If you love regional sets, chances are you might have a few sets issued by 7-Eleven stores in your collection, but there’s one that dates back more than 40 years that’s as obscure as obscure can be, despite the presence of such iconic names as: Cobb, Aaron, Ryan, Staubach, Chamberlain and Marciano, to name but a few.
After 25 years as a hobby historian, finding undocumented card issues doesn’t happen often, so it’s refreshing to uncover something new that is virtually unknown to the sports card collecting community.
The card release in question is 7-Eleven’s Magic Motion “Sports Spotlight” set. From the cards that have been found, we can deduct through the commemorative historical sporting events represented, we feel comfortable dating these to be issued in 1978.
Not High on Eye Appeal
The card fronts are quite generic with simple artwork conveying some sort of action that plays out as the card is turned.
The backs are player specific, with a brief story mentioning certain accomplishments and statistics.
The modest sized lenticular cards measure 1 3/4” square and while bearing some similarities to the more well-known baseball discs of the 1980s, are a completely different issue. 7-Eleven is commonly known for most of their sports and non-sport issues through their Slurpee promotions, however for this Magic Motion issue, exactly where and when they were distributed is still somewhat of a mystery.
Xograph? Sports Spotlight? Magic Motion?
So, under which moniker do we allocate these 7-Eleven cards to avoid their multi-alias? While some call them “Xograph”, that’s just the technology behind the card’s lenticular design. “Magic Motion” simplifies what they do as a result of that technology. The cards can also be referred to as Sports Spotlight, a title that would reflect the historical events represented on each card. In the end, we have settled with documenting these as: 1978 7-Eleven Magic Motion Action Cards, due to the simplistic nature of what they exhibit.
The hobby has seen many similar issues using this technology. First with the 1968 Topps 3-D “Test Issue” cards and then throughout the 1970’s via cards released through Kellogg’s promotion, again with descriptor “Xograph” residing on all.
This multi-sport set, thus far, has rendered your writer after 12 years of research, 14 cards. This card count is most likely incomplete.
Most of the 14 cards documented have just one single copy known. Seven of the 14 cards on the list are presumptuously documented through an archive search of past auctions and confirmed sales from 2004 and 2008.
This search has rendered all the key words that surround the printing on the reverse of the cards, so we are quite confident adding these to the list. Playing the devil’s advocate, I will ask the question “why are there only a handful of these cards known to exist today?” We can certainly surmise on rarity alone that these are, likely a “test” Issue, a word I don’t use too loosely.
Now, hearsay puts these “7- Eleven Magic Motion Action Cards” being found in the hollow space beneath Slurpee cups. This is something we can tie through other 7-Eleven past promotions, such as the 1983 & 1984 baseball and hockey Super Star Action Coin issues and similarly to the 1977 Coke Hockey Superstars. The card size does fit the criteria of this notion and while we believe this to be the case, we have still yet to locate a concrete example of the cups that held them.
A man who was the manager of a 7-Eleven at the time told us via email, “The cards were on the bottom of the original big gulp cup. Back then 7-11 was starting to install fountain service in the stores as a way to address the impending idea of return bottles laws getting approved with no room to store the empties they were looking for alternatives.
Interestingly in 1978, a Roto-Action cup was issued by 7-Eleven, a very similar idea to the lenticular cards and with no surprise, an image of Nolan Ryan. However this is a baseball only set. By inserting the Nolan Ryan cup within the “Roto Action” cup and slowly rotating, this would visually result in a full pitching motion in action.
The company that manufactured the “Roto Action” cup was “Magic Magic Magic Unlimited”, there is no revelation by the use of “Magic” in their name. This patent pending cup seemed to have started and ended with this issue. The timelines and similarity to the Roto Cups and Xograph cards does certainly raise an eyebrow. Could this so-called “test” issue be in somewhat, someway or somehow be related?
There is no surprise that we find three from each of baseball and football, with being the two most popular sports of the day. The rest of the sports only appear to have one card represented from what we have found so far.
A Nolan Ryan card, card mimicking his pitching motion, could only be assumed to have graced this set given the timeline of its release and his amazing achievement at the time of five consecutive seasons of procuring 300 strikeouts.
The back of the Hank Aaron card notes his record breaking home run total. The Aaron card displays the fascinating Xograph technology, having approximately six or more different flowing motions.
The lone Aaron graded by PSA (a 2.5) is on eBay now for a hefty price.
In football, we have documented Steve O’Neal with his astounding 98-yard punt in 1969, setting a record for the longest punt in NFL history.
OJ Simpson sprints into the set, with his card noting that he was the first player to run 2,000 yards in a single season.
Other documented cards feature Wilt Chamberlain’s slam dunk motion card honoring his historical feats with records at the time of “career points” (to date he is now 7th) to “most points in one season” and his record for a “100-point game” both of which still stand today. Goldin Auctions will be offering the only known 1978 7-Eleven Magic Motion Wilt Chamberlain card in their upcoming 2021 September Premium Auction.
Phil Esposito’s card denotes his record of 76 goals and 76 assists, totaling the 152 points he achieved within the 1970-71 hockey season.
Pugilism also fights its way into this set with a card of Rocky Marciano. This renowned slugger is one of only two world heavyweight champions to retire from the ring undefeated, sharing this distinction with the well venerated Gene Tunney.
Considering the 12 years or so invested in chasing this set, we’re left sometimes asking more questions than finding answers.
It’s often stated in the hobby that “rarity rules”, and this odd looking, obscure set is just that, not to mention the star-studded sport star prowess on the current checklist.
We’re hoping readers might have some additional information or knowledge to share on this obscure 1970s issue.