There is surprisingly little information found on the web today regarding the numerous "oddball" card sets released over the past 40 or so years. Thousands of different sets have been printed during this time, featuring every imaginable sport from bowling to jai alai. We will shine our spotlight on random sets we pull from our shoebox... Who knows which cards will be next? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!
Consider yourself a hardcore football collector if you own a set of these. Consider yourself a hopeless collector if you're trying to acquire all of the color variations that were printed for these cards.
Here are the basics: In 1986, Dairy Pak, the company responsible for manufacturing and printing the waxy cartons for countless milk and orange juice companies, released a set of 24 current football player cards. These cards were printed in two colors and were found on the sides of the cartons. Each measures 3 1/4 inches by 4 7/16 inches and is bordered by a dashed line to help interested collectors cut the card off of the carton.
If someone cares to own a complete set, all they need to do is obtain each of the 24 different player cards and call it a day. Where it starts to get difficult is when a player or set collector decides to go for all the different color variations -- and let it be known that some of these said variations are very elusive. For starters, ten different colors were used for the "SUPERSTARS SERIES" title found across the tops of the cards: black, brown, purple, green, lavender, aqua, orange, red, light blue and dark blue. But in addition to this, there are three variations for the color used to print the players' photos: black, red and blue.
In the photo provided here you can see ten different Eric Dickerson variations, with one of the cards featuring the Hall of Fame running back's photo in red. From what I have personally seen, cards with the player photos in red or blue are much harder to find than the black. As far as I can tell, cards with red photos always have blue Superstar Series titles, and vice-versa... If my theory is true, that brings the total amount of variations up to twelve per player.
These variations exist because of the assorted color schemes used on the packaging of the different brands. I'm sure that certain colors are harder to find than others (as mentioned with the blue or red player photos), but these findings have never been published.
The cards can be found one of four ways. They are most commonly found cut off of a carton, hopefully with the dashed border lines still intact. The second way to find these are with the partial or full side panel still intact (a special offer is mentioned below the card, either for a poster or set of four superstar cups). Finally, you may be able to find a used carton that has been left fully intact, or an unfolded and unused carton. Used cartons are scarce because of the amount of space they occupy, and unfolded cartons are maybe the rarest of all, as they apparently didn't survive in any meaningful quantities.
The James Lofton card was short printed due to some off-field troubles that were happening at the time. Lofton's scarcity puts him in the top-five valuable cards of the set, along with Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Dan Marino and John Elway.
The value of a nice complete set, cut with full borders and no creases, starts around $40. A set of four cups from the special offer is worth in the $30 to $40 range. I can't recall the last time I found one of the posters for sale, but I'd be willing to pay around $25 for a nice one.
Random Fact: Lions quarterback Eric Hipple is found on card number six, but doesn't really qualify for "superstar" status. Through the 1985 season Hipple had 25 wins versus 21 losses, along with 46 touchdown passes versus 56 interceptions. As far as the 1985 Lions roster is concerned, Hipple was still probably the best choice if a Detroit player had to be included in the '86 Dairy Pak set.