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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Reader poll: Video card questions

At this point, collectors have been exposed to images, videos and articles on the industry’s first video trading cards. Through their own marketing campaigns, Panini America and Upper Deck have made sure to keep consumers and media outlets in the know about their respective innovations.

Knowing what we know (and what we know you know), we dreamed up a quick poll to wrangle up some collector opinions. After you’ve reviewed the following images and mulled over the concept, please take a minute to respond to our six-question survey.

Also, feel free to weigh in with additional thoughts and commentary below.

Which video card would you rather have?

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How do you feel about this hobby innovation?

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Do you think that Topps will create a competing video card?

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(Three more questions after the jump.)
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Leaf adds “winning” element to upcoming non-sports card set … Charlie Sheen

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

Leaf announced Tuesday that it has added an extra celebrity autograph to the fold for its upcoming 2011 Pop Century non-sports set.

Charlie Sheen.

The eccentric star of Major League and several other movies completed a signing with the company on Saturday, according to company owner Brian Gray.

“We are confident that demand for Charlie’s signature is at an all-time high,” Gray said, “and customers will be excited for this awesome checklist improvement at no additional cost.”

Sheen’s only other autographed card is his 2004 Playoff Honors Fans of the Game card. Sheen signed just 250 copies and it checks in at No. 11 on this month’s Beckett Sports Card Monthly Hot List at $300. The standard card, above, is $3.

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

Lunch break video: Blake Griffin rips packs at Panini

By Andrew Tolentino | Editor

While Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Mavericks last week, the superstar’s trip to the Big D was far from being a bust in the hobby. As previously mentioned, Griffin made a pit stop at Panini America headquarters to do some quality controlling on his soon-to-release HRX video card.

The NBA’s hottest rookie — a self-identified former collector — also took some time to sit down and break some boxes with Panini America CEO Mark Warsop.

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Harper’s first MiLB card coming in Topps’ Pro Debut

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

Baseball’s wonder kid may not be in The Show, but he’s already on at least one officially licensed Topps baseball card as a pro — as a member of the Hagerstown Suns.

Topps unveiled Tuesday that teen-age Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper will appear on his first  minor league card in the forthcoming 2011 Topps Pro Debut set, which arrives on June 1. Topps, the exclusive licensee for Minor League Baseball, also will include a 1/1 Cut Signature into packs. That card will include a piece of a baseball used in his first pro game in the Arizona Fall League.

See that card after the jump.

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Panini returns fire in war of words over video cards

By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor | Commentary

One might think that the cards themselves — and the reaction of the NBA’s hottest rookieBlake Griffin – would say enough about Panini America‘s Highlight Reel Experience, or HRX, NBA video cards.

Apparently not.

The return shot in what is the war of words over video trading cards arrived from Panini on Monday as it took on Upper Deck‘s forthcoming NCAA football line, continuing the shots that first came from California a couple weeks ago.

“To be sure, this is no ‘concept,'” read the Panini blog on Monday afternoon. “It’s Panini HRX – and it’s revolutionary. It will take the trading card category to new heights by providing up to 30 minutes of HD-quality video content. It will also bring collectors and sports fans in basketball, football, hockey and every other sport Panini has a presence in their very own Highlight Reel Xperience, beginning with limited Panini HRX autographed versions of Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and John Wall inserted into 2010-11 Totally Certified Basketball (or should we call it “Totally Licensed?”).

Or, should we call it Totally Licensed? Clearly, the gloves are off.

Panini was the first company to unveil plans for a video card at a recent industry event in Las Vegas. Two days after Panini’s news, Upper Deck pulled back the curtain on a project that it had been teasing, Evolution. That turned out to be a line of video cards set to arrive starting tomorrow in packs of 2011 Upper Deck Football.

Perhaps it was that sting that prompted the following on the Upper Deck blog:

“No. 1, they have a concept, we have a card,” wrote Upper Deck Customer Care Manager Nick Leslie. “That is very important. We didn’t share anything about the Upper Deck Evolution cards until we had the actual cards in-house to show off. The reason why is because these are not easy to make. What Panini has shared is a concept for what they think their video card will be along with a mock-up. They have not shared an actual card. We could mock-up a flying trading card, that doesn’t mean we have one ready to go. From concept to final product is a long distance.”

And Leslie wasn’t done there.

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Ever wanted five pairs of LeBron James’ game-used shoes all at once? Now’s your chance …

By Chris Olds | BSCM Editor

They’re not quite vintage, but they’re still impressive and they’re available in one fell swoop.

Among the lots in Memory Lane Inc.’s latest auction is one that features five pairs of game-used LeBron James size 16 Nikes — all worn during Games 2-6 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals. Each is signed as a 1/1 and was acquired and witnessed by Upper Deck Authenticated. The minimum bid? $5,000.  The event opened on Saturday and all auctions will close on April 28.

Among the other notable items up for grabs — particularly for the baseball crowd — are a game-used Babe Ruth bat ordered from the factory in August 1920, a baseball signed by both Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927 and game-used baseball bats from Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio and Roger Maris.

Back to hoops, Memory Lane also has for sale several lots of Michael Jordan memorabilia — basketballs, jerseys, photos, shoes, cards and even some baseball items.

Also up for grabs are several high-grade vintage cards, including a 1933 Goudey Ruth and a PSA 5 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle along with several notable Rookie Cards: 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax, 1954 Topps Hank Aaron, 1963 Topps Pete Rose, 1948 Bowman George Mikan, 1965 Topps Joe Namath, 1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor,  1970-71 Topps Pete Maravich and a 1979-80 Topps Wayne Gretzky.

For more on the auction, or merely to browse, click the link above.

Topps appoints new VP for sports and entertainment

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

Topps announced that it has a new Vice President and General Manager of its sports and entertainment divisions on Monday.

Doug Kruep, who previously worked for the Jarden Corporation where he served as Vice President and General Manager for its games and crafts division, will manage the company’s lines in the United States. He will oversee brand management, product development, operations, finance and more, according to the company.

He will report to Topps CEO and President Ryan O’Hara.

“Doug brings a mix of core management and marketing skills, energy and innovation to Topps,” O’Hara said.  “His background and experience is ideally suited for the job and we’re excited about his joining Topps at the ideal juncture.”

Kruep previously worked for Sanford Brands and the Tommy Armour Golf Company.

Nick Charles appears on Topps trading card

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Nick Charles was known for his smooth delivery and bushy black hair when he announced sporting events on television. He was iconic figure for many of us growing up, especially when it came to memorable boxing matches.

CNN recently examined Charles’ current struggle with cancer and how he plans to live out the rest of his life. Physically, Charles is just a shell of the man he once was, but this article will show you just how much spirit he has.

Maybe now more than ever.

This is a great piece and well worth the read. In it, there is also a mention of  Charles’ lone appearance on a trading card.

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Weekend Wonder: cardboard as a canvas

By Andrew Tolentino | Editor

This week’s Weekend Wonder is an invitation to explore cardboard as a canvas.

Earlier this week, artist Monty Sheldon gave his fans a glimpse of the creative process he used to execute his work for 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen. Sheldon — among other great sports artists — offer another layer to collecting.

Lending their unique styles and strokes to card sets, legends like Dick Perez (whose work is featured above) commemorate players beyond purchased photography and digital enhancements. Their handmade creations redefine one-of-kind.

In the forthcoming issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at art-driven cards and we’d like to kick start our creative process with some of your thoughts. If you have a moment this weekend, please feel free to comment here with your favorite art sets, cards, sports artists and — most importantly — why you’re a fan.

Also, just as a bonus prompt — from which famous artist(s) (dead or alive) would you like to see a cardboard creation?

Weekly Highlights (April 4 – April 8)

Interview of the week


Inside scoop

Collector voices

First Pricing

Product peeks

Auction action

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Meet the LeBrons … again

By Andrew Tolentino | Editor

During the same week his mother was arrested for allegedly assaulting a valet attendant, LeBron James debuted his animated series “The Lebrons.”

Apparently in a collaborative effort with technology giants HP and Intel, James created the series using the four alter-egos previously created for his Nike campaign. Though his voice appears to be absent, James quadruply stars in the cartoon as “Kid,” “Athlete,” “Business” and “Wise” versions of himself. (The following opening sequence explains the multiple-personality makeup by way of hip-hop.)

Through the efforts of Upper Deck, the hobby has already seen The LeBrons on cardboard and in toy form, but this animated revival might just inspire the arrival of more character-based collectibles. After you watch the video, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on the return and which “LeBron” character is your favorite.

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Topps’ 2011 baseball factory sets will include bonus

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

This year’s edition of the hobby’s most-collected baseball card set, the Topps flagship brand, will arrive in factory set form in mid-July packing a bit of a bonus.

The hobby shop version will include a pack of five red parallel cards — a random assortment from the 660-card set — along with every card in Series 1 and 2.

There have been various retail-bonus versions of the set produced in recent years, but this is the lone version of the product unveiled thus far this year. The hobby box features 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols and All-Star mainstay Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners.

It will ship immediately after the MLB All-Star Game, set for July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

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

Clippers star Blake Griffin: Panini’s HRX video cards will be ‘game-changing’

By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor

As part of his first day on the job as Panini America‘s newest spokesman, Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin signed many an autograph — and then he got treated like a rookie.

Perhaps it was a bit of hazing … err, maybe not. What was his new role?

They made him work the phones.

“Panini America, this is Blake. How may I help you?” he said as he took a call Thursday afternoon from Panini HQ in Dallas.

After the pleasantries and introductions were exchanged, though, Griffin sounded like a pro, a real veteran — well, at least until he started talking about the forthcoming Panini HRX video cards. Then, he sounded even more excited. You see, one of the perks of the job was being one of the first people in the world — well, besides a few other Panini America employees — to get his hands on one of the video cards.

“It’s unbelievable, man. I just got to see it,” said the 6-foot-10 former University of Oklahoma standout. “It’s crazy. You never think something like that is going to happen and then to actually see it … it’s going to be game-changing.”

So, what did he think after he hit the play button?

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Panini America signs Blake Griffin to exclusive deal; unveils Panini HRX video cards

By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor

Panini America‘s roster of exclusive spokesman grew by one — a big one — Thursday as Los Angeles Clippers rookie phenom Blake Griffin signed a multi-year autograph and memorabilia deal with the company.

Griffin, the leading candidate for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, joins Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and No. 1 draft pick John Wall of the Washington Wizards as part of the Panini-exclusive team.

“Panini America will forever hold a special place for me because it’s the company that helped make a dream come true by producing my first NBA trading cards,” Griffin said while in Dallas Thursday for a signing.  “The opportunity to join the Panini family and work with a company that is at the forefront of innovation and has reinvigorated the trading card category is special.”

Griffin and the other exclusives will be showcased on memorabilia lines through the new Panini Authentic memorabilia lines — as well as appear on packaging for trading cards and other products. Oh, and they’ll all be appearing on Panini HRX HD video trading cards soon as well as the company offered more details on its upcoming product.

The company is billing Panini HRX as “the industry’s first video trading cards that have been in development for the last 18 months” with the intent to “bring collectors closer to the athletes with unique behind-the-scenes content and individualized footage.”

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Lockout or not, Panini presses on with 2011 Football

By Andrew Tolentino | Football Editor

Panini America recently revealed an in-production gallery, featuring the likes of 2011 Score, Prestige and Donruss Elite. No matter the contentious nature of the season that might not happen, football card manufacturers seem to be pressing on in a business-as-usual fashion — a reassuring sign for enthusiasts looking to savor (and potentially salvage) the game they adore.

Early season lines like 2011 Press Pass, SAGE HIT (High and Low Series) and Leaf Metal Draft have already hit the streets with a cardboard debut for the incoming draft class. And the major manufacturers — as Panini demonstrates here — aren’t far behind. Read More »

Who’s on your Allen & Ginter autograph dream team?

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor | Commentary
(Note: The card above is 133 percent fake … But you had to see how cool it could look!)

One spring ritual for baseball card collectors is wishing for a certain baseball player or non-athlete to appear on a Topps Allen & Ginter autograph card — whether it be via a traditional signing or via the cut autograph route.

While many players — and some very notable athletes from other sports — have appeared on cards in the popular baseball card line since its arrival in 2006, there are some who have yet to appear on framed mini autographs in the product based on the 1880s cards of the same name. And, given the popularity of the brand — or at least this writer’s obsession with mini-sized tobacco cards — that’s a shame.

This year’s example of Ginter autograph discussions popped up on Twitter recently with collectors offering up their top-five picks for whom they’d want to see on Allen & Ginter cards in the future. For me, the No. 1 Ginter autograph card is easy — and easily predictable if you’re a regular reader here — it’s one of New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher.

Rather than just tweet my top five — in 140 characters or less — I figured I’d rather be windy about it and present my top five. The 2008 Swisher above is a melding two past Ginter cards so I can make my case visually. Would I like to see it happen? Of course, but I know that things happen when it comes to dreams of collectors — their demands may not be as universal or essential to a majority of collectors — meeting realities of budgets, time constraints and players’ signing habits/fees.

I didn’t whip up cards for the remainder of my Top Five (all living and available signers) — but you can see who and why I picked the five that I did … after the jump.

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Press Pass’ Crystal Ball sees itself in 2011 Premium Racing

By Andrew Tolentino

Press Pass revealed today a blast from its own past — Crystal Ball inserts — slated for a return in 2011 Premium Racing.

As seen below in the first Jeff Gordon card,  previous Crystal Ball cards were produced with elaborate foil etching and high-saturation images, giving collectors a glimpse at the driver’s future. In the late-April release of Premium, racing enthusiasts can expect a toned-down version of the concept, but still coupled with a degree of mysticism. Read More »

Muhammad Ali’s autograph cards floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee

By Chris Olds | BSCM Editor

If we could hear Muhammad Ali now, he might be saying “I’m gonna float like a butterfly, sting like a bee … and ain’t nobody selling cards quite like me.”

The 69-year-old former world heavyweight boxing champ has fought Parkinson’s disease for years now, leaving him silent and more fragile than in his fighting years, but that didn’t stop him from signing a limited number of cards for the 2011 Leaf Muhammad Ali card set. A small number of those cards were cards that included a swatch from a pair of his fight-worn trunks and they’re raking in the bucks these days in online auctions.

How much?

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Artist Monty Sheldon pulls back curtain on 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen inclusion

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

Topps‘ latest retro baseball card set — the inaugural Gypsy Queen release — will include many things that will make collectors think “retro,” but one inclusion in the forthcoming set is far from oldschool.

In fact, it’s something that’s never been done before.

What’s the surprise? Sketch Patch Relic cards — a game-used memorabilia with a one-of-a-kind pencil and paint sketch around the memorabilia piece.

Oregon-based sports artist Monty Sheldon produced 25 works for the set and kindly shared them with Beckett Media to show collectors what they can expect to find when the product arrives on April 20. He started with a blank card, added a pencil sketch based on reference photos Topps provided and then did the final paintings all on the same card, each a 1/1 that will be found inside packs.

Sheldon has done some interesting work through the years from his artwork on baseballs to a series of sketch cards he produced coinciding with the anniversary of the Black Sox scandal, but it’s easy to see that these are some of the most unique baseball cards ever made.

See a gallery of all 25 from Sheldon after the jump.

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First look: 2011 Topps Lineage baseball cards

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

Topps unveiled a new baseball card product line on Tuesday — and it’s one with nods to the past from the 1950s, 1970s and more.

Topps Lineage will include on-card autographs in the style of the famed 1952 set, a mini Relic set featuring the 1975 design and much more as a meshing of old and new arrives on Aug. 15.

Every 24-pack hobby box will include two autographs — at least one signed directly on the card — along with one Relic card. Hobby-only inserts will include Canary Diamond autograph cards — a nod of sorts to the 2011 Topps inserts — as well as Jumbo Relic and patch cards, Topps Giants box-loaders, 60th Anniversary ring redemptions and more.

See images and read more after the jump.

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Topps reveals Royal Wedding card set

By Andrew Tolentino

As previously mentioned, Topps announced its plans to commemorate the royal union of Prince William and Kate Middleton in packs of 2011 Gypsy Queen baseball cards.

Today the manufacturer on this side of the pond unveiled a six-card glance at 2011 The Royal Wedding — a separate  stately set, altogether.

Depicted by 100 photos in the 50-card set, the royal couple’s story on cardboard is scheduled to debut on QVC — befittingly during the Royal Affair broadcast on April 29 at 1 p.m. ET.

“This tribute to the Royal Wedding of William and Kate carries on the company’s proud tradition of documenting significant and newsworthy moments in time,” noted Topps CEO Ryan O’Hara.

At this point, Topps hasn’t released any information on alternative availability for the power couple’s cards, but the hobby is bound to get a closer look in the coming days. Stay tuned to Beckett.com for more news on collecting the future king and queen.

Retail Rundown: 2011-12 Victory Hockey

By Andrew Tolentino | Hockey Editor

Upper Deck recently released details regarding the late-summer retail release of 2011-12 Victory Hockey.

For hockey fans looking to jump start their 2011-12 collections, this is a brand that hits early and delivers desirably for retail rippers. Each 36-card fat pack should yield: two red parallels, one rookie or superstar insert, and two Victory Rookies.

New to the set are MVP cards, with regular players inserted one in every three packs and MVP rookies falling one in every 18 packs. Read More »

Rippin’ Retail: 2011 Topps Heritage Baseball

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Join Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds as he makes an adventure of going to Target to find baseball cards in this latest Rippin’ Retail video.

What else does he find during the adventure? Find out if you dare …

Preview Gallery: 2011 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions autographs

By Chris Olds | BSCM Editor

Upper Deck is busy preparing its latest Goodwin Champions release, which is slated to arrive this summer, and it’s going to include plenty of autographs from plenty of sports.

Make that plenty of autographed cards from plenty of sports.

The company teased the selection of signatures — from the iconic heights of hockey’s Wayne Gretzky and basketball’s Michael Jordan to the controversial in ex-baseball star Jose Canseco – on Friday evening.

The initial release of Goodwin in 2009 included some of the most unusual cards ever made — insects, pieces of the Golden Gate Bridge, thoroughbred horse hair and more were found in packs along with autographs of some of the biggest names in sports. Based on this selection, looks like the autograph side just might be covered once again this year.

Here’s a sampling of the signatures to be found … after the jump.

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Weekend Wonder: Upper Deck’s Video Trading Card

By Andrew Tolentino | Football Editor

This weekend’s Weekend Wonder is:  Upper Deck’s Evolution — soon to be the market’s first video trading card.

Because this innovation has already received its fair share of knee-jerk reactions — positive and negative — we’re hoping for a little more elaboration here. Considering both sides of the coin, tell us why you love it, hate it, or even explain why you’re entirely indifferent about it.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, feel free to respond to part or all of this long-winded prompt, specifically:

Despite previous attempts by Upper Deck — and other industry leaders — to create tech-based collectibles, many of these concepts seem to have flopped in the hobby. What then, is the significance or motivation for moving beyond the basics? Why would a manufacturer expand with modern technology when the core of its existence is something as simple as cardboard? How do future generations of collectors benefit or suffer from these efforts?

No matter your stance, your voice is crucial to the collecting world. Tell us and other hobbyists what you’re thinking this weekend. Who knows? Your words might end up in the next issue of Beckett Football.

Andrew Tolentino is the editor of Beckett Football and Beckett Hockey. Ask him a question, send him a rant or spark a dialogue via e-mail at atolentino@beckett.com or tweet him @tolentinotweets