Posts Tagged ‘Upper Deck’

Retail Hobby Boxes–Say What?

Posted: June 9, 2013 by topher in Upper Deck
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If you’re anything like me, then a stop at the card aisle in your local retail store is a must. If I’ve wandered off during a grocery shopping trip with my wife, she never needs to wonder where I am. She knows. Card aisle. Even in years that I’ve been on collecting hiatus, I’d still stop by to see what’s new.

My latest trip to the downtown Minneapolis Target yielded something I had not seen before. Sitting on the shelf next to brand new blasters and just beneath new rack packs were two hobby boxes–both 2004 Upper Deck Series 2.

A hobby box at a retailer? That’s odd. Stranger still is the particular product being sold. It’s a late series edition of mid-00s Upper Deck baseball–not exactly a stellar set. The box contains two hits on average, both jerseys. Perhaps we’ve been a bit spoiled since 2004 with the types of hits offered in standard hobby boxes. Knowing that the ONLY hits I’d be pulling would be jerseys is less than thrilling. Not only that, the price point seems a bit high. Yeah, it’s a hobby box at a retail store. Sure, it’s about $30 cheaper than it was in ’04. None of that is enough to make me want to slap $40 down on an overproduced and, frankly, boring product–especially when, if I really wanted to buy a box of ’04UDS2, I could buy it for much less online.

So, what’s the deal, here? Why in the world is Target selling hobby boxes? The answer is given away by the shelf price tag. The label lists the manufacturer as EXCELL, a distribution company out of Iowa. As far as trading cards are concerned (these hobby boxes in particular), Excell purchases unsold cards from hobby shops, other distributors, etc. and sends them out to retailers like Target and Wal-Mart to be sold. Target does not order any specific cards and the products stocked there by Excell are pay-per-scan–which is to say that no one makes any money off of these hobby boxes until someone buys one.

If I were an uneducated parent of a young collector who didn’t know better and saw what seemed to be a good deal on a hobby box, I might be tempted to buy one. However, knowing that any hobby boxes I find at a retailer are likely junk being resold by a distributor at (what I believe to be) an unreasonably high price, it’s a good bet I’ll never buy one.

While I believe that this type of hobby box reselling is relatively harmless (and practically pointless), it does make me wonder if NEW hobby sales at retailers is just around the corner? My guess is that, if this were to happen, retailers would have to have their card shelves stocked by distributors in much the same way they do with old hobby boxes thru Excell. The reason for that being that I highly doubt Topps, Upper Deck, Panini and other card companies will cease production of retail exclusive SKUs. Not only that, I really don’t feel that people want to spend high dollar amounts on one box of cards at a Target or Wal-Mart (my opinion, of course). I just don’t see new hobby boxes moving very well in these types of stores. So what would make anyone think that old junky hobby boxes would do any better–even if they are a bit cheaper?

Would or have you purchase(d) a re-distributed box at a retailer like the 2004 Upper Deck Series 2 baseball that I found at my local Target? What are your thoughts on the possibility of retailers carrying new hobby products?

Some of my Twitter followers may remember me mentioning that I had never received any trading cards of any kind for Christmas. Firstly, I just remembered that I in fact DID recently receive some trading cards from my mom a few years ago. Remember the Topps/LJN Baseball Talk Collection? My mom had bought the player and a few of those cards for me for Christmas when I was a kid and did so once again a few short years ago. So, other than that, I’ve never received any trading cards of any kind for Christmas.

Of course, that was until this past Christmas.

While most of my family is well aware that I run a trading card company, very few of them are aware that I am back into collecting and run a trading card blog. One of the lucky few possessing such knowledge is my father-in-law.

First, a short story about my father-in-law that is completely relevant to this post. He’s a retired principal. Throughout his years running schools, he had confiscated a small collection of trading cards of all sports, brands and years from little troublemakers. One year for my birthday, he passed that small collection down to me. I still have them sitting in my office in the 9-pocket pages in which they came.

Last year (and I do mean 2012, not 2011), my father-in-law went out of his way to attend an auction to pick up some cards for his favorite son-in-law–me! I can say that because I’m his only son-in-law. *wink wink* The box was entirely filled with what you might call junk wax, and, indeed, most of those cards were from that era. They range from 1978 Topps to 1986 Sportflics and 1990 Classic to 2003 Opening Day. It ended up being quite an assortment with two unexpected gems mixed in the rough. There was even a football card inexplicably tossed in!

Can anyone name the year and brand of the Tom Paciorek?

The cards, as shown in the first image above, were and continue to be contained within a shoebox. The cards themselves were in no way shape or form organized. With the exception of a few stacks being separated by brand, all of the cards were sorted and collated by hand by me. It took me the better part of a day to go through each of the appromixately 1000 cards therein. Normally it wouldn’t take me quite so long, but there were over 30 different products to sort through, and I had a good time sitting back and actually studying some of the cards.

1986 Sportflics. Who doesn’t love Sportflics?

When I ran across the 1986 and 1987 Sportflics, I got all giddy like Dave Grohl in a classic rock hall of fame get-together that he wasn’t invited to but still decided to crash. What is it with him hanging out with the legends lately? I mean, I love Grohl and, seriously… good for him, but… I just hope it’s Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin seeking Dave out and not the other way around. We all know it’s the other way around, though.

Who am I to criticize? You think Led Zeppelin and any of the Beatles, as much as I love ‘em, would even consider giving me the time of day?

1987 Donruss. Leaf? Purple? What?

Looking at the three cards above and find yourself scratching your head? Maybe you’re thinking that Donruss invented the parallel card? When I was sorting through the box of cards, I originally filed all three sets into one larger stack. That’s because I didn’t pay close attention to the differences. The “purple” version is actually from Donruss’ 1987 Opening Day, a smaller set than the more familiar 1987 Donruss flagship set. The “Leaf” version was licensed and sold in Canada and features French translation on the back. Leaf produced all three sets.

Way to go, 80s. Way to go.

The 1980s, in almost every single facet, is the decade of ugliness. Some of the ugliest set of baseball cards were designed in the 1980s. They had to have looked good to someone at the time or I seriously doubt the lead designer at Classic would have allowed that pile of pink and grey vomit to circulate. Fleer, on the other hand, pretty much dominated the 80s in trading card ugliness. It’s a crown that Donruss would happily take up in the 90s.

See what I mean? Way to go, Donruss… I mean Leaf!

See what I mean? At least by 1993 the Donruss set started to take a cue from Topps and Upper Deck and started to clean things up. The designs before that, though? Just a horrible reminder of the sign of the times.

What’s the matter, Welch? Afraid to be seen on a Score baseball card?

That’s not to say that there weren’t some cool concepts being used in the 1990s. Score started experimenting with artistic photography in their trading cards and, at least for me, it paid off. Some of the more memorable and striking cards come from Score in the 90s. Of course, some of the more disturbing images also come from Score in the 90s. Now, Donruss wasn’t ALL bad in the 90s. Much like the Yaz above, I always thought their puzzle cards were amazing and fun. What’s that? Trading cards? FUN??

The most abundant product in the shoebox full of old junk wax is by and far the 1991 Upper Deck set. A simple thumb-through of this set alone gives you a good idea of just how picked over this box was. As I sorted and collated and stacked and separated, it became very clear to me that whoever put this box together was smart enough to pull out anything significant. That doesn’t mean this box was a dud. Not by any stretch. Maybe I’d only be able to sell it on ebay for a couple of bucks, and maybe I’d only be able to trade it for one item off of my Want List, its real worth was in the thought and effort by my father-in-law. The real value was in the fun I had digging through the memories that these cards brought back to me.

Of course, there did end up being a couple of surprises sitting in the middle of one of the sets. I didn’t even notice them on first sort. It wasn’t until I was organizing the sets back into the shoebox that I realized what I had.




We’re now down to just 4 teams! Still available are the A’s, Mariners, Reds and White Sox. Full slots are now discounted!

Look what I got in the mail today!

To tide us all over until I bust into this sucker next Wednesday, I’ve ripped into 4 packs of 2010 Upper Deck. In the video, I’m pretending to play BoBuBingo for those of you who aren’t quite sure how the game will work. I’ve worked out different scenarios that may play out, so please, print out your assigned Bingo cards, give it a watch and learn!

When was the last time you saw a new Kirby Puckett baseball card?

You can make a great case that it would be a rare sight to see a brand new baseball card of a man that has not only been retired from the game but who has also been deceased for six years. You could make another great case that it would be a typical sight to see a brand new baseball card of a man that was one of the biggest contributors to baseball in the late 80s and early 90s, was a two-time World Champion, has made ten All-Star appearances, has won six gold gloves, has won six silver sluggers, has won a batting title, has had his number retired, and was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Topps features former players of this caliber throughout nearly every single one of their products, so it would not at all be uncalled for or strange to see Kirby cardboard each year.

But when was the last time you saw a brand new Kirby Puckett baseball card?

I can remember the first time I saw a brand new Kirby Puckett baseball card. In fact, in 1986, his was the very first baseball card that I ever pulled out of a pack. That is a memory I hope I never forget.

The very first card I ever pulled–1986 Topps Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett “Hair-itage” T-Shirt by Nike

The moment the schedule came out for the Minnesota Twins’ 2011 season, it seemed like pure destiny. The Twins would be playing the Brewers at Miller Park on my 34th birthday. What a great opportunity to finally find and sport the number of my all-time favorite baseball player! The hunt was on for any licensed Puckett shirts or jerseys. There were plenty of old, used and beaten mesh tops and replica jerseys from the early 00s floating around the ‘bay. What I found strange, however, was how very little the official online Twins shop carried in the way of Puckett memorabilia and clothing. In fact, the only licensed item they carried was a Hair-itage t-shirt produced by Nike. Further delving revealed that Nike had produced a small line of Puckett clothing–the Hairitage t-shirt and two designer jersey shirts complete with Puckett and 34 on the back of each. What didn’t seem so odd to me at the time was the fact that these numbered shirts were virtually out of stock with every online retailer that I could find. Why should it seem strange that his shirts were so popular? Little did I know, popularity had nothing at all to do with it.

I was shut out of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but not for lack of trying on both mine and my wife’s parts (…who just heard Beavis and Butt-head laughing?). On a side note, the Twins got absolutely throttled that day, losing 11-1. It was the first and only game I’ve ever left early. That game was not making for a very happy birthday.

Fast forward one full year to yesterday for my 35th birthday. I had gone the entire year without being able to procure a Puckett jersey, t-shirt, hoodie, sweatshirt… not even so much as a pair of Puckett boxer shorts. The same held true for my dear wife, The Over-thinker. But, yesterday, before she came home, she decided to try, try again. She made her way to one of the three official Minnesota Twins Pro Shops to seek out that seemingly impossible-to-find Puckett item. The Pro Shops carry just about every variation of just about every article of clothing bearing the name and number of just about every relevant Twins player ever, so the odds that they would not have one thread of anything Puckett seemed slim.

Not exactly Vegas odds.

One year to the day, we again came up empty handed.

Ever the investigator, she found it very strange that a player like Kirby would not have an entire section of items to himself in a Twins official Pro Shop. She asked the store manager why we haven’t been able to find any Puckett materials, even in officially licensed stores. The answer, it seems, is highly unfortunate. Evidently, when Puck passed away, so too did all of his licensing rights. Sadly, and perhaps expounded by his sudden death, Kirby’s likeness rights were assigned solely to him and were never willed or passed onto his family or estate–according to the Pro Shop store manager, at least. He explained to my wife that the reason we are able to find only a couple of Kirby Puckett items by Nike is because they were either produced before his death and are nearly sold out, or they were produced afterwards and were pulled.

Kirby Puckett “34” Mesh BP Jersey

What may be even more interesting is that there IS in fact a NEW licensed Kirby Puckett shirt now being sold at Target Field and on the Twins online shop. The catch? They don’t use his name, only his number. They can do this because Kirby has no licensing on the number 34. If only that shirt had been available last year!

That got me thinking. When was the last time I saw a new Kirby Puckett baseball card? I certainly haven’t pulled one out of a pack since the 90s. So, I dug around and did a little research. A quick query on yielded a very intriguing answer. In 2007, Upper Deck completed a set of cards to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Twins’ first World Championship which they won by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in seven epic games in 1987. That means that this card, produced by Upper Deck, who have recently lost their MLB license, was made the year after Kirby Puckett passed away.

2007 Upper Deck 1987 Minnesota Twins World Championship Reunion – Kirby Puckett

Also, according to the site, Topps hasn’t produced a Puckett card since 2004. If this truly is the case, and it certainly seems to be, then we may never see another officially licensed baseball card of Kirby Puckett ever again, be it produced by Topps, Upper Deck, or anyone else for that matter.

As a card collector and fan of one of the greatest players to step into the batter’s box during my childhood, it’s crushing to even acknowledge the idea that I’ll never again be able to pull a piece of cardboard featuring the incomparable Kirby Puckett and his glowing smile.