In 1992, card shops were popping up left and right. Within a ten-mile radius, I had 6 different card and/or comic shops selling wax, singles, and supplies in 1993. It was an amazing time to be a collector, long before the convenience of eBay and card forums. Of course, things took a turn for the worse and by 2006, I had zero card shops within 50 miles of my home. Despite the death of the brick and mortar card shop, Alan Narz and Big League Cards has survived and is still in business over 25 years later.
As you can imagine, Narz, has some serious card industry clout. A decade ago, he appeared as a character named “The Rip Master” for Topps TV in an effort to bring the card manufacturer to a new audience on YouTube. The results were cringe-worthy at best but also fun and well, Alan had some amazing “Rip Girls” to help us collectors get through the videos. Alan was also featured as a 1:5 case hit in 2008 Finest and also has a personal Allen & Ginter card as well.
To have made it so long when card shops open and close within a year these days is absolutely amazing and a testament to what a financial genius, Alan Narz is. I’ve watched videos of his store and not only is it PACKED full of card goodness, it also looks very fun and an awesome place to hang around with other collectors. Financial guru as it relates to cards? Yes. Hobby legend? That’s a stretch but I’ll give it to him. Inventor of the “Rip Card”? Fuck no. That innovation belongs to Pinnacle Brands.
In 1998, in Pinnacle Brands’ final year in business, they introduced “Dare to Tear” in their Zenith brand. I bought maybe 3-4 packs of this stuff and absolutely hated the base card design. Sadly, the over-sized rip cards looked better but who in their right mind could resist ripping them open? The final years of Pinnacle were rough as they were just absolutely abusing gimmicks and failing left and right. First with baseball cards inside of cans (ugh!) and then baseball cards with coins in them.
It’s unfortunate that collectors have either forgotten or never heard of Pinnacle Brands’ legendary, 7-year run. Not only did they rule the high-end market with Certified and Totally Certified but they also introduced the pack-pulled printing plate and even a product in which every single card was numbered (way back in 1997) and so much more. Today, 20 years since they shut down their printers, Panini America owns the Pinnacle Brands name but doesn’t do much with it.
In 2013, Panini resurrected the Pinnacle name in baseball and while some of the cards look pretty neat, it was truly missing that Pinnacle personality that made those late 90s cards so unique and fun to collect. I don’t know what the reception to these cards were during its release but judging by the lack of cards on eBay, no 2014 release, and lack of MLB logos … I am willing to bet collectors either passed it up or forgot all about it shortly after its initial release.
Here’s hoping we see an MLB-licensed Panini Pinnacle in 2021.