While hunting for 2009 Topps…

31 01 2009

… holy crap, a actual piece of the USS Constitution in a trading card?


What could possibly be –

Franklin Delano Roosevelt authentic used pillow!!!!!!!!!


Is it too late to cancel my 2009 preorders to get me some American Heritage? (Images borrowed from their respective auctions)


Snarlin’ Ed

30 01 2009

So I won a lot of these on eBay about a week ago, but haven’t had the time to look them over until now. They came as advertised (Ex-Ex+) which is a little lesser than what I was looking for, but they were a good price so I figured why not? And now I own some 1969 Topps, so I can share them with you.


This card of Royals outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick is probably my favorite of the bunch.  Ed’s snarling like a monster at the plate and not like a guy with a .215 batting average at the time the card was produced.  Perhaps he’s thinking back to 1965, when he collided with Bert Campaneris during a play at the plate and sent Campy to the hospital.  If only Bert had disguised himself as a baseball.

What makes the snarl even better is the colored circle shines so bright in the corner there that it bathes Ed’s hat and jersey in pink.  It’s hard to see in the scan, but it’s there, and it’s glorious.

Was it done on purpose?  Was the guy in charge of coloring at Topps a Bert Campaneris fan out for revenge?  I don’t know.  But it sure would make a good story, wouldn’t it?

I’ll have more of these later.

MLBP summarizes the market

29 01 2009

My favorite part of the MLBP/Donruss lawsuit is subheaded “The Baseball Card Trading Market.”  It’s only a few paragraphs long, but there are a few interesting tidbits such as this summary of the trading card world:

18.  Notwithstanding the importance of the trading card market, the overall trading card market for the four major sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey), has been steadily declining for many years, falling at approximately $1 billion at it’s height to approximately $200 million at present.  In addition, the market share within the trading card market for Major League Baseball licensed cards has decreased over the years from approximately 75-80% in the mid-1980’s to roughly 15-20% of the total market (including non-sports trading cards) as of today.

Anyone know when that peak was?  I’ve found an article that suggests it was 1996, but that article also values the market in 1997 at $400 million, which seems like an incredibly steep drop, especially with the introduction of game used cards that year.  I wasn’t in the hobby then, but I can’t imagine that was a colossal failure, was it?

And I’m curious, does any one else find this stuff as interesting as I do?

MLPB says “No more licensees, please.”

28 01 2009

Hate to be a downer for those of you hoping to see new licensees for baseball when the current contract expires, but these words in the MLPB/Donruss lawsuit, available here don’t seem to promising:

19.  As a result, MLPB has chosen not to grant any additional companies the right to manufacture and sell complete sets of trading cards.  In MLBP’s reasoned judgment, the trading card market is saturated and any new entrant would diminish the value of the entire market for MLBP. (my emphasis)

I know the lawsuit seems to put a kibosh on Donruss returning to the licensed baseball card world anyway, but those words would seem to exclude any other dark horses from making a play without seeing Topps or Upper Deck having their license taken away.

With Topps’ history and Upper Deck now losing basketball for the next three years, I don’t see that happening. Unless there’s a drastic change in the marketplace, we are all stuck with the big two for a while longer.

MLBP sues Donruss

28 01 2009

You know what I love about lawsuits?  Paperwork.  Available here is the actual paperwork filed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc in New York District court in their lawsuit against Donruss.  Let’s dig in.

The big issue seems to be Donruss’ use of players in MLB uniforms on the cards, whether the logo is obscured or not:

Donruss’ cards depict certain Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball players in their team’s proprietary uniforms.  The trademarks featured on the uniforms (as well as the overall trade dress of the uniforms) remain visible and identifiable to consumers, despite Donruss’ calculated attempts on some cards to have such marks modified or partially obscured.

The lawsuit mentions that the last MLBP agreement with Donruss expired Dec 31, 2005, but the terms of the agreement survived the end of the agreement.  Further, the agreement provided that Donruss would “not use the MLB Marks in any capacity without the prior written consent of MLBP,” that Donruss “would not use the primary colors of the MLB Clubs in combination with baseball indicia or the MLB Clubs’ geographic designation,” and that “Donruss agreed that its failure to perform any of the terms… would result in immediate and irreparable damage to MLBP, entitling MLPB to injunctive relief.” 

I’m not a law expert, but I do think one of the counts in the lawsuit seems a bit dubious.  Count 2 states that the Donruss’ products “are likely to cause consumers to draw the false impression that Donruss and/or its trading cards are associated with, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by, or that Donruss is a sponsor of MLBP, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, the MLB Entities and/or the Minor League Baseball Entities.”  

This claim seems a bit outlandish to me, but I’m not a lawyer.  Most collectors know Donruss is unlicensed, and I’m not sure how MLBP proves otherwise.  I suppose less informed collectors may not know about Donruss’ status in the hobby, but they probably don’t care either.  Like I said, I’m not sure how the MLBP proves this claim clearly in court.

Anyway, what does MLBP seek in return?  Probably the bankruptcy of Donruss.  First, of course, Donruss would have to pull everything in violation off the market and deliver it up for “destruction or other disposition at Planitff’s sole discretion.”  So buy your boxes now.  Second, MLPB is asking that Donruss pay damages, exemplary damages equal to three times the amount of Donruss’ profits or MLBP’s damages from the products, whichever is greater, and punitive damages on top of that. 

There’s no guarantee which side wins, and no way to know how much money Donruss will be forced to pay.  But I would think if the MLBP wins this suit, we may be seeing Donruss Classics from Upper Deck shortly thereafter.  I’ll have more non lawsuity stuff from the lawsuit later.

And before I hit publish, I found I Am Joe Collector’s take on things.  He’s actually in law and provides some possible defenses that Donruss may take and makes me feel smart while echoing my take on count 2 above.  Thanks for pumping my ego, Joe Collector!

2009 Upper Deck Icons

27 01 2009

Upper Deck has announced yet another release for 2009 and the first new brand of the year with Icons, which on first look made me think of Heroes from last year only with more right angles and less circles, or Documentary without the good idea but carrying over the bad follow through.

The cards themselves look nice enough but certainly aren’t mind blowing.  Here’s an image of the Jeter base, borrowed from the Beckett Blog.  It appears Upper Deck caught Jeter shortly after he delivered a self inflicted blow to the head with his own bat.  Good thing he has that helmet!


Nice enough, right?  I dig the smaller black and white image in the corner as well as the inclusion of 2008 stats on the front, even if they are mislabeled as 2009’s.  Hopefully Upper Deck will catch that before the release.  I would love to see an image of the backs.

So what’s new in Icons?  Um…  nothing, really.  It’s a 100 card base set with 30 shortprinted rookies numbered to 999 and 30 more autographed and numbered to 600 or less.  A ten pack box will have five serial numbered inserts or parallels (why do card companies think these are still a draw?), an auto, two memorabilia cards, and two manufactured letter patch cards.

Oh, here’s the gimmick.  Celebrity Letterman.  You know, because celebrities wear their names on the back of their clothes during movie and TV shoots so you recognize them.  Really, who comes up with this stuff?  And do they actually pay them for it?

Look for Icons to sit on shelves starting sometime in July.

Thoughts on 2009 Goudey

27 01 2009

I realize I’m a week late to this one, but I’ve got two quickish thoughts about 2009 Goudey as we wait out the final week before the start of the new collecting season.

1)  I like the design of the base cards, but there’s not much variation from last year’s release.  I realize that’s not Upper Deck’s fault because there isn’t much of a difference in the classic Goudey designs.  I do think these are a lot cleaner, especially since they lack the “Ken Griffey Jr. says..” or “Derek Jeter thinks….” 

Because of this, I’m going to make an odd and unsolicited suggestion to Upper Deck:  Space out Goudey. Make the set every 3-5 years or so.  This will allow for more newer players on the different designs rather than the same players on the same backgrounds.  Plus, it will keep the card collecting world from getting burned out on retired stars in their modern releases. 

And in the off years when there’s no Goudey, release rookie parallels on a Goudey design in a different set, such as Upper Deck base or some other vintage themed release.  I’m not sure if this idea would work or not, but I think it would help keep Goudey from getting stale.

2)  Fewer shortprints is an awesome idea, and it seems Upper Deck took 30 of them out for 2009.  But it also seems they lowered the insertion ratio from 5:9 to 4:9, meaning you still have to open 225 packs and get perfect collation to complete the set.  Not as awful as some sets I know, but certainly enough to suck some of the fun out of set collecting.

Will I chase Goudey this year?  Like I said, I think this design is better than the others.  It’s all going to depend on the family’s financial footing and whether Obama’s economic stimulus for card collectors passes before Goudey’s end of April release.  But I’m certainly interested in it’s release.