THE SPECIALISTS COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Roddy Piper - Big Increase in Sales of Piper’s Trading Cards, plus Flashback Column on Piper Figures
Aug 8, 2015 - 12:30:24 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist
In Brief: Sales of one key Roddy Piper trading card increased from $26 to $125.
Roddy Piper’s death on July 31 was a major loss for “Hot Rod’s” family, friends, and fans. Everyone from Ric Flair to Ronda Rousey offered their thoughts on Piper’s legacy within moments after the news spread of his passing.
Piper has been a major part of the pro wrestling merchandising machine for the last 30 years. His action figures and trading cards are every bit as recognizable today as those of Hulk Hogan, and his iconic “Hot Rod” t-shirt, as seen Monday on Raw, may be even more popular than Hogan’s yellow “Hulkamania” shirt.
The collectibles market responded as expected to the news of Piper’s death. Prices have soared over the past week for Piper’s collectibles, especially trading cards and certified autographs.
Surprisingly, Piper doesn’t have any cards that predate his WWF run. The landmark 1982 Wrestling All-Stars set contains cards of almost all of the biggest stars of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but Piper was somehow excluded from this product. Likewise, he does not appear in the unlicensed 1986 Monty Gum Wrestling Stars set, which featured almost all of the top stars of the day.
Piper’s earliest card is from the 1985 Topps WWF Pro Wrestling Stars set. Piper is featured on card #7 in a red Superman t-shirt and a red and white kilt. Ungraded copies of this card can still be found for just a couple of bucks.
Piper appeared in several WWF sets throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, and then in WCW card sets in 1998 and 1999. The majority of these sets were mass produced and carry little value with collectors today, but some are sentimental favorites.
Piper’s first certified autograph was included in Pacific’s 2004 TNA Wrestling set. Piper’s signature is featured in the TNA Legends & Superstars Autographs subset, which also included Jeff Jarrett, Terry Taylor, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, and Raven.
These cards were plentiful and are pretty easy to find on the secondary market today. Prior to Piper’s death on July 31, not a single copy of this card had sold on eBay in the last 90 days. In the week since Piper’s death, there have been at least 11 completed listings for this card, most in the $40-60 range.
Piper’s most popular certified autograph card might be the one from the 2005 Topps WWE Heritage set. This set marked the first time Topps had made WWE cards since 1987. This is Piper’s only licensed WWE card that features an on-card signature; most others use sticker autographs. On June 6, one of these cards sold for $26; on July 31, an eBay listing for this card ended at $124.95.
Piper has also appeared in several non-WWE sets from Leaf, such as the 2012 and 2014 Leaf Originals Wrestling sets. He was also included in the 2009 Sport Kings set, which features Piper’s only autographed memorabilia card. The basic version of this card is limited to 40 copies, with a gold parallel limited to 10.
Piper was most recently included in 2014 and 2015 WWE products from Topps. His autograph was included in 2015 Topps WWE and has been a particularly hot seller over the last week. The basic version of this autograph sold for $69.95 on Aug. 6, compared to a $14.99 sale on July 27.
The effect that a wrestler’s death has on his collectibles – particularly certified autographs – has been addressed several times in this column since 2011. Interest almost always spikes after a wrestler’s death and then, depending on a variety of factors, begins to wane.
Piper was a huge star and a major part of many people’s childhoods. For fans who discovered wrestling through the WWF’s national expansion, Piper’s name is arguably every bit as synonymous with pro wrestling as Hulk Hogan’s. His death hit wrestling fans hard, and there was no real controversy surrounding his death. Piper wasn’t a disgraced celebrity at the time of his passing.
Because of all these factors, there’s a very good chance that many of Piper’s collectibles will hold their value. They probably won’t maintain the peak level of value they have right now, but Piper was such a major star and a beloved figure that there will always be a significant level of interest in “Hot Rod.”
Evolution of Piper’s Action Figures
Roddy Piper’s toys – from his 1984 LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars figure to his 2007 G.I. Joe toy – were the subject of a PWTorch Collectibles Column Action Figure Evolution feature in 2013. Check out that column HERE.
PWTorch Collectibles specialist Michael Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.
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