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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Preview Gallery: 2009-10 National Treasures Basketball

Panini America‘s first National Treasures basketball set is ready to arrive in just under a month and the high-end product is chock-full of autographs and autographed patch cards.

Treasures will include eight cards in each $400 pack when it arrives on Aug. 4 with each box including six autographs and memorabilia cards along with just one base card numbered to 99.

Get a look at some of what’s in store after the jump.

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What's up for grabs at The National Sports Collectors Convention?

Topps has unveiled its limited edition cards for the National Sports Collectors Convention, which will take place about a month from now in Baltimore, Md.

For the last few years, the longest-running manufacturer of baseball cards — and the lone MLB licensee — did not have a presence at the show, but this year the company will be there.

And, the first portion of that presence is being in the $119 VIP goody bag.

Topps will produce a five -card set for the show in the style of 1960 Topps — two Mickey Mantle cards (only one version per bag), a Nolan Ryan, a Yogi Berra and a Cal Ripken Jr.

While there will undoubtedly be more promotions, wrapper redemptions and other specially made cards for the event, here’s a rundown (and a gallery of images) of the other VIP freebies and other show-exclusive cards after the jump.

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How much of LeBron's polished legacy is now gone?

By CHRIS OLDS | COMMENTARY

We all know how “The Decision” played out on Thursday night from Greenwich, Conn.

But have we really thought about how “The Decision” has played out on our sports cards and memorabilia?

While some (rightfully so) believe it will spark a frenzy of interest in LeBron James‘ future sports cards and memorabilia, I couldn’t help but wonder if the backlash of “The Decision” will counter that.

And it didn’t take long for me to see an example of that Friday morning when I turned on my Twitter account and saw that one of my newspaper Tweeps had passed along a link to today’s cover of The Plain Dealer, the Cleveland newspaper.

There’s no need for the childish burning of jerseys — the damage is already done. Cleveland’s icon is gone — perhaps as is many a fan’s interest in James (and the Cavs) in that area. But the simple pair of headlines — “Gone.” and a smaller, more subtle shot, “7 years, $62 million, no rings.” — makes you wonder if more is, indeed, gone from the aura that was King James.

If he wins with his new crafted “Dream Team,” then the backlash won’t last long — it would probably only linger in The Heartland.

But if he doesn’t? It might not be fixable.

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Panini America Giving Epix Its Own Football Card Set

Mention the word “Epix” to veteran collectors of baseball, football, hockey and racing cards and you’re as likely to get a look of fond remembrance as you are a glare of genuine angst. Indeed, the polarizing insert program boasts a mildly perplexing, multi-statistical, many-hued history with origins dating back to 1997.

What it’s never had is a full-blown brand of its own. Until now.

On Thursday evening, Panini America confirmed that it will launch 2010 Epix Football as a 235-card, heavily paralleled stand-alone product in late September, conceivably as a replacement for Gridiron Gear.

The Epix idea first burst onto the scene during the 1990s insert boom as a Pinnacle Brands‘ brainchild. Collectors across multiple sports quickly became dogged pursuers of the insert, lured by both the flashy, colorful design of the cards themselves as well as the accomplishment-based, player-specific concept of the chase.

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Topps will release Strasburg redemption card at All-Star Fanfest

Do you have all of Stephen Strasburg‘s baseball cards yet?

Topps will have a wrapper redemption program beginning at the All-Star Fanfest on Friday in Anaheim, Calif. — and the star rookie was a last-minute addition to the program’s lineup, according to Jim Tripodi, a Pennsylvania-based dealer.

Topps has not formally announced the card.

Collectors who open three packs of Topps cards at the booth can get the Strasburg as well as cards of Kendry Morales, Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter, Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan.

There will be just 300 of each card given out during each day of the five-day event.

To download and view a list of the autograph guests for the event, click the link below.

2010_Legends_Appearances

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

First Look: 2010-11 Certified Hockey

With a long-untapped arsenal of fan-favorite brands to pull from, the subject of what product should lead became a hot-button topic inside Panini America’s walls the second the company announced in late March that it was entering the hockey card business.

Traditional wisdom swayed things early toward the venerable Score brand. Ultimately, though, the power of a positive first impression won out.

“We went into this with our own ideas of what the first launch would be and what brand we wanted to reintroduce to the market first,” says Scott Prusha, Panini America’s Director of Marketing. “But we listened intently to distributors and other key partners within the hobby and the message was clear: ‘Come out with a bang. Come out hitting. Come out really making a bold statement.’

“That’s why we settled on Certified.”

In late September, Panini America makes its long-awaited debut in the NHL trading card market by delivering 2010-11 Certified Hockey, the first Certified brand since 1997-98.

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Preview Gallery: 2010 Topps Sterling

Topps released the following preview images for its forthcoming 2010 Topps Sterling baseball card set.

We’ll have more on the product when it’s available, but until then check out the images after the jump …

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(UPDATED) First Look: 2010-11 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

Our initial First Look: posting for 2010-11 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey earlier today included retail-only insertion ratios for the product’s popular UD Game Jersey insert cards. In hobby, UD Game Jersey cards will fall two per hobby box. Our apologies for the confusion.
— Tracy Hackler

Beckett Media got an early glimpse this week at 2010-11 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey, the 20th anniversary edition of the company’s history-making base brand that will arrive in November delivering six Young Guns Rookie Cards, six 20th Anniversary base-set variations and two UD Game Jersey cards in every 24-pack box hobby box.

See more images after the jump and stay tuned to Beckett.com for additional details on this product.

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Market Analyst: LeBron James to Miami 'Would Set Off a Frenzy'

Basketball collectors just thought LeBron James was hot before.

According to Beckett NBA Senior Market Analyst Keith Hower, they haven’t seen anything like the scorching he’s about to set off on South Beach if indeed the reportedly Heat-seeking wunderkind with the $12,000 Rookie Card chooses to sign with Miami.

In addition to painfully concluding one of the most overwrought, drama-filled, Twitterific free agent signings in sports history, James’ expected announcement tonight that he’s joining the Heat will also send NBA cardmaker Panini America hustling to produce the first cards of James with his new team.

When those hit the market in a matter of months, Hower insists they’ll be instant must-haves.

“LeBron going to the newly dubbed ‘Heat Superteam’ will help the card values of every player on that team, especially those of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and, of course, James,” Hower says. “The first Heat cards of LeBron will set off a frenzy on the entire team.”

And in the event that James shocks the world tonight live on ESPN and chooses a team other than the Heat . . .

“If LeBron doesn’t go to Miami, the best places for him to end up hobby-wise are New York and Chicago,” Hower says. “Both teams are rich in hoops history and their legacies will feed LeBron’s newfound popularity. Cleveland is not the ideal market for an NBA superstar.”

Breaking News: McDonald’s Canada Parts Ways with Upper Deck, Hockey Promos

By Jon Waldman for Beckett Media

One of the longest-running and most popular food premium card series in hockey card history has come to a close, as McDonald’s and Upper Deck will not be teaming to produce a series for the 2010-11 season.

In an email, Upper Deck’s Chris Carlin attributed the cancellation of the series to cutbacks on McDonald’s side, while remaining hopeful that the partnership would resume in the future.

“I think like most companies they are making cuts to programs in an effort to operate a bit more efficiently,” he said. “We are hopeful it is a program they will bring back again in the future as there seems to be a lot of support for the program.”

Louis Payette, National Media Relations Manager for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, confirmed that the promotion would not continue this year, with Upper Deck or any other trading card manufacturer.

“Based on its past success which spanned nearly two decades, this was indeed a difficult decision,” he said.

Payette further noted that non-card promotions, such as the mini jersey and mini stick offerings, would also cease while the fast food chain changes its promotional targets.

“At this point in time, premium programs [including non-card memorabilia] are not part of our strategic focus,” he said.

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Upper Deck Releases 2009-10 Ultimate Collection Hockey

This just in from the folks at Upper Deck:

“The 2009-10 NHL season may be over with the Stanley Cup now residing in the Windy City, home of the victorious Blackhawks, but Upper Deck continues to quench the thirst of rabid hockey collectors everywhere with its new trading card releases. And this week, the company releases its much-anticipated 2009-10 Ultimate Collection Hockey product. This sought-after set features the most collectible rookies in the league and guarantees at least one rookie card, one autographed card and one memorabilia card in every pack.

” ‘This is one eye-popping release,’ said Josh Zusman, Upper Deck’s hockey brand manager. ‘We just experienced one of the most-watched NHL playoffs ever with some of the best hockey battles in recent years. This set captures many of the thrills from this season, as well as salutes some of hockey’s all-time greatest players. This is a must-have product for any serious hockey collector.’

“The insert lineup kicks off with rookie memorabilia cards including oversized Ultimate Debut Threads Jerseys, numbered to 200, featuring Tavares, Gustavsson and van Riemsdyk; Ultimate Debut Threads Patches, numbered to 35, showcasing the aforementioned trio along with other up-and-comers like Colin Wilson and Logan Couture; and Autographed Ultimate Rookies cards, numbered to 299, from many of the year’s best freshmen. The search for rookies includes Signed Ultimate Debut Threads Jerseys, numbered to 50, as well as Ultimate Autographed Rookies Patch Variations, numbered to 25.

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New Beckett President Addresses Website Performance Issues, Future Plans

Dear Beckett User,

Please allow me to introduce myself – I am Brian Gulledge, the new President of Beckett Media LLC. I have recently joined the company with a primary focus of correcting, improving and growing our online presence.

Over the last few weeks, several customer emails and phone calls have been forwarded to me regarding our current website and some of the quality issues we experience. Rather than playing the politically correct game to explain what we are doing to improve the situation, or giving the standard “Thank you, we are working on it,” I feel that being frank and upfront with you, the Beckett community, is much more appropriate.

For the most part, the site is poorly architected without the code and technical infrastructure to handle the scale of users that want to access our data. Part of this is a good problem to have, as the data is of great value to collectors, dealers and traders, and more and more customers have joined over the last few months. From the feedback you have given us, our data is top notch and second to none. It is the access to and speed of acquiring that data that accentuates many of the experienced issues. This frustrates all of us.

Not to bore you with too many details, but the current data set is massive (226 million products and billions of lines of content), and with the existing programming architecture and structure, the current website is not something we can easily correct for stability or scale.

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Hey everybody… Tonight is Rojo Johnson Bobblehead Night!

The Round Rock Express can’t get enough of their one-pitch wonder.

Tonight, the first 2,500 fans who enter the gates for the Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate’s game against the Memphis Redbirds get a free bobblehead doll of the pitcher who made quite an impact earlier this year, Rojo Johnson.

Also known as Will Ferrell, Johnson also now appears on at least two fully authorized minor league baseball cards and he will have certified autographs coming  later this year for charity.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Strasburg SuperFractor buyer: “Negativity has driven me out”

See two previous interviews with Robert J. Power here (the card’s sale) and here (discussing why he sold).

By Chris Olds | COMMENTARY

Stephen Strasburg probably never intended to be a polarizing figure in sports. By nearly all accounts, he’s a confident, quiet superstar in the making – and the results of his first five big-league games reinforce that.

Although the 21-year-old Washington Nationals pitcher sports just a 2-2 record, he’s got a 2.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts in his first 30 or so innings of work – good for second place in the history books for the start of an MLB career. By all accounts, this is Major League Baseball’s dream story – a highly successful college power pitcher arrives in a big-market baseball town that’s had little success on the field and becomes the talk of a nation; a “national treasure” as Sports Illustrated screamed from its cover.

But among the collecting community, where many have watched thousands of dollars in Strasburg cards sold – and even more money spent on boxes and packs of 2010 Bowman baseball cards — where Strasburg made his big-league cardboard debut — the story of the year resonates quite differently, particularly online.

Strasburg’s cards have generated resentment, hatred and vast conspiracy theories.

As well as harassment.

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EXCLUSIVE: Accountant says harassment, negativity prompted sale of Strasburg SuperFractor

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Robert J. Power discusses his decision to sell the Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor with Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds Tuesday afternoon in Dallas after he completed the transaction.

See the previous video about the sale by clicking here.

Click here for Chris Olds’ commentary on the Strasburg card.

EXCLUSIVE: Second sale of Strasburg SuperFractor takes twist

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Accountant Robert J. Power’s sale of the Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor took a twist after his $25,000 eBay auction went bad.

His whirlwind month since buying the card for $16,403 led him to Dallas on Tuesday afternoon where he discussed the sale in person with Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds.

Who purchased the card? Why? Watch the video.

Why did Power choose to sell the card — one that he called a “dream card” less than a month ago?

Click here for Part 2 of our interview.

Click here for Chris Olds’ commentary on the Strasburg card.

A Card Set Fit for The King

Press Pass officials on Tuesday released preliminary information and images on Elvis Milestones, the company’s fifth stand-alone trading card product devoted to the King of Rock and Roll. The product arrives next month delivering one autograph or memorabilia card per box and a unique “history-through-cards” MO that should work well in a medium seemingly tailor-made for such chronological remembrance.

“It’s nearly impossible to capture the life of such an important cultural icon in just one trading card set, but Milestones comes pretty close” says Tom Farrell, Press Pass’ Vice President of Brand Management. “The cards will read like a timeline of Elvis’ life, telling the story of a man who accomplished so much during such a short lifetime.”

In honor of The King’s 75th birthday, the 75-card base set strives to honor 75 of the most significant moments in Elvis’ life while the insert lineup will get fans as close to Elvis as they’ve ever been. The King’s Things memorabilia cards include such Elvis-worn memorabilia as swim trunks, jackets, shorts and pajamas. There’s also a brilliantly-named King Size Swatches parallel limited to just 25.

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Can't-Miss Gems from the 2010 NHL Draft

By Russ Cohen

The NHL Draft delivers a few surprises each year that provide collectors with some terrific new players to collect. Tyler Myers was one such player when he was drafted in 2008.

Although Myers won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2009-10, there was some question at the beginning of the year whether or not he would even make the Buffalo Sabres’ roster when his junior career ended.

This year’s crop is interesting in its own right, too. It’s widely acknowledged that Edmonton’s Taylor Hall is a virtual lock to play in the NHL immediately, thereby getting a Rookie Card in one of the early releases this season. After Hall, it’s hard to say who can make it . . . but I have a few choices . . .

Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers: This defenseman has long arms, huge wrists and an NHL physique already. He’s still growing and right now he’s just shy of 6-4, 200 pounds. He’s a big hitter who skates well and has a shot already clocked in the upper 80-mph neighborhood. Clearly, he has a lot of upside. Collectors will love his style of play.

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Topps Football Sketch Card Contest Winner Announced

Beckett Blog visitor Josh Manning correctly identified three of the six Topps Football Sketch Card artists from the June Beckett.com contest and will win a box of 2010 Topps Football when it comes out next month.

Fourteen other entrants identified two of the six artists correctly. Thanks to everyone who entered. Oh, and we reveal the identity of the first six artists below.

For those who missed out on this contest, you’re still in luck. Stay tuned for the August issue of Beckett Football, on sale next week. We’re running a second contest with the 20 remaining Sketch Card images. Topps gave us two boxes as prizes for that bad boy.

Good luck.

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What does the future hold for the Bryce Harper SuperFractor?

The Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor from 2010 Bowman seems to be getting all of the attention these days — and rightly so when it has generated sales of $16,400 and $25,000 — but there’s one other SuperFractor in the product that could give it a run for its prospecting money.

That’s the Bryce Harper card.

While Strasburg is the talk of the town in Washington, D.C., the 17-year-old Harper is the player who might be doing the same in a year or two.

And his SuperFractor was found by Ernest Clinton, a long-time collector from Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

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First Look: 2010 Topps Pro Debut Series 2 Minor League Baseball Cards

Topps released the first look at the second series of its Pro Debut cards for Minor League Baseball on Friday afternoon.

The hobby-only product that will arrive in late September packing two autographs and one memorabilia card per 24-pack  box as well as eight parallels.

The base set will consist of 220 cards with the same parallels — Red, Gold and Blue as well as printing plates — while there will be 15 prospect autographs and 20 Debut Cuts (players TBD).

The base set also will mark the debut for several 2010 draft picks who will have their first cards as pros in this set. (The preliminary checklist includes more than 60 players TBD.)

The autographs will have Red, Gold and Blue parallels as well as printing plates, too. Among the signers on the preliminary checklist are Jesus Montero, Slade Heathcott, Brett Jackson and Christian Friedrich.

The Relic selection is deep as there will be 50 All-Star Futures Game jersey cards — with parallels — along with book patches, flag patches and red-bordered patch cards. Among the players on the Relic checklist are Tanner Scheppers, Tony Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Eric Hosmer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mike Moustakas, Grant Green, Domonic Brown, Desmond Jennings, Mike Trout, Yonder Alonso and many others.

Insert cards will include Future Foundations (25 players) and Baseball America‘s Tools of the Trade, a 50-card set.

See images after the jump.

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2010 Topps Football Boxed Set Due in October

For countless collectors across the country, Topps‘ timeless complete-set-in-a-box concept is as much a part of their annual routine as paying taxes. It’s a one-stop shop for the clutter-averse collecting minimalist who wants to commemorate the entire season in one nice, neat package.

Topps boxed sets afford that opportunity. On Friday, the company began soliciting its 2010 Topps Football Complete Set, the newest installment of the venerable boxed base brand that features 440 cards (including 110 rookies, 27 All-Pros, 32 Team cards, four Classic Matchup cards, two 2009 Rookie of the Year cards, one Super Bowl Champion card, one League MVP card and one 2010 NFL Players Rookie Premiere Team Photo card).

Also included are five Rookie Card variations exclusive to the boxed set — Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jahvid Best, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy.

Sets are due to arrive in early October.

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First Look: Topps WWE Slam Attax Mayhem

Topps unveiled the latest in its line of Attax trading card games on Friday in WWE Slam Attax Mayhem.

The new offering will arrive in late September with a 24 packs per box or starter decks that include 18 cards, one Power card, one Finishing Move or Champions card and a bonus card.

The set appears to be similar to the last Attax offering in its lineup — cards from Raw and Smackdown along with NXT wrestlers as well. (But no Daniel Bryan for the conspiracy theorists.)

Also back are Legends, Tag Teams, Championship Belts, Match and Prop cards along with a few other subsets.

But there’s also a new twist — General Manager cards — that “change how the game is played.”

See more images after the jump.

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First Look: 2010 Panini Threads Football

Panini America officials recently revealed preliminary product information and images for 2010 Threads Football, the fifth-anniversary installment of the product that will mark the company’s sixth release of the season when it arrives in early September (on the heels of Prestige, Elite, Score, Classics and Rookies & Stars).

See more images after the jump.

2010 Threads (eight cards per pack, 24 packs per box) will carry a $4 pack SRP and will deliver four memorabilia/autograph cards per box (at least one autograph per box is guaranteed from a potential roster that includes Rookie Class Nameplates and Rookie Signature Combos, Triples and Quads).

In addition, each box should yield six Rookie Cards, four parallels and 10 additional inserts.

Stay tuned to Beckett.com for additional information on this product.

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Box Busters: 2009-10 Panini Court Kings basketball cards

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Beckett Media’s Keith Hower and Tracy Hackler rip into a pair of the new 2009-10 Court Kings boxes from Panini America in this episode of Box Busters.

What will they find? Watch and find out …