Sunday, 27 October 2019

Scrapbook Scrimmage - (Volume 2 Additions)

When preparing both Collecting Canadian Football Volumes a decision had to be made as to what characteristics a set of program inserts should exhibit in order to be catalogued as a distinct separate collectible group. The general rule I adopted was that the inserts had to be printed on some sort of different paper stock than that used for the rest of the regular program pages (regardless of whether or not the items were perforated).

Using this guideline for sets on pages bound into the game programs (in some set cases loose items were inserted into the programs as well), the classic late fifties to mid sixties team specific issues of the B.C. Lions, the Edmonton Eskimos and the Montreal Alouettes were detailed in CCF V2.   



October 1st, 1960 Winnipeg Blue Bombers program with dedicated player pictures 


But sometimes there are borderline situations, case in point in 1960 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers printed a set of 4 pictures in every program intended for fans (HEY FELLAS!) to cut out and paste into their Hudson's Bay Quarterback Club Scrap Book. These pictures were printed on regular program stock and were not perforated but printed perforation lines were provided to aid the collector in cutting out the action shots.

As far as I know no copies of the stated HBC QB Club specific scrap book have surfaced yet, but they must have been specially produced and marked as such. No doubt there are some few surviving copies sitting undetected somewhere in attics and basements in Winnipeg or surrounding small town Manitoba.



August 18th, 1960 & October 24th, 1960
Winnipeg Blue Bombers programs with dedicated player pictures


August 18th was the first regular season Bomber home game in 1960, meaning the first set of pictures would likely have been printed in the August 4th pre-season game. October 24th was the last regular season Bomber home game in 1960, meaning the set is probably complete at 36 pictures. Although there were two subsequent home playoff games in Winnipeg so the number could be larger, however these types of promotions normally did not extend through the playoffs.



1953 Hudson's Bay Company Blue Bomber Junior Quarterback Club Cloth Patch
& 1965 Hudson's Bay Company Blue Bomber Touchdown Club Pinback


The Hudson's Bay Company had a long history of supporting the Bombers by sponsoring various fan clubs well before and well after the 1960 scrapbook was produced.

The following season the Bomber programs included one full page sized Player Of The Game picture in each program. These were not particularly designated to be removed by fans but from the perspective of making collector's aware of material featuring specific players, they should be listed when each game program is catalogued separately. Assuming the day ever arrives where a CCF Volume dedicated to Publications and Ephemera materializes.



August 24th, 1961 Winnipeg Blue Bombers program with dedicated player picture 


After putting out loose photo program insert sets in 1959 and 1960, and perforated program insert sets in 1961 and 1962 the B.C. Lions also went the route of just printing the pictures directly in the program on the same paper stock in 1963. They would return to program inserts on different stock in 1964 and 1965, but for the 1963 season if the fans wanted individual pictures they had to cut them out themselves, without the benefit of printed perforated cut lines even.



September 30th, 1963 B.C. Lions program with dedicated player pictures 


According to B.C. Lions memorabilia expert John Wirtanen kids all over the lower mainland were cutting out these 1963 pictures and pasting them to their bedroom walls and into (generic) scrap books. After four seasons of plenty of available inserts, they were probably conditioned to expect more. It is not uncommon to see old 1963 B.C. programs rendered pretty undesirable because the pictures have been removed. 



August 12th, 1963 & October 19th, 1963 
B.C. Lions programs with dedicated player pictures


The Lion's fan clubs were sponsored by Woodward's for many years and you can see a selection of their QB Club related ephemera in this earlier blog post.


Now of course individual player images in Canadian Football programs date to at least as far back as the very first programs that were being issued in the first decade of the 20th century. Notably those very early programs are so hard to come by that determining what their total seasonal player picture content was is not really achievable.

Team programs would generally feature head or posed action shots of their own players and eventually included a handful of that evening's opponents most dangerous stars. Going back a decade to 1953 we see some examples of these types of in stadium full length pictures from Calgary.



September 5th, 1953 Calgary Stampeders program with dedicated player pictures


These images were sourced from the team's own media photos, that were also usually distributed to newspapers in town and in the other league cities, as well as to the other league teams. That way the other cities had access to promote the upcoming games in the papers with opponents pictures as well as in their own programs.

Since not all media photos from those eras are known to have survived, the presence of the pictures in the printed material is very useful to compile accurate information on what images did exist at one time in the past. Sometimes you are lucky enough to acquire the exact media photos that were used, as was the case below.



September 12th, 1953 Calgary Stampeders program with dedicated player pictures, 
and the original media photo of John Henry Johnson used for the picture 


I would like to point out how the increased clarity of the actual original photograph of John Henry Johnson allows you to really appreciate the imposing grandeur of Calgary's Mewata Stadium in the background. Yes, Calgary's civic leaders were complete ignoramuses with regards to funding half-decent sports facilities for the people that pay the municipal tax bill 70 years ago too.

Some fan clubs in Calgary were sponsored by the Hudson's Bay Company at least in the first half of the fifties, but apparently for a shorter period of time than other department stores in other CFL cities.



Early Fifties Hudson's Bay Company Stampeder Junior Quarterback Club Cloth Patch
& 1954 Stampeder Quarterback Club Pinback



Going back further to just after the end of WWII in 1945, we see that Ottawa was providing plenty of on-field posed action shots in their programs from their first season being re-constituted after the war. Check out the funky reverse direction Ottawa Rough Rider logo too.
 


1945 Ottawa Rough Riders program with dedicated player pictures


As catalogued in CCF V2 in 1939 the Rough Riders produced a set of perforated player cards attached within a postcard sized card stock envelope. The following 1940 season they seem to have combined the player perforated card idea within a similar envelope, but this time with sponsor advertising and it was designated as the official programme.

Perhaps wartime material rationing was responsible for combining the two products into one. Separate 1939 Rough Rider programs exist, I am unsure if separate 1940 programs exist. But very likely these are absolutely the very first program insert cards to have been issued for Canadian football.       



1940 Ottawa Rough Riders program with dedicated player pictures



If you compare the image of Pete Kaluski below with that from 5 years later at bottom left from the 1945 program above, it is apparent that the Rough Riders probably refreshed their media photos at least every few seasons. Ottawa tended to place a lot of player pictures in their programs. In 1939 different players appeared on either side of the cards, that is probably the case for 1940 as well.






It is not known whether any department stores produced memorabilia that helped drive football interests with Ottawa fans during this time period.


Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen and John Henderson for scans and pics of some of the items displayed in this post.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

35 Years of Schenley Supremacy

In 1953 a new era of official recognition for the most outstanding players in all of Canadian Football was introduced sponsored by the Schenley Distillers Company. These awards spanned what were then two independent leagues, the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (or Big Four) from the East and the Western Interprovincial Football Union from the West. Over the course of the next five years the leagues would amalgamate to become the CFL.

Initially there were three award categories, Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian and Most Outstanding Lineman. The first Most Outstanding Player winner was the Eskimos Billy Vessels and the dated tie clip shown below was probably produced to commemorate the event. 



Edmonton Eskimo Billy Vessels MOP award acceptance photo from 1953 with tie clip &
Montreal Alouette Sam Etcheverry MOP award acceptance photo from 1955


Both leagues had their own individual Most Valuable Player awards (the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy in the West since 1946 & the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy in the East since 1928). While the winners of these trophy's would normally be the team nominees for the national Schenley honours, this was not always the case (for example the MVP in the West for 1953 was the Calgary Stampeder John Henry Johnson who would go on to a HOF career in the NFL). The nomination process in the early years did not appear to be fully standardized and records show gaps for some team nominations before 1957.




Gold and Silver plated custom engraved metal platters from the Schenley ceremonies,
Late Fifties or Early Sixties
 



The Schenley awards ceremonies were high brow affairs with custom engraved serving platters ordered especially for the occasions.  While somewhat cumbersome to store or display these rarely seen platters still make for very interesting collectibles. Numerous examples from many different seasons exist. 




1962 Schenley MOP Finalist Montreal Alouette George Dixon (with back label) &
1962 Schenley MOL Finalist Hamilton Tiger-Cats John Barrow (with back label)



Collecting Canadian Football Volume I listed a set of 5" X 7" photographs featuring the six 1967 Schenley finalists, one from each conference for each of the three awards. The images were sourced  from the usual team issued photos from the era but came with paper labels on the backs and were probably distributed at the awards ceremony. 

The images above confirm that these photo sets were issued from at least 1962, besides Dixon and Barrow (who both won their respective awards) there would also have been items produced for Stampeder Harvey Wylie (MOC winner), Eskimo Tommy Joe Coffey (MOP runner-up), Rough Rider Russ Jackson (MOC runner-up) and Stampeder Wayne Harris (MOL runner-up). Thanks to Bob Penner via Ab D Cards for the 1962 photos.   





1960 Schenley Awards Ornate Bronze Pen Holder with Pen &
1964 Schenley Awards Pinback



As you might expect a variety of memorabilia novelties and souvenirs associated with the awards were manufactured over the years.  Some were quite substantial and probably cost a considerable amount to produce and others were less so although most are attractive and desirable.

In 1972 the Most Outstanding Rookie award was added and in 1974 the Most Outstanding Lineman award was split into Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman bringing the total of major awards handed out each season to five.




Schenley Awards Brochure (Unknown Year) &
1964 The Stampeders Story Magazine
 



Naturally publications from or about the awards are the most prevalent memorabilia that you will normally encounter while searching for Schenley themed material. Most years some sort of booklet or brochure was likely prepared for the event.

While the late fifties / early sixties Stampeders had no Grey Cup success their eventual Hall of Fame laden roster did haul in a significant number of individual Schenley awards. A rare colour picture of a trophy was featured along with three recent Schenley winners on the now fairly difficult to find Stampeder Story team history magazine.   




1972 20th Anniversary Schenley Awards Bronze Coin &
Schenley Awards Cloth Patch (Unknown Year), 1977 25th Anniversary Schenley Awards Pin  



One of the better known, sharp looking and relatively easy to acquire Schenley commemoratives was the 20th Anniversary bronze coin that has been catalogued in the one day to be completed Collecting Canadian Football Volume III.  Other collectible pieces from the later period of the awards are fairly commonplace and make for interesting additions to a CFL collection.




1977 25th Anniversary Schenley Awards Booklet &
1982 30th Anniversary Schenley Awards Booklet


As the years of Schenley sponsorship stretched into decades several retrospective booklets were published. These are chock full of content on the greatest players of all-time in Canadian Football League history. The large colour image on the second booklet highlights what attractively designed trophies the Schenley Awards were. 




Stampeder Willie Burden MOP award acceptance photo from 1975 &
B.C. Lions Mervyn Fernandez MOP award acceptance photo from 1985


At ceremony B&W award acceptance photos (as opposed to pre-ceremony prepared photos) probably exist for most seasons from 1953 through the late seventies. Colour images of players accepting their awards are probably few and far between and limited to the last few seasons that Schenley lent their name to the trophies.




1983 Schenley Awards Booklet &
1985 Schenley Awards Booklet


More ephemera is available from the last few seasons of the Schenley's, such as the small booklets shown above. A rare colour collectible from the awards shown below is probably a one-off display piece used at the event. It came up on Ebay a few years ago and the photos of the nominees appear to be individually cut and pasted onto the cardboard backing piece. 




1986 Schenley Awards Eastern Nominees Display Board


After three and a half decades the Schenley sponsorship of the Most Outstanding Awards came to an end with the 1987 class. A remarkable run of cooperation between the league and their advertising partner annually showcasing the absolute best of player on-field performances.

As shown below Tom Clements (winner) went up against Brian Kelly (runner-up) in the final Schenley MOP award battle. Presumably four more sheets were produced with the 8 finalists for the four other major awards as well.



1987 MOP Finalist Photo from the last Schenley Awards  


The Most Outstanding awards would continue on after Schenley ceased to support the promotion (sometimes sponsored by other corporations and sometimes not), but the glory days of the iconic golden trophies that largely coincided with the glory days of the league were over.


Friday, 30 August 2019

Modern Bobbles

Most vintage CFL memorabilia collectors are familiar with the ceramic bobblehead figures issued in the early sixties in a bewildering array of styles that are yet to be properly evaluated, categorized and catalogued (one day...). Newer versions (probably unlicensed) were created in the seventies and near the turn of the last century generic CFL player resin bobbleheads were produced.

Starting in the 2000's CFL teams began to issue custom bobbleheads to honour a specific individual and provide a sponsored promotional tool for distribution to fans. These were usually given away on game days or in the case of lesser produced versions made available at special team events. Collecting Canadian Football Volume II lists nineteen different team specific bobbleheads (mostly players) issued up to the end of 2012.



2016 B.C. Lions Adam Bighill bobblehead box &
2018 B.C. Lions GM/Coach Wally Buono bobblehead box


Since the publication of CCF V2 at least 27 new bobbleheads have been issued and in this digital age where you can order a bobblehead of yourself on demand, the trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Therefore this post will catch you up on the known new items.




2017 B.C. Lions Jonathon Jennings bobblehead &
2017 B.C. Lions Emmanuel Arceneaux bobblehead



B.C. Lions are by far the most active at issuing the more or less standard sized bobbleheads (somewhere around 6" to 8" high) with six distributed to fans on specific game days over the last couple of seasons. In addition to those shown above a Solomon Elimimian figure was also produced in 2016.

Unless you are highlighting the end of a glorious career (like Wally Buono's) then you run the risk that your current day players honored with a bobblehead might soon be playing for your rivals. In fact all of the players above (plus Elimimian) are still playing in 2019 but none are B.C. Lions anymore.




2016 Montreal Alouettes Anthony Calvillo bobblehead & 
2019 Montreal Alouettes John Bowman bobblehead game advertisement

Anthony Calvillo was honoured with his bobblehead for his career services to the Alouettes in 2016 and he became only the second player with two different bobbleheads, having had an earlier one issued in 2003 to commemorate the 2002 Grey Cup victory.

On September 21st of this year Alouette fans will be able to grab a career appreciation figure of long time defensive line standout John Bowman.




2008 Calgary Stampeders Henry Burris bobblehead specimen box &
2019 Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish bobblehead box


In 2008 the Calgary Stampeders had planned to distribute a limited amount of Henry Burris bobbleheads as Burris was receiving his second of three consecutive President's Club ring awards. But Chinese manufacturing quality control had a long way to go back then, as reportedly the whole shipment had to be trashed for production problems and misspelled words on all the figures.

A very few reasonably OK figures were apparently salvaged with one showing up on ebay for $500 a few years back and while I would have liked to have it for my collection, I did not want it anywhere near that bad...

More recently the graphics for the new Jon Cornish bobblehead distributed at the August 17th Stampeder game are considerably more upscale.





2017 Toronto Argonauts Doug Flutie bobblehead & 
2019 Toronto Argonauts Derel Walker bobblehead


The Argonauts have been fairly active with commemorative bobbleheads issuing a Grey Cup MVP highlighting Doug Flutie bobblehead a couple of years ago, and a Derel Walker this season which is the players first with the team.

Damon Allen was the first player to have had more than one bobblehead when the Argonauts produced one in 2013 whereas his first was as a B.C. Lion. The Argonaut figure is about 2/3 the height of the B.C. one.




2019 B.C. Lions Mike Reilly bobblehead & 
2019 Edmonton Eskimos Trevor Harris bobblehead


The recent off season free agency carousel resulted in a lot of players changing teams and so what better way to introduce your prized new quarterback acquisitions than to have them immortalized in miniature three dimensional form.

Mike Reilly figures were handed out in B.C. (some Lions promotional products are only distributed to fans below a certain age, although I am not certain if this was one of those). Trevor Harris was available for direct purchase by Edmonton fans or in combination for donating a ticket to a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.



2007? Winnipeg Blue Bombers Doug Brown bobblehead & 
2019 University of Saskatchewan Huskies Coach Brian Towriss bobblehead


Winnipeg does not appear to have been very active at all in bobblehead production, although there was a Doug Brown figure made in the last decade that did not get listed in the CCF V2 catalogue. This was branded on the box as a Pro Players product which would lead one to believe that perhaps more were issued by the CFLPA players association marketing arm.

One of the more rarely produced CIS Canadian university football figures, issued this year is legendary University of Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Brian Towriss, available at the Huskies Sept. 14th home game.




2018 Saskatchewan Roughriders Mike McCullough bobblehead & 
2013 Saskatchewan Roughriders Ron Lancaster mini bobblehead


One would think that Saskatchewan would have lots of incentive to make bobbleheads to be snapped up by their fan base but the only one I have been able to document is the Mike McCullough which is labeled as a Roughrider Alumni Bobblehead on the box, again raising the possibility that more retired players would have been so commemorated.

Corby Distilleries produced a set of eight Roughrider mini bobbleheads in 2009,  catalogued in CCF V2, and they produced a new batch of eight for the 2013 Grey Cup year in Saskatchewan. Players included Lancaster, Reed, Ridgway, Schultz, O'Day, Davis, Greene and Makowsky.




2017 Ottawa Redblacks Big Joe mascot bobblehead &
Early 2010's Hamilton Tiger-Cats Stripes mascot bobblehead


Ottawa and Hamilton have not issued any player specific bobbleheads in the last eight years to my knowledge, but they have each produced a mascot figure as shown above.




2019 Hamilton Tiger-Cats retro bobblehead game advertisement
with image of an authentic early sixties CFL generic ceramic bobblehead


This upcoming November the Tiger-Cats are celebrating their 150th (!!!) anniversary by doing a promotional giveaway with retro bobbleheads bringing us back full circle to the original generic novelty items from almost 60 years ago.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Flip Fluctuations

Recently a question was asked on the blog about the Flip series of CFL football cloth dolls and since I had a huge amount of information and images on these (almost all thanks to advanced collector Joe Gill) waiting to be compiled into a post, here it is.

The product was naturally originally issued as NFL dolls (and advertised as AFL as well) in 1960 and there are a number of variations and oddities relating to those items but of course this post is going to just deal with CFL specifics. The CFL themed dolls were most likely initially issued the following season.



Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Dolls, Hamilton & Calgary
(The Calgary doll face and helmet was amended with felt pen by the original owner, the Hamilton face is definitive for type I)


What I am designating Type I dolls are easily distinguishable by numerous features. If the football patch is still on the doll it has stitches at top and the city and team name are used. There are circular protrusions on the sides of the helmets and no team logos or insignia. Some of the helmets feature a center stripe that is painted on the flat surface.

The face has a significant indented profile, the mouth is black and the iris is at the 10:30 position of the pupil. The chin strap is white and the buckle is on the left side of the head. The fingers are detailed and the thumb on the left hand is bent. The pants are a corduroy style of fabric and the feet face forward.



Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Doll box front, sides and top.
The back and bottom of the box is blank.


Type I dolls were apparently packaged in the same boxes used for the American dolls and were likely produced and distributed from Kansas City where Columbia Toy Products was based. These dolls came with a strip of vinyl numbers so you could personalize your doll. At the present time it is unknown if any of the Type I dolls ever came with garment tags that should have indicated manufacture in the USA.




Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Doll reverse with vinyl numbers applied
and unused vinyl number sheet


Subsequently in 1962 a Type II Flip Doll was issued. Differences with the Type I dolls are easy to spot. Only team names (no city, except to differentiate Ottawa and Saskatchewan Riders) are on the football patches. There are circular indentations on the sides of the much more rounded shaped helmets with a raised molded center helmet stripe. Some teams have their 1962 helmet design features, such as the horseshoe for Calgary, the lightning bolts for Winnipeg & Ottawa, the wings for Montreal and so forth.

The face has a a flatter profile, the mouth is red and the iris is at the 12:00 position of the pupil. The chin strap is brown and the buckle is on the right side of the head. The fingers are less detailed and the thumb on the left hand is not bent. The pants are a canvas style of fabric and the feet face forward.




Type II 1962 Mondrich or Allied Flip Dolls, Toronto & Saskatchewan



Production of Type II dolls was shifted to Canada where the product is known to have been available in Mondrich Sales and Allied Toy specific boxes (with the Mondrich likely considerably more common), both companies based in Toronto. The vinyl numbers were no longer offered and dolls are known to have been issued with blue tags (Mondrich) and white tags (Allied) but perhaps most frequently can also be found with no tags at all.




Type II 1962 Mondrich Flip Doll box front, sides and top. Winnipeg Blue Bomber version.
The bottom of the box is blank except for a box manufacturer insignia.



Evidence that the toys were issued in 1962 comes in the form of the official 1962 Grey Cup Kickoff by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Standing to the left is Miss Grey Cup (Miss Ottawa Rough Rider) from 1962, Renata Pikelis and she is holding a Type II Ottawa Flip doll. The Mondrich Sales box has a series of referee calls illustrated on the back including No Yards bottom left affirming that this was a Canadian football specific product.







The probably much rarer Allied Toy box does not have anything printed on the box back but the doll inside in this case is a Type II.



Type II 1962 Allied Flip Doll box front and back. Ottawa Rough Riders version.


Mondrich apparently used A. T. & C. Novelty Co. for manufacturing, whereas Allied did their own manufacturing.



Type II 1962 Mondrich Flip Doll blue tag and Type II Allied Flip Doll white tag 



A third variant designated Type III has also been identified, and these were known to have been issued by Mondrich (at least) and probably represent a second production run after the first run was fully distributed. In the absence of any other information these are also considered to have been issued in 1962.

Type III can be differentiated from Type II by the eyes which have a larger pupil and the iris is at 2:00,  by the feet which face outwards instead of forwards and some minor dimensional differences in the legs. Type III dolls are also 9" wide at the shoulders while Types I & II are 8" wide.




Type III 1962 Mondrich? Flip Dolls, B.C. & Hamilton


Here are some comparison pictures of all three Types of dolls.



Type I Hamilton, Type II Edmonton & Type III Hamilton


The box for Type I indicates that the dolls were 17 1/2" tall, but they are actually only 16" tall (all three Types, I believe). Also they are probably stuffed with different material because Type I dolls weigh 16 ounces, Type II dolls weigh 18 ounces, and Type III dolls weigh 24 ounces.



Type I Hamilton, Type II Edmonton & Type III Hamilton


At least one promotional doll is known, this one produced by Allied for Carling breweries which was involved with the CFL for many years. The doll is likely a lot rarer than the regular team dolls and looks to be a Type II.



Type II 1962? Allied Flip Promotional Doll and indeterminate (Type III eyes) fuzzy leg doll


Additionally there are some dolls that are purported to be CFL that have the fuzzy jersey material used for the legs instead of the canvas cloth. Above is a doll signed by Bud Grant and claimed to be Winnipeg, but without the cloth football emblem on the front (or evidence of a Canadian made tag) it can't be definitively classified as such. Therefore I have not identified the fuzzy leg dolls as a distinctive Type IV.

They (I have also seen one presented as Hamilton, without the football emblem) may just be versions of the generic dolls issued in the USA or they could represent the factories using up the last of their material at the end of a production run. Boxed and preferably tagged dolls would need to surface in order to confirm whether the fuzzy legged specimens are actually Canadian or not.

One thing is for sure, putting together a complete set of Flip, Your Personal Football Hero dolls of either mixed or identical Types would be a flipping formidable undertaking.
 

Friday, 28 June 2019

Upper Deck CFL e-pack : e-ssential? or e-relevant? (definitely e-xpensive)


Upper Deck 2018 CFL Box Front and Upper Deck CFL 2018 e-pack website image   


In 2018 Upper Deck issued their 5th set of CFL trading cards which marked the fulfillment of their original five year deal with the CFLPA to produce football cards for the league. As an added bonus (maybe, depending on your point of view) it was also the first year that CFL cards were part of Upper Deck's e-pack program.

For those unaware the e-pack framework is a well thought out and implemented digital card acquisition web application (no sign of the promised mobile apps that I could see) whose killer feature (from a collector's perspective) is that you can have all of the premium cards that you buy digitally, shipped to you physically. Additionally the folks at Upper Deck very wisely integrated purchase based incentives into the system to acquire multiple card types that are only available through e-pack.



2018 Upper Deck CFL numbered 200 base cards and four different parallel sets all available in physical boxes/packs as well as digitally online through the e-pack site.
2018 Base Cards (200) with Silver borders
2018 Red Parallel (200) with Red borders numbered to 150
2018 Gold Parallel (200) with Gold borders numbered to 50
2018 Purple Parallel (200) with Purple borders numbered to 15
2018 Blank Back Parallel (200) with Silver borders on front (not shown)


You cannot access any of the base cards that you buy digitally, and presumably as a collector you don't care because you are after the premium parallels, autographs, memorabilia and e-pack exclusive rarer cards. This then highlights the killer feature (from the manufacturer's perspective) in that you are actually buying product, of which some large majority percentage of the total cards bought, the seller does not have to deliver (or even produce?).



Also available in both physical boxes and digitally online were autograph parallels in two different scarcity groupings, with company checklists providing a different ratio than that printed on the box bottoms. The only way to get the Blue e-pack parallels was by digitally accumulating 5 copies of a regular base card which could then be exchanged for one blue card.
   
2018 Autograph Parallel Group A (9) with Black borders 1:267 packs (but box says 1:575)
2018 Autograph Parallel Group B (93) with Black borders 1:8 packs (but box says 1:16)
2018 e-pack Parallel (200) with Blue borders (not serially numbered) front & back shown


Now there are stated odds of each type of chase cards produced for every set, and I have read online that the cards that are opened digitally on e-pack were withheld from being physically distributed, thus maintaining the stated number of chase cards in the total population. But logistically speaking the speed with which the system "delivers" your digitally purchased cards indicates that the whole operation must be digital. How that would then be accurately accounted for and synched with a theoretical monumentally huge accumulation of non-packaged held back cards, is something of a questionable mystery.

Whether Upper Deck actually holds back cards or whether their product legalese related to the scarcity of particular chase cards fully allows them to add as many different sources of the same types of cards as their business interests deem prudent, I don't really know or care. I'm just trying to inform collectors of what was once (potentially) made available to collect.



Among the higher profile rare cards that were available on e-pack for completing defined achievements (ie; buying enough e-packs to get all cards of certain specified card groups) were the two Johnny Manziel SP0 cards. Too bad Manziel was such a monumental bust in the CFL.
   
2018 SP1 Johnny Manziel (1) with Silver border 1:320 packs 
2018 SP1 Johnny Manziel Autograph (1) with Black border ?:? packs
2018 e-pack SP0 Johnny Manziel (1) with Silver border (? issued unknown)
2018 e-pack SP0 Johnny Manziel Autograph (1) with Black border (5 for achievements)


So signing up for e-pack is simple and then the next step is to buy digital packs, boxes or cases (for the latter two there are very skimpy discounts).  As the packs are priced in US dollars I am pretty sure the cost is significantly more that buying the physical product. At least where I bought my boxes they were $105 CAD if I recall, and since I got them at a card show, no shipping charges. With the US $ exchange rate hovering near 1.35 at $91.99 per box that would translate to about $124 CAD. Many of the digital products have occasional sale pricing but I have not seen the CFL cards reduced as of yet.

One of the best things about e-pack is the capability to trade with other collectors. Most collectors specialize in certain teams or players or card types, so they generally have a lot of premium cards that they would rather exchange with others for their own specific wants. Once you have some cards (and they can be cards from the free pack a day of certain fringe card sets) you can examine others holdings and suggest trades, and they can do the same.



Memorabilia cards make up the remainder of the chase cards in the set, 
and there are definitely a lot of confusing groupings of these. Some players (like Charleston Hughes) that changed teams appear with their old team on some of the memorabilia cards, and not in his old uniform designated with his new team like on most of his cards
2018 Game Jersey (35) with Shield shaped swatch 1:10 packs
2018 Game Patch Parallel (35) with Shield shaped swatch numbered to 25 ?:? packs
2018 O-Pee-Chee Jumbo Jersey (17) with Jumbo shaped swatch 1:92 packs
2018 Game Jersey Autograph (10) with Shield shaped swatch 1:350 packs
2018 epack Game Patch Parallel Autograph (10) with Shield shaped swatch (? issued unknown)
2018 epack O-Pee-Chee Jumbo Jersey Parallel CP Patch (17) with Jumbo shaped swatch numbered to 2


Another approach is to look for sellers on ebay offering the e-pack exclusive cards and either buy them outright, or purchase them from their digital holdings. But be careful with the latter as the cards can be transferred to you for free, but you will need to pay the Upper Deck shipping costs to get them actually mailed to you, and while this is a small amount per card, it adds up quick.



Specially designed CFL Logo Patch cards are the last e-pack specific offering, featuring a few with the older league logo, and with the Montreal logos in French (new and old logos). These cards are all individual one of one's and you will find a few on ebay at very high asking prices. 
2018 epack CFL Logo Patch (33) with Logo shaped swatch numbered to 1


You can also transfer your cards to ComC which is a giant trading card sales agent conglomerate operating online and on ebay, and consign your cards for sale if you wish. While ComC may work out OK for sellers maybe, for buyers their shipping costs to Canada are outrageous, sometimes quoting near $25.00 CAD to ship one card! I guess what with all the dog sleds and igloos involved with delivering anything north of the border, you can't really blame them...



And finally we have the individual printing plates in all four offset CMYK printing colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) also segregated by those with the autograph and those without. 
These were made available as 16 different achievement awards on e-pack and as of this blog date eight of them had yet to be achieved by anybody.   
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Cyan Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Cyan (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Magenta Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Magenta (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Yellow Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Yellow (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Black Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Black (97) 1 of each



So what is the net effect of the e-pack program on the available CFL cards to collect? The physical product contained 1000 different versions of the base cards, 102 Autographs, 2 Manziel shortprints and 97 memorabilia cards for a grand total of 1201. The e-pack cards added 200 Blue versions of the base cards, 2 Manziel shortprints, 60 memorabilia cards and 800 printing plates for a grand total of 1062 additional distinct items to potentially collect.

But do you really need a sixth different version (Blue) of all of the same cards in the set? And almost all of the remaining 862 e-pack cards are short printed to 5 or less copies with 833 of those being singular 1/1 items, so only one person gets to acquire each card. In order to get any significant amount of these 862 rarities a person would have to spend a LOT of $$$ on e-pack (as some have), which from the manufacturer's perspective is of course the whole point of the platform. 

Upper Deck is returning with a 6th set of CFL cards in 2019, and we will soon know whether or not collectors will be blessed with more e-cards this time around. For some that will be good news and for others it may be re-diculous.