Thursday, May 7, 2015

Get My Razor, We About To Cut A B!t¢h

Errors are not new to sports cards. The wrong player, wrong name, wrong stats, missing name, missing stats, printing errors, multi-prints, mis-cuts, blank cards, reversed images, vulgarity and so on. Some got media coverage like Billy Ripken’s 1989 Fleer “Fuck Face” card or 1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF, which if you were fortunate enough to pull and sell you could make a nice payment towards your student loan (one Thomas card sold earlier this week for $2,175 plus $30 shipping).

Really the value is based on the player/subject matter, the type or error, was the error corrected and how many cards are on the market. The 1989 Score Paul Gibson with the background player adjusting himself can be had for under $5 but if you are interested in picking up a 1977 Topps  C-3PO “Droid Junk” card you are going to be spending more in the $25 range for an un-graded version.

I enjoy error cards, they are a unique addition to a collection. I don’t have an “Error” collection but if I come across a reasonably priced Griffey error I will happily pick it up. If I had to pick a specific error type I would go with printing errors. I like cards that are missing foil or names or a nice double print image.

One error that I have never been able to get in to are the cut-out cards where the player was cut out for whatever reason. Two of the more recent cards that come to mind are the 2000 Upper Deck MVP LaVar Arrington and the 2006 Topps and 2006 Topps Heritage Alex Gordon cards.

The 2000 UD MVP LaVar Arrington was cutout because Arrington had not signed with the NFLPA thus was not eligible to appear on any NFL cards. Arrington went on to play 7 seasons with the Redskins and Giants and he had a solid career making it to 3 Pro Bowls but defensive players don’t normally draw big attention unless they are stellar (Richard Sherman) or evil (Ndamukong Suh) so while his cut-out made hobby news it didn’t normally sell for much over $25 around the time of release and is now down to around $5-10 range.
Alex Gordon’s Topps cut-outs where big time with stories showing up in various hobby news outlets, ESPN and even local news so there was a bigger rush. In 2006 the MLBPA had made changes to the “RC” requirements so only players who had appeared in a professional game prior to the season could appear in sets besides the Bowman minor league sets. Since Gordon had not been in a game Topps found themselves in a predicament so they took to cutting up Gordon’s Topps and Heritage cards.

The 2006 Topps #297 Gordon had five versions make it to the pack out process. The complete card, complete cut-out, center cut-out, Gold Foil and Silver Foil. The complete versions are the big sellers, topping $1,000 at the time and even now still topping $150 for raw copies. The cut-outs and foil versions now sell for under $50 each. One of the big national stories connected to the Topps card was when one collector in Wichita Eagle, Kansas found 5 complete versions from Walmart blasters. He bought 7 blasters total and found 2 in one pack and 3 in another pack, I guess you could say there was a bit of a collation issue.
Complete version
Complete Cut-out
Center Cut-out
Gold Foil Only
Silver Foil Only
The other is the 2006 Topps Heritage #255 Alex Gordon card. I think the reason this one is less known is because a complete version was never packed out, the only cards that made it out were the center cut-out and puzzle cut-out and from my research I found out that quite a few of them made it to PXs at U.S. military bases in Germany. The only complete version I have seen is owned by Keith Olbermann who received a paper proof directly from Topps. Because there seems to be less of the Heritage cut-outs the prices are significantly higher, hitting the $250 recently for ungraded copies. I cannot find any puzzle cut-outs for sale so I do not know any pricing.
Paper Proof owned by Olbermann

Center Cut-out

Puzzle Cut-out
I was also able to find some information that there are a number of 1997 Upper Deck Edgar Renteria #77 cut-out copies out there but I do not know why they were cut out and I do not see any for sale. One person suggested it may have just been a mis-cut during the cutting stage.

What has me baffled is why did Upper Deck and Topps allow the LaVar Arrington and Alex Gordon cards to get to the pack out stage? If there were specific rules in effect on these players appearing in cards sets I can understand why the companies cut out the player’s image and you would think this was done with the intent that the cards would be destroyed and they wanted to make sure that they didn’t go out the back door but these cards somehow made it from printing to cut-out phase to pack out and nobody questioned it.

Why were they not destroyed instead of just being cut-out? Some people have suggested that at least Topps did it to get a top prospect in to the packs and could claim innocence and ignorance by proving they attempted to destroy the cards. The “Hey, it wasn’t my fault” defense.

Outside of Arrington/Redskins and Gordon/Royals collectors would you hunt down these cards?

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