Sports: don’t they make us do crazy things? Primarily, they make us invest a whole lot of our emotional capacity in what is just, at the end of the day, another corporate franchise trying to pry every last dollar from its consumers.
One of the weird ways that manifests itself is through the products we buy, particularly the ones with sports logos on them. Everyone here has bought something that they didn’t need or was $10 too pricey, but overrode their good financial sense because a Flames logo was on it. I’m guilty of it too, having once bought beer I didn’t like just to get the free Flames shirt inside (I justified it as buying a Flames shirt and getting free beer with it). It’s a simple marketing trick, but it works every time.
There may be some limitations to what you will buy because a Flames logo is on it, but there are some out there still willing to test those limitations, and the results are truly something else. I found these people on eBay, a desperate dumping ground for people trying to sell the Flames products no one wants. What they have to offer you ranges from useless products that don’t really need a Flames logo on them, to junk that should’ve been thrown out years ago; from things that pose as real but are extremely fake, to things that are absolutely real even though they really shouldn’t be.
While we wait out the hockey-less days of August, let’s take a fun, deep dive into the weird and wonderful world of people selling wacky products on the world wide web.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. Neither eBay or any of the people listing these products paid us money to post these products. In fact, while we can’t tell you what to do with your money, we actively encourage you not to buy these products. If you ignore these warnings, your wallet should hop out of your jeans and slap you.
Bootleg (?) jerseys
eBay isn’t really in the business of regulation. Here’s 10 things you can’t sell on eBay, mostly because it’s either illegal or gross to do so.
For bootleg or fake jerseys, there’s really no rules or enforcement. Even though there are countless stories of folks getting ripped off, the platform is too large to monitor for those things, so the rule is buyer beware.
The conventional bootleg jerseys on the website aren’t really worth mentioning because they’re pretty boring. But eBay has their own subgenre of bootleg jerseys worth talking about: the obviously fake jersey that someone has the audacity to sell for significant money. Here are my three favourites:
This is quite obviously a beer league jersey. Nothing is knit, despite the title’s claim. The crest and numbers are ironed on, and one of the numbers is falling off in a very obvious way. You can buy this for $60 Canadian dollars.
This is the same general thing, but more egregious. It might be an ambitious Flames and 80s Vancouver Canucks mashup jersey, judging by the Flaming C shoulder patch logo being turned into a Flaming V.
Among other things wrong with this, the brand is “Dangle,” which no one has ever heard of and has not been the NHL’s uniform supplier at any point. It takes six seconds of Googling to call this guy’s bluff, if prior knowledge wasn’t enough evidence. Regardless, he has put it up for $100 (note: some time after I took this screenshot on Friday evening, the price has inexplicably been raised to $150 Canadian dollars. That’s not because of bidding either, as you can only buy it outright or make an offer).
The audacity is outstanding. These sellers see these jerseys, recognize the logo and where it comes from, but either know everything else about it is fake and throw it up anyways, or just believe that’s as much research as they need to do.
Regardless, it’s here. They might earnestly believe that someone will buy this. To that, I really have nothing but silent admiration.
Here’s a very interesting fake jersey: a rare, white Blasty. I know it is fake; the Flames did not wear these and there weren’t even rumours that they would wear a white Blasty. Even scuttled jersey designs are well known, but there’s nothing on this jersey.
However, for a fake jersey, it’s so well done from what low quality pictures can show us. Since it’s a Pro Player jersey, we know it’s from the 2000-01 season, when the Flames ditched the pedestals and went with their white jersey and Ol’ Blasty. Presumably, whoever made this stripped all the logos off of both the white and black jerseys, replaced the Blasty shoulder patch with a Flaming C, and replaced the Flaming C crest with Blasty without any obvious scars (again, low quality photos, but the seller promises “with no stains holes or tears”).
If someone created this, it’s a high concept frankenjersey that they created for no purpose. Think about that: someone ripped up two $200 jerseys to make one jersey that, in their mind, was cooler than what the Flames had already rolled out (there is no black Flames jersey with a Flaming C on it, I checked).
Applying Occam’s razor, it’s likely a bootleg whose patches were sewn onto the wrong base jersey, and now some guy is trying to hawk it on eBay. That’s less fun to imagine, so I choose not to. Maybe there is some well-financed nut tearing apart jerseys to make his own creations. Or, this jersey is a rare factory misprint that some fortunate dumpster diver found. Perhaps a drunk could’ve taken the wrong turn in the guts of the Saddledome and found a one-of-a-kind concept jersey. Maybe it was stolen from Gary Bettman’s house by an expert art thief who needed to lay low for a while but couldn’t resist his kleptomania. You can run wild with your own story.
Basically, I choose to believe it is real. Go out and buy the rarest of all Flames jerseys (don’t).
Adrian Aucoin used SuperSkills jersey
Let’s move into the territory of the real yet bizarre jerseys. Here’s a great one.
If you want to out-niche all your friends and their cool niche jerseys, you can pick this up. Adrian Aucoin famously won the hardest shot competition at the SuperSkills competition, so just in case you needed another interesting story to tell with your interesting jersey, there you have it.
Note: in doing research for this article, I found a Flames article that says Aucoin was actually on Team Red, not Team White for SuperSkills. Again, buyer beware, this may be a fake Danone Adrian Aucoin SuperSkills jersey, but I don’t know why he would sign it if that was the case, or why someone would fake a Danone Adrian Aucoin SuperSkills jersey.
The ghosts of failed promotions past
Here’s some useless eBay history that you will never need again at any point in your life, but it might help you understand what you’re about to see.
eBay began as an online auction house and found success with collectors. People wanted to buy rare things they wanted without having to travel the country or attend once-a-year conventions. Sellers got access to an eager market to sell their niche goods for higher prices. Case in point, the first eBay sale was a broken laser pointer, sold to a broken laser pointer collector.
Eventually, the sellers realized that they could make more money from their living room buying and selling collectibles than they could at office jobs, and began opening up their own digital shops. Naturally, the stores who were the point of original purchase began to key in. Why should they miss out on the glorious resale profit when they control the distribution in the first place?
So actual companies began operating like many eBay stores did: they would post their goods and sell them to the weirdos who wanted them. They cut out the middleman and used eBay as extensions of their own stores. Whatever didn’t sell could be put up on the online marketplace and still fetch a similar price for whoever wanted some rare, seasonal piece of merchandise. It may not have appealed to their customers at the time, but someone out there would want it eventually.
It’s a pretty big chunk of the eBay market: the website has over 12,000 listings for Calgary Flames products, and my unscientific guess having looked at all 12,000 is that over half of them are these retailers trying to sell their deadstock Flames products.
Now, that unscientific stat alone should tell you a lot about what they’re actually trying to sell. If these were goods that people actually wanted, they wouldn’t be all over eBay.
Most of these goods come in the form of absurd yet officially licensed NHL cross promotions with various pop culture brands. Let’s take a look at this Star Wars one.
Kinda cool, I guess. Han Solo’s badass quote about successfully navigating an asteroid field loses its edge when you take it out of that context and enter it into a hockey context, where the stakes are much lower and people rarely die. It also becomes less cool if every team has one of these shirts.
This one is my favourite because of how low effort it is. The Flames logo is just placed alongside other major symbols from the Star Wars saga, as if to say “this thing is also Star Wars.” The Flames are now Star Wars canon, though it’s unclear what role they play or whether they’re Sith or Jedi. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was political intrigue, gigantic space battles, an extremely dysfunctional family, the eternal battle between good and evil, and a team that perpetually disappoints in the playoffs.
There definitely was a huge marketing meeting about these shirts, and it probably went along the lines of agreeing that a decent amount of people like Star Wars, and a decent amount of people like hockey. Despite the oppositional binary of jock and nerd, there’s definitely overlap on that Venn diagram, and these shirts would appeal to them.
In reality, that doesn’t work. People like many things from many different entertainment mediums, but how many of them want to be a walking billboard for everything little thing they liked? Is there really a Star Wars and hockey fan out there who has a shirt for both fandoms, but can’t decide which to wear and decides the answer is both at the same time?
These weird crossovers don’t stop at one of the most recognizable brands, and those weird crossovers…
… definitely stray into a territory beyond weird.
If you’re wondering what you’re looking at, it’s not some weird Flames/Anaheim Ducks crossover shirt intended to squash the beef between the divisional rivals. It’s actually the platypus from the popular children’s show Phineas and Ferb tending goal for the Calgary Flames. You definitely got that reference.
I honestly thought they were bootleg shirts for a few minutes; that there was some guy in another country researching what was popular in North America to find the ultimate shirt to appeal to everyone.
Nope, turns out it was an NHL marketing executive.
“The Phineas and Ferb brand evokes creativity, youthfulness and high energy, not unlike the NHL brand,” said Jim Haskins, Group Vice President, Consumer Product Licensing. “The NHL is thrilled to be working with such a premier Disney property as nearly one third of NHL fans are between the ages of six and 17, and 65 percent of those fans watch the Disney Channel.”
Let’s ignore the absurd premise of “our big, tough sport has brand synergy with a mouse cartoon” and run the math on that one: if the NHL successfully sold these shirts to 100% of that target demographic, they’re still only reaching ~20% of their entire fanbase at max. Seeing as these shirts are abundant on eBay, I’m guessing they didn’t do that.
I’ve already spent a lot of words on these shirts, mostly because they’re fascinating examples of marketing guys making high six figures while completely missing on what their consumers really want, but I’m going to leave you with one more:
Same formula: two brands that have nothing to do with each other on the same shirt. But if you zoom in, there’s quite clearly a shamrock beneath the faces of the Disney characters. What’s the percentage of proud Irish NHL fans between the ages of six to 17 who also watch the Disney Channel? 3%?
Ten Chris Drury fridge magnets
Take a look at your fridge. Aren’t the magnets holding up beloved family memories just a little bland? Could the fridge use a bit more of a Forever A Flame spice to it? Well, have I got the thing(s) for you: Chris Drury “Timeless” (brand name, not a descriptor, though also a descriptor) fridge magnets, and ten of them to boot.
Well, maybe your fridge door is a bit congested. What if you just wanted one Chris Drury fridge magnet? No luck, doofus, you have to buy all 10. Why do you have to buy all 10? Cause this guy bought 10 sometime during the 2002-03 season and he needs them all to go right now.
Sure, you may ask “who in their right mind pays $40 Canadian dollars and $30 dollars shipping for 10 Chris Drury magnets?” but you’re forgetting that it breaks down to only $7 per magnet. That’s a steal for a fridge magnet (?). Given that there’s probably not a lot of Chris Drury fridge magnets out there, you’ve essentially cornered the market on Chris Drury fridge magnets. You could resell them for $8, maybe $9 per magnet. Again, they’re “Timeless,” everyone wants one.
Calgary Flames NHL Forest Face Yard/Tree GARDEN decoration
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. This is the most cursed NHL merchandise possible.
Let’s ignore the Flames hat for a second (you can really just nail one onto a tree if you feel so inclined). Who are these forest faces for? People who think nature is just a little too beautiful?
Roman Turek beer tap handle
Handmade crafts are a part of eBay which doesn’t really exist at the level it used to, so it’s neat to see things like this. People who liked making knick-knacks also found out about the emotional scam of slapping unlicensed logos on anything to increase its value, but the aforementioned invasion of large businesses selling dust-collecting products kind of elbowed them out. They’ve moved over to etsy, which may be an article for later.
Here’s a rare craft maker, who has taken beer and sports, two inseparable entities, and smashed them together for this odd doohickey.
The entire store’s deal is making beer taps with McFarlane figures. He’s got 100s of these, but the only two Flames ones he could find are Turek and Jarome Iginla, so your choices are either undoubted Flames legend or one of the hundred forgettable guys he had to put up with. Based on the Amazon prize for Turek McFarlane figures, he’s taking at least a $10 hit on this product, not factoring in other parts (beer tap) and labour (sticking a thing onto another thing). He’s practically giving the thing away.
I think a funny bit would be to install this in your home and hook it up to a barrel of old grease tray drippings to give drinkers the authentic Roman Turek goaltending experience in liquid form. That probably runs you into the $1,000s for a C+ joke, but commitment to a bit is a funny bit in and of itself.
NHL Calgary Flames Candy Truck Bank
“Collectors item, candy inside nay [sic] be stale”
What a rip off. $30 and you don’t even get to eat the candy?
Calgary Flames baby lotion and shampoo
I said that I cannot stop you from spending your money however you wish, but I will file a court order to prevent you from bidding on baby shampoo on eBay. Do not buy your baby shampoo on eBay.
Tim Hortons Calgary Flames gift card
Here’s a fun story about my retail working days: I once went for break and came back to find out that someone had swiped a whole stack of gift cards from in front of the till.
It was no big deal and no one yelled at me because those cards are worthless until they’re activated, which can only be done behind the till or with sophisticated computers that are hooked up to the store’s main servers. This thief thought he was walking away $1,000s of dollars of free merchandise when all he really had was maybe $1.00 of plastic.
So, if you would like to be the opposite of that guy and pay money for plastic you know is worthless, here’s your opportunity. You can find these discarded in various parking lots of Calgary, but they aren’t mint like this one. Alternatively, you can be the guy I described and just swipe them without paying for them (disclaimer: FlamesNation does not endorse or recommend their readers commit any crime, no matter how petty).
Some guy’s mail
I have a history degree, so there’s a soft spot in my heart for little bits of microhistory like this. Although the grand, sweeping narratives involving the Great Men of History and their political dealings may make for a more intriguing read, the little bits of evidence like this paint a more realistic and emotional picture of the day-to-day lives of the average citizens during the time period.
So if you were ever curious about what form letters the Flames sent to whoever mailed in, or what fee you could expect to face when trying to book a youth group of 20 or more at the Saddledome in 1993, you can give this man money for mail he’s inexplicably held onto for 26 years.
Oh, by the way, this guy collected mail from just about every major sports team in 1993, presumably to eventually sell them. eBay wouldn’t come into existence for another two years. This is the world’s weirdest and least-successful long con.
For one dollar, this piece of cardboard can be yours.
Flames tiki mask
Initially, I thought that this was someone’s handmade Flames tiki mask. Kind of neat, kind of odd. I guess it’s unique, but I didn’t really have any comments other than “hey, look at this thing.”
That was before I clicked on the store page to see what else he was selling. After doing that, I was disappointed but also baffled by the other things for sale. This person is trying to clear their house of store bought sports goods, car headlamps, Warhammer 40,000 guides, and old things that are in fine enough condition to be considered vintage. They’re moving, or they’re Marie Kondo-ing their life, or someone died. They are parting with things that have no more value to them.
They’re just a normal person, not a collector or a seller. And at some point in their lives, they bought and found some emotional value in a Calgary Flames tiki mask. That is honestly so odd to me given everything else I found in writing this article.
A lot of the products here, pretty much all of them, will never be sold. They will hang around on eBay forever until someone decides it’s not worth the hassle of relisting them. It’s not just that they’re tacky, odd, and useless, there’s the simple fact that no one cares, or will care, for them. No one loves/d these things or developed any connection to them, they’re just trying to maximize all possible profit from them, which was the goal when these sellers first laid eyes upon what they’re selling. They’re businesses doing business on a business-doing website. They don’t care about what they’re selling, as long as a hypothetical someone with enough money out there does.
The guy who bought ten Chris Drury magnets ostensibly thought that Drury would become an all time Flame and the fridge magnet market would explode, and now he’s stuck with 10 Chris Drury magnets he refuses to just throw away, lest someone wants them. Honest to God executives thought that the Phineas and Ferb x NHL crossover demographic was lucrative enough to justify mass producing t-shirts, regardless of how goofy (not a Disney pun) and soulless the final products ended up being. The person above this listing bought a coffee at the Saddledome, looked at the sleeve, and wondered “how much would someone pay me for this?”
Then we have this person, who went out and bought a Flames tiki mask (as far as I can tell, the only one) and prominently hung it on their wall for a couple of years. People looked at it, asked about where it came from and what the logo at the top was, appreciated it for a few seconds, and then forget about it. For a few years, this was a key piece of this guy’s living room, hanging somewhere above the Packers lamp he’s also selling: they were all necessary parts of his sports experience. His fandom materialized itself in these things, which he had no intention of selling upon first contact, unlike everyone else on this list.
To me, that is more absurd than the entire existence of this product: that some normal person actually bought it and enjoyed it at some point.
If you have a bizarre piece of Flames memorabilia that you would like to share/sell, feel free to do so in the comments. I would love to see them. If you are here from eBay to yell at me for making fun of your product, I’m sorry.