Back in 1992, Topps introduced a "Match the Stats" game card into each of its baseball packs that I would continuously throw any sort of holiday-related money towards in hopes of adding more cards to my collection.
It was a scratch-off card where you needed to get three similar stats to win special cards that were similar to the base set, but the players' name was all in gold; and getting an "out" meant you've lost. It was a glorious adventure for an 11-year old kid.
(And if you were smart, you could figure out how to find the three "out" spots on the card.)
Since '92, the level of redemptions available to collectors in boxes and packs of cards has gone from simple "gold" cards to autographs and pieces of game worn jerseys and equipment.
In yet another unique offering for collectors, Panini America is giving hockey card collectors the opportunity to take home a miniature Stanley Cup that was given to a member of the 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens. As part of their 2010-11 Dominion set that was released this week, Panini has placed one redemption card in their packs for a lucky collector to discover.
According to Panini's blog, The Knight's Lance, the mini Cup was purchased at an auction earlier this year for more than $4,000. The member of the '79 Habs it belonged to isn't revealed and we were unable to get in touch with a company rep on Friday.
(A 1977-78 mini Cup formerly owned by Pierre Mondeau went for $4,182.50 at auction in 2009 and this past April.)
If you're thinking about joining the chase for the Cup, it's going to cost you. Dominion is a high-end product, with standard box prices of $350 for one pack of eight cards. There's other neat inserts like the standard game worn jersey pieces and even player-signed blade tape from game used sticks, but having your own legit mini Cup is where it's at. Just don't pull a Michael Ryder when you have your little Cup party.
UPDATE - Sept. 20: Via reader Art. G, the redemption card has been pulled and currently sits on eBay for a cool $10,000.