Product Highlight: Greatest Sports Legends – Video Baseball Cards

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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.

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Evolution Exposed

It looks like Upper Deck will be the first manufacturer to release an insert with on-card video capability.  Collectors will be able to find them in 2011 Upper Deck Football which is scheduled to release on 4/12/11.  Upper Deck says Evolution cards will be made for Adrian Peterson, Tony Romo, Patrick Willis, and DeSean Jackson.  I’m sure there will be more.

As you can see, each card comes with a built-in screen, play button, and rechargeable battery.  I think the rechargeable battery is a great idea, because then you don’t have to hunt around for batteries.  No power = paperweight 🙂  They will be about a half-an-inch thick too.

Earlier this week, Panini said they have plans to release HD video cards later this year.  Panini’s will be hand-numbered, autographed, and they plan to try them out with NBA players first.  No word yet on whether they will be rechargeable or not.  I would hope so.

On-card video seems to be an interesting idea.  I don’t want to see them overproduce it, but we all know how that goes.

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Throw in a DNA relic, and thats about as close as you’ll get to owning an actual player.

Phillies Fans Are The Best

Streaking, vomiting, and now tasers.  Phillies fans are truly the most entertaining.

Interview with Chris Justice of The Hobby Box & CardsInfinity.com

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Having almost 8,000 subscribers and 8.5 million total upload video views, makes Chris Justice one of the most popular video box breakers on YouTube.  Chris owns and operates The Hobby Box which is a sports card shop located in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Chris was nice enough to take some time and answer a few questions I had about his shop, YouTube, and The Hobby.  Be sure to check out his channel and site, CardsInfinity.com.
  • What made you want to open The Hobby Box?
I have collected since I was a teen and I have always enjoyed sports and sports cards.  In the early 90’s I went to college and graduated with a BS in Information Systems.  I enjoyed computers, but I could not see myself working on one all day long, day in and day out (funny I do that now in this hobby :)).  So during and after college I worked as a bartender for 8 years.  I really enjoyed talking with customers and watching sports while working :).  Around 2004 a friend of mine showed me what the card companies were doing with sports cards and I thought it was the coolest thing.  They were embedding jerseys in cards as well as having them autographed.  Well my interest was struck, so I got back into collecting pretty heavily.  There was only one shop in my town and the guy charged really ridiculous prices for his hobby boxes.  So since I enjoyed sports and sports cards I decided to open my own store and that is how The Hobby Box got started.
  • How important is YouTube to your business?  Do you think it’s possible for a hobby shop to survive without having a presence on the internet?

Let me explain how I got started on YouTube.   I started my store in April 2006.   Customers would come in and break boxes and it was really exciting to see what each box produced and their reaction to the cards they pulled.  At that time the only place to really share your break was on a card forum.  You would sit in front of your computer and type out what you got and post a scan.  That is really fun in itself, but you don’t get the persons reaction to the break.  I was selling a shirt that I had made out of 550+ jersey cards on eBay. The winner of that shirt was Dr. WaxBattle.  He has a website called The BackStop.net.  I checked out his website and noticed that he was taping customers breaking boxes.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever.  Not only do you get the first look, but you get to see the reaction of the person opening the box.  Then I searched YouTube to see if others were doing it and there were only about four.  Joe Holman was breaking a blaster box here and there, Backstop was doing it, Rip & Pull, and a guy by the name of KoolJazz1966.  I really loved all their breaks, but KoolJazz stood out the most and here is why.  This guy just seemed so into sports cards and I loved his reaction.  Just a down to earth guy that was not in it for the “BIG MONEY” pull, but the actual love of opening boxes.  “Box Break Thursday” he called his breaks, and he would tape the breaks for the guys on TCC website (Trading Card Central).

As much as I loved his reactions and admired The BackStop, Rip & Pull and Joe for starting the whole thing, there was something missing.  The missing part was they were not allowing the viewer to live vicariously through the break.  Plus they were showing way too many base which can make a break rather long and boring.  I thought I would start taping my customers opening boxes in the vicarious position and we would also breeze through the base cards. This way people can see what the major hits are, get the reactions, and at the same time live vicariously through the break.  So that is what I did and that is basically how I got on YouTube.  Now I didn’t get on YouTube to make money.  That was not even on my mind.  I did all the videos specifically for the love of the hobby and to have fun with it.  I started selling boxes on the internet about 7 months later when people kept asking me if I would sell them a box.  I was like sure, and if you like I can break it here for you and upload the video and mail the cards.  A lot of people liked the idea and that is how it all got started.

So in a nutshell, YouTube is very important to me.  It brings together a community of people that, when on the internet, feel like they are all at the card shop together.  It is a place where people can share cards they have pulled with others and at the same time create good friendships.

Yes, I think Hobby Stores can survive without the internet.  There are a lot of shops doing that very thing right now.  It is harder without the internet but it can be done.  I do a good portion of my sales through the internet now and I do appreciate all the business people give me.

  • What are some things you would like to see the manufacturers do differently to make The Hobby more enjoyable?

They need to send me a case of the new product a week before it releases so I can do a FREE group break for people :), just kidding.  Although that would be fun!!  Let me defend card companies for a second.  People always give card companies a hard time.  I don’t think they realize what a tight rope these card companies have to walk.  They have to produce a product with big names that everyone wants without flooding the market with big names.  For example, everyone wants a Michael Jordan autographed card.   Upper Deck could put one in every other box and guess what?  Pulling a Michael Jordan card has lost all of its luster and excitement.  Not to mention its monetary value.

But with that said, I think ALL card companies should always honor redemption cards PERIOD.  There is no reason what so ever that they should not do this.  The card should have been in the set before the product was released.  It is not the consumer’s fault that it wasn’t.  Sure the card companies would need a pretty big filing system, but if the card was made it should be filed away in the “Redemption Room” and should always be there until that card is redeemed.  If the card was never made, then they should give you equal value of the card at the time of it being pulled.  If they did it this way you can bet there would be a lot less redemptions, because card companies would get sick of storing all the cards when they are made.

It is very frustrating for a person to open a  box and pull a Cal Ripken/Derek Jeter Dual autograph #d to 5 and it be expired.  That one change would make the hobby a lot more fun and enjoyable.

  • Of all the products you have opened, which have been your favorite and least favorite?  Why?

Favorite is Exquisite and the reason is simple… it is so DAMN expensive that it makes you nervous to open it.  Anything that can get your heart going is exciting and Exquisite does that.

  • Which future product release are you looking forward to the most?

Not sure if they are doing it, but if they are, I am really looking forward to National Treasures Basketball.  I think it will be a very exciting product loaded with really nice looking cards.

  • What is the most valuable card pulled from your shop?

That depends on your definition of value.  The weirdest card I have seen pulled was a Neanderthal flint knife.   It was a redemption, but Jerry, the guy who pulled it, sent me a scan when he got it back. Very unique card.  The coolest looking card was pulled just the other week and that was a Felix Hernandez WBC full size logo patch.  As far as actual sell value goes, I pulled a Tiger Woods 2001 Sp Authentic GOLD version red shirt swatch #d/25.  I sold the card for $1,200 BIN, but I saw another one surface again during Tiger’s big run in 2007 or 2008 and it was bid up to $3,600 but didn’t meet reserve. I’m not sure what it would sell for now, but that is the most expensive card I have ever pulled.  I have had several $1,000+ cards pulled from my store though.  Always fun to pull a big valued card, but I am just as happy when someone pulls the person they collect and are looking for.

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According to Upper Deck, there are only 9 of these Neanderthal Flint Knife relics.

  • What do you have in your personal collection, and what are some of your best pieces?

I really collect rookie autographs.  I have a lot of those.  My biggest cards are probably my Solomon Jones collection :).  I have a few of his Exquisite 1/1’s, Superfractors from Finest and Chrome rookie autographs.  I have quite a few MJD cards as well.  Terrence Williams is my new player to collect.

What Else Do I Get Crazy About? – MLB Dugout Heroes

This post is a response to an article I saw on A Cardboard Problem yesterday.  Every weekend they have a Sunday question.  Yesterday’s question asked collectors whether they get crazy about something else other than baseball cards.  In my response, I can say I do.  Along with collecting sports cards and other memorabilia, I am a huge fan of the video game MLB Dugout Heroes.  I discovered this game last summer after seeing an advertisement on YouTube and I have been playing ever since.  You choose a team to play as (I picked the Phillies), then you just start playing online games with other people.  The currency in the game is “Nuts” and as you make more money by playing you can purchase upgrades for your team.  Some of the upgrades include sunglasses, gloves, bats, and shoes.  The best thing about this game is that its totally FREE!!

For years I was addicted to playing video games.  I had a bunch of systems ranging from the old NES to a PlayStation 2.  I sold every piece of gaming equipment a few years ago because I got bored and decided to do more collecting.  If your a baseball fan and a gamer, I highly suggest trying it out.  I like the way the players look.  Usually video game manufacturers try and make the athletes look as real as possible.  With MLB Dugout Heroes, the players look like cartoons.  If you decide to jump on board, my Phillies team name is SportsCardInfo.  I’m far from the best at it, but its still really fun.  My Phillies are more like last year’s Nationals.

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This is suppose to be Ryan Howard 🙂

In case anyone was wondering.  I have almost 700,000 “Nuts”.

Should Sports Cards Be In Video Games?

For years manufacturers have been trying to get more people interested in The Hobby.  One of the main demographics companies have been targeting is kids.  With all the high-tech toys out on the market, one of the last things many kids find interesting is sports cards.  Products such as Topps Attax and MLB Showdown are just a few of the many products companies have created to try and attract more kids to the industry, but it hasn’t really worked too well.  I highly doubt that even the Topps 3D venture will go far.  The last thing kids want to be treated like is kids.  This is why many of the kid friendly products don’t perform too well.  If I were “Hobby King” for the day you want to know what I’d do?  I’d try to incorporate sports cards into popular video games such as Madden and MLB The Show.  I’m not saying devote an entire portion of the game to cards, but slightly incorpate trading cards into the game.  For example, when reading the bio of your favorite player there could be a section that lists some of their key cards that have been made up to that point.  Since most of the popular entertainment systems have internet access, why not allow people to click on one of those key cards and provide them with more information.  Perhaps it could even point them in the right direction of where to purchase cards like that.  If a company really wanted to get involved with the gaming industry, maybe they could sponsor online events and the winners could obtain certain products.  Current manufacturers don’t seem to get very far when they try and do this stuff by themselves.  I think they need to see what people are interested in and try to incorporate themselves into that market.  What most manufacturers have done so far is the total opposite.  They try to create something slightly innovative and then hope people will come to them, when in reality it should be the other way around.

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Best Cards of the Fifties…….. According to Topps

Late last night Topps posted this video entitled “Best Cards of the Fifties” on YouTube.  Its a very interesting video and educational for those collectors new to The Hobby.  While watching, you’ll notice Book Value is used quite a bit.  Do you agree with what Topps has picked as The Best Cards of the Fifties?  I personally would have liked to see something from the 1951 Topps Connie Mack’s All-Star set.  As a fan of Mack, I have to say that 🙂  Topps plans to do another video entitled “Best Cards of the Sixties” soon.