13 April 2019

Some Box Breaks and Other Things

A while back I wanted to bust some packs, so I ordered some boxes of my favorite products of the last year or so from Blowout Cards. It feels a little weird that I don't have any baseball product in this order, but I've sort of moved into only buying singles and sets for that sport. I collect a relatively small number of baseball players, so the likelihood of pulling something that fits into my collection is slim. I tend to enjoy all kinds of stuff from racing, wrestling, and UFC, so the randomness of box busting is a little more collection-friendly for me.

There's the lineup of boxes. For wrestling I got a blaster of 2017 Topps WWE Women's Division, a hobby box of 2018 Topps WWE Women's Division, and a hobby box of 2019 Topps WWE Road to WrestleMania. For racing I got a box of 2018 Panini Victory Lane and a box of 2018 Panini Certified. I also got a box of 2018 Topps UFC Chrome. The pictures below are not really in order, so anyone who can't handle chaos should probably take off, eh.

Here are a couple of card from the Victory Lane box, an insert parallel of Alex Bowman and a Engineered to Perfection triple relic of Denny Hamlin. I guess this is as good a place as any to repeat that I have a mild interest in Hamlin cards because I worked for his sponsor, FedEx, for a couple of years.

The blaster of 2017 Topps WWE Women's Division turned out to be a pretty good one, with a Blue parallel of Lana and an autograph of Nikki Bella.

These breaks were pretty heavy on the Alex Bowman cards. These cards all came from 2018 Panini Certified. I got that Red Certified Signatures Alex Bowman autograph with two relic swatches, a Gold All-Certified Team insert of Kyle Larson, and two different versions of Bowman's Skills insert.

Here are some Red and Gold parallels and hits from the Certified box. I bought the Certified stuff hoping to get a Hailie Deegan autograph, but that didn't happen for me.

Here are the last couple cards from the Certified box, a couple of basic relic inserts featuring Jamie McMurray and Chase Elliott.

Here are the hits from the 2018 Topps WWE Women's Division box. I got a Silver parallel of Rusev kicking Elias in the face, which kind of makes up for the fact that there aren't any Women's Division wrestlers on the card. That Carmella autograph is a testament to the fact that female athletes don't always have great penmanship. I am always happy to get another Naomi card, even if this is just a manufactured relic.

I got a # / 25 parallel, a Kofi Kingston autograph, and a Titus O'Neil manufactured relic out of the 2019 Topps WWE Road to WrestleMania set. You may recognize Kofi Kingston as the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

The UFC Chrome box was a fun break, as usual for this particular product. These insert Refractors are of the # / 50 variety.

These are some of the more colorful Refractors in the box, an Orange # / 25 of Lyoto Machida and a Green # / 99 of Chuck Liddell. 

The box was a hot box, meaning that every pack contained one of those Refractors with the crazy patterned background shown on the Rose Namajunas and Holly Holm cards. X-Fractors and Blue Wave Refractors both come one per box, but X-Fractors are unnumbered while the Blue Waves are # / 75.

Each box of UFC Chrome has two autographs (unless you get a hot box with an OctoFractor), and I did pretty well here. The Claudia Gadelha signature is a base autograph, while the Amanda Nunes is an Orange # / 25.

Back to racing with some more Victory Lane stuff, including a Justin Haley autograph, a nice Chase Elliott auto-relic, and a dual relic of Justin Allgaier.

I pulled two # 1 / 1 cards in this break, and they both came from the Victory Lane box. One is a Yellow printing plate featuring none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. The other is a Prime Patches card of Jamie McMurray, featuring the series sponsor patch from his firesuit.

Here's a bunch of other stuff I've picked up over the last couple of months. These two autographs were fun finds for me. The Josh Reddick comes from 2012 Topps Mini. It was hard to find autographs in these Mini products, so it was cool to see one in the wild. The R.A. Dickey card is a wrapper redemption autograph from 2013. I don't recall seeing many of these out there, either.

I was glad to add another Jake Butt card to my collection. I believe this one comes from 2017 Panini Unparalleled. The Charlotte Flair signature is a Silver parallel from 2019 Topps Road to WrestleMania. I like the design of that set's autographs, so I was happy to get one of the Queen.

Here are a couple of redemptions that came in from Topps. One is a UFC Museum Collection autograph of Maryna Moroz, which I believe is the first Moroz signature in my collection. The other is a Vanessa Borne card from the 2018 Topps WWE Women's Division set. Again, I think that might be my first autograph from her.

These cards were COMC purchases. Up first is an Octane Autographs card of Bubba Wallace from 2018 Panini Victory Lane. The other is a Green autograph of Naomi from 2018 Topps WWE Undisputed. The parallel coloring bleeds into the photographs on this set, leading to some weird situations, but in this case the green matches well with Naomi's gear.

This year's Topps Heritage set included box toppers featuring Topps staffers. I had to chase this one down on eBay because it pictures Sooz, one member of the A Cardboard Problem blog team and an active member of card Twitter.

I was one of the people who ordered one of the tablecloth relic cards from Manny Machado's press conference. The backlash against this card was so furious that I had to get one for my collection. I love things that other people hate, and the laugh I get from seeing this card in my collection is well worth the price.

The Alex Bregman card is a replacement for a damaged Bregman relic I got in the mail after buying a 2018 Topps Holiday box that was missing a hit. Attached to the card was a sort of passive-aggressive note reminding me that the damaged card was not folded in half when it was shipped. That was kind of the point. I was disappointed in the packaging. Poor packaging tends to lead to shipping damage. The other card is a replacement for a damaged Sandy Alcantara card I pulled from a rack pack of 2018 Topps Fire.

I was chasing a Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat card from 2018 Topps WWE Legends set, and I was pretty happy to get this Bronze autographed relic. I also picked up a Diamond Dallas Page autograph.

I also got this cool Alundra Blayze Hall of Fame Ring relic autograph card. This is the Gold version of the card, so it is limited to 10 copies. In the same group of auctions I picked up this Paige VanZant signature from Leaf.

That about does it for this bunch. Although my production of blog posts has slowed to a crawl, I am still actively collecting. I am trying to get back into the swing of my hobbies, but there are a lot of things competing for my attention right now and I spend most of my time feeling worn out.

25 March 2019

Cards from A Cracked Bat and Some Other Stuff

If I am going to maintain my 2 posts per month pace this year, I need to get a second post published before March ends. I'll start off by offering my belated thanks to Julie from A Cracked Bat for sending me a large batch of cards featuring famous Astros, notably Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

There are a lot of cards in the pile, most from a time when I was either collecting basketball cards or not collecting cards at all. In addition to Bagwell and Biggio, other star Astros players made appearances.

Julie was quite persistent in tracking me down to mail these out after I won her Dupe, Dump, or Dwindle contest in October. I haven't been feeling all that sociable lately, but I do appreciate that she took the time to send these my way.

Although I haven't felt like blogging much over the last year or so, my collection keeps growing. I sometimes post my maildays on Twitter, and sometimes I just let cards pile up on my desk. I've got a sorting project that goes in fits and starts, and I am slowly getting the sorted cards entered into my Trading Card Database profile.

For the most part I am just trying to stay afloat. I am burnt out and tired most of the time. I've been trying to do a better job at work. I don't think I am in imminent danger of getting fired or disciplined or anything, but I know I could do better and I can feel that I've been pushed to the fringes of my work group.

On Friday I get to go to the doctor to see how much surgery a hernia that popped up recently will need. Or I will see the doctor, who will order some imaging, which will eventually lead to an analysis of how much surgery I need to get my insides back where they go. It hurts when I do things like move or stay still or cough. This is all complicated by the fact that I have a big trip scheduled this summer that will require some amount of exertion. I also need a clean bill of health to maintain my part-time job, because if I can hold on for three more years I will be able to retire and access a very good healthcare program.

School is going moderately well. I am pursuing my M.B.A. at a local university, and I am doing enough to stay in the program. My first couple of classes were pretty rough, but I have dropped down to taking one course at a time and it is at least manageable. I don't know what I will do with the degree, but I figure the time is going to pass whether I get more education or not and my job is paying for it, so I might as well get the fancy piece of paper.

All things considered, life is pretty good, even though I don't feel good. I try to maintain some kind of positivity, though, because I want to be a good example for my kids. Odds are that they will struggle with mental illness since it runs in both sides of our family, but I want them to see that you can still have an okay life even if you are miserable.

All of the cards after the pictures of Julie's cards are eBay pickups from the last couple of months. I especially like the Dikembe Mutombo shoe card, the Ember Moon autograph, the Jake Butt autograph, the Jeff Bagwell AuthenTix relic, and the dual bat relic of Jeff Kent and Roberto Alomar.

03 March 2019

Pack of the Day 193: A Hobby Box of 2019 Topps Heritage

Topps Heritage came out the other day, and I talked myself into going to the local card store to see what their pricing was like. It was fairly reasonable compared to online prices, so I bought a box to open and get a look at this year's offering.

There's the box before I tore into it. I guess there's not much else to say about this picture. You're guaranteed one autograph or relic in the box, and there are 24 packs with 9 cards per pack. You also get a box topper.

Here's what the box topper wrapper looks like, for anyone who was wondering.

My box topper was a 1970 Topps Super Baseball card of Juan Soto. Other options include 1970 Topps Originals (buybacks with foil stamps), 1970 Topps Posters, and 2019 Topps Teammates.

The packs look like Heritage packs.

Here are the odds for all of the various things, as well as the NPN information, for folks who like to participate in that.

Here is a standard base card from the set. I pulled 196 / 400 cards from the base set, so it is conceivable that with some luck you could complete the non-SP set from two boxes and a couple of packs or trades.

Here's an example of a League Leaders subset card. I had to choose the one I pulled with two Astros on the front.

The Rookies get to share their cards, and they get minor league stats on the back of their cards.

The All-Stars have a newspaper design. Several blogs have noted the return of The Sporting News branding on these, after a couple of years without. The backs get cartoon heads with varying levels of creepiness.

There are also playoff cards, with The Sporting News branding, black and white photos, and box scores on the backs.

Here are a few other base cards I picked out for this post. I don't know why so many Braves showed up in this picture. I didn't set out to do that. I don't even like the Braves. I guess I picked Minter because of the All-Star Rookie trophy.

I pulled 8 cards from the short-printed # 401-500 portion of the set. I'm glad I got an Astro in Gerrit Cole. Aaron Judge is probably the other highlight here. I noticed that the cuts on the edges of many cards are pretty rough. You can see it well here on the bottom of the Edwin Diaz card. Maybe they should switch out the cutter blades a bit more often.

The Chrome partial parallel set falls 1:58 packs, and I pulled an Odubel Herrera from the box. I think the serial number on it is # 261 / 999. It is quite bowed.

The Black parallels are not serially-numbered, but fall 1:62 packs. I think this is a full parallel set rather than a partial, but don't quote me on that. I am not a reliable source here.

Baseball Flashbacks are a 1:18 pack insert set, and I pulled a Reggie Jackson as the lone representative from that checklist.

New Age Performers fall 1:6 packs, and are quite colorful in spite of the bland grey borders.

News Flashbacks are another 1:18 pack set, and I got two of them in my box.

Then & Now is an additional 1:18 pack insert, and I got a card with Jim Palmer and Justin Verlander on the front. It is interesting to see how the pitching game has changed over time. No one last year threw more than one shutout in the AL.

1970 Topps Scratch-Off inserts come one per box, and I got Mike Trout as the subject of my booklet.

Here's the inside of the booklet after it's been unfolded. I think I liked these better as box toppers.

And the promised hit is a Yankees pitcher autograph. Real One Autographs are a 1:106 pack pull.

I like this product quite a bit, but at the going rate for boxes I don't feel like the perceived value is there. Maybe if you can break enough of it to pull a few variations or cooler hits it would be different. At $90-100 per box, though, you're getting a lot of base cards and not much else. You can get a # 1-400 base set for $35-40 online. This would be a much better break at $60-65 per box, but I guess we're not going to see that happen anytime soon. This is a fun product to sort through and look at, but I'll probably just buy a set online at some point rather than bust any more boxes.