Bummer, Topps …

30 04 2010

Some readers of Wax Heaven may have noticed that in the few instances that I have been blogging, more often than not it’s about wrestling. You see, having had a baseball-loving wife for four years meant that I spent 99% of my time following the sport with her by my side. Now, it’s just no fun doing it alone so rather than follow my Florida Marlins and Andrew Miller, I’ve begun watching WWE and TNA wrestling to pass the time.

Unfortunately, it’s just not as grand as it once was when I was a kid or even young adult. Quite honestly, it’s brutally bad and embarrassing at times, especially the shows being pumped out by Total Nonstop Action, unless your idea of entertainment is watching your grandparents battle it out in a steel cage till one is left bleeding to death over a piece of jewelry (WWE Hall of Fame ring).

Anyway, it’s not all bad. There are some wrestlers who I enjoy following. For example, Ted Dibiase Jr. is now sporting his daddy’s Million Dollar Belt, which is not only awesome for nostalgic reasons but it also makes up for his lack of any personality and skills in the ring. In the 80’s, that was without a doubt the coolest of all championship belts, even if it meant nothing.

Chris Jericho is also still a blast, despite not being anywhere near as cool as he was in the late-90’s and early part of this decade. That’s what he gets for doing all those VH1 “I Love” specials. Randy Orton is perhaps my favorite heel (AKA bad guy) today but without a doubt the only wrestler that keeps me tuned in week after week is CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society.

Unlike most WWE creations, Punk lacks the size and cartoon-like muscles to be the main guy at WWE (although he came close) but that’s just fine with me. Currently he’s playing the role of tormentor to Rey Mysterio Jr. and what he did to his family on the birthday of Mysterio’s young daughter will go down for  me as one of the best promos I’ve ever watched in over 20 years of being a wrestling fan.

You can watch the whole thing here.

Anyway, Topps has released an early preview of 2010 Topps WWE and while the autograph checklist is a huge improvement over 2009’s list, I think it’s time Topps finally scraps those loud & obnoxious holographic stickers once and for all. Yes, the sound you hear is that of me beating a dead horse but you gotta admit he had it coming.

In the past the stickers have worked with some releases like the futuristic Finest brand but really, enough is enough. Look at what Tristar is doing with their stickers. For the first time ever I can honestly say Tristar is doing much better work than Topps when it comes to the wrestling licenses. Yes, I know stickers suck but if you are going to do it, at least find a way to execute it without destroying the work of the design team.

Come to think of it, why are these even stickers in the first place? Unlike football, baseball, and other “real” sports … wrestling has no off-season. These guys bust their ass 365 days a year and none will ever see the type of money that a prima donna like Alex Rodriguez will get so why not have these hard-signed?

Below is a preview of what is most likely CM Punk’s first certified autograph. Aside from the terrible sticker autograph and the fact that he’s been paired up with someone who won’t be around in a year’s time … the card itself doesn’t quite live up to the expectations of this Punk fan.

You can see a full preview of 2010 Topps WWE here.





This Card Makes Me Sad

21 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

Take a look at this dual game-used memorabilia card featuring the Bash Brothers from 2010 Famous Fabrics. While it’s the card several collectors have been waiting for, it’s an absolute FAIL on so many levels.

Let’s ignore for a moment that the two pieces of fabric, while larger than normal pieces you’d find in Topps and Upper Deck most of the time, is plain and boring. There’s not a single photo anywhere on the card.

Yes, there’s a little graphic of a hitter (a lefty no less) but it’s clearly something pulled from a generic image program and bears no resemblance to “Mr. Truth”, Canseco and “Mr. Denial”, McGwire.

This is exactly why so many of us are mourning the imminent death of Upper Deck. What other company had the balls, err … intestinal fortitude to give player collectors new cards of Pete Rose and Jose Canseco without fear of a backlash?

Topps certainly won’t touch those two despite strong sales on the secondary market for both players and a very strong demand as visible through card trading message boards and blogs.

For those interested in this card (and there are some desperate few), you can check out the eBay auction HERE. It’s currently up to nearly $30 dollars with three bids.

Hey, there’s a sucker born every minute …





Examples of Pinnacle Backdoored Cards

19 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

While my latest article talks about the possibility of Upper Deck cards being backdoored if the company goes under, I didn’t have a chance to show readers examples of some legendary and very expensive backdoored cards from the final days of Pinnacle Brands.

Unlike Upper Deck, which in my opinion had an average year in 2009, it’s clear that Pinnacle Brands were in their prime when the doors closed and the printers were shut down for good. While these cards may be a little “busy” to some, I can attest that in person they are as breathtaking as Elaine Benes.

You can read more about these cards and see more images HERE.





Is Upper Deck Headed to ‘Wax Heaven’?

19 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

As a collector of trading cards, it’s now almost impossible to not read about the almost guaranteed demise of the Upper Deck Company. Beckett Media and the New York Times are reporting on it, bloggers are having a field day, and even card shop owners can’t avoid the subject.

Alright, before we throw a sympathy party it should be noted that Upper Deck brought this on themselves. From the crazy stories in the book ‘Card Sharks’ to the Konami and MLB lawsuits, the more you play with fire the better your chances are of getting burned and boy are the flames high in Carlsbad, California right now.

While I would hate to see U.D. go, what happens if the company officially closes shop? Could we see a boatload of backdoored cards hit the secondary market much like in the final days of Pinnacle Brands? What if 2010 Goudey cards of Derek Jeter mysteriously hit eBay one day? What kind of demand would that card bring?

If Upper Deck doesn’t survive this storm (and it’s looking bleak), we could realistically see some unlicensed cards hit The Hobby at an alarming rate. Much like Dick McWilliams gave MLB the middle finger when U.D. lost the MLB license, a move to release cards through the backdoor could be Upper Deck’s final “F-U” to Major League Baseball.

Of course, this is just speculation from a Hobby outsider. For all we know, U.D could make amends with Major League Baseball, sit out for a couple of years and make a triumphant return someday but what if …?

How much would YOU pay for a Derek Jeter autograph from 2010 Goudey, assuming one exists? I know if the Goudey Jose Canseco ever hits eBay, it will easily hit $500+ dollars thanks to the insane Canseco collectors out there.





Topps’ Lawsuit Ends Canseco’s Comeback

15 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

Last year after Upper Deck lost their MLB license I remember having a somber conversation with a U.D employee. In a story I wrote, I labeled the new Upper Deck as “underdogs” but was told that now without MLB breathing down their necks they would have more freedom to produce cards collectors really wanted.

I found out just what they meant when I broke the news that Jose Canseco, baseball’s whipping boy for exposing cheaters in the game, would make his official Hobby return in 2010 in Upper Deck’s very popular Goudey line. While Jose has had a card in a Razor and Creative Concepts brand, to a true collector it’s just not the same unless it bears a Topps or U.D. logo.

Well, I just received the sad news that not only is Jose’s return to trading cards cancelled, the popular Goudey line will also not see the light of day. This now means that Upper Deck’s best two retro-themed lines, Masterpieces and Goudey, are now history. While collectors still go gaga over Topps’ Allen & Ginter, it would have been nice to see Upper Deck respond with their own version even in these clearly tough times.

When I left my full-time blogging position at Wax Heaven, Upper Deck had lost baseball and basketball. Since my part-time return, I’ve seen Upper Deck lose football (sorry Gellman) and have heard really scary rumors about the future of the company, including tales of a looming bankruptcy. While I knew this year would be a rough one for the guys in Carlsbad, California, I never imagined it would come to this.

In sports, every once in a while we are treated to shocking victories by the underdog. My all-time favorite is “Buster” Douglas’ knockout win over an undefeated and in his prime Mike Tyson and the spanking the New York Yankees received at the hands of my Florida Marlins in 2003 (can’t buy every championship, guys). Unfortunately, more  often than we’d like to remember, the underdog puts up a good fight but ultimately succumbs to the giant, which in this case is Topps Company.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on Upper Deck just yet but if 2011 rolls around and all I see is Topps MLB trading cards on my Target shelf (what’s a card shop?), it wouldn’t be the biggest shock of my collecting lifetime, which by the way began in 1990 with a Jose Canseco Upper Deck card I still own.





WWE Getting the Short End …

14 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

Tristar did it with their TNA license. Topps did it with their UFC brand. Now, where is the WWE dream card we wrestling fans have been anxiously waiting for?

In case you missed it, Topps produced just ten copies of this amazing, on-card triple autograph of MMA legends, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, along with UFC head honcho, Dana White.

It’s already an amazing card but as a reward, Topps is sending the first lucky collector to pull this card on an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to hang out at the UFC training center and sit cage side at a TUF fight.

Alright, Topps … job well done. You’ve created a perfect card and an even better grand prize that no other company can likely ever pull off. Now, where’s the WWE version to go along with it?

With WWE on the road non-stop it should be much easier to plan a grand prize, should Topps follow with a WWE version of the UFC “Dream Card”. Of course, that dream card would have to include one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, love it or hate it.

What other two wrestlers would you include on the card?

I would team up Vinny Mac with none other than Triple H, who is likely to be the man in charge once Vince retires considering Vince’s son, Shane, jumped ship last year and has vanished from the public eye.

On the other spot you’d have to include arguably the most popular wrestler of the moment, John Cena. While we don’t know what kind of price the Tristar and UFC cards will carry on the secondary market, I’d go out on a limb to say the WWE version would top both of them once they appear on eBay.

Of course, Topps would actually have to make the effort. They have clearly shown they can with a “legitimate” sport but would they do the same to for the WWE brand of “sports entertainment” which is not as respected as mixed martial arts?

Here’s hoping Topps gives WWE the respect it deserves.

PS. – In case you’re wondering, someone has already won the grand prize.





Picking Up Where I Left Off

12 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

It’s been a really long time since I’ve had any desire to collect. I’ve sat back waiting for the first Jose Canseco/Upper Deck card to show up, and every once in a while checked eBay for Andrew Miller cards to see what the 2010 issues were like but really felt nothing every time.

It wasn’t until this afternoon that I decided to start again, at least with my fallen Florida Marlin, Andrew Miller. Unfortunately, for the third year in a row, Andrew has found himself in the Minors. While I hate to use a word like “bust” for a guy who was nice enough to sign for me several times and even took the time to remember my name, it’s not looking good for Mr. Miller right now.

As for cards, it appears that he’s only been in a couple of releases thus far. The Heritage card below, a sweet-looking, no license Upper Deck release, and a Topps Team release which looks pretty nice as well. As for which of the three I think looks best? It’s easily the Heritage brand pictured below.

You can expect a full report and review on the cards once they start showing up. As for Wax Heaven, I am working on bringing one final exclusive to the site. Although I’m not looking to step on Beckett’s toes (Tracy and I are buds again), this one would be a very special exclusive that would mean a lot to me.

Stay tuned …