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Monthly Archives: March 2010

First Look: 2009-10 Absolute Memorabilia basketball cards

Panini America unveiled on Thursday one of its first high-end releases to arrive in its rookie season as the NBA’s sole licensee of basketball cards in 2009-10 Absolute Memorabilia, a familiar high-end brand for baseball and football fans through the years.

Set to arrive on May 19 packing four four-card packs per box and 18 boxes per case, Absolute will include two autographs and two memorabilia cards per box.

The suggested retail price is $40 a pack.

Boxes will also guarantee one parallel card, one Rookie Card one retired player card and one other card.

Each case is guaranteed to include one or more of the following items: A George Mikan memorabilia card, an NBA Logoman, an NBA Logoman signature or signature cards of Panini spokesman  Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings or Stephen Curry.

As with all Panini products, Bryant will only sign on-card autographs, while long-time fans of the brand will also find the familiar Tools of the Trade cards among several other inserts.

See more from Absolute Memorabilia after the jump.

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COMMENTARY: MLB Properties vs. Upper Deck — Examining the settlement

With the MLB Properties case against Upper Deck settled on Wednesday more than a month before an expected court date, Beckett Media will continue to examine several aspects of the complicated and wide-scoped case through a series of commentary pieces. We’ve examined MLBP’s complaint, Upper Deck’s argument, try to address some key questions and more

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor | COMMENTARY

Part 5 … Examining the settlement

While Major League Baseball Properties‘ ownership of its trademarks, trade dress and other property rights are unquestioned, Upper Deck‘s defense that it had prepared for the April 19 trial did seem compelling — perhaps even winnable if there were enough time for the legal process to completely work itself out — especially with it being such a high-profile matter with plenty of potential impact on licensing in professional sports.

Instead, we got a settlement on Wednesday evening.

It was a surprise to me — a surprise to many — as I had expected an entrenched company to put up a formidable fight given its stance and the reported financial importance of baseball in its product lines. But MLB Properties ultimately got what it wanted. It got its money owed, it got damages for the misuse of its property, it got an assurance that Upper Deck would not be digitally removing logos from uniform photos in future products (effectively dictating UD’s next move) and it ultimately got approval over any future products with a possible baseball tie.

In short, Upper Deck gave up nearly everything that it held to be vital in its defense of its infringing products, according to its own statements in its court documents.

Upper Deck, in its preliminary statement: “This is not a garden variety trademark infringement dispute. This case requires a deliberate and careful assessment of the scope of MLBP’s trademark rights in a context where those rights come into direct conflict with principles of free speech and competition and the legal doctrines that aim to protect them.”

If that’s too wordy or too big for you with a First Amendment claim, try this card-specific statement from  Upper Deck in its court filings:

“It is beyond dispute that the essential feature of any collectible baseball trading card is a picture that accurately depicts the player as a player … and not in his street clothes or at home with his kids. … If Upper Deck’s baseball trading cards featured photographs of professional baseball players in their street clothes, they would cease to be baseball cards altogether. … Simply put, there is no alternative way to make a marketable baseball card without depicting the players in their team uniforms.”

It’s remarkable that Upper Deck’s next — if not last — option for making baseball cards of players (if its deal with the MLB Players Association remains in play) is now ultimately what it dismissed as inferior.

If Upper Deck’s baseball trading cards featured photographs of professional baseball players in their street clothes, they would cease to be baseball cards altogether.

That’s quite a concession, isn’t it? A baseball card company agrees to not make what it believes to be the only way to make marketable baseball cards?  Why?

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Topps details its USA Baseball plans

Topps detailed its plans on Thursday for the USA Baseball cards to be included in 2010 Bowman – just a day after its licensing acquisition was publicly announced.

The forthcoming 2010 Bowman set will include the 2009 National Team and 2009 18U Team on a Bowman Chrome insert set. This will be the lone inclusion for the 2009 teams in Topps products as future releases will have future squads depicted.

The cards will be found one in every four packs and include the following parallels:

Refractor  — numbered to 750.

Blue Refractor — numbered to 250.

Gold Refractor — numbered to 50.

Orange Refractor — numbered to 25.

Red Refractor — numbered to 5. Hobby-only

Super-Fractor — numbered 1/1. Hobby-only

Printing Plates — numbered 1/1. Jumbo-only

Get the checklist after the jump.

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Upper Deck comments on MLB Properties settlement

Upper Deck issued the following statement on Wednesday evening after it settled its trademark infringement lawsuit with Major League Baseball Properties:

Today, the Upper Deck Company is pleased to announce that Upper Deck and Major League Baseball have mutually agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by Major League Baseball against Upper Deck. Per the terms of the settlement agreement, Upper Deck has agreed not to use MLB trademarks including team names and/or logos on its trading cards going forward. However, as part of the settlement, Upper Deck can and will continue to sell three recently released baseball products currently on store shelves: 2009 Signature Stars, 2009 Ultimate Collection and 2010 Upper Deck Series One.

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MLB Properties settles trademark lawsuit with Upper Deck

Major League Baseball Properties settled its trademark infringement lawsuit against Upper Deck on Wednesday.

MLBP released a statement detailing the non-confidential portions of the agreement on Wednesday evening.

“Our settlement in the case against Upper Deck is a clear and decisive victory for Major League Baseball,” said Ethan Orlinsky, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Major League Baseball Properties.  “Upper Deck will be unable to release baseball trading cards that incorporate Major League Baseball’s intellectual property in the future.  The real winners today are the millions of fans who collect baseball cards.  They will be able to clearly identify official Major League Baseball trading cards without any confusion.”

Here is a summary of the non-confidential portions of the settlement:

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Breaking news: Topps lands license for USA Baseball cards

Topps announced on Wednesday that it is now the official baseball card manufacturer for USA Baseball.

The deal is an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement that adds to a Topps portfolio already including exclusives for Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. As the official card of USA Baseball, Topps will have the lone rights to USA Baseball trademarks,logos and other intellectual property for use on cards of USA Baseball players.

The deal includes cards, autographs and game-used equipment from USA Baseball’s Collegiate, 18U and 16U National Team players to be featured in a variety of Topps products each year. The first Topps set to include USA Baseball players this year will be 2010 Bowman, which arrives in May.

“Twenty-five years after collectors were first introduced to USA Baseball, our organization is pleased to have Topps, the industry leader, return as the exclusive home for USA Baseball trading cards,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO.  “We look forward to working closely with Topps as together we provide collectors with a look at the future of America’s game on trading cards.”

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Is a Derek Jeter autograph really all that rare?

How rare is a Derek Jeter autograph?

That came to mind during a conversation I had with a few collectors on Twitter. And Beckett Baseball Senior Price Guide Analyst Brian Fleischer was able to answer it with a quick search of the Beckett Media database.

We can give a total stat for all 954 certified autographs with announced or serial-numbered press runs. Are you ready?

The autographed cards — his first coming in 1992 — have a combined print run of 48,183. (I own three of those, by the way … )

Throw in all those un-numbered autographs and it’s even higher.

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New Images Released: 2010 Upper Deck Legacy Collection Football

Upper Deck officials on Wednesday released several new images from its new 2010 Legacy Collection, a 300-card set that strives to honor the complete history of the NFL dating back to 1920.

To that end, the set, which releases in May, includes 300 cards (100 immortals, 100 current veterans and 100 rookies) and such cross-generational inserts as NFL Legacy, Foundations, Franchise Legacy, Past Meets Present and UD Wire Photos.

2010 Legacy Collection also marks the beginning of Upper Deck’s 100-card AFL/NFL Legacy cross-brand tribute celebrating the 40th anniversary of the AFL/NFL merger. The base insert cards will fall one in four packs, but there are also autograph and memorabilia versions.

Every pack of the product includes an insert card and each box should deliver four autograph or memorabilia cards with at least one numbered patch card.

See more new  images after the jump.

Stay tuned to Beckett.com for additional product information.

— Tracy Hackler

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Dick Vitale set to star in debut of first talking Fathead

Just when you thought you had heard it all from Dick Vitale, Fathead unleashes this.

The Livonia, Mich.-based company is set to unveil the world’s first talking vinyl wall graphics — and the mile-a-minute “Prime-Time Talker” from ESPN is the first subject.

Fathead is debuting new technology with the piece, which enables the image to “talk” with the use of a special pen. Vitale’s arsenal of phrases, like “It’s Awesome Baby,” “Diaper Dandy,” “PTP’er” and “Dipsy-doo, Dunk-a-roo” will be heard on his Fathead Jr., which will be arriving soon.

“We could not have chosen a better ambassador of collegiate basketball than Dickie V to launch and lead off our talking Fathead Line,” said Fathead CEO Patrick McInnis in a release. “We are honored and excited to be working with him again to provide these unique experiences and opportunities to both of our loyal and passionate fans.”

Fathead also is launching its “You’re A Winner Baby” Sweepstakes at Fathead.com, where fans can try to win Vitale-signed memorabilia, Fathead products and other prizes during March Madness.

Box Busters: 2010 Topps Opening Day baseball cards

Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they rip into a box of 2010 Topps Opening Day baseball cards in this episode of Box Busters.

What will they find? What infamous mascot injury will Hackler mock?

Watch and find out

Cop Out's collecting ties — or at least one baseball card's demise — might make some cry

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The latest Bruce Willis film Cop Out — a comedic ode to buddy cop flicks from the 1980s and 1990s — came in a close second at the box office during the weekend, grossing $18.2 million with a storyline that prominently involves a baseball card.

But before recapping precisely what that card is, it’s worth noting that I couldn’t help but notice the flaws in the hobby shop scene in an otherwise somewhat accurate film when it comes to its hobby ties. Overall, I’d give the Kevin Smith-directed comedy a B. (Because, as Tracy Hackler says, I’m a mark for Silent Bob. He’s right. I’d love to hear Smith’s take on Wayne Gretzky memorabilia for Beckett Hockey … or have Smith do a Q&A on sports and ViewAskew memorabilia. Or perhaps we could have him be a guest editor? But I digress… )

Perhaps it’s the anal-retentive collector in me … or perhaps it’s a longing for some realism in the R-rated film when it has a part of its story that hits close to home, the hobby, but I couldn’t help but notice a few things in the card shop scene that felt off. Maybe it was the comic book racks or the stat plaques on the wall that most serious collectors would eschew — and I swear I saw a Starting Lineup figure — but it was a few things I saw that are shown here in a Warner Brothers publicity still that reinforces my gut feeling from the theater.

What are they? The box of 1989 Topps baseball stickers on the counter. The 1990 Fleer cards in cases atop the display case along with a 1992 Donruss, a 1989 Topps and a 1984 Topps card as well. (Don’t believe it? Click on the close-up image after the jump.)

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Breaking News: Tim Tebow Signs Exclusive Agreement with Press Pass

By TRACY HACKLER | BECKETT MEDIA EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

On the heels of a resoundingly impressive performance over the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine, Tim Tebow was still making headlines Tuesday morning. That’s when Press Pass revealed to Beckett Media that it has reached an exclusive autograph and trading card agreement with the former Heisman Trophy winner and Florida Gators national champion.

The deal means that Tebow, arguably the most coveted player in what promises to be one of the most collected rookie crops of all time, will appear only in Press Pass’ “draft picks” products, 2010 Press Pass and 2010 Press Pass Portrait Edition, but not in SA*GE’s, Press Pass’ primary draft-picks competitor.

“We’re thrilled to bring collectors the first autograph cards of Tim Tebow, who many consider to be the best college player of all time,” says Nick Matijevich, Press Pass’ Director of Product Development. “Tim’s great attitude, unprecedented popularity and long list of collegiate accomplishments are certain to make him a collector favorite in addition to a fan favorite.”

The announcement comes just days after Tebow wowed NFL scouts with his speed, mobility and leaping ability in Indianapolis. While he didn’t throw at the combine as he continues to tweak his throwing motion, he impressed NFL talent evaluators with a QB-record-tying 38 1/2 –inch vertical leap, a 40-yard dash time of 4.72 seconds, a 9-foot, 7-inch broad jump, and a 6.66-second three-cone drill, which placed him fourth among all skill-position players who worked.

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Preview Gallery: 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Entomology cards

Upper Deck has continued to release images of its forthcoming Goodwin Champions Entomology Cards, which will be bugging many a collector when the redemptions begin shipping soon.

You can see some more images that UD released on Monday after the jump — if you can handle them.

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Topps reveals 2010 Heritage Baseball short-prints & variations

Topps detailed the oddities that can be found in its 2010 Heritage Baseball set on Monday, announcing the following…

— The Short-printed Base cards are Nos. 426-500 and can be found 1:3 packs.

— The 45-card 1961 HR Chase Insert is broken into three portions — with the 15-card Babe Ruth set only found in Hobby packs, while the Roger Maris cards will only be found in Walmart packs and the Mickey Mantles will only be found in Target packs. The Relic parallels for those cards are numbered to the player’s jersey number only three cards for Ruth, nine for Maris and seven for Mantle. Topps also announced that there are short-printed base cards of the trio — Ruth (card No. 60), Maris ( No. 61) and Mantle (No. 56).

— The following players have dice-game back variations: Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Grady Sizemore, Justin Upton, Adam Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Matt Kemp, Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Lincecum, Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, Derek Jeter, Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones.

Color Variations: There are 10 short-printed cards with color variations.  The changes appear on the player and team nameplates at the bottom of the card.

Albert Pujols                Black-Black

Joe Mauer                    Black-Black

CC Sabathia                 Green-Yellow

Derek Jeter                  Red-Yellow

Grady Sizemore           Green-Red

J.A. Happ                    Orange-Blue

Zack Greinke               Yellow-Blue

Ryan Braun                 Blue-Orange

David Wright               Green-Yellow

Pablo Sandoval            Yellow-Green

— And finally, all of Juan Marichal’s Real One autographs were signed in red ink and none are numbered.

First Look Gallery: 2010 Panini Prestige Football

Panini Prestige, formerly Playoff Prestige and annually the first football product on the market with updated draft information, is set to release May 13 packing its usually solid array of impact, including four autograph or memorabilia cards and 24 Rookie Cards per box.

Get an early look at several sweet images from the product after the jump.

In addition, each box should yield three Extra Points parallels and 12 other inserts. Each case of the product promises at least one autographed card from a list of candidates that includes Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Jimmy Clausen, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, C.J. Spiller, Dez Bryant, Jahvid Best and Jonathan Dwyer.

For more information on the product, visit Beckett.com

— Tracy Hackler

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Official Super Bowl portrait lets Saints fans relive moment

The Super Bowl has come and gone — but New Orleans Saints fans still can’t seem to get enough of their championship team’s memorabilia.

Here’s a piece that’s a little different than the typical sports cards, tribute magazines or autographed memorabilia that’s been hot for the last month or so since the Saints took out the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17.

It’s the official Super Bowl XLIV portrait by Tony Capparelli.

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