While perusing eBay a few weeks ago, I came across an auction for a product that I knew nothing about, and had not seen mentioned on any of the message boards I frequent, 2011 World Stars by Brother's Inc. in Japan. While I'm obviously a fan of the new cards released by Topps (although I wish they didn't have an exclusive MLB license), it's the oddball collectibles that really pique my interest, and these definitely fit the bill.
The World Stars set is comprised entirely of autographed baseballs, but with the twist that randomly inserted boxes (1:12 odds) will include original hand-painted autographed baseballs. The detail on these paintings is pretty incredible, and you can tell it's something that the artist (Mayumi Seto) put quite a lot of time into.
The set includes not only baseball stars, but football and basketball as well , along with a few other random "celebrities." The full checklist can be found here, which also breaks down the number of each type of baseball that is included in the set.
The Rickey baseball looks to be one of the more limited releases, with only 1 art baseball, 1 black baseball, and 2 SP "full-name" baseballs. The full name balls are kind of interesting, as I don't think I've ever seen Rickey sign anything that way before.
An image of the Rickey SP black baseball wasn't available, so this Mike Tyson will have to do. I love the look of the balls, as they are definitely unique and not something that you run across often. If you put one of these in a case with your "regular" autographed balls, it would definitely get its share of attention.
The boxes definitely aren't cheap (they're $119.99 each, but you do get free shipping from Japan, and can be purchased here. Like all box breaks, you're playing the odds, but with the chances of puling one of the nicer art balls, or even the a sweet SP black ball, it just might be worth it.