Flashback Product of the Week: It’s Academic Player Erasers

Back to school time is officially here.  In all honestly it probably returned in early July according to the retailers.  We all make mistakes.  I know I’ve made at least one in my life 🙂  Why not equip yourself with a Player Eraser from the It’s Academic line of school supplies?  That’s if you can still find one.

It’s Academic has been around for over twenty years.  They make tons of stuff that can be used in a school or office environment.  Book covers, locker accessories, and scissors are just a small taste of what they make.  Over the past two decades, they’ve worked with all kinds of name 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 than anything.  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 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 90’s.

Advertisements

Product Highlight: Greatest Sports Legends – Video Baseball Cards

 photo schmidtgslvhsbbcard_zpsmmxojcc0.jpg

Over the years, multiple attempts at merging video with trading cards have been made.  Most were met with poor reviews from collectors.  Upper Deck gave it a shot with their line of Evolution cards in 2011.  They did their best to make them look like a card, but in all honesty I think they resembled a small portable gaming system like the Nintendo Game Boy.  In good old Panini fashion, they too tried their hand at it with their line of HRX video cards.  Despite some coming with autographs, Panini’s HRX cards were met with even a poorer response.  The video on many didn’t function very well or at all.  It wouldn’t surprise me if some collectors are still waiting on their redemption.

Perhaps Steve Rotfeld Productions did it best in 1990.  Greatest Sports Legends is a series of 207 documentaries covering some of the best athletes from the 20th century.  They first began airing in 1972, and even won an Emmy Award for their 1983 film about Jackie Robinson.  Throughout the 80’s, these documentaries were heavily distributed on VHS tapes.  The ones with a 1990 copyright date are my favorite.  You have to admit the words “video baseball card” couldn’t have been taken more literally.  Its very primitive.  The front and back of the VHS sleeves are designed to look like a card.  Whether or not all 207 athletes got this treatment is unclear.  I know it carried over into football too.

Unlike some VHS tapes, these don’t carry much collecting weight.  Its unlikely that many of us still own a device that could play one of these.  Funai Electronics was the last company to make video cassette recorders for home-use, and they ceased production in July 2016.

I use to own tons of VHS tapes, but got rid of them years ago.  Only a few remain in my possession, mainly for nostalgic purposes.  I couldn’t let go of my Star Wars and Batman (1989) VHS copies.

Product Highlight: 1999 Racing Champions MLBPA Superstar Yo-Yos Series 1

 photo 99rcmlbpayoyos1_zpssasgqymg.jpg

Between seventh and eighth grade there were two big fads sweeping through my school.  The first were those Tech Deck fingerboards.  I never fully understood people’s fascination with those tiny skateboards.  Kids were constantly attempting to make cool jumps by only using one hand.  I bought one off of a classmate for a few dollars, but it wasn’t too long after that I lost interest.  The second fad was the yo-yo craze.  That one kept my attention much longer.  I had three different yo-yos.  It all started with a black-and-white Duncan.

Today it is all about fidget spinners.  Who knows what will be the “must have” thing tomorrow.  But we’re all going to wish we had thought of it first.  Companies like to cash in on these fads.  We’re already seeing officially licensed sports-themed fidget spinners hit the market.  I know the Williamsport Crosscutters are giving one out to kids this season.  It wouldn’t surprise me if lots of other teams do the same.

Racing Champions produced many diecast NASCAR collectibles throughout the 90’s.  To capitalize on the yo-yo popularity, they released more than one set of yo-yos.  It makes perfect sense that they would make a line of NASCAR yo-yos.  Seeing them release more than one set of baseball yo-yos was the real shocker.  With a name like Racing Champions you just don’t think about them issuing anything related to baseball.

It was the summer of 1999 when Racing Champions released Series 1 of their baseball yo-yos.  Although they weren’t licensed by MLB, they did get the ok from the MLBPA.  Each yo-yo in the set features a player on the front while picturing their name, jersey number, and town on the back.  The set consists of the following players:

  • Mark McGwire
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Derek Jeter
  • Mike Piazza
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Ivan Rodriguez
  • Greg Maddux
  • Kevin Brown

Another set of Racing Champions MLBPA yo-yos exist.  The checklist is exactly the same.  What differs are the foil pictures and overall color of the yo-yo.  They almost remind me of a parallel.  All were mass produced, and can be purchased for barely nothing.  Its possible that prototype yo-yos exist or existed at one time before they were put into production.  Most likely they were destroyed or taken home by someone that worked there.

Racing Champions is still around, but in name only.  A company called Round 2 now uses the name.  They still produce diecast cars, but nothing relating to NASCAR.

Flashback Product of the Week: 2002-03 Upper Deck LEGO Sports

 photo kgarupperdecklego_zpsnqx4oekd.jpg

Before OYO and C3 Toys showed up, the only sports licensed minifigures on the block came from a team-up between LEGO, Upper Deck, and the NBA.  This all took place between 2002-2003.  It was a short-lived relationship, but created some unconventional items that can easily stand out in your basketball collection.

LEGO made a handful of NBA licensed building toys.  Some contain generic NBA minifigures, while others are player specific.  A majority of the player specific minifigures can be found in the NBA Collector Sets.

There are eight different NBA Collector Sets.  Each one comes packaged with (3) minifigures, (3) stands, and (3) Upper Deck cards.  They include:

  • Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, Paul Gasol #3560
  • Tony Parker, Antoine Walker, Shaquille O’Neal #3561
  • Gary Payton, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki #3562
  • Toni Kukoc, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant #3563
  • Steve Francis, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson #3564
  • Steve Nash, Jerry Stackhouse, Paul Pierce #3565
  • Jalen Rose, Kevin Garnett, Peja Stojakovic #3566
  • Allan Houston, Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber #3567

Every minifigure within the NBA Collector Set has a corresponding Upper Deck card.  You’ll find (1) gold parallel inside each pack.  Randomly inserted are autographs of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd, and Kobe Bryant.  When I mean randomly, its almost to the point where they don’t even exist.  You rarely see them.  The autographs aren’t serial numbered, but the print run on them has to be extremely low.  I sent an e-mail to Upper Deck attempting to obtain an actual print run, but all I got back was “We are not releasing print run information on those, rather letting the market determine scarcity levels.

Instead of using a regular photograph, I think Upper Deck should’ve used an animated image of the player’s LEGO minifigure.  That would’ve been something different, at least for the autographs.

Product Highlight: Darryl Strawberry 1989 Saranac Glove

 photo 89dssaranac_zpsefb5cfil.jpg

Saranac.  Wasn’t that the name of a character that Johnny Carson use to play?  Oh wait!  That was Carnac the Magnificent.

Cards containing pieces of glove are seen throughout the hobby today.  Its ironic because at one time it was the other way around.  Collectors would buy gloves to get cards versus buying cards with gloves in them.  Relic cards really turned this industry upside down.

Saranac Gloves is a glove manufacturer which is still around today.  They make gloves for all types of uses including sports.  In the late 1980’s, Saranac struck up a deal with New York Mets superstar Darryl Strawberry to support their line of batting gloves.  Marketing thought it would be a good idea to package a baseball card with the gloves they wanted Strawberry to wear.  Instead of using a standard photograph, Saranac hired artist Dan Gardiner to paint a picture.  Upon seeing the final piece of work, Darryl Strawberry wasn’t satisfied with the way he thought his nose looked.  Apparently they didn’t check with him as the painting was being worked on.  By the time they found out he wasn’t happy, Saranac already had the cards printed and ready to go.  I guess it was too late to make any changes, and the whole thing was scrapped.  All printed cards at the time were ordered to be thrown out.

Whenever an unreleased card is suppose to be trashed, someone almost always doesn’t follow through.  Its hardwired into a collectors brain to automatically notice that this would create a rare card.  A few found their way out.

Pricing can be all over the place.  Most aren’t in the best condition, which leads me to believe these could’ve been dug out of the trash.  Rumor has it that at one time this card sold for up to $500.  I’ve only seen one, and it was fairly beat up.

I wonder what happened to the original painting?  Do you think Darryl Strawberry would sign one of these cards if he were attending a show?

Flashback Product of the Week: 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball

 photo cjones98upspauthauto_zpsbs00z9tt.jpg

Its no secret that box prices can get expensive.  Sometimes an older product might take care of that pack busting itch for a much lower cost.  Just because that new box guarantees ten “hits” doesn’t mean you’ll come close to pulling something anywhere near what you paid.  One “hit” from an older set could easily be better than ten from that newer product.

If you’re looking for an affordable box from the 90’s that has an autograph checklist which hasn’t dwindled, I’d suggest 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball.  Upper Deck introduced the high-end SP brand in 1993, but in 1998 they changed the name to SP Authentic.  This was mainly due to each box containing an autograph.

The 1998 SP Authentic set consists of (198) base cards.  I really like the way these look.  They’ve got a foil-photo in the middle which is then surrounded by an all white border.  Magglio Ordonez is the most notable rookie of them all.  David Ortiz has a somewhat popular second year card too.  As far as inserts go, there really is only one – Sheer Dominance.  These come in Silver, Gold #’ed/2000, and Titanium #’ed/100.

What you’d be opening a box for would mainly be the autograph.  Glancing over the checklist you’ll notice its fairly solid.  Of course there are some duds, but what product doesn’t have those?  Key autographs include Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Mussina, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Tony Gwynn, Todd Helton, and Vladimir Guerrero.  Every Chirography autograph is signed on-card.

Upper Deck included various Trade Cards for oversized 5″ x 7″ jersey cards as well as full size autographed memorabilia.  If this were 1998, you could redeem them.  Given that they’re nineteen years old, I highly doubt you could receive anything for them today.

On the bottom of the box, Upper Deck lists how many of each Trade Cards was made, and the approximate retail value of that item.

  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Mariners Jersey #’ed/30 – $399
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Glove #’ed/30 – $449.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Life Size Standee #’ed/200 – $29.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • 5″ x 7″ Ken Griffey Jr. 300th Home Run Commemorative Card #’ed/1,000 – $10
  • Robin Ventura Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Raul Mondesi Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Albert Belle Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Brian Jordan Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Roberto Alomar Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Tony Gwynn Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/415 – $50
  • Greg Maddux Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Alex Rodriguez Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Gary Sheffield Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Jay Buhner Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50

Browsing over this price list is fun.  I certainly wouldn’t use it as an official guide though.  There is no way to know if everything on that list was even redeemed.  Quantities could be lower.

If you’re patient, boxes can be found for $50.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1996 Best Harrisburg Senators Team Set

 photo 96senatorsbestvg_zpsytpww1ca.jpg

Throughout the summer I usually attend a handful of minor league games.  My main focus is on bobblehead giveaways.  As of right now, I’ve got tickets for the Harrisburg Senators and Lancaster Barnstormers.  The State College Spikes only have one bobblehead giveaway on their schedule so far, and its at the end of the season during the week.  I’m waiting for the Williamsport Crosscutters to post their promo schedule.  It drives me crazy when teams giveaway bobbleheads during the week.  I suppose it helps boost weekday attendance.

The first time I attended a professional baseball game was in 1997.  It was on City Island to watch the Harrisburg Senators take on the New Haven Ravens.  One of the Ravens players even gave me a broken bat as he walked by.  To this day, I still don’t know who that player was.  I like to think it was Todd Helton, but I believe he was in Triple-A by then.

Upon arriving to the game, I remember stopping at a souvenir booth.  It wasn’t a store that you could walk around in.  You’d walk up to the counter and tell the person working what you wanted to buy.  All of the items for sale were on display behind the employees.

Team sets for the 1997 roster hadn’t been released yet, so I picked-up one from 1996.  It consists of (29) cards.  The two most recognizable names you’ll find in there are Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Vidro.  Both had long and successful careers in baseball.  A complete set can easily be found for $10.  It probably would be worth a lot more if these would’ve been the first cards of Guerrero and Vidro.  Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Vidro already had cards in nationally issued sets.  Guerrero in 1995 Bowman’s Best, and Vidro in 1993 Bowman.