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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Corey Haim's career also reflected on cardboard

Though some collectors might argue with the point, one of the good things about the trading card explosion of the last 20 years is that sports card sets aren’t the exclusive domain of just athletes any longer.

Actor Corey Haim, who was found dead on Wednesday at age 38, appeared in a pair of Upper Deck sports card sets  last year as a tribute to his role in “Lucas” — a film where he played an unlikely football player.

Now that fans of some 1980s teen movies (and more) look back at a career that also included “The Lost Boys” and “License to Drive” they might be looking for a piece of memorabilia. Why? Just because. It happens all of the time.

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Upper Deck Cancels 2010 Draft Edition Football

Citing time constraints and an inability to execute the product the way it wanted to, Upper Deck officials on Wednesday confirmed that the company will not produce 2010 Draft Edition Football, an NFL Draft-centered product originally slated to release next month.

“One of the key drivers for this product is Upper Deck’s ability to deliver the set before the NFL Draft occurs in April and when it became clear that our production schedule would not allow for that to happen this time around, we had no choice but to remove it from the packout calendar,” the company said in a statement released to Beckett Media.

“Another issue was that to hit this time line, we were going to have to use label autographs on this product like many early collegiate football products feature. We were very apprehensive about going that route since this product had a history of hard-signed cards.”

Upper Deck’s first 2010 NFL product will now be Legacy Collection, due out May 16.

– Tracy Hackler

Calling all supercollectors … Beckett Baseball wants you!

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor

It’s been awhile since we last dedicated an issue of Beckett Baseball to the player collector — in fact it was April 2007 — but we’re confident that there are supercollectors out there who haven’t been found.

Why? Because we keep hearing about you guys in the pages of Beckett Sports Card Monthly where we profile supercollectors each and every month.

But the collections we want to showcase in a future Beckett Baseball issue — or perhaps issues — (later this summer) are a bit different. You see, the bar was set pretty high last time around. For example, the Ichiro Suzuki supercollector from that issue owned more than 4,100 cards valued at more than $97,000 at the time. Bruce’s goal? “To have an Ichiro collection like no other.”

It was that then as it probably is now — and we’ll check in with some of those past supercollectors to see how things look in 2010.

But it’s not about the money as we search for the latest batch of baseball supercollectors for Beckett Baseball in 2010. We want to see the most outrageous collections — perhaps it’s your stash of some prospect gone awry that you still keep up with for some odd reason or perhaps it’s your stash of 47 of 50 Gold Refractors of “Player X.” Or perhaps it’s your collection of 97.3 percent of all Brook Jacoby cards that exist … we want to know about it.

I’ve always had rules about my collecting habits and my very different collections for two players — a pair of former Oakland A’s outfielders who wore No. 33, Jose Canseco and Nick Swisher — reflect that. They also reflect how my rules of collecting have changed over time as well.

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Box Busters: 2009-10 Panini Studio Basketball

Join the ballyhooed Beckett Basketball team of Keith Hower and an allergy-riddled Tracy Hackler as they ravage a box of 2009-10 Panini Studio Basketball.

The good news for viewers? The one box they didn’t ravage that will be given away to one lucky collector.

Watch now for all the fun . . .

Topps readies Cabinet Relics for 2010 Allen & Ginter

Just when you think that you’ve seen it all in Topps‘ popular Allen & Ginter baseball card set comes this.

That’s am oversized Cabinet Relic card featuring the nameplate off of one of Tony Hawk‘s event-used skateboards.

What else will collectors find? Topps is promising the same approach with baseball Cabinet Relics that will include the whole nameplates from game-used jerseys or complete uniform numbers. (That could be quite interesting, there… )

Topps’ fifth-annual release in its tribute to the multi-sport tobacco cards of the 1880s of the same name will also include booklet cards this year, which will pair autographs and memorabilia pieces for more than one player into one collectible volume.

Also back will be some prehistoric Relics, this time the Monsters of the Mesozoic, which will be limited to 10 copies apiece.

What else does Topps have in store? Find out with a product breakdown after the jump …

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Diamond Kings take to the basketball court in June

The famed line of Diamond Kings paintings cards, which Donruss debuted in 1982 have had a rich and memorable place in the hobby but they’ve never hit the basketball court.

Until now.

Panini America unveiled on Monday plans for 2009-10 Court Kings, a high-end art-driven basketball set that will arrive on June 2 packing 11 cards per pack and a $100-per pack suggested retail price.

Each pack will include four autograph or memorabilia cards (a minimum of one autograph), three base cards  (all limited to 325) one bronze parallel, one 5×7 Box Topper and three other cards.

Among the highlights for this one? Redemptions for one of 120 16×20 lithographs signed by Panini spokesman Kobe Bryant.

See more after the jump.

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TRISTAR reaps the rewards of new Monday-night "wrestling wars"

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling makes a permanent move to Monday nights with its live broadcast of iMPACT! tonight on Spike TV — and what does that new influx of talent mean to wrestling card collectors?

Some big names will be in the next TRISTAR wrestling card set, which the Houston-based TNA licensee announced on Monday.

The TNA 2010: The New Era will arrive in April packing memorabilia cards and autographs from Hulk Hogan as well as cards of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (a tough autograph), who also made his TNA debut on Jan. 4. Also included in the product will be the first TNA cards of Jeff Hardy, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jimmy Hart, Mr. Anderson, D’Angelo Dinero, Desmond Wolfe and others.

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Dallas Collector Wins a Day with the Cowboys' Patrick Crayton

Fourteen-year-old Dallas collector Ryan Wolfson turned one lucky pack of NFL trading cards into a fantastic grand prize.  Wolfson and his friends and family will spend a day with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton on March 20.

Wolfson is one of the more than 200,000 NFL card collectors who participated in the 2009 NFL Player of the Day contest, which was conducted at more than 600 hobby shops nationwide.  He is among the thousands who earned prizes, but as the grand prize winner, the 14-year-old Cowboys fan will be the only one with the chance to spend a day with an NFL player.

The day will begin when Crayton attends a private party for Wolfson’s friends and family.  After the party, the family will take a limousine with the Cowboys’ star to their favorite hobby shop, Nick’s Sports Cards.  There, the community will join Ryan as winners when Crayton spends an hour signing free autographs and posing for photos.

At least 200 fans will collect a free autograph from Crayton at the event.  Collectors can “reserve” a spot at the front of the line in advance by visiting Nick’s Sports Cards before March 19.  All other autographs will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis.

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Guest commentary: Spotlighting 1980 Topps baseball cards

By Chris Kunkel

Each of us has a trigger that trips a memory or perhaps a measuring point. I knew I was old when all of a sudden I was older than all of the ballplayers.  Around 1980, I became a vintage fan.

That’s why, during a recent visit to the card shop to buy a 1956 Hank Aaron, when  I came across a beautifully bound near-mint 1980 Topps set, my vintage baseball pheromones were triggered.  I purchased it immediately for $120 without even dickering with the owner.

Driving home, I remembered why I collect vintage cards.  Vintage evokes deep memories.  The memories need only be recalled, not re-lived.

I began to remember the 1980 sports scene — the Summer and Winter  Olympics. We boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics because the Russians invaded Afghanistan.  We took glory in the Winter Olympics with hockey’s “Miracle on Ice.”  The Phillies and Mike Schmidt out-manned the Royals in the World Series.

I couldn’t wait to get home ad see what that 1980 Topps set would have to offer.

The aesthetics of the set can only compared to the models of the era. The modest photography doesn’t capture the details of the uniforms or equipment.  Likewise, the graphics are constrained by the use of team colors;  some color choices are horrible.  But, put those two characteristics together and add consistently stellar stats and facts, and you’ve got a fine vintage card.

Browsing through the set reveals characters and brilliant players.  And the hair.  And polyester unis.  Yeah, these oddities solidify this set as vintage.  A clean-shaven Bruce Sutter. A  tired looking Ted Sizemore winding down his career in a Boston uniform.  Lou Pinella looks fit.  Bill Buckner looks happy.

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Guest Commentary: Steven Judd Examines the Buy/Sell Psyche

Steven Judd is a lifelong, often-outspoken collector who has worked as a Price Guide Analyst for Beckett Media and in the product development arena for Donruss, Topps and Upper Deck. Read his occasional random ramblings here at The Beckett Blog and on Beckett.com.

By Steven Judd

Regardless of what you think you might know about me (and depending on how long you’ve been in the industry, that might be a lot or a little), what you might not know is that buying and selling sports cards has always been my true passion in the hobby.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the years I spent working on the corporate side of the business. I always loved the process of building card products and I miss not being involved in it.

However, nothing gets my hobby juices going like buy/sell action. Nothing. For me, it’s the ultimate form of entertainment and, at certain times in my life, has been my only means of self preservation. When all else fails, I always end up going back to selling cards.

I put myself through college selling cards. I sold full-time on eBay for a couple of years after I left Beckett in 1999. I started Syndicate Sports Cards, a Beckett Marketplace storefront, in 2006 after leaving Donruss Playoff.  (I sold my half of the company in 2007 before going to Upper Deck.)

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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