Product Highlight: 1998 Topps SportzCubz

Cube crazy!  That’s exactly how you could describe some card companies in 1998.  Pacific and Pinnacle both released products based on cube-shaped cards.

Along with the packs, inside boxes of 1998 Pacific Aurora baseball, football, and hockey you’ll find one card in the shape of a three-dimensional cube.  Between all three sets, the most notable cube would be that of Peyton Manning since its a rookie.  Some people actually remove the card from the cube so it can lay flat.  I would never do that because you can cause serious damage to the card during the removal process.  Its best left wrapped around the cube, otherwise you’ll just have a squashed box.

Pinnacle’s Sport Block is a real conversation piece.  Each team specific Sport Block contains nine different images.  They remind me of a baseball-themed Rubik’s Cube.  You can rearrange the block just like pieces of a puzzle.  Not every team received the Sport Block treatment.  Only the Angels, Diamondbacks, Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Dodgers, Yankees, Mariners, and Devil Rays got one.

In that same year, Topps looks to have wanted to throw their two cents into the cube fad.  Very little is known about 1998 Topps SportzCubz.  The main reason for this is because it never made it past the test phase.  About five prototype cards are rumored to have been made for each player.  Then the idea was canned.  What the end product would have looked like is a mystery.  Judging by the prototype, it looks as if it would have been wrapped around something.  I guess we’ll never know.

Neither the 1998 Pacific Aurora Cubes or Pinnacle Sport Block carry much value.  The 1998 Topps SportzCubz are a completely different story.  Player collectors don’t mind spending into the hundreds for a single prototype.  The following players are in this set: Derek Jeter, Greg Maddux, Tony Gwynn, David Justice, Vladimir Guerrero, Bernie Williams, Ken Griffey, Jr., Tony Clark, Albert Belle, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire, Mo Vaughn, Livan Hernandez, Raul Mondesi, Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Pettitte, Dante Bichette, Hideki Irabu, Roberto Alomar, Paul O’Neill, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Juan Gonzalez, Mike Piazza, and Mark Grace.

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.

Product Highlight: 2016 Titleist

Golf cards have taken a backseat to other sports recently.  The last standalone golf product to come out is 2014 Upper Deck Exquisite Golf.  Since then, golfers have popped-up in multi-sport products like Allen & GinterGoodwin Champions, and various Leaf sets.

It doesn’t look like a new standalone golf product is coming our way anytime soon.  Collectors are craving new golf cards thanks to young stars like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.  Watching Tiger Woods make an incredible comeback to win The Masters has helped increase interest too.  Like NASCAR, licensing comes down to the individuals.  Obtaining a PGA license doesn’t mean you can just start making golf cards of whoever you want.  Money is the main problem.  Some of these golfers just want too much.  They want Tiger Woods level money, without having all of his accomplishments.  It doesn’t make it feasible.  In short, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Upper Deck, Pro Set, and Donruss are the main companies that come to mind when you think of golf cards.  The Acushnet Holdings Company certainly isn’t one of them.  Are you not familiar with The Acushnet Holdings Company?  They make golf equipment and apparel.  I’m sure the name Titleist rings a bell.  That’s one of their main brands.

In 2016, Titleist issued an incredibly scarce set of cards.  Available only in PGA Jr League merchandise packs could these cards be found.  Packs containing (4) cards each were packaged along with Titleist golf balls they provided to Jr golfers.  A total of (12) cards make up the entire set – Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, and Kevin Na.  According to my contact at Titleist, under 2,000 sets were printed.  Its simply known as 2016 Titleist.

Product Highlight: 1992 Dad’s Kid Corp. Tri Cards

Various companies have taken a stab at making 3-D cards over the years.  A company that did it really well was called Dad’s Kid Corp.  Their Tri Cards product has one of the best 3-D effects the hobby has ever seen.

Dad’s Kid Corp. brought their Tri Cards product to the market in 1992.  Each box has (1) card.  A window on the front allowed you to pick which player you wanted.  Three base cards were used to make one card.  Strategically cutting and overlaying the three cards gave them the 3-D look.  Base cards from 1990, 1991, and 1992 were used.  Upper Deck, Score, Leaf, and Fleer cards made it into the mix.  Stores like Toys “R” Us, F.A.O. Schwartz, and Spencer Gifts all carried them.  At one time I believe QVC even had them available.

The serial numbering can be a little misleading.  Every player’s Tri Card is serial numbered to 50,000 copies.  That 50,000 accounts for all of the cards for that specific player.  Lots of players have more than one type of card in here.  For example, Nolan Ryan has at least three different Tri Cards.  That doesn’t mean each one is limited to 50,000.  It means that the print run for all three adds up to 50,000 copies.  They never released the print run for the individual brands.

Thanks to them offering what they call a “Completer Set”, we know that (36) different players had Tri Cards made.  (300) “Completer Sets” were issued to those collectors who wanted matching serial numbers.  Players offered included Sandy Alomar, Roberto Alomar, Wade Boggs, Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Tom Browning, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Wes Chamberlain, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Cecil Fielder, Juan Gonzales, Dwight Gooden, Ken Griffey, Jr., Rickey Henderson, Gregg Jeffries, Howard Johnson, Wally Joyner, David Justice, Kevin Maas, Ramon Martinez, Don Mattingly, Kevin Mitchell, Jack Morris, Fred McGriff, Terry Pendelton, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Jr., Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Darryl Strawberry, Frank Thomas, Greg Vaughn, and Robin Yount.

As unique and fun as these cards seem to be, they didn’t stick around very long.  A trip through the legal ringer brought this company down.  The MLBPA, Upper Deck, Score, and Leaf all sued.  When it came to the MLBPA’s lawsuit, the court actually sided with Dad’s Kid Corp.  In addition to the card manufacturer lawsuits the legal bills just kept adding up, and Dad’s Kid Corp. came tumbling down like a pile of Jenga blocks.  However, we do know that production was stopped while the lawsuits were going on.  Its very possible that not all 50,000 Tri Cards were made for every player.  I think its safe to say thousands made their way out.

Don’t look for a lot of value here folks.  Most of them can’t break $10.  Ken Griffey, Jr. has been known to reach $20.  Its too bad a Frank Thomas rookie didn’t make it in here.

Dubbed “The next dimension in sports card collecting.“, baseball was the only sport they were able to produce.  They had plans for 3-D basketball, football, hockey, tennis, golf, comics, and celebrities.  A Kid’s Club was offered to 20,000 people.  Being a member got you access to exclusive cards.  I’ve never seen these cards surface.  Dad’s Kid Corp. may not have been around long enough for them to make their way out.

Product Highlight: 1997 Upper Deck Shimano

When you think of professional fishing, trading cards certainly aren’t the first thing that come to mind.  Sure, we’ll find cards pertaining to fishing popup in sets like Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champions, and Sportkings.  Even in the early 90’s we had some Pro League Bass sets make an appearance.  Nothing of major importance though.

In the sports card industry, fishing cards are kind of odd.  One very small set that you don’t see often is made by Upper Deck.  In 1997, Upper Deck partnered with Shimano.  For those not familiar with Shimano, they are a large manufacturer of fishing, bicycling, and rowing equipment.  This “Special Edition” set only consists of five cards.  Two of the names I’m sure you’ll recognize.

  • Bob Izumi #1
  • Jimmy Houston #2
  • Jose Wejebe #3
  • Larry Dahlberg #4
  • Jay Buhner #5
  • Tony Gwynn #6

I had no clue that Jay Buhner and Tony Gwynn were such big fishermen.  According to the cards, Jay Buhner’s favorite Shimano reel to fish with is the Chronarch 100A, and enjoys fishing with Ken Griffey, Jr. and Norm Charlton.  Tony Gwynn likes to fish for bass, while his favorite places to fish are Lake Poway and the Pacific Ocean.

Obviously Shimano issued this set as a promotion.  Its a neat little unique piece.  Not a whole lot of value.

Product Highlight: 1990 Good Humor Big League Ice Cream Bar Baseball Bat Autograph Stick

Products come in some elaborate packaging today.  You have to cut, tear, rip, and occasionally use a flamethrower just to access the cards.  It can be ridiculous.  Not to mention drive the price up.

How about having to eat ice cream in order to see what you got?  That’s exactly what needed to be done with the 1990 Good Humor Big League Ice Cream Bar Baseball Bat Autograph Stick set.  The set consists of (26) sticks shaped like miniature baseball bats.  Players are listed in alphabetical order, and numbered accordingly.  Every stick has a facsimile signature on the barrel.

Here’s the checklist:

  • Jim Abbott #1
  • George Bell #2
  • Wade Boggs #3
  • Bobby Bonilla #4
  • Jose Canseco #5
  • Will Clark #6
  • Eric Davis #7
  • Carlton Fisk #8
  • Kirk Gibson #9
  • Dwight Gooden #10
  • Ken Griffey Jr. #11
  • Von Hayes #12
  • Don Mattingly #13
  • Gregg Olson #14
  • Kirby Puckett #15
  • Tim Raines #16
  • Nolan Ryan #17
  • Bret Saberhagen #18
  • Ryne Sandberg #19
  • Benito Santiago #20
  • Mike Scott #21
  • Lonnie Smith #22
  • Ozzie Smith #23
  • Cory Snyder #24
  • Alan Trammell #25
  • Robin Yount #26

I know what you’re thinking.  “Those are cool.  But how would I store them?”  You’re in luck.  Good Humor made a special album that was available through a mail-in offer.  That album is probably more collectible than the actual sticks because you rarely see it.

Not a whole lot of value can be found with these sticks.  They’re all over the place.  None of them sell for more than $5.  Anyone still have a box sitting in the freezer?

Product Highlight: 1999 Jersey Topps

Have you seen these before?  They’ve been around for the last nineteen years, and this is the first time that I’ve spotted them.  Its funny the kind of stuff you’ll come across when you’re researching for a blog post.  Whenever I see a mainstream manufacturer issue a product that isn’t card related at all I have to stop and look.  Especially when its something as obscure as this.

What we have here folks is Jersey Topps produced by the Topps Company in 1999.  There isn’t a lot of information floating around about them.  Mainly because they didn’t make it past the inaugural edition, and plus there really isn’t much to discuss in the first place.

Packaged inside each box is (1) mini replica jersey.  According to the back of the box:

We took the game’s best and cut them down to size to bring you these new collectibles.  Jersey Topps are free-standing, miniature replicas of the authentic jerseys of six of the greatest players in Major League Baseball.  They’re finely crafted from flexible vinyl to capture the real, lifelike details of your favorite player’s uniform the way no photo can!

The checklist consists of:

  • Mark McGwire
  • Derek Jeter
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Chipper Jones
  • Ken Griffey Jr.

Despite existing for almost two decades, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of them either.  $10-$30 seems to be the going rate.  No player collection should be without one… or a hundred.