Saturday, April 25, 2015

Star Wars Masterwork Artist Return Sketch Card - Princess Leia by Mary Bellamy

When the Star Wars Masterwork set was released I set out to look for a few decent sketch cards for my collection. I pulled a couple of sketches from the box I opened and I purchased one sketch from eBay. One artist whose sketches interested me was Mary Bellamy. I had exchanged messages with her on the Blowout Cards forums and purchased/commissioned some stuff from her.

When companies do a product with sketch cards, they often give the artists a handful of cards to do sketches on and sell on their own. Sometimes the cards look the same as the pack-pulled sketch cards and sometimes they have an 'Artist's Proof' or 'Artist Return' stamp on them. I believe these cards make up a large portion of an artist's income from a set. I saw some of Bellamy's Star Wars Masterwork Artist Returns cards in the video she did to show off her cards from the set and inquired about one of the Princess Leia sketches she had done. She told me that Topps had kept them and she was having a little trouble getting them back, but that she would reserve one if Topps sent anything back to her. 

Eventually Topps got some of her cards back to her and I was able to get this one to add to my collection, an illustration of Leia in her hooded white dress. I like the colors that Bellamy uses, and her style is cartoony without being too simple. I'm not sure I remember that wallpaper in the background from the movies, though, but perhaps this is from some off-screen scene where Leia visits her grandmother's house.

Here is the back of the card. I can't find any markings on this card to differentiate it from the pack-pulled sketches, so in this case it looks like Topps didn't do anything special to mark the Artist Returns. Eventually I need to get around to showing the other sketches I got from Mary Bellamy, but that's not going to happen today.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Six-Pack of SEGA Card-Gen Rare Foils

I picked up a few nice SEGA Card-Gen cards recently from an eBay seller. They are from different years, but all hail from the Rare subset, which have a foil background on the front and better game stats on the back than they do on the base cards. The Joe Mauer card comes from the 2013 set and the Ryan Zimmerman card is from the 2012 issue.

These first couple feature Joe Mauer and Ryan Zimmerman. I don't necessarily collect either of these guys but I couldn't pass these up, especially when taking combined shipping into consideration. Joe Mauer is a pretty popular dude, and Ryan Zimmerman has had a pretty good career although it seems like he's been derailed a bit by injury.

I was pretty excited that this pair of guys were among the listings available for purchase. Mark Buehrle now plays for the Blue Jays, and seems to just keep trucking along. He was an All-Star last season and is 3-0 this year in spite of some rather pedestrian numbers. He won a ring with the White Sox in 2005, and he has been pitching in the majors since 2000.

Paul Konerko spent many years with the White Sox, and retired last season. He hit 439 home runs in his career and is scheduled to have his number retired by the White Sox next month. He also was on the Championship team of 2005. He was the face of the White Sox for many years.

Buehrle's card is from the 2011 SEGA Card-Gen set while Konerko's card comes from the 2013 set. I always like the descriptions on the back of the cards next to the player's total score. Buehrle is tagged as a '60 Feet Magician' due to his reliance on control and efficiency more than velocity, and Konerko is labeled as 'Dr. Batting Essential,' maybe because his bat was a bit more valuable than his glove.

These are the real gems of the lot for me. I was able to snag copies of Jose Bautista's 2011 and 2012 cards. He really came into his own in 2010 and 2011, blasting about 10 million home runs over those two seasons and ensuring that he would get a spot in this set.

His ratings increased over the two seasons, showing that the Card-Gen set changed from year to year based on player performance. Bautista is dealing with a bit of an injury right now, as he got into a rather heated exchange with the Orioles a couple of days ago and subsequently put a little too much emotion into a throw from the outfield, injuring himself in the process. But he did manage to knock a ball over the wall in response to being thrown behind, helping his team to win the game. The Orioles, Adam Jones in particular, had some words to say about Bautista watching the ball and flipping his bat after the home run, and the exchanges that went on got Bautista riled up enough to make the ill-advised throw that hurt him. I personally kind of like the celebrating and bat-flipping, especially if the batter has just gotten revenge for being thrown at, but the baseball establishment says that is a big no-no. I like Bautista and I like Adam Jones, so I'm not going to pick sides on this one. In the end Bautista and the Blue Jays won the game, and that's what really matters.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Josh Reddick 2010 Topps Series 2 Autograph

Here is another card that has been sitting in my post queue for quite a while. It's a Peak Performance Autograph card of Josh Reddick from 2010 Topps Series 2. I haven't seen a lot of these pop up, so I jumped on it when I had the chance. The card highlights Reddick's short stint with the Red Sox in 2009.

Reddick now plays for the A's, who have got quite the little feud going on with the Royals right now. The A's lost the 3-game series with 1 win and 2 losses, but Reddick did get a home run in the A's lone victory. I guess the little battles with hard slides, beanings, and ejections serve to make the game a little more fun for the fans, although it all sounds like an injury waiting to happen to me. The dialogue in the video I shared seemed to favor the A's a bit more than the Royals, although in reality there seemed to be plenty of blame to go around on both teams. I did like the short cameo from another PC guy of mine, with Billy Butler shown spectating from the dugout. With all this exitement going on, I will definitely need to get my subscription up and running in time for these teams' next meeting at the end of June.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jon Singleton Wave, Spirals, Laser Ice (Again)

I am still clearing out posts that I added to my Draft folder in January, although I am down to just a few of those. I picked up these pattern variations of Jon Singleton's 2014 Topps High Tek card shortly after the product released. I think I got them all from one seller, saving a little bit by combining shipping. I somehow ended up getting a couple copies of the pattern on the right, though, so that probably negated most of the shipping savings. Oh well.

These are the three most common patterns for AL teams. Cardboard Connection calls them Wave, Spirals, and Laser Ice. Although Singleton is not currently contributing to the team in any way, the Astros find themselves at the top of their division with a 6-6 record. I guess there are worse places you could be with a .500 record. 

I thought this was a pretty nifty play, worthy of filling out some space at the end of a low-content blog post:

Apologies if the video doesn't look formatted correctly. I am having a hard time getting it to cooperate with Blogger.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Some Recent R.A. Dickey Pickups

I haven't posted for a little more than a week now, so I am trying to get things started back up by featuring a couple of R.A. Dickey cards I've picked up over the last couple of months. Dickey pitched today, throwing 7.0 innings and giving up 4 runs to the Braves on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6 on the way to a no-decision in a game the Blue Jays eventually won in the 10th inning on a Josh Donaldson home run. I didn't watch that game, but I did get to watch the last half of the Mets-Marlins game, where the Mets bullpen nearly gave up a 5-0 lead in the 8th and 9th innings, barely holding on to take the game at 5-4.

This first card is an auto-relic from 2014 Topps Triple Threads, numbered # 02 / 25. I thought the black relic swatch was pretty cool. It's not something you see too often on baseball cards.

Prices on Dickey's cards have come down a lot in the last couple of years. That would be a good thing, but in spite of the favorable market for buyers I haven't really taken advantage of it. I've been a little distracted from the hobby lately, I guess, and I pass over a lot of stuff because of parallel fatigue. But that hasn't stopped me completely from picking up parallels... this black-bordered card from 2015 Topps Series 1. It looks a lot like the base version of the card, except without all the colors on the edges. I probably picked it up because it had a cheap shipping cost or something. One thing that has been preventing me from bidding on a lot of cards lately is what seems like a universal $3.00 shipping fee in addition to whatever the auction price is. The $0.99 starting bid makes a $4.00 base price for just about any card you look at, and that is just too much.

This card is # 42 / 64, making it just one number away from being a jersey number eBay 1 / 1. Hopefully the Blue Jays can make a decent run this year and at least get into the postseason. But right now I hope even more that the Houston Rockets can hold on for one more quarter and beat the Dallas Mavericks in their first-round NBA Playoffs match-up.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pack of the Day 97: 2014 Panini Father's Day

I think this pack might have been another booster to get past a threshold for free shipping on a card order. It comes from Panini's 2014 Father's Day promotion and contains a couple of cards.

First up is a team collection hit featuring George Springer of the Houston Astros. It comes from the Rookies portion of the base checklist and is numbered # 389 / 599. There are Cracked Ice # / 25 and Lava Flow 1 / 1 variations out there as well. Springer is one of the promising young Astros that did make the Opening Day roster, unlike my PC target and the subject of early trade rumors, Jon Singleton.

The Cordarrelle Patterson card is from a Rookie insert set of some kind. It is not serially-numbered. I don't really understand all of the different subsets and inserts that come out of the Father's Day packs. It's kind of like Panini took a bunch of 'hot' players, threw their names into a hat, and then drew a handful out at a time and made a subset based on them. I guess some of them have a theme, but the set as a whole seems a bit hodge-podge and thrown together based on the Cardboard Connection checklist. I had Cordarrelle Patterson on some of my fantasy football rosters early last season based on his hype and play-making ability, but so far that hasn't really materialized.

The backs of the cards feature a couple of highlights from each player's career along with the usual copyright and legal whatnots and a bunch of diagonal lines.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2012 Greatest Heroes Iron Fist Sketch Card

Here is a sketch card I picked up a while back. It comes from the 2012 Greatest Heroes card set produced by Rittenhouse Archives. I think I was looking to fill out my sketch card collection with some of my favorite characters, and managed to get one half of the Power Man & Iron Fist duo. I still haven't picked up a Luke Cage/Power Man sketch, but I will get one eventually.

When it comes to sketch cards I can be a bit of a cheapskate, trolling the lower-priced listings for standout sketches. There is such a glut of sketch cards on the market that you can often find bargains if you are persistent and dig through the listings. I have picked up a few nice sketches from well-known artists in this way, but usually what you get in the $15 or less category are higher-quality sketches from lesser-known artists. In this case the artist is Rodrigo Martins, who has done sketch cards for a few Marvel-based sets. His work can be hit or miss, but this illustration is pretty good, with nice color work, great detail on the inking, and a nice use of perspective on the fist in the foreground.

I don't often really like the mystical characters in comics, largely because the authors who write them tend to be a bit too wordy for my tastes, but Iron Fist is pretty cool. He doesn't seem to get much respect compared to the big names in the Marvel Universe, though: