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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Still Here

Sorry if there hasn't been new content on here for a while.  I am still here and alive and doing what I do.  It has just been hard to come up with anything substantial to write about lately.  Call it writer's block (although I would have to be a writer I think), call it laziness, call it just a general malaise. 

Just to get you caught up...I have many new acquisitions to my player PCs that I could share but I think people are sick of seeing those "brag" posts.  I have a few reviews I could do of some recent stuff I picked up but once I generally bust something, if I don't immediately write about it, I forget.  To give you an example, I cleaned my desk and found a whole slue of stuff I forgot I had, including a 1/1 Printing Plate of Eric Tangradi.  I could I not remember that (see general malaise)

There is a big Chicago show coming up next weekend which I was excited about over a month ago but now, not so much.  2012-13 Upper Deck Series I is out and I planned on picking some up at that show but I don't know if I will be going this time due to some personal "stuff" that's been going down.  It's still up in the air but right now if I had to say so, it's going to be a negative.

But ultimately, this attitude and negativity toward the hobby I love has got to stem from one thing....


Don't worry.  I'll snap out of it.  I always do.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

PC Pickups From The Local Show

A week or so ago was the latest installment of the community garage sale at one of the nearby town's Community Center.  The unique thing about this show is that about 3/4 of the floor is made up of all the sellers of everything from antique toys, to records and tapes (even 8-tracks), to sheets, towels, and other strange oddities.  The other 1/4 of the floor is comprised of non other than sports cards and memorabilia. 

The show is put on by a local card show promoter out of the Chicagoland area and it comes through here about 4-5 times a year.  The fun part about the show is the interesting mix of dealer tables.  For anyone that has been to a show ever in their lives, you have essentially 5 "stereotypical" cardboard pushers at every show including:
  • The "overproduction era" guy has his table full of 88 Topps and 91 Score cards with price tags from a 1994 Tuff Stuff magazine.  $2.00 for the "Bo Breakers" card?  Really?
  • The "NASCAR" guy with everything from cards, hats, and event-worn jackets to the hood from Dale Jr.'s car.  You know the guy...most of his table is taken up by die-cast cars, secured snugly in their packages and there is usually a blue and white Igloo swivel-top cooler filled with Busch Light and Mountain Dew behind the tables.  The weekend before he was here.
  • The "hit" guys where there is nothing but jersey/auto cards, super sick "MOJO" hits, and short prints galore, all of which have higher than Beckett HI price tags.  They also have "the case" where you find the greatest anomaly in all of sports cards...the "HOT PACKS".  They had one of these too.  Not this exact one but their's was numbered 4 or 5, I forget.
  • The "common" box guy who usually has a nice mix of 1960s-1980s 3500 ct boxes jammed to the gills.  Good luck getting to his table to take a gander.  You might get a lucky break if you can throw a Twinkie down the aisle.  One of the on lookers is bound to take the bait, freeing up a spot.  What a sight that would be.
  • The "look-up" guy who has nothing priced, nothing labeled, and doesn't really want to talk to you other than to tell you that everything on the table is a "real nice card".  Try your best to buy something and you may have to wait 15 minutes while he looks each item up in the price guide only to then spend 12 more minutes trying to calculate his profit/loss ratio after he reluctantly lets you have the card for 2X HI book value.
Our show here didn't disappoint either.  Considering I generally move past all of the above dealers, I was able to find a few tables with some stuff I could use.  Since I don't want to single anyone out in particular for being either a bad seller or a good seller, I'll just cut to the chase and show you what I picked up for my PC.

The first group all came from the same seller.  It was an older couple with some monster boxes filled with older baseball, some older football, and quite a bit of older hockey.  I didn't bite on any of the hockey stuff because most was very banged up despite having a bunch of stars.  What I did find came from......wait for it......A FIFTY CENT BOX!!!

1972 Topps Pirates Team Card #1
The Wold least I can say this happened in my lifetime...of course not in the year here but the late 70s.  I can all but guarantee it won't happen again while I am still alive and possibly the lives of both my children.  Maybe grandkids?

I also found a plethora of Pops...

  A 1976 and 1967 Topps

  A 1968 and 1972 Topps

 1972 and 1974 3-D Super Stars cards

 And finally, a 1979 Topps.  I already have a couple of these but for $.50, what's one more?

And a few from Dave Parker...

Total cost...$6.00.  I know, it adds up to only $5.50 at $.50 a piece but I hate change so I told her to keep it.  She told me to consider it a down payment for next time.  Fair enough. 

The next guy was an older gentleman from a nearby town that had a hodgepodge of miscellaneous stuff.  There was really no rhyme or reason to his set up at all.  Most product was mixed together and other than the few better singles carefully laid out on the table, he had a bunch of 800 count boxes randomly placed with $.10 each penciled on the lids.  For $.10, I took a look and found a few for the Pirate PC.


And a couple more for my Topps Baseball set.  He had a ton of inserts from this years' Topps but out of all of them, I only needed these.

And I can't forget the one hockey card I found in there.  It was this 1994-95 Leaf Limited Gold Pavel Bure.  I actually didn't really know these existed because this was from a 10 card insert set that fell about 1 every 48 packs.  Keep in mind that was in 1994 so it was fairly hard to pull (fairly, considering it was in the heat of the overproduction era).  I never bought any of this back then because I had no money of my own in 1994 and wasn't really collecting then.  Most of what I have from this set are all the base cards and I have only picked those up after the fact.  They are serial numbered out of /2500.

Finally, I picked up three beasts for my PC from my favorite couple from the western Chicago suburbs.  This husband and wife team deals in about 80% hockey and they usually have some really nice stuff.  Plus, they are fun to talk to and are more than reasonable on their pricing.  Most stuff is under case but they are always more than happy to open them up, let you touch, and work out deals.

I've bought some neat stuff from them before and showed them on here, although I couldn't find the posts to link.  This time around, here's what I was able to walk away with...

 It's a little blurry on the scan because it is imprisoned in a screw down case.  But, this is a 2005/06 SPx Winning Combos Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr Memorabilia card numbered out of #/99.  The only thing better would have been Jags on the Pens.  But either way, I'll take it.

Double your pleasure on this one...I picked up two Marc-Andre Fleury Rookie cards.  The scan dust really ticks me off because these are beautiful cards in person.  They are from the 2003-04 Pacific Invincible set.  The one on the left is the Red Parallel version numbered out of #/850.  The one on the right is the base rookie.  These were short printed in the main collation of the product and usually only fell about 1-2 per box.  The base rookies are supposedly serial numbered out of #/799 but mine isn't marked.  Since I have no others from this set to compare it to, I'm going to presume this may be the retail version which might not be numbered.  Either way, both are huge adds to my Penguin PC.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My "Outrage" Over the OPC SPs Has Subsided

I build the O-Pee-Chee set every year.  I have yet to complete one, but I put forth an effort to do so.  This year is no different regardless of whether there is no product on the ice to coincide with my cardboard fixation.  Upper Deck did a few interesting things in this years set which I have posted about before including:  stickers, pop-ups, retro parallels, rainbow foil parallels, black foil parallels, etc.  There were even black & white cards that remind me of the baseball "deckle edge" equivalent, inserted at a rate of one in a million (slight exaggeration but not much).

Well in my travels of busting OPC (which included 2 hobby boxes and a couple blasters) I came across what I thought was this little nightmare...

I didn't post about it before in my mass OPC postings a couple weeks ago because I really didn't know what it was and didn't really care.  Frankly, I was kind of disappointed that these were included in there because I wasn't a big fan of the manufactured patches that Topps has been doing for the last few years in baseball and football.  A few of them were cool and well designed but most were just filler in my mind.  Why should Upper Deck jump on that bandwagon and desecrate one of my favorite hockey products with manufactured junk?  And JUNK is exactly what I thought it was.  I figured it had to be some kind of per box insert that I just got shorted in the second box.  I really didn't think about it much after that because, as I said, I didn't care.

Well that was until I realized that these things are "HOT"!  The new Beckett came out with their listings and I was shocked.  SHOCKED!!  I don't generally rely on the values in the guide because 90% of them are unrealistic, especially for newer cards.  The market dictates the value and places like Ebay, COMC, the Beckett Marketplace (not the guide), and other retailers are the market.  So why so surprised???

Most of the ones numbered above 50 have pricing in the $50-60 range.  The ones above 90 are pushing $80-135.  Past  95...$100-350!!!  This can't be serious, I said to myself.  Checking the monthly "Hot List" that they publish featuring the supposed best selling secondary market cards, there are two of these listed in the top five.

Apparently these are much harder to pull than I thought.  The Odds are 1:96 overall on a per pack basis.  
  • 1-50 fall 1:125, 
  • 51-62 are 1:852, 
  • 63-73 are 1:1,704, 
  • 74-86 are 1:1,922, 
  • 87-96 are 1:3,748 and 
  • 97-100 fall 1:14,056
This one above is #96 so....1:3,748!!  That, again, is insane, but what about those values?

I just checked Ebay's completed listings for these.  SHOCKED!! AGAIN!

The key card to these seems to be the Vancouver Canucks Cartoon logo.  It is listed in Beckett for $350 and has fetched $383 and $175 respectively (although the later was listed much higher and had a OBO).  They are numbered #100 which considering the odds, I suppose I get it.  The Washington Capitals "9-11" patch managed to pull a cool $160.  The Predators Cartoon logo fetched $120 and the Gretzky Retirement Patch pulled $150.

The one I pulled above...$130.29.

I guess I shouldn't be as upset with these anymore but I still don't like them.  I don't like the design.  I don't like the concept.  I don't have any desire to keep this, either.  So I suppose I should try to strike while the iron is hot and the market isn't flooded with them, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Next Best Thing

Since the current situation in the NHL lockout drama hasn't really changed, my need for some ice related news is at an all time high.  So, like any hockey fan, I turned to the next best thing.  That, my friends, would be my AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had been maintaining some semblance of normalcy with the optional workouts at the team's practice facility for about a month or so.  We all know that Malkin went to the KHL to play (joining former teammate and house-mate Sergei Gonchar) but Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis, Neal, Cooke, Vitale, Lovejoy, and a host of others had been actively participating in team related skates.  That was until the CBA expired a few weeks ago.  While they still skated through the week, they were officially locked out by the following Friday.  Now, many players have scattered to other locations to participate in a variety of "charity" games and other events to maintain season conditioning.

Since the NHL allows teams to waive players with two-way or entry-level contracts, the Pens did so to many of their "younger" guys.  Those not claimed off waivers were immediately eligible to play for WBS.  And that's exactly what they are doing.

My PC player du-jour, Eric Tangradi, was one of those guys that was still on the "baby Pens" active roster at the end of last season.  Because of that, he is afforded the opportunity to start the year in Wilkes-Barre and hopefully get a chance to move up if the season starts soon.  But the interesting thing to me as I watch some video and read the reviews of this years training camp thus far is the depth we have on that roster, especially at defense.

Our players are a virtual who's who of big time defensive prospects and top squad guys that would easily be top two line d-men on any AHL team and there are also many potential NHL starters.  Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, Dylan Reese, Joey Mormina, Simon Despres, Joe Morrow, Brian Dumoulin, Alex Grant, Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson, and Reid McNeill are all going to be battling for only a few spots between the AHL Pens and the ECHL Wheeling Nailers.  These guys are all in for a fight and it will be interesting to see how that shakes out in the coming weeks.

As for Tangradi thus far, he has become a veteran on a team that is stacked with talent.  My hopes are still high for him to make a roster spot on the Pittsburgh team if there is a season this year.  I could see him on a line with Crosby or Malkin easily.  He tallied a goal in this years Black vs. White intrasquad scrimmage last Sunday.  The black team, coached by another of my PC players, former Penguin Bill Guerin beat the white team coached by current Pens coach Dan Bylsma 2-1 in a shootout.  Also, Wednesday night was the opening exhibition game versus the Rochester Americans.  WBS won 4-3 with an empty netter late in the third period.

As a hockey fan, I say no problem (for now).  While the pace of the NHL games can't be matched, the AHL will fill in nicely as the next best thing in it's absence.  I will be following my 'farm' team, WBS, much closer than I usually do at this point forward.  I encourage all hockey fans to go out and support your local clubs too to get your hockey fix.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Trade Post

I got an email a while back from a reader that was interested doing a trade so I obliged.  Why wouldn't I?  This is what the hobby is all about.  Since I haven't done a trade post in quite a while, I figured now was as good a time as any to chalk one up on the board.  So if you are one of the many that hates Trade Posts...change the channel now. 

My new friend Shane offered up some trade fodder that included some Penguins as well as some set need love.  We are always in need of some set building love.  All he asked in return was some reciprocation on the set needs.  Let's do it.

First there were two 2012-13 OPC Retro Penguins.  We have Zbynek Michalek and Pascal Dupuis.  Matt Niskanen was offered up too but I already had one and I'm not greedy.  These put me two steps closer to the team set of retros.  

Next in the mix was another Zbynek Michalek.  This time it was a Pinnacle Rink Collection parallel from last years collection.  The Nufex material doesn't scan very well but this doesn't look too bad.  I thought I had this one too but after I shuffled through a box or two of Pens cards, I realized I must have been mistaken.

Next up was this awesome Crosby Rainbow card from this years OPC set.  I pulled a Crosby shiny a few years ago but now I don't have to for this years set.  I thought about putting together at least the Rainbow foil set of just the Pittsburgh players but I haven't decided for sure yet.  It is tough to track all these down sometimes.

There were also cards for some sets as I had mentioned.  Shane threw in 9 O-Pee-Chee cards from this years set.  He also tossed in 9 2009-10 Artifacts cards that I needed for my base set.  That was pretty much all we had discussed.  He had a couple others in there which I took a pass on and when all was said and done, I sent him 80 or so "commons" from the base 12/13 OPC set.  Based on that, it seemed fair to me. 

But then....


For those not familiar, this is a Marquee Legend Gold Variation Mario Lemieux #G6.  These are available one in every retail Hanger/Box Pack.  The traditional Rack Packs don't have these.  But there is a special box, quite similar to the Topps Baseball/Football Hanger boxes, that contain a cello wrapped pack of cards. Those yield these little beauties!  There are 10 cards in the set and they include the likes of Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Jean Beliveau, Eric Lindros, and Brett Hull.

All I know is, this isn't just some run of the mill parallel card.  Not to me it isn't.  Now I feel like the trade suddenly tipped in my favor.  Since I know Shane is a big Patrick Roy fan, I will have to have something sent his way to even this thing up in the near future.

Thanks a bunch, Shane!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Goodwin Hockey Champions

Because there hasn't been another release yet this year for hockey...that is 2012-13, and mostly because I was bored, I decided to get a couple blasters of 2012 Goodwin Champions with a gift card that has been eating a hole in my wallet.

I'm a sucker for retro themed sets and this one is intermixed with all sorts of players from all the major sports, NASCAR, boxing, golf, Olympic competitors, wrestling, etc.  But I am mainly interested in the hockey players that are intermixed in here.  I have heard there are somewhere between 16-20 different hockey players mixed into the checklist from the 1-231.  There are also a whole host of parallel versions, mini versions, mini parallels, and of course the memorabilia and autos.  I will say this now, I didn't get any memorabilia or autos but I did get some interesting cards.

I got a total of 9 different hockey cards in the box.  First we have the Eric Lindros featuring a baby-faced Lindros from the 1991 Entry Draft where he was picked by the Quebec Nordiques in the infamous decision that they made, despite Lindros' adamant stand against playing in Quebec.  He held out that entire season and basically forced the Nords to dish him to the highest bidder...Philly.  The did end up with Forsberg in the deal and about $15 million, but in hindsight, this was the death knell for hockey in Quebec.   
I didn't find the actual picture this was from but I found a shot from the event.  
See, there he is now with that awesome tie of his.  

Since these are all paintings or caricatures of the players, some of them are a bit rough in comparison to their actual likeness.  Take Mr. Brett Hull here for example.  I'm sorry, but he just looks a little drunk to me in that picture.  On the other hand, there is an excellent painting of Brian Leetch in a suit with a lapel flower at a podium in front of the American Flag.  This was from his induction into the hockey hall of fame. 


And the Luc Robitaille lacing up his skates on the locker room bench is a very good artist rendering of the Hall of Famer.  That one is as "old school" as you get with the wooden bleacher benches with the vents underneath.  Old time hockey for sure.

The next grouping features some interesting subjects.  First, we have Jonathan Huberdeau, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Florida Panthers.  He was named MVP of the 2011 Memorial Cup, leading his QMJHL team, Saint John, to the Championship.  He also led Team Canada to the Gold in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament back in 2010.  Huberdeau has yet to play a shift in the NHL but is surely going to make an impact on a Florida team with a lot of budding talent (I say that with much sarcasm). 

Next we have Captain Crunch himself, Mr. Wendel Clark.  He sports the ever-fashionable bloody eye in this photo.  I found the shot that this probably came from, although he is in a different pose in the painting.  All-in-all it is a pretty good wendering...get it, wendel, render. 


The next card I had no idea who it was at first.  I actually thought it was Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite (without the mustache).  Then I thought, "Why would Uncle Rico be in this set as "Uncle Rico" instead of as himself, the actor Jon Gries?".  To which my response was, "Why would Jon Gries be in this set?".  And then I though, "And where is his mustache?".  It was then that I read the heading and saw it was Mike Bossy, the Islanders Hall of Famer.  Now it makes sense.  That guy has four Cups.  FOUR!

Not this guy.  Mike Bossy.

Finally, we have the NHL discipline czar, Brendan Shanahan.  I'm going out on a limb here to say this one was taken after winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit.  He has the sweater already torn off and his pads showing.  He is sporting the playoff goatee.  And he is saying that he is number one.  On second thought, maybe it is the Dictator.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Check It

Panini has once again resurrected a dead insert set.  This years 2012-13 Score release has reintroduced to the world to the Check-It set.  This punishment themed set coincides well with the NHL's new policies that crack down hard on the very existence of what this set glorifies.

Fine by me.  Checking is a vital part of the game and a well executed one can be the most exciting moment of any game.  They can change the momentum.  They can get a crowd into a game.  They can make a statement.

Back in 1995-96, Score made their statement, unleashing this set onto the world.  Let's take a look.


Then again in 1997-98, Score's Pinnacle release, their "high end" at the time, brought back the set for a second time.  As many of the Pinnacle release inserts, they went all out in their presentation with a holofoil printing (I don't think it was dufex because that wasn't invented yet...I could be wrong).

Fast forward fifteen years to 2012-13 Score and we have it again.  These are the only two I have.

I like these sets, I like the subject material, but I don't like the photos.  Why?  How many of these cards actually show a check being dished out?  I count 4.  The rest of these are events either before, after, or some kind of awkward positioning.

A few of the highlights here...

Chris Pronger gets the honor of being here twice (only because I had them handy).  The first one features him cross-checking Troy Loney into the boards.  The second one has him holding down a NJ Devil player (although I don't know who that is)...NOT CHECKING.  Jagr is shown digging a puck out, more than likely by the boards..NOT CHECKING.  Brind'Amour is in the middle of a spin move in his synchronized skating event with his partner...NOT CHECKING.  Dino Ciccerelli is mugging a Ranger with a half-nelson, sleeper hold move...I'll give them that one.  Derian Hatcher is about to give a slough foot to Paul Kariya...NOT CHECKING, YET.  Owen Nolan is doing something, I'm not sure what, but it isn't CHECKING.  It looks kind of like he just avoided being checked.  Maybe a better name for this set could be Awkward Positioning, or Penalty Potential.

Any thoughts? 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Franchise

Panini brought back another set in this years Score Hockey called The Franchise.  I don't remember these ever being in the hockey release at this level.  The Franchise subset had always been comprised of mostly all-star players and the main stars from each team.  This years set does have more of the same.  But Panini added a retro-themed Franchise set very similar to the design I remember from back in 1992.  The only difference was, that set was in baseball.  Here they are now...

 There was also an autographed version of these as well as a triple panel card with 3 autos.  But I'm not talking about baseball here.  Let's take a look at this years set.

These are the regular Franchise cards.  They are all horizontal oriented with a large team logo about the size of a POG (remember those?) and an action shot of the player.  Honestly for me these are not very appealing, kind of a bland design, and for the most part...boring.

But the retro-themed Franchise are a different story. 

This set is a 6 card set (they are all here) that was originally thought to only be in retail boxes but I pulled all of these out of hobby boxes.  There are also two checklists that are a much harder pull.  Each of those features three of the players together. There are redemption autographs on each of these that are numbered out of #/10 and are practically impossible to find.  I haven't seen any on the Bay yet but I'm sure they are out there and will fetch a hefty tag.

I think it's interesting that the Bobby Hull that I pulled isn't the same as the original preview release.  I wonder if the preview card is the autographed one?  Who knows?