19 August 2017

Contested Shots 28: Sport Card Collectors MLB Pick 'Em July Prize

The Sport Card Collectors blog has been running an MLB Pick 'Em game all season, with monthly prizes and a big end-of-season prize. I've been doing pretty well in the game, although there are several consistent players ahead of me in the overall standings. I tied for the monthly lead in July, and the randomizer selected me as the winner for the month, so I had a few cool prizes arrive in my mailbox.

First up was this 2017 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autograph Peach parallel of Terry Mulholland. Mulholland played in 20 different MLB seasons, threw a no-hitter in 1990, and made one All-Star team. He also played for about a billion teams, with his best years being maybe 1990-1993 for the Phillies, the team whose uniform he's wearing on this card.

In addition to the autograph, I also got a box of supplies from BCW. One was this 3-inch D-ring binder, with plenty of room for pages of cards.

The other item in the box was a 100-count box of 9-pocket pages, something it seems like a collector always needs but never wants to buy. I will actually probably wind up doling these out to my kids, as they have been buying Pokemon cards and I've been pulling my cards out of binders in order to stock their card binders. Whether the kids use them or I use them, they are much appreciated.

It's been fun to participate in the Pick 'Em contest each week, and it was pretty cool to win a prize. There isn't a lot of time left in the season, but if you aren't participating yet, you can go sign up and try for the next monthly prize. Thanks for the contest, Sport Card Collectors, and thanks to both Sport Card Collectors and BCW for the prizes!

18 August 2017

Stardom Alpha Female Cards

I've blogged a couple of times about the trading cards put out by the Japanese promotion Stardom. Stardom brings in a lot of wrestlers from around the world for guest appearances and tournaments, and the card sets usually include a few cards devoted to those wrestlers. I've started a small player collection for cards featuring German wrestler/MMA fighter Jazzy 'Alpha Female' Gabert

She doesn't have many trading cards out there, so I am pretty much limited to collecting her appearances in the Stardom sets. She does appear in the WWE's upcoming Mae West Classic Women's Tournament, so maybe she will eventually make a WWE or NXT appearance and get into a Topps set? I think that would be pretty cool. I had a couple of her individual Stardom cards, and no more showed up when I searched eBay, but I was able to find these multi-wrestler cards featuring her image. The Artist of Stardom Championship is a six-woman tag team title, and the team of Kyoko Kimura, Alpha Female, and 'The Female Predator' Amazon were the third team to hold the belts, from November 4, 2013 to December 29, 2013.

This card features Kyoko Kimura and Alpha Female's reign as the 6th team to hold Stardom's Goddess of Stardom tag team championship, from January 26, 2014 to August 10, 2014. It was pretty cool to get a couple more Alpha Female cards. Hopefully I'll be able to track down some more items for my collection in the future.

Here's a promo video from the WWE for her appearance in the Mae Young Classic. I may have to renew my WWE Network subscription so I can watch it.

17 August 2017

She-Hulk by Fred Hembeck

Fred Hembeck is an artist with a distinctive cartoon art style. He's got a website, but I am most familiar with his eBay sketch auctions. He's usually got a handful of auctions going for artwork as well as a book of his art. I like his work because it's distinctive and because it is pretty comprehensive. He draws all kinds of characters from movies, comics, books, and television. He draws a lot of characters that you don't see very often, and he also draws versions of characters that don't get a lot of love, like alternate uniforms on superheroes.

I was able to get this She-Hulk sketch from his auctions a while back. I've bid on quite a few of his sketches, but I think this is the first time I actually won. It's done in his signature style, and the back features his certification of authenticity, as well as a self-portrait doodle. I'd like to get more of his work someday for my Princess Leia and Power Girl collections, but for now I am very happy that I was able to add this She-Hulk piece to my art collection.

16 August 2017

Topps Now Ultimate Card Giveaway Results

Back in February I bought some Topps Ultimate Card Giveaway code cards from Topps Series 1, and I won three 2017 Topps Now cards with the codes I entered. The cards I won were 10, 130, and 146, so I had to wait for the season's Topps Now moments to occur before I found out what players my cards would feature.

Card # 10 didn't take long, with the card being dated April 4th. This one features JaCoby Jones of the Tigers hitting his first career home run in his first Opening Day at-bat. It was his first and only MLB home run, and he has spent much of the season down at AAA. The print run on this one was 488 copies.

Card # 130 featured Phillies player Aaron Altherr, who hit his third home run in three days, a feat no Phillies player had achieved since Mike Schmidt in 1981. He's been pretty good for the team this year, but he's on the DL right now with a hamstring issue. That's pretty unfortunate. This card had 290 copies printed.

Four days later, card # 146 featured Mike Trout becoming the youngest MLB player in history to reach 150 home runs and 150 stolen bases for his career. It was nice to get at least one big name among my three winners, and Mike Trout is one of the biggest names outside of this year's hot rookies. This one had a pretty big print run, with 1,222 copies made.

I didn't do too bad with my Ultimate Card Giveaway codes. I wound up with three winners, and got a Mike Trout card and a couple of other dudes. I thought about buying some more code cards when Series 2 came out, but I never got around to it.

15 August 2017

Deadlift Lolita Muscle Cocktail CD Single

Today I am deviating from trading cards a bit and posting about music. In a roundabout way this all ties back into trading cards, but not really. There's a band out of Japan called Deadlift Lolita, made up professional wrestlers/singers/bodybuilders Ladybeard and Reika Saiki. Their music is defined as being kawaiicore, a blend of J-Pop and Metal. If you've heard of the band Babymetal, it's like that but with a twist.

Deadlift Lolita recently released a cd single for their song 'Muscle Cocktail,' which is an ode to various protein shakes. All of their song releases so far revolve around working out and fitness. As you can see on the front cover, they are both pretty built.

The back features still photos from the 'Muscle Cocktail' music video. There are three songs on the disc. I am familiar with 'Muscle Cocktail' and 'SIX PACK TWINS,' but the third song I'm not sure about. It might be instructions on how to do a dance. I'm not sure exactly.

I bought the cd from Ladybeard's website after he posted on Facebook that the first few dozen orders would get a free Polaroid/cheki photo of the duo. I couldn't pass that up, and the above photo arrived in the package with my album. Pretty cool stuff. Here's the music video, just in case you want to give it a try. I like it, and my family found it pretty entertaining.

I kind of promised that there was a trading card tie-in somewhere, and here's what I've got. I already showed these in my annual review of the 2017 BBM True Heart wrestling set, but I pulled Reika Saiki's base and autograph cards from my initial order of the product. Here they are:

Pretty cool stuff. I'm looking forward to more Deadlift Lolita stuff, as well as more wrestling cards out of Japan. I may even pick up a Deadlift Lolita t-shirt from Pro Wrestling Tees one of these days.

13 August 2017

Josh Reddick Topps Now

Just a quick one-card post for today, as I've let the weekend kind of slip away from me. On Friday evening the boys and I picked up my nephew and headed to Firebird Raceway to watch the Nightfire Nationals drag races with my dad. It was a pretty good time, and the kids were suitably impressed by the spectacle.

One of the night's highlights was Ed "The Outlaw" Jones and his wheel-standing stagecoach. It helped that along with driving his stagecoach up and down the track on two wheels, he also handed out plenty of jelly beans to the kids in attendance.


The jet-powered dragsters were also pretty exciting, shooting flames and making plenty of noise as they shot down the track. Saturday I didn't do a whole lot as I was struck down by my allergies, but I did manage to get out and get a snowcone with my wife for a mini date night. Today we had church and I took a nap afterward, because my allergies are still bothering me.

When Topps gave Josh Reddick a Now card back in April, I had to get a copy for my collection. The Astros have had some bad luck recently, with much of the roster on the DL and the rest of the team not playing up to their early-season level. They've fallen behind the Dodgers' pace and are close to being overtaken by the Nationals in the overall standings (although Bryce Harper unfortunately left the game today after an awkward encounter with a base). They just traded for Tyler Clippard, which should help to shore up a bullpen that's been shaky lately. The print run on this Reddick card was 279 copies.

11 August 2017

Famous Last Words: "There's no way I'll win it for this price!"

I think this is something anyone who's been on eBay for a while has done at least once. You see a cool item and place a bid on it for more than you really want to spend at the time because, "There's no way I'll win it for this price! Someone will surely outbid me!" Then you get the notification that you've won and you have to jump through hoops to cover the unexpected expense. On a smaller item it may not be that bad, but this time I really did a number on myself.

I was feeling out the price level on this card from 2016 Panini National Treasures Racing, featuring signatures from six NASCAR drivers, including two favorites of mine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. I went one bid too far and stopped, thinking that surely one more bid would come in and save me. No other bids came in, and I found that I was the new owner of this six-signature booklet. It was a good price for the card, but not a price I needed to be dropping on cardboard and ink at the time. Still, it's a sweet card and I like it quite a bit in spite of the sticker signatures all around. The autographs are Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, and Casey Mears.

The booklet is numbered # 07 / 25, and the card number is CHEVY, which is interesting since half of these drivers are now in Fords (Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick drive Fords for Stewart-Haas in the Monster Energy Cup Series, while Casey Mears drives a Ford in the Xfinity Series).

This is a pretty cool card and now acts as one of the showpieces of my NASCAR collection, but it also acts as a reminder to only bid if you're willing to pay up.

10 August 2017

Breaking it Down 36: Two Spots in a 2017 Topps WWE Undisputed Pack Draft

Topps recently released their high-end WWE Undisputed product for 2017. It is a hit-centric product with 8 autographs and two relics promised in each 10-pack box. There are 5 cards to a pack, with various inserts and parallels available.

I didn't really want to shell out for a box, but I bought two slots in a pack draft. There were 80 packs opened in the break, and the randomizer gave me slots 15 and 19 out of 20 in the snake draft format. That meant I would probably be locked out of the top picks in the draft, but it also meant that I wouldn't be getting the worst picks. A pack draft works pretty much how you'd expect. Participants pick in turn after all of the cards are opened, getting the entire contents of the selected pack. Once all 20 spots are picked, the draft order reverses for the next round. That meant I got picks 15, 19, 22, 26, 55, 59, 62, and 66 out of 80. I don't have all of the base cards in order, but I put hits and parallels into the proper spots.

Pack 1 - Pick 15

There wasn't much of excitement as far as base cards in this particular scan, but this is a look at the base cards. You can see that the Women's Division has their own checklist, designated by a W- prefix.

The Bret "Hit Man" Hart vs Edge card is part of the Dream Matches insert set. There are parallels for that set, but I didn't get any of those in my selections. With the 15th pick I got my 4th-ranked pack of the break, with a Brie Bella Autograph Relic Green parallel numbered # 21 / 25. Some of the stuff I really wanted but missed out on at the top were Bayley and Asuka autographs, as well as a "Macho Man" Randy Savage Gold parallel numbered # / 10.

Pack 2 - Pick 19

With the 19th pick I got my 5th-ranked pack of the break. I guess I had some different ranking criteria than some of the other participants, but that probably worked out in my favor. In the base cards I got a decent Triple H card and a Bronze parallel of Rowdy Roddy Piper, numbered # 55 / 99.

The hit in the pack was this Autograph Relic card of JoJo, the Raw brand ring announcer. I was probably swayed in my rankings by the face that I saw her announcing live at a Raw show in Cincinnati earlier this year. You see a lot of similar fabric colors and textures across the relics in the set, leading me to wonder if there was a specific event where all of the talent wore t-shirts that were used for these cards.

Pack 3 - Pick 22

With the 22nd pick I got my 15th-rated pack, so I was still feeling pretty good about this break. The highlight of these base cards for me is probably Big E.

The pack's hit was this Silver autograph of Chris Jericho, another wrestler I saw live at the Cincinnati show. He's a long-time favorite and great on the mic. This one is numbered # 17 / 50, and the only real knock is that the pen skipped off the foil at the start of his name, and you can see where he picked it up and started again.

Pack 4 - Pick 26

The scans for this pack came out a mess, with scans of all different sizes. I don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, this was my 17th-ranked pack, and I got it with pick 26. It featured a base autograph of Becky Lynch, numbered # 120 / 199, and a Gold parallel of Jason Jordan, numbered # 10 / 10. Jordan was recently revealed to be Kurt Angle's son in the WWE storyline. This was one of those packs that got ranked higher for me because of the parallel included alongside the hit.

The insert in the pack was this Dream Matches card of The Rock and Shawn Michaels.

Up there are the scans of the card backs from that pack, which I got all jacked up because the Becky Lynch autograph has a vertical front and a horizontal back, and I couldn't make the scans match up in even numbers.

Pack 5 - Pick 55

All of my picks were clustered into two groups of four, so it was a long time between my fourth and fifth picks. This was another pack that got a small bump in my mind because of the parallel. In this case, the parallel was a Rich Swann Green card, numbered # 01 / 25.

I also scanned this Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Goldberg Dream Matches insert alongside the hit of the pack, A Bronze Natalya Autograph Relic numbered # 48 / 99. It was my 28th-ranked pack, and I got it with pick 55.

Pack 6 - Pick 59

There's not much excitement among the base cards here. I guess Daniel Bryan has a pretty big following, but I missed out on his time in the spotlight.

There is another Dream Matches card here, featuring Undertaker and Sting. The hit is an Autograph Relic of Alicia Fox. It's a Bronze parallel, numbered # 48 / 99. I had this rated as the 31st-best pack in the break, and I got it with pick 59.

Pack 7 - Pick 62

Pickings were getting pretty slim here in the last quarter of the break, but since I was out before the last 14 picks there was still some value to be found. This pack held a Bronze parallel of Dash Wilder, numbered # 22 / 99.

The hit in this pack was a Silver Autograph Relic of Simon Gotch, numbered # 42 / 50. He is no longer with WWE, having been released from the company in April. That's probably why a Silver Autograph Relic fell so far in the draft. Still, I had this pack listed barely inside the top half of packs at 39th, and I got it with pick 62.

Pack 8 - Pick 66

This pack was a pretty good pull at 66, even though it held my first non-autographed hit of the break. Part of the reason was the Bronze Alexa Bliss parallel shown here, numbered # 98 / 99. Apparently she is one of the big draws in this product, and a couple of her hits went inside the top few picks in the draft, alongside a Goldberg autograph and a Charlotte Flair Autograph Relic.

The hit in the pack was a base Relic of Asuka, numbered # 023 / 199. I missed out on an Autograph Relic and an Autograph of Asuka earlier in the break, but at least I got a relic. Because of the parallel and the relic of Asuka, I had this pack ranked 48th, and I got it with my last pick at position 66.

This draft went pretty well for me. My position in the break meant that I missed out on a few of the top cards, but it also kept me from getting most of the real duds in the break. I really would have liked to get one of the Bayley or Asuka autographed cards that came out of the case, but they went too quickly. I still wound up with some of my top picks, and I think I did better than I would have just buying a box of my own. Obviously I could have bought my own box and hit it big, but I also could have opened a dud. This format kind of averaged those odds out.