30 November 2014

2013 SEGA Card-Gen Extravaganza 10: New York Yankees

I haven't posted a team set of 2013 SEGA Card-Gen since the end of August. I was a little surprised to see that it has been almost three months, but I guess time has a way of moving faster than you want it to. I finally scanned a couple more teams and the next one on the list is the New York Yankees. This team set is pretty big on star power, with a whopping 7 players with 7- or 8-star ratings. There are 11 Yankees in the set, which is slightly under the team average of 13 over the whole checklist.

Kicking things off for the Evil Empire is Mark Teixeira. Injuries have plagued him for the last couple of years, so he hasn't quite lived up to the 8-star rating he shows here recently. You can't knock him too much, though, as he's been around long enough to have two career peaks, with some decent production between them.

Robinson Cano left the Yankees for the Mariners in 2014 after signing a 10-year contract for a buttload of money. Most importantly, he's been a valuable commodity in fantasy baseball as a 2B who hits for power, although the move from New York to Seattle hurts that a bit.

Alex Rodriguez has been caught up in all sorts of scandals centered around steroid use, and that has marred a career that could be measured among the all-time greats. I just don't like the guy. It's interesting that he only got 7 stars. You'd think his superstar status would garner an instant 8-star rating.

Derek Jeter is pretty famous. You may have heard that he retired after the 2014 season. He's been an All-Star for like the last 15 years, although the last few seasons it was probably more out of reputation than actual performance on the field. A lot of people are all about the Yankees, and Jeter has been the face of the Yankees for a long time. My favorite Jeter memory is pulling a Jeter Rip Card out of 2014 Allen & Ginter's and selling it on eBay for enough to buy a cheaper Rip Card and a bunch of other stuff.

Granderson was coming off of two consecutive 40+ home run season when this card came out, so I guess the high rating can be excused. He had a down year for the Yankees in 2013 and then moved to the Mets for 2014 and at least was able to stay on the field for most of the year.

Ichiro is another pretty famous dude who plays baseball for the Yankees. He came into the league on fire, winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, and reeled off ten straight All-Star appearances. He led the league in hits like a million times. His last four seasons have been at a lower level than the first ten, but he's still probably an above-average player. I'm not sure where he will play in 2015. Some team will probably pick him up, if he is willing to accept whatever contracts are offered.

CC Sabathia is another guy who was coming off a pretty good 2012 when this set was produced. 2013 and 2014 were pretty rough for him, and with his knee being as bad as it is, who knows if he will ever be able to come back and put up serviceable numbers? He's got a Cy Young and 6 All-Star appearances, but heaven help you if you draft him in fantasy baseball expecting miracles.

Now we're getting to the weak portion of the team, with a guy who only has 6 stars. Just kidding, it gets a little worse later. He pitches a lot of innings with decent ratios, and his career win-loss record is an even 79-79, which is kind of cool. Looking at the numbers, he probably deserves to have a few more wins than that, but that's just one poorly-educated man's opinion based on a cursory glance at his Baseball Reference player page.

Ivan Nova hasn't exactly been great in his career, and his 2014 was cut short by an injury that required Tommy John surgery. I don't know a lot about him, as I've never wanted his inflated WHIP on my fantasy baseball rosters.

Based on star rating, Phil Hughes would be tied with Carlos Pena as the best player on the Houston Astros' Card-Gen roster. Hughes was kind of a yo-yo with the Yankees, with some pretty good years and some pretty bad years. He signed with the Twins for 2014 and finally put it all together and/or had a career year.

David Robertson pitched well for a few years and then in 2014 stepped into the closer role vacated by the retired Mariano Rivera. He pitched pretty well as the closer and the rumor is that he will make big money on the free agent market from a team looking to add a top reliever. It is interesting to see that the Astros might make a play for him. They need somebody consistent to take over the late innings, as it seems like the bullpen is constantly a train wreck waiting to happen.

And that does it for the Yankees in 2013 SEGA Card-Gen. Ten teams are down, so I've just got 20 more to go. I may finish this series of posts by 2017, but I don't know that I'd put any money on that.

29 November 2014

Pack of the Day 82: A Second Box of 2014 Topps Stadium Club

Shortly after I purchased my previous box of 2014 Stadium Club at what seemed like a pretty good price, Dave and Adam's made it one of their Daily Deals for $10 less per box. I was weak and ordered some more. These cards are beautiful, and they have a good feel to them when shuffling through a stack. I have most of a base set now, with just about 30 cards missing. There were some Black Friday deals on Stadium Club, but I couldn't justify spending more than I already had on Black Friday. There will be other discounts later. At $55 or less I like this stuff. At $65 and up it seems like less of a deal. I picked a few of my favorite base cards to show off first:

My player collections have seen a bit of a shake-up this offseason, but for the most part everyone's been shuffled to other teams I collect. I call myself an Astros fan and I do collect some specific Houston players, but most of the players I collect are Blue Jays, Athletics, and Royals. I guess that means I am lucky that Billy Butler went to the A's and Josh Donaldson went to the Blue Jays. Even though I like the guy, I don't know how good of a deal Butler is for Oakland. Maybe he'll find himself down there, or the roster shuffling they do will mask some of his weaknesses, It also seems a lot like Toronto won the Donaldson trade, but we won't know for sure until the season plays out. Alex Gordon tends to make some great faces on his cards. I wanted at least one older player for the scan, and Dawson was the best photo in the bunch. I showed off the Wilin Rosario Members Only card a little while ago, and I finally pulled the base card to go with it. I'm not a Boston Red Sox fan, but that celebration shot was too good to pass up, and I wanted to close things out with a couple of fielding shots.

Two of the three Rainbow Foil parallels from this box fit into my player collections. Max Scherzer is getting offers from the New York Yankees, and most folks seem to think he'll be in pinstripes before too long. I guess I'll still set his cards aside for my player collection. I got a Billy Butler parallel to go along with the base card. I'm not a Cubs fan, but that Castro card looks nice enough.

My Gold parallel for this box was CC Sabathia. This would have been a much better pull a couple of years ago.

I got three Field Access cards in this box. I got four in the last box because I got a parallel of the Joe Mauer card. Now I have the base insert to go with it. The Trout and Bench cards have decent photos on them, so no complaints there. I guess the Trout would fit into Dime Box Nick's Awards Show mini collection, while the Mauer would go well in the Kids on Cards mini collection.

My Beam Team for the box is Andrew McCutchen, which means I am having pretty good luck on the player collection front. I like the Beam Team The George Brett Legends insert is another double from the first box. I got one of the better Future Stars cards in Yasiel Puig. Stadium Club would be a fun set to collect all the inserts for, but I don't know if I have it in me to make that a collecting priority.

I pulled two Triumvirate cards, both featuring Dodgers pitchers. The Hyun-Jin Ryu card is another PC card, and is the base Luminous version that comes one per box. The Clayton Kershaw is the Illuminator version, which comes one per case and is made of transparent acetate. I tried interlocking them along the edge where they are supposed to match. They fit together along the bottom half, but up high the die-cuts fall out of alignment.

Here is how they look on the back. The base Triumvirate cards are blank on the back, with the player name and team down with the legal information at the bottom of the card. The acetate cards show the player's silhouette in white.

Closing things out is the three guaranteed autographs in the box. Charlie Blackmon is someone I've actually heard of, as he came seemingly out of nowhere to post an All-Star season. I was able to get in on some of his early big numbers in fantasy baseball. If I recall right, he tailed off at the end of the year, but those first couple of months he was on fire. I don't know much about Luis Sardinas. He played part of the season for the Rangers and may make the roster next year, depending on what happens with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. Andrew Heaney didn't have a great performance during his audition with the Marlins this year. I don't know anything else about him except that he is on the trade block. His autograph is the Rainbow Foil version and is numbered # 22 / 50. The Rainbow Foil autographs fall about 2 per case.

So I pulled a case hit in the Clayton Kershaw and a half-case hit in Andrew Heaney, as well as an autograph of a guy I've heard of and a few player collection cards from the base and inserts. Stadium Club isn't about the big money hits, so I'd say I did pretty well on this box. I would like to complete the base set eventually, and it would be fun to collect the full Triumvirate base insert set. I wouldn't want to chase down the Illuminator acetate set, but the Luminous base set wouldn't be too awful.

27 November 2014

At the Trade Deadline 26: A Big Dose of Basketball Nostalgia from The Prowling Cat

A while back The Prowling Cat blog held a week-long Clearing the Closet giveaway of various trading card sets that had been accumulated over time. There were quite a few of them that interested me, but in an effort to let other people have some fun I claimed just two sets. One was a fantasy and sci-fi art set featuring illustrations by Keith Parkinson, and one was this '92-'93 Upper Deck McDonald's NBA set. It features 50 cards, and I had a good time flipping through the cards and seeing some of the players I collected back in the day as well as remembering some of the players I'd forgotten about over the last fifteen or so years. Apparently these cards were distributed in packs with Value Meals, and there were regional sets too. I don't know anything about all that, as these were put out slightly before I got into basketball cards.

One of the highlights of claiming this set was getting a Hakeem Olajuwon card I didn't already have. On the front is a pretty nice Upper Deck design which kind of splits the difference between the '91-'92 and '92-'93 Upper Deck flagship sets. It's got the wood floor aspects and team logo in a circle aspects of the earlier set and the team color accents of the later set. The back of the card features a few lines of stats as well as career totals, some personal information, and an action photo. The hologram is in the shape of the McDonald's Golden Arches logo, but that is the only mention of McDonald's' involvement in the promotion.

Each team gets one or two players in the checklist, depending I guess on how many stars a team had at the time, although in some cases it looks like Upper Deck just had to grab someone from the roster, whether they were popular or not. I guess the big card in this scan would be the Michael Jordan, but I never really was a Jordan or a Bulls fan. Everyone liked the Bulls because they were dominant, but that was too mainstream for me. I did like Horace Grant, though, mostly because of his goggles and the fact that he responded to my TTM autograph request. Larry Johnson and the Charlotte Hornets were a pretty big deal during this time frame.

I've always liked Mutombo, and those Denver Nuggets jerseys are so awful they're good, kind of like the rainbow-era Astros uniforms. He spent the last few years of his career with the Houston Rockets, and is second on the NBA's all-time blocks list to my favorite player, Hakeem Olajuwon.

Because the playing field is so small and it's a relatively close-quarters kind of game, there is a high chance that NBA cards will feature cameos by other players, like Patrick Ewing lurking in the back of Mutombo's card. One thing I like about collecting Olajuwon's card is that he played in an era where big men were extremely popular, so his cards often feature another famous player in the vicinity, like David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, or Patrick Ewing.

I guess I should mention Reggie Miller. I never liked that guy. Some players just rub you the wrong way, and for me Reggie was that kind of player. If I had to choose a favorite Pacer it would probably be Rik Smits.

This scan is about as devoid of star power as you can get in a set that is supposed to feature the best players on each team. I've got nothing to say about any of these guys.

That Clyde Drexler card tried to glide right out of the picture, but luckily there was a defender in the way who kept him in check long enough for the scan to go through. Drexler would later play for the Rockets and won a Championship with them in 1995. He also had that little moustache and looked to me more like someone's uncle than a top-level athlete.

Scott Skiles always looked like a jerk on basketball cards. Maybe he's a great guy, but on cardboard I always imagined that he was kind of a villain. I didn't have to imagine when it came to Patrick Ewing, though. I knew he was a villain, and the heroic Rockets defeated him in 1994.

Spud Webb was evidence that even if you weren't incredibly tall you could still make it in the league. Webb and Muggsy Bogues both kind of filled the role that Nate Robinson does today, being the little guy who can hang. Spud Webb won the Slam Dunk contest in 1986 and assisted Nate Robinson when he won the 2006 contest.

This group of cards is big on star power, even if 1/3 of the scan is taken up by the hated Utah Jazz. There are a couple of nice dunk shots for David Robinson and Shawn Kemp before he got fat. I was actually wearing a pair of Shawn Kemp shoes today. When I was a teenager I had a pair of the blue Kamikaze II's similar to the ones he wore to the All-Star game. A while back Reebok reissued a pair in a similar color and I grabbed them up.

I guess Stockton wasn't too bad, but I never liked Karl Malone. I don't know for sure who the Rockets' main rival is these days, as the Jazz haven't been good enough lately to be anyone's nemesis. Maybe Portland or one of the other Texas teams? There seems to be a little bad blood with the way Chandler Parsons was handled by Houston and his subsequent move to sign with the Mavericks. I will keep on hating the Jazz, though, because it is tradition for me.

The last eight cards in the set make up the Future Force subset, and feature eight of the first nine draft picks from the 1992 draft. I wasn't sure why, but Wikipedia tells me that the #4 draft pick, Jim Jackson, held out in a contract dispute for most of his rookie season, so that is probably why he didn't get a card in the set.

The checklist starts out strong, with Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning leading the way. Laettner was extremely popular when he came into the NBA, having won college National Championships with Duke and making the Dream Team as the only college player on the roster. He never really lived up to the hype, though. I remember La Phonso Ellis by name, but I can't remember much about his body of work.

Most of these other guys had pretty good careers, although none of them became superstars. Todd Day at least gets a nice photo on his card as he posterizes some poor defender.

This was a fun set to go through, and I am glad that The Prowling Cat was generous enough to send it out to me. I am usually so focused on the couple of NBA guys that I collect heavily that I forget about all the other players who I followed over the years. Thanks you for the cards!

24 November 2014

A Couple More 2014 Stadium Club Members Only Parallels

I was going to post my usual NASCAR post yesterday, but I didn't get around to it. The season is over, so there isn't much going on there to write about. I did grab a couple big lots of Danica Patrick cards recently, so I have some new material in my Drafts folder for whenever I get around to posting about NASCAR again.

For a while I was worried that the Denver Broncos would lose their game with Miami and ruin my birthday (I turned 33 yesterday), but they hung on and came away with a 3-point win. Things still don't look good for them when they run up against the best of the AFC in the playoffs, with New England suddenly looking unbeatable after a mediocre start to the season. I am looking forward to seeing how yesterday's games affect the projections over at the Tenets of Wilson blog. The other NFL thing that happened yesterday was Odell Beckham Jr.'s ridiculous one-handed touchdown catch, which is probably one of the greatest catches of all time. It's too bad they lost the game, because that was crazy.

He hauled that ball in, and managed to land in-bounds for the Touchdown.
And on the NBA front, I was looking at the standings and realized that if the current top teams in each conference made the Finals, it would be a Toronto Raptors - Memphis Grizzlies matchup. I can't imagine the league would be happy about that, as pairings of marquee teams like Celtics vs. Lakers or star players like Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant are much more profitable than Finals featuring two small-market clubs. Can anyone outside of Sports Cards from the Dollar Store even name a current member of the Toronto Raptors or Memphis Grizzlies? If you guessed Vince Carter you'd be right, but you'd also be wrong, because you were thinking of him as a Raptor and he is currently a rotation member on the Grizzlies. If you guessed Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, then I have some late 90's basketball cards I'd like to sell you. Anyway, those teams are pretty good and should be in contention for playoff spots alongside all the other usual suspects.

This was one of my favorite wins of the year. I've recently decided to add Jon Singleton to the list of players I collect, but his cards are caught up in the wave of popularity enjoyed by all the other young Astros players. I fully expected it to go well outside my budget because I've been outbid on every other Singleton card I've tried for, but because the auction closed on the evening of Halloween there weren't even any competing bidders and I won this 2014 Topps Stadium Club Members Only parallel for the opening bid of $0.99. I'd really like to add an autograph of Singleton to my collection, but I haven't stumbled on the right one yet.

Around the same time I added this Wilin Rosario Members Only parallel, although I wasn't lucky enough to grab it for $0.99. I combined it with a few Rosario items that I forwarded on to Zenus at The Prowling Cat blog so I could save on shipping. I couldn't bring myself to part with this card, though. Sorry, Zenus. There's a bit more Scrooge in me than I let on.

I'm not exactly sure how many of these cards I have now, but I've been able to add a handful of them to my collection. There are a lot more that I haven't been able to get because I don't allow myself to get into bidding wars for them. There was a Babe Ruth that sold today for under $10. I thought it was pretty crazy that a Babe Ruth card with a print run under 10 could go for so little. Nolan Ryan drew nearly $20, and that was a card I really wanted. But I guess I didn't twenty dollars want it. I still am a little bummed that I missed out on that Babe Ruth card. But after going a little overboard on eBay the last month or so, I am in a position where I have to cut back. There are actually a few things I need to sell in the near future to get a little coin for Christmas shopping. Anyway, I can't go bidding on everything that catches my eye.

I'm pretty pumped about getting that Jon Singleton card for that price. I usually feel a twinge of empathy for the seller in those situations, because I've had auctions go for disappointing prices before and it sucks. But I place a little blame on the seller for having the auction end on the evening of a holiday when most folks are out with their kids, attending Halloween parties, or are otherwise engaged. If you sell things on eBay with any frequency it makes a lot of sense to read a few articles on selling strategies and listing optimization.

22 November 2014

Another Gold R.A. Dickey Topps Tribute Parallel

I grabbed another Gold parallel of R.A. Dickey from Topps Tribute, this time from the 2014 incarnation of the set. This one features him in his Blue Jays gear, while the previous one showed him in his Mets uniform. It's shiny and brightly-colored and this example is numbered # 11 / 25.

The blue and gold combination makes me think of the Boy Scouts. I spent a lot of my youth doing Boy Scouts stuff, either as a member or going on the camp outs with the older kids when my dad was a Scout leader. I wasn't always the most enthusiastic about Scouting, but I think I had a lot of experiences in the program that really helped me later in life. I turned in my paperwork just in time to complete the process of becoming an Eagle Scout before I turned 18, and when I joined the military the policy was that Eagle Scouts got an automatic promotion from E1 (the lowest of the low) to E2 (still the lowest of the low, but slightly better paid). I don't think that policy is still in place, but I do think that the Boy Scouts is a good organization for helping boys gain confidence and learn life skills.

The seller also included a stack of base cards from the Triple Threads set, which was a decent bonus. These are all pretty big names, with Ken Griffey Jr. probably coming in as my favorite of the bunch.

I usually scan the backs of the cards for completeness, as I like to upload pictures into Zistle for any random cards that come my way. There are a lot of folks who scan the fronts of cards into Zistle, but there are a lot fewer card backs uploaded.

21 November 2014

What's in the Box 3: A Mix-Up and a Fix-Up with Collector Crate

Collector Crate is a relatively new subscription service that sends out a mystery box of trading cards and related items on a monthly basis. They offer three levels of subscription which increase in price but also increase the value of the packs they send in the box. Currently they are offering baseball, football, and basketball boxes, and if there is enough demand they will probably roll out a hockey subscription at some point.

October was their first subscription month, and I ordered a box of the lowest (Bronze) level to see what it was all about. My conclusion was that at that price point it would be hard to compete logistically with the 20 packs + a hit repack boxes you find at Target. The higher levels offer better stuff like packs with guaranteed hits, so if you've got the cash that might be the way to go. I couldn't really justify the expense as a monthly thing, so I sent a message to Collector Crate using the 'Contact Us' form on the website asking them to discontinue my subscription.

A few days ago I was going over our finances and noticed that there was a charge on the card from Collector Crate for the monthly subscription amount. Because I had other transactions going through on that card I realized that I might have an issue on my hands. So I sent out messages and e-mails to express my displeasure at being charged when I had sent a message to cancel my subscription. After a while I got a reply from Collector Crate through Facebook offering to refund the money, and because November's shipping had already occurred, to keep the box that was shipped to me free of charge. A little later they came back and said that the box had been flagged and had not yet left the warehouse, so if I told them a couple of my favorite teams they would put together a box for me and still make the shipment. I replied that I wasn't looking to get something for free or put them out, and that refunding my payment would be good enough for me. They insisted, so I told them I liked the Astros, Blue Jays, and Athletics and said I would give them a mention on my blog. Here is what was inside the box that arrived in the mail:

This was the baseball-related swag that was in the box along with the packs. I got decals for the A's and Astros, and a little baseball with the Blue Jays logo on it. I got a little bag of sunflower seeds. When I was a combat arms soldier I chewed a lot of sunflower seeds and grew to really like some of the different flavors that have popped up, like Dill Pickle and Nacho Cheese. If I eat too many of the regular salted ones my mouth gets a little burnt. Now that I work in an admin role I don't chew seeds much. The pack of TeenyMates contained a Padre and a Pirate along with puzzle pieces for the Astros and Braves. The pack of 100 card sleeves will go to good use, as you can always use more card supplies.

There were 10 packs in the main part of the box, and I will follow the example of other bloggers by showing the 'best' card from each pack. There is no guarantee that my definition of best will match up with anyone else's definition. I'm showing them in the order I opened them in.

And we kick things off with what would turn out to be the hit of the break, with a Max Scherzer Blue Refractor from 2010 Topps Chrome. It is numbered # 113 / 199, and the fact that it was the hit of the break tells you pretty much all you need to know about how the pack-breaking went. The Chipper Jones was the Special Engraved Foil Card advertised on the front of the 1993 Bowman pack. 2009 Uper Deck Series 2 proved so boring that a team checklist made the cut as the top card of the pack, featuring Huston Street, who I picked mostly because of all the angst and press he has generated in the fantasy baseball world during his career. A Jim Thome Authentic Achievements insert card gets the nod from the 2008 Upper Deck Authentic SP pack. It's a decent-looking card, even if the foiled lettering is difficult to read.

Up next are 1996 Leaf Preferred, 2014 Topps Update, 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces, and 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen. The two Topps products are both Hobby packs, so that means better odds on inserts and stuff than you'd get in Retail packs.

It was a tough choice between the metal card (Fred McGriff) in the Preferred pack or the Piazza checklist. In the end the mullet and mustache combo won out. I've discussed why Mark Reynolds is a PC guy for me before, but I don't follow him closely enough to know if he's still on a roster. The one image of Vladimir Guerrero that sticks in my mind is the gif of him hitting a ball after it's bounced in the dirt. This isn't it, but this is another good one that takes a swing at 50 Cent's horrible first pitch during the 2014 season. I've heard the yips can sneak up on anyone:

I don't have a lot of love for the Spahn card, but there wasn't a lot to choose from in the Gypsy Queen pack. The insert won by default.

The 2014 Stadium Club and the 2013 Topps Mini packs were included in the 10 Bronze-level packs that went into the box. The 2013 Topps Chipz and the 5-pack of 2013 Topps Series 1 were loose in the box as extras.

There wasn't much of note in those packs, so I turned this scan into a Wilin Rosario supermix. That Gypsy Queen Rosario didn't come from the Topps Series 1 5-pack. I just thought it would be more interesting this way. One of the Chipz appears to be a Glow-in-the-Dark parallel, but it was a Yankee and I left it out. The Stadium Club pack had a Rainbow Foil card of Jose Reyes, which was cool, but I skipped it because it is a horizontal card and between the mini and the Chipz this scan was convoluted enough already.

The final thing in the box was the relic/auto pack, a little yellow envelope with some cards inside. At the Bronze level you are guaranteed two cards that may be relics or autos. The exclusive this month was the Derek Jeter sketch print card, featuring art drawn especially for Collector Crate to use in their boxes. The hits in the packs were a Lance Berkman relic from 2003 Leaf Certified and a Shawn Green autograph from 1997 Donruss Signature Series. They are pretty nice cards, although the Berkman relic card is pretty beat up along the edges. The Donruss Rated Rookie Mark McGwire card was a bonus addition to the hit pack.

I scanned the backs to show that the Berkman relic was numbered # 186 / 250.

As far as the packs go, this break was a whole lot weaker than the one I did last month, when I pulled a couple of autographs and a numbered Mike Trout card. Collector Crate doesn't have any control over that, though, and I think the packs were probably of a slightly higher quality here. All of the Topps products included in the 10 packs for the Bronze level were Hobby packs, and there are some decent cards that can come out of most of them. I am sort of disappointed that Collector Crate caught hte box before it shipped, because I can't know for sure which components are from a normal Bronze-level packout and which ones were added later because of the issue I had with the payment.Going by what I've seen from other breaks this month, I am guessing that the car sleeves, the two loose packs (2013 Topps Chipz, 2013 Topps Series 1 5-pack), and maybe the Mark McGwire were added to the box, and it could be that the 10 Bronze-level packs were upgraded at least partially toward the Silver level.

I am not sure if I will start a subscription back up at any point in the future, but Collector Crate went out of their way to fix the problem I had and make sure I was happy. They didn't have to send me a box, but they did and I appreciate that. If you are looking to contact them about something in regard to your account, I would suggest using Facebook or direct e-mail, as the 'Contact Us' feature on their website does not appear to be a solid way to actually contact them.

I have noticed that after the first month's shipments started being opened and reviewed, Collector Crate went out and read the reviews and tried to respond by taking customer suggestions into consideration. They added the feature to allow you to choose some teams that will be emphasized in your swag and hit pack, and it looks like they have tweaked the pack distribution in response to complaints about things like the 5-card Topps packs and a high Retail : Hobby ratio in the pack mix. I still think it will be hard for their Bronze-level subscription to compete value-wise with other products available to collectors at retail outlets, but their higher-level boxes seem to deliver a pretty good value that isn't replicated by any products you can get from Target or Shopko. They're off to a pretty good start, and I hope they are able to keep a good foothold and grow their business. I was pretty irritated about the mix-up with my subscription cancellation, but Collector Crate went above my expectation to make sure the issue was resolved.