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New sets aim for the small-change budgets of small-fry collectors


With the trend toward more premium card sets and higher prices for higher-quality regular sets, it would seem that manufacturers are catering to collectors with adult-sized budgets.

But three companies are aiming at younger collectors with more modest budgets. Donruss and Topps have new sets geared toward pre-teens, and Upper Deck has a special promotion in conjunction with the 26 Triple-A baseball teams.

Donruss has released a 264-card Triple Play set that looks like a winner. One subset is Little Hotshots, which features pictures of stars such as Cal Ripken and Andy Van Slyke as Little Leaguers. The fun is trying to guess who the player grew up to be. Some of the cards focus on the fun of the game, showing players clowning around as well as team mascots. There are cards of stadiums and a card devoted to tips on getting autographs. The price is right, too -- 55 cents for a pack of 15.

Topps' 132-card Topps Kids set is meant for youngsters just beginning to collect cards. Cards feature player photos and cartoons, trivia quizzes and handwritten stats. As a throwback to most collectors' first cards, each pack contains a stick of gum.

Collectors 14 and under can join the Upper Deck Kids Club by bringing two empty Upper Deck baseball wrappers to a Triple-A park this season. Members will receive membership certificates and other gifts. The club is to build interest in the 350-card minor-league set the company will release in October.

Classic Topps art: In 1989, Marriott purchased the original artwork for Topps' 1953 baseball cards of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays at auction for $210,000. It has donated the small portraits to the Children's Miracle Network to be auctioned at the CMN telethon May 30-31. For information, send a postcard to Marriott Sports Dream, P.O. Box 21610, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84121. Marriott also has donated 200 sets of limited-edition lithographs of the artwork to be auctioned locally at Marriott hotels. These lithographs have been signed by Mantle and Mays. Two thousand sets of lithographs were produced and originally sold for $300 (or $150 for a Mantle or Mays). Watch for information on lithograph auctions from local Marriott hotels.

Score in cello: Score's new 40-card cello packs will be bypassing the hobby market, sold to magazine distributors, which serve outlets such as supermarkets and drug stores. Each pack contains 35 Series I cards and five cards from the Impact Players subset, which will only be available in these packs. The Impact subset has 90 cards, 45 available in each series' cello packs. Series II cello packs will be shipped later this month. Players in the subset include Chuck Knoblauch, Jeff Bagwell, Steve Avery, Ken Griffey Jr. and David Justice.


Rookies for free: NBA Hoops fans can get a limited edition Head the Class card featuring the first six NBA draft picks from 1991. Cards are numbered (from 1 to 10,000) and include each player's rookie statistics. Collectors must send three wrappers from Series I and three from Series II with a 3 x 5 card with name, address, phone number and date of birth as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope before June 30.



Upcoming events:

Friday, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn (I-695, Exit 17), 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

Sunday, baseball card show, Comfort Inn-Airport (I-695, Exit 6A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

May 21, baseball card show, Towson Sheraton (I-695, Exit 27A), 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

May 23, baseball card show to benefit Johns Hopkins Children's Center, White Marsh Mall, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., (410) 879-4651.

May 23-25, baseball card show, Mall at Columbia, May 23-24 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., May 25 noon to 5 p.m., (410) 329-2188.

May 24, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.

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