As I said, you need a game plan at these shows. The sheer amount of dealer tables, merch vendors, industry businesses, and memorabilia peddlers can be overwhelming when you consider the 220,000 square feet of show floor these things take up (and that was the small hall). The National will be here too this year but we will save that for later.
So my goals on this trek...
1. Pick up some set needs to try and knock out an incomplete set or two. Never an easy task considering many of the "common" tables have very large men parked two deep in chairs, actively engaged in a feeding frenzy over all the $.10 cards they can get their greasy fingers on. This will require strategy and cunning unlike has ever been seen (not really but you have to have some flare for the dramatic otherwise it isn't interesting).
2. Find some cards for my Player PCs (Guerin, Lemieux, Jagr, Tangradi [I doubt it] perhaps a footballer or two). This is usually an easy one considering they guys I collect have a plethora of cards out there that I have been unable to acquire over the years. I don't really think I will ever complete a comprehensive player list of any of these guys but as long as I keep collecting, I'm sure gonna try.
3. Pick up some autographs for my Penguins project I started last year. This is something that has always kind of just happened but was never a priority. This time that changes as I have an extensive list of guys I need to cross off my roster.
4. Do some trading. What fun would a show be without the aspect of the hobby we all love? Not very. That's why I spent the better part of my free time over the few days before the show, digging through wantlists of the collectors/bloggers I knew would be there. Trading is my favorite part of the show.
5. Pick up some cards for my Team PCs. Again, this is usually an easy one as my teams of choice tend to be popular ones. I try to get at least one cool card from each sport (hockey, baseball, and football) that I don't already have. Keep in mind, cool is in the eye of the beholder.
6. Bust some wax. Usually I have a list of boxes that I am targeting, whether for set building or otherwise. This time around, with many popular hockey releases cancelled, I don't really have a certain type in mind. I will just see what has the best bang for my buck and go from there.
Let's see how we fared this time around.
1. Pick up some set needs to try and knock out an incomplete set or two.
In typical fashion, the cattle were a grazing. Big Time!! There wasn't space to be had at many tables, even just to take a peek at what was on them. That makes for a long day when you are a set building on a quest for completion. So instead, I stuck to the quarter, three for a dollar, and other discounted bins, hoping to find something, anything that will fill my goals. As luck would have it, I was able to pick up quite a few cards from my Parkhurst Champions set I'm working on as well as a few Victory Rookies I still needed.
But the big score came during trading. Guys knocked out my 4th complete base set for this years Upper Deck Series I and also contributed to numerous other sets. I can successfully say that I completed a set (albeit a duplicate one).
2. Find some cards for my Player PCs (Guerin, Lemieux, Jagr, Tangradi [I doubt it] perhaps a footballer or two).
No brainer here. I got a handful of Lemieux's, a handful of Jagr's, a couple Guerin's and one Bettis card for my secret, unpublished "Bus" collection. I already showed every one the Jagr's the other day after he got his 1,000 career assist and the Lemieux cards too. Here were the other's in case anyone wanted to see...oh, no? No scans? Ok, then. Moving on.
3. Pick up some autographs for my Penguins project I started last year.
Surprisingly, this came easy too. I found two tables with cheap auto cards, mostly certified, and they had plenty o'Pens. In fact, there was one table that I even put some back from my stack that I pulled because I felt like I was going overboard. These will all be posted over on my Auto Project blog that you can get to from this link or over on the side panel. I will say this though, I have 12 more players crossed off the master list.
4. Do some trading.
Again, no brainer. There is always at least one trade going to go down at these shows, assuming another trader will be there. This time, there were three. Unfortunately, I didn't know about the third until it was too late so I had nothing available for them. Next time, though. Trades at these shows goes something like this...I find a small-to-large stack of things from a persons want list, they find find things off my list, and we swap. Nothing fancy, no book values, no worrying about who gets the better deal. No pressure. That's the way I like it. I ended up with a bunch of stuff for my set lists including the final UD cards I already mentioned up there. I also ended up with some other really cool things which will be posted about later. Thanks to Sal & Nick for all the goodies.
5. Pick up some cards for my Team PCs.
I picked up 6 Steeler cards, 2 Pirates, and a bunch of Pens stuff. I would say that this goal was met in spades.
6. Bust some wax.
Wax is obviously a misnomer nowadays. But I will still call it that probably forever. I didn't really have a target product this time around. I had an idea of some things I would have liked to see at certain price points but all of it was high-end and none of it was in my budget. What I did wrestle with and finally compromise on was a box of 12-13 Panini Classics Signatures, which I already posted about, a box of 11-12 Panini Rookie Anthology, which I already posted about, and a box of 11-12 ITG Between the Pipes which I haven't posted about but will in the near future. All the boxes yielded some really nice stuff as you can see if you check out the box break reviews. I was very fortunate and the breaks were a lot of fun.