08 October 2015

Pack of the Day 109: 2014-15 Panini Donruss Basketball Box Break

I've finally reached the final post about my Dave & Adam's Card World order, with a box of 2014-15 Donruss Basketball from Panini. This product has a ton of inserts and parallels, so this will be a fairly long post, one of the reasons I've held it for last.

The base cards feature a similar design to the baseball set, with the little baseballs in the colored stripe exchanged for basketballs. I'd rate the photography as pretty good especially as you can actually see some of the action surrounding the players, something you lose out on in the many sets that feature the player cut out and placed on a background. There is a Rated Rookie subset, which I believe is short-printed, although not horribly so.

These parallels are called Swirlorama, apparently. The base set and most of the inserts have Swirlorama parallels. There were a fair number of Houston Rockets in the box, so that was a bonus for me. There are a lot of players who I don't really recognize or whose names are familiar to me but I couldn't tell you much else about them. The NBA is mostly relegated to various cable / satellite channels, so I don't ever watch games. I have to watch the box scores and the occasional highlight video to get my fix.

Most (all?) of the parallels outside of the Swirlorama cards are serially-numbered. With the amount of stuff in this set, the print run on Donruss must have been about 65 million cases. Up top are a couple of Stat Line parallels, which are numbered based on some statistic the player has put up in their career. The Purple Press Proofs down on the bottom are all numbered out of # / 199, and there are a few other tiers of Press Proof available. Many of the insert sets also have Press Proof parallels.

The Rookies is an insert focused (duh!) on first-year players. I don't think any of these guys are big names. In my limited exposure to basketball I usually pick up on the bigger names, and these guys aren't them.

The Production Line insert set features players who excel at Scoring, Rebounds, and Assists. All of my cards in this box came from the Scoring subset. Up top are the regular inserts and along the bottom are a Swirlorama of Kevin Durant and a Press Proof of DeMarcus Cousins. The Cousins Press Proof is a Blue Press Proof, which is limited to 99 copies.

Court Kings is an insert featuring various star players. It's got a textured face and filters applied to the photos. It seems like James Harden popped up in just about every group of inserts I pulled from this box. He is the #1 player on the Rockets and arguably in the league, but I don't know if he's my favorite Rocket. I think I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite player on the team right now. It might be Dwight Howard.

Finally we get into some players that I know and like. Clyde Drexler is a favorite. With his receding hairline and mustache he always looked like someone's uncle who just happened to be a ball player on the side. I guess you don't have to look a certain way (or even bathe) to be a ball player, but I always thought Clyde looked a bit older than he should to be flying so high. Kiki Vandeweghe's name always stood out to me when I would see his cards as a kid. And it was nice to snag a Hakeem Olajuwon Blue Press Proof from the box, as I always like to grab cards for my Dream PC when I can.

Elite is by far the biggest insert in the product. I just picked a handful of the many cards from this set that came out of the box. Robinson and Olajuwon will probably always stand out in my mind when I think of the NBA, as they had some titanic matchups while I was at the peak of my fandom. I guess Patrick Ewing was also a rival to Olajuwon and had a more compelling narrative with the NCAA Championship going to Ewing and the NBA Finals going to Olajuwon, but I liked David Robinson more. The Elite Status Die-Cut parallels are have varying print runs, with the Jonas Valanciunas card I pulled being numbered # 48 / 83. 

The Elite Dominators set seems to be numbered awfully high for a rare pull with a big checklist. There are 50 cards in the list and there are 999 copies of each one. I pulled Derrick Rose, who is injured yet again. It's not his leg this time, though, so that's a change. He just seems to be snake-bitten when it comes to injuries.

There are a fair number of hits in the product for the price point, although for the most part they aren't super exciting. I got a couple of PWS (Plain White Swatches) of Derrick Favors and Carl Landry. Carl Landry has had a pretty decent career after breaking out with Houston over his first few years. He hasn't been a superstar or anything, but he has been serviceable. Derrick Favors was the third overall pick in the 2010 draft and has emerged as one of the statistical leaders of the Utah Jazz.

The final hit of the box is a pretty decent one, especially at the price point of this product. It's a Signature Stars autograph card of Elfrid Payton, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Although his averages from last season weren't outstanding, he did put up some very good games including some triple doubles. This autographed card is numbered # 07 / 40.

Donruss is a fun break because there are so many inserts and parallels that come out of the box. There isn't much in the way of big hit potential, but that keeps the box prices down. I need to collate what I've got so far to find out how close I am to a complete base set. It would be fun to chase a mini-master set with all the base cards and easy inserts, but I don't know if I would want to focus on that at the expense of other collecting goals.

It looks like the Cubs have advanced in the NL Wild Card game with bit of drama and a bench-clearing beaning of their star pitcher after he hit a couple of Pirates. Tensions run high in the playoffs. While I hope they make a deep run and win it all, I figure the Astros will fall sooner rather than later. I'll probably stick to rooting for the AL for a while whenever that happens. I'll probably be pulling for the Blue Jays if / when the Astros are eliminated. If the Astros and Blue Jays get knocked out and the Cubs are still in it I will probably switch sides and pull for the Cubs, since in that scenario the other playoff teams would probably be the Rangers, Royals, and Dodgers. Yuck! I like individual players on each of those teams, but various rules of playoff fandom rule them all out. I don't really have anything against the Cubs, so they win by default. If it becomes a Rangers, Royals, Dodgers, Cardinals playoff then I will just turn the whole thing off and wait for next year.

07 October 2015

Pack of the Day 108: Three Panini Special Event Packs

I added a couple of Panini's various special event packs to my recent order from Dave & Adam's Card World. The first was a pack of 2014 Panini - Father's Day, which is a set that Panini puts out in June as a way to get dealers to buy their products. They get these packs if they purchase a certain amount of product, which they can then pass on or sell to customers. Most of these promotional sets contain cards from a variety of sports, but my pack contained two hockey cards. I am vaguely aware of Mario Lemieux as a big hockey name, but I couldn't tell you much else about him. Sean Monahan I have no clue about. He's part of the serially-numbered Rookie subset and this card is # 017 / 599.

The card backs feature the card number, a team logo, position designation, jersey number, name, and a short biographical snippet along with the set name and legal junk at the bottom. I've said it before, but I really like that Panini includes the set name on the back of their cards.

My second pack was from the 2014 Panini - Black Friday set. Similar to the Father's Day set, these cards were available for purchasing a certain amount of product during the big post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. I pulled a Happy Holidays memorabilia card from this pack, featuring a piece of Santa hat worn by running back Andre Ellington. He started the year as the lead back for Arizona, but got sidelined by a knee injury and Chris Johnson has played well in his absence. He might have a tough fight to get his spot back. I also got an airbrushed / Photoshopped base card of another hockey guy, Mark Messier.

According to the Cardboard Connection site, the Happy Holidays cards with initials instead of card numbers are limited to less than 300 copies. I guess that means that the other ones have more copies? You can see that Panini lost their NHL license somewhere between Father's Day and Black Friday, as Messier's card has the logos removed and his team is now the New York Hockey Club.

The final pack in this group was from the 2014 Panini - The National wrapper redemption set. From what I can gather, these card packs were available for redemption at the Panini booth at The National card convention to people who produced a certain number of Panini packs. Presumably the left over stock was then sold to dealers to sell / distribute. I have seen these packs offered up as bonus gifts by online case breakers, too. I did manage to pull a PC guy from my pack in Peyton Manning, as well as a card of Tre Mason, the St. Loius running back who has seemingly lost his job to Todd Gurley.

The card backs are basically the same as any other Panini special set card back, although Manning's card at least features a cropped version of the card front photo. I read in a few places that the Rookies like Tre Mason were supposed to be numbered # / 599, but I don't see any evidence of that on the card.

There is some fun stuff that can come out of these packs, as well as some pretty big hits. I am happy that I got one of the Happy Holidays relics and a Peyton Manning card. The rest of the stuff I don't care much about, but that's the gamble of busting packs. All that's left to review from this purchase is the box of Donruss basketball.

I would have written that one up first, but the Astros - Yankees game was on and I had to see that rather than crop and adjust a bunch of basketball pictures. I was not disappointed with my decision to watch the game, as the Houston bats got to Tanaka a couple of times for home runs and added an insurance run against Dellin Betances for good measure while Dallas Keuchel and the Astros bullpen pitched a 3-hit shutout. Now it's on to face the Kansas City Royals in what should be a tough series. The Astros are pretty much underdogs from here on out.

06 October 2015

Pack of the Day 107: Cryptozoic DC Comics: The Women of Legend Box Break

Continuing with the Dave & Adam's Card World order I made recently, here is another box of comic character cards I opened up. This time it's Cryptozoic's DC Comics: The Women of Legend. There isn't a lot of hit potential in the product, but there are a couple of chase sets, a parallel, an elusive fabricated memorabilia set, and a sketch card in every box.

The base cards featured new art commissioned specifically for the set, which is a lot better than rehashed art from some other source. Many of the base card artists are pretty well-known on the sketch-card circuit. I just wish that Cryptozoic would have credited each artist on the back of their cards. Many I recognize anyway, like that Katie Cook (starting to think it might not be done by her) art in the lower right, but I don't know all of them. 

You get two cards each from the chase sets, Katie Cook's Sticker Collection and Gail's Picks. Katie Cook's Sticker collection features stickers made from art by Katie Cook, whose sketch cards tend to go for a whole lot. She does a bunch of My Little Pony stuff, too. Gail's Picks is a set that features some of comic book writer Gail Simone's favorite characters. Gail's Picks are printed on sparkly foil stock. My only complaint is that these are only seeded two per box, so it will take a few boxes to complete each set.

There's only one parallel of this set. The parallel cards are printed on holofoil stock, and you get six per box. The reason for the seeding on the parallels and inserts is that Cryptozoic wanted to make sure that you got a full set of inserts and parallels if you purchased a 12-box case. That promise excluded the Totally Fabricated costume relic card set, which was seeded about 1.5 cards per case.

The big draw in this set is the sketch cards, and I definitely got a good one in my box. This is a sketch of Batwoman done by artist Jason Worthington. With this sketch and the two sketches from my box of DC Comics: Super-Villains I feel like I did really well on this order. I probably didn't break even from a financial standpoint, but I got some pretty good stuff for my collection. I believe the only thing remaining from my Dave & Adam's order is a box of Donruss basketball. That set is full of inserts, so it will be a really long post to write. We'll see if I get around to it. The scans from my last box of Donruss basketball are still sitting in my Scans folder.

05 October 2015

Pack of the Day 106: 2013 Topps Mini Baseball Box Break

One of the things I picked up in my Dave & Adam's Card World order was a box of 2013 Topps Mini Baseball cards. For just a little more than the price of a blaster I got a whole box of (little) baseball cards. It comes with fairly low expectations, but you can pretty much count on 4-6 low-numbered parallels and probably a relic card with an outside chance at an autograph.

I've shown most of these base cards at one point or another before. The Josh Reddick card gives me an excuse to post a link to my 2013 Topps Josh Reddick Super Rainbow. No more of the cards from that rainbow have popped up since I added the Magenta Chrome Printing Plate, so that project might be about as complete as it's going to get. That Ben Zobrist photo just makes me laugh every time I see it. R.A. Dickey is another one of my player collections. I may not have shown that Dallas Keuchel card before. Did anyone know who he was in 2013?

There is really only one insert set in 2013 Topps Mini Baseball, a small version of the Chasing History set from the regular Topps issue. I pulled 4 of these that I needed for my set, so that was pretty good for me. I've had boxes where all the cards were doubles. They are seeded at 1:4 packs, so you get 6 per box.

Here are the horizontal cards. The Gold parallels are numbered out of # / 62 and you get three or four of them per box. Most boxes have six total parallels in them, but some only have four or five. I got three Golds in this box. Pablo Sandoval's World Series card is the horizontal card here.

I've got two more Gold parallels here that feature fairly well-known names, but no superstars. I guess you could do worse than Michael Brantley and Dan Uggla. The Pink parallels are numbered # / 25 and you get 1-2 of them per box on average. Other possibilities are Black # / 5, Platinum # 1 / 1, and Printing Plates. I've pulled a couple of Black parallels and at least one Printing Plate, but no Platinums yet. Jay Bruce is a decent pull for one of my Pink parallels, and I am not sure I really know who Luis Jiminez is.

Each box contains one relic or autograph, with autographs being much more rare than relics. In the seven boxes I have opened and tracked I have pulled one autograph and six relics (including 2 Hank Congers!). The hit in this box is a PGS (Plain Gray Swatch) relic of Jayson Werth. Not much to say about it, really. The Nationals really had a rough 2015, and Werth was a part of that.

And that does it for this box of 2013 Topps Mini Baseball. It's a fun break even though there aren't really any big hits to chase. You still get a few cool bits in each box and the price is right. I am looking forward to the Astros playing the Yankees tomorrow in the WIld Card game. I really hope they can pull out a win. From here on out they have a tough road as there aren't any patsy teams in the playoffs.

04 October 2015

Click Here to View Cart 9: Hulk's Big Boot Drops on My Dave & Adam's Order

I didn't just buy unopened product in my recent Dave & Adam's order. I also bought one single card. Usually their single-card offerings don't appeal all that much to me, but this Hulk Hogan card popped up while I was filling my cart and I decided that I ought to have it in my collection. It's not the best Hulkster card in my collection, but it is pretty cool. It's just unfortunate that Upper Deck decided to reuse the same image on both cards.

I have to admit that I don't follow Upper Deck's products much anymore, so I didn't know what kind of product 2012 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Sports was or how it was distributed until I looked it up on Cardboard Connection. It looks like the card I have is a Silver Spectrum parallel of the base set. The print run is fairly limited, and my card is copy # 20 / 35.

Hulk Hogan is kind of a relic now, but he was a huge part of the pop culture background that I grew up in and there are more and more wrestlers from his days in the ring that aren't around anymore. It will be a shame when they are all gone, so I am going to keep appreciating guys like Hogan while they're still around. He has many flaws, but I think at heart he is a good guy and tries to make up for the dumb stuff he's done. In my opinion he truly loves all his fans and goes out of his way to do the right thing, even if it comes off as ham-fisted and contrived at times.

03 October 2015

Pack of the Day 105: Freebie 2012 Panini Cooperstown Blaster

I already showed one box of cards from my order from Dave & Adam's Card World, a Hobby box of Cryptozoic's DC Comics Super-Villains. Part of the shop's incentive program is a tiered group of gifts you can choose from based on the size of your order. My choice for this order was a blaster box of 2012 Panini Cooperstown Baseball. I don't usually go much for Panini's baseball stuff, but it was free and I've found myself grabbing various Panini singles lately for my player collections. Maybe I am softening in my old age.

Here are a few of the base cards that stood out to me. Nolan Ryan was my first favorite baseball player. I can't afford his cards, though, so I haven't built up much of a collection for The Ryan Express. Alexander Cartwright is apparently known as the father of modern baseball and played in the first recorded baseball game in 1845. He was also a firefighter. Harmon Killebrew is a local guy who lived in a town pretty close to the town where I went to high school. He also was a pretty good ball player. Catfish Hunter allows me an excuse to show off a picture from my personal life:

This past weekend my boys and I went on a camping / fishing trip with my dad. We didn't catch any Catfish, but we did get a nice big pile of trout out of the lake. I'm the bigger guy in the middle of the picture. The nights were a bit cold but we all had a good time. The boys really liked being able to hook and reel in their fish. Here's a close-up of the fish, the real stars of the show:

Anyway, it was a good time. The fish are delicious. In addition to fishing we went on a canoe excursion around the lake, visited a fish hatchery, and messed around at the campsite.

Getting back to the cards, here are some of the horizontal cards from the blaster. The Bruce Sutter card is a base card, but the rest are all from various insert sets. In the upper left is Gary Carter from the Field Generals set, a checklist that celebrates Hall of Fame catchers. There is a Hall History card of Honus Wagner, which is kind of an Inception card because it's a trading card about a trading card, in this case the famous T206 Wagner card. Finally we have a Postcards insert showing part of the Hall of Fame grounds during the winter.

I was happy to pull a Tony Gwynn card, with this one being an Induction insert showing Gwynn with his Hall of Fame plaque. The card in the upper right is a Bronze History insert that shows the plaque of Al Barlick, an umpire who worked a lot of games. It is numbered # 359 / 599. That Reggie Jackson card has a wood texture on the face of it. It looks like it comes from the blaster-exclusive Hall of Fame Classes Team insert set. It looks like individual players have multiple cards in the set, so maybe this set features players who had Hall of Fame credentials with multiple teams. Finally, I pulled an autograph, with this one being an on-card autograph of Dave Van Horne, a long-time broadcaster for the Montreal Expos. This one is numbered # 013 / 500. It's maybe not the most exciting autograph, but I'll take it. The dude has got some excellent penmanship. I was signing some documents the other day and they wanted me to sign my full legal name instead of my regular scribble signature. It was hard. It looked like I was trying to write with my off-hand. I had extra loops and letters and weird gaps and lines all over the place. I'd hate to be the PSA guy who tries to authenticate that batch of my signatures. That does it for this blaster box. There isn't much else to say. I didn't pull anything mind-boggling, but I did get some nice cards and an autograph. Not bad for a free blaster box.

02 October 2015

Pack of the Day 104: Cryptozoic DC Comics: Super-Villains Box Break

I recently flipped a card on eBay for a rather large profit and decided to make an order with Dave & Adam's Card World with some of the proceeds. I was able to grab a fair bit of stuff, and this box of Cryptozoic's DC Comics Super-Villains was one of the things I purchased. It has 24 packs, with 5 cards per pack. I believe the only guarantees are one sketch card and one box topper, although Cryptozoic usually tries to guarantee one base set per box. As the name implies, this set focuses on the bad guys and gals in the DC Universe. There are some tie-ins to the Forever Evil crossover event and Villains' Month promotions that DC did in their comic line during the end of 2013 and into 2014. 

The box toppers take a cue from the Villains' Month promotion of September 2013, during which many of DC's superhero titles had their names changed to the names of that hero or team's key villains. The comics told a story about that villain and the issues carried special numbering to differentiate them from the title's regular print run. One thing that many comic publishers have been doing for a few years now is releasing comic variants with blank covers printed on non-glossy stock, so that collectors can commission sketches to be done directly on the cover of the book. Cryptozoic played on that idea and included 5 x 7 blank cover variant box toppers with the titles from Villains' Month on them. In this case I pulled The Flash Grodd. Gorilla Grodd is one DC villain that I like quite a bit, so hopefully I will be able to find an artist who can do a sketch for me on this card.

There are 63 cards in the base set, with the first card being a title card for the set and the last card being a checklist. The other cards all feature various DC villains. I chose a few of my favorites to show here. Captain Cold is a Flash enemy, Cheetah is usually set against Wonder Woman, Mr. Freeze is a Batman villain who I associate with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lex Luthor is one of Superman's primary bad guys.

The card backs feature a repeat of the front image, some logos, and a very short blurb about the villain. Gone are the Win-Loss statistics, origin information, and power meters of yesteryear's comic book trading cards.

Silver parallels are supposedly seeded 1:2 packs, and there are parallels for the base set and the chase sets. I pulled 8 base card parallels from this box. The Anti-Monitor card in the upper left came out of the pack with a big section on the bottom of the card peeling up. I don't like pulling damaged cards from my packs, but I guess it is bound to happen from time to time. The parallels of the base cards are really understated, with just the name and logo having a slight silvery sheen to them. 

Gold parallels only come 1:48 packs or 1:2 boxes, but I beat the odds and pulled one of Clayface, the Batman villain. Again, these are understated parallels with just the set logo on the card front being a gold color and the name in the same silver foil as the Silver parallels. These are limited to 25 copies, and my Clayface card is numbered # 02 / 25.

Printing Plates fall 1:288 packs, or 1:12 boxes. I once again beat the odds and pulled a Magenta plate of Grid, a character who I don't know anything about. Apparently he is an evil program that split off from the hero Cyborg.

The Chase sets are seeded so that you can complete a full set from one box. The first is this 6-card Crime Syndicate of America puzzle, which features the main villains from the Forever Evil series. As you can probably tell, these villains match up with key members of the Justice League of America.

The next chase set is called Noir, and features black and white images of different villains. They are weighted fairly heavily toward Batman villains, but that is pretty much true of DC's whole operation.

Forever Evil is a set that features some of the covers from the Villains' Month comic book issues. There isn't much else to say about these. Some of the base cards featuring these characters reuse the cover art (like Solomon Grundy and Brainiac) but some do not (like Gorilla Grodd). I wonder if all of the art is reused from somewhere. I am inclined to think that it is, because even though the Grodd art is different it looks like it was done by the same artist.

I got four Silver parallels of different chase cards. These are a little easier to see, as the whole card has a silvery sheen to it as opposed to just the name and logo on the base cards. Again I had a couple of these parallels peeling from the edges. Something about the foiling process must lend itself to peeling. They also take fingerprints very well, so don't commit any crimes while holding onto a stack of these.

Each box also contains one Batman Classic TV series Cryptomium Reissue card. There are nine cards in the set. I am not really sure why these are included in this product, as the subject matter is completely off the super-villain theme. I came up with a couple of theories, though. The first is that someone needed to release something to maintain a license or copyright or something, and this was the product that met their timeline. The other is that that second number below the first one means that this set crosses many products, with a portion of the set being released as part of different card sets.

Sketch cards are seeded at 1:24 packs or 1 per box. There are also rare die-cut sketch cards. This sketch was done by artist Hanie Mohd and features a super-villain named Blackfire, who is the villainous older sister of the Teen Titan hero Starfire. I don't follow that team much at all, so I had to look all that up. The sketch is decent, but maybe not a home run. Mohd is on my list of artists whose sketch cards I am looking for, but this isn't her best work and the card features a character unfamiliar to me.

I'll probably keep the card because the sketch card market is so saturated right now that unless you pull some combination of top character / top artist you won't sell your sketch for enough to be worth the effort of listing it. I'll keep the card, but I will still be looking for something from Mohd that features one of my favorite characters. She has done a series of Art Nouveau super-heroines that is pretty awesome, so I am definitely a fan of her work in general.

Luckily for me, I beat the odds yet again in this box and pulled a second sketch card. The first sketch came in one of the first packs I opened, and this sketch came out of one of the final packs I busted. It's a sketch of Batman villain Riddler, and it was done by artist Bill Maus. He seems to have fewer sketches out on the market than many artists, and his work is generally pretty good. This sketch matches all of the criteria you want in a comic book sketch. It is a fully-colored and inked sketch of a well-known character done by a well-known artist. I am pretty happy with this sketch, and I will be keeping it in my collection.

Overall I am pretty happy with this box. I beat the odds several times with a Gold parallel, a Printing Plate, and two sketches. I can't complain too hard about that, especially since I got a complete base set and all of the common chase sets in the box, too.