25 May 2016

Ralston Purina 1987 Collectors' Edition


     1987 saw a ramping up by a variety of companies using baseball cards as an enticement for purchasing their product.  Popcorn, breakfast cereal, iced tea and even the big mac & cheese lobby would get into the baseball card printing act.  Three years after their "First Annual" card set, the Ralston Purina Company produced a new set of 15 cards, in packs of three, buried in specially marked boxes of regular and vanilla Cookie-Crisp, and the less well known test run of Honey Graham Chex.


     Along with the cards was an instant win card for a "Win A Hero For A Day" contest.  There were apparently separate contest for Cookie Crisp and for Honey Graham Chex as the prize enumerations are different on each box.  From the Cookie Crisp rules, the grand prize being a visit from "a baseball hero" to your school or a Little League game.  Other prizes were 500 Rawlings gloves; 1,000 personalized Louisville Slugger bats; 10,000 Rawlings baseballs and 100,000  complete uncut sheets of the card set.  From the Honey Graham Chex rules, the grand prize being a visit from "a baseball hero" to your school or a Little League game (meaning there were actually two chances at this). The other prizes were 100 Rawlings gloves; 200 personalized Louisville Slugger bats; 500 Rawlings baseballs and 25,000 complete uncut sheets of the card set.



     As mentioned in an earlier post, lots of sets produced by Michael Schechter Associates (MSA) for various companies were also available in poster or sheet form as a mail-in offer.  If you weren't lucky enough to win one of the 125,000 posters, you could purchase one by sending in two non-winning game cards and $1 to Ralston Purina.  One has to wonder if the posters available for purchase came from the 125,000 instant win stash, or if there was a separate run of posters just for that.  I have to think it was all the same print run as I can't imagine Ralston Purina really thinking they would have to redeem 125,000 posters and still have people ordering more.

1987 Cookie Crisp Limited Edition Collectors' Sheet
1987 Honey Graham Chex Limited Edition Collectors' Sheet
     As with all of the previous MSA uncut sheets, a variation of the card set was introduced as collectors began to chop up the sheets into individual cards.  The actual cards were printed on gray cardstock, similar to that used for the cereal boxes.  The posters were printed on a lighter, beige cardstock and were missing the "1987 COLLECTORS' EDITION" wording on the left side of the crossed bats on front.  So, again, not a "RARE VARIATION", just a piece of a chopped-up poster.


     An interesting bit of text on the side of the box partially reveals the print run for this set.  The official rules for the promotion says of the prizes, "A total of 111,501 instant win prizes are available to be won in 3 million boxes of Cookie Crisp brand cereal."  It then goes on to list the prizes, totals and odds of winning.  As the cards were issued three per box, that means at least 9,000,000 cards were issued.  Assuming all cards were issued in equal numbers, that puts each card at a print run of no less than 600,000 cards.  The rules also mention that any unclaimed prizes would never be awarded, which invites the assumption that the unredeemed card sheets were eventually destroyed (assuming they didn't make it out the back door of the warehouse), so there are likely far fewer than the mentioned 100,000 sheets in circulation.  And that's just including the cards issued with Cookie Crisp.

[UPDATE - 25 May 2016]

     I finally found a Honey Graham Chex box and, as suspected, it had a smaller run than Cookie Crisp. The official rules for the promotion says of the prizes, "A total of 25,801  instant win prizes are available to be won in 1 million boxes of Honey Graham Chex brand cereal."  It then goes on to list the prizes, totals and odds of winning.  As the cards were issued three per box, that means at least 3,000,000 more cards were issued to cover the Chex production run.  Assuming all cards were issued in equal numbers, that puts each card at a print run of no less than 200,000 cards each.

    Combining the two products therefore gives us a total print run of actual cards as 800,000 per card and 125,000 posters.

     Both sets and uncut sheets are still readily available for cheap on eBay, usually under $10, though the Honey Graham Chex poster seems to be far less available than the Cookie Crisp, which stands to reason as only 1/4th as many were printed.  The checklist is as follows:

Card # Player Team
1 Nolan Ryan Houston Astros
2 Steve Garvey San Diego Padres
3 Wade Boggs Boston Red Sox
4 Dave Winfield New York Yankees
5 Don Mattingly New York Yankees
6 Don Sutton California Angels
7 Dave Parker Cincinnati Reds
8 Eddie Murray Baltimore Orioles
9 Gary Carter New York Mets
10 Roger Clemens Boston Red Sox
11 Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles Dodgers
12 Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles
13 Ozzie Smith St. Louis Cardinals
14 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies
15 Ryne Sandberg Chicago Cubs

1 comment: