The Dream Team that USA Basketball has assembled for the Olympic Games is proving a big winner in its tuneup games.
SkyBox, with its ambitious 110-card set featuring the Dream Team, has also produced a winner.
This time, SkyBox, which has treated NBA fans to two seasons of computer-enhanced action photos and fashion colors, plays it straight. The players are in their original photographic glory. In a first for basketball cards, SkyBox has made the card fronts full bleed (no borders), and with judicious cropping, the players almost jump off the cards.
The lineup includes nine player profile cards of each of the first 10 NBA players chosen for the team, 10 cards with Magic Johnson's thoughts on himself and each of his teammates, two cards of each coach and two checklists. There are extras in the eight-card packs: randomly inserted cards autographed by Johnson and David Robinson and a plastic card of a USA Basketball team photo.
Each player subset contains the same elements, each focusing on a different aspect of his career: NBA update, rookie, best game, game strategy, playoffs, All-Star record, shooting, off the court and a category highlighting the player's special talent (assists for Johnson).
Card backs are clean, straightforward and chattier than SkyBox NBA. There's a color photo -- some action, some profile -- at the top, with a copy block or a stat box. The card-back photos are well-chosen and well-cropped, so they are complementing the type rather than being perfunctorily plopped on the card just to have color on the back. For example, Scottie Pippen's card on steals and blocks shows him about to steal the ball from Isiah Thomas, with the action practically in your face. The only departures from this style are the "Magic on" cards, which all use the same photo of Johnson.
For your shelf
Kenner Products' Starting Lineup has joined the Olympic movement, with all 12 members of the U.S. men's basketball team. All players are featured in their Olympic uniforms.
On the wall
Upper Deck is not just cards. The Carlsbad, Calif., company has unveiled Wall Stars, a line of re-stickable posters. The 30- to 45-inch action images adhere to walls without pins, tape or glue and are reusable. The first generation of posters features the U.S. men's Olympic bas
ketball team in two sets of five. In September, Upper Deck plans to introduce Wall Stars featuring football, baseball, hockey and other NBA players.
Collect while you eat
Denny's Restaurants is bringing its holograms back for another summer stand. Diners get a hologram with each Grand Slam meal and Coca-Cola Classic. Again, there are 26 players, and each is shown with a background of his city's skyline or a #F famous landmark. Cal Ripken is again representing the Orioles. The promotion lasts until Sept. 13 or supplies are exhausted.
Seeking '58 All-Star items
The Babe Ruth Museum is getting ready for the 1993 All-Star Game in Baltimore by requesting memorabilia from the 1958 game for a special exhibit. The exhibit, which will open in April 1993, will feature All-Star Orioles and the 1958 game, the only one played at Memorial Stadium. The museum is looking for programs, balls, photographs, autographs, pennants and other collectibles. The donors' names will be noted on captions in the display and in an exhibit program. For information about lending items, call curator Greg Schwalenberg at (410) 727-1539.
Upper Deck is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' first Triple Crown season, as well as his .406 average (1941) and second Triple Crown (1947) with a hologram randomly inserted in low-number packs. The card has a Vernon Wells portrait of Williams on the front and a biography on the back.
Topps joins NBA
Topps has signed a three-year agreement with NBA Properties Inc. and will begin producing Topps and Stadium Club NBA cards this fall. Topps previously made NBA cards in 1981-82.
The Stanley Cup finals are history, but hockey cards are still out there. Pro Set's Parkhurst Series 2 includes top rookies, stars of the 1992 Olympic Games making their NHL debuts and highlights of the 1991-92 season. The run is limited to 15,000 numbered cases, including 2,500 translated into French. A special promotion described on Parkhurst packs will allow collectors to get a 25-card final update featuring the Stanley Cup finals.
Roger Clemens and Darryl Strawberry head the Class of '92 for SilverStar Baseball Holograms. Also in the six-card set are Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Will Clark and a player to be named. The full-motion holograms are fully licensed by Major League Baseball and limited to 250,000 of each player.
Saturday, sports card show to benefit Knights of Columbus Home Association, St. John the Baptist Parish Center (Constitution Avenue, New Freedom, Pa.), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
BTC July 19, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.
July 24-26, USA Sportcard Classic, Virginia State Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, Richmond, Va., July 24 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., July 25-26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Expected signers include Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Luis Aparicio and Al Kaline.