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Monthly Archives: December 2009

First look: 2009-10 Classics Basketball from Panini America

Panini America unveiled the basic product preview information and sample card images on Wednesday for its 2009-10 Classics basketball set, which is scheduled to arrive on March 31.

Set to pack four autograph or memorabilia cards in each 18-pack box (one autograph guaranteed), Classics will celebrate basketball’s past as well as its present as the line has done for years in baseball and football. Each 16-box case will include an autograph from either Panini spokesman Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Blake Griffin, Elvin Hayes, Isiah Thomas or Jerry West.

Five-card packs will carry a suggested retail price of $6.

See additional card images after the jump.

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Coming Soon: Tim Tebow's First Football Cards

It’s become tradition over the last decade for fans attending the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl to grab one last glimpse at the country’s top high school football players as well as a host of “where I’m going to college” declarations.

But those attending the 2010 edition on Jan. 9 in San Antonio will have the chance to grab something even better: Two of Tim Tebow’s first football cards.

To help celebrate the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s 10th anniversary, Dallas-based Razor Entertainment has produced a special 100-card promotional set that will be distributed – via four-card packs – to all active military personnel and children under the age of 14. Included in that set will be two short-printed cards featuring Tebow during the 2006 game.

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Box Busters Preview Gallery: 2009 Topps Tribute baseball cards

After a five-year absence, Topps has revived its Topps Tribute line with every pack including an autograph or Relic card.

We’ve gotten our boxes in at Beckett HQ will in advance of Tribute’s Jan. 7 street date, and will have a Box Busters video shot sometime in the coming days (hectic holiday schedules permitting).

But until then we’ll let you examine the contents of a box busted off camera — one that did indeed deliver a hit per pack as well as three base cards and a parallel card in every one.

The base set consists of 100 cards — 83 retired legends of the game, 14 veterans and just three rookies and will includes parallels — Reds (1/1s), Golds (/50), Blacks (/99) and Blues (/199). It also will include Framed Printing Plates. You can read more about the product and see the preliminary checklist by clicking here.

After the jump, you will find scans of 18 cards — the notable half of the box — along with the in-box checklist, which you can compare to the preliminary checklist. (Not much appears to have changed based on a very quick glance.)

It’s worth noting that these high-end cards (suggested retail price is $50 a pack) will be condition sensitive because of their holographic surface. Several cards came out of packs with smudges and/or scratches — some of which may rub off (but we didn’t try it).

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

See the images after the jump. (Click for a closer look.)

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Is there a right way to do sticker autographs?

TRISTAR's new line of autographed Total Nonstop Action wrestling photos appears to use stickers. Does it make sense? Perhaps.

There’s no question that the sticker autograph is a sticking point for many a collector.

They often loathe them because they want something that someone held signed, because they want an autograph that can accentuate the image that it is affixed to, because they want a signature that is not cut off by the edge of a sticker that’s smaller than the item it’s affixed to.

But collectors also don’t want to wait on redemption cards — an inevitable byproduct of on-card signatures. But collectors also don’t want to receive cards with dinged corners, either. (This just in, many athletes don’t treasure corners on their cards as much as you do … ) This, in turn, has spawned the letter patch autographs, the manufactured logo autographs, the Sweet Spot autographs and so on …

There are advantages for companies to get stickers (and non-card items) signed — primarily pertaining to the issues above — but it’s also one of asset management. What does a company do when there are cards left over after redemptions are fulfilled (something that also costs money)? They’ve cost the company something — yet aren’t necessarily usable in a future product.

Stickers or other types of autographs on the other hand can be used later down the line if a lineup changes or a deadline is missed or if redemptions go unfulfilled — something that saves the company money, which is more important than ever as a shrinking industry continues to weather a poor economy in a world where costs for autographs aren’t shrinking. (Even though they probably should be.) Every company uses them — and it’s become en vogue to tout when they aren’t, likely when it’s time to move some products.

So, we have to ask — is there a right way to do sticker autographs?

Read more after the jump.

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The Beckett Baseball Best of 2009 Awards … vote now!

We’re closing in on making our selections for The Best of 2009 and want to make sure that Beckett Baseball‘s readers have a say, too.

Vote now for your picks for the best baseball cards of 2009 — the awards (editors’ picks and readers choice) will appear in the next issue along with our picks for the Best of the Decade.

See them all — and place your votes —  after the jump.

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Urban Meyer's shocking news leads to a shocker on cardboard

Urban Meyer‘s decision to step down as the coach of the Florida Gators on Saturday night citing health reasons at age 45 has sent a few shockwaves through the college football world.

But it also prompted this writer to  do a little research on college football coaches and their trading cards, which led to another shocking discovery — their near-complete lack of cards — despite there being a constant flow of cards showing athletes in their NCAA uniforms.

It seems that all of the major football card manufacturers — and all of the smaller ones, too — have dabbled with players in college uniforms in their sets, but very few have dabbled with the idea of getting the most famous names in college football (the coaches) in their sets. Or if they have, they’ve chosen not to as they’ve also failed to sit them down with a pen to sign a few cards that can be placed into packs (certified autographs for the non-collector).

In fact, it appears that among college coaching’s elite names only Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Nebraska’s Tom Osborne have signed for a card company.

And the game’s biggest college coaching legends? If they have any autographed cards at all, they’re immensely rare cut autographs where the signatures were cut from documents and matted into the card.

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WWE ties up merchandising loose ends for 2010

Collectors of World Wrestling Entertaiment memorabilia will have some new items to look for in 2010 as it has tied up some long-running loose ends with its merchandising lines recently and a new company will take over as the manufacturer for another.

WWE on Tuesday announced that it has renewed its long-standing relationship with video game maker THQ – an eight-year deal that takes effect on Jan. 1. While that’s not the news that impacts collectors, it’s no secret that video games are a big part of the WWE merchandising portfolio.

The other big news on Tuesday was that the company ended long-running litigation with toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific – the maker of all of its popular toys — which also is tied to the THQ deal as the two companies are a joint venture.

THQ will pay WWE $13.2 million as part of the agreement, while the video game deal is a longer-term deal than one previously signed between the  companies. THQ will, in turn, pay Jakks Pacific $20 million over the next four years as part of the agreement.

The companies were batting in court over alleged payoffs and other wrongdoings to draw WWE’s merchandising rights. All allegations have been dropped as part of these new deals.

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What did they land at the Triple Threads football Rip Party?

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What did The Rip Master and crew land at the Topps Triple Threads Football Rip Party? Watch and find out …

New Book Recounts Autograph Collector's Anecdotes

Joe Galiardi has been collecting autographs for more than 20 years, and he’s had a ball doing it. Literally. Actually, he’s had 231 balls – and counting – doing it.

Galiardi, you see, is a collector of signed golf balls. The retired PR professional’s first dimpled endeavor, inked by Arnold Palmer, remains his favorite. But that one, like the 230 others – including balls signed by the likes of Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, Joe Paterno and Tiger Woods – has its own unique story to tell.

And it is those stories that provided the inspiration behind Galiardi’s new book Hooked on Autographs, a 154-page collection of the Pennsylvania native’s favorite trials, tribulations and anecdotes from two decades tracking true American legends.

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Did you forget to buy something for your collector?

Well, there are just hours left to finish that Christmas shopping, so if you haven’t tracked down something for your collector you’re likely out of luck.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make up for being a little late — and that’s where Blowout Cards wants to come in.

The company that’s been busy this year launching crazy promotions, helping card-related causes and donating plenty of free prizes for collectors to keep the collecting community engaged and energized has more up its sleeve.

Blowout’s Thomas Fish said today that its end-of-the-year clearance sale will run from now until midnight Sunday (Dec. 27) with its in-stock items at blowoutcards.com as much as 50 percent off. All this, of course, comes on top of outrageous deals on cards often at already rock-bottom prices.

So, if you blew it for your collector by blowing one of the most meaningful deadlines in all of sports collecting, there’s still a chance to hit one out of the park.

Chicago Sun-Times sells its photo archive to notable collector

As newspapers continue their unstopping transition into the digital age, often times their relics get forgotten about.

Often times, their pieces of history, their memorabilia — photographs, old books, media guides, etc. — get discarded or lost or piecemealed through the years and their present-day collections are found in dark old rooms, basements, cubby-holes in corners of buildings as well as in digital formats.

However, the entire printed photo archive of the Chicago Sun-Times, a publication with its modern lineage dating back to 1948 but with ties to publications from much earlier, has been sold to a memorabilia collector and businessman.

His name? John Rogers, a 36-year-old Arkansas-based entrepreneur with a name some might recognize — he bought a high-grade copy of Honus Wagner‘s infamous T206 baseball card in 2008 for $1.62 million.

His company will sort, scan and archive the newspaper’s images and he will then own the prints and negatives, however not the copyrights in many cases.

Read more about the deal here.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Box Busters Gallery: 2009 Playoff Contenders

Although 2009 Playoff Contenders won’t officially be live until Jan. 6, we were lucky enough to get our hands on two early boxes today. We ripped through one for an episode of Box Busters. The other one we opened so we could provide you with an extended look.

Thanks to its melding of Rookie Cards with autographs way back in 1998, Contenders has earned a reputation over the last 12 years as one of the preeminent football brands released every season. And while this year’s version, delivering four autographs a box including many on-card, is sure to be as hotly pursued as the last 11, it’s got a lot more going for it than just autographed Rookie Cards.

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The Hobby Rumor Mill … Dec. 22, 2009

Here’s a little something that should get the card collectors abuzz as we head into the holidays … a little something we’ll throw out there from time to time called The Hobby Rumor Mill.

Are all of the items legit? Maybe not, but even the ones we think are true haven’t yet been confirmed or officially unveiled.

Until then, chew on these …

— Rumor has it … that Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler will have a certified autograph card in a 2010 product (but it will, of course, be fulfilled via a redemption).

— Rumor has it … that Topps will be bringing its National Chicle line — a historic football brand coming soon based on the 1935 set of the same name  — to baseball as well in 2010.

— Rumor has it … that more than one company will be getting patriotic with USA sets in 2010 and that Upper Deck is first out of the gates with its USA Baseball set in January.

— Rumor has it … that Pro Set is making a comeback. (Who owns that trademark, anyway?)

— Rumor has it … that there will be a Michael Jackson trading card set coming soon. (Bet that’ll be a thriller.)

We’ll bring you more from The Hobby Rumor Mill soon.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

Box Busters: 2009 Playoff Contenders football cards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vabOBud_AoYouTube Preview Image

Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler and Dan Hitt as they rip into the first box of 2009 Playoff Contenders football cards from Panini America in this super-fast and unedited hand-held edition of Box Busters. (Our normal cameraman is out for the  holidays, but Contenders just couldn’t wait.)

The image quality will improve once YouTube finishes processing the video.

What will they find inside the box? Watch and find out …

First Look: Sportkings Series D

Sportkings officials on Tuesday released preliminary information on the fourth installment of the living-set concept known as Sportkings.

Although the release date for Series D has yet to be finalized, the multisport product will go live in 2010 with several new checklist additions, including MMA legend Royce Gracie,  professional wrestling icon Argetina Rocca and superstars such as Duke Snider (baseball), Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor (Olympic beach volleyball), Scotty Nguyen (poker), Jim Craig (hockey), and Wilt Chamberlain and Bobby Knight (basketball).

For more information on the product, visit the Sportkings Website. For a sweet preview of some the new additions, click ahead.

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Topps lands exclusive memorabilia deal with Stephen Strasburg

Topps has signed an exclusive memorabilia deal with No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg.

The multi-year deal grants the longest-running manufacturer of baseball cards and the lone fully licensed maker of cards for Major League Baseball exclusive rights for autographs, game-used memorabilia cards as well as Strasburg’s image use on packaging and advertising.

In addition, Topps will also offer a line of autographed memorabilia.

It’s safe to say that landing Strasburg was likely not easy as other companies have tried to land the Washington Nationals pitcher, but instead have gone without him or made cards without using his name and image and included a small number of cut autographs in products.

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Box Busters: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they crack a box of 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects baseball cards for this episode of Box Busters.

They pull not one, but two autographs from the box… what are they? Watch and see.

How can you win a vintage-style leather baseball glove? Watch the video to find out.

National Hockey Card Day set for Jan. 30

Hockey card collectors should have it marked on their calendars right … about … now.

Set for Jan. 30, National Hockey Card Day is an event that will take place at Rexall Pharmacies, Toys R Us stores as well as a few other corporate locations and select hobby stores in Canada (A list will be found here.) Sorry U.S. residents, you will lose here — unless you cross the border. Canadian residents often lose out on giveaways and contests here in the states so now they have the upper hand.

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Not even all retail packs are made alike

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor

Some days, I wonder what the hobby would be like if all packs were made alike. You know, if there was no divide between hobby and retail.

Would improved odds in retail boxes — ideally, the same as hobby boxes — be the end of the world? Undoubtedly, some would scream “yes” — but others would emphatically say “no.” It really depends on what crowd you’re in — the manufacturers, the hobby dealers, the collectors.

Some might argue that such a move might help collectors buy more packs and boxes. I remember the days before the divide when dealers would often buy up the hot products at retail to re-stock their shelves — and obviously charge more for their packs in the process. But when one found “that box” at retail? It was worth buying … but times have changed in the hobby.

These days, the mark-up comes often — but there’s supposed to be a trade-off as hobby boxes often deliver more. (That is, if you can find a hobby shop.)

Sure, times have changed in many ways for the hobby but many times those retail shelves don’t — and that same stock of blaster boxes at your neighborhood Target or Walmart seems to be older than ever before. And that’s exactly where I recently noticed something that seemed a bit unusual.

Not even all retail packs — especially those for one new brand — are made alike.

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Danica Patrick's foray into NASCAR means plenty to Press Pass

How important is Danica Patrick‘s foray into stock-car racing for Press Pass, the lone trading card manufacturer for NASCAR?

It’s big — big enough she’ll be appearing on the boxes and wrappers of 2010 Element, the set that arrives with her first cards in January — well before she makes her ARCA debut in February at Daytona International Speedway and her NASCAR Nationwide Series debut on Feb. 20 at the at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

And it’s notable that a driver with little-to-no experience driving stock cars running a part-time schedule in one of NASCAR’s lower levels will be gracing the packaging of a product she just signed on to appear in little over a week ago.

But then again, Patrick isn’t the typical driver. Despite winning just one race in her five-year Indy Racing League career she won the IRL’s Most Popular Driver award four times.

And that isn’t lost on Press Pass.

“We ran into some approval issues with the original artwork [on the boxes] and had to go back to re-design,” said Nick Matijevich, Press Pass’ Director of Product Development. “So with the Danica deal now finalized, we decided to completely change direction. ”

There should be some added interest from non-racing fans as a woman competes with men in a professional sport — and NASCAR touts a fan base demographic that is at least 40 percent female. Throw in the buzz that will come with her arrival and it makes sense from Press Pass’ perspective.

“Once the Danica deal was finalized, it became evident that shifting to Danica made sense due to the release timing [as] Element releases at retail in late January; just before Daytona,” said Press Pass’ Tom Farrell. “The NASCAR buzz around Danica is big now and she’ll likely be the lead news story in Daytona, too.  We’re excited to bring collectors the first NASCAR cards of Danica and feel confident that we’ll create a wide variety of cards throughout 2010 that will deliver collectors both fun and value.”

However, Patrick is not a social pioneer as the first woman to drive in NASCAR — that was Sara Christian in 1949 — and 14 others have competed regularly in NASCAR events, including Janet Guthrie, Patty Moise, Shawna Robinson, Erin Crocker and Tina Gordon.

However, there’s no question that Patrick just might be the most recognizable one of the bunch from a marketing standpoint. And with the backing of one of the biggest names in NASCAR behind her in team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., she just might have the chance to be the most successful.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

See the creative design for the hobby box — something this writer doesn’t previously recall seeing for any racing product despite it being so simple and appropriate — after the jump … Read More »

Preview & Checklist: 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball cards

Panini America released the checklist for its forthcoming 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball card set on Thursday, a product-laden entry into baseball for the company.

While the checklist does not include No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg, the company did note one impressive signature will appear in the product after a signing was completed Thursday — though we’ll warn you,  he’s not a rookie.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.

The NL MVP is shown on a card as a junior in high school — a shortstop at Fort Osage High School in Independence, Mo. He signed 20 copies of his card.

While Strasburg is not included, several top picks are on the checklist — Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate and Matt Hobgood among others. Also among the notable first-time signers is Aroldis Chapman, a 22-year-old Cuban defector who is expected to sign with an MLB club soon. He is seen wearing his Holguin uniform played in the Cuban National Series last year.

And among the other noteworthy additions? Hot Boxes.

Read more and get a full product checklist after the jump.

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Is your New York Yankees collection in the black?

While many collectors often buy items that might make their back accounts — and, in turn, their collections — in the red, there’s a recent addition to the Yankee Stadium memorabilia lineup from Steiner Sports that’s all about being in the black.

What is it?

It’s a piece of “The Black” — the center field area behind the pitcher in the old stadium that allowed for hitters to be able to see the ball coming from the pitcher.  In many stadiums, a tarp will often block any seats that may be in that area, but not in New York.

Collectors — diehards who must have everything Yankees — can get a piece of The Black for $99.99 which comes in an engraved display case.

The chunks are MLB-authenticated, however Steiner does note that the size and shape of the game-used Black piece will vary.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

ITG Honors Hockey's War Heroes

Hockey historians will recall that some of the game’s best players went to war for their country, letting the sport pale in comparison to what was truly important.

To honor those men, In the Game is including a special Real Heroes non-memorabilia insert set in 2009-10 ITG Heroes and Prospects, which releases in late January.

“We felt it was important to take time to recognize some of the hockey players that sacrificed their own professional ambitions in order to fight for their country in World War I and World War II,” said Dr. Brian Price, ITG President. “The reaction from collectors to this set thus far has been overwhelmingly positive as most are able to relate to the significance of what these players did.”

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Upper Deck's Role in the 2010 NHL Winter Classic

This just in from Upper Deck’s Terry Melia:

The Upper Deck Company is pleased to announce that it will be sponsoring several elements of the fast-approaching 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which is set to take place on January 1, 2010, at Boston’s Fenway Park. The League’s annual outdoor game, now in its third year, will feature the host Boston Bruins taking on the Philadelphia Flyers in a battle of two of the league’s perennial contenders. As the NHL’s exclusive hockey card manufacturer, Upper Deck will have a major presence surrounding the event.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this annual event,” said Josh Zusman, Upper Deck’s hockey brand manager. “We’ve got some fun, interactive elements to share with hockey fans this time around as well as a personalized-card station where hockey buffs can get their pictures taken on a unique, event-branded Upper Deck trading card.”

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Brock Lesnar Signs for 2010 Topps UFC Uncaged

One sure sign that current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is feeling better following a prolonged illness? He’s been signing autographs for trading card manufacturers lately.

Last month he made quick work of fulfilling his on-card commitments for Press Pass’ Fusion multisport product. Today, Topps officials released images of Lesnar signing autographs for the upcoming 2010 UFC Uncaged product. They also took advantage of the in-person encounter to secure a pair of what appear to be fight-worn trunks no doubt heading to an in-demand Relic and Autographed Relic card near you.

It’s no secret that the UFC and its card collecting hobby need a healthy Lesnar in the mix. The fact that he’s in the signing mood is a good sign that he’ll back sooner than most people expected.

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