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Monday, August 15, 2011

Recapping My National Plan

When I announced I was going to attend the National Sports Collectors Convention last week, I created my "gameplan", if you will, that I would follow to the letter in order to get out of their in one piece.  Well good intentions are not just paving material for the gateway to hell. 

I set out with my goals in hand, ready to attack at the moment my 5 year old Nike ACGs hit the floor of the convention center.  What I failed to remember was the sheer size and magnitude of the show.  Last time I went was 1993 and the show was held at McCormick Place in Chicago, the former "IT" place for conventions until they ran into the UNION problem a couple years back.  Of course that show seemed big.  I was only like 16 or something so everything seemed bigger (or is that when you are six?).  At any rate, I got immediately overwhelmed by the scope of what was present in front of me.

I hit a few tables right off the bat, looking for a few cards that would get my collecting juices flowing.  After browsing about a dozen or so, I made my way through the carpeted area with all the Premium vendors.  This is where the card manufacturers were along with many of the show sponsors, broadcasters, and larger dealers.  It was there that I was sort of sucked into the hype of the promotional packs being given away for pack redemption.  I watched for a bit as people were busting boxes left and right at the Panini booth and the Upper Deck kiosks, in hopes of pulling any of the rare cards that both manufacturers put into their show packs. 

As that excitement wore off, I hit a few dealer tables in hopes of scoring a great deal on some wax.  I was just looking at this point because who knew how many other dealers may have had the same thing for a dollar or two less?  Certainly not I, at that point.  It was then that I ran into my buddy Sal from Puck Junk.  We chatted a moment before he had some business to take care of with the guy from The Wantlist, the Canadian collector magazine that has all the great kind of articles that Beckett used to have eons ago when it was relevant as well as real time pricing and of course, the biggest, most comprehensive Wantlist you can imagine.  If you are a hockey collector and don't get this publication, what is wrong with you?  Go here and check it out. 

Next thing I know, Justin from The Hopeful Chase strolls by and we all decide to go to the special VIP Lounge to do some trading.  Yes, I said it.  Actual trading of cardboard took place.  So when they say there's no trading in the VIP room, they are wrong.  Since I have already sort of alluded to it being something I picked up, I might as well share.  First, I traded for this beauty.

Is that a Mario Lemieux Rookie, you ask?  Yes.  Yes it is.  Sure it is a little off center but the corners are all sharp and the back of the card looks almost perfect.  Did I mention it's a Mario Lemieux rookie?  Sure I gave up one of the most iconic football cards of all time to get it but I really had no emotional attachment to it despite is uber-coolness and if I wasn't going to cash in on this garage collection project anytime soon, the least I could do is flip stuff for my own PC.  Right?  RIGHT?!!?

Also in the mix were a few other cards that I needed including...

I have been off-and-on putting this set together.  Occasionally I pick up one or two and then I don't see or hear from them again for months.  Kind of like one of those relatives that you really want to see but then are sick of them after an hour or so.  Of course, seeing them here on this scan makes me want to start looking for them again.

A couple of singles that I didn't have for some reason.  The Rookie Finalist Lemieux I actually have never seen before so that was cool.  The Tangradi I thought I had but turns out I didn't.  I have some weird man-crush on Tangradi which I can't really explain so don't expect him to be on the Pens that much longer.

You may recall seeing this in another blog post on another blog.  Well it's mine now.  A Sweet Dual-Sweater Swatch of Flower.  The colors are actually the same and come from the dark sweaters (not the one in the picture).  The interesting thing is the two different textures.  One is definitely from a sleeve, the other, not too sure.  It's out of /35 too. 
So with those trades out of the way, that leaves my goals. I only had four.  Let's see how they turned out.

1.  Pick up 2 boxes. - - As usual, I went overboard on this one.  Atlanta Sports Cards had quite a few boxes that have been on my radar.  In fact, I have been on their website numerous times and had these in my cart but never pulled the trigger.  In all, I picked up 7 boxes including ITG Decades: 80s, a blaster of BAP, and a variety of Pacific products from the early 00s.  If you haven't seen them already, I'll be posting most of the breaks on the blog. So on a scale of 1-10, 1 being complete failure; 10 being triumphant success...this goal would rank a 10.

2.  Pick up 5 cards for each of my main player collections - - Well since I have 3 player collections, 15 cards didn't seem like a big deal.  Well, it was.  I picked up quite a few Mario's.  If you count the ones I got in trade, I picked up a total of 9.  As for Jagr, I'm really not on the Jaromir kick at the moment.  Looking at some of his cards, while cool, makes me want to burn them.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's the image of the up coming orange and black jersey he will be wearing. As for Billy G., do you know how hard it is to find Guerin cards?  Pretty damn difficult unless it's an auto or GU card and even then, you have to dig.  So using my scoring system, this goal ranks a 5 out of 10.  Three players, five cards each, 33% per player.  Bonus points for the extra Lemieux's.

3.  Pick up at least one autograph or memorabilia card for each of my Pittsburgh team collections - -This one kind of fell flat as well.  While I did get a few nice autos of Penguins that I didn't have (3 to be exact), the Pirates I sought out to pick up were no where to be found and I really didn't even look at Steeler cards at all.  I give this one a 3 out of 10.

4.  Sell something.  Alright, you can't say I didn't try on this one.  I had about a dozen or so cards to try and get rid of.  The only one that I had any traction on was this one.  I offered up stuff to about a dozen or so guys at the show and 7 of them were all interested in this one in particular.  Only one guy made me an offer to which I politely refused.  The others weren't really sure what to offer.  I had one guy who wanted it but really couldn't come up with a number.  I threw out a Ben, not knowing if that was fair or not, but even at that, couldn't get anyone to bite.  So I can't really give this one a legitimate score other than for trying.  We will say 1 out of 10 in this case. 

So adding up my score, with 40 possible points I scored 19 in completion of my goals.  But if you take into account that all 9 of the Mario cards were ones I needed and I picked up a Lemieux rookie, as well as three autograph Penguin cards, a hockey HOFer signed puck, an Olympic hero signed photo card, a bunch of fun boxes to bust, and some pretty cool memories from the show, I'd say that's pretty close to a perfect score.

More on this later.


  1. Nice Mario RC! OPC or Topps?

    The one thing that drives me crazy about "The Want List" is that he's redefined the 1961-62 through 1967-68 Topps sets as OPC. I get why he did it, as OPC actually handled the printing and cutting as well as the distribution, but these sets have always been known as Topps. The first OPC set made under their own banner was '68-69.

    It's a little thing, but it makes the whole project seem as though he's making up his own definitions, and that makes me question a lot of the rest of it.

  2. @ Tim - Agreed. Pretty close to a perfect score. Especially since you spent 25% of your time either hanging with me and Justin, or waiting in line. Valuable time that could have been spent sifting through quarter boxes for Bill Guerin cards :)

  3. @ 19678ers - I had a long discussion with Richard Scott, editor of The Want List about that. He basically reiterated what you said above. And he had valid points...but it seems a little bit like "revisionist history" to me.

  4. @Sal - it annoys me more than it probably should, but it's one of the reasons I don't buy that magazine.

    It would be different if there were distinct Topps and OPC runs. In baseball in the mid '60s, for example, the "OPC" cards all said "TCG Ptd in Canada" or something to that effect, just like the hockey cards. They were distinct from the larger Topps set, though.

    There was no US version of Topps hockey, though.

    One thing I would be curious to know is the exact agreement between the two companies. When Topps was doing its own set, OPC would license the images and designs and produce its own set, often modifying the Topps originals. In the '60s, did OPC license the work, or did they produce it under agreement with Topps?

  5. From what I understand from reading the book "Card Sharks," Topps had the hockey license and sub-licensed it to O-Pee-Chee. I'm not sure if that was only true from 1968 forward. The Fleer company was trying to become a sub-license from Topps for baseball cards, as Topps had exclusive rights at the time (1960s/1970s). Fleer was trying to make a similar arrangement to what Topps and OPC had going on with hockey, but of course that did not happen.

  6. Well this certainly turned into a lively discussion. See you can't say you don't learn anything by reading blog posts.


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