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 (Toll Free)

We’re headed back to the 1980s … we want to hear what YOU think

By Chris Olds | Editor

In an upcoming issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly, we’re going to explore the cardboard of the 1980s — you know, the decade that brought us the start of much of what we see today in the hobby.

We want to know what collectors think of the 1980s when it comes to cardboard — for all sports — so, if you would, please reply to the questions below in a comment. A selection of the best and most interesting answers just might appear in the issue … please include your name and location with your comment.

1.  When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

3.  Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

4.  Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

5.  It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

6.  Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

51 Comments

Andrew Meeusen, Mesa, AZ

1. I started collecting cards as a kid in the 1990s (I was born in 1985), so many of the cards I have from my childhood are the ones I got from the late ’80s. Considering I was only 5 or 6, I collected primarily my favorite players of the time, but not really just one set or card.

2. When I think 1980’s cards, the biggest one that comes to mind is obviously the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

3. I miss the affordability of cards from back in the 1980’s. Now, you can’t buy a pack of ultra low-end retail cards for less than $3.00, and from a hobby shop you’re looking to pay about $5.00 a pack. I love my local card shop, but I wish the card companies would cater to people that enjoy the cards themselves and not just the amount of jersey/autographed cards per box.

4. Compared to the 1980’s, I enjoy the more modern stuff more than 1980’s fare. I especially enjoy the fact that we now use better-quality photographs on cards and many products have eye-catching designs which are crisp and clean. No offense to the psychadelic color vomit of yesteryear, of course.

5. I think we certainly learned the problems associated with hyper-overproduction of cards. I can buy whole boxes of 80’s packs from my hobby shop for under $10 each (and that’s with the retail markup). However, with all the exclusive contracts for products nowdays, I think we’re on the track to underproducing card products people want. I know that for baseball, I really enjoyed Upper Deck’s designs, and it’s kind of limiting to have to buy only Topps products. We’ve swung from the 1980s overproduction of cards to the opposite extreme of too little competition in the marketplace.

6. I don’t know if 1980s stuff is really the key to reviving the hobby. Unless you combine that with an education on who all those old-time players are, just having cards of Marvell Wynne and Mike Birkbeck (1987 Topps) isn’t going to pique the interest of anyone born after 1999. It is more for me a throwback. I am 25, and I recognize some of the bigger players, but it’s not the same as collecting 2009 Allen and Ginter where I know most of the players in the set. Every generation of card collectors has their niche of well-known players.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

I started collecting in 1978-1979. I can remember that the 1980 Topps set was the first set that I completed. I would get packs from my uncle when he came to visit and from a lot of the local stores (I think they were like 25 cents a pack). I collected it all back then-all sports. Of course, most of the Philadelphia teams were doing well around then, so that helped me be interested.

I remember this one local store that my friends and I would go to for cards-looking on the shelf to see if the new ones had come out yet. I remember getting a 1981 Pete Rose in a pack from the first box of the year that showed up on the shelf-I was so excited.

Donruss and Fleer (and their numerous error cards) followed. Their gum was much better, but of course that wasn’t saying too much!!

I do miss the collecting for collecting’s sake. I miss the many card shops (or even the sorta card shops) that were within a modest bike ride of home. Sadly, my two boys pretty much could care less about cards (to my moderate shame). My daughter does collect the Bella Sara horse cards, so at least there’s one collector in the family. She also trades those cards with her friends too, so it is nice to see.

One thing that I’d like to see more of is wrapper redemptions. I was thrilled to see Topps do that again with the 2011 Topps wrappers!! I used to get the Topps Glossys or if I won on the contest card in the packs. It was cool to get cards in the mail.

I know what you mean about the nostalgia aspect of the cards that were produced then. However, I don’t really feel too nostalgic during the Topps Million Card giveaway (or the new Diamond Giveaway) when I get a 1987 Bruce Ruffin on 1989 Jeff Stone card.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

A: I started collecting baseball cards in 1988. My parents bought me 1988 Donruss cards. I became a super collector in 1989 when I pulled a 1989 Griffey Jr Donruss Rated Rookie.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

A: 1987 Topps with the wood grain finish. It was tacky.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

A: The cards from the 80’s represented a time of experimentation with colors and schemes, a result of which none should be reproduced. Perhaps, this process was the result of the “coming down” from the 60’s and 70’s generations of explicit drug use.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

A: I liked the 1988 Topps All-Stars, don’t ask why, but I thought they looked cool because they stood out in the pack as you opened them. I also miss the gum.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

A: Obviously, the overproduction and print quality are the two biggest issues. The endless array of manufacturers was a problem as well. By the mid-late 80’s there were no premiere card products except, the 1989 Upper Deck set.

On the other hand the marketing and prices were fantastic. As a kid I could mow lawns, shovel snow, earn As on my report card, and redeem bottles/cans to raise enough money to buy a box of cards. Today, I’d have to take out a second mortgage, charge admission to the pool in the back yard, or sell tickets to riders who wanted to ride in my muscle car. All this just to afford a box of cards that may have a game used card in one of the 36 packs.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

A: This stuff is still affordable, still available, and not very collectible for one reason. The reason is there was nothing of significant value or rarity in any of the 1980’s produced era. I let my kids buy these cards because they enjoy collecting. These cards have no marketable value and will most likely end up in toy boxes just as mine did. These cards have one great purpose though. This purpose is to teach children to take care of the things they earned even if it’s considered to be of no value.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

1. I think the year I most got crazy into cards was ’87, but was buying packs before then.
2. For me ’80s cards begin and end with the ’84 Donruss Mattingly.
3. I miss collectors getting excited about good old fashion non-auto/patch rookie cards.
4. Topps Double Headers and the old school boxed traded sets.
5. Beware of the super hyped prospect (Gregg Jefferis) and the error card craze should never come back.
6. Going on ebay and picking up cards I lusted after as a kid has given me a lot of joy for a pretty small sum of money. A 1983 Topps Traded Strawberry was always out of reach as a kid, but as an adult I picked one up for a few bucks and its was a childhood dream come true.

I love these question, rambling about ’80s card collecting on my blog is my favorite pastime.

Kevin from Virginia

Posted March 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
Raymond Schieber

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

I started re-collecting (after being away from the hobby for years) in 1987, because I wantd to pick up a complete 1987 Topps set for a #366 Mark McGwire.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly. It’s the card that redefined the hobby.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

I suppose collecting for the sake of base cards…

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

Hmmmm…No, not really.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

Too many brands from too many products doesn’t work. I did, and do though, like the rookie craze.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

I agree. Nothing like a classic box rip done cheaply. Plus, it brings back lots of memories. Thanks!

Posted March 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
Bryan Goodenkauf

The eighties brought us the overprduction, misleading statements of print runs, and the one of a kind error card that was later released again. As we look back the primary goal was to get the collectors dollar, produce as many as possible to include off center, poor picture quality, and too many areas to even dwell upon. Did not participate in any collecting or investing since 1988 (learned a leason) until 2010 when some viable collecting items were again out on the market. Hope the card companies do not ruin it a second time.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
Hal H.

I totally agree with the idea that the cards of the 1980s could be the key to bringing 30-somethings back to card collecting. I started collecting in the late 80s and gave up the hobby in the mid 90s as I entered high school. For the period I was in the hobby I amassed a large collection of what most would now call “junk”, but I held onto them for all these years. I have recently started digging through my many boxes of old cards and it is bringing back a lot of those old memories. My hope is to complete all those sets I started back then, preferably by trading rather than buying, and store the completed sets in binders to look at myself or with my kids in a few years. The nice thing is that the value of most of those cards is now so low that I can add to my collection without breaking the bank, plus it encourages you to focus on the cards themselves instead of what they are worth now or may be worth in the future.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

I live in San Francisco, CA.

I started collecting in 1989. My first real set was 1989 Topps. I bought a little Donruss, and a bit of Score, but I never saw Fleer and I remember seeing Upper Deck only once in stores. Although I tried to dabble in basketball, I’ve been baseball only my entire collecting career.

Even though I didn’t enter until the end of the decade, I’d say the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco Rated Rookie is the most iconic 1980s card. The easy answer might be the ’89 Upper Deck Griffey rookie, but that card fits more with the new 1990s style of card (high quality, limited production). Others might turn to early 80s rookies (such as Mattingly and Clemens), where the real idea of a super-valuable rookie card started, but the Canseco fits somewhere in between. The “rookie” concept had developed, creating hype for a set that could be called Rated Rookies, and this was the card to own after his 40-40 season in 1988.

I miss most the ability to walk into a corner store and just pick up a pack of cards. Sure, now I can go online, or drive to a superstore or card shop, but 25 years ago they were found in convenience stores, supermarkets, and gas stations. At the supermarkets, you could find a box of cards mixed in with the candy at every register. Cards were accessible and visible to everybody.

I would love to see a return to the inexpensive kid-friendly card. It may not be the most profitable, but it’s always fun to open a pack of cards, and it would help build the base of future collectors. Opening Day isn’t bad, but I think you can go even “cheaper” than that. Return to the “throwback” cheaper cardboard used for sets like late-’80s Topps with a full 792-card set (possibly issued over several series to keep things fresh on shelves), filled with some interesting subsets (instead of inserts). Put cards on the box bottoms and gum in the packs. It may take some negotiating with the players associations to bring licensing fees down, but if it’s in the best interest of the hobby and the sport, immediate greed should be left behind for future gains.

Obviously, there was a glut of product, especially in the late ’80s. But Topps has almost always had a history of overproduction. They even glorify it on an insert this year. It may not be a bad thing, though, with a cheap basic set for younger collectors. You don’t want to overproduce and have a lot of returned product, but the problem in the 1980s came from speculation and hoarding. There were tons of articles that decade about the next great rookies to collect (there still are) and the word around was that you couldn’t go wrong investing in trading cards. I think we’ve learned that the value in older cards comes from scarcity, but we’ve also seen that manufactured scarcity doesn’t create as much value in a product. We also keep our cards in “mint” condition, so there are more, better quality cards out there to choose from. Everyone bought, collected, and properly stored complete sets of cards in the ’80s, and the speculators are now “stuck” with lots of “junk” that they thought would be worth thousands. But if you rewind to the 1980s, people only had a few sets to choose from – Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and eventually Score and Upper Deck. There was one set released from each manufacturer, which was inexpensive and easy to collect. There are hits and misses with designs, but card collecting didn’t need to be done with white gloves. Competition and advances in card quality brought about interesting better looking, better-quality cards, interesting insert sets, and autographed cards.

As I said before, overproduction wasn’t really an issue at the time. Cards were always returned to the manufacturers, repackaged and resold at a reduced rate, and now sit somewhere in warehouses. It wasn’t an issue until everybody started hoarding cards in mint condition in hopes of a great return on investment. I still don’t see it as an issue. With a lot of quality-condition cards available, it’s inexpensive, but there’s nothing wrong with the cards. Many of the designs are interesting, and there are some great players in the sets. Most thirty-somethings started collecting in the ’80s, and eventually there will be a renewed interest in these cards, much as there was with the ’50s and ’60s issues with the Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, kids who are just getting into the hobby or have limited money don’t necessarily care that they have the latest and greatest cards, and the inexpensive product can provide collecting joy and history for newcomers.

Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

Scott Crawford from New Jersey here.

1. I first started buying cards in 1980, but I didn’t really latch onto the “serious business” of collecting until 1986. A classmate of mine was bringing his Topps cards into school, and eventually some of his Fleer and Donruss when a guy named Jose Canseco first started hitting home runs. Jose was really my first big rookie card, and I got the ’86 Donruss factory set for my birthday that year. Of course, I opened it, went through all the cards a million times, the Canseco card in it is pretty rough these days and the Kirk Gibson Diamond King (card #1) is missing for some reason, but I still have and love that set.

2. If I really had to nail it down to one, I think it was the ’84 Topps Mattingly rookie. There were harder Mattingly rookies to get (I just finally got a Fleer one a month ago, and I still don’t have the Donruss one), but that was, at least in my neck of the woods, the card that legitimized your collection. Other sports took a while to get back on the radar so Jordan wasn’t even something you thought about until ’86 Fleer exploded in the price guide a few years later. Ripken was an afterthought until the very end of the decade. Griffey didn’t come out until ’89. Doc and Darryl had their issues even early on (though Doc’s ’86 Topps card was and is brilliant, and might be the best looking card of the decade). Clemens and Boggs didn’t catch on until later, nor did McGwire. The Donruss Canseco card was huge, but it was “new”. The ’84 Topps Mattingly was from a set I hadn’t bought any packs of during its release period so it was a little exotic to me for a Topps card, and with me being in the New York area and it being Mattingly, it was the gold standard.

3. I miss the optimism of the hobby, pre-1988. 1988 and 1989 kinda killed it for me, as money took over, everyone thought they had gold in their hands and charged accordingly, sets got inferior, and by ’89, Upper Deck and the Fleer Ripken had priced me out of the hobby.

4. I’ve always really loved Topps Glossy rack pack All-Stars, the first year of Mini Leaders and the original Topps Traded set box design, 1986 Fleer Star Stickers, the ’82-’84 Donruss card stock and, as low-budget as they were, Cramer Baseball Legends. It’s gonna be a ways before Topps reaches ’80s nostalgia in their Heritage product, but I’d love to see those designs revived, as well as the ones I mentioned from the other companies.

5. Hype is bad. Overproduction is bad (but underproduction can be even worse at times). Making kids happy with your product is really good, because decades later, even if you screwed up on some fronts, those kids will still remember you fondly as adults. 20-30 years from now, if Topps continues to do things right with the product, I think you’ll see a lot of 30-40 year olds waxing nostalgic about Attax, as that set’s a pretty big deal right now among the card-buying kids (sadly, nowhere near as many as there used to be) in my area.

6. I know a ton of people who love the cards of the ’80s despite having lived through the rise and fall of the hobby. We had a great time with all that, didn’t we? As for the affordability of those cards and sets, if I were a young kid right now, I’d be in heaven. 25-30 year old cards of Hall of Famers for way less money than I’d be paying for the current guys? Sign me up! Seriously, while it wouldn’t have been great for the hobby’s economy and things probably wouldn’t have boomed like they did, how excited would we all have been as kids if ’56-’61 Topps cards were readily available and affordable in 1986?

Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
Adam

1. I started collecting in 1987, at the ripe age of 10. Dad got my younger brother and me into it that year, and I focused primarily on our favorite team, the Cubs, from any of the big three: Topps, Fleer, and Donruss. Didn’t really matter who it was, we just wanted Cubbies cards.

2. As iconic as the ’89 UD Griffey Jr. card is, it came at the end of the decade and really opened the gate for higher-quality (albeit wildly overboard and the cause of my long-term hiatus) cards of the 90s. In my opinion, there is no one card that says “1980s” the most. Take your pick from any of the RCs of 80s-90s stars: Ripken, Gwynn, Mattingly, Bonds, McGwire, Maddux, and my hero, Ryne Sandberg.

3. I miss the simplicity of the era. You had three brands with ONE set each year. I miss the low cost. I miss the challenge and excitement of finding important BASE cards in packs, rather than people pulling only for the big hits and complaining about the rest. That’s what got me out of it in the early-to-mid-90s. That and we don’t need 10 different parallel versions of the same card in all the colors of the rainbow.

4. I’d like to see that simplicity brought back: One base set (although I do like the Heritage stuff) and a factory set for TRADED and XRCs only. Not in packs…one, preloaded set.

5. What did we learn? We learned that people will pay exorbitant amounts of money for the CHANCE to pull a major Rookie Card, and then throw a fit when all they get are commons and “semistars.” What exactly is a “semistar” anyway?

6. I loved the Topps MCG program, because I really thought about the fun of pulling those old ’87 cards. I never did attempt to completely finish that set, but it’s something I’m probably going to be able to do now that I’m in my 30s and have a little extra money compared to when I was 10. How about Topps skips their Heritage brand from ’62 this year all the way up to ’87 next year?

Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink
Charles Crandall, Morgantown, WV

I started collecting baseball cards back in 1983 when my dad bought me a rack pack of topps cards. I still have all those cards, especially the Wade Boggs rc. I mainly collected topps cards threw most of the 80’s. In 1989 I started exploring other sets, especially the cool new Upper Deck. I miss being able to ride my bicycle down to the local grocery store and spend my $5 allowance on about 15 packs every saturday. Collecting in the 1980’s were more fun because there weren’t as many sets out there, or was it because i was only a child and opening packs was soo fun to do with my friends. Even today I will buy some older boxes to open with my son, it brings back memories seeing these older cards as I open them. Thank goodness for the vast overproduction of those years, we can grab a box for next to nothing. Charles, Morgantown WV

Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
George

1. Being born in 1985, I don’t remember much about collecting in the 80’s but I do remember my first set of baseball cards was an 89 score set.
2. 1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey Jr.
3. I liked that a players rookie card was from his rookie year and not draft year.
4. Bring back 36 pack boxes of 15 cards per pack. I also liked the card stock which enables you to have a card signed without the use of powder.
5. Large sets are nice but only having 1 set per year is not the way to go.
6. I’m not sure the 80’s product will revive the hobby but around January/February when new baseball products are non-existent, it is fun to spend a couple of dollars on those products you remember so well from your child hood.

– George, MD

Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
Adam Shoemaker

1. I started collecting a little in 1987 (MLB) and heavily in 1989 (MLB/NBA/NFL). My dad and I bought many, many packs of ’89 Topps MLB. UD was pretty hard to find then and a little more expensive than Topps when we could find them.
2. To me, the cards that say “1980’s” the most are: 1987 & ’89 Topps, 1981 Donruss, 1989 UD in MLB and 1989-90 Hoops NBA.
3. Empty Pack-redemption cards
4. Empty Pack-redemption cards (and not b/c the company screwed something up)! Getting a pack of cards or 2-3 single cards for sending in 10-12 empty packs for something NOT FOUND IN PACKS was great. Examples: Topps Glossy Send-ins and the early ’90’s Fleer and Ultra Insert send-ins.
5.& 6. Over-production was a problem after it was realized. In the early and mid-’90’s, companies started producing less of each card, but more total sets/brands/parallels. The lesson rolls into the mid to upper-90’s when there were TOO many sets/brands/inserts produced. Too many companies with too many slightly different brands became the problem. Now the problem is just that there are still to many brands made by any surviving card manufacturers. Topps/Panini/UD/Press Pass have no reason to make a dozen different brands/sets of each sport, every year. I also think that prospecting and single color JSY cards are killing the current hobby. I am not buying any product that is going to give me 33% or more of a box of cards that will have very little enjoyment or value 4-5 years from now! I also am not buying any boxes of cards that have ‘hits’ that are solely prospect or RC AU’s/EventWorn JSY’s or manufactured patches. The single color JSY cards (GU or EW) have flooded the market as badly as base cards did in the 80’s. JSY cards with plain white or black or gray or red or blue, etc. pieces are not neccesary and are mostly not wanted by the collectors anymore.

Adam Shoemaker in Browns Summit, NC

Posted March 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
Jeremy Brannon

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s? I started collecting in 1988, My favorite set of all time is the 1988 Topps Football with Bo Jackson’s RC. My grandmother purchased the complete set for me as a kid.
Overall Football seems to have a better assortment of Rookies in the 80’s and I started collecting football again after 10 years before I got back into to baseball in 2009.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?
The 1989 Ken Griffey RC the holy grail of collecting during my younger days never had one though. It is the first Baseball card I purchased some 20 years later in 2009.
The 1986 Jose Cancesco Donruss RC is #2 it symbalizes the 80’s era of steriods and over produced cardboard that the values dropped like a rock in water. Picked 1 up for $6 when I was kid it was well over $100.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

.50 cents a pack going to wal-mart or the local card shop with $5 bucks and coming out like a bandit and pulling a Griffey Jr, Canseco or McGwire card.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?
I think the focus on set collecting, with a lower end product that doesn’t still cost $3 a pack.
Opening Day is ok, i like the Fleer Tradition sets, I prefer the cheaper looking no gloss card stock etc.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )
I think over production is the first lesson if its worth .10 cents who is gonna want it and it just clutters up my “man cave”. I think the explosion of inserts was the best thing they used to be exciting and difficult to pull. I love the current Auto’s you can pull just wish there was less filler and more star autos.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts

It is definetly where I started when I got back into collecting in 2008.
I prefered 80’s and 90’s football so I picked up a Montana, Elway, Marino, Rice, Aikman, Sanders and Emmitt Smith RC’s as my first purchases. I then got into more modern day cards looking for the next big hit and focusing on my team the Cowboys. As far as Baseball I really just wanted the Griffey Jr RCs (all of them) and I was a huge A’s fan as a kid already had the McGwire RC and so I got the Cancesco Donruss RC. I haven’t picked up some of the key RCs of the 80’s because I have focused on the prospecting guys like Strasburg, Heyward etc and Josh Hamilton and Texas Rangers autos. That’s my two cents.

JB
Fort Worth, TX

Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink
Patrick McCollough

When I first started to notice cards, the one I always wanted was the 1984 Topps Don Mattingly rookie. After that was Ken Griffey and Upper Deck. My first ever complete set was 1988 Fleer.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink
Paul Purwin - Grand Rapids, MI

1983, I graduated from high school and went to Ft. Benning, GA for basic training and stayed in the army for four years.
I missed collecting, but recall a soldier trying to sell 1977s in bad shape.
1981, my younger brother and I held a table at a card show in a school. We barely broke even.
We just had 1975 minis and 1977s and 78s and 81s. Fernando Valenzuela was the big seller then.
The thing that worked for the hobby: Donruss and Fleer successfully sued for entry in the market. Prior to this only Topps had exclusive rights and cards had to be sold with candy or gum. The competition improved the quality of the card!
The overall quality of the card improved another step when Upper Deck entered in 1989!
1980s, when there was overproduction of poor quality, brought in more speculators. Although, I believe, speculators drive much of the hobby today, collectors have the last say!

Posted March 12, 2011 at 2:48 am | Permalink
Chris Houston

I grew up in the 80s and bought a few packs here and there as a kid but didn’t officially become a collector until 1987. When I first started buying cards with every penny I could get my hands on from mowing yards and my allowance I would stockpile them all and every month when the new Beckett Monthly would hit the shelves I’d by it and sit in my room checking every card I owned to see if it went “up” in value. The players I collected most were the same as most every one else, Don Mattingly, Nolan Ryan, Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, etc… OH and who could forget Mike Greenwell and Ruben Sierra! To me the cards that say 1980s the most is a three way tie, I would have to say 1981 Topps Joe Montana, 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan, and of course the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. I actually really miss the collecting landscape of the 1980s, I live in a small town and at one time there were three Card Shops here, now there are none with the closest one being about an hours drive away, in another town. Of course with todays technology the cards you could never find back then are readily available but I honestly think I would trade that for the fun of going to the local shop with your buddies and busting packs all day. As far as having some of the 80s products revived I’m not sure about that but I would love to see there be far fewer different sets out there. I remember in 1988 when Score came out then in 1989 when Upper Deck and Bowman hit, everyone freaked out because all of a sudden we went from three sets to collect to six. I’m very aware of the mass overproduction of product from then but I think fewer set is definitely the way to go. I realize its unrealistic to ever think we could only have three sets to collect again but it could easily be cut way back. Its painfully obvious that something needs to be done because the hobby has been on a steady decline since the early/mid 90s. I would say that each major card company would print three sets each per year, such as a low end set like the base sets from the 80s, a mid tier slightly higher end product, and a high end product, and then have the old school year end traded and rookies sets. Make them Hobby only and only available in set form. I honestly believe that far fewer different sets produced would help to revive the hobby because right now its just confusing and frustrating. In my opinion for what its worth I absolutely loved the collecting landscape of the 1980s and wish every time I pick up a pack it could be that simple and fun again.

Chris Houston
Lexington, TN

Posted March 12, 2011 at 2:49 am | Permalink
Ben Ellis

Stockton, CA-

I started collecting in 1982, my Grandmother bought me 6 rack packs of 1982 Topps for Christmas. My father had collected cards in the 50’s and like many boys of that era used them in there bicycle spokes and kept them in rubber bands. So I acquired a few vintage cards that survived in the garage from his old collection. Little did I know at 36, I would still be collector. My Mother would drive me to a local card store and give me $5.00 and patiently wait for an hour while I looked for the perfect buy. I really loved the 1983 Topps, reminiscent of the 1963’s that my dad collected. I remember putting the set together by hand, which created a tradition for many years. I believe what truly screams 1980’s is the 1985 Topps, with the Rookie cards of the genuine 1980’s stars with Gooden, Eric Davis, Clemens, McGwire, Saberhagen, Puckett, and Hershiser. These players defined the 1980’s. What I miss most about the 1980’s is the ability to collect every card of a particular player. it is virtually impossible to do that today with serial numbering and sheer volume of insert cards available. Of all 1980’s glory, there isn’t too much I would want to revive. However, I did like the Topps Glossy Send-ins with the true photo like quality and feel. I think the most important lesson learned from the 1980’s is to keep in mind what you are purchasing and keep it in perspective. If you are buying a base Topps pack of cards, it will probably not hold its value monetarily, and to not get frustrated. We all believed that the 1988 Donruss Gregg Jefferies would retain it’s $5.00 value at the time. So if you want to collect for fun, for prospect hunting, or high dollar hits, understand the supply/demand principle in relation to what you are buying. I believe one way to bring the 1980’s into the current era would be to produce a set exclusively made up of 1980’s all-stars and fan favorites with autographs and memorabilia cards. Although this has been done with Hall of Fame type players, there are many collectors and fans from that era that would really enjoy a Gary Gaetti, Mark Langston, Chili Davis, or Juan Samuel jersey card to name a few. Regardless of current dollar value of 1980’s cards, it was still an enjoyable era of trading cards and collecting for fun.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 3:12 am | Permalink
kevin brown

the 1980’s were a great time for all. there was so much potential for global trouble that people lived with a lot more passion. and enjoyed anything we did with more enthusiasm more relish. i think it would be great to relive those days.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?
i started collecting early ( my father got me started in random packs of football cards when we went to the store around 1982 … i started on my own ( with my parents funding ) around 1987 … and yea that 1987 Topps and Donruss baseball set was my first attempt at set building…

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?
i would have to say … 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco Rated Rookie

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?
the prices… the fact that collecting a player was easy… and there was not 29 different brands of cards from the same company…

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?
ROOKIE CARDS… also on a non related issue… there were more small card shows… i miss those days…

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )
what worked was quality… when Upper Deck hit the market it was obvious that they had just set a new standard in quality … and i think we are better for that still today… lessons learned… see any 1988 donruss , i still dont think half of that product has been opened…the other main issue i would say today is REDEMPTIONS… there shoud not be a single redemption… period… companies know that they are going to make a new product months in advance if not years… get the autos or mem taken care of before hand…

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?
i ALWAYS peruse the 80s wax at every show i go to… it fun to relive or to open something you could never afford way back then…

Posted March 12, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

I started collecting off and on in the 70″s. My latest stint is since 2008 with a huge collection from 1985 thru 1994.

The card/set that says “80’s” the most is 1985 Topps since it stirred up some controversy with the USA Team cards and whether they were true rookie cards. Or maybe the 1981 Fleer and Donruss for breaking the stranglehold that Topps had on the market (Oops that seems to have happened again).

What I miss is the set collections. People today are all out for the signature and the parallel cards. The base set cards are all but ignored.

Overproduction… That’s a crock, who said that it has gone away. The card companies have pushed the casual collector out of the marketplace, We used to stop off on the way to work at our local mom & pop store in the morning and get our cup of coffee and a couple of packs of cards. That has all disappeared, now that packs of cards are $5.00 and very few outlets carry them. There were more products in these formidable years, the only difference was that they were all different. You had 10 different cards with 10 different poses for your favorite star whereas today you have 12 different variations of the same card in the same pose just different color borders/backgrounds.I say O come on to the card companies, you are just being cheap, trying to put some value on something that costs little to produce.

So when you wright off the 80’s as a wasteland just think of this. I started putting together sets from 1981 thru 1989 thinking that it would be a snap. Little did I know that there cards, particular the subsets and parallel sets were almost impossible to find. I have been able to collect almost 38,000 cards from this era and still have a long way to go.

The key to reviving the hobby is the $0.15 card pack with the hard to find insert set hidden inside. My favorite parallel sets are the 92 and 93 Topps Gold and the 1994 Score Gold Rush. Very difficult to complete and very satisfying when you do.

Ray

Posted March 12, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink
Vern Heinrich

I started collecting sports cards in the early 1950’s. I continued until I went to High School, and thereafter discontinued to collect cards as a Hobby until the 1980’s. (It wasn’t COOL to collect baseball cards back then, when one was in High School). The 80’s explosion of cards and additional Product Companies, reveived my interest in the hobby once again and became my sole enjoyment for my expandable resources I had. The Startup of Upper Deck in 1989 with the Griffey card nbr #1 was to me the largest single card which I believe peeked my interest as a collector. I was fortunate enough to collect Basketball Cards as well and did get a M. Jordan Rookie 1986 card for $.50 cents a pack. What a deal that was.
The increase numbers of collector’s during the 80’s was just unbelievable. My collection of cards from the 50’s (baseball, football, hockey and non-sports cards value was just out-of-sight). This peaking of the value of my card collection re-initiated my lost interest in the hobby. Unfortunately, the over-production of cards in the late 80’s and early 90’s made my interest in the Hobby waiver once again. But once I decided on SELECT PRODUCTS, which I still do today, I was able to channel my interests towards a rewarding and fun Hobby once again.
In today’s Hobby World I collect Bowman(all types of baseball and football) and Topps Heritage Baseball. However, the 2010 Topps Products (excuse my analogy- sucked big time). There lack of product controll and Customer satisfaction has lessened my interest for their products.
The 80’s were a terrific time for investment(although now proven to be fool-hearty due to the over-produsction of all the products). The 80’s scenario was necessary to rekindle card collecting to a vast amount of folks. Unfortunately, the overproduction killed interests for many individuals. The new trend to have a smaller production of cards appears to be more in line with the actual Hobby flavor prevelant with the consumers. My personal dislike is the number of cards each Company now can produce. Having over 40 – 50 different types of cards is simply not a collector’s idea of satisfaction. I am a collector who enjoys being able to COMPLETE the entire set. The Allen and Ginter sets is a key example of what I am referring to. The Base set, 350 cards- the Mini sets 3 different cards of each =1050 cards, the various subsets another 290 cards, the various autographs etc etc, which comes close to 2000 cards for one set. I love the Mini cards. But I only collect either the Regular, A & G Backs or the Black Border. I just cannot afford all of them. And that is what concerns me as a true SET COLLECTOR. It is virtually impossible to truley have a MASTER SET of any new product. That is why I loved the product of the 80’s and before, becuase one could truely collect a MASTER SET, back then.

Sincerely
Vern Heinrich

Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

I started collecting in 1989 – I was nine years old. I grabbed up anything I could that had a picture of Ken Griffey Jr. or Bo Jackson.
I don’t think there’s a card of any sport that screams 80’s sports card icon more than a 1989 Upper Deck #1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Perhaps a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan RC would be it’s best competitor for the title.
What I miss the most about 80’s collecting is the cost of collecting. I think the cost of collecting today is the reason so many people no longer collect. I can’t stand paying $200 for a box of cards just because there MIGHT be a $200 card in it. That logic isn’t logic at all, and card manufacturers need to wake up and realize how many people are forced out of the collecting realm by manufacturers’ capitalist ideals. Not feeling guilty about how much you spend on your hobby is what keeps it enjoyable.
I really miss the simplicity of card design from the 1980’s. Today’s market is so flooded with high-gloss, foil, holofoil, plastic, glass, metal, wild design schemes, and so on. One could get a headache from going through a box nowadays. Any good blues musician will tell you – less is always more.
I feel the biggest error companies made in the 80’s was overproduction. There was real potential for collectability in the late eighties with rookies of guys like Griffey Jr, Bonds, Barry Sanders, Aikman, Pippen, Rodman, David Robinson – the list goes on forever – but these guys rookies are so easily attainable they almost aren’t fun to collect. I hate that one can purchase a Ken Griffey Jr. BGS 9 rookie for its raw book value. It should cost ten times that much in my opinion, but it’s just too easy to find them.
On the positive side, there were very few products available to choose from each year. That’s one of the things killing the hobby now. I’ve given up on player collecting because I can’t keep up. Each player in any sport gets hundreds, if not thousands, of new cards each year when, in the eighties, a player may get five or ten new cards a year. That also made it more of a challenge to find even the most overproduced cards with so many people fighting over cards from the same four or five sets. The small number of products available also helped to keep the secondary market thriving.
Products from the eighties are insanely easy to obtain – especially now with so many thirty-somethings hurting for money in this economy – they are trying to unload their collections of eighties junk by the truckload. I never get tired of going through a box/case of nineteen-eighty-anything though, and, for the right price, I’ll never turn one down. It’s just so nastalgic to bust 1980’s products – I’m almost knocked over by all of the memories. The overproduction and low cost of eighties stuff is also good because it can be used to get new collectors into the hobby. Most kids just enjoy collecting for the fun of it, so a child will never turn down a couple 5,000 count boxes of eighties mixed products for the small price of free. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of thousands of cards I’ve given away to kids just to help stimulate the hobby and put a smile on a few young faces to boot. And if we reach the point were we can no longer give them away, I say we make the 80’s stuff a bit harder to find and start using our 1988 Topps factory sets and our 1984 donruss commons to start our fireplaces.

– Jason English
Zephyrhills, FL

Posted March 12, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink
Paul Huston

(1) Joe Montana RC, Elway & Marino RC’s
(2)Michael Jordan RC- nuff Said
(3)No
(4)No
(5) Overproduced during 80’s, Reason cards haven’t held their value near as well as the 70’s and before.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

My dad actually started me collecting in 1983, when he bought me the factory set of 1983 Topps Baseball. For the duration of the 80’s, he did the same, so I have a run from 1983-1989 of Topps factory sets. It was actually 1986 that really got me going, however. See, I was (still am) a Mets fan, and 1986, of course, was their WS winning year. So I had to have all of the 1986 Mets cards!

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

It’s probably a stone cold tie between the 1989 UD Griffey and the Fleer Jordan.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

Two things. Affordability and difference in design. In the 80’s, there were plenty of products that you could afford. Obviously, this was well before the advent of memorabilia cards, autographs, and even super SP insert cards in packs, but still, you could afford them! A product like this year’s Topps Magic, where jersey cards were actually hard to come by, and autos were were relatively plentiful, as well as the price point being relatively affordable, was a perfect start to what could be a revolution in the industry. Yes, we will always have Exquisite or the myriad of Topps high end products (Supreme, 5-Star, Tribute, etc.) for the investors, but what about the hobbyists, set builders, or just curious on-lookers who would love a reason to bust a box to see what all the fuss is about? There just isn’t much anymore.

Look at 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988 Topps Baseball. These four sets were all solid offerings, with stars, hall of famers, and all the decent rookies. But look at their design. They looked NOTHING alike. That was neat. Since when did every set have to look like the year before?

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

A few things, one of which I am happy to see brought back recently. Rookies per pack would be great, much like the “Rated Rookies” in Donruss products, and it would certainly serve to bring the younger collectors who just want a new Dez or Bradford or Strasburg. Also, player inclusion would mean a lot to team and non-star player collectors. As much fun as it was in the early 2000’s as a Mets fan to collect 20 versions of Piazza’s, I’d much rather have one or two of this year’s stars (Wright, Reyes, Santana) as well as Ike Davis, Bobby Parnell, Angel Pagan, R.A. Dickey, and a few more of the unsung stars and heroes of our roster. I’m sure team collectors would feel the same way. A little variety in collecting, you know?

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

Well, the easy targets are overproduction and fewer products. I think that every collector now would love just a handful of quality products, with decent but rare inserts and memorabilia/autos. Overproduction is still occurring. Just 10 years ago, if you happened to pull a Griffey or Barry Sanders jersey or auto, you had a few hundred dollars in hand. Now? You are lucky if you can get $15 for the jersey cards and $40 for the auto.

What worked was unique card design, massive player inclusion, and, something I would like to see more of, wrapper redemptions and special deals from the companies for sets or insert sets.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

While I agree with that statement, 30-somethings are not going to spend today’s hard earned money on products that they know has almost NO upside unless it is PSA 10 or BGS graded. I think the ideas behind the sets of the 80’s, and maybe even some of the iconic card designs (1984 Donruss, 1985 Topps, and 1989 UD baseball, 1987 or 1988 Fleer basketball, and 1989 Score Football), some of which have already been redone a bit, could serve to bring them back, but not the products themselves.

J.R. Lebert
Lawndale, CA

Posted March 12, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

I started collecting as a 7-year-old kid in 1975, so by the time the ’80s hit I already had a good-sized collection. During the entire decade, I bought or collected all the major baseball sets from Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score/Sportflics and Upper Deck and also dabbled in other sports.

As for a set I keyed upon, I’d have to say 1988 Score baseball. People today give Upper Deck nearly all the credit for upping the ante on card quality with its 1989 debut issue, but the previous year Score gave us a great set of cards with sharp, clear photography on clean white stock, with a magazine-style full write-up of the player on the back – all for the same price as the Topps, Fleer and Donruss packs of the same year. I loved that 1988 Score set and couldn’t buy packs fast enough when it first came out.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

I know most people are going to say stuff like the 1981 Joe Montana, or 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (which I got out of a pack bought at 7-Eleven), or 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr., but I’m going to go in a whole different direction and pick: 1981 Drake’s “Big Hitters” #21 Joe Charboneau.

To me, this card says everything about the ’80s: First of all, cards were everywhere. In boxes of cereal, department stores, drug stores, with pizza, on milk cartons – just everywhere. The Drake’s cards (made by Topps for the company) came in boxes of snack cakes. Second, the card companies were starting to put the focus on what collectors were seeking – like “Big Hitters” and hot rookies (Charboneau was the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1980). And finally, many of those hot rookies (like Charboneau in 1981, Ron Kittle in 1983 and Gregg Jeffries in 1988) simply never panned out.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

I miss being able to buy a full box of 500+ cards for less than $20, then being able to spend an afternoon sorting through them all. I miss having card collecting simply being a fun hobby, rather than an investment or a kind of lottery. I miss having the card companies focus on making the greatest base card set they could, with the inserts being an added bonus, rather than the other way around.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

This may sound insane to anyone who collected in the ’80s, but I miss the boxed sets – all those 33- or 44-card sets made by Topps or Fleer for exclusive distribution through various retail outlets. At the time, I thought there were way too many of them and they were mostly kind of stupid. But now I miss the thrill of walking through various department stores looking to see if they had some kind of exclusive set available, and what its theme might be. Plus, getting a complete set with 33 or 44 of the top stars in the game for just $2-$3 is not a bad thing.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

Frankly, I’m not sure we, as a collecting hobby, learned anything. I think there has simply been a shift in what collectors expect and the card companies have struggled to find the right formula to keep selling product. Just like we look back now and shake our heads at the thought of people buying 100-count lots of Ron Kittle rookies, I think in another 25-30 years we’ll be looking back at what people are spending today on cards and wonder what we were all thinking. Cards like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle shot up in price due to nostalgia. Will there be the same kind of nostalgia for LeBron James’ cards in 25 years or more?

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

I think a lot of newer collectors could have fun buying old wax on the cheap and assembling vintage sets, and some of those cheap wax boxes even have the potential to include some valuable inserts; but I don’t think old boxes will revive the hobby. I think what needs to happen is finding a way to get kids interested in collecting again. I know that’s probably beating a dead horse, but collecting cards needs to be viewed as a fun activity, and not one that’s focused on the money aspect. I think cards have to be marketed more at the retail level, with packs that kids can afford and enjoy.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

BTW … that’s Paul Angilly from Windsor Locks, CT

Posted March 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
Benjamin Andrew Pfiester

1) I started collecting in 1986 when my dad opened a baseball card & comic store in Kirkland, WA. The first packs I ever opened were 1986-87 Fleer Basketball. We bought all 5 boxes at our local drug store for $10 a piece and we opened 3 full boxes to make sets and then sold the other 2 boxes at the store. My brother put the Michael Jordan sticker on his school notebook!!!

2) Definitely baseball defines the 80’s but it is by far my favorite sport. I also watched my first ever World Series game in 1986 and remember vividly Bill Buckner’s error!

3) I have always been a single player collector as opposed to complete sets so it was always fun to get food cards of my favorite players. I really miss Sunflower Seeds, Post, King-B, Mother’s Cookies, & even the old Topps Glossy Send Away sets. Basically all the oddball cards from the 80’s are my favorite brand. I also liked the box sets from Toys R Us, Rite Aid, K-Mart, Woolworth’s etc.

4) I guess I already sort of answered this question with #3, but in addition to the oddball sets, I would most like to see Kenner Starting Lineups come back, or at least the Macfarlane figures could come with trading cards!

5) I think the problem with the hobby today is there is only one producer, Topps. Now we probably don’t need all the old companies to come back but I really liked Fleer & Score/Pinnacle products. Hopefully, MLB will approve a few more licenses and get some more competition in the hobby. Also, I think we’re done with jersey/bat cards. I can’t even sell most of them on Ebay for a starting bid of 99 cents!

6) Products from the 80’s & 90’s are very affordable compared to when they were first released and this is pretty much the only full boxes/sets I purchase anymore. I’ve been buying alot of boxes of 1991 & 1992 Upper Deck trying to chase the Nolan Ryan & Ted Williams auto but have been unsuccesful. Also, enjoy opening 1991 & 1992 Donruss looking for Elite inserts & autographs. These inserts are truly rare to pull sinch there was so much produced. Opening old packs from the 80’s can provide quality cards for Beckett Grading Services and there are still some great RC’s from the 1980’s such as Cal Ripken Jr, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg, Rickey Henderson, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr. & Barry Bonds.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
Ned Puddleman

1. My first wax pack was a 1981 Topps with Charlie Lea and Tim Rains RC’s in it. My key set was 1984 Donruss.

2. 1983 Ron Kittle. Never has a player gone from hot to cold as fast as he did. I remember trading a stack of Kittle’s RC’s for Mattingly and Boggs. The 1984 Fleer Update was the most iconic set. Everyone was after the Gooden RC but little did they know of Clemons and Puckett. The 1984 USFL set comes in as a close second.

3. I miss a simpler time when you could ride your bike to the local drug store and buy a pack for $.35-$.45. There was no such thing as eBay so you would beg your parents to take you to the local card shop. I used to fill out a wish list of the cards I wanted and every time you the phone rang you hoped it was the shop telling you that a card you wanted came in. Around Easter every year the new wax packs came out. My Easter basket used to be filled with wax packs. I’d rush back after church and see how many cards I lacked from having a complete set. I’d call my neighborhood friends and we would meet that afternoon and swap commons to see if we could complete sets. A couple of weeks later the card shop would have busted boxes and you could buy commons and complete your set. Good times!

4. I’d like for it to return as a kid’s hobby. Card companies started catering to adults instead of kids and drove up the price.

5. Simple was better. Today when I buy cards they are pre-1988.

6. Everything after 1988 (except the 1989 Upper Deck) is crap. Overproduced and few sets had HOFers. 1988 was when collecting went from a hobby to a business. To me that’s when the innocence of collecting died.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink
Tony

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

I was born in 1981. Started collecting cards around 9-10 years old. I didn’t have much money growing up and primarily stuck to NBA Hoops as those were cheapest. At that young of an age all I wanted were Jordan cards. I didn’t care what type as long as he was on it.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

I was so young it’s really hard for me to say. Extremely biased opinion and obvious choice: 1986-97 Fleer Michael Jordan

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

I really don’t. As far as basketball goes I wish there was a bit more difference between prices on boxes. They are all basically the same price point. I like the newer designs and how you can now get autos, serial numbered cards, and game worn jerseys. Somethings I never could get when I was a kid.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

Not to me. I think today’s cards are much better and more valuable.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

In the 80’s there were much fewer inserts and mostly base cards. As I mentioned above I like how there are now multiple variations of the same card and how the cards are serial #d. I just hope the cards don’t expand into too many sets. 5-6 different sets each year is plenty to me. After that I find it somewhat cumbersome to try and collect them all.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

I am 29 years old and resurrected collecting about a year ago. I specifically don’t buy the older stuff, even though it’s less expensive, because I know all I’m going to get are a few base cards and crappy inserts that are a dime a dozen. It might help the fan base of card collecting grow given a lower price point but I think for a majority who have been doing it for awhile the newer cards, although more expensive are worth the investment.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts!

Posted March 12, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

1. I started collecting in 1957 when I was nine years old. I stopped collecting in 1963 until my oldest son told me he wanted to buy his friend’s collection in 1982. I have collected ever since. In the early eighties I keyed on the 1956 Topps Baseball set. I then focused my attention to everything pre-WWI.

2. Cal Ripken, Dwight Gooden, Strawberry, Mattingly, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, & Wayne Gretzky all were super hot in the 80’s. How about the 1988 Fleer Billy Ripken “FF” card? My pick is the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco RC. These boxes were wiped off the retail shelves as soon as they were stocked. Packs went from 50 cents on the retail shelves to $3 a pack at card shows over night.

3. I miss the affordability of cards in the eighties. I bought a near set (122 different cards) of 1915 Cracker Jack in near mint to mint in 1985 for $2400. I started my T206 collection in 1983 buying 400 (BVG 3 to BVG 5) cards with HoFs for $1200.

4. Today’s sets and card production technology are where we are today because it is what today’s collector wants. However, I would like to see 1980’s key cards inserted into today’s packs. Nothing more.

5. Back then it was not over-production. The production run was what we wanted as collectors. We collected RCs in multiples (10s, 100s and even 1000s). Everything produced was bought up by collectors and “investors.” However, investors buy to sooner or later sell. When these investors decided to sooner than later sell, they found there was not enough demand for the cards/boxes/cases they horded away.

6. I have observed (I have owned a storefront for 19+ years) that people who collected in the eighties are shocked, disappointed, and discouraged to find the cards they thought would be worth a fortune are, for the most part, worth less today. However, when these disappointed 1980’s collectors enter my store, I often regain their interest by showing them the current state of collecting. I also tell them about the advantages of grading their better cards from the eighties. We have turned quite a few of these collectors to Beckett Grading during the “Raw Card Reviews” at my store. Many of these revived 1980s collectors continue to collect today.

Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
Troy Hoehn

1. I started collecting in 1980, so i was able to take full advantage of the decade. I enjoyed the 1984 topps set and the RC’s of Marino, Elway, Dickerson.
2. I would like to say my favorite card of all time – the 1989 Score Barry Sanders, but since that was at the end of the 80’s i would go with the 1981 Topps Joe Montana RC says 80’s the most. Especially since i am a football guy.
3. I guess i miss the ability to buy packs of cards and put together a hand collated set is what i miss the most, and the cost of the packs.
4. Nothing specific from the 80’s i want to see revived, but i would like current products to continue to use reprints of those sets to help “bring us all back” to that time
5. I think the limited number of sets worked well in the 80’s. You could focus more on the set, and allowed all collectors to be involved
6. I think the graded industry of the 80’s cards is going to see a huge increase soon. There are a lot of great players rc’s and cards from this era, that collectors have forgotten about. As they start to unearth some of these collections and send them in for grading there will be an increased interest in these sets.

Posted March 13, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink
Scott

I got into collecting cards with my brother when I about 10 years old. Don Mattingly 84 Topps, Fleer and Donruss rookie cards were hot.The 1984 Fleer update set was on my list of cards that I wanted but could never afford. A Doc Godden or a Darryl Strawberry rookie card would of set me back 20 weeks worth of allowance. Jose Canseco was the MAN, Big Mac hit more HR his rookie year than Mark Grace did hit entire career. Rickey Henderson was running and stealing bases. Being from Cincinnati area Ken Griffey Jr. and Pete Rose were in high demand. I recall going to a local grocery store and getting a 1989 Donruss cello pack and getting Ken Griffey Jr. Rated Rookie card on the front of the pack. You cant forget The coolest cards on the planet made buy Sportflix. And the famous 1987 Donruss rated rookies of Maddux,Big Mac and Benito Santiago…….. The 1987 Donruss Opening Day set can you say over priced error card! All hype and in the end I bought into it. The wax packs were searchable then Upper Deck came along with what was suppost to be new technology but only to find out later that the packs where also searchable. The newer cards in todays market are cool but when you actually think about it it is more like gambling.

Posted March 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
Jason Taylor

1. I still remember the first pack of cards I ever opened (Although I had cards in my possession from the prior 6 years). It was 1984 and my best friend and I went to our LCS. I remember sitting with him in the back of her hatchback as I pulled out that Daryl Strawberry. I was hooked right then and there. I still love that 1984 set.

2. THis may sound nuts, but I’d say Sportsflics. Remember those? I think those lenticular motion cards really summed up what was about to make the hobby explode: How can we make cards that seem interesting to kids and adults?

3. I miss cheap wax boxes. A lot. An entire box of cards for under $15? That was when I could afford to keep buying packs to build my set rather than save a few months to buy one box, then track down singles on the internet. Back then, I could just trade my doubles for what I needed.

4. And this is what I’d in turn like to see revived. Why is Heritage $80 a box? Why not make a retro cardboard set, no inserts, just cool players and maybe a few league leaders (what we used to call “Specials” back then) and pack them out at 50 cents max. Then, people could trade their doubles. That’s what this hobby needs, more personal intereaction; and what better way to do that than by trading? Really, that used to be half the fun of collecting.

5. I think the lesson that we have overlooked is that card collecting used to be fun. Now all we see is disappointment if the “hits” are bad. “Man, all I got was a Trevor Cahill jersey. Can;t even see that for 2 bucks on eBay.” This is what’s wrong with the hobby. Collecting needs to be fun.

6. I agree wholeheartedly. Let’s go back to cheap wax that’s FUN to collect, not to invest.

Posted March 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
Ryan

1. I started collecting casually in 1988 as a five-year old. My mom would buy me packs of 1988 Topps at the market, which of course were sitting right next to the gummy bears and the Hershey’s Kisses at the checkout line. Since I lived near Los Angeles, any Dodgers cards, particularly of Fernando Valenzuela were highly desirable. I also had a big fascination with Bo Jackson because of his two-star status, which was quite unique.

2. As to what card defined the ’80s the most, probably the ’85 Topps McGwire, but you could make the case for many sets released during the ’80s that used extremely tacky border colors such as the late ’80s Donruss baseball sets and the ’89-90 Topps/OPC hockey. And let’s not forget the ’88-89 Topps/OPC hockey “thumbtack” design.

3. I miss that the industry used to require keeping your ear close to the ground on trying to predict the future. While one may sit on one copy of a RC to hope it attains additional value now, back in the ’80s the changing hands of 100 ct. lots of rookie cards were more common. Also, if you broke it down by the law of averages, it was probably more profitable then to open wax than it is now.

4. The only thing that I would revive is having that one massive set a year. Sets like ’05-06 Parkhurst hockey, the recent OPC hockey lines and the Topps Total baseball and basketball lines of the early aughts were refreshing. There should be one set a year dedicated to this practice at a $1/pack price point. Even current Topps baseball products don’t feature every player from the 25-man rosters.

5. I think that it took quite awhile for the industry to find the perfect medium for production of product. This was especially prevalent with the advent of the Internet which made otherwise impossible to find cards available. Also, cards in the ’80s were treated more like stocks; when it was necessary, more product was printed. That is a forbidden and frowned upon practice now but wasn’t then (think ’89 UD baseball). Now, we know production runs and see each product as a battle between supply and demand.

6. I find it difficult to see the older products selling other than key rookie cards from the era. Just too much out there.

Posted March 14, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

1. Started in 1988. ’88 Donruss was the first set I keyed on.

2. 1984 Topps Don Mattingly.

3. Simplicity and the fact that it was affordable. It wasn’t about what the card was worth, it was that you pulled a card of your favorite player or team.

4. The products themselves are better now than they were back then. Larger sets were nice – you got more than 2 players from your team in the set if you lived in Milwaukee or Baltimore.

5. Overproduction is only a concern if you are trying to use collecting as an investment strategy. Cards were simple and pure back then…now I don’t know what I’m pulling out of a pack – is it a red, green, blue, gold, or black parallel? Which back is on the card? How do I know? Make it easy, like it was back then.

6. It may be a wasteland if you’re under 25-30 years old. It is memories for us older guys. Younger collectors don’t know what it was like before chase cards and inserts. It’s all focused on what my card is worth now. Beckett has a lot to offer the hobby with it’s knowledge and data, but it also turned collecting from a hobby to a business for most people. Beckett can be seen as the best thing to happen to baseball card collecting, and the worst thing at the same time.

Posted March 14, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
Jerome J Wood SR

Jerry Wood West Allis,WI

I started casually collecting in 1987 when my older brother Bill got a rack/pack box of 1987 topps as a trade for some work he did for one of his clients. He gave me the box for christmas and said don’t open any these could be worth a-lot of money if the right rookie is showing on the top or bottom of the packs. Well as a kid being 10 I ripped into them a few weeks later and tried to “complete the set”. After not completing it I didn’t really care about collecting until about 5 years ago when my kids wanted some packs for christmas.After getting them what they wanted, I decided to get some 2007 then topps series 1 for myself and have been hooked ever since. I found a local card shop here in West Allis,WI called West Allis Sports cards and Gary the owner treated me great,and loved to talk about the hobby. I was amazed how cards in general changed,now jersey,autographs,patches etc. With the economy and being sick ,my collecting isn’t what it used to be but i still do open packs. The big card for the 80’s has to be Don Mattingly,and Wade Boggs rookie cards. I miss the nice design,some of you may think I am crazy, but they were simple but effective, and very appealing to my eyes! I would love to see a simple set maybe a few parallels and have a few hits.Like Score did back then with there 1991/1992 sets.With the chase being mantle autographs etc. and the real chase being the rookies or favorite player. Where trading your cards with somebody or a friend was fun besides the “who cost more” price.I do believe that over production was the main issue back then,but it seems these days everything is under produced to were a average person struggles to do what they love and that’s to collect! I do wish Upper Deck was still in baseball. I loved SP Authentic,and there regular series had great photo’s and great design.Once again SP Authentic a letter of a favorite player and a auto right on it how cool is that! And as a newer collector of 5 years I still love collecting the over produced stuff of the 80’s its affordable,has many of my favorite players, and it Also brings back the memories of childhood and my first box from my brother,and the set that is now “completed”.I loved that topps started to bring the older cards back with “The Cards Your Mom threw out” mini set. But what if Topps did that but made it into a full set, and included on card auto’s and memorabilia to throw in for the mix. And have the printing plates be the only 1 of 1’s to chase.That would be a “product”! All different year’s,the hottest players from then to now, and the cardboard we all remember them on all in one big set!

Posted March 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink
John Lewis

1. I started collecting in 1981. Every week when I went to the grocery store with my mother I would get a few rack packs of either Topps baseball or football depending on the season.

2. I have 2 that I think say 80’s the most. 1981 Topps Football Joe Montana and 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly

3. The thing I miss the most is NO AUTOGRAPHS, GAME USED OR INSERTS. In my eyes these have all ruined the hobby and priced kids out of becoming collectors.

4. I would like to see more set builder friendly products. The large number of short printed inserts (especially football rookie cards) make most sets not worth the cost of building them. By the time you buy all the individual short prints to build the set you have put 10 times as much money into the set as it will ever be worth.

5. Things not to do – overproduction (I can still buy boxes for many of the 1980’s sets for under $5). Things that should be done the way they were back then and not the way they are now – too many different products and entirely too many different subsets/inserts in each product. Do we really need up to 10 different A-Rod cards in every Topps set? I also like the TOpps heritage product but again too many short prints.

6. I agree. I recently bought several boxes of products from the 1980’s that, being a kid, I couldn’t afford back then, for example 2 boxes of every year of Sportflics from 1986-1990, and I only paid a total of $35 for all 10 boxes. Also, I never collected Score back then either so I’ve been buying wax and rack boxes of the first several years. I don’t collect for the value. I collect for the enjoyment and buying some of these older products brings back alot of memories.

Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
Randy Goodell

In 1964 at the age of 9,I purchased my first pack of bubblegum cards . I would’nt actually consider that the day’s of collecting .More like competing with friends and the hated kid across the street that clamored over his retched San Fransisco Giants cards . We put Those badly printed team cards in the spokes of our bicycles right next to Mays,Marichal,and McCovey ! (whoops!) Occasionaly we would actually trade Dodgers for Giants . Rubberband them together and carry them around in our back pockets ready to show them off at a moments notice. I guess 1980 would qualify as the comencement of my serious collecting days . To me thier are 4 cards that made a huge impact on the future of card collecting . Cal Ripken, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire’s 85 OLY and last but certainly not least the UD Griffey Jr. card . Revival of the 80’s could only be achieved by a crash of the market or at least a market correction . I miss the excitement of opening my new Beckett price guide and seeing the price of my precious Canseco cards reaching $1.00 and buying Kevin Mass rookies in bulk of 50 from Fritsch @ .50 cents ea. and watching them go all the way up to 5.00 ea. As I have stated in other places on this site , I have yet to ever trade or sell a single card in my posession . Whoop’s again . At least you can sell short and write it off on your taxes if you invest in stocks that tank. I guess maybe putting the gum back in the wax packs would make my day . Everytime I open a pack my kids still ask if thier is any gum .

Posted March 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
MIKE MARELICH

I love this idea. I still remember the day that I pulled my 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. RC card from the pack. I was 10 years old at the time and that card has been one of my most prized possessions ever since!

Posted March 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
David Blyn

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

A. I started collecting baseball cards in 1980 and was absolutely determined to find the 1979 Bump Wills error card. I knew about it, and I had the Blue Jays version, but I could never find the Rangers version. I put together the 1981 set card by card and fell 1 short – Rod Carew.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

A. I’m not sure there is one card that says “1980s” but what comes to mind is the 1984 Topps Traded Dwight Gooden. The promise and upside that card had, even as the overproduction began was huge and it was all wasted.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

A. Certainly the pricing of course but I think being part of the “boom” was incredibly cool. I remember going to shows with my father. I was looking at all the cards and keying in on rookies cards of the top stars and the occasional 100-ct lot of some rookie card I was speculating on (Ty Griffin was a solid choice I swear – so was Gary Thurman!) and my father, who was not a baseball card collector, decided to revisit his youth and buy back his beloved Brooklyn Dodger cards. Every show he would find vintage cards, write down what he spent and put them in a binder. One year, all of a sudden, we realized the 1957 Dodgers Sluggers card he bought for $8.00 was now $150. It was a true hobby awakening and it was cool to be in the middle of it.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

A. REAL ROOKIE CARDS PLEASE. Enough with this Bowman insanity, I don’t know if it’s a rookie card, a parallel or an insert. I think we can all agree from last year’s experience that having current year rookies in the sets makes them infinitely more collectible. And I actually believe we’re seeing a retro trend now with more retail products. You could, in the 1980’s, find cards everywhere. Now the Targets, K-Marts and Wal-Marts of the world have many retail choices to pick from. I also miss vending boxes which were usually inexpensive and a good way to complete sets.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

A. I think less is more. The insane number of sets produced throughout the 1990s and 2000s was just too much. I don’t think having one company is appropriate, or one brand, but at least we now have products that sell out. Time passes between product releases making each more desirable. I think 2 or 3 companies making sets at predetermined price levels would be great. The 1980’s spawned the premium card – 1989 Upper Deck. Topps, Donruss and Fleer were 50 cents a pack, and here comes Upper Deck at 89 cents!! (The Hobby was in an uproar over that price – at the time) Then Stadium Club and SP arrived. What’s wrong with each company producing a set at certain levels (Base Brand, Premium Brand, Super Premium Brand, Ultra Premium Brand) to try to make budgetary planning simpler and bring people back into the hobby.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

A. I wish we could have a renaissance of the collecting spirit, but if we do, it won’t be because of the overproduced sets of the mid 80’s through the early 90’s. Anybody collecting probably already has this stuff and doesn’t want any more of it. I get people all the time wanting to sell me these sets and I usually will only make a token offer and explain why. Each set has a key card or maybe a few key cards, the rest is just too overproduced and essentially worthless. I think we need to get kids back into collecting cards in order to stabilize the long-term health of this hobby and frankly, many cards are just too expensive. They are also a bit generic now. I don’t believe we truly appreciated the great Pacific inserts of the 1990’s. Gold Foil, prismatic foil, holofoil, die-cutting, are things of the past and that’s a great loss. The 2011 Topps set is a very nice set, but did anything really jump out at you when you opened a pack? If you pulled the Diamond Anniversary Parallel, that was probably it. Everything else seems very generic. The 1980’s stuff was also very generic, but at least it was simple to figure out. The stars of the 80’s are unfortunately lost in the baseball world. Collector’s want Bryce Harper, not Cal Ripken Jr. When I was a kid the RCs of the 70’s were monumental cards, the 1973 Schmidt, 1975 Brett, 1977 Murphy, 1978 Molitor Trammell – these were awesome cards that you HAD TO HAVE. Who does today’s collector want from the 2000’s? Albert Pujols, maybe Ichiro (oddly enough, both of whom had RC’s in their true rookie year). Make cards fun and interesting, less expensive and more readily available to kids and we’ll have a good start to bringing sportscard collecting out of the Great Depression it’s in now.

Posted March 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
Gary Hurd

1 I started collecting in earnest in 1980. We had just moved to Minnesota and my step-dad bought me and my brother each a pack of baseball at the local store. The first card I remember seeing was Don Money. Which I thought was kinda funny because his last name was money. (sorry I was 7 at the time)

2. If I had to pick one card that says 80’s it would be Joe Montana’s 1981 RC. For my birthday that year a friend got me a box of football and at the party we busted the packs, got no Joe but about 5 Walter Payton’s

3. Yes, being able to go the the nearest K-Mart of ShopKo, (because we had no Wal-Mart) and get a box for under 20 bucks

4. Yes, Topps should bring back the glossy send in sets. Those were awesome and would be great for autographs

5. I always thought that when Upper deck came in 89 that there were already too many companies. Granted that first set is very nice, but with it came the over a dollar pack, and it took some of the fun away. The things that worked were you knew there only so many companies (3) and that the high end stuff would be available (Tiffany) through dealers only. You didn’t have to worry if that 85 Kirby Puckett you just pulled out of the pack was his rookie or not, you knew it was.

6. I agree. I just recently decided to consentrate on building Topps sets from 1980 (which I have) to 2010. Base only no high end crap, because to me that is what collecting is about. I mean think about it, I believe it was 82 or 83 when I first got a price guide. Back then the 52 Mantle was only a few hundred bucks… so this stuff that is getting to be thirty years old, may start to rise in value shortly, not that it will ever reach the Mantle level but still.

Posted March 15, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink
Mark A Wines

I started collecting in 1978 when I was 8 years old, my father got me started. The first set I collected by hand was 1980 Topps and my favorite card from that set was the Ricky Henderson Rookie card with Modesto listed on the back which I still have in perfect condition today. My dad collected when he was young (1958 & 59) and used to flip cards with his friends against a wall and the person with the closest card to the wall got to keep em all. He saved his cards in a shoe box and gave them to me when I turned 14. Turned out he had 2 1959 Mickey Mantle #10 cards and a 1958 Mantle in excellent shape, along with four hundred and forty two 1958 and 59’s cards in all. Collecting for me seems to have had its cycles, stopping when I learned to drive at age 16 (to many other things to do) and then starting back up again in 1999 due to the HR record cards. Slowed back down again and restarted in 2010 with Stephen Strasburg being in my home town. I think the cards have come along way and are much neater looking today. Let’s remember the past but go hard into the precious present!!!

Posted March 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
steve archer

I technically started collecting in 1981, by purchasing a few packs/boxes of both football and baseball. I had opened most of the packs & then rubberbanded them in groups-mostly bulk but lika a lot of kids by teams as well….for reasons unclear to me now I left some packs unopened. Flash forward to early 1992 and thats when I really started my collection by finding those cards (within a paper grocery sack in my parents attic in their garage). I had a few football packs and a few baseball packs as well…plus I had 4 Montana RC’s……I then proceeded to trade my packs and all but one of the Montanas at several of the card shops we then had in my town (we have ZERO now) for items such as: 1990 score BB set, 1991 topps football set, etc. To most people this was a ridiculous thing to do…becasuse of the trade aspect and how I was receiving pretty much junk…..but, I was then and am now- A COLLECTOR and not AN INVESTOR. I still collect these days and have that 1981 football set I pieced together & although my Montana only came back a PSA 8…..I will always enjoy that part of my collection forever. Although the 80’s has the reputation of over-production (and there was) and mundane looking cardboard…..it was still then, a hobby to be enjoyed for mostly collecting and had not yet hit the ceiling for a greedy environment….but that all changed in 1989.

Posted March 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
BIGAIRBROWN

I started collecting in the late 80s and MY Favrit card had to be The Rickey Henderson rookie. It was just so cool and I was able to purchase a couple in jr high from a classmate. The card that reminds me of the 80S the most would have to be the Barry Bonds and Bo jackson rookie. I remember when there was a hobby shop on every corner . those were some good times .I used to go after school and hang out and bust wax. Mid 90s was when I stopped collecting . I moved on to high scool to bigger and better things like girls and sports. iI had put the cards away. know im 34 and just got back into collecting in 2007. I was amazed at What happened to the industry and with cards like autos and memrabilia. I do miss the the local hobby shop. But auther then that I dont miss the overproduction years. I wasted alot of hard earned money on cardboard crap
Thanks big air

Posted March 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
Jeff Fiedler

1) I started collecting in 1986 when I was seven. The first packs I can remember buying were Sportflics (still a horribly, horribly underappreciated brand; pulled a Bo Jackson rookie in my first pack, which was a mighty memorable way to kick off a collection, especially for this avid Bo fan), but the first set I remember buying a ton of was ’87 Topps baseball. For me, that was the best-looking of all of Topps’ baseball sets from the latter half of the ’80s – and still to this day one of its all-time most classic designs – and I just couldn’t get enough of it! The crop of rookies was fantastic, and I especially loved the Future Star subset – the Bo Jackson and Palmeiro rookies in that subset are two of the coolest-looking rookie cards of that time period. (I snatch up every copy of the former I come across in budget “monster boxes” at shows; I just LOOOVE that card! I must be up to 150 copies by now …) (I’ve managed to score a Tiffany version of the latter since those days, which is even cooler to look at, though a Tiffany copy of the former continues to elude me. One day …)
2) The card that most says “1980s” to me is Jose Canseco’s ’86 Donruss Rated Rookie card. It may not be the most sought-after or famous card of that decade nowadays, but THAT was the card that all my collector friends and I most salivated over at the time and dreamt of owning eventually. I didn’t finally get one until the end of the ’90s (and unknowingly, since I actually discovered it in a box of mixed cards I got at a flea market), but even then – long after the card had reached its peak value and level of popularity – I can still remember thinking, “I can’t believe I actually own one of these after all these years!” My jaw just dropped when I pulled that thing out of the box. It still had that aura about it for me, even at just a tiny fraction of its former value.
3) There are two things I miss – and miss HORRIBLY – about the collecting landscape in the ’80s:
– For starters, when was the last time you saw collectors get excited over base cards (and short-print variations like those in 2010 Topps don’t count, folks) – just a simple same-print-run-as-every-other-card-in-that-set base card? When was the last time you saw someone got excited over a SUBSET card? (Heck, how often anymore do you even hear the WORD “subset”?) Most collectors these days can’t seem to get excited over a card unless it’s got an autograph or swatch of memorabilia on it. I have quite seriously seen people buy packs and throw all the base cards they’ve pulled from it into the garbage. How did the hobby ever come to that??? Autographed inserts weren’t so awful when there were just one or two signed cards to be found per product and you had to literally rip open several thousands of packs to find one – i.e. the Sandberg “Signature Series” card pull in ’91 Donruss – but the hobby eventually took them to the point where pulling one no longer was quite as meaningful or shocking and a box without a game-used or signed card was suddenly considered a lemon, whereas, in the ’80s and early ’90s, you had people getting excited over simple and plentiful subsets like Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies and Dream Team. The hobby was healthier for that. It just all became about hitting the big-money cards and base cards suddenly became almost an annoyance to box-breakers – how did we allow ourselves to ever get to that? We didn’t need those cards back THEN – why do we demand them NOW?
The more we’ve lost our ability to appreciate little things like that, the worse the state of the hobby seems to get.
– Secondly, I miss being able to buy a pack of cards for fifty cents at most and being able to come home with a whole bagful of ten to fifteen packs for $5. THAT is the definition of collector-friendly. Yeah, the production quality of cards may be better these days, but … when you’re just a little kid, that kind of thing doesn’t matter; even when Upper Deck came into the hobby, I was impressed, yeah, but I still faithfully stuck with my cheaper Topps and Donruss and Score packs, just so I could have more packs to open when I got home! We’re never gonna bring enough kids back into the hobby to ensure its continued existence unless we can do something more about pack prices. Just make a back-to-basics, simple cardboard set again if you have to – no signed or game-used cards, certainly; just a few inserts, if any at all; and make the base cards no more lavish than, say, any Score set from the ’80s [Score cards from the '80s and early '90s were FANTASTIC for a kid collector - full-color, easy-to-read backs; heavily info-laden; the best and coolest-looking subsets of any brand out there; and all for the same price tag that every other brand carried] and top them at 50 cents a pack. That was the absolute perfect price for a pack of cards; once you could no longer get a pack for the same price as a candy bar or bag of M&M’s, the hobby just lost something for me. We badly need a product like that right now – something you could actually buy a full, 36-pack wax box of for under $20. (Oh, how I miss that!) $10-and-up blaster boxes of five or six packs are NOT going to bring all the young collectors back. You can buy a full box of any ’89 product for less than that these days and have at least four times more the amount of packs to open. But today’s 10-year-old collector doesn’t want to open an ’80s product, of course – they want/need a set that consumer-friendly but with today’s players; who’s offering that to them???
4) Other than pack prices? I miss 36-packs-per-wax-box, 15-cards-per-pack being the standard rather than the rarity it now is; you got a heck of a lot more cards for your money back then, and they also provided a longer source of entertainment. You can bust most boxes today in a matter of minutes – not a whole heck of a lot of fun. And you bust open most boxes today and look at the height (or lack of) of the stack of cards you’ve just pulled and you can’t help but think, “Wow, that ain’t a whole lot of cards for me to put away …”
I also miss insert sets being almost exclusively a rack-pack phenomenon (i.e. Fleer’s Hall of Famers, Headliners, For the Record, etc., one-per-rack-pack inserts of the late ’80s); it kept the number of insert sets to a minimum – which, in turn, meant a greater number of (and more lovingly-crafted) subsets; when inserts started to explode in the ’90s, subsets became all but a total afterthought to the manufacturers – and presented an additional small (but not buyer-unfriendly) challenge for the more ambitious collector. (Rack packs were awesome. They still technically exist, yeah, but they’re fairly obscure these days and I can’t remember the last time I saw one for anything less than four or five dollars, which is a complete turnoff. When I first started collecting, I could get three or four rack packs for that kind of money.)
5) I think the most important lesson to be learned from comparing the ’80 card market to today: kids are as important to the market as adult collectors. The manufacturers lost complete sight of that. The industry dug itself into a huge hole by pricing kids out of the hobby and have never really recovered from that.
The next lesson: the simpler, the better. The more different products you issue – and the more complicated those products (i.e. multiple and hard-to-distinguish parallel sets, too many short-print cards, etc.) – the less attractive it is to a potential collector, irregardless of their age but ESPECIALLY for a kid debating whether to pick up the hobby. Rave if you must about 1/1’s, but card collecting was arguably much more fun – and unquestionably more kid-friendly, anyway – when it was still feasible to obtain a copy of every existing card to that point of your favorite player. A kid in 2011 can no longer do that the way we could back in the ’80s, and the hobby is worse off for that. I mean, why even BOTHER keeping a checklist these days of your favorite player’s cards? – it’s a totally lost cause trying to obtain a copy of each (particularly if you are a kid and hence have a very limited amount of money at your disposal), a totally lost cause. That never used to be the case.
One thing I can say I definitely do NOT miss about collecting in the ’80s: the gum. It was terrible, and it nearly always left a stain on the back of the bottom card in the pack. I know some people get nostalgic for when packs still had gum in them, but … I myself do not miss that. I also don’t miss oversized sets like ’89 Bowman and all the Topps Big sets; those things were a royal pain to store. I was really glad to see that fad go away.
6) You hear hobbyists and dealers these days complain all the time – and I mean all the time – about late ’80s/early ’90s overproduction, but here’s the thing everyone completely fails to remember and appreciate: that era MADE this hobby. The cards may have been overly plentiful in those years, but so were the card shops and the number of customers IN those shops. (Conversely, when the production numbers started shooting significantly down, so did the number of shops and the number of collectors.)
I can’t remember ever being in a shop on a Saturday afternoon back then where it wasn’t jam-packed – and I mean jam-packed – with other kids. Kids buying fistfuls of packs and tearing them open and trading cards, and of what? – over-produced product. Donruss, Pro Set, NBA Hoops. It didn’t matter to us that it was over-produced. WE didn’t see it as overproduction. “Overproduction” is just something people who were only in the hobby for the money/investment thought about. We knew the cards were ubiquitous – we didn’t care! (Actually, the overproduction made it more FUN for us, ’cause there were a lot more stores and places for us to ACQUIRE more because of it!) All we cared was that this was a really cheap and fun hobby. Most young collectors back then were in it for the fun of it (and make new friends in the process), not as any kind of serious investment. We weren’t expecting to strike it rich from buying this stuff. We didn’t really pay any concern to production numbers. I don’t know why the manufacturers ever thought us young collectors cared about that. [When they clamped down substantially on production numbers and the prices shot up as a result, my brother and I saw that as an effort to play to the in-it-for-the-investment faction of the collecting world and move away from the in-it-for-the-entertainment crowd that most of us youth belonged to, and we bailed from the hobby as a result. I eventually came back, obviously (but now buy cards almost exclusively via shows and seldom buy any packs of new product; I bust older wax when I'm in a pack-busting mood) but my brother never did; the whole thing just soured his perception of the manufacturers and their appreciation (or lack of, rather) of us younger collectors.]
And it was a rare thing back then to find a drugstore or gas station or kwik-e-mart without a box of that year’s Topps product on its counters next to the register or mixed with the impulse-purchase candy. That was actually a really beautiful thing for the hobby. It created more collectors. There were a lot of impulse pack purchases back then, by kids and adults alike. You don’t see that anymore. [When was the last time you were in a gas station and saw someone throw a pack of cards on the counter to go with their bottle of soda? It doesn't happen.] People without card shops nearby still had no shortage of places to obtain packs. These days, you have to hunt high and low in a convenience store or drugstore to find where the boxes of cards are, if they carry any at all. Most toy stores these days don’t even carry sportscards, and I can’t remember a toy store from my youth – chain or independent – that DIDN’T have a wonderful and affordable sportscard section.
Curse the overproduction of the era if you must, but the hobby was BOOMING then, was it not? Do you have nearly as many customers – and particularly kid/beginning collectors – now as you did then?

Posted March 16, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink
Jeff Fiedler

Sorry; forgot to include my location in my post earlier today! The previous post was from Jeff Fiedler in Washington Crossing, PA.

Posted March 16, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink
Arik Florimonte

Arik Florimonte
Sunnyvale, CA

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s?

A. I guess I started around 1978, when I was 7, because that’s the first year that I had a high volume of cards. I spent hours playing baseball games using the game on the backs of those cards, and to this day I can still remember which cards had “Home Run” on the back.

The first set I finished was 1980 Topps. I had everything but the Gene Richards card, and i traded an older kid ALL of my doubles for it. Later on, and for a long time I lamented all the valuable cards I gave away, until I realized that nearly all my cards from back then were so trashed that they weren’t worth any money anyway.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most?

A. I’m going to pick three. First, the 1987 Topps Bonds card, since I am a Pirates fan and I bought about 30 of them hoping they’d skyrocket in value. Second, the 1982 Ripken rookie sticks out, that was the first time I realized that those “future stars” cards counted as “Rookie cards”! My favorite card from the 80s was the 1980 Nolan Ryan — I loved the color and composition of that photo, even when I was 9.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector?

A. I miss having only a few sets to collect. It is still way too confusing, and it’s impossible to collect all the cards of your favorite player. I actually tried to come back to the hobby in the early 90s, and again around 2000, but got turned off by the sheer variety and the confusion it created. I also miss being able to buy cards at the liquor store or drug store.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived?

A. Again, I liked the simplicity of having only one base set. I realize that’s not feasible any more, so here’s something easy: I still love the “All-Star” cards that were the same as the base cards, but just added a special All Star banner or logo on them. I think those only ran through 1981, so maybe that’s more of a 70s thing. In general I think one card of each player in each set is enough. I don’t know why we need 4 different Jeters or half a dozen Strasburgs in a set. And I’d really like Topps to “revive” the absence of Mickey Mantle cards in every set! Enough already! (That said, I admit I was a fan of the Topps short prints in 2009 and 2010)

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … )

A. To me, the hobby was born around 1980, when people realized old cards were worth money! What came after that were repeated attempts to capitalize on the newly discovered “value” of cards, much of it misguided because it ignored the health of the hobby. Overproduction and too many products were big turn-offs. I think the main lesson still hasn’t been learned: people don’t like to have to choose! If there’s only one or two different sets, you can go after everything, and that’s a lot more satisfying than having to, say, pick one set and a few players to collect and ignore 90% of what’s out there.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?

A. There are some advantages to the overproduction. For example, it’s easy to find cards of your favorite players cheaply, and some of them are even nice cards. And I might even be able to afford to put together a high-end graded set if I wanted. As an investment, they ain’t much, but if you’re in it because you love baseball and you love collecting, there’s something to like.

Posted March 17, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink
Bill Palian

1. When did you start collecting — and was there one set or card that you keyed upon early on during the 80s? I started collecting in 1974 when I was 8 years-old. My brother started collecting the set with me and I was hooked. Growing up in Maine the son of a die hard Pirates fan it was a lean time for Pirates in the 80s until Barry Bonds and his 1986 Update and 1987 base rookies. I put several into my collection. Prior to that it was the 1983 Wade Boggs rookie. There wan’t a hotter card in New England in the 80s.

2. What card — any sport — do you think says “1980s” the most? The 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly rookie. It was a hint of what was to come for cards. More limited production and nicer designs.

3. Is there anything you miss about the 1980s card landscape as a collector? The simplicity of collecting a set. No short prints or ten different insert sets to chase.

4. Is there anything that you miss about the 1980s products that you’d like to see revived? I think the best things have continued and the bad things (gum you could crack a tooth on) have gone away.

5. It’s clear that the hobby as we see it today was born and exploded in the 1980s. What, in your mind, were some of the lessons that we learned from then to now? (Overproduction, fewer products … things to be aware of. On the other hand, things that worked … ) If you make a nice looking product with good photos and nice action shots people will purchase it. There is a fine line between overproduction and too limited and I think that balance has been reached.

6. Some people see 1980s wax/sets as a wasteland of overproduced stuff, but part of me wants to say that perhaps those grounds are possibly a key part of reviving the hobby beyond just new products. The stuff is largely readily available, often very affordable and is probably what a lot of 30-somethings remember as kids. Thoughts?
I have gone back and let my kid open a cheap box just for the trill of opening packs. They have their favorite teams and trying to buy all the new stuff for them would send me to the poor house. 1980s cards are a good way to introdce kids to the hobby and not break your bank.

Posted March 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
Bill Palian

Forgot
Bill Palian
Charlotte, NC

Posted March 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
Brian Lowe

1. Started collecting 1990 (jr. in college). I targeted the coveted 1989 UD Griffey Jr. and 1986-87 Fleer Jordan cards.
2. Though I think both UD Griffey and F Jordan RC’s represented the 80’s well, I have to go with
Jordan. Baseball uniforms have pretty much remained the same throughout time, but the
basketball uniforms of the 80’s with those short shorts and calf high socks depicts this era so
well.
3. No
4. No
5. Some lessons I’ve learned along the way is not to get sucked into the hype of the “new”
phenom before having proved him/herself and throw all your eggs into one basket
(Brien Taylor, Larry Johnson, Phil Plantier, Todd Van Poppel); collect for the love of the
hobby/sport and not for greed, otherwise become a dealer and worry about making a quick
turnaround; and sometimes you gotta put the hobby aside for other priorities (girls). Sorry,
but sometimes you have to bite the big one (paid for wife’s engagement ring with RC’s of
Jordan, Nolan Ryan, Kobe Bryant, and Griffey Jr.) All have found their way home with the
exception of Jordan.

Posted August 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

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