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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trade Post - - More set help

One of my readers hit me up on email the other day and let me know that there would be a little something on the way in the mail.  Michel, another set collector from Texas, decided to help me out with a couple sets and also threw in a few surprises as well.  If anyone has ever traded with Michel, then you know that he is one of the great traders out there and will always surprise you with what he sends.  Let's take a look.

As you can see by the picture, there are some 2010-11 Score and Donruss Hockey in this mix.  You can also see part of my 3 year old's face in the corner there.  He is always curious when new cards come in.

First, the 2010-11 Score Hockey.  I had 145 cards left to complete the set.  This set overall has been a bit of a disappointment for me.  When the original sneak peeks were released earlier this year, I had some high expectations for this set.  Yes it is a low-end product.  Yes it is probably meant for the kids because of the low price point.  But, with a design reminiscent of the 1990-91 set, this was sure to be a hit with 30 something year old collectors that remember the "good ole' days" of collecting. 

Then the set was released and after some quick buzz, a lot of set collectors, including yours truly, realized that this was falling a little flat in a few areas.  The biggest issue for me was the sheer size of the set compared to the collation in the pack out.  At 550 base cards, a box will only net you 252 cards.  With each pack containing a glossy parallel - 36 (just like the football counterpart) and every two packs containing an insert or rookie, it is a bit tough to put together since most boxes are only going to get you 195-200 base cards.  The other issue was the lack of the rookie redemptions to which Panini later scraped their plans without telling collectors and included the cards in the pack out, but short printed the top players instead.  I've already addressed my enthusiasm for that idea.

Now, I'm not saying I don't like the set as a whole.  It has that epic 90-91 design that helped launch many collector's down their hoarding, I mean collecting, path 20 years ago.  There are also some nice inserts for a low end product including the Snow Globe Die-Cut cards, the Net Cam cards which feature a photo from the net cam angle, and the Canada/USA Greats cards.  After 10 rack packs, 2 hobby boxes (although I don't think there is a distinction between hobby or retail), 2 blasters, I still don't have a complete set.  So, Michel sent me 21 from my list. 

The next few were from the 2010-11 Donruss Hockey set.  I am down to 9 on this set because of some great deals on rack packs at Meijer.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say that despite the low-end nature of this release, this might be my favorite Panini set so far this year (that isn't saying much).  The design is simple, the photography is good, and the backs actually attempt to mix it up a bit, departing slightly from the typical Panini-esque card back.  I think I have already reviewed these before and said that I wasn't too thrilled by them.  For some reason, however, these have continued to grow on me.  I think that is due to the insert sets.  The Les Gardiens set, the Ice Kings, Tough Times, and Elite inserts are all well done.  At any rate, Michel sent me 6 from my list so I am down to 3...Nick Lidstrom, Evander Kane, and Kyle Okposo.

Finally, the surprises were once again, a plethora of Pittsburgh Steelers for my team collection.  Did I mention they were in the Super Bowl?  Did I mention it was for the 8th time?  Did I mention that...nevermind.  Here is what was in there...

2010 Topps Chrome Maurkice Pouncey and Rashard Mendenhall

2010 Topps Platinum Mike Wallace, Troy Polamalu, and Rashard Mendenhall

2010 Topps Prime Troy Polamalu and 2010 Panini Threads Rashard Mendenhall

2009 Finest Hines Ward

Thanks for all the good stuff, Michel.  I will be searching thoroughly for some stuff off your lists.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Disjoined Rant On Panini - - A rebuttal to Kevin's post on the MJB

I don't normally do something like this but I couldn't help it.  Commence rambling...

Over on The Mojo Beard, Kevin posted about his latest donation from Panini, Plates & Patches.  This is a 2010 Football release that is designed as a premium product featuring 9 card boxes that retail for around $150.  After looking at the product and reading his post, I couldn't help but get that feeling I get right before my sugar drops and causes me to shake.  Not because of Kevin.  I enjoy his perspective on lots of things he writes about.  It is just, well...I couldn't stand idly by without a rebuttal to his opinion.  I began to type a comment but started to realize the comment would become longer than the actual post.  So, it's migrated to it's own post here.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Kevin's take.  I'm not impressed by the base design.  They look like they were slapped together from already existing failed prototype designs and cards that came from brainstorming sessions that went horribly, horribly wrong.  Ok, maybe that is too harsh but I'm tired of the lack of effort by these companies that think they can just feed collector's whatever garbage they want and we will still buy it.  This is supposed to be a high end product and all they have done is copy an already recycled design.  Whether it is "exactly" the same as the other sets out there or not is irrelevant.  Because it is so close of a match, it has no business being a premium card release. 

Just look at the backs.  They are identical to 85% (this is a scientifically derived number developed by surveying all the voices in my head) of every Panini set that has been released since 2008.  If that process is going to be their trademark then I think they should come out and just say so; so I will think long and hard before shelling out the dough for their boringly mundane products.  They could release it on their website..."We at Panini would like to announce proudly that from now on, all our products will feature the same card back design.  We realize that we could have put more effort into designing something different but why bother?  Through rigorous testing and research, we've learned that most of our target customers will still act like lemmings and follow us off the cliff.  We have done this so that collector's everywhere will know when they have a Panini card in their hands."  See there?  I did it for them.

For me though, the real reason this set fails is because it's a 9 card box for MSRP $150.  That's almost $17/card.  Sure they may be going in the triple digits now but do you honestly think for one second that Dominique Curry's auto or Damian Williams GU is going to hold value in that neighborhood forever?  I doubt it, unless they become superstars.  Give this product some time to cool off and you will see the effect on pricing.  Even if you are a player collector of either of them, are you going to pay that for a GU?  When you put a product out there that is priced in a range that immediately eliminates a large cross section of the collecting population, you are making a statement that it is a product not for the casual collector.  In essence, the end user is going to be the high end collector or the dealer that is looking to turn a profit.  Ignoring the dealer types and focusing in the high end collector, I'm sure they have no interest in autographs or jersey swatches from a practice jersey of a third string player, second tier rookie, or draft pick that was cut in training camp and now resides on the practice squad of a UFL team.  Neither do the everyday collector's for that matter.

And then we have the redemption factor.  These are a necessary part of the hobby.  I understand that.  From a logistical stand point, they make sense.  But, regardless of Dexter McCluster's contributions last year and his upside, getting a mail in redemption in a high end product is just amateur hour at it's best.  These should be reserved for the low end or mid range products.  The premium stuff should have the premium cards.  Keyword = HAVE.  If a collector forks out $150 for 9 cards and then has to wait another 6-8 weeks (if they are lucky) to get one of them, they aren't going to be happy.  It will be interesting to see if what the wait was for.  If they come in as clean looking on-card autos, I would gladly back off this point.  But if history tells us anything, they will eventually show up at collector's homes with the same old played out sticker autos that we have all come to loathe.  Come on Panini, you can do better.

Now that all of that is out of the way, I'd like to end on a positive note.  I actually do like the Rookie Blitz design.  They are aesthetically pleasing and clean looking.  The Ronnie Brown GU/Auto is ok, too.  It isn't great, but it's not horrible either.  It could have been much worse.  I do like the Ochostinko Honor's Patch he pulled as well, I just think it could have been a little bigger, like many of the comments pointed out already.  The other cards from the set that I like, which Kevin didn't pull, were the Signal Callers cards that have what else but quarterbacks.  There are some images of some of the other cards over on Cardboard Connection you can check out if you feel the need. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trade Post - Denting Some Sets...

A package came today. Not just any package but the first pseudo trade package of 2011. I know there are many of you out there on your 100th or more trade of the year already but I have been stuck organizing, sorting, rifling, whatever verb you would like to use, to describe the task of going through 1 million cards. There hasn't been much time to look at trade lists and get things moving.

But no longer, I say. I need to get on the stick and start doing what makes this hobby So with that said, my good buddy Nick decided to strike first with a "small" package of items to help my set needs.

Rather than scan the cards, I'm starting to think that pictures and video might be the way to go, especially with larger lots and card.  But I digress.  Here is the stack of cards that fell from the confines of the yellow envelope they arrived in.  If anyone has ever traded with Nick, you will know that he takes great care in packaging the cards, each one in a penny sleeve, encased in a team bag, and usually sandwiched between some stiff cardboard.  Sure it may take longer and cost more to ship but as a collector, you can appreciate the care taken to keep the cards from damage.  I can't count how many times I received an Ebay package from a non-collector with less than stellar packaging. 

So what was in the package, you ask?  I'll show you.

There they are.  In all their glory.  As you can see, there is a variety of sets represented here.  We have 2010-11 Upper Deck, 2007-08 O-Pee-Chee, 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee, and 2008-09 Ultra.  There are also a couple of surprises in here too.  I will get to those in a second. 

Starting with the 2010-11 Upper Deck, there were 42 (Dick Hoak) cards.  I needed 43 (Troy Polamalu) to complete my base set.  I now only need card number 105, which if you believe the checklist, should be Andrew Burnette.  If any of you readers out there have this little bugger floating around, let me know.  Series II should be out before we know it and there will be another 250 cards to hunt down.

Next we have 2008-09 Ultra.  There were 14 (Todd Blackledge) cards from this set in there.  My needs consisted of 22 (Duce Staley), thus...8 (Tommy Maddox) cards remain.  I have actually considered picking up another blaster of these since they are prevalent in most retail stores around my neck of the woods at the discounted status of $12.  Although, $12 for a small box of mostly doubles, triples, and quadruples may be the wrong way to go about this. 

My needs for 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee are a bit more daunting.  I was 86 (Hines Ward) cards short when I woke up this morning.  I am now only 83 (Heath Miller) cards shy.  Colton Orr, Brian Gionta, and John-Michael Liles have now joined the biggest set of every card collecting year.

80 (Jack Butler) cards is what I was down to for the 2007-08 O-Pee-Chee set.  Again, these are huge sets with 600 cards in the base set (plus another 200 in the update sets).  Nick was kind enough to send me half of them.  HALF!!! 40 (Myron Bell) cards total put a 50% dent in my set.  That's awesome!!

And last but not least, a couple of surprises that I wasn't expecting.

If you can't see, those would be the 2010 Topps Chrome versions of Troy Polamalu and rookie Emmanuel Sanders.  Everyone knows Polamalu is a stud but Sanders has proven himself worthy of a spot on the team as the #4 receiver.  Limas who?

Thanks, Nick for all the cards, the set help, and the Steelers.  I appreciate it a bunch and there will be something in it for you, don't worry.

Did anyone notice all the little weird things after a bunch of numbers in this post?  It seemed like every time I typed a one or two digit number, a name popped up.  Must be some new feature on blogger.  Weird.

Go Steelers!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Video Box Break - - 2010-11 Black Diamond Hockey (X2)

I decided that since these cards look awful as scans, I would try my hand at another video box break.  The video captures the card design a whole lot better.  Although, I would watch with the sound turned off because I suck at doing these things. No, really. Shut off the sound because I am awful. I can't even pronounce peoples names correctly.

Here we go...

I've got duplicates of the following if anyone is interested in trading:

2(x2), 4, 6, 7(x2), 10, 15, 16(x2), 20, 23, 26, 31, 34(x2), 39, 43, 47, 48, 60, 62(x2), 68, 71, 76, 79(x2), 81, 82, 83, 84, 87(x2)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What To Do About Redemptions?

I'm generally not a big complainer when it comes to taking a stand against the card companies.  Sure, I have voiced my disdain for Panini on quite a few occasions but overall, I have never really been one to go out of my way to contact the companies and issue ultimatums and such (except with Panini).  I guess I have been one of the lucky ones for most of my collecting existence.  I have never been shorted a major hit in a box (except by Panini who conveniently explained it away).  I have never had any major damage done to a card in a box (minor ones yes but I didn't care).  I have also never been duped when it came to a redemption...until now I think.

Topps sent me multiple emails between yesterday and today saying that they were "behind" in processing my requests.  Requests for what?  I had forgotten what I sent in for.  It turns out, these are for the Rookie of the Week cards that were randomly given out to patrons of LCS's who purchased Topps product during the NFL regular season.  I had 5 weeks worth of redemptions sent in that I completely spaced it on until now.   Here is a sample of what they sent:
Dear Consumer.

This email is to inform you that the Topps Company is currently beyond the 15 week processing time allocated for the following redemption card:

PIN #:                         Product:                    Card/Player Name
XRRCBGB4NW        Topps                        Topps Football Gridiron Giveaway Week #1

Our staff is working diligently to process and ship your redemption card as soon as possible. Please continue to check your Online Redemption account for updates regarding the status of your card.

If you no longer wish to wait for the redemption card, please contact our Consumer Relations team in order to place a substitution request for a card of equal Beckett value.

Do not hesitate to contact our Consumer Relations department via phone at 1-800-489-9149 or via email at for assistance. A consumer relations representative will be available to assist you Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30 pm (ET).


Consumer Relations
The Topps Company, Inc.
So since I guess I am a noob when it comes to the "bait and switch" merry-go-round that until now, I had only read about, does anyone have some advice out there in the blogosphere?  Has Topps come through before or should I go with what is behind door number 2?  Is there even a remote chance that after 15+ weeks, they will honor these cards?  Are they serious about the Beckett value comment?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Box Break of the 2011 - - 1995-96 Select Certified Hobby

Last year I had about a dozen or so box breaks that I posted.  Most of them were all 2009-10 hockey with a few football thrown in.  Although I didn't post everything I busted, because so many other bloggers did a much better job at it, I decided this year to try and post everything that I open.  This is not necessarily because I want to boast or brag about what I have picked up but more for my own records to look back on.  I never remember what I get out of busting packs or what I pick up through buying or trading.  So this should help clear it up.

For my first break, I'm going old school.  I picked up a hobby box of 1995-96 Select Certified Hockey.  Where on Earth did I find this?  Believe it or not, Meijer.  If you don't have a Meijer in your area and aren't familiar with it, it's kind of an in between of a Wal-Mart and Target.  Cleaner and more organized than Wal-Mart but not as tight of a layout as Target.  Regardless, the fact that a hobby box of anything could be picked up from a retail store was weird in of itself.  So of course, I had to have it.

The box breakdown goes something like this:  20 Packs/Box, 6 Cards/Pack.  The set features something that back then, Pinnacle labeled the "4 Tier Chase Program.  Now, you have to keep in mind that this was the mid 90s.  This was before Game Used, before wide-spread autographs, and before every single card had to have 12 version with serial numbers.  This set featured the following:  Mirror Gold cards at 1:5 packs, Certified Future rookie cards at 1:19 packs, Double Strike cards at 1:32 packs, Certified Gold Team at 1:41 packs, and Double Strike Case Chase cards at 1:3 1/2 boxes.

The base cards feature some of the first cards to have the removable plastic coating.  Remember the debate that erupted after these cards hit the market?  To peel, or not to peel.  That was the question.  I will admit that I peeled many of these for the simple fact that they look phenomenal with the silver mirror finish.  However, as years went by, it seemed the only way they held value was by leaving the peel on.  Whether you peeled or not, there was no denying that these cards were very slick looking and featured some great photography.  Of course, much of this is lost in scan-slation (yeah I made that word up).  As we all know, shiny doesn't scan well. Here is one of my favorites, of course.

I ended up 31 cards short of the 144 base set.  I also ended up with three (3) doubles which was weird that their were only 3.

The Mirror Gold cards feature the same design as the base cards with one exception.  The front of the cards feature a gold mirror finish instead of the silver.  Also on the back in the stat line, the words MIRROR GOLD are stamped over the numbers.   I pulled 5 Mirror Gold cards out of the box which is 1 more than the production run suggests.

Pavel Bure

Mathieu Schneider

Kyle McLaren

Geoff Sanderson

Alex Kovalev
The Certified Future cards look like the Mirror Gold cards but have Certified Future stamped on the right hand side, reading up from the bottom. This was by far not the greatest pull for this insert set but at one per box, that's the chance you get.  I could have pulled Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya, or Saku Koivu.  But instead there was this.

Todd Harvey

9th pick in the first round by Dallas in 1993, played for 4 different teams and was out of the NHL by 2006.  Todd is best known as the captain of the Canadian World Junior team prior to being drafted.  He had lots of offensive potential but had too many injuries to ever become a major player on a top line.  He was a pretty good agitator on a checking line though.

The last card that I pulled was one of the Double Strike cards.  I have lots of Select Certified cards in my collection but I had none of these until now.  The card features a silver metallic border that looks like a riveted plate.  The background features the same image that is on the box logo.  The player head is framed out in the center with a ribbon across with the set name on it.  I actually really like these.  They look kind of cool and would probably look great in an album.  Their are 20 of these in all and they feature many of the stars of that time including, Ron Francis, Ray Bourque, Jeremy Roenick, and of course this guy.

I didn't pull any Certified Gold Team cards or any of the Double Strike Case Chase cards.  I wasn't expecting to either so there was no disappointment there.  If you are a fan of mirror foil, this is a great set.  I still haven't decided whether I was going to peel it or not.  Maybe I will just let it be for now.  Oh, I almost forgot.  There were "one of seven free checklist cards in each pack".  It really does say that on the pack.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cross promotion

I know I said I would keep all Garage business over there but I just wanted to take two seconds and let any basketball card fans out there know that I have a bunch of BBall cards for auction mostly starting at $.99.  I had to consult another collector who does basketball because I am clueless...hence the reason I started dumping these first.

If you are interested, check it out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! How 'bout some hockey on a football field?

The Winter Classic.  Love it or hate it, I don't think it is going away anytime soon.  I was pretty pumped yesterday after hearing about the delay to "primetime" for the game start.  It meant 1-2 more bowl games that I could pretend to care about and watch.  Plus, something about playing at night is just more appealing.

This year's Classic, as everyone knows, is in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.  We have the two teams that have had their share of streakiness this year in the Penguins and Capitals.  While the Pens went on a rampage for a while in November and December, the Caps had been struggling (quite publicly for anyone that watches HBO's 24/7...which is AWESOME by the way).  Both streaks have ended and here we are.  January 1, 2011.  This could be a preview of the playoffs or a changing of the guard game.  It's only regular season and it's only worth 2 points but this is somewhat of a statement game.  Both teams are in a position to hit a stride at this point in the season and this could be the boost that both teams need.  But I digress.

So I thought I would do a review by period of what we now know.

1st Period.

1.  Both teams don't like each other.  I'm not even real sure they respect each other.
2.  Ovechkin is afraid of no one.  Beast.  I hate him.
3.  Fleury makes some sick saves.  He holds that crease better than I have ever seen him.
4.  The Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry is akin to John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, or Muhammed Ali and Joe Frasier.
5.  I had bets with my brother on which Pen would take the first fight.  We both lost.  It was Mike Rupp.
6.  According to Mike Milbury, goalies are pointless.  They serve no purpose I believe were his words.
7.  I didn't think the crowd would be that loud, boy was I wrong.
8.  The Pittsburgh Airport has way too lenient rules on incoming flights from Washington.  That's a ton of red out there.
9.  This could come down to another shootout.


2nd Period

1.  Ice Skates are not like Roller Skates.  They don't have breaks.  Tell Brooks Laich.
2.  This game is fast.  I'm not sure if this is because of the wet ice or what but these guys are playing fast.
3.  Fleury better get an assist on the Malkin goal.  That pass was incredible.
4.  I can't believe they counted that goal by Washington.  I thought for sure Fleury's stick was interfered with.
5.  If these guys don't slow this game down and stop hitting so much, someone is gonna die.
6.  I thought it wasn't going to rain anymore tonight in Pittsburgh.
7.  Fleury is lucky Brooks Orpik was in the right place at the right time.  Maybe he has snapped out of his zone from the first period.
8.  Now I take it all back.  Fleury is an idiot.
9.  Is it just me or do these camera angles suck?  I can't be the only one here.  Also, hockey pucks don't have breaks.  Tell Tyler Kennedy's face.
10.  Hooray!  2-2...oh, wait.  Rupp cheated again.  Nevermind.
11.  Crosby got his head taken off in an open ice hit.  No call.  No acknowledgment.  Nothing.
12.  I can't believe they tried to rip off the Blackhawks puck shooting thing they do during intermission.  Bettis has a nice wrist shot but sucks at throwing a football.  Go figure.


3rd Period

1.  Well apparently we (ie. Americans) are finally getting a National Hockey Day.  February 20th or something like that.  It is supposed to feature a day filled with rivalry games of US based teams.  That should be interesting.  I wonder how they will promote it going forward?  Of course it's sponsored by McDonald's so I'm sure it will be something stupid.
2. The Geico commercial with the caveman and the announcers...lame.  Enough with the caveman already.  The Gecko I get but the caveman needs to just go away.
3.  Did I mention I don't like Fleury?
4.  These teams really, really, really don't like each other.  6 tenths of a second left and a fight breaks out. 
5.  No matter how much they skated on this ice in the third period, it still looked like it was freshly Zamboni'd.
6.  Doc Emerick's brain moves faster than his mouth sometimes.
7.  The NHL will definitely rethink where they are going to put next years Classic.  The weather here played too much of a roll.
8.  Did I mention I don't like Fleury?

Final score...Washington 3, Pittsburgh 1.  Game Over.  Good Night.