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Category Archives: Non-Sports

A half-day where the magic happens … visiting Panini America’s headquarters


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Commentary

IRVING, Texas | Monday marked the first day of school for many down here in The Lone Star State, and on Tuesday I felt the exact same way by setting foot in a place I hadn’t been before to learn a thing or two.

I spent a half-day at Panini America‘s headquarters.

There were no first-day jitters, there was no daydreaming at what was going on outside in the 100-degree Texas heat. There was plenty inside that was piquing my collecting interest as some of the company’s plans, products and strategies were discussed for future pieces and the collectibles ideas flowed like water. My teacher list included names I had known from years of ripping packs and writing about the hobby — and a few of them were mentioned on the backs of cards that can be found in my stash. (They’re probably on yours, too.)

From the outside, the simple white building in an industrial park adjacent to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport could be easily missed with some simple signage that blends in well with its neighbors — companies perhaps without the kind of magic among their inventory and readied on their own loading docks nearby. But with just a quick walking tour of Panini’s place, though, it was apparent that this spot has perhaps the perfect combination of collecting and commerce, a blend of bold ideas and brash business sense — you know, something strong, something energetic and also something intangible in the mix — to make it all happen.

It’s a place where collecting comes to life daily.

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First Look: 2014 Topps Star Wars Masterwork trading cards


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

This one could be a high-end force.

Topps offered the first looks and full details on an upcoming high-end Star Wars brand on Monday, and it’s 2014 Star Wars Masterwork which is set to arrive in mid-December packing a hit in every pack of a four-pack $200 box.

It’s Museum Collection meets sci-fi with an autograph, Relic, sketch card or manufactured Relic in every five-card pack.

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Box Busters: 2014 Marvel Premier trading cards

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Join Beckett Sports Card Monthly‘s Chris Olds and Matt Bible as they rip into boxes of 2014 Marvel Premier cards from Upper Deck in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

MUSICAL MEMORIES: Golden Age retail exclusives capture collector attention


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Each and every blaster box of this year’s Golden Age baseball card set from Panini America includes a guaranteed memorabilia card inside — and it’s likely from one of several icons found in the product’s Legends of Music set.

There are four performers in the eight-card set — Hank Williams, Liberace, Joey Ramone and Willie Nelson — and all but Ramone appear on more than one card.

Some of Nelson’s three cards feature swatches from his famous red bandanas (but not all), while the others have swatches from clothing pieces purchased at auction.

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Leaf Trading Cards Reveals Big Plans for the National

Leaf 2014 National

By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Basketball Editor

Attendees of the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio are sure to take notice of the Leaf Trading Cards booth as the company looks to make a major impact at this year’s event.

The excitement begins with their 5,000 square foot store (located at booth 569) which will feature over 1,000 unique items for sale, including many that are exclusive to the National. Collectors that break one of the boxes listed below will receive a $5.00 gift card that can be used in the store.

The eligible boxes cover a wide variety of sports and non-sports releases and include:

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Box Busters: 2014 Continuum trading cards

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Join Beckett Sports Card Monthly‘s Chris Olds and Matt Bible as they rip into boxes of 2014 Continuum cards from Rittenhouse Archives in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Distributor Sports Images discontinues sports card portion of business


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

After more than two decades as a distributor of sports cards, Woburn, Mass.-based distributor Sports Images is getting out of the game.

The company will continue to sell sports memorabilia to hobby shops and other companies, just not sports cards. Its accounts will now be handled by GTS Distribution, according to an email sent by Sports Images President Matt Lane on Monday.

Lane cited expanding opportunities in the other areas.

“Sports Images has transitioned the hobby trading card segment of their business to GTS Distribution,” he wrote. “After 25 years in the hobby trading card industry, we have decided to focus our efforts on our retail, novelty, memorabilia and other aspects of our business. As these opportunities continue to expand, the demand for more resources, time and attention also increases and a choice was inevitable.”

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Blowout Cards’ Thomas Fish adds original comic book art of Wolverine debut to collection


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Snikt, snikt — Wolverine‘s debut has a new home.

The original comic book art for the first appearance of the Marvel Comics character Wolverine sold for a record-tying $657,250 last week via Heritage Auctions and its buyer was someone that sports card collectors might know a bit about.

FishIt was Thomas Fish, the owner of BlowoutCards.com, who is a heavy collector of original comic book art and key graded issues from the past. The page is the final one from issue No. 180 of The Incredible Hulk from November 1974. It features art by by Herb Trimpe. Trimpe gave the page to the previous owner back in 1983.

“Wolverine is one of the most popular comic heroes today,” Fish said. “Having the opportunity to purchase this historically significant piece of art was one I could not pass on.”

Fish noted that one piece that could be as interesting has a special home.

“The Spider-Man art from Amazing Fantasy No. 15, Spidey’s first appearance, is located in the Library of Congress,” he said. “This Wolverine piece is certainly museum-quality.”

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Box Busters: 2014 Captain America The Winter Soldier

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Join Beckett Sports Card Monthly‘s Chris Olds and Matt Bible as they rip into boxes of 2014 Captain America The Winter Soldier from Upper Deck in this latest edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Manufacturers looking for ways to handle growing group breakers

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Want a chance at a hit from a high-end product? Collectors have turned to online group breaks as a way to satisfy that craving.

It may be tough for some collectors to spend $500 on a box of cards, but a $50 slot in a group break is a more affordable gamble. Group break collectors can walk away with big-money cards or get “skunked,” the term collectors use when they wind up with nothing from a break.

Despite opposition from some hobby shops and manufacturers, group breaks are gaining appeal. The explosion of group breaks started a couple of years ago. It has become part of the National Sports Collectors Convention and The Industry Summit, with breaks happening live on camera.

Group breaks occur every night at various price points as the cards are shown off on camera.

While group breaks have become another collecting option, they have also become a place of concern for longtime hobby shop owners. Group breaks are often streamed online, showing breakers opening cases on YouTube or BreakersTV. This means a collector with a PayPal account doesn’t have to leave the house and can watch their breaks online. A few days later, their cards are in the mailbox.

The topic of group breaks was addressed at The Industry Summit in Las Vegas in March with representatives from Panini America, Topps and Upper Deck discussing the craze with a room full of hobby shop owners.

“Obviously, group breaks in general are a positive in terms of being able to expose people to products they wouldn’t normally see,” said Topps’ Vice President of Sales, David Reel. “It’s something that is going to continue to grow.”

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Rittenhouse previews Buffy autograph card

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

For all the Buffy the Vampire Slayer trading card sets that came out over the years, the one card that was missing was an autograph of the main star.

Sarah Michelle Gellar never signed for all those Inkworks set. Rittenhouse Archives has picked up a license and the company is producing a retrospective set of which they announced Gellar’s inclusion.

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Leaf and In The Game announce new partnership to create trading cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Editor

Leaf Trading Cards and In The Game Trading Cards have formed a partnership, the companies announced on Saturday at an event at the Sportcard & Memorabilia Expo.

New products will come out with the two companies working together, adding elements from each to make new products.

“This is just what the hobby needs,” said Leaf CEO Brian Gray in a telephone interview. “One license is not enough. Me and Brian (Price) both feel it’s right to work together and take on what we think is an unfair monopoly for collectors.”

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First look: 2014 Panini Golden Age baseball cards (with preliminary checklist)


By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Panini America‘s Golden Age brand of retro-styled baseball cards with a smattering of pop culture is returning for a third year, the company announced on Monday, as it revealed the basic information and preview images for the product.

Set to arrive in June with one autograph and one memorabilia card per hobby box, Golden Age will include the tobacco-size minis and parallels that fans have come to expect but with some new twists. There will be White-bordered parallels — with the first 50 serial-numbered — along with Black-bordered 1/1 cards. The minis will have seven new back variations to chase – Hindu Brown and Red, Croft’s Swiss Milk, Smith’s Mello Mint, MONO Blue and Green as well as Panini 1/1s.

Packed with a box-topper in every box — some being memorabilia cards among a few new options — there will be a selection of cards from the 150-card base set inside with some A-listers from the entertainment world among those teased by the company. Musicians Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix are among them.

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Love of 1980s humor generates new card ideas for artist Joe Simko

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Poking fun at things can be enjoyable. Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids have been doing it for decades, and Wax Eye has joined in the mix.

The illustration card company is bringing its next release to the market with the handy work of Joe Simko, co-owner and Chief Creative Officer. This time the fun will be had with comic book characters in Stupid Heroes.

“Super hero comics aren’t just for the comic readers now, it’s for the mass populations,” Simko said. “Stupid Heroes is a reaction to all these super hero movies. Comics like the Watchmen portrayed them more-human. Pixar’s Incredibles portrayed the characters more like normal, family members. Our Stupid Heroes highlights even more of their human characteristics. What’s more human than being known for your biggest “flaw”? Example Stupid Heroes characters: Captain Allergy or The Red Zit.”

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First look: 2014 Topps Star Wars Wacky Packages

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Topps is adding a twist to the Star Wars universe.

By combining two of its brands, 2014 Star Wars Wacky Packages is set to come out in mid-September with a parody poking fun at the Stars Wars universe, using Wacky Packages style of humor. Some of the stickers include “Use the Floss” or “Yoda’s Pride” swamp slug stew.

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Cryptozoic releases Downton Abbey trading cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

PBS doesn’t usually get a big following for its shows – and, no, Sesame Street doesn’t count in this case – but Downton Abbey hit the mainstream TV world.

How much so? Cryptozoic released trading cards for the first two seasons today.

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First look: 2014 Leaf Bettie Page Collection

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

One of the most popular pin-up models of the 1950s has been featured on a number of trading card products. The latest will be 2014 Leaf Bettie Page Collection.

Each box will include 24 packs with six cards in each pack, and one hit per box. Each base set will contain 72 cards with two inserts: Queen of the Pinups (a 16-card set) and Calendar Girl (12-card set on a calendar design).

The hits will include cut autographs (one or two per case) to Hair cards, Wardrobe cards, and 1-of-1 Sketch cards.

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Cryptozoic previews Breaking Bad autograph cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

Breaking Bad was one of the most popular television shows of 2013. It ended last year with millions of fans watching the end of Walter White’s time as a drug king.

Cryptozoic Entertainment recently announced it obtained the license to create trading cards for the TV show. The cards should be out in late June.

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Your Turn: Which athletes and cards with military ties are most memorable to you?


By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

When Fleer produced an 80-card set documenting the career and the life of Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams back in 1959, it included something that wasn’t all that common for sports cards at the time but is something that we’ve seen a little bit more of in recent years.

It included a selection of cards showcasing the Hall of Famer’s time in the military.

For those who don’t know, Williams missed parts of five baseball seasons — three from 1943-1945 in the Navy reserves for World War II where he learned to be a pilot and then part of the 1952 and 1953 seasons. In his second stint, he was a fighter pilot serving in the Marine Corps in the Korean War where he flew 39 combat missions.

Williams is far from alone as many stars from that era missed time serving in the military.

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First look: Topps 2014 Doctor Who Trading Cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

The doctor is in.

Topps is releasing Doctor Who Trading Cards by the end of the year.

Each box will have 24 packs with eight cards in each pack, and will include two hits in every box.

Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The new set will include 200 base cards with four subsets: characters, aliens, villains and gadgets. There are three parallels of each with Blue (numbered to 199), Red (numbered to 99) and Gold (numbered to 50).

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