It’s been a while since I have posted to my blog. A lot has changed in my life over the last six months but that’s another story.
What I want to bring to your attention is the incredible Redemption Program being held at In The GameLand during the Fall Expo for Ultimate Memorabilia 14th Edition.
This is the first edition of Ultimate Memorabilia being created and manufactured under the new Leaf/ITG banner, the product will be released in time for the Fall Expo, November 7th to November 9th at the International Centre in Toronto.
For each pack of Ultimate Memorabilia 14th Edition you open at the Redemption Table at In The GameLand, you will receive a 1/1 Ultimate Archives card. That’s right a 1/1 for each pack opened. The Ultimate Memorabilia Archives cards feature specially stamped 1/1 cards from past Ultimate Memorabilia releases.
These 1/1 cards are in In The Game Ultimate slabs and are spectacular.
Dual Rocket Richard/Gordie Howe Card
Toronto Maple Leaf Cornerstones
Patrick Roy Ultimate Names “Y”
Detroit Red Wings Ultimate Originals
Pavel Bure Ultimate Emblem
Bobby Hull Patch
Montreal Canadiens 59/60 Road To The Cup
The Ultimate Memorabilia 14th Edition Redemption Program is limited and will continue while supplies last.
A special bonus of two additional Ultimate Archives cards will be available to collectors who break a sealed 4 box case of Ultimate Memorabilia 14th Edition.
Go to the Leaf Trading Cards website for additional information on other programs taking place at In The GameLand during the Fall Expo.
Remember, there is only one real Ultimate.
See you at the In The GameLand.
Congratulations is in order for the upcoming release of the first product under the Leaf/In The Game banner – 2014 Draft Prospects.
The following is from an email sent by Leaf Trading Cards President, Brian Gray today.
“Leaf is pleased to announce that 2014 In The Game Draft Prospects Hockey is a COMPLETE SELL OUT. There are no additional cases for reorders on this item.
PRODUCTION ON THIS ITEM HAS BEEN CUT OVER 30% FROM LAST YEAR!
We will be verifying this reduced print run by NUMBERING the inner and outer cases.
THE PRODUCTION RUN ON THIS ITEM IS 277 20-BOX CASES. THAT’S IT!
Base Set and Memorabilia card parallels in this set are SERIAL NUMBERED for the first time. “
Again, congratulations on the joint effort of the Leaf and In The Game teams in making this great product for collectors.
It looks like the marriage of In The Game and Leaf Trading Cards is paying off with big dividends.
The first product will be released later this month – 2014 Draft Prospects and it looks like a great one.
Here are some images of the Jumbo Patch Cards (all cards will be serially numbered when released).
This product will also feature Autograph Cards and Auto/Memo Cards of 2015 Projected #1 pick, Connor McDavid.
New innovations along with great Authentic Game-Used Memorabilia, a great combination.
Remember, all 2014 Draft Prospect autographs are hard-Signed.
Production has been cut back, so don’t wait too long to order yours.
I can’t believe it has been a year since the inaugural release of Draft Prospects.
This year’s product looks to be another great one, featuring Hard-Signed Autograph Cards from the projected top picks in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Aaron Ekblad – Barrie Colts
Sam Bennett – Kingston Frontenacs
Sam Reinhart – Kootenay Ice
These are only three of the players eligible to be drafted this year.
Remember all autographs are hard signed with silver and gold versions.
There will be three Autograph Cards in each box.
2014 Draft Prospects will also feature a 100-card Base Card set featuring the current crop of draft picks, future draft picks and legendary draft picks.
There will be seven Premium Base Cards in each box.
The Authentic Game-used Memorabilia inserts will feature designs from the new ITG/Leaf design team.
Top Prospects Complete Jersey
Go Big or Go Home
There will be two Authentic Game-Used Memorabilia Cards in each box.
To order your product please contact Brian Gray at email@example.com.
Don’t get shut out, production is more limited than last year’s product. Order yours today.
As most veteran collectors know, I have been in this hobby for twenty-two years.
In order to understand what lead me to make the decision I made last week, you would have to hear my trading card story. For those who already know it, I apologize but here is the condensed version, I probably could write book on the subject, if anyone cared to read it.
I started out as a licensor of the Parkhurst name first to Pro Set in 1990 and after they went bankrupt to Upper Deck in 1993. I found the Parkhurst name dormant and brought it back to hockey cards, something I am very proud of.
By 1995 I was out of the business and back to collecting both cards and game-used jerseys. By now visitors to both the Spring and Fall Expos have seen some of my game-worn collection, that too I am very proud of.
In 1999, I was asked by Ted Saskin of the NHLPA to manufacture their Be A Player brand. In The Game, Inc. was born.
In 2003-04 during the lock-out, the NHLPA gave Upper Deck an exclusive licensing agreement for five years without even giving In The Game a chance to match or beat their offer. We were just told to close shop, but not so fast.
Well I was either too stubborn or too stupid to do that and I continued to make hockey cards utilizing our hockey knowledge, vintage memorabilia, great player relationships, my loyal staff and our passion for the game of hockey and the hockey trading card hobby.
Did the NHL or the NHLPA approve of this, absolutely not!
They have threatened, they have contacted agents and players about our products, they have done lots of things over the past 10 year period to put us out of business.
The road I have followed has not been an easy one.
After the lock-out ended and during the Upper Deck exclusive era, collectors wanted another choice for collecting and In The Game provided that. We had five great years. Thank you all for that.
Then along came Panini. It is not important what I think about Panini and their products but they did give collectors another choice for those who would not buy Upper Deck and the last three years have been difficult ones for In The Game.
We have come out with some great products during this period of time that have been embraced by collectors; Forever Rivals, Ultimate Memorabilia 11 and 12, Superlative Hockey III and The First Six, Motown Madness, Decades The 80s and 90s, Lord Stanley’s Mug and StickWorks to name a few.
But the battle to stay viable continued to get more and more difficult.
Two years ago the NHLPA did a backdoor deal with the PHPA (union for the AHL players) and we lost that license after nine loyal years. To date no licensed AHL cards have been produced although I hear Upper Deck is doing a boxed set product one day.
This was another blow to our product line but we kept marching on. Competing with Upper Deck and Panini, while fighting the NHLPA and their continued interference with our business relationships was a daily routine that I and my loyal staff had to deal with.
This past year we went through the charade of applying for a license with both the NHLPA and NHL but I soon realized that they never gave us any real consideration. Upper Deck was given another exclusive licensing agreement.
In January, I sold the assets of my Famous Fabrics group and gave up my rights to produce Sport Kings cards to Brian Gray of Leaf Trading Cards in order to concentrate on In The Game hockey products.
During this negotiation Brian and I spent a long time discussing our mutual concerns about the industry, distribution issues, product creativity and trading card licensing.
I realized that we were both fighting the same battles on a daily basis, the only difference is that Brian Gray is twenty years younger than I am.
As the 2014 Spring Expo grew closer and we worked day and night to get our products out on time, I realized that everything I was doing was not paying off.
No redemptions, on-time release dates, authentic game-used memorabilia and many other features that In The Game was known for were being dominated by photo shoot jerseys (has anyone really seen the photo shoot pictures that these jerseys come from), redemption cards that never get fulfilled and eventually get replaced, parallels of parallels of parallels (you get the picture).
I finally got the message collectors were delivering, the other companies seem to be delivering what they wanted and it seemed that ITG wasn’t giving it to them.
We had our very loyal collector base (I think they are the most sophisticated and passionate collectors in the entire hobby) but that was not enough to make a go of it.
Not sure if I was stubborn or stupid but I just didn’t want to give up especially when the NHLPA and the NHL announced that they had given Upper Deck another exclusive.
Should I fold my tent and let Upper Deck have the hockey card market to themselves?
Should I let the NHL and NHLPA finally defeat me?
Well I was close to making the decision to wind up In The Game after the Spring Expo and then Brian Gray and I spoke.
He called me because both our companies were not invited to the 2014 Industry Summit and wanted my thoughts on the matter. In The Game was not invited because Panini and the NHLPA put pressure on the promoter to exclude us. More crap from the NHLPA.
I told Brian that I was too old to keep fighting the same battles day in and day out and that there were more important things in life at my age than hockey cards, although I have been a collector for sixty years and still love collecting.
Brian suggested that we continue to talk and hope that two creative guys could come up with something that made sense.
After couple months of talking with Brian Gray, a meeting in Dallas was set up where I met his staff and toured his facility.
After this trip and based on what I saw and what I heard, I was ready to work with Leaf on ITG hockey products in some capacity.
So Brian Gray came up to Toronto one week before the Spring Expo with his key employees and after many hours of discussion an agreement was reached.
Our new relationship was announced at the In The Game Customer Appreciation Night on May 3rd at the Woodbine Centre.
Both Brian Gray and myself share the view that it is totally unfair to hockey card collectors that there is a monopoly.
So Upper Deck can produce whatever they want and if collectors don’t like it, they have nothing to collect. That’s just not right.
New products will come out with the two companies working together, adding elements from each to make new products better than ever.
Leaf will have a hand in new designs and adding elements from their brands that collectors have enjoyed over the years.
Leaf will also handle distribution and solicitation for all the products under the new relationship. ITG has never had as good distribution in the US as we would have liked but we do have exceptional distribution in Canada, so the combination of the two companies will solve this problem as Leaf is very strong on the US side.
The first product under the new arrangement will be the 2014 Draft Prospects release, a product that In The Game pioneered last year, this product comes out in June in time for the 2014 NHL Draft.
ITG worked on the autograph acquisitions while Leaf took care of the Base and Game-Used Memorabilia cards utilizing In The Game’s memorabilia inventory.
Leaf and ITG will work out more specific details on how the partnership will move forward in the coming weeks.
Get ready for a new era of Hockey from Leaf/ITG. Things are changing and collectors will now have a viable choice to the exclusive licensee.
To our loyal collectors, stick with us and give the new ITG a chance to keep your valued business.
To collectors who have never collected ITG products, take another look at what the new ITG has to offer and see if it appeals to you.
Contrary to popular rumors, ITG still has a jam packed warehouse.
It has been report on a not-to-be-named site, that while ITG was celebrating its 2014 Spring Expo Customer Appreciation party, trucks were lined up to empty the warehouse and move all its contents to Dallas, Texas.
That’s news to me, because when I arrived on Monday morning, the warehouse was still packed to the rafters as you can see below.
I will be publishing information on ITG’s new relationship with Leaf Trading Cards in the next day or so but I couldn’t believe people were making this claim about our warehouse so I had to take some pictures this afternoon.
Let’s take a mini tour of our facility (warehouse only).
Here are the skids that just came back from the Spring Expo with our booth floor, display stands, posters and all the other stuff that goes into making In The GameLand.
Here is our trusted shrink-wrap machine that did such a great job on Lord Stanley’s Mug and got it ready for released just in time for the Spring Expo. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
Racks of packaging and finished product.
More “empty” warehouse space. I wish!
Dan Hurst slabbing the He Shoots He Scores redemption cards for the second group of 2013-14 Heroes and Prospects. We couldn’t get them finished before the Spring Expo as we were too busy.
More “empty” warehouse.
Our StickRack. Will there be a StickRack II?
Organized player stick boxes.
More equipment on the second floor. Pants and gloves. Shelves don’t look empty to me.
Skate area. Some great vintage skates on these shelves.
The Jersey Room. Thousands of game-worn jerseys waiting to get into In The Game cards.
Just a quick shot of the uncut goalie pads.
Well that’s my mini tour. The warehouse is anything but empty. What can you do about people starting these rumors, nothing.
Brad Paisley said it best in his country song “I’m so much cooler online”. Anyone can post what they want without consequence.
This blog is not for them, it is for our loyal supporters to let them know that nothing has changed at In The Game except that we are trying to get better and be there for collectors who want an alternative to the licensed monopoly created by the NHL and the NHLPA.
There has been a change in the Special Guest lineup for the In The Game Customer Appreciation Night Party tomorrow night.
We were informed yesterday that Sport Kings’ guest, Pete Rose is unable to attend. At a routine doctor’s appointment, Pete was told that due to a heart ailment (an irregular heart beat) that he should not fly for the next ten days.
Pete graciously agreed to sign the two pieces that were to be given to each VIP Guest and return them to us in time for the party. We appreciate that. Pete also agreed to do a public appearance for Sport Kings in the future.
A new guest has been added to the guest list, Paul Coffey will be at the In The Game Customer Appreciation Party to meet our VIPs and sign autographs for them.
In addition, Sport Kings is working diligently to bring in a surprise guest in time for the party.
Again, we apologize for this change but it was unavoidable.