OK, so maybe I did not encounter a Dalek trying to sell me hockey cards…but I damn near came close this past Sunday when Shellie and I visited a Chicago-area mall. Staring me down at the end of a dimly-lit corridor was this monstrosity:
Don’t be charmed by the pretty pink and blue lights…this thing is evil. EVIL!
Upon closer examination, the window displays cards of Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. A little green sticker at the top says “Guaranteed unsearched,” while a white sticker at the bottom says “4 cards for only 25 cents.” The machine also sells Star Wars CCG cards, and the Dalek–I mean vending machine–behind this one sells baseball and football cards.
“It’s only a quarter–here,” said Shellie, handing me a quarter from her purse.
“Ah, why not? It will give me something to blog about,” I replied.
I put in a quarter…and nothing happened.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a quarter and put that one in, thinking that would fix the problem.
Perhaps taking inspiration from the Hanson Brothers of Slap Shot, Shellie said “Stand back” as she kicked the machine hard enough to rock it back and forth.
Instead of 4 cards, the machine spat out 6:
Ian Fraser, Mike Kruselnyski, Sergei Fedorov, Johan Garpenlov, Geoff Courtnall and Daniel Marios. A bit heavy on the 1991-92 Stadium Club.
“Try that again,” I suggested. 2 more cards emerged:
Ken Wregget, and is that….? Yes, it is Eric Lindros on water skis. (soon to be a “Card of the Week”).
“I should just leave you here with a roll of quarters,” Shellie mused.
“No! These are the kinds of hockey cards that I’m trying to get rid of, not get more of.”
Later that day, on our way out of the mall, we passed the evil machine again.
“Here–one more time,” said Shellie, handing me a quarter. I think she liked this thing more than I did. Maybe she enjoyed kicking it.
Next to the coin slot, in the tray where the cards land, were these 3 freebies–perhaps the machine vended them after we left?
Kelly Miller, Marc Bureau, Brad Lauer and Mike Hough. Hardly what you’d call “star cards.”
For 75 cents I am the proud owner 15 useless hockey cards from the early 1990s. Two things surprise me:
1. I didn’t get any Pro Set cards, but did get 7 Stadium Club cards.
2. The cards were not vended in cardboard sleeves to protect them. Similar machines in the 1980s and 1990s would usually put the cards inside a folded piece of cardboard. No so today, as the cardboard folder would be worth more than the cards they protect.
So, take my advice: if you see one of these Star Card vending machines at a mall near you, keep walking. Or better yet–run!