03 October 2013

Pack of the Day 27: 2011 Press Pass Eclipse NASCAR Trading Cards Box Break

My job was one of the ones affected by the government shutdown, so until they turn the lights back on I find myself with an increase in time away from the office (I hesitate to say free time, because plenty of other stuff steps in to fill the void) and the sudden disappearance of my paycheck. In theory that frees me up to finish out some of these longer blog posts I've had sitting in my folder for a while. Here is one of them.

I opened up a box of 2011 Press Pass Eclipse NASCAR trading cards that I ordered in early August along with a pre-order of some comic book trading cards and boxes of 2013 Topps Series' 1 and 2.

The gimmick behind this product is that the photographs have some sort of digital manipulation applied to them to make them kind of look painted. The cardstock itself also has a textured finish applied to it that is somewhat reminiscent of a painter's canvas. Touches of holofoil around the borders finish off the design elements. Why did I choose this product? The box was on sale for a pretty decent price, with 1 autograph and 3 memorabilia cards promised. But before we get to the hits, here is everything else, along with a breakdown of what I pulled from my box.

Base Set: 90/90
Base Set Doubles: 17

I got a full base set out of the box, with 17 doubles and no triples/quadruples. So collation was perfect. The base set is broken out into a number of subsets. The first 32 cards in the set are represented by that Tony Stewart on the left, portrait cards of different drivers on the circuit, offered up in alphabetical order. The stats on the back focus on the driver's 2010 season, Races Started, Wins, Top 5, Top 10, and Poles. There is also a blurb about the driver, along with at least one horrible art-related pun per driver. This is similar in execution to the terrible military-themed wordplay on the cards from the Stealth set.

The Honor Society cards represented again by Tony Stewart on the right give props to drivers who won different awards or led the different levels of racing competition in 2010. For example, Stewart won the Humanitarian Award for his charity work.

The Horsepower subset showcases some of the cars in NASCAR, shown in order by car number. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 car shows up near the end of the subset. The backs of these cards talk about the different technologies found in the cars and the logistics of keeping the cars going.

The Sand Blast cards feature the events of the awards weekend in Las Vegas, mostly talking about different drivers who received hardware, but also including a couple of the fan events like the Victory Lap parade. Dale Jr.'s card honors his status as the Hamburger Helper Most Popular Driver.

Speedscapes appears to be the art guy or gal's time to shine and go crazy with the neons and filters, showing cars in race situations with more extreme photo-manipulation on display than seen on the other base cards. Again I am featuring Earnhardt Jr.'s card, as he drives from the garage into the pits "where 150,000 screaming fans will come to their collective feet." He's a popular guy.

Finally, the 2011 subset looks ahead to changes being made for the 2011 season, with the focus on drivers who are changing cars or shuffling sponsors. In this case, Marcos Ambrose signed on to drive the Stanley Black & Decker No. 9 car for the 2011 season.

Rides: 6/9 - 99, 48, 20, 83, 00, 42

This insert set features the cars that are at the very least co-stars with the drivers, if not maybe a little more iconic in some cases than the folks who pilot them. The backs of these cards talk about the inspections cars go through before and after races.

Encore: 3/9 - Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano

I don't really know what Encore is all about, but it focuses on some popular drivers. Apparently they are competitors who compete and their fans are loyal. One thing I like about the inserts in this product is that they are made up of 9 cards, so they fit in card pages without having a single card sitting alone on another page or other shenanigans with unfilled rows. Even the base set fits evenly on 10 card pages.

In Focus: 1/9 - Juan Pablo Montoya

The car is presented in pit row, with the focus centered on it. Everything else is blurred. I don't know if it's the perspective or the focus effects or a combination, but this doesn't even look real. It looks like something you'd see on a model railroad layout. The pit crew look like little plastic figures more than actual people. It's kind of neat.

The back of the card tells us that Montoya knows the best way to win is to be the fastest around the racetrack. I guess that would do it.

Hall of Fame Class of 2011: 1 - Bud Moore

This is a set that I believe just keeps going as new people get inducted to the Hall of Fame each year, so it crosses years and product lines.

Gold Parallel: Tony Stewart Speedscapes #44/55

This replaces the holofoil accents with gold foil and adds a serial number to the mix. I guess I am used to Topps-brand sets with their 6000 different parallels, as many of these racing card products only have one or two parallels per box. Of course, some of the higher-end card sets seem to have three parallels, one base card, and one hit per pack, so it almost seems like the base cards are the ones that are hard to find. It's cool that my one parallel was a decent-looking shot of Tony Stewart's car.

Autograph: Clint Bowyer #97/99

This autograph card is printed on some thin cardstock. Actually, I just compared it to a base card and they're about the same, but it seems thinner. Maybe it's the lack of texture and ornamentation. In fact, if I didn't know any better I'd say this card wasn't really aimed at any particular product. The picture isn't altered to look like a painting and the design elements don't match up with the base cards or the inserts. It doesn't have an Eclipse logo, either. The autograph is on-card, though, which is nice, and the penmanship is pretty legit compared to many of the scrawls that are out there. Bowyer is not a favorite driver of mine, but he isn't a scrub either.

Spellbound: Joey Logano G Shirt #013/150, Dale Earnhardt Jr. N Tire #062/125, Tony Stewart W Tire #11/100

I got pretty lucky with my three relic cards, as all of them feature drivers on my short list of favorites. I guess each driver has a number of different cards, each containing a letter of their last name. The different cards have different levels of rarity, so Logano might have 250 L's out there and only 150 G's. I don't know why, as that kind of defeats the purpose of trying to collect a full name in some cases.

Logano's relic is a shirt. Unlike the autograph above, these cards are done in the design of the regular set, with paint effects added to the photos and the Eclipse logo featured on the card fronts.

Earnhardt's relic is a race-used tire swatch numbered out of #/125. The colored band containing the relic is a nice touch, coordinating with the driver's firesuit.

Last is another tire swatch, this one from Tony Stewart. He is my favorite driver out of this bunch, and his card is the lowest-numbered, being out of #/100. The other difference between this and the other guys' Spellbound cards is that the foil accents are red on this card instead of gold. I don't know if he also has gold W cards out there with higher numbers or if Press Pass just wanted to mix things up a bit. Maybe the Spellbound sets have parallels, and that's why I've see different cards with wildly varying print runs on eBay. I never really stopped to look at the foil colors.

I haven't had much luck with single packs of high-end NASCAR stuff (or high-end anything really), but the mid-range stuff I've ordered so far seems to give a decent value for the money based on my experience. The base sets tend to be small enough to fill from one box, for the most part, and the inserts and memorabilia/signatures tend to be okay. Between race car parts and the colorful patches and uniforms the drivers wear, there is potential for some nice flashy memorabilia cards, and if you shop around in products that are a year or two old there are some pretty good bargains to be had that still feature drivers who are relevant and prominent today.

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