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New WNBA Cards Due Out in Summer

by Paul Angilly
March 29, 2005

Fans of the Connecticut Sun, the WNBA and/or women’s basketball in general will be happy to hear that there will be a new manufacturer for WNBA trading cards this year.

Rittenhouse Archives, well-known among collectors of non-sport cards, will be issuing its first sports set early this summer -- a 2005 WNBA card series. The company takes over the WNBA license previously held since 1999 by Fleer Trading Cards.

Rittenhouse Archives company founder and president Steven M. Charendoff confirmed via e-mail that his company would be making WNBA cards this year. According to him, "We are planning some very exciting changes to the program from what had been offered in the past. Most significantly, we are building the product line on an ‘entertainment card’ product model."

That means, he explained, that getting a complete set will actually be an attainable goal for most collectors -- and there will be no parallel cards, which detract from rather than add to the appeal of far too many sports card sets these days.

Charendoff added, "We are treating the WNBA card set like a media guide in the form of trading cards. The basic cards will be player cards, and the bonus cards will focus on the logical themes that fans and collectors care about -- 2004 playoffs, 2004 All-WNBA teams, 2004 League Leaders, 2004 Team Leaders, 2005 Draft Picks, etc."

That means Connecticut Sun fans can look forward to collecting cards that highlight the team’s run through the WNBA Finals last year.

There will also be two signed cards per box, with the checklist focusing on All-WNBA players, Olympians and Team MVPs. The company has already reached agreements with UConn alumna Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Swin Cash, along with others such as Lisa Leslie and Becky Hammon. Packs will also include authentic jersey relic cards of all the first and second team All-WNBA players.

There will be at least 150 copies made of each card in the collection, including the autograph cards and relics. There will also be a special collectors album available -- similar to the albums the company makes for its entertainment card lines, which typically include a special autographed or relic card not found in packs.

More information will be posted within the next few weeks on the company’s new WNBA card web site, www.wnbatradingcards.com.

Founded in January 1999, Rittenhouse Archives is best known among card collectors for its science fiction- and fantasy-based sets. The company has licenses for many popular current and past shows and movies, such as Star Trek (all its versions), James Bond, Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Xena: Warrior Princess, The Twilight Zone (classic) and Battlestar Galactica (classic and current). More information about the company’s entertainment products can be found at www.scifihobby.com.

Bobby Hull pictured as Whaler in new set: In The Game, former maker of the Be a Player line of hockey cards, had a big hit last season with its historically-themed Original Six line, issued in six separate versions (one for each "Original Six" team). This year, the company has another hit with its NHL Franchises series, divided into three versions: Canadian (released Feb. 28), U.S. West (due out March 31) and U.S. East (due out on April 28).

The product focuses on retired players (In The Game no longer has a license to produce cards of current players), many of whom are pictured with now-defunct teams. Each version of the set includes players pictured with teams from that geographical area (Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets in the Canadian version, Detroit Red Wings and Oakland Seals in the U.S. West version, etc.).

The company recently posted the checklist for the U.S. East version and it includes five cards of players pictured with the Hartford Whalers: Bobby Hull (who finished his Hall-of-Fame career by playing in nine regular-season and three playoff games with the first-year NHL team in 1980), Dave Babych, Tiger Williams, Mark Howe and Mike Liut.

Although Hull has been pictured in numerous hockey sets since his retirement, his U.S. East edition NHL Franchises card will be the first picturing him as a member of the Hartford Whalers. He’s also pictured in the Canadian version of the set with the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets and in the U.S. West version with the Chicago Blackhawks.

While it’s nice to finally get a chance to see Hull in a Whalers uniform on a trading card, I’m otherwise a bit disappointed with the checklist for the set. The Canadian version included 11 Quebec Nordiques cards and 16 Winnipeg Jets cards, so I was hoping for a more extensive list of former Whalers players.

Among those I would have liked to have seen included: Kevin Dineen, one of the Whalers’ all-time most popular players; Blaine Stoughton, who tied for the league lead in goals scored (56) during the Whalers’ first NHL season; and Mike Rogers, who played four seasons with the team in the WHA, then recorded 105 points in each of the team’s first two NHL seasons.

NHL Franchises includes an extensive selection of game-used memorabilia and autograph cards. Collectors will pull an average of one autograph card per 16 packs and one game-used memorabilia card per 20 packs. There will be 10 different game-used memorabilia sets: Single Memorabilia, Double Memorabilia, Triple Memorabilia, Goalie Gear, Original Sticks, Complete Jersey, Teammates, Forever Rivals, Trophy Winners and Barn Burners.

Every box also includes one special box topper -- an oversized card featuring a team logo and team history. There are 25 different box toppers in all, including one for the Whalers.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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