The NHL hosted its first All-Star collectibles show in three years this past weekend in Dallas. Rather than having the event in a convention center as in years past, this year’s event – which was sponsored by Upper Deck and McFarlane Toys – was held at an upscale shopping mall. The league said it was more than happy with the turnout.
“We had an unbelievable, spectacular turnout,” said Dave McCarthy, the NHL’s senior director of consumer products marketing. “The exclusive Mike Modano figure from McFarlane kicked off the day and it snowballed from there. Upper Deck’s wrapper redemption program at its booth had lines around it all day, the player appearances and the plethora of trophies, including the Stanley Cup, have been a big draw.”
The show featured 18 dealers and manufacturers of hockey products. The constant flow of consumer traffic was appreciated by many vendors.
“The show was a success for us,” said Jeff Morris, owner of Canadian Sports Collector magazine. “We sold quite a few subscriptions. Having the show in a large mall really increased the foot traffic.”
Fans were lined up outside the mall as early as 6:30 a.m. to get their hands on one of the show-exclusiuve McFarlane figures. Only 3,000 were made and all were sold at the show. Company founder Todd McFarlane was on hand both days to sign these figures or other items brought by collectors.
Many fans also came to get an autograph from Gordie Howe, who signed an estimated 350 autographs at the Upper Deck booth on Sunday. The 78-year-old Hall of Famer remains a popular figure with fans, in part because of how he interacts with fans during these events. “We waited more than four hours, and it was worth every minute of it to see the man in person,” said collector Dana Story of Dallas. In addition to the Howe signing and the company’s wrapper redemption program, Upper Deck offered a “Make Your Own Trading Card” station where fans could be photographed in Eastern or Western Conference All-Star Game jerseys.
Next season the show will be held in Atlanta. The league says it will likely stay with a mall location again in an effort to attract casual fans to the event.
– Russ Cohen