I Love Being a Junk Wax Kid

Yes I said it. I love being a junk wax kid. While I was once also a Toys R Us and Flintstone kid, my true calling has always been baseball cards and not necessarily toys or nutrition.  But, in today’s world the term “junk wax” means exactly what it says to most people: junk (or stuff nobody wants). I am not one of those people. 

I long for singles, packs, and boxes of 1990 Topps, 1988 Donruss, and 1989 Fleer and all of the glorious wonder that can be found within. 

Here’s one simple reason why: it’s affordable. What other era of card collecting will let you go and recollect all those cards you once had (or always wanted) without breaking the bank? The answer is none. If my father (age 58) was to go back and recollect key cards from his childhood, he would have to get a second full time job and you can forget about getting any of those cards in a PSA 10. It would just be too far out of his budget. For me though, I can go get almost any rookie card from my childhood in PSA 10 condition for under $50 and many can actually be had for less than $10. 

As a 33 year old man, my fondest memories of collecting baseball cards come from the years 1987-1994 when the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas were rookies coming onto the scene. But, who can forget all those one-hit wonders such as Kevin Maas and Todd Van Poppel or even the likes of John Olerud and Moises Alou becoming stable veterans during those years.  And as a kid collecting during that time, I was never able to afford every card that I wanted. It just wasn’t in my budget. Today, however, is a different story.  Most of my collecting is going back and finding high grade rookies, complete sets, or rare variations that I was never able to acquire as a child. 

Here is a perfect example of an affordable card graded a 10 by PSA that I would add to my collection because it’s from 1990. It’s a 1990 John Olerud Fleer Update rookie card for only $5.99.  It would cost me more than that to get the card graded and even then I’m not guaranteed a 10 grade.  I mentioned my father earlier and how he could never afford a PSA 10 rookie of some of his childhood favorites like Willie Stargell and Rod Carew.  If he were to buy a high grade (PSA 8) Stargell rookie it would cost him around $500. See the difference. What would you rather shell out? $5 or $500? 

Granted, I realize these cards will never hold much value and they’ll probably never go up in value. But, there’s something about having a perfect example of a card I was never able to get as a kid for less than $10.  

It’s not always about the money. Collecting should be fun and that’s how I look at the hobby. If I’m having fun and collecting what want, I’ll never lose. 


  1. I love this perspective. I absolutely love some of the junk wax era cards. The age of digital photos has made companies lazy. The junk wax era was perfect because taking lots of pictures wasn’t going to break the bank and wasn’t difficult (versus the post war era where a lot of the same pictures were used again and again… and they weren’t necessarily photos either… more like drawings in some cases?) so they had creative license to go nuts and give Kirby Puckett a giant bat to pose with, or get some guy to bite on a bat with his infant biting the handle. I mean, where are you going to get amazing photos that give the cards character like that?

    Nowhere, that’s where. I look forward to reading more!

  2. Im with you. As a 57 year old man I collect for fun and enjoyment not for money. When this becomes a business instead of a hobby it is no longer fun.

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