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.

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“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2016 LLWS “Best Buds” Boomer & Dugout Two-Pin Set

Boomer and Dugout.  Two mascots that rule the town of Williamsport, PA.  Boomer being the mascot of the Williamsport Crosscutters and Dugout the mascot of the Little League World Series.  It only seems natural that both would appear on a pin.

Outside of eBay and the Little League Store’s website, Little League pins for the most part need to be acquired in person.  Even the Little League Store’s website doesn’t sell every pin you’d find in their physical location.  This pin is a perfect example of that.

In August 2016, Little League and the Crosscutters came together and made this two-pin set.  The half with Boomer could only be obtained directly from the Crosscutters, while the Dugout side could be found at the Little League Museum.  (500) Boomer pins were given out to Crosscutters fans on 8/26/16.  I think its safe to say (500) Dugout pins were made too.  Considering they go together, it doesn’t make sense to make less or more of either side.  One set recently sold on the secondary market for $58.  Not too bad considering the cards they come affixed to value each pin at $5.

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

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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.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Chicago Cubs Sports Crate Bringin’ the Heat Pin

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In May, collectors who purchased a Sports Crate began to receive their box full of goodies.  For each month of the MLB season, you can have a box of team-oriented items sent straight to your front door.  As of right now, only ten MLB teams are available.  You can pay $39.99 per crate or $179.99 for the whole season.

Given that the people behind Loot Crate are the same ones behind Sports Crate, I think this has a lot of fun potential.  The items inside are exclusive to Sports Crate.  Even Topps has made special cards for them.

This isn’t the first sports-themed subscription box service.  A few years ago, Collector Crate gave it a shot but quickly went out of business.  Some collectors have been a fan of The Loot Locker.  But everything inside a Loot Locker box has been around for a while and isn’t anything new.  In my opinion, you need to put some serious money behind a service like this in order for it to be successful.  Exclusive in-demand items are key.  I look forward to seeing what else they roll out.  Hopefully the Phillies are coming soon.  It would be neat if Sports Crate came to the National Sports Collectors Convention and sold special boxes.

Loot Crate is known for including pins in their boxes.  This seems to have carried over to Sports Crate too.  “Bringin’ the Heat” was the theme for May, so each box came with a team logo pin surrounded in fire.  On the back of the pin’s package it says “The original Bringin’ the Heat pin was designed by your friends at Sports Crate.  It was created to be either worn or displayed.  Since there are a limited number of these in existence be sure to take good care of it.  You never know what it will be worth someday.”  They’ve been selling for $13 on the secondary market.  I highly doubt they’ll ever increase in value, but its nice of them to give you a heads up.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2016 LLWS – The Crazy Tomato Pin

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I’m really excited for the Little League World Series this year.  On August 20th, the Pirates and Cardinals will play a regular season game at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport.  Only Little League players and their families are invited.  It would be great if Topps made a Topps Now card to commemorate this event.

The other great part of the Little League World Series is the endless amount of pins.  One of the wackier pins I own comes from a restaurant located in Williamsport called The Crazy Tomato.  They’ve been in business for 10+ years, but I can only remember their pins first popping-up in 2015.  I like their tomato mascot dude.  It reminds me of a monster the Power Rangers would encounter or Attack of the Killer Tomatos.

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

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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.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2017 NFL Draft Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney Tribute Pin

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Owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Rooney, passed away on April 13, 2017.  He was the son of Steelers founder Art Rooney.  Owners typically don’t have that many cards, but Dan Rooney had a few.

His most popular cards include:

  • 2000 Goal Line Art Hall of Fame #203
  • 2000 Goal Line Art Hall of Fame Auto #203
  • 2000 Goal Line Art Hall of Fame Gold Auto #’ed/100
  • 2000 Topps Hall of Fame Class of 2000 #4
  • 2000 Topps Hall of Fame Class of 2000 Auto

In honor of Dan Rooney’s passing, Steelers staff wore the above pin during the 2017 NFL Draft.  I don’t have a problem with the Steelers wanting to pay tribute to Dan Rooney with this pin.  From a collecting standpoint it could easily cause some problems though.

With Dan Rooney passing away only two weeks prior to the start of the draft, there probably wasn’t enough time to design a new tribute pin from scratch.  Instead they had to improvise with what they had.  The Steelers simply took one of their misty gold lapel pins and pinned it to a green ribbon.

Does anyone else see a potential problem here?  What stops someone from buying a misty gold lapel pin for $4.95 and pinning it to easily accessible green ribbon which can be found at any craft store?  The answer is nothing.  Anyone could do that while attempting to spin a tale that it came from a Steelers staff member during the draft.

The odds of an authentic one showing up for sale are slim.  I highly doubt a large amount were put together.  It would be in poor taste if someone from the Steelers did try and make money off of it.  But it has been known to happen before.  I can imagine an authentic pin would fetch quite a bit more than $5.  The only way I’d trust that one of these Dan Rooney tribute pins is authentic is if I received one directly from a Steelers staff member.  Otherwise you’d never know.