Sometime in the early 1990's, a company put out puzzles of several All-Star baseball players. The puzzles were 250 pieces and measured 15 1/2" wide by 18" tall. They featured a large player photo with a smaller inset photo in one of the corners.
One of the pieces was roughly the size of a standard baseball card and served as the exclusive "SignaChip" piece and was meant to be autographed by the player featured. Kind of a neat collectible. I had the Ryne Sandberg puzzle as a kid and last year, when Ryno was still with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, I sent the piece to someone from SCN who offered some help.
I put together and took apart this puzzle probably a couple dozen times when it was new to me so when I came across it again, it looked a little dog-eared. You can see some wear around the edges in the photo above and the line in the middle top prong is actually a bend.
Despite its condition, I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I was curious to see if I could find an upgrade at a reasonable price. It seems to me, this is the kind of item you could find at a flea market for a quarter and/or could be the kind of oddball that rarely shows up on eBay thereby going for double digits plus crazy shipping.
Searching for "Sandberg puzzle" didn't necessarily help because apparently there is a wooden toy company called Sandberg that made puzzle. So after typing in varitions of "SignaChip" and" Sportstar" I found a decent selection. Anybody who was anybody 20-25 years ago had one. Ryne Sandberg. Bo Jackson. Brett. Canseco. Strawberry. Gooden. Ozzie Smith. Clemens. Griffey Jr. I believe I also saw some hockey and wrestling puzzles too.
I watched a few for a while, never pulling the trigger because with shipping they always ended being around $20-30. Unsold. Then one day a seller showed up with a Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and Andre Dawson all listed separately. Starting bid was, I think, $5.99 for each of them plus $7-8 shipping. Reasonable, but still a little too pricey. All were unopened but the Grace had puncture holes in the box and the Dawson had a side that was shredded.
After they didn't sell, I sent a note to the seller asking if he'd do $20 shipped for all three. Depending on his combined shipping rate, he was probably looking at $30-35 if they all sold originally. I expected a counter offer of maybe $25-30 but he accepted, said he'd list a $20 Buy It Now with free shipping on just the Sandberg (so nobody else would bid on it) but throw in the Grace and Sandberg. Nice!
As I mentioned, the Grace and Dawson were damaged but I intend to open them up and try to get the pieces signed anyway. The hole is small enough on the Grace that no pieces should have fallen out. And the Dawson is pretty worn on the right side but no holes.
But the Sandberg was darn near perfect! Now I have to decide whether to open it or keep this one intact to sit on the shelf display and frame up the older one.
Either way, I think these three will look pretty snazzy/cheesy signed and all framed up in the man-cave. Dawson and Grace have pretty nice signatures but Sandberg's has deteriorated over the years. Might have to pay for a nice sit-down, public signing signature rather than settle for a rushed in-person hustle and bustle autograph.