Friday, November 30, 2012

1997 Pinnacle Inside Dueling Dugouts

Set Size: 20 cards

Design Notes: The fronts and backs are very similar, with each side featuring one player from a different team. A wheel on one side of the card can be spun to compare a few statistical categories between the two players on a year-by-year basis. The players' names appear across the top in gold foil, and their team logos are in the lower right corner.

Parallels and Similars: None known. I'm not sure if there has ever been another card set that has the wheel feature.

Distribution: Cards were inserted at a rate of 1:23 packs (or cans, since this set was distributed in cans).

Thoughts: I really like the gimmick they used in this set. In fact, it would be kind of neat to see this tried on a full set (probably designed for kids, and with a smaller checklist). You can't do these as inserts since they're easily found out due to the hub for the wheel.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

1996 Zenith Diamond Club Real Diamond

Set Size: 20 cards

Design Notes: A foil border in the shape of a diamond surrounds the player's photo, with the Zenith logo in an upper corner and a large portion of the bottom devoted to the set name and player's name. In the real diamond version, a small diamond is mounted at the base of the diamond. The backs contain a sepia photo of a baseball field in the background, with a player photo and short highlight paragraph.

Parallels and Similars: The regular version uses Pinnacle's Dufex technology, but there is no diamond.

Distribution: Regular cards were inserted one per box, and cards with real diamonds were found one in every 350 packs.

Thoughts: Pinnacle Brands tried a whole bunch of "gimmicky" ideas in the 1990s, including what I believe is the first card to contain an embedded gem. The actual diamond is pretty small and unimpressive, but the card is quite rare for its time. Actually, the diamond sticks out from the surface of the card a bit. I wonder if people pulling these from packs in 1996 were upset that the card preceding the diamond card most likely had a small dent in the back. Did it damage multiple cards? Or was there a filler card inserted to fix this? In addition to probably being the first embedded-gem card, it has to be one of the first "manu-relic" cards too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1990 Topps Coins

Set Size: 60 coins, 1-1/2" diameter

Design Notes: Made of metal, the coins have full-color photos of players with a baseball field design; the player's team and name appear at the bottom. Backs have black text describing a highlight in the player's career.

Parallels and Similars: Most coins have aluminum colorinng on the edges, as seen above, though some award-winning players were issued in different colors - these are not parallels or variations. Several other coin sets were issued by Topps, but this design is unique and a 1990 copyright is found on the back.

Distribution: Coins came three per pack, 36 packs per box. Factory sets and coin holders were also available.

Thoughts: I've listed some of the other coins issued by Topps, and they all have a similar basic design. This has the best images I've seen, and the design is pretty clean and sharp. It's another inexpensive set to obtain, with Ripken and Ryan leading the pack at around $1/coin but it's a fun issue to put together by busting packs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1988 Topps Gallery of Champions

Set Size: 12 cards, 1-1/4" x 1"

Design Notes: These cards are made of aluminum, using the 1988 Topps design in a relief format. The backs contain statistics and biographical information. The cards are actually parallels of the players' flagship 1988 Topps cards.

Parallels and Similars: Bronze and silver parallels exist.

Distribution: Complete sets in velvet cases were sold through dealers; 1000 of the silver sets were produced.

Thoughts: I really like these sets, despite their small size. The detail is pretty good, especially for such a small card, and they can display well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

1986 True Value Super Stars

Set Size: 31 cards, standard size, in panels of four cards

Design Notes: The photos are airbrushed and cropped small, as the border surrounding the card contains the True Value logo at the top, several stars over a red background on the sides, crossed bats and balls towards the bottom, and the player's name, team, position, and the MLBPA logo at the bottom. Backs are black on white and contain some recent stats, biographical information, and and a short highlight paragraph. The cards are often still found in folded panels of four, with only the top card visible. The back of the panel-pack shows the fourth card, which features a product (as you can see, my panel advertises a gas can). The product card has a sweepstakes offering trips and prizes. On this panel, Murphy is joined by Robin Yount and Tom Seaver.

Parallels and Similars: None known. There is one error/variation in the set - Don Mattingly has a card which lists him as being an infielder.

Distribution: Panels were given free to customers who spent at least $5 in the store.

Thoughts: Dale looks like he's staring into the sun, or about to get his teeth drilled. On the other hand, this set has a fairly fun front design for an oddball issue of the 1980s. Too much of the front is used for the design, though - this layout wouldn't fit in today's products. Being a logoless oddball set of the 1980s, its value is quite low but the set has several superstars and Hall of Famers.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

1986 Meadow Gold Stat Back

Set Size: 20 cards, 2-9/16" x 3-1/2", issued in two-card panels.

Design Notes: This is the only one of three issues by Meadow Gold in 1986 to have printing on the back. I have a complete panel - Bruce Sutter is paired with Pedro Guerrero. An advertisement is also included in the panel which is found on the back. The logos are airbrushed from the cards as Meadow Gold didn't have an MLB license.

Parallels and Similars: Blank-backed cards with the same design were part of a different release found on ice cream cartons.

Distribution: This version of cards was included with packages of frozen specialty sweets, such as popsicles, fudgesicles, and bubble gum coolers.

Thoughts: While the design is fairly plain, this is supposedly one of the toughest regional issues to complete. Bruce here is sporting a nice beard, and looks ready to play for the local sandlot team with his logo-less hat and shirt.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1971 Topps Coins

Set Size: 153 metal coins, 1-1/2" diameter

Design Notes: Printed on metal, the coins have a color photo inside a color border with the player's name, position, and team. Coins were printed in three sets of 51 coins - they have either brass backs (seen here), chrome backs, or blue backs with black printing containing the coin number, basic biographical information, and a highlight.

Parallels and Similars: Other coin sets have been printed by many manufacturers and might have a similar basic design; these are distinguished by the TCG copyright at the bottom and the message at the top, both on the back.

Distribution: Coins were inserted into packs of 1971 Topps.

Thoughts: These are fun little novelty additions to collect along with the 1971 flagship set - commons can be picked up fairly cheap these days especially compared to the regular cards.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1962 Salada Coins

Set Size: 263 coins (221 subjects), 1-3/8" in diamater

Design Notes: These plastic discs contain a color portrait on the front, which is actually a paper insert on the inside. The plastic discs themselves could be one of several colors, with the text on the "back" embossed or pressed into the plastic. The color portrait front also contains the disc number, team name, and player name and position.

Parallels and Similars: Other coin issues have been made by Salada and other companies, but this is distinguished by the plastic disc and text on the back.

Distribution: Coins were included with Salada tea packets and Junket pudding mixes. There are 10 players for each of the 18 original teams, with an additional 20 subjects for the Mets added in a later version. In addition, several players were updated with new teams and 21 players were replaced with new subjects (with higher numbers - 201-221). The updated players make the total number of variations/coins available 263.

Thoughts: I like oddball issues and this one is fairly odd. These don't really feel like "coins" but discs because they're made of plastic. These are fairly small, but it would have been cooler if action art was used instead of portraits.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Base and Prospects Aspirations

Set Size: Base: 25 cards, Prospects: 190 cards

Design Notes: Just like yesterday's base set, a shield border surrounds a color photo of the player. Logos are airbrushed out. The Aspirations parallel has a strange die-cut on the side borders, just an arc in the middle, and a holographic foil is used. Plus, serial numbering appears prominently on the front.

Parallels and Similars: This is a parallel of the regular Elite Extra Edition set. A Status version (with different die cut) is also included, as well as an autograph version.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs and serial numbered to 200. Autograph versions are serial numbered to 100.

Thoughts: The holofoil background is kind of neat, and even when scanning makes the card more vibrant. However, the lack of interest in prospects makes this set fairly uninteresting to me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Base and Prospects

Set Size: Base: 25 cards, Prospects: 190 cards

Design Notes: A teacup-shaped border (meant to be a shield shape, most likely)  surrounds a photo of the player - backgrounds fade from black to brown and no team logos are found on the cards. The player's name, team location, and position are at the bottom, and "PROSPECTS" appears above the player's name on the left and right for prospects cards. Backs follow the same basic design and include a short biography and recent statistics.

Parallels and Similars: The Base and Prospects sets each have four regular parallel sets plus seven autographed parallel sets. The "base" Elite Extra Edition set differs only by the lack of "PROSPECTS" notation on the front of the card.

Distribution: Cards were included in packs of Elite Extra Edition - since the Prospects set is almost eight times larger than the base set, more of those cards appear in packs.

Thoughts: EEE has never really appealed to me. I'm not a prospector and the design doesn't interest me. On the other hand, one of the cards I pulled from a pack is quite scary and that makes it worth looking at (see below). Because the college logos for prospects are airbrushed out, the one redeeming quality of these sets (seeing college logos) is gone. I guess you can still see the team colors, which are usually different from MLB colors. You can almost make out Dillon Maples' hat logo - and is that a military camo style hat he's wearing?

Additional Images:
 Scary! And not a prospect!
 Another prospect.
And one last prospect.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2011 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs

Set Size: 70 cards

Design Notes: The set uses the 2011 Bowman design with white borders, since the players are prospects. A white semi-opaque box at the bottom holds an on-card autograph.

Parallels and Similars: Refractor autographs are available in regular, superfractor, blue, gold, orange, and red, plus four printer plate versions.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2011 Bowman products. Refractor versions are numbered between 1 and 500.

Thoughts: Bowman's rookie autographs are some of the most sought-after because they are usually a player's first MLB-release autograph. However, out of the 70 players in this set, only one or two might make it big. Reese Havens, for example, had a successful 2010 and a good 2011 in the minors, but hit only .215 in 2012 with the Mets' AA affiliate.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2011 Bowman/Chrome/Draft Parallels

Set Size: Regular parallels have 220 cards, and Draft parallels have 110 cards. Plus, prospect parallels are an additional 220 cards, and prospect Draft parallels have a set size of 110 cards.

Design Notes: The design looks like a modern TV screen, with colored arcs in the bottom corners. The borders on the base version of the card is black for regular cards and white for prospect cards.

Parallels and Similars: Regular cards come in blue, gold, and red parallels, with Chrome parallel refractors in blue, gold canary, gold, orange, purple, red, regular, and superfractor versions. Plates for regular and Chrome versions were also issued.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2011 Bowman products. Some parallels are serial numbered as low as 1. Purple parallels were included in retail rack packs.

Thoughts: The red refractor parallel shown above (numbered out of five) is my favorite color combination: the green RC color in the bottom arcs matches perfectly with the red border to make this a very Christmas-y card. Keeping track of all the different sets (regular, Chrome, regular Draft, Chrome Draft) and the multiple parallels is quite difficult but the different refractor colors are attractive.

Additional Images: Various parallels.
 Bowman Chrome Draft version (RC green).
Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractors.
 Bowman Draft.
 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Gold Refractors
 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Blue Refractors
 Bowman Chrome Draft Blue Refractors
 Bowman Draft Prospects Blue
 Bowman Draft Blue
 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractors
 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractors

Holy Cow!

I've been away for the past week or so. I went to Nagoya last weekend, though I had a few posts queued for the trip. This past week has been spent tired and sick, so I haven't had the energy to write.

So here I am, preparing to write my next post, when I see my stats for the week peeking on the screen.
My 200th post, featuring this card set, was the most popular post of the week. It doesn't surprise me much, given the other cards that I've been posting lately. Oddballs and old stuff always get more attention.

Guess how many people have viewed that post. Go on, guess.

Nearly 500.


Thank you for reading. I'm glad you folks enjoyed that post! But what attracted 25 times more people to this card (set) than before? I gotta know.

Meanwhile, I'm writing up some more posts for the next week. New cards soon!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2011 Bowman Chrome Throwbacks

Set Size: 25 cards

Design Notes: The set uses the 2001 Bowman design, with black and red borders (the black got cut off by my scanner) and a grey/silver arc with a facsimile player signature.

Parallels and Similars: Three refractor versions were made.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2011 Bowman Chrome.

Thoughts: Is 10 years long enough to do a throwback insert? I think Bowman's design has been quite stagnant and really the 2011 design isn't much different from the 2001 design. This is a set I have zero interest in.