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.

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Will This Be The Next Topps Print-On-Demand Product?

After a long day of work, I like to check out what news is shaking up the hobby.  In addition to that, I look forward to seeing what new Topps NOW cards are available.  I’m a fan of the Topps NOW program.  I’m a picky collector, so I choose wisely as to which ones I decide to add to my collection.  In it’s first year of existence, I bought almost every Phillies card they made.  After 2016, I cut back a bit.  Upon the success of the Topps NOW program, Topps has spun-off and created Throwback ThursdayOn Demand, and Topps Living sets.  I’ve been picking up every Phillies card from the Topps Living Set as I really enjoy the artwork.

I’d like to make a bold prediction as to what the next print-on-demand product will be from Topps.  One of these days we are going to see a weekly set of 5-10 cards based on young prospects who make Baseball America’s Hot List.  Thanks to products like BowmanBowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft, prospecting has become an extremely large part of the hobby.  People are willing to spend thousands of dollars on players who have yet to make it to the big leagues.  Cards of players who make it onto Baseball America’s Hot List tend to spike in popularity.  At least for the week that they’re on there.  Some stick around longer than others.

If this were to happen, I’d suggest only having the cards up for sale for only a few days.  You definitely would want them to come down before the next Hot List comes out.  Baseball America’s Hot List and print-on-demand products are very momentary and “right now” things.  I’m confident that collectors would purchase these specially made prospect cards that correlate to the weekly Hot List.  It only seems natural the two would go together.

The Baseball America name has appeared on many Topps cards before.  So the two aren’t strangers.

Product Highlight: 1998 Riddell Game Greats

Why?  Its a simple question that is asked quite a bit in this hobby.  Sometimes you just have to wonder what people were thinking when it came to giving the “ok” to a new product.  Maybe they deliberately wanted these products to flop just to create good blogging material twenty years later.  If that’s the case, then I’d call it a success.

Traditionally, Riddell is known for making sports equipment.  Over the years though they’ve dabbled in the collectibles market.  One of their collectible ventures came in 1998 with Game Greats.  These miniature busts feature 360° wrap-surround digital imaging.  That’s just fancy talk meaning they printed a digital picture and folded it into a loop.  I guess using an actual image was the main selling point verses having a molded plastic face.

Riddell made a series for both baseball and football.  The baseball set consists of six players – Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Sammy Sosa.  Football has seven – Troy Aikman, John Elway, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Kordell Stewart, Steve Young, and Barry Sanders.

In order to obtain the Barry Sanders bust, you needed to mail-in three proofs of purchase along with the original register receipt.  Barry Sanders wasn’t sold in stores like the others.  If you didn’t want Barry Sanders, you could still request one of the other busts for free.

Riddell offered a mail-in program for baseball too, but I’m unclear as to what you’d get in return.  On the proof of purchase for the football busts, it states the exact name of the bust it came from.  For example, the proof of purchase for the John Elway bust says “’98 Elway – Blue Jersey”.  The proof of purchase for the baseball busts is a little different.  For example, Mark McGwire’s just says “’99 McGwire”.  Just like the football, the baseball busts were released in 1998.  The checklist on the backside of the baseball packaging identifies them from 1998 too.  So why do the proof of purchase for the baseball players state they’re from 1999?  Unlike football, nothing is stated on the back of the baseball busts as to what you’d receive.  I’m thinking the baseball proof of purchase were going to be used for a future product that never arrived given how poorly Release 1 sold.

You can easily find these for sale.  Sellers can’t give them away.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone at Riddell is sitting on a few rare prototypes.

Product Highlight: 2001 Topps Tribute

Remembering the first truly high-end product you saw I guess depends on when you began collecting.  For me, the first high-end product I can remember is 1997 Donruss Signature Series.  At a cost of around $15/pack with a guaranteed autograph inside each pack I thought it was a very big deal.  Having the opportunity to open up a few was great, even though I wasn’t too familiar with the autographs I was pulling – Eric Young, Todd Hollandsworth, and Jeffrey Hammonds.

High-end is one thing.  Super-premium is another.  In 2001, Topps introduced us to their Tribute brand.  At the time I suppose you could consider it a super-premium product.  Packs cost $40.  2001 Topps Tribute marked a first for Topps.  It was the first Topps product to feature a “hit” in every pack.  Quite the norm today, but fairly a new idea back then.

If your looking to put together the base set, it shouldn’t be that difficult.  Only (90) cards make up the entire set.  There are no parallels, short prints, or variations.  Just cleanly designed cards of retired stars.

The “hits” are what drive Tribute.  Its odd to think about Tribute not having any autographs, but the 2001 incarnation did just that.  “Hits” purely come in relic form only.  Zero autographs.  When opening a pack, you’re most likely going to pull a horizontally designed jersey, pants, or bat relic.

Franchise Figures Relics (1:34) is a (19) card set featuring multiple players and relics on the same card.  2-4 players per card all from the same team.

Game Patch-Number Relics (1:61) contain patches.  Although these aren’t serial numbered, the Game Patch-Number Relics are limited to (30) copies each.

Dubbed just Dual Relics (1:860), Casey Stengel and Frank Robinson are the only two individuals here.  Cards have two relics for each player.

By far the hardest card to pull is the Nolan Ryan Tri-Relic.  These fall 1:1,292 packs, and hold three Nolan Ryan relics.

Long expired now, Topps did include some redemption cards for original cards.  Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams each had (50) redemption cards thrown in.  You even had the chance of pulling a redemption for an original Mickey Mantle card graded by PSA.  The exact Mickey Mantle card and grade were not stated on the redemption.

Topps regularly released Tribute between 2001 and 2004.  Then it took a break for five years and returned in 2009.  I actually enjoy the earlier Tribute sets more compared to the newer stuff.  Those checklists have many older players who you just don’t see getting a lot of attention today.

Product Highlight: 1995 Collector’s Edge Ball Park Franks

I love hot dogs.  They’re one of my favorite foods.  Mustard, ketchup, cheese, hot peppers, and salsa make great toppings.  There is nothing better than sitting at a ballgame or attending a nice card show while shoving a hot dog in your face.

Collector’s Edge may have died out years ago, but they were all over the place in the 90’s.  Today their old football sets receive more attention than anything.  This is due to them issuing numerous rookie cards of both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.  Basketball, baseball, and hockey would come next.

You don’t see it done as much today, but cards attached to food products at one time was a common thing.  Food premiums are an entire collecting niche.  In 1995, Collector’s Edge struck a deal with Ball Park Franks.  For (8) UPC codes, (4) UPC codes + $2.50, or (2) UPC codes + $5.00, you would receive exclusive autographed cards of Yogi Berra and Frank Robinson.  Both came with accompanying cards stating the authenticity of the signatures.  This promotion ended on May 31, 1995 or until they ran out.

If you’re in the market for a Frank Robinson or Yogi Berra autograph but don’t want to spend a lot of money, these might be for you.  They’re dirt cheap.  Lots were made.  You can easily pick them up for $10-$15 each.  The Yogi Berra tends to carry more weight.

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”.

Product Highlight: 1993 Maxx Hot Wheels 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

When I was a kid, my go to toys to play with were action figures.  I had bins full of them.  Batman, X-Men, Star Wars, you name it.  Like most adults I look back and wish I would have kept them in their original packaging.  But where would have the fun been in that?  Keeping toys sealed wasn’t even a thought.

Outside of the action figures, Matchbox and Hot Wheels weren’t that far behind.  I had a bin full of these too.  Although I don’t live in the house I grew up in anymore, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those toy cars are still lodged underneath a cabinet or something.  The house’s current owner is probably completely oblivious that they’re still there.  Long forgotten relics of a childhood race that perhaps got a little out of hand.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels.  Twenty-five years ago Maxx Race Cards helped them celebrate their 25th anniversary with a commemorative set.  Issued only in factory set form, the set features what they call “the most memorable 25 cars from 1968-1992”.  The card fronts picture a Hot Wheels vehicle with a full-blown description on the back.  Collecting tips are even provided for each vehicle.

Here is the checklist:

  • 1968 Beatnik Bandit #1
  • 1969 TwinMill #2
  • 1970 Boss Hoss #3
  • 1971 Evil Weevil #4
  • 1972 Funny Money #5
  • 1973 Sweet 16 #6
  • 1974 Sir Rodney Roadster #7
  • 1975 Emergency Squad #8
  • 1976 Corvette Stingray #9
  • 1977 ’57 Chevy #10
  • 1978 Hot Bird #11
  • 1979 Bywayman #12
  • 1980 Hiway Hauler #13
  • 1981 Old Number 5 #14
  • 1982 Firebird Funny Car #15
  • 1983 Classic Cobra #16
  • 1984 ’65 Mustang Convertible #17
  • 1985 Thunderstreak #18
  • 1986 Poppa ‘Vette #19
  • 1987 Ferrari Testarossa #20
  • 1988 Talbolt Lago #21
  • 1989 GT Racer #22
  • 1990 Purple Passion #23
  • 1991 Street Beast #24
  • 1992 Goodyear Blimp #25

I don’t recall owning any of these specific vehicles.  I do remember picking up a few Hot Wheels cars at a yard sale when I was little, and later discovered they came from their famous Redline collection.

Maxx produced lots of racing cards during the classic junk-wax era.  Most of their sets carry little value today.  Cards of Dale Earnhardt are what they’re particularly known for.

This Hot Wheels set is one of Maxx’s oddball products.  Sealed examples are readily available, and can be found for nothing.

Doesn’t this Hot Wheels car look like a Superfractor?