Leaf Trading Cards

Leaf’s Response to Wax Heaven #100

Yesterday, I wrote a piece on Leaf’s Heroes of Baseball product line which features questionable Stan Musial sticker autographs. Unexpectedly, it caught fire on Twitter which caught the attention of Leaf Trading Card’s #1, Brian Gray. The piece was also my 100th post on Wax Heaven 2.0 in just four months so to those who didn’t think I’d stick around, keep reading. I got many more plans in the works!

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The Rebirth of Stan Musial (and why it is GOOD for the Hobby)

Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Mario’s column. It is refreshing to see someone passionate about the hobby. This can sometimes lead to forgetting the business side of the equation, but even then I see Mario making major strides to adapt to the realities of the hobby.

Today, I read a column by Mario and frankly I felt very strongly that it was a one-sided view of a release that unarguably presents a more than one-sided reality.
Leaf released exclusively through Target, 2015 Leaf Heroes of Sport Boxes. This release was designed to do two things: (1) provide the market its most inexpensive way ever to collect the autograph of the man that was the last of the golden era and (2) to supply an opportunity for collectors to collect legends products inexpensively in blaster form.

Why does the hobby need inexpensive Musial autographs? After all, the man signed for the hobby for nearly 20 years. The fact is that the only collectors who realistically had a chance of ever obtaining a Musial autograph from a pack are those collectors in the hobby who buy $60-500 “HOBBY” products. We sometimes forget that the “HOBBY” consists of far more people than those collectors purchasing non-retail products. In fact, I would argue that the growth of our industry will be directly driven by the collectors who transition from “RETAIL BUYERS” to “HOBBY BUYERS”. Like our Rose release before this, this set is a HUGELY positive thing for those “RETAIL” buyers who will never get value like this from a retail product.

I think it’s about time , as an industry, we accept the fact that we will not be fans of everything released. That is why we get to vote with our wallets. However, for many less advanced collectors, this is the PERFECT chance to enjoy a GUARANTEED opportunity to acquire the autograph of a true legend at the best price ever available to these customers.

With all this being said, I additionally disagree about the implication that these were reject signatures. Stan was a very sick man the last several years of his life. FOR COLLECTORS, he continued to sign despite the great difficulty he had. What the original post fails to recognize is that this is the same Musial autograph you would have pulled out of a $100-400 box of cards during his last few years as well! The attached images show exactly why these signatures are typical (not atypical as the implication was made). Moreover, we made the decision not to use over 1000 signatures that we found unacceptable.

My personal opinion would be to recognize the good heart of the man willing to sign despite his illness, rather than essentially criticize, berate and insult him for not being able to sign any better due to illness.

If Leaf had not acquired and utilized these as it did, they very well may have been acquired elsewhere and ended up in your favorite $60-500 hobby box instead. Maybe Leaf did the hobby a second service (in addition to value at Retail)?

In summary, I appreciate those who support our brand. In making an item like this, we do carefully consider the result of our efforts. The item has been VERY successful at retail and I have every confidence it will achieve its end game of bringing more people to buy “HOBBY” products in hope of finding desirable autograph cards.

For these reasons, I believe Leaf has done the hobby a service that deserves applause for its good for the “Hobby” rather than unfair criticism based on a far too narrow perspective of the product and its reason for existing.

Brian Gray,
CEO, Leaf Trading cards


Categories: Leaf Trading Cards, The Hobby | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Hobby Death of Stan Musial

Not long ago, I wrote about Stan “The Man” Musial signing way too long into his life and tarnishing his hobby legacy, not to mention the value of his autograph. You can imagine my shock when I discovered 2015 Heroes of Baseball, featuring a Stan Musial sticker autograph per box for around $30-$40 a piece. The problem is that if you think you’ve seen bad Musial autographs, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Do a quick search on eBay and see for yourself. These look like Topps rejects that Musial’s estate likely sold off to the highest bidder. Much like the awful sketch cards they have done in the past, Leaf should be ashamed to put their company’s historic name on these things. What’s sad is that the other cards in the set look great, including photographs and design. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t make a sale without the autos.

When I returned to collecting early this year, I was ecstatic about Leaf after purchasing my amazing ‘Q’ Jose Canseco card and then I started seeing nothing but negative comments. My opinion was saved by Gregg Kohn of Leaf after he divulged that his company had some huge plans for the next two years. We already know they made a deal with the Babe Ruth estate, could a similar Ruth set be in the works? Probably.

The problem is that much like Jose Canseco and Pete Rose autographs, prices are hitting an all-time low due to mass production from companies like Leaf and Panini America. There are already WAY too many Musial autographs and these less than stellar stickers have basically killed his value moving forward. Was it worth it? I don’t think so but I’m also not aware how business runs in the card world.

Much like Panini America has hit their stride with the resurrection of Donruss Baseball and what’s going to be a huge hit in 2015 Prizm, I expected the same from Leaf Trading Cards. I’ve already given up on Upper Deck ever again competing in baseball but I was looking for a challenger to Topps’ throne but it appears that I was wrong by expecting Leaf to be “the one”.

Obviously, I trust Gregg’s word and what he says but someone should have stopped this disaster of a product. Don’t get me wrong, I love these kind of sets and still have ‘The Jose Canseco Story’ set from the late 80s which came with a mini Canseco binder, 20 unofficial but licensed cards, and a record to play featuring an interview with the still green Jose ripping up the English language. This, however, is different.

Surely, someone at Leaf would have known that these autographs were in no shape to use for any product. Surely someone, maybe even Gregg went to Brian Grey and pleaded with him not to release such a shoddy autograph sticker set with their name plastered on every card? Someone must have known these autographs would bring the value of all Musial autos down, right?



Categories: Celebrity Death, eBay Treasures, Leaf Trading Cards, The Hobby | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Leaf’s Forgotten Record

It’s been a slow week in The Hobby. No card company disasters to report on. No player scandals. No new releases, either. So instead, I’ve decided to write up a little story on some of the most underrated inserts of the 90s. No, these inserts won’t make you rich but design-wise, they are about as unique as they come. They are also extremely outdated but hey, so is much everything from 1996.

With 1996’s Studio release, Pinnacle Brands, who had purchased Donruss/Leaf, put out a magnificent product filled with extremely popular parallels that sell for hundreds of dollars to this day. However, it’s the inserts that caught my eye, specifically, Hit Parade. These cards, which are #’d to 5,000 were seeded 1:48 packs and were designed to resemble a vinyl record of all things.

This again is yet another example of Pinnacle Brands thinking way outside the box and quite frankly, it worked. The cards aren’t eBay Killers but at 5,000 copies a piece they weren’t meant to be. Still, they are about as memorable and interesting as any cards from 1996. Below is a front and back scan for you to memorize. Who knows? You may find one of these in the dollar bin at your next card show.


Categories: eBay Treasures, Leaf Trading Cards, Pinnacle Brands | Tags: | Leave a comment

In Our Hobby, Is Imitation Flattery or Theft?

Aside from Tribute-Gate, this week for me has been spent looking at the preview images of 2015 Prism Baseball. While I am finally starting to appreciate non-licensed cards and what they can bring to our hobby, I couldn’t help but notice that one of their parallels looks almost identical to Topps’ X-Fractor parallel used around 2007. Then that got me thinking about another parallel …

Leaf’s Gold Prismatic has been around a few years now. It’s clearly Leaf’s version of Topps’ Superfractor, hands down the most coveted and popular parallel card of all-time. Personally, I’ve never understood the fascination with the Superfractor but I can certainly see a need for Leaf to jump on Topps’ coattails. There is very little positive in our hobby these days so any card that can put us in a good light is quite alright by me.

At one point during Wax Heaven’s first run from 2007-2009, my entire life revolved around baseball cards and hobby knowledge. I’m no longer an encyclopedia so I can’t recall the debut of the Superfractor. However, if you ask me, its origins lie with the heavily underrated and just resurrected, Bowman’s Best. In 1996, Bowman’s Best introduced the Atomic Refractor, the first parallel above the common refractor.

Below is a sample of the ’96 Atomic Refractor, a card that was seeded at 1:48 packs. I don’t know about you guys but it sure looks like an ancestor of the Superfractor to me. By 1997, Topps changed the look of the Atomic Refractor to a more futuristic looking card. Fortunately, the same printing technology was moved over into a much more prominent brand.

Check out 1997’s Topps Finest Embossed Refractor. Once again, looks very familiar to me for some reason. This beauty was a 1:192 odds pull and well worth it. The color was off but again, this card is clearly an ancestor to the Superfractor we all know and love. Once again, Topps only used this parallel for one year and completely destroyed Finest in 1998, in my opinion.

After this, it appears Topps retired this particular printer for a decade or so before introducing the world to the Superfractor, err, Embossed Refractor, err, Atomic Refractor. It will be very interesting to see if Topps brings back the 1996 Atomic Refractor for Bowman’s Best’s 2015 return. Now THAT would be something else, especially if they include Superfractors in the product as well.

Categories: Leaf Trading Cards, The Topps Company | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Planning the First Wax Heaven Group Break

I’ve been considering doing my first ever case break lately. I’m not really interested in busting new product because that’s all been done before. I want to find either a case of an old school brand or at the very least a high-end product from the past for a reasonable price. Right now, 1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended seems to be my pick at the moment. It comes with 12 packs per box with a promise of “at least two autographs in ever pack”.

Essentially, we are looking at 48 total cards with 24 of them being autographed. The checklist is full of 90s super stars and Marty Cordova. Of course, unless you pull something amazing, odds of making back the slot/team price will likely not be worth it to some but to baseball card collectors and fans of the hobby, this may be your final chance to bust a product like this. ’96 Leaf Signature was the first ever product to guarantee an autograph per pack or even box.

Here’s what we are looking at: $399.95 for the box (with free shipping). At 12 packs, you’re looking at $33.32 per slot. I will make it $35 per slot to include shipping supplies. I have zero interest in making any kind of profit, this is strictly for fun. So at that price, per slot you’re guaranteed two autographs and two base cards, all filmed for YouTube. I will be purchasing the box in early April regardless if it fills up or not.

Below are some more details on 1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended:

Checklist highlights: Frank Thomas, Andruw Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Eddie Murray, Andrew Dawson, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley.

Checklist lowlights: Alex Ochoa, Jeff Conine, Mac Suzuki (?), Karim Garcia, Kevin Appier.

Breakdown: 1 slot = 2 base cards, 2 on-card autographs

Price: $35 per slot includes penny sleeve, top loader, protection, postage, and bubble mailer

If you have any interest in joining this group break, leave a comment. Also, suggestions are more than welcomed because it is my first ever group break.

Categories: Leaf Trading Cards, The Hobby | Tags: | 1 Comment

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