One of the biggest trading card hits has been "Magic: The Gathering." It's a fantasy role-playing game that uses trading cards.
Magic cards, like their sports counterparts, can be rare (and valuable -- in monetary terms or for playing the game) or common. Some hobby dealers say it helped save their bottom line during last year's baseball strike.
"It's the first time that we're aware of that the sports and fantasy games have been combined," says Upper Deck's Rich Bradley. "Instead of being played out on other worlds, it's played out on a football field."
Bradley says Upper Deck is hoping to attract Magic fans as well as sports card collectors who have seen Magic at a hobby shop and been curious about it,
Gridiron Fantasy Football, produced with Precedence Publishing, an experienced player in fantasy card games, is played in the future and is more violent than the NFL version.
"The basic object [of the game] is to survive," says Bradley, adding that one card features a Med Evac helicopter.
The game, which is expected in hobby shops by mid-October, begins with a starter pack that has rules, 60 cards and a score sheet. Booster packs of 12 cards will also be sold. A retail version will be available in mid-November. A complete set -- common, rare and insert cards -- is 365 cards.
Salute to Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt drove a silver car at the Winston Select in May to celebrate the 25th year of the Winston Cup. Action Packed takes note with a four-card Dale Earnhardt Silver Salute set. One of the oversized cards will be in every box of Winston Cup Stars, a set available this month, and another will be packed in every box of Winston Cup Country, which will be shipped in late October. The other two cards will be packed one per case.
Press Pass completes season
Press Pass ends its racing season with Optima XL '95, a 60-card super premium set. There are three parallel sets (hobby, retail and die-cut) and insert sets featuring Jeff Gordon and top Winston Cup contenders.
Topps Finest finishes the 1995 baseball season with a 110-card update set. It includes rookies Hideo Nomo and Ray Durham and top veteran pitchers Jose Mesa, Lee Smith and Tim Wakefield. Look for them in mid-October.
Today, card show, Fifth Regiment Armory (expected signers include Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Al Kaline and Whitey Ford), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (914) 576-2900 or (718) 224-1795 after 4 p.m.
Thursday, auction at Christie's, 502 Park Ave., New York (items include a player piano owned by Babe Ruth; autographed baseballs, game jerseys of Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax, and Baltimore Sun press plates from Sept. 7, Cal Ripken's record), (800) 395-6300 to order catalogs.
Friday-next Sunday, card show, Eastpoint Mall (expected signers are Rick Dempsey and Greg Zaun), (410) 682-4375.
Oct. 21, card show and silent auction, Camden-Wyoming Fire Station, Camden, Del. (expected signer is Larry Sheets), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (302) 284-9331.
Oct. 21-22, card show, York (Pa.) Mall (I-83, Exit 8E), (expected signers are Rich Ashburn and Boog Powell, Oct. 21, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.), (410) 529-1624.
Card of the week
R.E.L.'s premiere CFL offering has 250 cards and comes in full and team sets. Stallions team sets, which feature 18 players, are available from Colts Corral No. 27. Call Marc Lombardi at (410) 544-8240. (Shown is Mike Pringle.)