28 May 2016

Pack of the Day 134: 2015 Topps UFC Chronicles - An Eye and an Eye

The main business over at Team Breaks is group breaks, but he also sells individual packs and boxes from time to time. Sometimes I will pick one of them up if the breaks are sold out or I don't see anything that really interests me. 2015 Topps UFC Chronicles has a jumbo pack format, with 10 forty-card packs per box and five hits, so you've got a 50% chance at a hit.

I'm starting this post off with an eye, as Heather Jo Clark's eye is looking pretty puffy there. I think this picture was altered for different Topps cards, so on some of them her eye is puffier than in others. I am pretty sure that someone else in the blogosphere has discussed this, but I pulled a couple of images from COMC to show the difference:

You can see that on the Chronicles card her eye is swollen and purple, but on the Champions card it's been altered to hide the swelling and discoloration. Pretty crazy stuff. I guess they didn't want her looking like a fighter on her Rookie Card.

I scanned a couple of horizontal base cards, too, with Ronda Rousey and Georges St-Pierre being the biggest names in the pack by my estimation.

Here are the inserts. I think the Fight Posters inserts are kind of cool. They don't seem to be very popular, but it seems like they are perfect for a trading card set. I don't think I'd want a whole product made up of fight posters, but a subset or insert is okay. Victorious Debut is an insert devoted to fighters who won their UFC debut. Todd Duffee isn't a big name as far as I know, but he knocked out his first UFC opponent in 7 seconds. That's pretty spectacular. Chris Weidman appears in the Octagon of Honor set, which I guess in baseball cards would be your Superstar insert set. Weidman was supposed to fight in the headliner of the upcoming UFC 199, but he backed out with an injury.

The Silver parallels aren't numbered. For vertical cards I got Frankie Edgar and Valerie Letourneau. Edgar has a fight coming up against Jose Aldo in UFC 200, and Letourneau has a UFC Fight Night bout coming up in mid-June against Joanne Calderwood.

Beneil Dariush is the other Silver parallel I got in this pack. The Green parallels are # / 288 and the Gold parallels are # / 88. To bring things full circle I will close this post with an eye in the form of a Jessica Eye relic card. The base relic cards are unnumbered, although there are numbered parallel variations.

I can't complain too much about this pack. There was nothing mind-blowing in it, but I got a relic card hit and a couple of numbered parallels. I can't complain too much about that.

27 May 2016

Breaking it Down 34: 2016 Topps UFC Knockout Hits

This is going to be a, "Look what I got!" post because I've run out of things to say and for the most part no one looks at my UFC posts anyway. I got these from some box breaks over at Team Breaks.

Based on eBay traffic this Cole Miller autograph from 2016 Topps UFC Knockout seems to be a dollar box-filler hit. I guess getting a hit is better than getting no hit, even if the hit is more 'hit' than hit. I was going to say that at least it's not a manu-relic, but the last manu-relic I got from a box break was a case hit that I sold for $42. This autograph is numbered # 019 / 249.

I was much more excited about this card, as Neil Magny is a guy I collect. This is a Knockout Autograph Relic card, numbered # 016 / 350. That seems like an awfully big print run for a relic / auto card from a niche sport, but I'm not the one making the decisions at Topps. Each box has at least 8 hits in it, so they needed plenty of cards with relics and autographs to fill out the cases. In spite of my snarkiness, I was happy to get a card of a PC guy from a break. I take kind of a shotgun approach to collecting UFC cards, grabbing whatever is interesting and cheap, but I do focus a little more on a few fighters. Neil Magny is one of the fighters I will grab whenever I can. Often watching a UFC event or looking at an upcoming fight card will prompt me to look for cards of a few fighters I find entertaining, and in turn my card collection will sometimes influence my rooting interest when watching fights. I've been having fun with it lately, so my blog and my buying have had a heavy UFC flavor recently.

26 May 2016

An Avengers: Age of Ultron Sketch Out of Australia

I've been trying to build my post queue up, but I have mixed feelings about it. Right now I'm five days out on posts, so I am writing this five days ago. Things that are current now won't be current when you read this post on Thursday, and it is highly likely that something of note will occur during that time. So if I'm ahead on posts there is a risk that the content will no longer be relevant upon publication, but if I don't get ahead on my posts I am always under the gun to get a post written out for the current day. Probably the right answer is to just get photos processed and loaded up, but save the actual post writing for one or two days out. But the real right answer is just to get as many posts as I can written whenever the blogging bug hits me, so that when real life interferes or I get into a motivational slump I still have stuff ready to go. None of that has anything to do with today's card, though. It's just what I've been thinking about.

This is a sketch card from 2015 Upper Deck Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sketch is Avengers character Scarlet Witch, done by artist Kate Carleton. I've mentioned a few times that I don't especially like Scarlet Witch as a character, but it seems like there are a lot of good sketch cards out there featuring her. That means that when I am trying to track down a certain artist for my collection it is likely that I might end up with a Scarlet Witch sketch.

Kate Carleton is one of the artists I'd been trying to track down to add to my collection, and this sketch was the right one for my collection. It came to me all the way from Australia, and the shipping time reflected that. There are times when items come from Australia faster than they do from the East Coast, and then there are times when things come from Australia and it takes a couple of weeks. This was one of those couple-week ones. I'm a huge fan of the sketch, though, and I'm glad I was able to land it. It sat in my Watch List for a long time and I always figured that someone else was going to snag it before I got around to buying it.

25 May 2016

Cheki Wrestling Photos from Japan

I mentioned in yesterday's Tim Lincecum post that I'd grabbed a couple of wrestling cards from the seller in order to take advantage of combined shipping. What I got from him was some of the tougher pulls from the BBM True Heart Wrestling products, the Polaroid-style Cheki cards.

In my quest to better understand what it is I'm collecting, I decided to try figuring out why these photo inserts are called Cheki. It didn't really take me long to find out, as I came across an article about the Fujifilm company's Instax line of cameras, which produce these little instant snapshots. They are marketed as Cheki to young women, apparently with great success. In this digital age, a film camera is seen as a fun novelty, and the Cheki cameras are selling at a pace that nearly outpaces Fujifilm's digital models. Moving on to the actual cards I bought, you can clearly see the Fujifilm and instax labeling on the back of the photos. It all Check(i)s out!

藤ヶ崎矢子 - Yako Fujigasaki

This first autographed photo comes from the 2016 BBM True Heart product. The wrestler is Yako Fujigasaki. She appears in a lot of the photos that get posted to the JWP Facebook page, but I don't know much about her outside of that. This card is numbered # 4 / 8. In previous sets these were the hardest pulls, but in 2016 BBM included special inscription autographs that were # / 5. These photos are probably still cooler than those autographs.

永島 千佳世 - Chikayo Nagashima

This one comes from the 2015 BBM True Heart product and features Chikayo Nagashima, another wrestler that I don't know much about. She's been wrestling for a long time, debuting in 1995. According to Wikipedia her last couple of matches have been against Ayako Hamada, whose cards are collected by buckstorecards as part of his 2/14 birthday collection. This photo is numbered # 1 / 7.

Although I don't know much about these two wrestlers, it was nice to find these photos for such a good price. It would take several boxes to pull even one of these, and after the exchange rate and shipping from Japan it's hard to get unopened boxes right now for less than $65-70 apiece. I haven't purchased any boxes since my initial order when they released. I don't know that I'll be able to pick up any more of the 2016 product in unopened form. I'll need to save my pennies just to be able to buy some of the 2017 when it releases.

24 May 2016

Tim 'The Angel (of Anaheim)' Lincecum

I picked up a few SEGA Card-Gen cards of pitcher Tim Lincecum from a seller in Japan, and they arrived in the mailbox just around the time Lincecum signed a contract with the Angels in an attempt to get his career back on track. Actually they didn't actually land in the mailbox, because I had to sign for the package and the mail carrier brought it straight to the door.

This 2010 card came out just after Tim had won his second Cy Young award and just before he won his 1st World Series ring with the Giants. In SEGA Card-Gen terms, that means he gets 8 stars on the front of his card and a nice full ratings block on the back. I don't have many 2010 SEGA Card-Gen cards in my collection, so I am always happy to add a new one. This seller is the same guy I get most of my Card-Gen cards from. He doesn't post auctions all that often, but when he does there are usually a few things I jump on right away. I combined this Lincecum lot with some Japanese wrestling cards he posted to bring down the per-card cost for shipping.

This 2012 card features an identical number of stars and the exact same stat ratings on the back. Although Lincecum's 2010 and 2011 seasons were a step down from his Cy Young years, he was still among the best pitchers in the game, and when this card came out he was close to winning his 2nd World Series ring, this time pitching mostly in relief during the playoffs.

This 2013 card is not Lincecum's base card. This is his Foil Rare card, a special set that features a foil background with a SEGA Card-Gen logo on it and a slight ratings bump on the back over the base card, as well as a different picture and different numbering. You can see Evan Longoria's cards side by side on this post if you want to see how the Foil Rares differ from the base cards. For a long time R.A. Dickey's card from this set was my most-wanted card, but blogger Zippy Zappy helped me track it down from this same seller's webstore. The wheels were starting to come off on Lincecum's control by this point, but he was still a celebrity and a star, so he kept his high ratings in this set. If there had been future sets I imagine reality would have set in soon enough.

I hope Lincecum can revive his career with the Angels, as baseball is more fun when the exciting players are playing well. Of course I still want the Astros to catch up to the Angels and the rest of the AL West, but hopefully they can do that concurrently with a Tim Lincecum revival.

23 May 2016

Power Girl Sketch by Elfie Lebouleux

I wouldn't say I've been all the way down on baseball lately, but I have slowed down on picking up baseball cards and even a lot of the stuff I have picked up is cards that don't lend themselves to blog posts. I've got a lot of UFC stuff recently, but there's only so much of that I can post without burning out myself and my readers. My eBay Watch List is a pretty good indicator of what's been catching my interest lately, and it's probably 75% sketch cards and wrestling / UFC stuff, while baseball and NASCAR make up most of the rest. The problem with sketch cards is that they are not cheap, so they usually just cycle through my Watch List until someone buys them or the seller gets tired of listing them. But I keep adding to my list, because every so often I am able to pick one up and even if I can't it helps me keep track of artists whose work I want to add into my collection.

I'd been wanting some art by artist Elfie Lebouleux for a while, but it took time to find the right piece at the right price. I eventually was able to win this Power Girl PSC (Personal Sketch Card) from her personal eBay page. It's a nice sketch and makes for a welcome addition to my Power Girl sketch collection. In the past I have almost exclusively chased licensed sketch cards from the sets put out by various non-sports producers, but I think that kind of limits my access to perfectly good pieces of art. I still chase licensed cards when I can get them, but if the right sketch comes along on plain stock or the artist's personal sketch card stock I will chase it down. The only reason to exclusively licensed sketches is the perception that they are more valuable, but in all honesty my collection will never be worth more to someone else. I can't imagine a situation in which I would try to sell most of my sketches while I'm still alive, so why not chase art I like whether it's on official card stock or not? Anyway, that's my thought for the day.

22 May 2016

Click Here to View Cart 12: 2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling Autographs

I was able to get a couple of 2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling autographs featuring some of my favorite wrestlers from an online shop that specializes in Japanese wrestling memorabilia. They have an eBay presence, too, but their website often has better prices and cheaper shipping.

The first card is autographed by Rabbit Miu, who is currently nursing some kind of leg injury:

I pulled that picture from the JWP Facebook page and cropped it a bit. I believe the wrestler whose face is in the foreground is Leon. Rabbit Miu is super-short and has a ton of energy. It's too bad she's out of commission for a while.

The other card I got in this purchase was for my main Japanese wrestling player collection, Command Bolshoi. Earlier I got her short-printed 2016 autograph with pink ink and an inscription, but until now I hadn't picked up the base version. I've got a good head start on her autograph timeline, but I'm missing a few years in the mid-2000's.

Rabbit Miu might be injured, but that doesn't stop her from goofing off while Command Bolshoi puts in work at the gym:

I took this photo from Command Bolshoi's Facebook page. She posts a lot of gym and food photos, but I put up with that because she also posts plenty of wrestling stuff and a lot of other wrestlers make cameos in her feed, like in this photo.