Saturday, September 20, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 112: Breygent Red Sonja Sketch Card by Jason Crosby

If you like swords and sorcery in your comic books, there are two big names out there. The main guy is Conan the Barbarian, and the main woman is Red Sonja. There have been other attempts at barbarian comics, but those are the only two that have really stood the test of time. I wanted a Red Sonja sketch card, but I had a few criteria that made it somewhat difficult to find the right one. I wanted one that was clearly identifiable as Red Sonja, which meant one that showed off her trademark red hair and chainmail bikini. I wanted one that was well-drawn, which is a pretty subjective thing, I suppose. And I wanted a sketch card that emphasized her warlike nature over just being some cheesecake model who happens to be wearing chainmail.

Eventually I settled on this sketch by Jason Crosby from Breygent's Women of Dynamite set. This one checks all of my blocks, and I would imagine that if there were a real Red Sonja out there in the world she would look a lot like this. Actually, she would probably have the sense to wear a few more clothes, but if a loincloth is good enough for Conan I guess the chainmail is good enough for her. I like the colors on this one and really couldn't be happier with it. A lot of the sketches in the set are very short on color, and to be honest a lot of the sketches in the set are just butt-awful. This one met all of my criteria and is well-drawn. It's cartoony without being overly simplistic.

I looked around at some of Crosby's other work. It looks like when it comes to sketch cards he sticks mostly to horror topics. He's got a lot of Mars Attacks! sketches out there, some Cthulhu stuff, and his recent Marvel and DC comic book sketches made my mind explode. You can see a lot of it on this thread in the Blowout Cards forum dedicated to his art. Looking up all of his sketches while researching this post makes me want to go out and get all of it. But that would be crazy. He had a Rocket Raccoon and Groot card that sold for $305.00 recently. That's about 20,000 leagues out of my league. But I am pretty happy to have this Red Sonja sketch, and hopefully I can pull more of his work from DC or Marvel packs down the road.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 111: 2014 Topps Chrome R.A. Dickey Sepia Refractor

I haven't put any effort into seeking out a rainbow from this year's Chrome releases, and I don't know that I will. I attempted a lot of rainbows in 2013 and while it was fun, I don't think I can afford to chase a rainbow every year. But when a nice parallel of one of my favorite players pops up on the cheap I'll throw a bid in on it. This is the Sepia Refractor of R.A. Dickey from 2014 Topps Chrome.

My copy is # 28 / 75. In the last week or so I've been able to catch a few innings of Dickey's games on He's had a pretty good stretch lately, although he wasn't able to come away with the win in last night's game against the Yankees. He had a better night than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did, though, getting blasted by the Atlanta Falcons. My fantasy football team came away from that game with a little bit of a deficit to overcome, but there is still plenty of ball left to play for Week 3.

Of course, fantasy football isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. The different domestic violence situations playing out with many players in the league have taken up the bulk of the sports radio airtime here locally, and I would imagine that is the case throughout the country.

I don't understand those who are able to simultaneously decry the actions of Ray Rice against his wife as unconscionable, but pass off Adrian Peterson's treatment of his son(s) as acceptable discipline of a child. Why is it okay to beat your 4-year old kid to the point that he has multiple open wounds and deep welts across much of his body, but not okay to hit your fiancee in the face? Is it because little kids aren't old enough to be real people yet? Would Ray Rice's actions be more acceptable if he had just explained that he was disciplining his fiancee for misbehavior in the same way he was disciplined as a child?

I know that quite a few of my work acquaintances think that Adrian Peterson's actions didn't go that far over the line and often reference the beatings they received as children as evidence that beating your loved ones is an effective way to produce model citizens. I think these people are living in denial and have to support him in order to rationalize their own shortcomings and inability to take responsibility for their choices and maintain self-control in stressful parenting situations. I don't know exactly where the line is between discipline and child abuse, but I am pretty sure Adrian Peterson crossed it at least once, and from the leaked text messages and his own admission it sounds like crossing the line was his default parenting style.

This might not be a great forum for my views on social issues, but since it has been a huge talking point in the world of sports over the last few weeks I felt like weighing in. Parenting is something that I deal with every day because I have three sons (ages 3, 3, and 5) and they can be extremely frustrating at times. My wife and I spend a lot of time individually and as a team trying to figure out how to bring them up in an environment of love and trust without letting them run the household. We do okay most of the time, but there are plenty of times when I feel like I could do better. It helps to be able to tag team out from time to time when one of us hits the limit of our tolerance for their shenanigans and whining.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rainbow in the Dark 24: A Super Addition to the Josh Reddick Super Rainbow

Way back in February I made a post featuring all of the cards I had from the Josh Reddick 2013 Topps Super Rainbow I was building. What is a Super Rainbow, you might ask? All of his cards from Opening Day, Flagship, Mini, and Chrome featured the same image on front and text on the back with the exception of the card number in some cases, and I set out to see how many variations of the card I could get. At that time I had 32 variants of the card, and between then and now I added 3 more for a total of 35 cards in the Super Rainbow. Now I have added a 36th card to the collection, and it's a doozy:

That's right, I added the Topps Chrome SuperFractor to the list of cards in my possession. It sort of came into my collection by chance, as I had given up for the most part on adding any more cards to the Super Rainbow. I happened to be browsing the Josh Reddick listings on eBay and almost passed the card over because the scan looked a bit like an X-Fractor on my phone screen. But I noticed the slight golden tint and clicked on the auction. It had five minutes left and no bidders, so I went ahead and put in a bid. Five minutes went by without any further bidding activity and it was mine. The seller didn't have a lot of Feedback on their eBay profile, which made me a little nervous, but the card showed up quickly and relatively well-packaged.

And here is the back with the ever-important # 1 / 1 stamped in foil. This is the second # 1 / 1 card I have for the Super Rainbow, with the other being a Black printing plate from Chrome that I got in April. I would argue that this SuperFractor is a more desirable and legitimate one of one than a printing plate, though, holding a level of prestige that is hard to match among baseball cards. Those blue discolorations are present on the back of the card and not artifacts from the scanning process. There are still a couple of variations of Reddick's card out there that are not a part of my collection, but this is really the crown jewel of the group.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 110: 2012 SEGA Card-Gen Foil Rare Todd Helton

I haven't been able to track down a copy of R.A. Dickey's 2013 SEGA Card-Gen Foil Rare card, and it is unlikely that many will pop up in this part of the world, so I try to fill that empty hole in my collection (and in my heart) with the Foil Rare cards of other players. Some of them sit on eBay for a long time with $15 But It Now price tags and I don't grab those, but when one pops up with a fairly low bid price I will put in a bid for it. This time around I was lucky enough to get Todd Helton's card from the 2012 SEGA Card-Gen set. It's pretty cool, with a decent photo and a shiny background.

The seller included a few extras in the package with Helton, including these cards which appear to be from some sort of BBM team-specific sets. I am not sure what the distribution model on these looks like, so I can't be sure if this is a mix of base cards and inserts or if the cards are packaged separately based on team. It's cool to get a sampling of cards from another country, though.

The card backs hint at these being from separate sets, as the Golden Eagles players have card numbers with an E prefix and the Daystars card number has a prefix of DB. The format for the Golden Eagles' stat lines is a little confusing to me, while the format for Morimoto's stats looks a bit more familiar.

The seller also included a small stack of cards from the World of Warcraft trading card game. I bought a fair number of the English version of these back when I didn't have any kids and played a lot of the World of Warcraft computer game. There were chase cards with redemption codes on them that could be exchanged for in-game items. The most sought-after of these were exclusive mounts for your computer game character to ride. I never pulled one of those, but I did get a special mini-pet that followed my character around and an item that let me set off some fireworks in-game.

I really like the thought of playing trading card games, but for some reason it never really works out for me in practice. I just don't have the dedication or the mindset to memorize all the different cards and their possible interactions with each other. My decks wind up being pretty simplistic, which leads to me getting my butt handed to me, which isn't much fun, which means I have unused piles of cards from a bunch of different TCGs cluttering up my life. But the idea of it seems so cool.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 109: 2013-14 National Treasures Hakeem Olajuwon X-Factor

I got another Hakeem Olajuwon card from this year's Panini National Treasures product to go with the printing plate I showed off a few days ago. This one was much cheaper than that card, and between the two of them I spent about half what a discounted spot in a National Treasures case break would cost me. I'd still like to add another Olajuwon autograph card to my collection, but it is hard to spend those Hall of Fame prices, even if he doesn't get the hobby respect that some of his contemporaries garner. This X-Factor relic card is numbered # 08 / 49 and contains a fairly large red swatch of game-worn fabric.

The back of the card talks about Olajuwon's post-career contributions, working with current players on their footwork and teaching his signature 'Dream Shake' to the next generation of NBA big men.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pack of the Day 77: A Year of Futility, One Blaster Box at a Time

I really try hard to stay away from these 'Guaranteed Hit' NASCAR blasters on the retail shelves, because I know they are nothing but trouble. When I do buy them, I try to get the discounted ones that have been sitting on the shelves, but occasionally a product intrigues me enough to buy one at full price. I guess I can't escape the hope that the next blaster will contain something from one of my favorite drivers. Maybe I should just buy lottery tickets instead. What follows is the hits from about a year's worth of various racing blasters.

I guess I shouldn't have led off with arguably the coolest card in the group, a Denny Hamlin Muscle Car Memorabilia card with a big piece of colorful sheet metal embedded in it. My main problem with the card is the car's main sponsor. I worked for FedEx for a few years, and in the beginning it was a pretty nice place to work for. Then the economic downturn happened and they adjusted all the full-time dockworkers' hours to ensure that we would lose our benefits and save the company some money. They also really changed the policies on the loading dock, going from a quality-focused approach to a volume-focused approach, and that never felt right to me. A lot of stuff got damaged in the rush to move more freight with fewer hours. The experience left me feeling disenchanted with the company. It's a pretty cool card, though, and numbered # 24 / 50 to boot.

Next up is a Magnificent Materials card of Elliott Sadler, numbered # 33 / 75 and featuring a small bit of his shoe. I don't have any strong feelings about Sadler or his sponsors, so there's not much to say about it.

Next up is a Justin Allgaier card, a parallel of the Class A Uniform insert in this year's American Thunder product, if I am remembering things correctly. It is numbered # 74 / 99 and features a bit of a patch. I think I had some interest in Allgaier in the last few weeks as he one of my Tier C picks for my Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing team. I have been participating in the Official Press Pass Yahoo! league, and my team has been pretty competitive. I think I am in the Top 5 in the overall standings for the year.

Elliott Sadler makes another appearance in this post with a Magnificent Materials Auto/Relic card, numbered # 67 / 99. This one features a swatch of his glove, with a little bit of 'color' on the side. I don't know if that sickly tan shade can really be considered a value-enhancement over the straight black glove swatch. It's probably the booger-and-sweat-wiping patch on the glove, like they have on motorcycle or military gloves. I think the glove manufacturers call it something else, but 

This Kasey Kahne triple relic Prominent Pieces card is decent, but Kahne isn't one of my favorite drivers. I guess if any of these cards had featured a driver in my Top 5 or so, the tone of this post would be a lot different. But my favorite drivers apparently don't mix with the commoners down in the Retail bin. They must all hide out in the Hobby boxes. The Kahne is numbered # 44 / 99.

I got the Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme card from a discount blaster of Press Pass Legends. Apparently he is a pretty big celebrity in the world of drag racing. I am a fringe NASCAR fan, and I don't even show up on the fan radar when it comes to drag racing, so I have no idea about any of it. This relic card is numbered # 042 / 199 and has a little grayish shirt swatch in it.

And finally we get to a couple of Michael McDowell cards. He is one of those drivers who makes it onto part-time contracts and low-end teams, running in the back of the pack for the most part because the teams can't field the equipment and crew that the big-money folks at the front of the field bring to bear. For 2014 so far he is 38th in the Sprint Cup standings, with the main notable thing being that he is the only driver with a Top 10 race finish until you get up to Danica Patrick who has 3 Top-10 finishes at 28th place in the standings. No one else below Danica in the points has a Top-10 finish. So I guess he's got that going for him.

The FanFare Autographs card is numbered # 219 / 299 and the Class A Uniform relic card is not numbered. I assume there are about 6,500 of them out there in blasters at Target stores across the nation.

And that's what you get from eight blasters of premium racing cards over the course of a year. Looking at this post should be enough to keep me from buying another one, but when this year's American Thunder blasters are sitting in next year's discounted blaster bin, I will be the guy standing in the card aisle, turning to walk out, and turning back again to grab the little square box of cards. If you could listen in on my thoughts at that moment, you would hear me rationalizing, "Maybe this is the one with the Dale Jr. autograph in it."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 108: Star Wars Galaxy Leia Sketch Card by Chris Henderson

I've been searching for a good Star Wars Leia sketch card pretty much since I reentered the hobby last year. There was one pulled at the SLCS (Somewhat Local Card Shop) around the time I came back, and it was really nice. I probably should have gotten that one, but it was a bit pricey and I had a bit of a grudge against the artist because I had pulled an extremely inferior sketch by him from a box of Star Wars cards I bought. I still have a hard time believing that the same guy did both cards. If you really want to torture yourself, you can read all about it here in the middle of the first post I wrote on this blog.

I've got a search set up on eBay for Star Wars sketch cards, and I've been placing bids off and on for quite a while. Most of the time the really good sketch cards start and end well above my price range. It is hard to put a value on art.

This sketch card by Chris Henderson popped up on my eBay feed a few weeks ago, and although the starting price was a bit high, I added it to my watch list. The auction said it was from Star Wars Galaxy 7, but given the copyright date on the back it might have been packed out in Star Wars Galaxy 6. It doesn't really matter. I went back and forth a little bit on it, but eventually decided to bid on the card the day before the auction closed. Then just before it closed I put in another bid for a few dollars more, but no one else placed a bid and I won the auction. I don't know if I got a bargain, but I would have expected to see some more competition for this piece. I think it's a pretty good depiction of the character/actress. Sketch cards and card art featuring real people (like the really good or really bad Diamond Kings from Donruss) are kind of like portrait tattoos in that if one facial feature is a little off it can ruin the whole thing, and I think this sketch gets it right.

Maybe if Leia had been wearing one of the more iconic looks like the Jabba's Slave outfit or the White Dress w/ Hair Buns look this would have gone for more. I don't know. All I know is that I was happy to finally cross this off of my card collecting bucket list. Chris Henderson does some really nice sports sketches, as highlighted recently on the Pirates Treasure Room blog.

The back of the card gets it somewhat right, leaving a space for the artist to write their name or sign the card, so that collectors can find out who they are. Since there were no other bids on the card, I was nervous that I had somehow misled myself and passed over some flaw in the artwork that might be apparent to someone who wasn't invested in my collecting goals. So I asked my wife if Leia was recognizable in the art. She said that you could definitely tell who was shown on the card, and then jokingly asked if I had drawn it. So I got to wondering if I could draw a recognizable Leia using my art skills. I fired up MS Paint, and here is the result:

I think my art stands on its own merits, so I will refrain from any further explanation. I am not taking commissions at this time, but maybe once my schedule gets a little less hectic I will reconsider.