Under The Tree: 1982 Corgi Baseball Trading Cars

Precision Made. Check. Moving Parts. Check. Safety Tested. Check. One Year Money Back Warranty. Check. Non-Toxic Paints. Hang on just a second. I don’t know about you. But I prefer my toys to have a certain amount of lead in them. They just don’t taste the same.

Corgi made die-cast toy vehicles for decades. From Batman to James Bond. There is an entire collectors market for them.

Released in 1982, Corgi introduced their line of Baseball Trading Cars. (26) MLB cars make up the set. The body of a Ford Mustang Cobra was used for each car. Cars have the team name on the roof, and team logo on the hood.

In 1983 collectors saw another set of (26) Baseball Trading Cars. This time the body of a Pontiac Firebird was used. A poster offer also came with the 1983 line of cars. Corgi even made a Baseball Trading Cars carrying case to protect your cars once they were removed from their package.

Under The Tree: The Willie Mays “Say Hey” Skateboard

Ok. This has to be a long lost relic from an alternative timeline and/or parallel universe. A place in time and space where instead of a baseball bat Willie Mays decided to pick up a skateboard. Imagine seeing Willie Mays at the skate park doing an Ollie, Hill bomb, and Benihana.

Union Surfer released The Willie Mays “Say Hey” Skateboard in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. The “SF” logo pictured on his hat can date it no earlier than 1958 which is when the team relocated from New York to San Francisco.

Made of sturdy wood, this skateboard actually came in two different versions.

The most common version you will find has the graphics printed vertically, and measures 5″ x 23″.

A harder to find version has the graphics printed horizontally, and is a bit larger measuring 6.5″ x 28.75″.

Under The Tree: 1992 JusToys NFL Quarterback Club Bend-Ems

It might be easier to list the properties JusToys didn’t make bendable action figures for throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. The list is quite extensive – WWF, WCW, Marvel, Star Wars, Lassie, Free Willy, Universal Monsters, Disney, etc… Doing a quick eBay search will take you down nostalgia lane.

NFL fans got to see four of the most popular quarterbacks in 1992 receive the “Bend-Ems” treatment – Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, and Randall Cunningham.

Figures could be purchased in two different ways. Individually or in a gift set.

JusToys Bend-Ems were relatively inexpensive when they were originally released, and for the most part still remain cheap today. Although there are a few exceptions.

Bendable wire and rubber are the only two components to this toy line. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Football collectors can easily add them to their collection without difficulty.

They all look like they were hit with Joker’s laughing gas.

Under The Tree: Ninja Golf

If Hollywood ever decides to turn this game into a movie I will be first in line to see it. Because it will break all box office records. This could be the big break Clint Eastwood has been waiting for.

Developed by BlueSky Software for the Atari 7800, Ninja Golf combines a traditional golf game with side-scrolling beat’em up gameplay.

Simply aim your ball and shoot it towards the green. Upon running towards your ball you will encounter various enemies along the way. These enemies include other ninjas, gophers, birds, giant mutant frogs, sharks, snakes, and a whole lot more.

Ninja Golf is one of the last games Atari released before dropping support for the 7800 system in 1990-91.

If you’re a retro game fan looking to play something that has a lot of depth, this isn’t the game for you. The gameplay is very repetitive. The box art gets an A+ though.

Video game collecting has exploded in popularity over the years. It makes me wish I had held on to some of mine. A sealed copy of Ninja Golf can reach into the hundreds of dollars.

Under The Tree: 1999 Racing Champions MLBPA Superstar Yo-Yos Series 1

Happy Holidays! Time to look back and remember some of those favorite sports related toys you received as a kid.

When I was in middle school there was a major yo-yo fad. Where it got started and how it began still remains a mystery. All I remember one day is that yo-yos began to popup everywhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if some teachers still have those confiscated yo-yos at the bottom of their desk drawer.

In 1999 Racing Champions (yes I said Racing Champions) known specifically for their die-cast race cars issued a set of MLBPA licensed yo-yos.

The set consists of (10) player yo-yos:

  • Kevin Brown #1
  • Ken Griffey Jr. #2
  • Tony Gwynn #3
  • Derek Jeter #4
  • Greg Maddux #5
  • Mark McGwire #6
  • Mike Piazza #7
  • Cal Ripken Jr. #8
  • Ivan Rodriguez #9
  • Sammy Sosa #10

Another set of baseball yo-yos was issued by Racing Champions. This set consists of the same (10) players. The images differ from Series 1, and use holographic foil. Instead of a solid color the yo-yo itself is transparent with glitter.

I believe Racing Champions even had some specially made yo-yos for the National Sports Collectors Convention. You rarely see these.

The Racing Champions brand is still around today. It is currently owned by the Round 2 Corp. They make models, die-cast cars, slot cars, and model train accessories.

Under The Tree: 1977-80 Pro Sports Marketing NFL Action Team Mates

Remember the days of flipping through a catalog and circling all the stuff you wanted for Christmas? Those days are long gone.

Sold exclusively through the Sears and J.C. Penney Christmas catalogs between 1977 and 1980 were the Pro Sports Marketing NFL Action Team Mates. Measuring 7.5″ tall, these NFL-themed action figures came with two sets of interchangeable numbers, removable helmet, football, playbook, and display stand. They aren’t player specific, but you could certainly place whatever jersey number you wanted on them and pretend it was Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, etc…

Figures which have never been removed from their box can easily come in pieces. Small rubber bands were used to hold the limbs together. Over the years these rubber bands can disintegrate leaving you with a box of loose body parts.

Today these figures are highly sought after. Triple digit sales are not uncommon for loose figures. Individual parts even have a strong demand.

Compared to the collectible figures we have today, these look quite generic. For a long time this is how sports action figures looked. When these were released, we were still years away from Starting Lineup figures.

I wonder if any of these guys found their way over to Barbie’s Dream House and told Ken to take a hike?

Under The Tree: 2011 Hot Wheels General Mills Wheaties ’70s Van

When I was a kid I remember having a large bin full of Hot Wheels. I played with them a lot. Rolling them down the driveway, building ramps for them to jump, watching them do all types of unpredictable tricks, and duct-taping firecrackers to them brings back a ton of memories. I was basically Sid from Toy Story.

Some of my Hot Wheels came from various neighborhood yard sales. Little did I know that I had picked-up some vintage Redline cars. Even though they were fairly beat up, I came to realize many years later that those cars have a huge demand among collectors.

Released in 2011, the General Mills line of Hot Wheels featured cereal box artwork from different General Mills cereal. One of them being “The Breakfast Of Champions” Wheaties.

I think this ’70s van looks so cool. The generic baseball player image dates back to the 1960s. I don’t believe its of anyone specific. The green color suggest its someone from the Oakland A’s.

Other cereals covered in the set include Honey Nut Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Count Chocula, Trix, Boo Berry, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Franken Berry, and Lucky Charms.

My all-time favorite Hot Wheels car is the one that looks like a Superfractor.

Under The Tree: EA Sports NCAA Football 14

While doing some research for this post I came to realize something. I should have kept my video games sealed. Games I once had and originally cost $50 now sell for thousands. Then again, if I and everyone else had done that they probably wouldn’t have gone up in price.

Sports related video games aren’t the most in-demand when it comes to video game collecting. That’s not to say there aren’t any hidden gems out in the wild. Certain sports games command insane prices, but its not the genre collectors flock to right away.

A current diamond in the rough is EA Sports NCAA Football 14. Released on July 9, 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, this is the last game in their NCAA Football series. The main reasons for this are legal issues based on the game using player likenesses, and the players not being compensated for them. NCAA players getting paid for their likeness remains an ongoing debate. Because of this, no sequels have been made. As of this writing, it doesn’t look like a new game is coming anytime soon.

Denard Robinson on the cover.

Even though the game is out of print, college football fans continue to play it. Fans can edit the team rosters to a certain extent in order to reflect up-to-date players. Watching people play this game on Twitch has become very popular too.

Completely sealed copies easily sell for over $200. I would expect the price to drop if a new version of the game was ever released.

Under The Tree: 1991-92 Ace Novelty M.V.P. Sports Stars

Witnessing the massive success Tonka had with their line of WWF Wrestling Buddies, Ace Novelty decided to cash-in with their own line of similar toys called M.V.P. Sports Stars.

Ace Novelty produced their M.V.P. Sports Stars between 1991 and 1992. Instead of focusing on wrestling, they produced pillow-like dudes for MLB, NFL, NBA, and the NHL.

MLB a.k.a. Super Sluggers consists of (4) pillows – Nolan Ryan, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Ryne Sandberg.

NFL a.k.a. Tackling Dummies consists of (7) pillows – Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, Boomer Esiason, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, and Dan Marino.

NHL a.k.a. Power Skaters consists of (3) pillows – Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, and Mario Lemieux.

NBA a.k.a. Hoopster Heroes consists of (3) pillows – Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Patrick Ewing.

Mint condition examples which have never been removed from their box do have a certain level of desire. Nowhere near as much as the Tonka WWF Wrestling Buddies though.

These are toys, and they were meant to be played with. They took quite a beating over the years.

Under The Tree: 1995 Gottlieb Big Hurt – The Pinball Game

Frank Thomas was the cover man for Big Hurt Baseball during the mid-90’s.  Big Hurt Baseball is a video game that was released for various consoles between 1995 and 1996.  The video games aren’t nearly as collectible as the pinball counterpart.

Gottlieb released a pinball version of Big Hurt Baseball in 1995 simply titled Big Hurt – The Pinball Game.  Just under 2,000 machines were produced, which according to pinball collectors isn’t many.  A small portion of them have been registered on the Internet Pinball Serial Number Database and the Pinball Owners Registry.  With Frank Thomas having a huge fan base, this machine is in high-demand.  Finding one that’s in excellent, fully working condition isn’t the easiest thing to do.  If you do find a complete example that functions properly, it’s going to cost into the thousands.  Roughly what a Frank Thomas 1990 Topps “No Name” rookie would set you back.  It would’ve been great if they could have incorporated one of those into this machine’s design.

You have to admit, a piece like this would make a great addition to any Frank Thomas collection.  Just as long as you have the money and space.  Even if you don’t have the money and/or space for one of these, collectors still buy loose parts for their collection.  It really wouldn’t surprise me if one day we see parts from one of these pinball games embedded into cards.

Game highlights include:

  • Roaring crowds
  • Play-by-play announcer
  • Moving baseball glove obstacle
  • (3) flippers
  • (2) pop bumpers
  • (2) slingshots
  • Drop targets
  • Captive ball
  • 4-ball multi-ball capability

If you woke up to one of these pinball machines on Christmas morning, your tree must have been huge.