Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leaf Playball Bubble Gum Baseball Helmets / Caps

I received an e-mail from Jeremy a while back with some pictures that I have been meaning to share. Jeremy sent me pictures of his Leaf Playball Bubble Gum Baseball Helmet collection:

These were available back in the early 1980's. Jeremy says he remembers buying them around 1982 or maybe 1983, which is consistent with when I remember buying them as well. I only had a few of these, but Jeremy managed to complete a full set of all 26 teams which were in the league at the time. Here is a look at the entire set, courtesy of Jeremy:

AL East:

AL West:

NL East:

NL West:

The helmets are similar to the kind of helmets that you would get in gumball machines, but were a little bit bigger in size than what you get from the gumball machine as shown below:

Helmet is really a misnomer as they are really caps instead of batting helmets. If you take a closer look at them as you can see a small button on the top as well as sections of the cap consisting of 6 panels.

It looks like an effort was made to give teams that had an entire front panel of their cap that was a different color than the rest of the cap a slightly larger sticker to try to approximate the color of the front panel. For example, notice that the RedSox logo is a round circle while the Orioles cap has a larger sticker with a somewhat more triangular shape:

However, even though it does look like they tried to make the front panel look a bit more realistic, they didn't produce the helmets as shown on the side of the box as caps did not have separate colored bills as shown for teams like the Orioles, Angels, Indians, Brewers, Twins, etc.

According to the top of the box, packs were $.30 and came with one cap and a gum ball.

Apparently Leaf did a similar release for football helmets as well. I've never seen the football helmets, so I don't know if they are just like the regular gumball machine helmets or were slightly different, as all I have is a picture of the Leaf Kick-Off Bubble Gum Football Helmet wrapper:

For both baseball and football, the packaging mentions a collector display board. According to Jeremy, he had the baseball display board, but the hats didn't really stay on the board because they were too heavy.

I'd like to say thanks to Jeremy for sharing his pictures with me and allowing me to share them on the blog. If you'd like to see all of Jeremy's photos, you can see them here:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back to School with NFL Lunch Boxes

Now that the kids are back in school, and the NFL season is underway, this is a great time to take a look at the different NFL lunch boxes that have been produced over the years.


I'd like to start off with the lunchbox from my personal collection that I took to school each day back in 1975:

The helmets from the NFC teams are on one side (including the one year design the Giants used in 1975), and the AFC teams are on the other:

The sides have red and blue stripes going around the lunchbox:

And just to make it all the more authentic, its still got one of the Wacky Packages I stuck on it almost 35 years ago:

Wacky Packages were the first thing I ever collected, so this lunch box is a great example of 2 things I really liked back when I was a kid. As I recall, I think I got at least 2 years of use out of this lunchbox as I did not get the 1976 version. Unfortunately I don't have the thermos any more, but I did find someone selling this lunchbox with the thermos on ebay, so here is a look at what the thermos looked like:


Going back to the very first NFL lunchbox, the 1964 lunchbox is fantastic. From the Bears vs. Packers action on the front

to the Giants vs. Browns action on the other side

to the team logos and uniforms of each team around the sides:

this is truely an awesome lunchbox. To make it even better, the thermos is great as well, with a series of referee signals:

The lunchbox has a 1964 NFL Properties copyright:

I'm not sure if this lunchbox was only available in 1964, or whether it was a design that was used for a few years afterwards as well. Since there don't seem to be any different NFL designs until we get to the 1970's, I'm guessing this design may have been used for a couple of years.

Early 1970's

The next NFL lunchbox design was produced after the AFL-NFL merger and had the AFC teams on one side

and NFC teams on the other:

Given the Chargers and Eagles helmets are white, I'm guessing that this lunchbox is from either 1972 or 1973 (since the Chargers helmet changed to blue and the Eagles changed to green in 1974).

The top and the sides of the lunchbox have yardlines and an end zone

while the bottom has the team names:


One year after the 1975 lunchbox I profiled above, a new lunchbox design was created to include the 2 expansion teams, again with the AFC on one side:

and the NFC on the other:

The sides of the lunchbox have a generic AFC and NFC player:


The final NFL lunchbox design put the team's helmets on the sides

and had a painting of various NFL players (including Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Gene Upshaw, and Pat Haden) on the front

while on the back was a very uninteresting generic helmet with the NFL logo on it:

Early 1980's

It appears that the 1978 design was used for a few years as there is also a version with the Bengals helmet with stripes which would date this lunchbox from 1981 at the earliest (when the Bengals made the change to their helmet):

It appears this was to be the final design for NFL lunch boxes, at least in terms of those made out of metal.

It looks like NFL lunchboxes today are for a specific team instead of designed to promote the entire league:

and the days of metal lunch boxes are now long gone.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1955 Post Sugar Crisp Cloth Baseball Patch Stickers

Since my last post went back to 1958 as we looked at the original 1958 Topps felt emblem set that inspired the 2007 Topps Heritage cloth patch set, I thought I'd go even further back to take a look at what may well be the very earliest team logo set, at least in terms of a set that was marketed to kids. Just take a look at this great ad from 1955: We've got Ted Williams telling kids they can get these major league patches free in specially marked boxes of Sugar Crisp cereal. Lets zoom in a little closer to see those patches: Here is the one picture I've seen of these: The ad above mentions that they are available in boxes of Sugar Crisp. I couldn't find any pictures of boxes with that offer, but I did find pictures of a box that offered the entire set for $.25 and 2 box tops (again with Ted Williams as the spokesman): You can see the complete set of logos on the side of the box. It appears the mail in offer ended December 31, 1955. The front of the box mentions the special mail-in offer, but doesn't indicate that there are any patches in the box. In the ad it mentions the patches could be found in "Giant" Sugar Crisp boxes, so perhaps the regular size boxes just had the mail in offer. You may notice that there are 15 teams available, but there were 16 teams at the time. The Kansas City A's are not included. I'm guessing that is due to the fact that the Athletics moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955, so either Post wasn't sure what logo to use, or perhaps they weren't able to negotiate for the rights to use the logo as the team was in the process of relocating. Since this was well before the days of MLB Properties, it could be that each team would have had to have been negotiated with individually to license their logo, and with the team in transition there was no opportunity to work out a licensing deal. As I mentioned, I believe this set may be the earliest team logo sticker set ever produced. I have not come across anything that appears to have been done on a national level that included all teams that would have been issued earlier than this set. UPDATE April 2010: Thanks to Randy, we've got some additional pictures to show, including a great close up shot of the Cardinals patch: as well as the mailing envelope which is great as it features all the logos / patches on the back: UPDATE May 2010: Thanks to Dave from The Topps Archives, we have a picture of an uncut sheet, which features the Kansas City A's logo which was never released: If you look closely beside the A's logo, you see it marked with an X. Perhaps this was a proof sheet that was used to finalize the design. Also in the auction was a full set of the patches (without an A's patch): The auction showed the back of the uncut sheet which shows that the set was originally intended to be 16 teams: At some point between the creation of this sheet and the release of the promotion, the decision was made to take out the A's and proceed with only 15 teams. Also included in the auction was a box as well as a different ad from the ones I'd previously come across: And finally, the auction included some of the artwork that was used for designing the patches: Thanks to Dave for passing along the information on the auction. Its great to see the full set of patches, as well as the full sheet showing a patch that was never issued.