Wednesday, October 17, 2012

End of the Ice Age ? McFarlane Troubles

Are the NHL players and owners looking more and more like this ...

due to the greed and the impending lockout ?

Its truly a shame as I really like the retro cards being produced lately. Cards with helmet-less players ...

and defunct clubs ...

but instead, all I can see is dollar signs down the drain for a league with too many clubs and too much money going to too many agents.  The glut of card makers in the 1990's was the beginning of the end.

Part of the negotiations from the last NHL strike included the royalties earned by the card companies licenses. Personally, I think there are still too many sets per year for collectors to afford or even retain interest. (This is one of the reasons I began to collect soccer cards)


McFarlane Toys had built a reputation on their detail and diversity of their action figures. The company was started by Todd McFarlane, the former comic book artist, which include drawing SPIDERMAN and the creation of SPAWN. 

For the sports world, they were the next generation of collectables beyond cards. The licensing of not only rock stars, horror film and comic book characters but for all the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.

Recent news has uncovered manufacturing problems with their NFL figure releases. Poor quality control, sloppy workmanship and lost shipments have put a blemish on the one time leader in the action figure industry.

Never the less, this past weekend while at yard sales, I was able to pick up a handful of NBA figures for a steal. Although I do not collect basketball, per say, I could not pass up the chance to own finely detailed miniature figures. 

The haul: A large size Tracy McGrady in a blue Orlando Magic jersey.

The ballet of 3 inch figures included Jefferson (Nets), Martin (Nuggets), Duncan (Spurs) and Wallace (Pistons) ...

Francis (Magic), Jamison (Wizards), Yao Ming (Rockets) and O'Neal (Pacers), Iversen (Sixers) wthout bases.

I have been looking for some of the NHL figures. However, they are not abundant here in Florida (perhaps they all melt too easily ?).

I would love to see Major League Soccer or English Premier League figures made by McFarlane. Obviously, they have to put their house in order first.  As does the NHL.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Panini Champions League - Left in Stitches

Modern card collectors who chase jersey cards have lots and lots of choices. While other American sports cards have tons of jersey swatches - from the greatest players to the modern rookies.

Soccer cards, which are evolving with these modern "chase cards", do not have such luxuries - yet.

Other than the Pele' swatches from SportsKings, there are few legendary artifacts in the market.
To make matter worse for North American collectors, Upper Deck - possibly the worse cards ever for modern soccer (ugly, overpriced and farcical in other ways), cannot manage to match their photos with swatches.

Panini, the masters in soccer collecting since the 1960's, has meanwhile done an effective job at producing jersey cards. Their 2011 Champions League subset included 5 players with varying swatches (as many as 3 different colors).

True card makers know that these jersey cards are base on availability, not like the NFL which hands out jersey samples with photo sessions among their "game-used" material.

These Panini examples are matching to the colors of the jersey depicted on the card. Unlike the Upper Deck MLS which you may as well guess the team or the year that the material. The Thiago Silva card (above) even has the stitches to the two-color pattern.

This Frank Lampard jersey patch is sublime with the soccer balls outlining the crest. Some of these cards were known to have included an autograph as well. The above Lampard card sold for $400 on ebay.

The list:

Thiago Silva - AC Milan
Frank Lampard - Chelsea
Michael Bastos - Olympique Lyon
Michael Carrick - Manchester United
Ji-Sung Park - Manchester United

Monday, October 1, 2012


Today, Manchester City has a payroll well into the millions. There are plenty of foreigners on the English squad including two Argentinean players. Argentina, once an enemy combatant of England, are now expensive imported stars at City.

But it was not like that in the 1940's after the end of World War II. The ruins of Maine Road, Manchester's one time stadium, had to be abandoned due to an unexploded German bombs on the pitch.

Yet by 1949, a German man who was once a sworn enemy of England, took his place between the goal posts at Maine Road.

BERNHARD TRAUTMANN was a Nazi Paratrooper captured by the British and incarcerated in a camp inside England. He never left.

1959 National Spastics Society card # 1 - BERT TRAUTMANN

According to the story, the Brits called him "BERT" as Bernhard was not something they could not or would not pronounce. 

Bert took up farming in the small town of St. Helens and soon attracted the attention of 1st Division Manchester City while playing for the local club team.  Perseverance in the face of hate and animosity left over from the war, eventually became admiration and later adulation.

Trautmann went on to be voted "Player of the Year" in 1956 - the first goalkeeper to do so.  His legend was sealed when it was learned that he played the remainder of the 1956 F.A. Cup Final with a broken neck after a collision with an opposing player.

Bert played over 550 matches for Manchester in all competitions.

In 2004 he was awarded an honorary Order of the British Empire (OBE).