All those little trucks in the White Rose Collectibles fleet -- decorated in the livery of NASCAR and professional sports teams -- were inspired by a 1989 chance encounter with a brightly decorated tractor trailer.
Ron Slyder, a longtime toy collec- tor and authority on Matchbox die-cast toys, was returning from a show when he was passed by a bright yellow tractor trailer, the transporter for Kodak's NASCAR team. Slyder thought that models of NASCAR transporters and cars might interest racing fans and Matchbox collectors.
Slyder and partner Chris Huber went to North Carolina to line up licensees, then arranged with Matchbox to produce the vehicles. Their company, White Rose Collectibles, produced four transporters in 1989. Interestingly, Kodak didn't enter the White Rose stable until 1991.
The York, Pa., company began diversifying in 1990, adding delivery trucks decorated with the logos of NFL and major-league baseball teams.
"[Slyder] had the foresight to see that this racing stuff is good now, but would it always be here?" says Jerry Graham, White Rose's vice president of operations.
Each year graphic artist Carol DeHass works out a new way to incorporate team logos on a different vehicle and also designs the packaging, all of which must be approved by the license issuer.
The company also does special vehicles, such as for All-Star Games, teams' inaugural years and Babe Ruth's 100th birthday. One is in the works commemorating Cal Ripken's 2,000th consecutive game.
White Rose also is an NHL licensee, but Graham says the league is picky about what it puts its logos on.
"We wanted to do a Ranger Stanley Cup [transporter]," says Graham, "but they said it doesn't have anything to do with hockey." The NHL agreed to decorated ice-making machines, and Graham says they are due out next summer.
The company, which employs 15, designs, sells and ships. Most of its products are Matchbox, decorated to White Rose specifications. Graham says it has begun arranging for the manufacture of some of the larger pieces and will sell those directly to the public to keep prices down.
Last year, White Rose really got into racing, sponsoring a car with Matchbox. In it, Phil Parsons won the Champion Spark Plug 300. This year, White Rose and Luxaire (a division of York Industries) sponsor Parsons' car.
Beam Team returns
Topps brings back the Beam Team this month as an insert set in Stadium Club Basketball Series II. The 27 Beam Team cards feature a player from each team spotlit in foil. The Washington Bullets are represented by Chris Webber.
Willie, Mickey and The Duke
Three Hall of Fame center fielders form a team for Sports, Accessories & Memorabilia. Bobbing head dolls of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider sell as a set.
Through Sept. 5, "Babe Ruth: An Artistic Perspective," Babe Ruth Museum, 216 Emory St..
March 31-April 2, card show with some proceeds benefiting Grant-a-Wish Foundation, Eastpoint Mall (expected signers include Jim Palmer and Sean Landeta), mall hours.
CARD OF THE WEEK
Megacards is celebrating Babe Ruth's 100th birthday with a colorized version (shown) of card No. 3 in Topps' 1995 baseball first series. Megacards is also issuing a 25-card set that includes (thanks to computer technology) fantasy photographs of Ruth with Ken Griffey and Don Mattingly. Four cards in the set are colorized; the rest are black and white.