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!
The Professional Bull Riders circuit has had it's share of fans over the years, and is the type of sporting event that just about anyone would enjoy watching in person. The popularity of the sport, however, has never translated into the lucrative memorabilia market. The major leagues for baseball, football, basketball and even mixed martial arts all supplement their bottom lines nicely with the income made from toys, posters, cards, photographs, and just about any other item that a sports logo can be slapped on to.
The PBR does make the occasional deal with toy companies, as was the case in 2004 when they partnered with California toy maker X Concepts to produce a line of miniature bull and rider figurines (X Concepts is best known for their "TECH DECK " line of miniature skateboards). Each retail set featured one bull, rider and a trading card that had a design very similar to a set of PBR cards they would release the following year.
The PBR set that X Concepts released in 2005 was issued in sealed boxes that contained 24 packs. Each pack featured seven cards (six base cards and an insert). The base set is complete at 100 cards, with 50 of them featuring riders (with at least one bullfighter and barrel man thrown in for good measure) and 50 featuring bulls. Half of the cards portray action shots, while the other half portray closeup portrait-style shots.
In addition to the 100 base cards, there's a 23-card insert set of PBR event winners that is found one per pack. The insert set has a nice uncluttered design, with the PBR logo embossed on the front of each. A glossy coating covers the PBR logo and subject's name across the right side, as well as the bull and rider in the photo. The background of the photo is rendered in muted grey tones, with a matte finish that gives the card an impressive contrast when viewed near a light.
The second insert set is much harder to find. The box states that it's a set of six "cards featuring PBR highlights." Oddly enough, the card I found in my box featured rider Adriano Moraes, with nary a highlight mentioned whatsoever. These six cards have color photos imposed on a colorful prism background (the 1990s definition of a prism).
My box of 24 packs contained a complete set of the 23-card event winners, as well as the Moraes highlight card from the chase set that is apparently seeded one per box. Surprisingly, the base cards were not collated nearly as well as the inserts; of the 144 base cards found in the box, I managed to get just 83 different of the possible 100. A whopping 61 of the cards were duplicates, and a bull named "Hell's Bells" showed up five times.
As much as I like the designs found within the insert sets, I have to say I'm indifferent when it comes to the base cards. Each front has a cowhide border design, along with the PBR logo, subject's name, job description and card number. Backs contain some biographical data and more cowhide borders. The high-tech/cowhide motif doesn't quite seem to work.
You can still be an oddball card collector if you decide to pass on these cards. But if you know someone who interested in pro bull riding, or would otherwise like a card featuring a glamour shot of "Hell's Bells," a box of these may just be the unique gift you're looking to give. Factory sets were also printed, and feature all 129 cards in one whack. An unopened box should trade in the $10 range today, while a factory set will cost $20 to $30.