Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Diamond Giveaway is cool, but not my favorite sweepstakes of all-time

Redeeming my Diamond Giveaway code last night made me fondly remember one of my favorite redemption programs of all time. Card companies have always held sweepstakes and redemption programs that make collecting a little more exciting. This was especially true when Upper Deck Collector's Choice hit the shelves in 1994.

Collector’s Choice was the Topps Opening Day of the ‘90s. It was Upper Deck’s $.99 pack that was the sister to their other higher-end sets. At a time when the prices of packs of cards really started to climb well above $1, this was a welcome brand for any kid who didn’t have a ton of money to spend on cards, like me. Packs were plentiful at the local CVS drug store. The base cards in the 1994 set were simple, and each pack also included a silver signature card, their version of the Topps Gold parallel set.

In 1994, Collector’s Choice had an instant win game called You Crash The Deck. It was a scratch-off card with a head-to-head game between players, and as a kid I remember being pretty amused by it. I don’t quite remember what the game itself entailed. However, there was also an instant win box with decent odds for a prize. Twice I won the same prize, an 8-card hologram insert set from the previous year’s Home Run Derby. The set was called Home Run All-Stars and featured some of the game’s biggest sluggers. I vividly remember sending in my two redemption cards and getting the sets back. I was a huge fan and it put the brand in good graces with me. In fact, I still have at least one of these sets.

In 1995, Collector’s Choice came out with two sets – SE and the regular base set. Unnecessary. But they morphed their sweepstakes game into the popular You Crash The Game insert series – in silver AND gold none the less. Not only were these insert cards pretty cool looking, but the rules changed from 1994. For example, if you pulled a Barry Bonds that said June 28 and he hit a home run that day, you could redeem the card for a prize. Remember, this was before the internet was mainstream, so if you pulled a card and the date had already passed, you had to do some serious legwork to see if you had won. I remember my local newspaper getting mad at me because I would keep calling and asking if Griffey or Bagwell hit a homer on a certain date. They legitimately told me to stop calling. 

They also had similar You Crash games for their other sports sets, and as a result, I ended up with quite a few redemption prizes from each of them. Usually it was a special card of the winning player, or even a 30-card set. In the coming years, they tweaked the rules from time to time, and one year their prize cards were even clear cuts (!!). I still have a Chipper Jones from that redemption.

Topps Diamond Giveaway is a fun sweepstakes, but for me, it hardly comes close to You Crash The Game. Although I could be singing a different tune if I unlock a 1952 Mantle. So I’d like to open it up to you. What’s your favorite all-time card redemption or sweepstakes?

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