31 July 2013

Pack of the Day 3: 2013 Bowman Football

One would think that this product would be similar to opening a pack of Bowman Baseball, especially after reading the back of the pack, which states odds for an appropriately large number of colored-border parallels, Refractors, parallel colored-border Refractors, and die-cut colored-border parallel Refractors. There are three fewer cards per pack than the baseball version of Bowman. Anyway, on to the cards in this pack.

First up came four rookies. They are shown wearing heavily-airbrushed college uniforms and represented by pro team logos above their names. I pulled the #1 overall pick, Eric Fisher, but he is probably a more exciting pick in the world of real football than in the world of collecting. In fact, the only player I'd really even heard of before the NFL Draft was Marcus Lattimore, and he was a 4th-round pick. Maybe this product would be more exciting in a year like last year, with the higher picks being devoted to the flashy quarterback position.  

After the four rookies came an insert, a mini card featuring another rookie, a Linebacker who seems to have some potential. But again, defensive players and Offensive Linemen don't typically move the needle on cardboard unless they really transcend their position, get into legal trouble, or have long, soft, luxurious hair and the last name Polamalu. It may be unfair, but Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and the occasional Wide Receiver or Tight End get all the press.

Finally, there are a couple of veterans to round out the pack. Their team logos are off to the side of their names, and they don't get airbrushed uniforms, making these cards a bit more attractive than the rookies earlier in the pack.

Overall, there isn't a lot going on in this pack for me. Perhaps if this were last year's product and I got an Andrew Luck, RG III, or Russell Wilson card as a rookie it would have been more exciting. For all the confusion in the baseball Bowman pack, there was at least a lot of different stuff going on visually and it felt much more substantial, even though I had about the same amount of recognition or less than I do for the players featured here. Football is a tough nut to crack. Some positions are inherently more collectible than others, while in baseball it seems like every position has a somewhat equal shot at being in demand. I could just be biased because I didn't happen to pull any Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks. In my opinion, the design is uninspiring, the airbrushed uniforms are cheesy, and when compared to Bowman Baseball, Bowman Football so far just feels like a lot less bang for the buck. As time goes by I guess we will see if this applies consistently when comparing the sports, or if it is limited to this product.

Arguably, given the nature of football careers vs. baseball careers, by the time a football player gets drafted/signed and gets a Bowman card, he has pretty much already 'made it,' while the prospects in Bowman Baseball are much younger and earlier in their career trajectories, making collectors who buy the baseball product more like prospectors than the folks who buy Bowman Football.

30 July 2013

Pack of the Day 2: 2013 Bowman Baseball (a confusing product)

These Bowman packs have got a lot going on in them. As a younger collector I stayed away from all of the Bowmans and Topps Finest and SPx and Chrome and whatnot, generally because I couldn't afford the packs and also because you couldn't get as many cards per dollar as in budget products. But I thought I would try some Bowman out to see what all the fuss is about. This product has the opposite problem as the Panini Basketball I looked at previously. There are about 6000 different things listed on the back of the pack, all with varying odds written next to them. Maybe not 6000. I counted 33 different subsets/inserts with listed odds. Here is a picture of the front of the pack, and then we'll look at the cards:

First up, you get four base cards. In this case, there are two prospects and two veterans. They are differentiated by a different numbering scheme on the back of the card as well as a different color on the back of the card. The prospects get a white card-back and the veterans get a grey card-back (you could call it silver if you want your cards to sound fancier). I've opened a couple of packs from this product, and they all seem to follow the same general distribution pattern. The photos on the cards have got a blurred background with some sort of photo-manipulation being done to the player photograph. On some cards the manipulation isn't that noticeable, and on some cards the players look very cartoony. Just as in basketball, most of my baseball knowledge comes from fantasy leagues, so prospects aren't all that familiar to me. There are Dynasty Fantasy Leagues, where your roster is persistent from year to year and prospects thus become important for later success, but I have never played in a Dynasty League. In year-to-year leagues, the only important players are the ones who have a chance to contribute statistics in that particular season.

After your first few base cards, there appears to be a gold-bordered parallel seeded in every pack. I haven't found any stated odds for these, but so far there has been one in each pack, regardless of what else comes in the pack. So here is a gold-bordered Cody Ross.

Next up comes the pack's hit. In this case, it is an autograph (yay!) of a Mariners prospect. The border of the card is blue, which suggests that this is a Blue-Bordered Prospect Retail Autograph Parallel (1:117 packs) as opposed to a regular Prospect Retail Autograph (1:35 packs). It even gets a serial number on the back! I don't know anything about Ji-Man Choi, but the player description on the back of the card makes him sound like a promising dude.

Next in the pack are a couple of Bowman Chrome cards, which are shiny and I believe are exclusively made up of prospects. Aside from being shiny and having a different logo, the card designs are the same as the base set.

And finally, after the Chrome cards you get a couple more base cards. I just noticed that veterans also get a team logo above their name on the front of the card, while prospects don't get one.

 In the title of the post I mentioned that the product is a bit confusing. This is mostly due to the sheer amount of stuff going on inside of these packs. You get base cards, parallels, inserts, some shiny subset cards, and then more base cards. And everything comes with different odds. It's all a bit complex for my simple reptilian brain, but I guess I can see the appeal for people who either like to get a lot of different stuff or like to chase the lottery with all of the parallels and Refractor variants. I know you often see outrageous prices on some of the hottest rare parallels from this set. I think someone recently pulled a 1/1 Yasiel Puig Refractor of some kind and stuck it on eBay for $30,000 o.b.o. I am mildly curious to see how much it pulls in, but as more Puig stuff hits the market it is bound to drop in value. I am pretty happy with the autograph. I think living in the Northwest for a while has started turning me into a bit of a fan of Seattle teams. I have been thinking I'd like to start player collections of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ken Griffey Jr., and maybe Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks. Maybe I should just start a Seattle collection.

29 July 2013

Pack of the Day 1: 2012-2013 Panini Basketball

In an effort to get the most out of the packs I buy, I think I will try to save the cards in the packaging until I can scan some of them and post about the pack here. It might be a fun sampler of what I've been up to and to help me get an idea of what sort of direction to take my collection in. First up is a Retail pack of 2012-2013 Panini Basketball. One of the difficult things about getting back into the hobby after a long absence is getting used to cards that were "off" brands when I was younger being the main brands today. Previously, it seemed that brands like Fleer, Topps, Upper Deck, and their various sub-brands were the main players and other manufacturers were always producing the airbrushed, weird sets that no one actually collected. At least that was my impression. Now it seems that other companies have got licenses, the old standbys may not have them anymore, and everything is topsy-turvy. But I thought I'd try a random sampling of packs and one of the packs I chose was this pack of 8 Panini NBA cards. Here is the packaging:

I got 7 base cards, but here are the four guys I recognized. Most of my sports knowledge comes through the lens of fantasy leagues, so the guys I recognize are either going to have been fantasy contributors at one point or in the case of basketball, former Houston Rockets. Shane Battier is a former Rocket who was generally good for peripheral stats while not excelling at anything in particular. He was more valuable on the court than in the fantasy game. Now that he plays for the Heat, he is mostly dead to me, but I can't hold it against him too much. Nick Collison didn't quite live up to expectations in fantasy basketball.

The insert in the pack isn't extremely rare, but it does feature my favorite player of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon, so I was pretty excited to pull it. Looking at the checklist for the set, he only has like two cards in the whole product and the other one is an autograph, so it's like this pack was beamed to me from whichever minor deity controls trading card seeding. The manufacturers pretend that they are in control of it by posting odds for things, but we all know from ripping packs that some supernatural force has to be in charge.

The base cards are all right. I can't see myself trying to build the set, and the Hakeem card is the only one I'd really want to chase anyway as I think the autograph is numbered fairly low, like /25 or something, so I can happily put 2012-2013 Panini Basketball behind me. The main problem I have with this pack is that the packaging doesn't mention odds. I mean, part of the fun of buying random packs is looking up whatever insert you pull to see how rare it is, so that was irksome to me.

In looking more closely at the picture on the Olajuwon card, you can see an NBA Finals banner in the background, and Charles Oakley of the New York Knicks guarding him, so the photo is from the Rockets championship run in 1994, the real start to a great stretch for my favorite sports teams that ran through the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl victory in 1998.

28 July 2013

This Would Be My Favorite Card

If there were a way for a card company to get licensing for it, I would love to see one of those lenticular motion cards of the Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble. I would probably just sit and stare at it for hours and hours. I don't even hold that much animosity for the Jets (I reserve that for the Chiefs and Raiders), but this play just about sums up the circus that is that team. And it's a play with the word 'butt' in it, which automatically appeals to my brand of humor.

I don't think we'll ever see the NFL give permission for a card like this. Leagues don't like to be embarrassed, for some reason. Has there ever been a bloopers subset from a licensed brand? I guess there are a few famous errors in baseball that might have made it onto cards. I seem to recall recently seeing a post about a card featuring George Brett's Pine Tar Incident.

27 July 2013

Want List Added

I have added the beginnings of a Want List to the blog. I see a lot of things on other people's Want Lists that I have, but then they ask me for my Want List and I don't have anything to tell them. So now I've got a start. Now I need to come up with a Trade List and fill both lists out.

I also need to put a bunch of my miniature wargaming kits on eBay so that I can convert them to cash and get back some of what I've paid out to the card stores over the last couple of months. I anticipate that I won't be purchasing a lot of boxes of cards over the next little bit, so I will have to rely on trades and the like to get my fix. It would also make sense to organize what I've got piled up around my desk.

26 July 2013

Topps Opening Day 2013

I have a hard time keeping track of where I read what, but I saw on another blog that from now until August 3rd, Target is having a sale on a couple of Topps products. 2013 Topps Series 1 is $0.99 per pack, Topps 2013 Stickers are around $0.75 a pack, and 2013 Topps Opening Day is $0.49 a pack. I went to the Target nearest my home to check it out. There weren't any signs proclaiming a sale, but when I took the packs to the Price Check scanner they rang up at the sale price.

So I bought a few Series 1 packs and a bunch of Opening Day packs. The next day I went back and got more Opening Day packs. Then my wife went and bought the rest of the Opening Day packs at that store. By this point I had a complete base set and a good start on all of the insert sets, as well as a 1:463 pack Opening Day Autograph (Justin Turner, Mets Infielder).

I really like the Blue Parallels. Something about the color just works for me, and they are just a little bit sparkly, which I also like. I am entertaining the idea of trying to complete a set of them. Along that thought line I looked up prices for singles of the parallels, as there don't appear to be many lots of multiples out there on eBay. At that rate, I said to myself, I could probably save money on the parallel set by checking out the other two Target stores within driving distance of home. So off I went. Neither store had as many packs as the first, but I bought them all, probably about 50 packs total between the two stores, plus the 70-80 from the first store. The cashier at one of the stores asked me if I was a collector. I wonder if many non-collectors buy thirty packs of trading cards at a time?

I also pulled some Press Pass Racing cards out of the discount bins, as well as a couple of packs of Topps Heritage and a lone pack of 2012 Topps Archives, which contained a SP card I needed. In addition, I grabbed some Gypsy Queen off the shelves, as well as a blaster of Goodwin Champions.

Nothing of any import came from any of the other packs I grabbed, although I can say that I don't really like Goodwin Champions in spite of the fact that it is a product that contains cards of such folk as Abraham Lincoln, Bram Stoker, and Spud Webb. Something about it just leaves me cold. Maybe it's the artwork and the lack of logos. I am holding on to my Abraham Lincoln card, though, and the Bram Stoker is going to someone who I think will appreciate it. I also pulled a card of jockey Gary Stevens, who is from the next town over and gets talked about fairly frequently on the local sports talk radio station.

Gypsy Queen is a card set that I quite like. I guess you could argue that it is similar in design to Goodwin Champions, although I think Allen & Ginter might be an even closer match to Goodwin than Gypsy Queen is. I think the difference for me is partly in the presence of logos and mostly in the artwork being actual photos with paint effects applied rather than Goodwin's less-finished look. I will not be pursuing a base set of this product, but I really like the No Hitters and Dealing Aces inserts, which are some of the more attainable cards, and I will be trying to get all of those. I did pull two of the blue-framed insert #'d out of 499, Larry Doby and Tommy Hanson. They are sharp-looking cards, but I don't have any use for them.

I am going to participate in this year's Gint-A-Cuffs V, which is a contest in which bloggers purchase a box of Allen and Ginter from Topps and add up the cards they pull based on a number of criteria, generally by rarity of pull, but also including wacky stuff like extra points for favorite teams or players and negative points for pulling Yankees. You have to keep track of your points on a pack-by-pack basis and post photos of any cards from a pack that alter your points. As the official dealer sponsor of Gint-A-Cuffs V, Dave and Adam's Card World provided a case worth of boxes to participants at a special discount and the main sponsor, Topps, apparently has promised three boxes of Allen & Ginter as the prize for scoring the most points. I am not really sure what to expect, but I hope the experience is more like Gypsy Queen than Goodwin Champions. I think it will be, as the base set and many of the inserts are focused on baseball, while the wacky fun is all in the inserts. I really want to pull an Arachnology redemption, but they are 1/1 incredibly tough pulls.

So, I bought all of the 2013 Topps Opening Day in Southwest Idaho Target stores. I know for sure that I have one complete base set, and I estimate that there is at least 1 and maybe two more base sets in the stack of cards on my desk. I have 17/25 Ballpark Fun inserts, 17/24 Mascots, 20/25 Opening Day Stars 3D, 18/25 Play Hard, and 17/25 Superstar Celebrations. I was hoping to be a little closer on all of those, but I am still pretty close. I also pulled an Ike Davis Opening Day Autograph, so that is my second autograph and also a Met. He has not been having a great year in Fantasy Baseball, and my teams have suffered a bit because of it. Of course, several of my teams also featured B.J. Upton and Giancarlo Stanton, so that should tell you all you need to know about my 2013 Fantasy Baseball season. I am struggling to get out of last place in most of my leagues.

I wound up with 28 Blue Parallels, which is a decent number but leaves me with a lot of work to do if I want to complete the set anytime this century. I really do like them, though, so I will probably see it through to the end. The only card I really really wanted that I didn't pull was the R.A. Dickey variation card. The variation cards are even tougher pulls than the autographs, so there wasn't much chance of pulling one, let alone a specific one. R.A. Dickey is for sure on my list of players to collect. His career has been pretty hit or miss, as can be expected for a knuckleballer, but I like his story and his book was pretty good. I was surprised at how many Blue Jays I recognized from my fantasy teams. Sometimes I get so focused in on stats that I don't notice who a guy is playing for, but I've got a boatload of Blue Jays on my teams. For Gint-A-Cuffs V each participant has to pick a favorite player and team, and I might go with R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays. Other guys who I want to start player collections for are Homer Bailey, Hisashi Iwakuma, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, and maybe a couple of batters to be named later. But for the moment, R.A. Dickey for the new-school and Nolan Ryan for the old-school. I may grab up Paul Molitor cards, too, as he is one of the guys who sent me back an autographed card in the mail when I was a kid. I will have player collections from other sports, too, but I will discuss that some other time.

20 July 2013

Back in with Both Feet

My first recollection of sports cards comes from 1991, when I went to the base commissary with the neighbor family, and for some reason we got to pick out something to buy. I chose a big rack pack of 1990 Topps baseball cards. I don't remember much else about the pack, but I do know that I spent a lot of time flipping through those cards, looking at stats and deciding that Nolan Ryan was my favorite player. Because the card I got of him featured an Astros uniform and my short-lived stint in T-ball was as a member of the Astros, I sadly chose the Astros as my favorite team. I am still an Astros fan, but I really wish the rebuilding would hurry up and go somewhere. During this time I attended my first and only major league game with my dad and my maternal grandfather, featuring the hometown Cincinnati Reds vs. the Houston Astros. I remember feeling conflicted about who to root for and my dad telling me it didn't matter who I rooted for since I hadn't cheered or made a sound all game. He traveled a lot with the military, so he brought home stuff for me, like a St. Louis Cardinals pennant and a batting helmet.

After our time in Ohio we moved to Alaska, and the collection that really took off for me there was postage stamps. I still had those 1990 Topps cards and a few others that I had picked up, but most of my efforts were directed at obtaining postage stamps. Most of the magazines I read at the time had ads featuring offers of 50 stamps for a dollar or two, and I would send off for a few packets of stamps as often as I could. There was a stamp shop down the hill from our house and I would go in there sometimes, but I recall most of the stuff being well out of my price range. I probably annoyed the heck out of the guy who ran the place. For a Christmas gift exchange at school I bought a couple of X-Men comics from the X-Cutioner's Song event and I recall being so intrigued by the packaging (polybagged with a trading card included) that I chose my own gift from the table so that I could get them. In a previous year I had chosen a gift at random and got something I really didn't like, so that bad experience probably fueled my decision to go with a known gift. This was right around the Death of Superman event, so when I dropped in at the local comic shop, there weren't many comics I could afford. I picked out a Wolverine comic and when I got home I think my dad threw it away because in the comic a pregnant woman was killed in some way and that was inappropriate for me to be reading at that age. But I still loved me some comic books, especially my beloved foil-covered Doom 2099 #1.

When we moved from Alaska down to Idaho around 1992, one of the things I was able to make friends over was comic books and also comic book trading cards. I don't remember actually buying any comic cards ever, but I know I must have got a box of various cards from somewhere to look through and trade with other kids. There was a card shop near my school, but again, I didn't have the money to buy anything there, especially not the cool hologram inserts from the Marvel Universe set. I did faithfully read Wizard magazine and bought comic books at the gas station down the street, so whatever I would read was limited to what was on hand there or on the other spinner racks in town. This is when the Fantastic Four became my favorite super-heroes. Prior to that it was probably the X-Men. DC comics didn't really appeal to me, and I knew most of the Marvel characters due to those trading cards everyone at school had. I wonder if DC had put out similar sets if they would've had a better chance at grabbing our attention as kids and farming future fans?

In 1993 or 1994 my cousins gave me a box of Upper Deck NBA cards that was shaped kind of like a locker. Inside it contained probably around 100 cards from the 1991-1992 set. In sorting through those cards I found what I believe is card #254, featuring Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets dunking the ball while wearing some goggles. The back of the card featured his impressive stats, and the combination of the picture, the stats, the goggles, and the Houston connection meant that he would go on to be my favorite player and the Houston Rockets would go on to be my favorite team.

Throughout middle school and high school most of my free cash went toward basketball cards of all kinds. I sent out a bunch of cards through the mail for autographs, and many of them didn't come back. Some did, though, and I got a big batch of football cards back from NFL players on the Denver Broncos. A few other NFL players sent signed cards back to me, but I got a number of autographs from Broncos linemen and their Tight End, Shannon Sharpe. This experience meant that my new favorite NFL team and player broke the Houston connection and the Denver Broncos and Shannon Sharpe were number one in my book. But most of my passion was centered on the NBA and the Houston Rockets. I built up quite a collection of base cards and low-end inserts, and even got a couple of letters printed in Beckett Basketball Monthly. I rotated players through my binder based on a faithfully-kept monthly list of favorite players, which always featured Olajuwon at the top and a variety of other players in spots 2-20. Notable names I remember being on the list are Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Clyde Drexler after his move to the Rockets, Charles Barkley (the same), and my second-favorite collecting target, the novelty-tall player Gheorghe Muresan of the Washington Bullets. I believe he eventually set himself up in spot #2 on my list. Other sports and some comic and movie cards floated on the periphery of my collection, but for the most part I focused on cheap packs from the various base lines in basketball. Upper Deck's Collector's Choice line was basically created with me as the target demographic. I never pulled many hot cards because I didn't buy the packs with the hot cards in them. One of my greatest achievements was saving up $32.50 so I could go to the card shop in my town and buy Hakeem Olajuwon's 2nd-year card.

After high school I left home and fell away from card collecting for quite a while. There were too many sets and I couldn't hope to get all of the autographs and serially-numbered cards of my favorite players, so I bowed out for a long while. I picked comic book collecting back up a couple of years later, probably prompted by the presence of a comic book shop in my college town, and started buying comics to read and also Heroclix, little figures based on comics that you could use to play a game. After my first tour to Iraq in 2004-2005 I stopped buying Heroclix and began to focus on miniature wargame figures that you built and paint, like Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer 40k. This continued for some time, but as I have started having kids, going to school, and working full-time, I just don't ever find the time or the desire to work with the figures. During my second tour to Iraq I read that Upper Deck had released a couple of Marvel Comic book card sets and I ordered a couple of base sets from eBay to look through and put in binders.

A few months ago I found my old card binders again and fiddled around with the cards I had in my teens. I ordered a couple of cards that had been elusive in my youth, like a Hakeem Olajuwon RC that I believe was under $20 as it is only graded at an 8. I remember when that card was $200. I also ordered a Shannon Sharpe RC and a Tim Tebow RC that I know will never make me any money, but he sure had an exciting run with the Broncos up through the playoff win over the Steelers.

A couple of months ago I found out that Cryptozoic was putting out a few DC Comics card sets with a sketch card in every box. I went in to the only card shop I know of that remains in the local area, the same shop I went to with my cousin throughout the 90s, and saw an amazing Princess Leia sketch card from one of the Star Wars Galaxy sets put out by Topps. I thought those were pretty neat, so I ordered a boxes of DC: The New 52, Marvel Bronze Age, and Topps Star Wars Galaxy 7 from Dave and Adam's Card World. The DC and Marvel sets lived up to my expectations, with some really nice sketch cards of Cyclops and Black Canary, but the Star Wars sketch was of such poor quality that I was infuriated. I posted my displeasure on the Topps Star Wars Facebook page, but didn't get any official response. Oddly enough, the Star Wars sketch I was angry about was by the same artist as the amazing one I had seen in the card shop. The card I saw at the shop is up on eBay and has been there for quite some time, and the card I got is pictured beneath it. I think the first one is from Galaxy 5 and the one I got is from Galaxy 7. I guess at some point Kevin Doyle got tired of doing his sketches and just mailed it in for Galaxy 7.

My next order of cards was for the remaining Cryptozoic DC releases, Batman and Superman. I didn't have much preference for Batman, but for Superman I was really hoping for a Power Girl sketch, as she's the only Superman universe character I have any affinity for, mostly based on the humor and fun in the fairly recent JSA: Classified and Power Girl series, which filled a hole left by the discontinuation of the similar She-Hulk series from Marvel. I wound up pulling an appropriately-dark Batman sketch and a well-done Power Girl sketch, so I did about as well as I could have on those boxes.

In spite of my anger at Topps over their poor sketch quality control, I couldn't stay mad at Star Wars for too long. My next purchase of cards included a box of Jedi Legacy, some My Little Pony series 1 and 2 (don't judge me!) boxes, and a couple of throwback releases, 2012 Topps WWE Heritage and 2013 Topps Archives Baseball, which I had noticed because it featured designs from the set that had started it all for me, 1990 Topps Baseball, and also because the smaller 200-card checklist seemed attainable for someone who likes set-collecting. Somewhere in all of this is a box of 2013 Press Pass Ignite Racing cards, but I can't see it in my dacardworld order history, so I don't remember which order it was in. Anyway, the Jedi Legacy box didn't yield anything too exciting, although the Ewok fur relic card was pretty neat. I had been hoping for a Jabba's Sail Barge relic card, but the Ewok fur was pretty good.

The WWE Heritage set was a lot of fun. I enjoy the over-the-top action of wrestling and have some nostalgia for the wrestling heroes of days gone by. I was pretty happy with the set overall, and the big pull was an autograph of Jake the Snake Roberts, which is pretty decent as far as the autograph list goes. The set also features a small insert set highlighting the career of Andre the Giant and puzzle stickers, which are both pretty cool. I wound up ordering another box later on to fill out some more of the insert sets and wound up with a mat relic from Wrestlemania instead of an autograph, which would have been preferable to me. Oh well.

The Press Pass Ignite racing cards were pretty attractive in design, and there are a couple of insert sets I'd like to complete, mostly the ones featuring the semi trucks that pull the cars from race to race. I guess the big pull was a Danica Patrick race-used firesuit card numbered 49/99. It appears to have part of the suit featuring the 'ca' from Danica on it, so it is a pretty cool swatch as far as swatches go. I also pulled a Aric Almirola autograph numbered out of 25, but this is apparently the first Press Pass product to use sticker autographs and I just can't get excited about the card.

Now, on to the 2013 Topps Archives Baseball. I had a lot of fun opening these cards. The variety of designs for the base cards seemed nice and the inserts all are fun nods to the past. You get a couple of autographs, some serial-numbered foil parallels, some small cards, some short prints, and just enough stuff that you can collect most of it without being entirely overwhelmed. I also pulled a 1/1 card, which was pretty darn neat, even though 1/1 doesn't mean what it used to when serially-numbered cards first hit the scene. It is the Homer Bailey Cyan Printing Plate. It is cool because it's a 1/1, also because it's of a player who has occasionally been on my fantasy baseball teams, he wears the jersey number 34 which has kind of become a pattern in my favorite players although that was largely unintentional, and also because he recently threw a no-hitter and was in the news cycle for a few days.

So that was pretty neat. I stopped at the kind of local card shop, Jerry's Rookie Shop, to get some card pages, but they were out of card pages, so I grabbed a few more packs of Archives to see if I could fill some holes in the base set. The owner opened a new box to get my packs, and there was a box-topper in the box, so he offered to sell it to me. I agreed to buy it, and when I opened it the card inside was okay, but not amazing by any means. He looked at it, I looked at it, and he said, "That's not worth $30. I thought they were all autographs. Go ahead and grab four more packs of Archives." So I did. All of the base cards in the packs were duplicates, but I got a couple of the inserts I needed and I also pulled a Bobbie Brown Heavy Metal Autograph. I would have preferred to pull an actual musician Heavy Metal Autograph, but I guess a music video eye-candy girl is okay. I was impressed with the customer service and care for the customer, but maybe that's why he's been around for all this time while other card shops have all folded up shop.

My most recent order was another box of 2013 Topps Archives Baseball and two boxes of 2012 Topps Archives Baseball. There wasn't anything too noteworthy in any of the boxes, but I did complete base sets aside from the SP cards and I've spent the rest of my time trying to line out the goals of my collection. I can't buy everything and I'd prefer not to go all willy-nilly and wind up with an accumulation rather than a collection, so I need to figure out what I'm going to seek out. I would like to continue my player collections for Hakeem Olajuwon and Gheorghe Muresan, but lately the NBA has left me a bit cold and I won't likely pursue much more outside of them. For baseball I would like to continue with the Topps Archives sets as long as they keep printing them, and maybe choose a couple of players to focus on for building collections around. I like the NFL, but I don't know what direction I'd go in there. I could search out Denver Broncos cards or Shannon Sharpe cards, I suppose, but I haven't sorted out what to do with football. For other stuff, I may try to collect a few NASCAR sets here and there, some wrestling stuff if it catches my eye, and comic book sets that fall inside my price range. I really like the stuff Cryptozoic is putting out and I wish they would get a Marvel license. The Upper Deck Marvel cards left me a little bit cold. Star Wars is really cool, but it's hard to keep up with all of the releases and stay focused on something specific. I guess I could try to keep up with the Galaxy base sets or just focus on characters I like and cards that catch my eye, but at the moment none of that appeals to me as much as the Cryptozoic releases and Archives Baseball, as well as filling out gaps in my player collections.

So that's where I came from and where I'm going when it comes to card collecting. I'd like to come up with a better title and maybe a banner for the blog, as well as get a decent small desk scanner for cards so that I don't have to rely on crappy cell phone pics that won't rotate even when I rotate them. And I would like to explore the social side of the hobby, which is something I miss out on quite often with my hobbies. There seems to be a very healthy trading community on the blogosphere, and that sounds like a lot of fun.