31 January 2015

Click Here to View Cart 4: Flash Sale Fluttershy

The company that makes My Little Pony trading cards and the My Little Pony Trading Card Game, Enterplay, holds flash sales on their webstore every Cyber Monday. Anyone who is super into my blog will remember that last year I was able to snag an Applejack Rare Foil card for $5 that I flipped on eBay for $250. These Rare Foil cards are usually only available at certain conventions or other fan events, so they aren't often available. When Enterplay holds the flash sales they usually only release 25 or fewer on the site, so to get one you need to be logged in to your Enterplay account, have your Paypal set up to log in with one click, and have your preferred payment option set as the default. This year there were a number of sales throughout the day, but they were mostly for things I already had (binders) or things I didn't really want (collectible dog tags). I did order a t-shirt, which I just realized never arrived. After going to Facebook I see that I am not the only one. Enterplay is pretty good about responding to people on Facebook, though, so it should be resolved soon.

Anyway, the last flash sale of the day was the big one, and I was lucky enough to see it pop up on the store's front page, add it to my cart, and check out in time to get the item. Instead of being for a specific card the sale was a pick-a-card sale, which meant that with a couple of exceptions you could pick any card from the trading card sets or the card game.

I wasn't prepared for that, so I didn't know what card I wanted. I knew that maybe I wanted a Fluttershy foil card, but I didn't know the number or at which event it was distributed. But I noticed in the small print that if you weren't sure right away you could e-mail Enterplay after the fact to make your choice. The important thing was to get the order in. I typed something like, 'Fluttershy special card,' in the box and checked out. I got an order confirmation and knew I was golden for the second year in a row. The thing sold out in about 20 seconds, because there were hundreds of people trying to buy 25 items.

The choosing a card thing caused a whole pile of sad/angry comments on Facebook, as many folks did not read the part of the item description stating that you could e-mail your selection in later. They sat around and thought about their selections for a while, and by the time they did that, typed it in to the Comment box, and hit the Order button it was way too late. There were also people who were watching the Facebook page to see the sale announcement, then clicking over to Enterplay's store. By the time the announcement came up on Facebook the thing had been sold out for two minutes. Flash sales are all about timing and technique, yo. I was pretty pleased with myself for being ready and getting my order in.

I sent a follow-up e-mail to let Enterplay know specifically which card I wanted. It was originally only distributed at the EverFree Northwest Convention in August 2012 and through an online survey in September 2012. If I had planned ahead a little bit I could have chosen a more in-demand card that I could have flipped on eBay for big bucks like I did the Applejack card. Depending on how many of the Fluttershy cards are on eBay at a given time, they sell for between $20 and $50. That's still a pretty good deal when you consider that I spent $5 to get the card. This one won't be sold, as it is one I wanted for my personal collection. It is also a nice reminder of the fun of participating in the flash sale frenzy and coming out of the fray victorious.

30 January 2015

2014 Gypsy Queen Framed Mini Relic Black Derek Holland # 04 / 10

I've got a quick post here, since I am a bit short on time. I saw this card pop up on my feed and couldn't help putting in a small bid to see if I would get lucky. For the price of a couple packs of cards I got this Derek Holland 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed Mini Relic Black card, numbered # 04 / 10 and featuring a nice four-color patch. That's some good stuff right there.

I do have one issue with it, and that is that the seller didn't secure the end of the top loader, so when it arrived the card was hanging halfway out of the holder. There is a little ding on one of the corners, but it is hard to tell from the auction scans whether it was already present or caused by the card flying around in the envelope during shipping. I am still pretty happy with the card, so I left positive feedback with a remark about the packaging and relatively low star ratings for the condition of the item.

29 January 2015

Just the Commons, Ma'am 6: Jon Singleton and the Case of the Folded Refractors

I made an order from Just Commons in order to grab a couple trade cards I needed, and I filled it out past the Free Shipping threshold by grabbing a bunch of Jon Singleton cards for my Singleton player collection. There's a variety of stuff in this lot, included a timeline of minor league Topps cards from his time down on the farm. Here we've got his 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Topps Pro Debut cards.

I don't have a lot of experience with these minor league cards, but I think they're pretty cool. It's crazy that these guys are under such a huge microscope at a young age. 

And here is a similar timeline for Topps Heritage Minors 2012-2014 and also his big league 2014 Heritage High Numbers card. The 2013 Heritage card shares a picture with the 2013 Pro Debut card, although I guess at least Topps took the time to crop it differently. That still doesn't make it a different picture.

The card backs on this group is definitely more interesting, with cartoon pictures, stats, and plenty of informative text.

At the time this package arrived I had all of my card boxes out on a table in the living room. I was trying to get everything in my collection sorted out and arranged before school started up again. I didn't quite get the project finished, so I had to pack it all back downstairs partially sorted. I set these cards on the table at some point, and when I got back I noticed that a few of them were scattered around on the floor. A couple of the ones from the floor had been picked up and folded neatly into quarters. No one admitted to having anything to do with it, but I am guessing that when my dog jumped up to bark out the window at someone passing by he knocked the cards off the table with his tail. Then one of my kids found the cards and folded a couple of them in half, then in half again.

So I hope no one out there wanted Singleton's 2014 Bowman Chrome Refractor # 418 / 500, because it's been folded a couple of times and scraped up a bit.

This Bowman Platinum card was also lost in the incident. This is becoming more bloody than one of Zippy Zappy's Clone Breaks. Some of the less shiny cards were knocked down and scattered about, but they weren't scraped up or folded.

I thought this was kind of a cool-looking insert, all die-cut and trophy-looking. I'm told that it's a 2011 Bowman Chrome Futures Refractor. It's got a bit of the Chrome-y curl to it, but that doesn't matter too much.

In addition to all the Singleton cards and tradebait, I also picked up this Members Only card of Christian Yelich from the 2014 Stadium Club set.

Just Commons is a nice cheap way to get cards for sets or player collections. My only real complaint is that sometimes cards show up a little more damaged than I'd like and often some of the cards I order are out of stock. This particular batch of cards was in pretty good shape (until my dog and kids caught up with them), but there was one card I ordered for a trade package that was out of stock. The refund for the card was issued quickly, but when ordering from Just Commons don't update your want list until the cards actually arrive.

28 January 2015

Mambas, Saints, and Fish: Another Munnatawket Mini Post

I completed the base set of the Munnatawket Allen & Ginter custom mini set, but that doesn't mean I am done collecting the cards. There is an insert set out there called What Could've Been Had They Gone Another Way, featuring famous athletes in uniforms they could have worn if they had chosen another sport/not been traded/not retired. I grabbed this Kobe Bryant mini off of eBay fairly recently. I actually really really don't like Kobe, but what are you going to do when you've got to complete the set? I had been tracking the Tom Brady card, but it sold before I hit the Buy It Now so I went with the Bryant. This one is serially-numbered # 21 / 25.

There were a couple of extra cards in the package when it arrived, including something I hadn't seen before. This set apparently includes Framed Mini Autographs! Through some sorcery roddster has repurposed frames and inserted his own customs into them. This first one features the signature of Father Christmas himself.

Also included was this Billy the Marlin autograph. His penmanship is surprisingly good for a critter with flippers. There were also a couple of the regular-style mini autographs included in the package.

 Here's what I have from the insert set so far, so I've only got two more cards to go.

Here are the backs of the cards, showing off the checklist and the serial number stickers. This is a really neat custom set and it's full of little surprises, just like the Allen & Ginter sets put out by Topps.

27 January 2015

2014 Leaf Pop Century Perfectly Cast Carrie Fisher Autograph

This weekend the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience will be going on in Utah, a few hours down the road from me. We thought about attending, but it's hard to justify the cost based on the guest list and the ridiculous prices they want for the opportunity to meet celebrities. There also isn't a lot of information about the Artist Alley or other vendors who will be attending. Okay, they must have posted information about the Artist Alley sometime this past week, because there's a list of artists on the convention page now. But a week out doesn't give me time to look at the list and decide if it's worth going. I need time to research artists, pre-commission sketches, and also to build up enough positive anticipation that it will overcome my dread of crowds and social interactions.

The main draws for the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience would be Carrie Fisher and Felicia Day, but the prices for autographs and photo opportunities (no asking for an autograph during a photo op) are pretty high, and they come in addition to the cost of passes to get into the event itself. From what I hear you might have enough time to say, "Hi," while your item is signed/photo is taken before the handlers whisk you away. So you're basically dropping a few hundred dollars to stand in the general area of a celebrity. I couldn't bring myself to do it, especially with the artist list not being released in a timely manner.

After ruling out the Salt Lake event, we debated the merits of the Emerald City Comic Con, which is an event I think we've been to 3 times. It's hard for me to keep the years straight. Maybe we went in 2004, 2006, and 2012. That 2012 might have been 2013. I am pretty sure we went once before we got married, once before we had kids, and once after we'd had all three of our kids. Anyway, the Emerald City Comic Con starts working on the guest list for the next show as soon as the current show ends, so there is plenty of time to get ready. The 2015 guest list is pretty stacked, and as far as I can tell it is a more traditional comic book convention. We ultimately decided against going this year, but we will probably make a smaller-scale trip down to Utah or something this year instead and plan to go to the ECCC in another year or two.

With the Salt Lake event on my mind I took a look at what Carrie Fisher had available on eBay. I found this 2014 Leaf Pop Century Perfectly Cast autograph up for auction and I put in a bid to see what it might go for. Her Topps Star Wars autographs go for huge money all the time, so I didn't have extremely high hopes for this one, especially given that it is numbered # 18 / 25. But there wasn't a whole lot of bidding activity and I got it for about 25% of what I paid for my other Carrie Fisher autograph, and the price I paid for that card was one of the lowest I saw on Carrie Fisher's Topps autographs all year. Looking at some of the closed listings tells me that my ending price was right in the ballpark for this card, but after watching her Topps listings for the last year or so it seems like a shame that these go for so little.

This one is not from an officially-licensed Star Wars product and the ink runs off of the sticker quite a bit in places, but she is depicted on the card as her Star Wars character and the role is mentioned in the text on the back, so I don't really have a problem with the lack of licensing. I guess the design is a little hokey, too, but the illustration and autograph do a good job of pulling the eye away from the clip art in the background. All in all I am very happy with the card and I feel like I got a pretty nice deal on it.

26 January 2015

At the Trade Deadline 29: Completing the Set Thanks to Nachos Grande

After collating the big box of cards I received from roddster I found that my Munnatawket Allen & Ginter custom set had two holes in it. I didn't want to bother him about it, but I thought maybe I could work out a trade with Nachos Grande to complete the base set. I inquired as to whether he had the two cards, and he responded that he did have spares of the cards I was looking for. I hadn't seen the checklist for the set, so he also let me know that the cards featured David Ortiz and Evan Longoria. I was able to pick up a couple of things from his want list to send back, and soon I got an envelope in the mail containing Ortiz and Longoria, allowing me to fill their slots in the binder pages.

He also included a bonus autograph card from the set and a nice Upper Deck card of Homer Bailey showing off his grip. I thought for sure that I had that autograph card from one of his group breaks in the past, but I couldn't find one in my usual hiding spots and this one found a place in the 'inserts and variations' section of the binder pages.

Thanks for helping me to finish off the set!

25 January 2015

A Box of Munnatawket Mini Awesomeness

Around the time I got that Christmas card from the creator of the fabled Munnatawket mini card set, I won a couple of his auctions for cards in the set, Freddie Freeman and Torii Hunter. There was an e-mail exchange in which I apologized for being a cheapass and winning his cards with lowball bids while some of the other cards sold for a bit more and also telling him that I planned to buy more cards from him soon, so he could save on shipping and just hold Hunter and Freeman until that happened, and he asked me if I was serious about putting together the whole thing. I said something along the lines of, "Heck yeah!" and he told me that the package with the two cards in it might be a little bigger than expected. There was more to it, but those were the highlights.

It was definitely a little bit bigger than a two-card envelope. It was a whole box of these things, featuring various quantities of most of the cards in the set. I sorted them out by number and put them all into pages row by row, gaining an immense feeling of satisfaction as the little pockets filled up. The photo above shows the current state of the box, so you can see that there were plenty left over after I took the ones I needed.

He encouraged me to share them with other people, so I have been including a few in each trade package I send out, trying to match subjects in the set to the interests of other collectors. There are some good baseball photos in the set, but some of my favorites include the oddballs like Dirk Nowitzki dressed in a Rangers uniform and holding a basketball.

In true Ginter fashion, the checklist includes figures from outside the world of sports, like Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. I guess you could call her the founder of a sport, as there is an official U.S. Quidditch league with their own logo, World Cup tournament, and even a concussion policy. It looks like the Lone Star Quidditch Club currently is ranked #1, but their perfect record is held down by a weak Strength of Schedule. It could be argued that #5 Maryland Quidditch and #6 Ohio State Quidditch have the more impressive resumes. My preferred school's team, The Moscow Manticores at the University of Idaho, aren't ranked dead last, but they have a 1-2 record and they are rated last in Strength of Schedule. Interesting stuff.

I don't have a lot to say about this row of cards, but it was on one of the pages I scanned and I had to include it. Also, it's not very often that Justin Verlander gets outdone in a baseball card set, but in this case...

...his girlfriend Kate Upton outdoes him by about 6500%, with the highly sought-after #0 card in the set. I did not receive any duplicates of that one, so you'll have to track it down using your own wiles. I sent a copy of the Spider-Man card to the UK recently as a throw-in with a comic book sketch card I sold to someone there.

This row is full of big names, and also Wil Myers. The rest of these guys should be pretty familiar to baseball fans. It's a little jarring to see Morneau in a Pirates uniform, as he only spent 25 games with that organization. 

I'll close this up with Michael Morse, the current last card in the base set, one of the autographs, and a couple of the photo variations from the set. Actually, I am not sure which versions of Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado are the regular cards and which are the variations, but there are (at least) two different cards for them. Cespedes has an Athletics card and a Red Sox card, so the order those go in is more obvious. I have since discovered that there are even more interesting things in this set, but they were part of different transactions and they will get their own posts.

This was among the coolest packages I got last year, and I will be trying to pay this one forward for a long time. So if you get a package from me this year and you're like, "What? I don't remember setting up a trade with this guy," you can thank folks like roddster, Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams, Zippy Zappy, The Prowling Cat, Cards on Cards and Nachos Grande for being so generous and inspiring me to try to do the same. Sometimes I fail, but I have found myself picking things up with other collectors in mind a bit more often lately and looking for one more thing to add to an outbound package.

Thanks for the cards!

23 January 2015

Jon Singleton Gold Diffractor

I don't have time for a giant post, so this is going to be a relatively quick one-card post. I have been working on gathering Jon Singleton variants from the 2014 Topps High Tek release, and this is one of them. Sources tell me that this is the Gold Diffractor, distinguished by the gold color of the background pattern and serially numbered # 02 / 99. I wish I had a little more to say about it, but I am pretty well burnt out on this week already, and I've still got the bulk of my schoolwork to finish by Saturday night.

22 January 2015

The Nachos Grande Blogroll Sold Me a LEGO Kit

Yesterday I was minding my own business, reading blogs, when I noticed a headline on the Nachos Grande blogroll. It was from a LEGO blog called From Bricks to Bothans and read:

Walmart Discounts 75052 Mos Eisley Cantina

Well, heck. How can you keep from clicking a link like that? The Cantina is a set I have been tracking pretty much since it released. It doesn't have a lot in the way of bricks, but it's got a huge number of minifigs for the price point and it would probably look really good next to my Jabba's Palace, Rancor Pit, and Jabba's Sail Barge kits. So I went to the site and read that Wal-Mart was selling the Mos Eisley Cantina for well under MSRP, and also well under the cheapest price I was tracking to that point. I placed my order for in-store pick-up and my wife went and got the kit after we ate dinner.

Now I just need some time to put the thing together. I've got a bunch of discussion board posts due in school tonight, so this project might have to wait until the weekend. I can't wait. If you are a Star Wars LEGO fan, I would go and check this deal out. Take care reading those blogs, too. You never know when one of them will jump out and sell you something.

21 January 2015

At the Trade Deadline 28: Christmas Cards from Too Many Verlanders

I call this a trade post, but in reality it was more of a gift. Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders sent out a whole pile of packages in something he called Too Many Christmas Cards. A giant bubble mailer arrived in my mailbox with stacks and stacks of cards packed inside. I chose a few of my favorites to show off here. This first group features some recent Denver Broncos, including Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, Montee Ball and Tom Brady's former man-crush, Wes Welker. Of course, now that they've had some time to see other people, Brady isn't feeling too much pain. I'm rooting against the whole Super Bowl this year. I hope no one wins. Or maybe Katy Perry could win the Super Bowl. That would be okay.

These cards came from what was probably my favorite stack of cards in the package. There was another stack in close contention, but someone in the postal service used the other stack as a bludgeon (I'm guessing to knock out a mugger or a rapist) and left a big ding on the corner of every card in that pile. I hope the brave letter carrier received a civic award for valor. Shannon Sharpe was my favorite Bronco of that era, and Elway wasn't half-bad himself. That Terrell Davis Hidden Gems Refractor is the 2nd-coolest card in the package. I love looking at it. While Tim Tebow may not actually have been a Complete Player, he was the face of a very exciting run by the Broncos. Although everyone knows that strong defense, clutch kicking and a lot of luck were the true heroes of that season, Tebow made for a much better story line. And he does a buttload of charity work that really brings a lot of good to the world.

In spite of questionable card design, that Nolan Ryan is a pretty good picture of one great pitcher. You have to love a guy who can intimidate so well while wearing a flippin' rainbow. I thought I had all of the 2013 Mascot cards from Topps Opening Day, but that Orbit card looks unfamiliar. Maybe his wooden gaze is just confusing me.

I loved drafting Michael Bourn in my fantasy baseball leagues for a few years, and he always sunk my teams. He's not a bad player, but I drafted his stolen bases too early and forgot that he wouldn't be providing any Home Runs or RBIs, and power is expensive in fantasy baseball. Speed is always available on the waiver wire.

Finishing up this group is a nice 'grip' card of R.A. Dickey, my current favorite player to collect. Unfortunately, the shine of his 2012 Cy Young season is long-gone and he is no longer featured in every set checklist. The Blue Jays' checklist slots are now mostly taken up by Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and maybe Marcus Stroman from time to time. With R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick getting fewer cards lately and Press Pass going out of business on the NASCAR front I have been focusing more on my Jon Singleton player collection and some non-sport stuff. I've grabbed a few sketch cards, some comic and TV stuff, and some artist sketches lately that I think are pretty cool. I'm still looking forward to another season of baseball cards, though.

Here are a few Seattle-based players. I have to admit that having the Seahawks completely dismantle the Broncos last year in the Super Bowl kind of soured me on them a little bit, and I think they do a little too much talking (or not talking, in Marshawn Lynch's case), but I do like their colorful uniforms and I suppose I still root for them a bit. I still hope that everyone loses the Super Bowl. Michael 'Sticky Neck' Pineda makes the cut for an appearance here and so does a pretty cool picture of Jeff Clement with a ball in his glove.

And here is the card that kept Terrell Davis' Hidden Gems card from being the coolest card in the package. A Muggsy Bogues autograph! How can you not love this card? This is my second Bogues autograph, with the first having been purchased in the infancy of this blog.

This was a great gift, and I certainly owe Dennis plenty of Verlander and Michigan hits whenever they happen to fall to me. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have spent half of this post bagging on Tom Brady. Kind of a backward way to thank a guy for some cool cards, isn't it? In spite of the fact that I find it incredibly humorous to make fun of Tom Brady, I really enjoyed getting these cards in the mail. It is unfortunate that I took so long to post them, but the posts with the most scans seems to take the longest to write.

Thank you, Dennis!

20 January 2015

Breaking it Down 20: Cards from Cards on Cards

Cards on Cards recently held a box break featuring one box of 2014 Topps Mini Baseball. Unfortunately, the break faced some difficulties as he was the victim of some holiday mail theft and lost the original box for the break as well as some of the trade packages used as payment for the break. My outbound package was one of the ones that disappeared before arriving at his home. It contained a full Cardinals team set of Gold parallels from 2014 Archives, which I had acquired in my quest to complete the full Gold set. He was able to acquire another box for the break, and I finally got around to building a return package for him, which should be arriving at his new secret address in the next couple of days.

My team for the break was the Toronto Blue Jays, and I came away with one of the rarer hits in the set, a Black parallel of Moises Sierra. These cards are limited to 5 copies each, with this one being numbered # 5 / 5. Sierra spent a couple of years with the Blue Jays, but was selected off waivers by the White Sox in May 2014 and then selected off waivers from them by the Royals after the season was over. That's all I know about him. I also got a stack of base Blue Jays, which look like their counterparts in the eponymous Topps base set, only smaller.

Also included in the package were a number of cards featuring my favorite NBA team, the Houston Rockets. I believe this was part of his Guilt-Free Basketball Card Club, which is something we'd corresponded about but a trade had never actually occurred. I sent a few Clyde Drexler cards his way in my recent package, and I have more to send once I compare the rest of my collection to his Zistle list. I believe these two Hakeem Olajuwon cards were new additions to my Dream PC.

Yao Ming was set up to be a superstar for the Rockets, but nagging injuries prevented him from ever really getting things going. I don't have many cards from this era, as I got out of card collecting right around the time Hakeem went to the Raptors and then retired. It's a shame that the Ming/McGrady-era Rockets never lived up to their potential. 

That Craig Ehlo card makes me laugh. Shane Battier was Daryl Morey's poster child for whatever the basketball name for sabermetrics is. Then Battier went off to the Heat and got himself a couple of Championship rings. I included the other cards in these scans because I liked the designs or the pictures on them.

Here are a few Tracy McGrady cards I selected to scan from the stacks. McGrady is working on a new business idea, recently spent some time playing independent league baseball (he retired after the league's all-star game), and still thinks he has what it takes to make an NBA comeback.

Alongside a few more Ming highlights I've got some Rockets from the more recent iterations of the team. Chandler Parsons was briefly my favorite Rocket, but he followed the money and went to play for Dallas. That in itself isn't all that bad, but he keeps Tweeting and making references to how well he gets along with Mark Cuban, the Mavericks' owner. Maybe Mark Cuban runs his ship that way, but I don't like the idea of the players getting all comfy with the team owner. James Harden and his beard are pretty famous, but he and Dwight Howard came off as pretty arrogant during the team's offseason last year. I wonder if that attitude pushed away potential additions that could have helped the team. The current version of the team is pretty darn good, but they get beaten consistently by other good teams and I don't see them going far in the playoffs unless they get hot at the right moment.

It took me a while to get this post scanned and written up, but I really appreciated this package, especially with all the stress and confusion that Cards on Cards went through to get this group break done.