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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Jersey Off My Back

2008-09 Artifacts Treasured Swatches "Mr. Hockey" 

Ahhh, Jersey Cards...

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Premier Triple Remnants Dale Hawerchuk

After opening a couple boxes recently, I really started thinking about the value of the perceived "hits" that are included as part of the release.  I generally am not a "hit" chaser.  I don't meticulously pack search or toss the base cards in favor of the "hits".  I'm mostly a player collector and set builder.  But I still like when I pull jersey's, especially when it's a player I collect.  I like to rub my finger across the swatch and try to figure out what part of the jersey it came from.  But they don't always look good or feel good, and when you pay $100+ for a box of cards, a jersey card that could yield $5-10 if you're lucky on the secondary market probably won't leave a very good taste in your mouth. 

2008-09 In The Game Between The Pipes Origins Gerry Cheevers (blocker pad)

The introduction of the small piece of material into trading cards has long been a staple of the industry, dating back to when Upper Deck started putting the tiny swatches into cards in 1996 (I think Press Pass actually started the phenomenon with their NASCAR sets prior to that but look where that got them).  I don't know the exact date that they started appearing in hockey cards but I'm guessing late 90s-early 00s, at least that's when I first became aware of them.

2010-11 SPA Future Watch Limited Auto Patch Eric Tangradi

Memorabilia appearing in sports card releases were once a HUGE part of the industry.  These little "pieces of the game" were a rare find and highly sought after by collectors.  They became so overwhelmingly popular that they started appearing in every release issued, by every manufacturer, every year.  You can see where I'm going with this.  More demand spawned more supply and thus a by-product of their own popularity, their value went into decline.  Nowadays, you can go into many sports card shops or to sports shows and find thousands of these abandoned in boxes with price tags well under $5 (there is a dealer I see sometimes at the larger Chicago shows with $1, $2, and $5 jersey boxes).

2010-11 In The Game Heroes and Prospects Subway
Super Series Jersey Silver Jonathan Huberdeau

Why?  Well I blame three things; oversupply, lack of creativity on design, and lack of trust in their authenticity.

2011-12 Artifacts Tundra Tendems Dual Fight Strap 
Marc-Andre Fleury & Kristopher Letang 

2012-13 Artifacts Tundra Trios Fight Straps 
Joe Thornton/Brenden Morrow/Patrice Bergeron 

As I mentioned earlier, more demand spawned more supply.  Manufacturers saw the popularity surge and began chopping up every piece of memorabilia they could get their hands on.  Jerseys? Cut em.  Pants?  Cut em.  Gloves, hats, pads, bats, sticks, skates, cleats, balls, helmets, towels, warm-ups, nets, photos, checks??  Cut em ALL!  There's no telling how many pieces of history have been mutilated in order to satiate an industry demand since the late 90s.  I don't know a single collector that would even want to know either.  I'm much more familiar with the hockey card market and I can say that I've seen some items by some manufacturers for early era hockey players that come from paychecks, letter correspondence, and other memorabilia, trimmed to fit cards.  While many of them look cool, it is scary to think about what had to be destroyed to get to that point.

2010-11 Upper Deck Game Jersey Kristpher Letang

As the manufacturers overloaded their products, they began to get lazy.  No more was there thought put into a card design.  Player photos were sometimes abandoned in favor of swatch real estate.  Even the material swatches and patches themselves became overly focused on single color or even just plain white...PWS is a hobby term used quite often now.  In recent years, the higher end sets and more premium cards feature better looking pieces of material with multiple colors and stitching present on the card.  But the industry is by far dominated by "hits" in boxes that contain players that don't actually play, aren't exactly household names, and are just plain boring.

2006-07 O-Pee-Chee Swatches Daniel Alfredsson

Which brings me to my last point.  Authenticating memorabilia has become a very contentious part of the hobby.  The over abundance of fraudulent items that hit the market every year is staggering.  I don't think we have gone six months in the last ten years without hearing about a large dealer, vendor, or supplier being investigated by the FBI and many ending up serving jail time.  Unless you physically remove the item from the subject, cut it yourself, or watch them sign it, there is no definitive way to prove it's real.  Manufacturers have always listed their proof of authenticity on the backs of memorabilia cards but while the industry used to be much more upfront about the origins of their items, they've gradually declined in their details to the point of many saying "here's a piece of something used (or touched) by someone at some point".  I'm being facetious of course but it's getting bad.

2010-11 In The Game Enshrined Complete Package Tim Horton

This isn't one that I mentioned earlier that I opened but take for example a box of Upper Deck Black Diamond from last year.  Prices are close to about $200 for a box/pack that features five cards.  Yes you read that correctly...5 cards plus one bonus Exquisite card.  Basic math isn't my strong suit but six cards for $200 comes out to $33.33 per card.  Considering there are still 50 base cards to contend with and no guarantee that all the cards will be "hits"...the gamble is high.  In real life sales of individual cards start at about 39 cents for base cards and go up from there. 

39 cents!!  For a $200 product?  Nope.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Working On Some Sets

We made a stop at our local card shop the other day between kids basketball games and actually spent some time sifting through hockey singles.  Yes, that right.  I said hockey singles.  As in, the LCS, which is located in the United States, outside of Chicago, had singles of hockey cards...for sale...and not as part of a huge collection.  It's true that odds are usually better to find a unicorn in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, instead of hockey singles, but I digress.

In all, we grabbed about 94 cards that covered set needs, player collection needs, and some other interesting collection adds.

Just thought I would share some of what we found.

First, shockingly there was a significant pile of 2009-10 Champ's cards, mostly the minis.  This was the second year Upper Deck released the Champ's set and I think it was the best version.  These aren't found very often.  Even at shows that I've attended where there are actually dealers with significant amounts of hockey cards available, these are no where to be found other than the blue base cards.  Full boxes/cases have even somewhat dried up on the secondary market unless you want to pay about $100/box plus $10-30 shipping to get some.  But at this point, most of those boxes are duplicates for me.  So when I saw these, the list came out and off we went. 

I need quite a few of them still as I have been trying to build the base set including all the minis, as well as 1-100 in blue, green, red, and yellow (yellow animal variation too but that's a huge undertaking).  I have a few sitting in my COMC account waiting to be shipped but even after that, there are a lot that I need.  If you have any of these lying around that you don't need, check my setlist page and see if you may be able to help. 

We also found some of last years 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee base cards that we needed.  I have incomplete sets of O-Pee-Chee dating from 2006-07 thru this years set.  It's much easier to find full boxes of these but unfortunately, the last three that I have picked up have yielded nothing but duplicates.  In fact, even the high numbers in one of the boxes were all dupes. 

Also included here is a hodgepodge of Score, Black Diamond, Victory, and Prizm that knocked off a few needs. 

Trilogy singles are rare to find as well but for some reason, today was our lucky day.  The picture doesn't help much here but there was a significant pile of these.  You don't get many in a box, definitely not enough to polish off a base set.  Even two boxes (which we opened that year) didn't get us a base set.  We are just a few cards shy now.

Also in the picture are a few Young Guns from various years and a couple Rookie Anthology cards I still needed for some reason.  I can never remember if these are 2011 or 2012?

Finally, a few other interesting items we found.  Going back to the Champ's for a second, there were three colored back variations in the mix.  I don't actively pursue these but if I can find them either by accident or on purpose, I generally snatch them up for the right price.  Here we have one each of a Red (Mike Bossy), Green (Alexandre Burrows), and Blue (Frazer McLaren RC) back variation.

Also in the photo is a Brent Sopel 2010-11 Victory Black Variation card. The Blacks were next to impossible to pull from Victory, falling about 1:720 packs.  The rookies are even harder to come by.  Just check out the resale market on Ebay for these and you will see what I'm talking about.  An intro product by Upper Deck with the lowest price point, virtually worthless base cards, and the Black Parallels garner a buck or two just for commons.  I don't actively pursue these but if I find them, why not?   

As always...