Ramblings: Recalling Pinnacle’s Efforts to Try Something Different

After I reflected on the Hot Rookies pack configuration in our recent review, my mind started going back to one of the more interesting times in the industry; the final few years of the original Score/Pinnacle/Leaf/Donruss group of brands which went out of business in 1998.

One of the goals of Pinnacle during that time was to take up as much space in the sports card dealer displays as possible. And if you think about it, that was a Chipper Jone Zenithperfectly normal business move as how showroom space is divided is one of the keys to how to stay in business. This is not going to be a comprehensive look by any means (feel free to add your own memories) but just some items I remember from long ago.

Of course, this could not be done by just using a standard lineup of releases.  No, a whole new group of products would have to be created so dealers and collectors would be interested in these new concepts.

The first one to remember is Zenith, which began as a standard size issue circa late 1994-early 1995 but by 1997 had evolved into a larger size release in more ways than one.

Zenith 8x10 Frank ThomasSuch concepts as ‘Dare To Tear’ and ‘8×10’ show up on the first page of an eBay search and all of these cards seem to be still reasonably affordable to this day.

But more importantly, the concept of packs with 8×10 size cards in them were designed to take up more space and thus reduce the amount of space competitors could have.

Pinnacle Inside 1997The next set on our journey is Pinnacle Inside which was known as the ‘cards in a can’ concept.  Unique?  Yes, but what did you do when the cans were opened and the cards removed, even if the cans did have a player on the front?

Keep them unopened?  Well, that took a different kind of collector for sure.  Anyone who had collected the Royal Crown (RC) cola cans back in the late 1970’s could have pretty much guaranteed once those cans were opened, they would become more of a nuisance for the store owner than a benefit.

Again an eBay search shows lots of these still available (cards and unopened cans) with many at very reasonable prices if you’re a love of 1990’s material.  And for anyone who kept the cans over all these years, congratulations on having a very forgiving family.

Cal Ripken Pinnacle SnapshotsAnd finally we will go to the 1998 Pinnacle Snapshots which was one of the last releases ever by that amalgamation. These were 4″ by 6″ photos which were designed to be sold as photos. I remember opening some of these packs and thinking how beautiful these all were. They’re color shots, many of which are funny or candid.  You don’t really see a lot of them at shows or shops anymore and there might even be a hidden scarcity here.  There are less than 50 on eBay right now but you  can see quite a few more on Amazon here.  If you’ve never seen them, I think you’ll agree these were nice.

While only a few of the cards in any of these sets have any real value, it’s fun seeing in retrospect, a great attempt, albeit failed, by Pinnacle under the leadership of Jerry Meyer, to use real life marketing tools to attempt to gain dominance in the sports card world.  The demise of Pinnacle, just as eBay was really starting to explode and the hobby would change permanently, shows that even the best attempts at innovation sometimes just do not work.

And as for the 2014 Hot Rookies packs, I’ll go by what I said in the review.  To me a store owner could use either option of pack selling or box selling to see what would work best. And that is the best of both worlds when it comes to retailing as the more choices the better in today’s still competitive hobby shop floors.