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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Redemption Song - 2011-12 Artifacts

Little yellow packages in the mail are always fun.  Especially when you aren't expecting anything.  Basically I never EXPECT anything, although between Ebay and other online adventures, I pretty much have something on it's way on a regular basis. 

With redemptions though, you really never know when (if) they are going to come.  I have had the fortunate luck of receiving all my redemptions that I have ever sent in.  The only time I had an issue was when Upper Deck ran out of autos a few years ago but replaced my card with something better (it went from a rookie auto of a guy I never heard of to a veteran auto of a guy that I have).

So the other day, I had a little yellow package waiting for me on my desk when I got home from work.  That is usually the place my kids leave them when they get the mail everyday.  The package was somewhat recognizable as it was labeled from everyone's favorite redemption center on Aviation Parkway in Morrisville, NC.  Before opening the pack, I went to the UD redemption page to see what these could be as I didn't remember sending anything in recently.

Ahhh, yes.  Now I remember.  These must be from the boxes of Artifacts that I opened last October.  Two boxes yielded two redemptions.  It was a bit disappointing to say the least since that meant that the rookie "hits" were actually not in the box but at the time, I had no idea who the players were since one was a NHL WILD CARD redemption and the list hadn't been published yet.  Now that I see this, I still have no idea who the players are.  (just kidding)

Actually I am somewhat familiar with Peter Holland as he was a highly touted draft pick in 2009 for the Anaheim Ducks.  I think he plays for the Syracuse Crunch but I'm not entirely sure.  Horak I had to look up because I hadn't remembered him until I read his bio.  He was actually able to make a roster spot on the Flames for 2011-12 and he scored his first NHL point last year against my Pens.

Here they are in all their glory...

Did I mention that they are both numbered out of /699.  I know.  I can hardly contain my excitement either.  As you can see, I'm not too fondly attached to either of these and I am not a master set builder of the Artifacts sets (base is my limit because of all the short prints) so if there are any of you out there that need either or both of these, check my lists, throw me a couple cards in trade, and they are all yours.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Box Break - - 2012 Topps Archives Baseball Blaster

(This is one of my lost posts that I started a few/couple months ago.  I have since over indulged on Archives and would be glad to help anyone else out on base set completion.  I even have them sorted in order if you can believe that.  This was my first exposure to the product back when it was "new".)

I don't buy a ton of baseball product.  Usually the base Topps series and maybe a few Heritage or a couple retro sets if they are out there (A&G or Gypsy Queen).  I am not really even a big fan of baseball as a whole and I've discussed that on here numerous times.  I still hold the Pirates near and dear to my heart but lets face it, they haven't really been the most fun to watch for, oh....the last 20 years or so.  Plus, I have a hard enough time not having a heart attack every time the Pens or Steelers are on.  I couldn't take another sport that makes me crazy.  So I generally sit idly by in the proverbial baseball corner and just watch the festivities of others.

But this year, Topps put out the Archives set which was supposed to be kind of a throwback to the Fan Favorites sets of old.  Instead, it has amassed what may very well be, as many haters as it has fans.  I will throw myself out here and join the masses of fans.  I really like this product.  So here is yet another in a long, and I mean very long, line of card blogger Archives posts.

First off, I am a sucker for retro sets.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's because I know I probably won't be able to afford the real thing so getting something that looks old but isn't must satisfy some intrinsic need.  Generally when a retro themed set is released in hockey, I will dump hundreds or more in it trying to complete the set as they usually look quite good in binders (see Champs Hockey, Parkhurst Champions, UD Retro).

Second, there are quite a few designs that are thrown into this product making it as manically frustrating for design enthusiasts as it is wonderfully unique to set collectors.  The first 50 cards (1-50) feature the 1954 Topps base card design.  The player selection is also smattered with old school guys like Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Cal Ripken Jr.  The second 50 (51-100) are from the 1971 set, you know the all black border cards that are extremely condition sensitive?  These have guys like Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto, and Ty Cobb mixed with Chipper Jones.  The third group of 50 (101-150) are from the 1980 set.  I can't say that I am a big fan of the 1980 design by any means but it is definitely an iconic 1980s set.  The original 1980 Topps set featured the Rickey Henderson Rookie, the Jesse Orosco/Mike Scott Rookie, and I think the Rick Sutcliffe rookie card.  The Archives version has the rookie card of Yu Darvish.  The next 50 (151-200) use the 1984 design.  That's the set with Darryl Strawberry and Don Mattingly rookies as well as a host of others.  I think I like this design the best because of it looks very similar to the hockey set from the same year only with squares for the players heads instead of circles.  It's a neatly positioned and uniform design pattern.

Thirdly, Topps still brought out what they are calling Fan Favorites and these are cards 201-240 and feature short printed cards of various players through history from various years, almost like a reprint.  Card 241 is also short printed but that's the Bryce Harper rookie.  Some of the players included here are Don Mattingly, Andy Van Slyke on his 1988 card, Wally Joyner on his 1987 card, and Will Clark on a pseudo-1986 card.  Somehow on these (inserted about 1:4 packs) I ended up with 2 Cecil Cooper #219s.  Weird.  There are also autograph versions of all of these which look awesome and they fall about 1:12 in the hobby boxes.  For some reason, Topps paid tribute to the ultimate utility man Jose Oquendo by giving him nine different auto versions, one in each position.

Fourth, I love the autographed framed mini set.  These are a tough pull at only 25 of each player but they look great.  Just like the mini GU or Auto framed cards in A&G, these too have the card encapsulated in a larger, see through frame.  I have seen the Nolan Ryan and the Ryne Sandberg ones in person and they are awesome.  I also saw a picture of someone who pulled a Reggie Jackson.  That one was sweet as well.

Finally, there are two different kinds of stickers and a 3D card insert.  The first stickers are the 1977 Cloth stickers.  There are 25 of these that fall about 1:6 hobby packs.  They feature a mix of current and former stars.  They are just what you think.  Cloth.  Just like the logo and trophy stickers from the Topps Sticker Albums (or even the Panini ones too).  The other stickers are the 1967 "floating head" stickers.  These also have a mix of current and formers stars but are less frequent at 1:8 packs.  The 3D cards are just awesome.  I used to have a bunch of these when I first started collecting but they have since gone AWOL.  I wish I knew where.  These look pretty close to the real thing and feature current players along with Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, and Al Kaline.

Oh, and for good measure...they even threw in a GU card.  Not bad for a blaster.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

That Card Show...

That Sports Spectacular Show that was held a couple weekends ago at the D.E.S. Convention Center in Rosemont was not definitely not what it was cracked up to be.  Not by a long shot.  But, nonetheless, I still was able to find some cool things to add to the old collection.

A few observations (some of which have already been made by other bloggers):

1.  They didn't have the show in the normal spot.  It was downstairs in one of the back halls.  The room was large enough to fill with all the dealers and still have plenty of room for the endless list of Tri-Star sponsored signing guests.  But, many of those tables were either empty, taken up by memorabilia and "art" dealers, or in such disarray that it was pointless to even bother looking.  Plus my three favorite dealers were also there...the guy with the plastic over his tables so no one can touch anything and a sign that reads "DON'T PUT HANDS UNDER THE PLASTIC"; the guy with the laptop and no pricing on anything and when you ask him, everything is Beckett Hi Value or HIGHER; and the guys with the two boxes full of National Treasures, The Cup, and UD Black autos that you can't afford and three glass cases full of "Hot Packs".

2.  Quarter boxes are all the rage and many dealers at this show took full advantage.  These tables were everywhere and if you had the time, energy, and patience to give them a whirl, deals were to be had at every turn.  That is, if you could actually get to a table.  The popularity of these has grown to the point where every 400lb, ripped t-shirt wearing, "comic book guy" looking dude with dirty hair and extreme body odor pulled up a chair and parked themselves for hours.  Surprisingly, I did manage a few go-rounds at a couple tables and I'll post those later.

3.  As much as I love my kids, taking both of them to one of these shows is very difficult when you want to "window shop".  Patience is not one of their strong suits to say the least.  But overall, they did quite well, especially after we found the $1 Starting Line Up guy.  Who would have thought that a Steve Bedrosian SLU could give such entertainment.

4.  Trading is still, by far, my favorite part of the show.  These Chicago-land shows afford me the opportunity to trade with a few guys (some bloggers, some not) that never fail to surprise me when we sit down at a table to swap.  So far, there have pretty much been four of us that regularly frequent these shows and use this as our opportunity to unload what others want and save on postage at the same time.  I was able to land some interesting stuff this time too which I may or may not post about.

5.  I mentioned before that many dealers, especially regulars, were absent at this show.  That wasn't good if you were planning on buying wax.  Normally there are five or six dealers with a large supply of unopened boxes and cases.  This time, I only counted three with more than a handful of product.  I'm going to pin that on the fact that the National is coming up quickly and many guys are saving their wares for that show.

The autograph ticket was quite impressive, especially if you are a fan of Chicago sports.  But even while at the show, many cancellation announcements were made for guests that were scheduled to be there.  Something about that doesn't sit right with me when I pretend in my mind that I am an auto hound.  A promoter plans a show as big as this (not National size but definitely not your Sunday afternoon swap meet either) with an autograph guest list as extensive as this was, pre-sells a ton of tickets, including pre-sold autos, and we find out five minutes before line up time that the guest isn't coming?  It just seems strange that these are last minute cancellations.  I would think these things are firmed up all the way up to "game time".  But what do I know?

I'm going to stretch out the posts of what I added to my collection but I suppose I can start out with a bang.  Here are a couple oldies, but goodies for sure and my three new favorite cards that I own. (Don't get to excited because my favorite cards change at the drop of a hat.)  From the 1971-72 Topps set, I give you...

The only "action" photo in the entire 1971-72 set and the biggest card too, is now part of my collection.  The best part is the condition of this thing.  There is a nicked corner at the top and a little off centering but that is pretty much it.  An iconic card for sure.

 My oldest Bobby Orr card and my favorite.  This one isn't as nice as the Dryden but is still in pretty good shape for being over 40 years old. 

Mr. Hockey himself...if it wasn't for the bottom right corner and the surface scratch on the "ED" in Red Wings, this card is almost perfect.  To think, Howe would still play another 10 years after this card was produced.  They don't make them like that anymore.