Sunday, May 20, 2012

Classic Games Inc. : Off the Map Without a Trace

Classic Games Inc. produced hockey cards from 1991-1996. Looking back over 15 years later, I don't recall why the company stopped producing cards. After conducting a lengthy google search, I was still left with no answers. Any trace of the company seemed to disappear when it last produced cards in 1996.

As a kid, I really liked classic cards. They included autographs in their sets and they were not as tough as a pull compared to Score and Pro Set. Classic was also the first to include serial numbered cards and provided unique inserts. Please see below:

The above two cards are gorgeous examples of what Classic produced. The Kozlov card is actually clear acetate and these were big pulls back in the day. Sadly, time has not been friendly to these cards and the acetate has yellowed over the years.

As a kid I was really big into the Daigle hype and I broke a lot of 1993-94 Classic Hockey, trying to pull his cards from packs.

Despite being the most creative card company for a good portion of it's years, the brand never really took off. Without an NHL license, Classic had to stick with minor league and junior players. During the company's final years, they tried their hand at four sport releases. It is my guess, that the four sport release sealed the companies fate.

If anyone has any information as to what happened to Classic Games Inc., please post a comment. I'd really like to know why the company stopped producing cards.

A Four Sport Autograph Card of Mike Fountain

If anyone has any information as to what happened to Classic Games Inc., please post a comment. I'd really like to know why the company stopped producing cards.

Vintage Game Review: Baseball Stars 2 NES

It's been a longtime since I've done a vintage game review and with summer coming, I should be playing a lot of vintage games on the bus rides home from work. A while back, I purchased an NES controller with USB plug for my computer, downloaded an emulator and have never looked back. While I own about 100 real NES games for the actual console, I started to notice games becoming more expensive. With trying to save money, I've gone the free route, downloading ROMS from the Internet.

Baseball Stars is an important game in the industry and it's game style led to the development of all the recent sports games. Baseball Stars 2 was one of the first games were you could take a team through a season and actually manage the team. You get paid for attendance, which is based on how well your team is doing. It's been a while since I've done a season mode, so the details are a bit foggy, however I recall it being a lot of fun.

I mainly play single games and these can be very fun. The batting is pretty simple and once you get your timing right, you can do some serious damage with the better hitters. You only need to press one button to swing, which is a whole lot easier then most games today.

Like many older games, fielding can be a tad bit challenging, as you have to follow the small shadow on the ground to track the ball. However, if you master the hitting, you won't need to be a great fielder. Players all field and throw differently based on their skill ratings.

Base running can be somewhat challenging if you want to tag on a fly ball with the bases loaded as all the runners automatically advance. A small trick when running to first to beat out a throw is to frantically tap "A" and seems to make your runner move quicker.

This game can be found for usually around $20 (cartridge only), although if you look hard you can find it in the $10-$15 range.

Gameplay 3/5
Fun           5/5
Total         8/10

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kerry Wood Retires

What an arm and what promise, back in the late 90's everyone was talking about Kerry Wood and how he was a lock for the Hall of Fame.

In just his fifth career start, he struck out 20 batters, allowing only one hit in the process and walking none. Wood had many more impressive strikeout feats in his career and was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game until the arm problems started. After his 29th birthday, Wood would not start another game in the majors.

Wood re-invented himself as a relief pitcher in his early 30's and racked up 63 saves, mainly over the course of two seasons as a full time closer. Wood finishes his career with an 86-75 record with a 3.67 ERA. The most impressive stat line is his 1582 strikeouts in 1380 innings pitched, good for well over a strikeout per inning.

The 2003 one two punch of Wood and Prior is perhaps one of the greatest one two punches in a single season ever. Both pitchers combined for over 200 innings pitched each, while recording a combined 511 strikeouts.

The Cubs had a great team in 2003 and seemed destined to move on to the World Series when the famous "Steve Bartman" incident occurred.

I've followed the incident since and it deeply saddens me that the incident seems to have driven Bartman away from the game. He has been offered large amounts of money to do interviews as well as invited back to Wrigley as a VIP guest. He has turned down all of these requests.

It came as no surprise that Wood had decided to retire. He was suffering through a poor season, most likely due to arm problems again. Earlier in the week, Wood announced he would appear in one more game and then call it a career:

Wood ended his career in grand fashion: striking out his final batter, being cheered on by the crowd and having your son come out to greet you. While I thought it would have been more special for Wood to strike out his final batter on a fastball, he decided to go to a curveball instead, a smart move because the White Sox batter was most likely expecting Wood's trademark fastball.

While Kerry Wood never lived up to the enormous hype during his career, he provided fans with the some very special moments and great games. He was very entertaining to watch and while he may not make it to the Hall of Fame, I can be certain, for all of us baseball fans lucky enough to see his final moments in a Cubs uniform, it will be a moment that will not be easily forgotten.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Derek King TTM Mail Day

King's claim to fame was playing in 800+ NHL games and getting drafted in the first round of the entry draft. King had some solid seasons with the Islanders in the early to mid 90's. He hung on to pro hockey until 2004, playing minor pro for the last half decade of his career.

King is currently an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlies.

Another Topps setter down! It's taking me a long time to get anywhere with this set, although I hope to finish it one day down the road.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Craig Anderson TTM Mail Day

I always respect a goalie who battles hard and Anderson is one of those goalies. He led an Ottawa team who was predicted to not make the playoffs, into the playoffs.

Anderson is a goalie who is capable of stealing games and I thought he was amazing in limited duty with the Panthers. You could tell how bad he wanted to be a number one goalie in the NHL and he fought hard for the starters role.

Anderson is also a great signer through the mail and his response time is much faster than most current NHL players.

I sent this requested right to the Ottawa Senators.

Baseball Mail day

I don't pick up much baseball anymore, although sometimes certain cards catch my eye. I saw this Romero at a card shop and really liked the look. This card is a mini version and I really like the colorful border. The card shop had it priced for $15 and after some looking around online, I managed to get it for $3.50 including shipping.

I have always been a fan of prospects and these sweet spot autographs, so when I snagged this card for .99 cents plus $1.75 shipping, I was pretty happy. I was big on Burroughs when he was first drafted and I really thought he would be capable of hitting .300 plus in the majors with 20 home runs and 80 RBI annually.

 Burroughs power never developed and he was out of baseball for almost four years before returning last season.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Curious Case of Jim Carey

I never thought I would see another card of Jim Carey after his fall from the NHL and the stories I've heard over the years about Carey.

Carey has been a tough signature over the years. Countless people have tried to track him down, requiring his signature for sets they are working on, without much luck. From what I heard, other collectors all seem to have said the same thing: Carey will not acknowledge that he was a former NHL goalie and that they have the wrong person.

For all of the stories I've her that claim he would not sign, I heard a story once that he was elected to the Portland Pirates Hall of Fame, was friendly during the ceremony and signed for anyone who asked, including multiples.

Recently a group of collectors tried to get him to do a paid, private through the mail signing, which he ignored.

When I saw on the ITG website that Carey was due to have a signature card in the upcoming between the pipes series, I was not sure what to think. Sure enough Dr. Price managed to pull it off and find a way for Carey to sign.

It's nice to see Jim Carey get some hobby love again. He managed to snag a Vezina Trophy away from a very dominant goalie in his prime: Dominik Hasek. While his time in the spotlight was very brief, very few goalies were hotter from 1994-1996 than Carey.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bobby Baun TTM Mail Day

I thought this one was long gone! After being out for almost two years, this card finally returns to me signed!

A fellow collector on another forum I'm part of mentioned that he recently met Baun and told him how much people enjoy getting his signature. I'm not sure if this made him start signing again, however I have seen a lot of people getting successes back from him.

Baun is most famous for scoring a Stanley cup winning goal on a broken ankle.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Expo Pick Ups

This is my first time posting with the new blogger and I'm a bit lost. I noticed that I have over 17,000 page views which is just crazy considering I have only 19 followers. Must be a lot of 90's fans out there!

The expo was much different for me this time around. Last expo, I found some great deals and had an amazing haul. This year, I didn't manage to find many good deals and kept my spending to a minimum. What I realised about the hobby is how expensive it's getting, even with getting outdated 90's stuff. I'm pretty much onto the more rare issues and many dealers over charge. At this point, what's keeping me in the hobby is the friendships and getting to talk to fellow collectors about their collections. I was lucky enough to meet up with Michael, who is a follower of my blog. We made a small trade: thanks for the help with the pacific exhibit base and the bonus goalie cards. It's nice to talk to fellow collectors who enjoy the same things about collecting I do.

Without further ado, my pickups. First up, my nice hit from 11/12 ITG BTP:

I wanted to buy a box so bad but at $100, I couldn't justify it, even with the bonus show card. Instead, I picked up three packs for $20 and pulled this nice short print.

My second nice find was this one for $5:

I'm not really working on the set, I just thought it was a nice looking card and unique idea. This card is numbered to /99 copies.

Another $5 card, wanted this one for a while:

Now onto the 90's stuff, all for .25 cents to .50 cents a piece:

I also picked up a box of 1992 Topps baseball for $5 and a box 1997-98 Donruss Priority for $10. In all I spent:

$20 on packs
$15 on boxes
$29 on supplies
$15 on singles
$12 on admission

For a total of  $91. Not bad, I'm pretty impressed with myself. It's the least amount I've spent on a show in a long time.