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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Shipping Quandary

I have shipped many a package to the four corners of the Earth.  But one country that I can never figure out is CANADA. 

What is the deal up there?  How is it that I can ship things up there and they get to their destination within 10 days while other items take over a month?  The same goes for receiving items.  I guess I have had record luck lately with Canadian packages arriving within 5-7 days from when they were shipped.  I think I received at least 8 different packages within the last 30 days all in a short amount of time from the moment they were marked shipped.

But yet, I now have Canadian Ebay sellers advertising $2-3 shipping in their auctions but then demanding $18-24 for shipping/handling/insurance/tracking blah blah blah, if auctions are over $50.  The claim is that it is now required.  Required?  By who?  The Post Office?  Postes Canada?  Certainly not by me.  I haven't read Ebay's policy on shipping with a fine tooth comb either, so maybe it's in there.  Sometimes I don't mind paying extra as long as I know I'm getting the product quicker.  But the worst part of this whole thing is taking 25 days + to get the items here.  25 DAYS OR MORE!!!  I just don't get it. 

Would anyone out there like to help me quell this deep feeling of anger and frustration?  Maybe some of our Canadian friends?  Anyone at all.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another bulk card acquisition

The things in this picture may look familiar to ONE of you out there but to the rest, let me try to explain in the best way I know how...a long, drawn-out, brain drain of a blog post.

I have been on a strange kick these past couple years with my collecting.  I have had my ups and downs just like everyone out there but a couple years ago (or a year, I don't even remember anymore) I fell off my somewhat disciplined collecting wagon and bought a big collection.  It was what was left of two former dealers that had overextended themselves in the late 90s and early 2000s and simply couldn't hang on anymore.  Of course, they were both from Denver so I can't really say how much Broncos and Rockies stuff is in there (but it is A LOT!!!) but nonetheless, it increased my collection 20 fold.  I even attempted to start a blog just about that collection.  That part hasn't come to fruition.  Neither has the goal of unloading it within a year.

About 8 months ago, I picked up another, lesser collection from a guy trying to make some cash during a stint with unemployment.  I made him a decent offer and ended up on the receiving end of another (14) 3500 count boxes of stuff.  There is a ton of basketball stuff in these boxes from what I can tell.  Very few hockey cards, some football, and a decent amount of baseball; but TONS of basketball.  Since I don't follow the NBA, nor collect basketball cards, and basically lost interest after my "heroes" Barkley, Malone, Jordan, and Bird retired, I really have been unmotivated to sort through these.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago, same scenario (unemployment thing) only this time it was for a large, three-row shoebox (are they still called that?) full of hockey memorabilia and autograph cards (I take that back, all but one...there was a Mark Sanchez Rookie Jersey in there too).  Finally...HOCKEY STUFF!!  Again, this is all cardboard I didn't need but what fun it was to sort through? I found some rare Guerin and Jagr GU cards in there as well as some interesting cards from sets I never even knew existed.

April...I think...came another collection.  This time it was another dealer collection from a guy who only did shows and weekend swap meets.  A few years ago he decided to call it quits and started to dump everything.  That was, of course, in a bad financial time for lots of collectors and he couldn't get what he wanted for it.  So he hung on for a while until now when he found a buyer.  Then somehow I ended up with it through a third party transaction and the guy still didn't get what he wanted for it.  This collection is much more sorted and organized than the previous ones but there are also 20 Home Depot cardboard moving boxes (you know the 20x20x18 ones?) full of various sizes of individual count boxes...all marked, numbered, and apparently sorted.  I haven't even begun to pick this one apart yet.

Which brings me to the photo above (I might even be forgetting something in here too).  As many of you know, Voice Of The Collector, and co-host of the internet based Cardboard Connection Radio, Rob Bertrand put out an appeal to the blogging community not so long ago to help him cut his collection down so he could refocus on what he really wanted to go after.  I, being the "high roller" that I now appear to be, piped up on the hockey cards, we worked out a deal, and now I am the proud owner of what you see above.

We have a complete base set of 2005-06 Upper Deck Hockey, featuring a large array of inserts (over 100 in fact) and game used cards, as well as a huge chunk of the Young Guns intact (no, Crosby and Ovechkin aren't there but I still went for it).  I had this on my set needs list but never actually got around to adding what I wanted.  Now, my work is definitely been diminished.

We have a mostly complete 2006-07 Upper Deck Hockey set (about 30 cards or less short), again complete with a large array of inserts (over 30) and game used cards with a big pile of Young Guns to go with them.  I'm not sure I have the missing ones since I don't have a ton of 2006-07 stuff but I'm sure I have a few.

There is also a 2004-05 SP Authentic Hockey base set with a few of the All-Worlds thrown in.  I didn't have any cards from this set at all before getting these.  In fact, I had never even seen them before.  2004-05 was one of those voided years in collector's heads because of the lockout.  There were only a handful of sets produced by ITG, Upper Deck, and Pacific at the time.  I wouldn't mind finding some of those Young Guns Legends SPs from the flagship Upper Deck set though.

And finally, we have an almost complete base 2010-11 SP Authentic base set with, (even though I already knew, I'm just now realizing) a bunch of the Essentials SPs, a couple Future Watch cards and some HoloFX cards.  I have this set completed less 2 cards, already.  But having another one isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I may even have the missing cards in my doubles since I bought a couple of boxes of these last year trying to get those last 2 cards. 

Basically, this gives me at least two more Upper Deck flagship sets to add to my set needs list as well as a ton of inserts and GU cards that I may or may not hang on to.  Another cool thing is that apparently Rob is just like me when it comes to storing sets, in that he cuts up the box labels and affixes them to the boxes.  I bet 40% of hockey collectors do the same thing.  We should do a poll.

It is all great stuff and I am glad I now have it in my collection.  Thanks again to Rob over at VOTC!!  I really appreciate the opportunity to take this off your hands and help you toward your next collecting goal.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Box Break - - 2007-08 Fleer Hot Prospects Blaster Box

Retail is a crap shoot when looking for "hits".  You luck out once in a while but almost always walk away feeling like you missed something.  That can also be reinforced by a poorly collated pack out for a product or simply a 1:3000 chance at hitting anything.

(sorry for the blurry picture.  you get the idea though)

Such was life back in 2007-08 when Upper Deck released the Fleer Hot Prospects set.  These came 4 cards per pack with 11 packs in a blaster box (44 cards).  Sure a hobby box would net you a couple game used cards but good luck finding one of these anywhere now.  And good luck finding them priced at the $7.49 that this blaster was.  Yes, that's $7 and $.49 American.

I completed this base set long ago but have always tried to get my hands on some of the Hot Commodities cards, both the Red Hot (#/100) and White Hot (#/10).  There are also regular issue Hot Commodities (#/999), as well as Rookie Auto Patches both regular and SP and Hot Materials cards.  I have never pulled a GU, Patch, Rookie, or White Hot card from a pack.  In fact, of all of this that I opened in my lifetime (and trust me when I say it was a lot!!!) I have only pulled 3 Hot Commodities cards and 1 Red Hot Commodities.  That's how tough these parallels and inserts were.

As I mentioned, the packs contain 4 cards in the retail version.  Most packs had a "decoy" in them back when they were released but you tend to find these in those "discounted" re-pack boxes now, mostly without the "decoy" cards.  As you can see by the photo to the left, the packs look just like the boxes.  They also tell you to "Find Autographed Rookie Patch Cards".  Oh yeah?  How about you find one and give it to me?  As far as I'm concerned, there were never any in here.

When I checked my box break list, I didn't see this one on here so I figured I'd at least add it to my archive and share with everyone.  So here is what I was able to manage pulling from this $.17/card box.

Base Cards:  42 (with 2 doubles)

Here is a sampling of what the base cards look like.  Nothing real fancy here.  Just an ice themed border with coloring to match the team.  I can't believe I pulled two doubles out of the same box but then I remembered how poorly collated this product was back then.

I don't usually scan card backs but figured why not this time.  The backs repeat the photo from the front only washed out in the predominant team color.  There is a quick blurb about the player and, from what I can tell, a maximum of 5 years of career statistics.  It cuts short 11 years for the two gentlemen featured here.  The players number is also sort of watermarked behind the stats.

Inserts:  0

Well technically that's because there aren't any.  The rookie cards and Hot Commodities are all high numbers in the base set.  I didn't pull any of those, nor did I figure I would.

Game Used:  1

A Game Used card in a retail blaster pack of Hot Prospects???  I'm just as shocked as all of you.  But there it is in all it's glory.  These are numbered #/100 and interestingly enough, this one is number #1 (hey, I could sell this as an "Ebay 1/1"!!!  I know, I know.  I shouldn't even joke about that.)  Unfortunately it's Mr. Tuomo Ruutu and it is a plain black swatch.  You would think that serial numbered #1 cards would have some kind of multi-color or something nice in there for being first.  They would if I was in charge.

Autos:  0

No shock there.

Rookies:  0

Again, no shock.

So overall, I beat the odds on this one for sure.  I just wish I would have pulled a better GU.  I can't knock the fact that it was out of #/100 though.  The base cards I pulled are all doubles/triples/quadruples or more in some cases so if you know you might need any, by all means let me know and I can try to help you out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some new Penguin PC Additions

I seem to always be busy checking the auction sites when I am in card mode.  I don't know why because I already have more than I know what to do with but I guess that's just the collector in me (or the hoarder).  I have even loaded the app on the phone so I know when any of my player PC guys get new cards.  Ain't technology grand?

I just wanted to take a quick minute and share a few for my Penguins PC that I have picked up recently.  Enjoy...unless you are a Flyers fan.  Then you can go !@#$%%^&

2008-09 Trilogy James Neal Rookie Premiers #/999 -  I think this one goes without explanation.  Neal had his best year ever as a Penguin this season and there is nothing but upside.  Plus, his rookie cards can be had for mere pennies on the dollar.

2011-12 SPx Winning Combos Dual Jersey Mario Lemieux/Sidney Crosby - Another awesome addition to the PC.  Not only is it a Penguin addition but also an add to my Mario Lemieux player collection.  I paid probably a little more than I should have for this one but I couldn't resist.  Especially since these pieces "supposedly" came from 2005-06, Crosby's first year and Mario's last.

2001-12 Crown Royale Rookie Autograph Joe Vitale - I thought I had a Vitale auto already but I guess not.  Now I do.  This one was obtained out of a box (yes I picked up another box).  I was stoked when I saw it since pulling a Pens "hit" is rare in my case (at least this year so far, as in 2011-12 stuff).  Vitale has already shown he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the league for years to come.  As long as he can stay injury free, I think he will have a spot on the Pens roster for some time.  At the very least, he will be here another 2 years for $1.1 million.

 (2) Nick Johnson cards

2010-11 SP Authentic Future Watch Auto #/999 & 2010-11 O-Pee-Chee Marquee Rookie  - The auto was one that I was actually looking for for a while.  I don't know why but I just wanted it.  The other I already had in the set but this is the single for my PC.  Unfortunately, Nick was picked off waivers by the Wild at the beginning of this season so he is no longer a Pen. 

And finally...

2010-11 Upper Deck Exclusives Young Guns Eric Tangradi -  Another crossover as a Penguin PC card and a Tangradi player PC card.  This is the Young Guns Exclusive numbered #/100.  I had a shot at this one numerous times but finally landed it a few weeks ago.  I'd like to get my hands on a 26/100 one.  Why, just because.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Box Break - - 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Hobby Box

Yes, you have all seen these before.  I've even done a box break on here of one, blaster box that is.  I am still quite a few cards away from the complete set for 2009-10 so I thought another hobby box might help.  Plus, this stuff is getting dirt cheap now that we are a few years into the future.

I don't want to waste everyone's time with a long, drawn-out detailed write up since you can find them all over the place.  I will just take a few moments and highlight what came from this box.  Lot's of pictures to follow...

A hobby box is jam packed with cards.  There are 36 packs with 6 cards per pack.  Thats 216 cards for the math illiterate.  216 is a lot for a hobby box but you have to remember that this set is 600 cards with a dozen or so insert sets, plus parallels, and variation parallels.  So in the grand scheme of things, 216 isn't really that many cards.

Here is what I pulled:

Base Cards:   127

 Look!!  Brodeur is Tebowing years before it was popular.  So should it be really called Brodeuring?

Inserts:   19

9   Canadian Heroes; Kellar, Ouellette, Phillips, Sostorics, Ward, St-Pierre, St. Louis, Roy, Szabados

    3   Team Checklists; Blackhawks (Toews), Islanders (Streit), Blue Jackets (Nash)
    2   League Leaders; Carcillo (PIM), Thomas (GAA)

    1     In Action; Dany Heatley
    1   Trophy Winner; Ovechkin (Richard)

    1   Record Breaker; Iginla (Flames PT. Leader)
    1   All Star; Marian Hossa

    1   Canadian Heroes Foil; Mike Richards

    Rookie Cards:  9
    Galiardi, Weber, Quick, Caputi, Niemi, Vernace, Chorney, Van Der Gulik, Rechlicz

                                                                      Ohhh, look!!  I have a puck!

    Legends Cards:   9 
    Esposito, Kurri, Bouchard, Howell, O'Reilly, Bowman, Lindsay, Bucyk, Mikita

    Game Used:    1 
    Florida Panthers Team (Vokoun, Horton, Booth, Weiss; 5 colors)

     These are 1:144 packs

    Base Parallels:   

     You can't really tell but these are foil.  Lots of foil.

    Rookie/Legend Parallels:    1   Phil Oreskovic (Who? I'm not scanning this...)

    Retro Parallels:    36

    Retro Parallel Variations:    3
    Nikolai Zherdev, Jordin Tootoo, Justin Pogge

    More foil, please.

    Add 'em up and you get...3 cards short.  Hmmmm.  I bet this is one of those "Packs with a GU card are shorted, yada, yada, yada...".  It's ok.  I'm not hating over 3 cards.

    If you can get past the busy design and all the holo-foil on the inserts, this is a nice set, in my opinion.  I know there are a lot of you out there that don't like it for one reason or another.  Mostly, the gripe I hear is that the picture is overtaken by the framing.  That is true to some extent but not in the extreme way that this years set (2011-12) is.

    I think these are a great value now that we are under $40 per box, and under $30 in many cases.  If you are a set builder and are looking for a challenge, Upper Deck will meet that demand every year with, that sounded like an advertisement.  You can even pull autos in here, although they aren't very easy (1:216 packs) but I have pulled a few now and again (just not this time).  You will be disappointed if you pull a redemption auto.  They expired last September and Upper Deck is kind of picky on what they decide to honor after the fact.  You may get lucky though.

    Now that I have a chunk of the Retro cards, I may try and see how easy it would be to put this set together.  Although, I am privy to the prior years set.  2008-09 looked like the 1979-80 set which were awesome.  Unfortunately, the fall out with Topps and their trademark on the design forced Upper Deck to stop using exact copies.  These look like...well, I'm not really sure what they look like.  But they are cool nonetheless.

    UPDATE:  In case you were keeping score, the box gave me 16 cards that I needed toward the set completion.  Only 61 more to go.

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Hey look!! A 30-Year Old Contest That Isn't Mine

    30 Year Old Cardboard has a contest going on with some really nice and generous prizes involved.  All you do is comment and you are in.  So I figured, why not point the 9 people that read this blog over there so they can enter to win.  The more, the merrier, right?

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    Box Break - - 2002-03 Upper Deck Classic Portraits Hobby

    This is a long one so bear with me.

    2002-03.  It was an innocent time back then.  Wait a it wasn't.  That was a year after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, the nation was gripped by war, there were terrorists threats almost daily, and we lived in a world where we didn't know if it was an orange day or a yellow day.  That was also a time where I was not very interested in card collecting but more interesting in bottle collecting (as in beer).

    At any rate, my new acquisitions lately for recent products have been accompanied by older products from that early 2000's era where I wasn't actively involved in the hobby.  I have been piggybacking my orders for the latest 2011-12 product with boxes from this forgotten era and my most recent pick-up was an interesting product from Upper Deck.

    I acquired a 2002-03 Upper Deck Classic Portraits box.  This is somewhat of a forgotten set that doesn't get much air-play due to the apparent limited production of the product.  It's only a rumor, but I read that Upper Deck pulled the plug on this one before its final printing due to the lack of pre-orders by hobby dealers.  I don't know if that is true but that could explain why the base set with rookies has a book value of $250.  I know there is no one at Upper Deck that reads this blog but if you know anyone, shoot them that question and see what they say.

    The set is made up of 138 cards with 100 base veterans and 38 short printed rookies.  Cards 131-138 were only available in UD Rookie Update packs.

    These boxes are huge in size (thats a 50 count box of CD Jewel Cases underneath for comparison).  This is because not only do you get a hobby box of the cards themselves but you get a "mini-bust" of any number of players from their extensive checklist.  From what I can tell, there were 17 subjects and a total of 125 different busts featuring players in their home, away, and alternate third sweaters as well as autographed versions, marble composite variations, and glass versions.  The autographed special variations were also limited printed between 25-50 copies.

    My mini-bust was of this guy...

    That would be Dany Heatley in his home Atlanta Thrashers sweater.  As you can see, this is the Autographed version too.  It isn't the serial numbered one but nonetheless, it is very nice.  I have only seen these for sale a few times and the retail price tags are in the $40-50 range for most of the autograph versions (unless of course you get a HOFer or soon to be one).  I can't see trying to collect all of these because a person would need a wing on their house just to display them.  It was bad enough trying to get the Penguin bobble heads out of the Pacific Head's Up set.  But, there is a Lemieux and a Jagr in the checklist that I wouldn't mind procuring at some point in time.  For now I'll just stick to cards.

    As for the box itself, it claims that there are an average of two Game Used cards as well as two sequentially numbered Rookie Cards.  There are 5 cards per pack with a total of 24 packs per box.  For the arithmetically challenged, that's 120 cards.  Since the base set is only 100 cards, one would think that there is a pretty good chance at getting the entire base set since I doubt there will be more than 20 inserts.  Of course, this is assuming that this was an Upper Deck set that had a collation with little to no duplication.

    So here is what I pulled...

    Base Cards:   110 (complete base set 1-100 and 10 doubles)
    Inserts:      6
    Rookies:      4
    Game Used:    2
    Autographs:   1 (if you count the Heatley bust)

    As you can see here, the box did yield me the full base set as well as a few doubles.  I also lucked out (if you can call it that) by getting 4 rookies instead of the standard 2 as stated on the box.  You can see Bobby Orr's smiling face on the pack which means he must be the focus of something in here, which he is.

    Overall, the cards are very nicely designed.  They almost look like something from ITG.  The base cards have a zoomed in shot from an action stock photo that has been "portraitized" by the artists and their obvious talent for using Photoshop tools.  The backs feature that same photo only without the touch up, as well as a quick blurb about the player and a few years worth of stats.  The inserts are nicely designed as well and most feature some type of foil or mirror board printing.  I could have done better on the player selection for the inserts though.  I am happy with the product considering what it cost and I'm sure it is going to look nice in a binder. 

    Check out images of the product.

    First the base cards.  

    Moose Hedberg and Jaromir Jagr in his first year as a Capital.  As we all remember, Jags was traded for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk or as I like to refer to them as some beads, a sack of wheat and a small pox infested blanket.  If you click on these to enlarge them, you can see the "portraitizing" that I talked about earlier.

    Le Magnifique!!

    The Rookies...

    I received Dennis Seidenberg, Jeff Paul, Shawn Thornton, and Alex Svitov.  No one really to write home about because we only really have two NHLers here.  Jeff Paul only ever played 2 games for Colorado, otherwise he was a career minor leaguer.  Svitov was a high draft pick for the Lightning but in typical Tampa Bay fashion, they gave up on him quick.  Thornton and Seidenberg both are on the Bruins.  I didn't pull any of the big names like Zetterberg, Frolov, or Spezza, plus the Ryan Miller could only be pulled from Rookie Update as I mentioned earlier.

    Now the inserts...

    I pulled two cards from the Etched In Time set.  These feature a variety of players overtop a prismboard background.  The cards have a brief description of the player on the back as well as a list of events in the players career that were significant.  I pulled Jose Theodore and Mike Modano.  Sorry for the Modano scan that had his name chopped off.


    2 different Portrait Of A Legend cards featuring various achievements in the legendary career of Bobby Orr.  To highlight a little of the info on the backs of the cards...Orr won the Calder in 1967 and went on to score 120 points in 1969-70.  He was the first player in history to win four single season well as a Cup.  His greatest season came in 1974-75 where he scored a career-high 46 goals en route to winning his second league scoring title.  He was also named to the All-Star first team for the 8th straight time. 

    I also got two other inserts.  One is a Steve Yzerman Genuine Greatness card.  It features a few career highlights on the back side of the card.  The "G" in the background is some kind of red foil.  The other card is a Brendan Shanahan Pillars of Strength card.  These cards feature guys that can score but also mix it up with their physical play.  Once known for dishing out checks, he now collects them from players who focus too much on the physical play.

    Finally, the Game Used cards...

    Very nice dual sweater card of Jeremy Roenick and Simon Gagne.  Back then, this was a great tandem in hockey.  Now, Roenick has a broadcasting job for NBC Sports and routinely spouts off verbal epithets in the direction of Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.  Gagne is on the Los Angeles Kings but, as has plagued his career, he was knocked out for the season with concussion issues.  Gagne is a deadly sniper on the wing but his history of injuries has derailed what could have been a perennial All-Star career.

    And I figured we'd go out with a bang.  Did I say bang?  I meant dud!!  This Krys Kolanos card had so much potential but then there is the dreaded white swatch of death.  Kolanos was a first round pick by the Coyotes in 2000 and his big break came in 2002.  He only made it half the season after Vaclav Varada blasted him from behind, knocking him unconscious.  He was on the shelf for a few months and then came back, beating Patrick Roy in overtime (pretty much his only career highlight).  Kolanos toiled in the minors for quite a few years, being used by teams mainly as an injury replacement.  He finally cracked a spot on Calgary this year and played fairly consistent.