27 January 2014

Collecting in 2014: My Big Stupid Post About What I Might Do This Year

I've been wanting to get some goals and ideas for 2014 written down in a post for some time now, but never quite got around to it before today. I also didn't have a lot of cards that I felt would fit in with such a post. I still don't, but decided to just add some of the TTM autos I got as a kid to the post to add some visual interest to what will ultimately be a list of collecting goals.

In looking back through this post, I really only touched on things I would like to add to my collection this year. Other topics that may get covered in other posts are organizing my collection, running my blog, and maybe trading and selling some cards.

2014 Topps Series 1 is on some store shelves right now, and the official release date is a few days away. I figured that I would collect the base set anyway no matter what, but with the checklist being released recently I may not pay a whole lot of attention to it beyond that. My two most active player collections lately have been R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick, and neither of those players have a single card in the base set or the inserts that have been announced. I have a Hobby Box of the product on pre-order, and that will probably knock out most of the set. The rest will probably come in trades or a Just Commons purchase. I think the Topps flagship base set is pretty much a requirement for baseball collectors.

This personalized Steve Bono autograph was probably one of my first TTM autographs. Somehow I wound up with a big box of this stuff. One unfortunate side effect of getting this autograph is that Bono's card is the one card I am missing from my set. I guess I should have checked for doubles before I sent it off.

The one product I am really looking forward to this year is 2014 Topps Archives. I have heard the Archives brand getting some criticism in the blogging world, but I love each iteration of it. My main complaint about the product in general is a complaint that applies to Topps as a whole; the widespread use of the same photographs within a product and across Topps' many brands. It can't be that hard to find two or three photos of a player so that his inserts can have different pictures on them than his base cards. My complaint for 2014 Archives specifically is the repeat usage of the 1980 design, which was also used in the 2012 Archives base set. There are a lot of set designs that could be used before Topps has to repeat one.

Other than those complaints, I like the variety and breadth of the Archives concept. It's a good way to get cards of players from all eras, there are inserts that replicate or hail back to insert sets or designs from Topps' baseball cards of the past or even from other sports' retro designs. This last year I had a lot of catching up to do and haven't quite finished off my 2012 and 2013 Archives sets, but hopefully I can get that done and then spend much of the year working on my 2014 Topps Archives collection. I don't know if I will be able to swing for an entire case of the stuff, but that would sure be cool.

I always liked Horace Grant, even if he did play many years on the Chicago Bulls, who I very much did not like. I think it was the goggles. He sent back a very nice blue ink TTM autograph on a '95-'96 NBA Hoops card from his time with the Orlando Magic.

I would like to participate in Gint-a-Cuffs again this year, in which bloggers open boxes of Allen & Ginter's and compare them against a scoring system to determine who has opened the best box. Topps has typically provided prizes for the contest, and different e-tailers also sponsor the contest, maybe offering a discount for participants to buy their box of cards for the contest. Allen & Ginter's is a fun set with a lot of interesting inserts and quirky subject matter, but I haven't made it a priority to track most of it down from 2013. There are a couple of autographs and relics from 2012 and 2013 that I still want to track down, but again in 2014 I don't see myself buying a lot of this stuff outside of Gint-a-Cuffs.

This Paul Molitor 1990 Topps card is another one of my TTM successes. The card has obviously seen better days, but this was probably one of my first TTM cards and may have spent a lot of time in a box with other loose cards before I found out about card sleeves and pages.

I don't see myself collecting a lot of baseball sets outside of Topps flagship, Topps Archives, and maybe Allen & Ginter's in 2014. In addition to getting those sets in 2013 I also got full sets of Bowman, Topps Chrome, Opening Day, and maybe a couple of other sets here and there. It was way too much. I need to pare things back a bit going forward. As far as other sports go, I don't see myself doing a whole lot with the NBA or NFL. Topps Magic is a football product that catches my eye, but I don't know if I want to open up that can of worms. If I were to collect an NBA product, it would probably be NBA Hoops. That seems to be the de facto flagship basketball set.

I have already built the base set for 2014 Press Pass NASCAR. I went in and purchased a box of the cards at my relatively local card shop when it was released a while back and got 99 / 100 of the base cards from that. The final card for the set was found on the secondary market. I don't know if I will build many more new NASCAR sets this year, but I might try to work on fleshing out inserts from past sets that I have built. My favorite drivers happen to be pretty popular with other collectors, so if I want a chance at relics and autos of drivers who I collect I may have to bust open some of those higher-end packs. You can sometimes get boxes of middle-tier stuff for pretty cheap once it is a couple of years old.

When it comes to the big names I always wonder if they really did sign the TTM autograph requests. I am pretty sure that Larry Bird did not actually sign this card, as the handwriting doesn't match anything of his that I see online. If that is the case, then I don't even know why I keep this thing around. I guess it's a nice relic from my childhood.

As far as player collections go, I will probably try to (kind of) keep up on my R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick collections. I have checklists printed off for them, but I haven't actually gone and compared what I have to what is on the checklists. I don't know if I will focus very hard on my Nolan Ryan and Bo Jackson collections, but if I see something good for them I will pick it up. Other guys on my PC list probably fall into that same boat at the moment. I may try to track down some more Derek Holland cards, although he's injured and out for quite a while at the moment.

I'd also like to expand my basketball collections, with some Hakeem Olajuwon, Gheorghe Muresan, and Manute Bol cards at the top of that list. One thing I really want to pick up this year is a certified Manute Bol autograph card. Other than that I would like to flesh out some of the base cards that I need and catch up a little on the years that I've been out of the game as far as collections. If my wife reads this she will laugh at me, but I may start a Chandler Parsons player collection, so I can collect the cards of a player who didn't retire over 10 years ago. We'll see if it gets off the ground.

I don't have much of a direction in mind for football cards. I watch more football than other sports, but the cards leave me a bit cold. I don't know why. If I do get going on the sport I will probably try to build collections for Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch, and maybe Shannon Sharpe or Tim Tebow or something.

NASCAR has been taking up a lot of my non-baseball interest lately. With the cars and firesuits and whatnot, there is a lot of stuff that Press Pass can take neat relics from. My favorite drivers can be pretty expensive on cardboard, but it seems like if I watch and wait enough, auctions that end at weird times or otherwise fall under the radar can be had with some regularity. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick are my main collections here, but I would like to chase down some more Tony Stewart stuff and maybe some Travis Pastrana cards too. I'd like to add some more die-cast cars from these drivers to my collection from some of these drivers throughout the year, too. Travis Pastrana especially has some colorful cars out there.

I may not really focus much on team collections, although I will still probably gather cards as they come to me. In addition to the main players I collect, there are always teams and players that go somewhere between my hardcore player collections and the general population. I haven't done any analysis on this, but these players generally are players that have contributed in some way to my fantasy sports teams.

This Brett Favre card is another TTM autograph from my youth. The signature matches up pretty well with pictures of his autograph I've seen online, but who knows if it is real? I don't know. The shine has come off of Favre a little bit with all of his retirement waffling, team-switching, and sending of weiner pics to team employees, but back in the day it was pretty cool to get this card back in the mail.

Well, that was pretty long. I don't even know if I cleared anything up for myself. Maybe a bulleted list summing things up will help. I tried it and it didn't help to build a list of bullet points. I really need to figure out how to organize my collection so that I know what I have and can access and enjoy it readily. The current system of stacking everything up all over my room isn't working.

The organization of the collection really has two components. The first and most visible component is storing and displaying the actual cards themselves. I imagine this would involve a system of boxes and binders, maybe separated by set and/or player. The hard part here is sorting all of the cards into their respective places in a timely manner. The nice part would be the time saved in not having to sort through three or four 5000-count boxes every time I want to find something.

The second is the administrative side of it, which should allow me to search my collection digitally and access what I have in my collection and ideally also track what I don't have, but want to add. I have started a Zistle account, but haven't been all that comfortable with the interface. Maybe with some more work I can make that work for me. I would imagine that once I get my full collection uploaded it will be easier to keep it updated, but any sort of upkeep that you have to do leaves the open the possibility of neglecting it for months on end and building a huge backlog that must be cleared. But I need to do something about it for my sanity.

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