“Pin-Up” of the Week: 2001 National Sports Collectors Convention – Cleveland Pin

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The National Sports Collectors Convention needs to have more show-branded merchandise.  Not just promotional cards.  Baltimore is the only location I saw them selling shirts.  I want to see more shirts, pins, hats, figurines, and bobbleheads all made specially for the National.  In 2002, Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen bobbleheads were floating around the National when it was held in Chicago.  National-themed McFarlane figures popup too, along with OYO minifigures.  They’ve lightly touched on these things in the past, but I think more innovative souvenirs could be made.

Tickets for the 38th National Sports Collectors Convention went on sale this week.  It will be held July 26-30 in Chicago.  I won’t be attending this year.  Things are looking good for Cleveland in 2018 though.  Between Cleveland, Baltimore, and Atlantic City, I enjoy the layout of the I-X Center in Cleveland the most.  By then, I might need some new Sports Card Info pins to handout.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Baseball

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Yep.  I’m off the reservation with this one.  By now you can clearly see this is not a box of baseball cards.  When Nintendo introduced the NES to the United States in 1985, Baseball was one of the first games you could play on it.  Despite not having an MLB license, Nintendo brought in actual Major League Baseball players to show off the game during the test market launch.  Many accredit Baseball as one of the main reasons why the NES was so successful, given the sport’s overall appeal.

Compared to baseball video games today, Baseball for the NES is basic.  Although there was no license, the initials of the teams are suppose to represent real teams from the Japanese Central League or American Major League.  Retro gaming is popular today.  NES collectors are willing to spend well into the hundreds of dollars for sealed games such as this.  Out of the box and used copies can easily be found for under $10.

While attending the National a few years ago, I remember seeing an autographed photo of Mike Tyson.  It wasn’t just any photograph though.  This was a screenshot from the NES game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!!  That really caught my attention.

I would like to see more screenshots from classic sports video games worked into the sports memorabilia market.  Finding them in packs of cards would be even better.  Autographed cards featuring pixelated versions of your favorite players from the games you use to play would probably be a hit with collectors.  Heck, they don’t even need to be autographed.

Let us take this a step further.  What if you made a great play in a sports-based video game today, and could instantly order a trading card containing a shot of that play?  That would be sick.  Especially if they could get the athletes to sign them.  Perhaps even letting room on the card for the gamer to sign too.

We’ve seen cards and action figures come packaged with games, but I believe things could get even cooler.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 1972 Central Counties Bank 1st Generation “Crush the Orange” Penn State Button

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Its funny how the simple looking things can end up having an entire science to them.  That’s the way this hobby works.  Take for example the button pictured above.  Central Counties Bank produced three generations of buttons for Penn State fans in 1972.  This button is one of six from that first generation.  They all have phrases on them such as “Get the Goat”, “Hammer the Hawkeyes”, “Crush the Orange”, “Trip the Terrapins”, “Wallop the Wolfpack”, and “Pulverize the Panthers”.  Central Counties Bank wasn’t sure what type of response they would get from the public, so they only made them for the six home games and left their logo off.

Fans went nuts for these buttons.  Generation 2 consists of a second printing of the last four buttons from generation 1, and the Central Counties Bank logo is at the bottom.  Generation 3 is a third printing of the last two buttons from generations 1 & 2.  The main difference are the metal backs compared to green cardboard found on the first two generations.

Central Counties Bank eventually was taken over by Mellon Bank.  Now Mellon Bank is Citizens Bank.  No matter the name of the bank, they still made buttons.  Its a tradition that continues to this very day.

Many of the early buttons first introduced in 1972 carry a hefty price tag.  A collector recently spent $100 for this generation 1 “Crush the Orange” button.  For all Penn State button collectors, check out this great resource.  The site looks like something from the 90s, but its kept up-to-date.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Clemson Tigers College Football Playoff 2016 National Champions Dangler Pin

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Nothing pleases me more than to see a team go the entire season without losing only to watch them choke in the National Championship game.  Especially when it happens to a team like Alabama who has won enough titles over the last few years.  That game was a nail biter right down to the very last second, but Clemson pulled ahead.  Alabama left too much time on the clock and Clemson marched right down the field.  I guess kicking Lane Kiffin to the curb wasn’t such a good idea.

Merchandise for Clemson’s victory immediately followed the game.  It could be seen on the field.  This pin is one of a handful made for retail stores.  You can easily add one to your collection for $8.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Ray Finkle (Fictitious Jersey Collection) Pin

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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is one of my favorite movies.  It centers around the Miami Dolphins mascot Snowflake getting kidnapped.  They go on to hire Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) to help find him.  I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but I will say that Ray Finkle is the villain.  Lots of athletes make appearances like Dan Marino, Don Shula, and Randall “Tex” Cobb.  Jim Carrey even gets into a fist fight with the Eagles mascot Swoop.  Its 90 minutes of sophomoric humor with an endless amount of hilarious quotes.

Merchandise based on fictitious characters is really cool.  Especially when that character has next to nothing to collect.  Patti Lapel is a company that makes pins inspired by popular people, places, and things in pop-culture.  Its a blast browsing through their inventory because you literally have no clue what might be coming next.  Their Fictitious Jersey Collection is made up of five different pins – Clark Griswold (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), Ray Finkle (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Bill Murray (Space Jam), Tim Riggins (Friday Night Lights), and Bel-Air Academy (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).  I’m glad they didn’t slap the name of the movie/show on these pins.  Designing them to look like the real thing is way better.

“Pin-Up” of the Week: 61st Lawry’s Beef Bowl – USC vs. Penn State – Rose Bowl 2017 Pin

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Personally, I think there are way too many college bowl games.  It seems like more and more get added to the schedule every year.  They’re beginning to be overproduced like plain one-colored jersey cards.  I guess as long as companies keep throwing money at them two teams will find their way to a “big” game.

Penn State is scheduled to take on USC on Monday in the 103rd Rose Bowl Game.  Earlier this week, Penn State beat USC in another classic bowl game – Lawry’s Beef Bowl.  Lawry’s is an upscale restaurant in Beverly Hills that has been hosting the Beef Bowl for 61 years.  What is the Beef Bowl?  Before the Rose Bowl, each team is served a hefty meal of prime rib.  Whichever team eats the most, wins the Beef Bowl.  Penn State ate 536 lbs. compared to USC who came in at 502 lbs.  That’s a combined 1,038 lbs. of beef eaten.  Lawry’s Dallas, TX location also holds a Beef Bowl for the two Cotton Bowl participants.

You won’t find that much merchandise when it comes to the Beef Bowl.  Occasionally pins will show up.  I bought this pin for $12 last night.  This specific pin was given out to players, guests, and members of the media who attended the dinner.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1986 McDonald’s

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McDonald’s is an American institution.  Although I don’t eat fast food very often, I do find it tasty.  Just don’t watch all those news reports about where the ingredients come from and how the food is made.  All that matters is that it tastes good.

Growing up I had tons of birthday parties at McDonald’s.  Piles of their Happy Meal toys followed.  Back to the Future: The Animated SeriesBatman Returns, and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! are all kids shows that I remember receiving Happy Meal toys from.  If I remember correctly, the Delorean toy had actual sparks that shot out the back.  The back wheel could easily come off too and posed a choking hazard.  Ah to be a kid again during a time when safety wasn’t the top priority.

The 1980’s was filled with a lot of popular football sets.  You have rookie cards of Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Warren Moon, Jerry Rice, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, and Barry Sanders.  One of the most comprehensive football sets to come out of the 80’s wasn’t made by a major card manufacturer though.  It was issued by McDonald’s.

While making a purchase at McDonald’s during a specific 4-week period in 1986, you should have been given a football card with a coupon attached.  These were regionally issued.  That means McDonald’s restaurants near Philadelphia only gave out Eagles cards.  Ones near Atlanta gave out cards featuring Falcons players.  It goes on and on from there.  You would need to make multiple trips to McDonald’s in order to obtain every player from that team.  If the McDonald’s you were visiting wasn’t near an NFL team, they provided you with an All-Stars card.  The All-Stars cards are exactly what they sound like.  Instead of having cards from one team, it was a set made up of players from across the NFL.

To make it even harder, McDonald’s decided to use different colored foil for the scratch-off portion of the card each week – week #1 blue, week #2 black (gray), week #3 gold (orange), and week #4 green.  You would’ve needed to eat a hell of a lot of fast food just to get all the cards from your region.  It gives me a heart attack just thinking about it.  Given that this was 1986 and there was no internet, it would have been a monumental task to complete the whole set.

Flashback Product of the Week: 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn

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With less than two weeks until Christmas, families are getting ready to travel.  Hotel stays are a must for many in between holiday destinations.  When I travel, I usually stay at a Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, or Holiday Inn.  They seem to work the best.

It should be no surprise that hotels would want to hookup with a card manufacturer in order to promote their business.  The most recent example of this would be when the Sheraton in Atlantic City and Upper Deck got together last summer.  Room keys resembled Upper Deck cards for those people that stayed at the Sheraton while the National Sports Collectors Convention was going on.  Its not the first time cards have been turned into room keys, but not something done very often.  Items like that make unique souvenirs.

The 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn set is nothing earth-shattering, but an interesting promotion nonetheless.  For those members of the Holiday Inn Priority Club that stayed at a participating Holiday Inn hotel between May 31, 2007 and July 30, 2007 received a specially marked pack of Upper Deck baseball cards.  You got a pack for each night you stayed.  Inside each pack there are (4) cards – (3) base and (1) Cal Ripken, Jr. insert.  There are (5) Ripken inserts, and the entire base set consists of (60) cards.  You won’t find any rookies, relics, or autographs.  Adding at least one of those elements would have drastically increased people’s interest in this set.  All of these cards can be found for next to nothing today.

Holiday Inn isn’t a stranger when it comes to baseball.  In 1977 they slapped their name on (70) collectible player discs.  Given their age, they have a little more demand.  Merchandise from Mickey Mantle’s Holiday Inn in Joplin, MO is quite popular.  It doesn’t exist anymore.  Right now a Lowe’s occupies that piece of real estate.  You’ll regularly find memorabilia from it up for sale.  Postcards, pennants, menus, and matchbooks carry decent value.  Someone recently paid $250 for a sealed bar of soap.