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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Box Break - - 2001-02 Upper Deck Victory Hockey

Why you ask? Well, it was on the shelf, it was staring at me, and it was under 10 bucks. Plus, I don't think I have any 01-02 Victory in my collection. So, without further adieu, here is my latest junk wax break.

36 Packs/Box
10 Cards/Pack
Box Guarantees: Mr. Hockey's Greats subset cards average 1/pack
Includes Victory Gold Inserts, Mr. Hockey's Greats subset
440 Card Base Set (13 Update Rookies not included)

I pulled 344/440 (78%) cards in the base set with no doubles (2 extra cards)

Rookies (23):
Gregg Naumenko, B.Tapper/J.Vigier/D.Snyder, M. Murray/R. Fata/R. Petrovicky, Y.Babenko/R.Shearer, Steve Gainey, J.Williams/M.Kuznetsov, J.Shelley/M.Spanhel/R.Klesla, A.Podkonicky/R.Thompson, T.Scott/A.Lilja, Pascal Dupuis, M. Matteucci/D.Gustafson, Francis Belanger, P.Dagenais/M.Jefferson, Juraj Kolnik, P.Smrek/J.Ulmer/V.Yeremeyev, Joel Kwiatkowski, Maxime Ouellet, David Cullen, Tibb/Croz/Hedberg, M.Kiprusoff/M.Samuelsson, J.Obsut RC/M.Van Ryn, T.Ziegler RC/D.Afanasenkov, A.Ponikarovsky/J.Farkas, K.Beech/M.Pettinger

Gold Parallels (18):
Steve Rucchin, Ron Francis, Brain Boucher, Keith Tkachuk, Ron Tugnutt, Doug Weight, Alexei Zhitnik, Manny Legace, Joe Sakic, Randy McKay, Chris Osgood, Mike Dunham, John LeClair, Mariusz Czerkawski, Jeremy Roenick, Andrei Zyuzin, Robyn Regehr, Patrick Roy

First off, there is a glossy finish on both sides of the cards that makes them stick together. It also makes it very difficult to sort through them like "normal". It is almost like a wax coating. The cards have a clean design on the front and have the typical stat lists and small write ups, much like Topps/OPC releases. It was nice to get no doubles out of an Upper Deck product. I like these cards from an aesthetics standpoint. The gold cards look just like the 99-00 Topps/OPC release and are only gold because of the border foil, stamped or otherwise. Unfortunately, there is really nothing to gain here monetarily without the Update Rookies. Overall, I give the box a 5/10 and the set a 6/10. Fun to break.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More on the Topps fall out

I am not a baseball card collector any longer and haven't been actively collecting since around 1996. However, I have kept up with baseball cards and what was being produced since then and have a pretty good working knowledge of the hobby. That being said, I am sad to see the MLB rights going to a single company for production of their products.

Being a hockey collector, this has been an issue for a few years now with Upper Decks exclusitivity rights with the NHL and NHLPA. With the vast selection of product every year in hockey, you don't have to look far to notice that the UD hologram logo is stamped on all of them. Same goes for basketball now, with Panini inking their respective name on all NBA products.

This creates two problems in my mind:

1. The product becomes bland and stale. Like many of my fellow bloggers, I enjoy a unique card design, something with flair, something different, something that makes me want to own everything in that product. UD had a few moments here and there but overall, has created a hockey product devoid of anything unique and full of staying power. With Topps already being inferior in terms of design and product layout, I only see misery for collectors in the baseball realm for the future.

2. There is no competition, therefore, no reason to live up to expectations. Without another player in the market, Topps will have carte blanche on how to produce the cards. Eisner has even said he is trying to get the kids back in the hobby, which I am all for, but at what cost? Sacrificing quality for marketability is counterproductive.

I am sure everyone has an opinion on this. A few of my fellow bloggers takes on the situation can be found below. Check them out and voice your opinions.

Topps exclusive rights to baseball cards

Here is the article from the NY Times this morning. I have no comment at this point.

August 6, 2009
Topps Gets Exclusive Deal With Baseball, Landing a Blow to Upper Deck
The Topps Company will become the exclusive trading card maker of Major League Baseball next year in a multiyear deal that appears to seriously hurt Upper Deck, its primary competitor in the once-vibrant business.

By dropping Upper Deck, M.L.B. hopes that Topps, under Michael D. Eisner, the former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, can invigorate card collecting, especially with young fans. The league also believes that one cardmaker can end the confusion of competitors selling multiple card series in hobby shops and big-box stores.

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” said Eisner, who acquired the company in 2007. “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”

Upper Deck refused to address the Topps deal, which is to be announced Thursday. A spokesman for Upper Deck, based in Carlsbad, Calif., said only that it renewed its trading card license with the Major League Baseball Players Association last month and would keep producing cards. While the union license gives Upper Deck the right to use player likenesses, it will no longer have the rights to team logos and trademarks.

The union did not respond to requests for comment.

The old-line Topps, with roots in Brooklyn and its headquarters in downtown Manhattan, is associated with the stiff stick of chewing gum that once appeared in each pack. It is historically linked to children trading and flipping cards, and to the clatter created by inserting the little pieces of cardboard in the spokes of bicycle wheels.

In the 1980s, as collecting cards for fun turned into the more adult pursuit of investing in cards for profit, Topps faced a corps of rivals like Fleer, Donruss, Leaf, Score and, most significantly, the innovative Upper Deck.

Now, baseball has decided it needs only Topps.

“There is a greater chance of organizing the marketplace with a singular partner,” said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business at Major League Baseball. “It’s a business that’s critically important to our mission, to make players icons to kids.”

The business has shrunk drastically since the mid-1990s. T. S. O’Connell, the editor of Sports Collectors Digest, estimated that it was one-fifth the size it was before the 1994-95 players strike.

“As draconian as it sounds,” to give Topps the exclusive license, O’Connell said, “there could be pluses to it. I’m not wishing Upper Deck out of the picture, but it’s difficult for the market to support the significant number of cards that are produced every year. You could see some stability coming out of this.”

Since Eisner’s privately held Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn, a private equity company, acquired Topps, it has introduced 3-D cards, the ToppsTown trading and collecting Web site, and the Topps Attax game to appeal to young card enthusiasts and to develop new ones.

“We’re going to be very aggressive in letting retailers, kids and hobbyists know that we are the card that represents it all,” Eisner said.

Making Topps the official trading card of baseball follows M.L.B.’s business model. It has, for example, an official car (Chevrolet), credit card (MasterCard), soft drink (Pepsi) and cap (New Era). For that reason, Brosnan said, baseball does not believe there are antitrust implications in entering a similar deal with Topps.

Typically, an exclusive license is more expensive to the company than a nonexclusive arrangement.

Brosnan said that a recent federal court decision that backed the N.F.L.’s right to make Reebok its exclusive headwear sponsor affirmed baseball’s policy.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the case from American Needle Inc.

Eisner said that Topps’s successful deals as the exclusive soccer cardmaker of the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga had proved that cards could appeal to fans 8 to 13 years old.

“They’re buying them, trading them, the way I did when I was a kid,” said Eisner, a New York Giants baseball fan, who says that, like many men of his generation (he is 67), his mother threw out his collection.

Dennis Gordon, who owns the Baseball Shop in Orleans, Mass., said he was confident that Eisner could alter what he called the “stale” market with the exclusive Topps deal.

“Michael Eisner alone might make it more interesting for kids,” he said. “If he and his people can come up with a new-wave idea, go for it.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Contest at VOTC

If you haven't ever checked out the blog by Rob over at Voice of the Collector you are missing out. Some great musings about the card industry and the state of the hobby can be found over there.

Currently, there is a contest going to win some swag from the National. Head on over and check it out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The National: Recap

Well as everyone already knows, (and if you don't well then you must live under a rock) the National show was last week. It was a disappointment to most of those that I have talked with, although a few nice cards were obtained by many of my fellow bloggers.

I will not bore you with all the details because, as many of you, I did not attend. Cleveland was a bit too far for me this time around and I had no intention of making a long vacation out of it. Not to mention, the autograph signings were way too far from my price range, the dealer specials were non existent, and the manufacturers didn't offer up anything trip worthy in my mind.

My thoughts were correct after talking with some attendees. The consensus was that the atmosphere was very deflated, the attendance was down, and the overall excitement just wasnt' there. I even heard one story about a gentleman being asked to leave the show because he was trying to "haggle" with the dealers on the floor.

All of this prompts me to ask the question..."What happened to card collecting as a hobby?"