The Age-Old License vs. Unlicensed

During Wax Heaven’s heyday an entire decade ago (yes, it’s been a long time) one of the biggest issues I had with trading cards was unlicensed releases. To me, everything had to be Upper Deck or Topps and 99% of unlicensed cards at best looked cheap and at worst were laughably bad. Well, ten years is a LONG time and while I have admitted to missing a LOT of time … it appears not much has changed in this hobby. There are tons of cards being produced with even more parallels. Bats, gloves, and other items are still being destroyed and inserted into cards and there is now an insane amount of autographs (on-card and sticker) that you’d think would have killed the hobby. To me, in 2007 a Jose Canseco on-card autograph was something rare and truly worth chasing. There have been so many autographs released since then that I’d be more interested in a nicely-designed card or a retro-style re-release of one of his old cards. I just have no interest in a signed Jose Canseco card when there appear to be literally a million out there.

As always, to me card design is still the #1 reason for me to shell out my hard-earned money for a baseball card. For the record, it’s been almost three years since I’ve made a purchase but I’ve been lurking eBay now for three weeks doing my usual searches so I know sooner or later I’ll pull that trigger and then before I know it I’ll be knee-deep in baseball cards again. It’s an obsession that has never truly died. I’ve been a card collector most of my life and nothing has permanently stopped that. Not kids, relationships, fast cars, women, nothing. When the smoke settles, I will always run back to my 1,000+ collection of that washed-up, crazy old man who I fell in love with, figuratively, so many years ago before video games were as advanced, before the internet, tablets, smart phones, and Donald Trump as the President.

Below are two examples of high-end Jose Canseco cards. One is licensed, one is not. Both have those high-end gimmicks that collectors love and love to hate. However, one thing for sure is certain … they were a lot more pricey ten years ago than they are now. Don’t know if that’s all across the board or just for Jose Canseco in general but it’s interesting how inexpensive the best baseball cards the Hobby has to offer (as far as flash) have come down. I should probably celebrate because I can now afford all those insane cards I was never able to a decade ago but to be honest as nice as they look, they pale in comparison to a late-90s, extremely rare insert.

So let the competition begin!

2017 Topps Triple Threads

This card has it all. It features Jose in his prime years with the Oakland A’s. The particular photo used is probably from 1990 or ’91. It has a piece of a supposed, game-used bat and a well-designed spot for a sticker autograph. At least, it looks like a sticker to me. I’ve never seen these cards in person. Oh, and let’s not forget the pretty low serial number (47/50) and of course the ability to use MLB logos. Surprisingly, this card has a Buy It Now price of $39.99 or Best Offer.

Personally, I love the entire look of this card. Everything about it is in perfect place and the photo itself is awesome. I’d love to see a more weathered bat piece and not something Jose probably used to swat away paparazzi with but beggars can’t be choosers. Not that I consider myself a lowballer but I wouldn’t offer more than $25 for this card. You see, Jose’s autograph is just not very rare and that bat piece does nothing for me. To be completely honest, it’s not even worth a $20 but just to TRY to stay on the seller’s good side I would bid a little higher.


Holy cow, I still got it. I see a completed listing for this same card sold for $20.75. Also, the ones #’d to just 99 sell for LESS than $10.00. Wow, that’s pretty shocking. Guess I was right about Topps’ flooding of the autograph market. Personally, I’d love to have this card for under $10 any day of the week even if it means it being numbered to 99 instead of 50.

– – – 

2016 Diamond Kings

Here we have Diamond Kings from what I’m guessing is Panini/Donruss. This card features two, small bat chips which I’m sure are certified as being game-used or Jose-touched or whatever. It also features what I’m positive is a clear autograph sticker and not as nice as Topps’ placement. But what this card lacks in that part of the aesthetic I believe it makes up in the art-style photograph it used on the card. It reminds me of a 1996 or 1997 Leaf product that I can’t quite recall minus all the gimmicks, of course.

This card is serial numbered to 99 and is on eBay for $24.99 with no Best Offer option. Compared to the Triple Threads, this one is polluting eBay on a much smaller scale. There are currently only two available with the other being more reasonably priced at $20.25. It’s at best, another $10 card.


Once again, I hit the nail on the head. One identical copy sold for $9.49. To be fair, one did sell for $15 a few days prior. The thing is, that Triple Threads is a new Corvette and this Diamond Kings is a new Camaro. No way the Camaro sells for more, not even the Z28. For the record, I drive a Camaro.

So there you have it. Two recent, high-end, gimmicked to the stars, Jose Canseco cards. If I had to choose, I would easily grab the Diamond Kings for its retro style, memorabilia and sticker and all for under $10. It wouldn’t be a memorable purchase by any stretch but it is a nice addition to any collection for that price. The Topps card is just too expensive and to be quite honest, all those high-end brands have the same look and feel (from what I’ve seen). I don’t know how to describe it so I’ll just say they look like futuristic, Marvel X-Men cards. I’d even be hesitant to pay more than $15 for the one #’d to 50. However, if I could grab both for under $20 I’d be the happiest collector of all time!

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