Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember When Participation Redemption Cards Used to Be Fun???

I do.

And while you're waiting with baited breath for Topps to finally give the old generator a crank or two and power up their algorithm that turns these...

into these...

...let me spin a yarn about a gentler, more civilized time for the collector. Let's step into the time machine and travel all the way back to 1995.

If you were anything like me in 1995, you may have had a couple of bucks to your name. And if you were even more like me, you cared truly, madly, deeply about the quantity of your cards (as opposed to the quality). If you had a football jones, your wisest choice was, yes, Collector's Choice. As the cheapest drug in town, it was surprising that UDCC ran, beginning in 1995, an insert redemption promotion that was actually fun to take part in.

"You Crash the Game" (which, in retrospect, borrowed its moniker heavily from a Walter Cronkite series), came in the form of special single-player cards that were foil-stamped with a specific date in the NFL season. Why, they looked like this.

The participatory aspect involved whether or not the player on the card scored a touchdown during the game played on that date. For example, if Dan Marino scored a touchdown (I'm not sure if he had to score it himself, or if throwing TDs counted as well) on November 20th, you would send the card to Upper Deck and wait for your prize to arrive in the mail. If he didn't, you just held on to the card and it became the first in a series of endless failures in your life. Now I guessing here, but I'd imagine that these redemption cards came in silver and gold variations (which would then determine the quality of your prize), but all I have are unredeemed/losing silvers.

Well, let me tell you what did happen in the fall of 1995. I must have gotten a gold redemption card of the Seahawks' Chris Warren, and he must have gotten a touchdown on the date stamped on the front, and at some point, Upper Deck sent me the winner's prize, a 30-card gold set that you'll get to see in a second. But first, here is the special winning card returned to me.

As you can see, the side now says "touchdown!" and there's a lot more gold foil. UD also took great care to protect the card, placing it in some sort of plastic baggie, freezer bag-style. As you can see, I have never removed the card from its tomb.

And here are the first nine cards from the set. They now have "gold set" written down the left side. Quarterbacks begin this parade of stars, and my goodness, that is a lot of talent on one page. The odd man out on that page is Warren Moon, the only one not to have led his team to a Super Bowl appearance. Surprisingly, the value of this set has held up over time. The Favre gold card sells for somewhere between 5 and 10 dollars, and I'd imagine the other superstars are somewhere in the same range. I'd really like to know how many of these were redeemable based on game performance, and how many of those were actually redeemed by collectors.

On the next page, we see the final QB, Steve McNair, and the first eight running backs. An interesting page, equally peppered with hits, flops, and a few flat-out legends. Gotta love the blood on Barry's thigh pad.

Here we have a couple more RBs and then we move into receiver territory. The Jerry Rice is obviously the gem of the group. The guy on the page, though, who doesn't get as much hobby love is TE Ben Coates. The guy was on the all-decade 1990s team and went to the Pro Bowl five straight times at his position, yet he never seems to get any post-retirement cards printed the way Rice, Irvin, and even a guy like Andre Reed might.

The final three cards are more receivers, including the scary-good Herman Moore, about whom I've already stated my opinion.

Well, I'll run one final check before hitting "PUBLISH POST" on this one, just to see if Topps got its act together with its Million Card Giveaway. Nope, not yet. In terms of pure fun, they're running a distant second to Upper Deck's You Crash the Game. Good memories, folks. Share any you have below.


SpastikMooss said...

YCTG was indeed that cool, and I threw a little mini post up once regarding the only time I ever won. Griffey Jr. hit a homerun, I mailed in the redemption card, and six weeks later I had a little piece of Heaven, not the gold foil ones though, the see through-ish ones. It's near the bottom of this post:

night owl said...

I didn't collect a single card in 1995. So I know nothing about Crash the Game.

But I do know that the Million Card Giveaway is now even running behind the 1979 Frosted Flakes 3-D Kellogg's cards order form that you had to cut off a cereal box, mail, and then wait 6-8 weeks for delivery of your cards.

Tunguska said...

Upper Deck had the right idea both with YCTG and their flagship series 'Predictors'. I am pretty sure I have the entire 1995 set around here somewhere.
Nothing beat watching a game hoping and praying your card payed off.
If I recall correctly the 'Predictor' set was based on monthly milestones like MVP, Rookie of the Month and stat leaders like RBI and HR.
Now I am going to have to dig and find these just to be sure.

Great post!!

dayf said...

It's finally working!!!


I have a bunch of these predictor sets somewhere. Uppa Dekk did it right back in the day.

Community Gum said...

I bought a shit ton of basketball Collector's Choice back then since Stadium Club and the like was way out of my price range.

They had two sets to grab - one for scoring and one for rebounds/assists. I walked away from that year with a gold set of R/A and a silver for scoring. '95 was a good year.

Super Teams was also a pretty good, but less involved program, too.

William said...

I have 5 YCTG football Silver Sets -- my winners were: Cris Carter, Jerry Rice, Kerry Collins, Natron Means, and Stan Humphries (yes, I remember this from memory nearly 15 years later). To answer your question, the QBs could win just by throwing a TD; running backs and wide receivers had to score themselves.

joel said...

In 1996 I got a gold foil Ken Griffey Junior crash the game card. It was a winner and I sent it in. It is the most amazing card I have still. But they didn't send back the original.
Anyway, I just happened to be going through my card collection the other day and I thought I'd see if there were any other ones out there, and I happened upon your recent post.