they needed.

In 1969, Chemtoy made a football set of bouncy balls.  You almost never see these.  They’re a lot rarer than the 1970 baseball follow-up.

Even though this product might be presented as a “Super Ball” by a lot of collectors, they’re really considered to be more of a bouncy ball.  Wham-O has the distinct honor of being the creator of the Super Ball, and continues to make use of that name today.  Similar products made by other manufacturers are considered to be bouncy balls.  This is due to the different materials used to make their products.  In short, all “Super Balls” are bouncy balls, but not all bouncy balls are “Super Balls”.

FYI – Kansas City Chiefs owner and American Football League founder Lamar Hunt came up with the name “Super Bowl” after watching his kids play with a “Super Ball”.

2019 Topps Archives Signature Series Baseball (Active Player Edition) Hobby Box Break & Review

“Wouldn’t this card look nice with an on-card autograph?”.  That’s the question Topps answers each year with the release of Archives Signature Series.  That goes for the Active Player and Retired Player Edition.  I’ve had quite a bit of luck with this brand before.  In 2017 I pulled a Mike Trout autograph #’ed 1/1.  Last year I got a Starling Marte autograph #’ed 1/1.  No duds for me.  Now I didn’t get another 1/1 autograph this time, but it is a decent card of a pitcher doing well this year.

Buyback autographs are what keep the heart of this product beating.  Each box contains (1) encased buyback autograph of a currently active MLB player.  Just under (100) different MLB players have autographs in here.  Many with multiple cards.

For those of you unfamiliar with what a buyback autograph is, here’s a little refresher.  Topps will buy up a ton of cards they issued in the past.  They then get players to sign those cards.  Topps then foil stamps the cards with the “Archives Signature Series” logo.  The cards are then placed in BCW holders for their protection.

A single box will cost just under $50.  If you think that’s too expensive for one card, I’d recommend sticking to picking up singles on the secondary market.  Its amazing how far an on-card autograph on a simple base card can go.  Lots of past Topps designs are improved with an on-card autograph.

Very simple and to the point.  I’ve always said cards with a simple design are the most attractive.

Wondering if your favorite player has cards in here?  Take a look.  The amount of cards per player and the serial numbering varies.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Michael Soroka 2015 Bowman Draft Buyback Auto #’ed/79

Pin Highlight: Philadelphia Phillies Bryce Harper WinCraft Player Jersey Pin

Out of stock.  This product is currently not available.  Nothing left.  Gone.  These are just some of the ways to describe the status of this new piece of Bryce Harper merchandise.

As an avid Phillies fan and pin collector, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own one of these bad boys.  On the same day that I purchased a new Bryce Harper Phillies t-shirt, I got this WinCraft jersey pin.  The Phillies sold out of this pin very quickly.  Luckily, I was able to snag one.

WinCraft is known for making lots of neat pins.  Especially when it comes to special events.  As you can see, this one features a white Phillies jersey with red pinstripes.  Harper’s name, #3, and facsimile signature have been added.  Out of respect for former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, Bryce Harper didn’t want to continue wearing #34.  #7 was his second choice, but that’s already taken by Maikel Franco.  Bryce Harper wasn’t going to ask him to change his number just because he showed up.

The Phillies made tons of moves over the winter.  Fans can’t complain about them not trying anything.  I predict the Phillies will go 161-1 this season.  They’ll lose the first game, and win the rest.

2018 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition Baseball Hobby Box Break & Review

2018 Topps Archives Signature Series Retired Player Edition.  Wow!  That’s quite a mouthful.  Buybacks are awesome.  Especially when you have a company like Topps who has such a rich history of classic sets to choose from.  I don’t think a buyback product such as this could exist without that long history to draw upon.

Round #2 of this brand covers a wide array of retired stars and Hall of Famers.  Back in July we got the version full of active players.  Its a very quick-thrill box to bust.  A single box costs just under $40 and contains (1) encased buyback autograph.  Players have multiple buybacks with each varying in numbering.  Cards can be numbered anywhere from (1) to (99) copies.  Signed relics and special buyback autographs of deceased players can also be pulled.

As I mentioned before, Topps dives deep into their vault and gets these players to sign lots of neat stuff.  Not just cards from the mainstream sets either.  Its not uncommon to find Topps cards that were made for Kay Bee Toys, Toys “R” Us, and even Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Any set can bring back memories, but sometimes these really make collectors feel nostalgic.  And that’s a feeling that drives the industry today.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Bo Jackson ’89 Topps Royals Leaders #789 Buyback Auto #’ed 1/1

When it comes to opening boxes, I’ve had a lot of luck this year.  This card goes right up there with some of my other awesome pulls.  Bo Jackson is one of the greatest athletes of all-time.  If he hadn’t gotten hurt, there is a good chance he would’ve made it into both Canton and Cooperstown.  I like that Topps chose this card for him to sign.  Bo Jackson’s name isn’t anywhere on the card other than his signature.  ’89 Topps featured these “Team Leaders” cards.  On the back they list batting and pitching leaders from the previous year.  The person pictured on the front doesn’t necessarily have to be mentioned on the card.  It makes for a nice conversation piece.  You couldn’t ask for a better picture.  And no.  That isn’t a picture of Bo Jackson throwing out Harold Reynolds at home plate.  That game was played inside the Kingdome where Bo wouldn’t have needed sunglasses.

2018 Topps Archives Signature Series Active Player Edition Box Break & Review

Upon opening a box of Topps Archives Signature Series Active Player Edition last year, my head almost exploded.  Not only did I pull a card numbered one-of-one, but it was an autograph of Mike Trout too.  Its not everyday that you get to pull one of those.  That was the second Mike Trout autograph I’ve pulled.

Topps Archives Signature Series Active Player Edition has returned for 2018.  Housed inside each $50 box is (1) buyback autograph of a current player.  The version of this product that focuses on retired stars will be released in October.

To some collectors, $50 might seem like a lot of money for just one autographed card.  Especially when you have no clue as to who you might get.  That’s why the secondary market is a great place to pickup singles if you don’t feel like taking the $50 gamble.  Over the years, Topps has created some amazing looking sets.  On-card buyback autographs amplify some of those awesome base sets.  I know when opening Gypsy Queen or Allen & Ginter I’ve said to myself “Wouldn’t this base set look cool with autographs?”  Products such as this do exactly that.  Something as simple as an on-card autograph on a base card can be quite eye appealing.  Just look at how well Stadium Club has been received the last few years.  Simple is almost always better when it comes to card design.

The checklist covers (67) active MLB players.  Each player has multiple cards, and the serial numbering varies.  Risk takers hoping for a big pull should have fun.  So should those player collectors picking up cards on the secondary market.  In some way everyone can enjoy it.

Another 1/1!  I’m on a roll with this product.

Here is what I pulled:

Auto

  • Starling Marte 2016 Gypsy Queen Walk-Off Winners Buyback Auto #’ed 1/1