29 April 2015

Patrick Press Pass Power Picks Parallels

Here are a couple more cards from the batch of Danica Patrick parallels I picked up near the end of last year. They come from the 2012 Press Pass Power Picks set, which I believe was distributed as a loyalty program, where dealers who purchased a large amount of different Press Pass products got special boxes with Power Picks packs attached to them. In this case, I got a Gold parallel numbered # 07 / 50 and a Holofoil parallel numbered # 06 / 50. Both feature the # 7 GoDaddy.com car piloted by Patrick in the Nationwide Series. Just recently it was announced that starting next season GoDaddy will no longer be a primary sponsor of her NASCAR ride, but will retain her as a personality representative.

Danica has had a pretty good run lately, with four Top 20 finishes in the last five races, and two of those finishes were in the Top 10, giving her the record for most career Top 10 finishes by a female driver. The chances seem pretty good that this could be the season when she finally puts together a race good enough for a Top 5 finish.

25 April 2015

Star Wars Masterwork Artist Return Sketch Card - Princess Leia by Mary Bellamy

When the Star Wars Masterwork set was released I set out to look for a few decent sketch cards for my collection. I pulled a couple of sketches from the box I opened and I purchased one sketch from eBay. One artist whose sketches interested me was Mary Bellamy. I had exchanged messages with her on the Blowout Cards forums and purchased/commissioned some stuff from her.

When companies do a product with sketch cards, they often give the artists a handful of cards to do sketches on and sell on their own. Sometimes the cards look the same as the pack-pulled sketch cards and sometimes they have an 'Artist's Proof' or 'Artist Return' stamp on them. I believe these cards make up a large portion of an artist's income from a set. I saw some of Bellamy's Star Wars Masterwork Artist Returns cards in the video she did to show off her cards from the set and inquired about one of the Princess Leia sketches she had done. She told me that Topps had kept them and she was having a little trouble getting them back, but that she would reserve one if Topps sent anything back to her. 

Eventually Topps got some of her cards back to her and I was able to get this one to add to my collection, an illustration of Leia in her hooded white dress. I like the colors that Bellamy uses, and her style is cartoony without being too simple. I'm not sure I remember that wallpaper in the background from the movies, though, but perhaps this is from some off-screen scene where Leia visits her grandmother's house.

Here is the back of the card. I can't find any markings on this card to differentiate it from the pack-pulled sketches, so in this case it looks like Topps didn't do anything special to mark the Artist Returns. Eventually I need to get around to showing the other sketches I got from Mary Bellamy, but that's not going to happen today.

24 April 2015

A Six-Pack of SEGA Card-Gen Rare Foils

I picked up a few nice SEGA Card-Gen cards recently from an eBay seller. They are from different years, but all hail from the Rare subset, which have a foil background on the front and better game stats on the back than they do on the base cards. The Joe Mauer card comes from the 2013 set and the Ryan Zimmerman card is from the 2012 issue.

These first couple feature Joe Mauer and Ryan Zimmerman. I don't necessarily collect either of these guys but I couldn't pass these up, especially when taking combined shipping into consideration. Joe Mauer is a pretty popular dude, and Ryan Zimmerman has had a pretty good career although it seems like he's been derailed a bit by injury.

I was pretty excited that this pair of guys were among the listings available for purchase. Mark Buehrle now plays for the Blue Jays, and seems to just keep trucking along. He was an All-Star last season and is 3-0 this year in spite of some rather pedestrian numbers. He won a ring with the White Sox in 2005, and he has been pitching in the majors since 2000.

Paul Konerko spent many years with the White Sox, and retired last season. He hit 439 home runs in his career and is scheduled to have his number retired by the White Sox next month. He also was on the Championship team of 2005. He was the face of the White Sox for many years.

Buehrle's card is from the 2011 SEGA Card-Gen set while Konerko's card comes from the 2013 set. I always like the descriptions on the back of the cards next to the player's total score. Buehrle is tagged as a '60 Feet Magician' due to his reliance on control and efficiency more than velocity, and Konerko is labeled as 'Dr. Batting Essential,' maybe because his bat was a bit more valuable than his glove.

These are the real gems of the lot for me. I was able to snag copies of Jose Bautista's 2011 and 2012 cards. He really came into his own in 2010 and 2011, blasting about 10 million home runs over those two seasons and ensuring that he would get a spot in this set.

His ratings increased over the two seasons, showing that the Card-Gen set changed from year to year based on player performance. Bautista is dealing with a bit of an injury right now, as he got into a rather heated exchange with the Orioles a couple of days ago and subsequently put a little too much emotion into a throw from the outfield, injuring himself in the process. But he did manage to knock a ball over the wall in response to being thrown behind, helping his team to win the game. The Orioles, Adam Jones in particular, had some words to say about Bautista watching the ball and flipping his bat after the home run, and the exchanges that went on got Bautista riled up enough to make the ill-advised throw that hurt him. I personally kind of like the celebrating and bat-flipping, especially if the batter has just gotten revenge for being thrown at, but the baseball establishment says that is a big no-no. I like Bautista and I like Adam Jones, so I'm not going to pick sides on this one. In the end Bautista and the Blue Jays won the game, and that's what really matters.

20 April 2015

Josh Reddick 2010 Topps Series 2 Autograph

Here is another card that has been sitting in my post queue for quite a while. It's a Peak Performance Autograph card of Josh Reddick from 2010 Topps Series 2. I haven't seen a lot of these pop up, so I jumped on it when I had the chance. The card highlights Reddick's short stint with the Red Sox in 2009.

Reddick now plays for the A's, who have got quite the little feud going on with the Royals right now. The A's lost the 3-game series with 1 win and 2 losses, but Reddick did get a home run in the A's lone victory. I guess the little battles with hard slides, beanings, and ejections serve to make the game a little more fun for the fans, although it all sounds like an injury waiting to happen to me. The dialogue in the video I shared seemed to favor the A's a bit more than the Royals, although in reality there seemed to be plenty of blame to go around on both teams. I did like the short cameo from another PC guy of mine, with Billy Butler shown spectating from the dugout. With all this exitement going on, I will definitely need to get my MLB.tv subscription up and running in time for these teams' next meeting at the end of June.

19 April 2015

Jon Singleton Wave, Spirals, Laser Ice (Again)

I am still clearing out posts that I added to my Draft folder in January, although I am down to just a few of those. I picked up these pattern variations of Jon Singleton's 2014 Topps High Tek card shortly after the product released. I think I got them all from one seller, saving a little bit by combining shipping. I somehow ended up getting a couple copies of the pattern on the right, though, so that probably negated most of the shipping savings. Oh well.

These are the three most common patterns for AL teams. Cardboard Connection calls them Wave, Spirals, and Laser Ice. Although Singleton is not currently contributing to the team in any way, the Astros find themselves at the top of their division with a 6-6 record. I guess there are worse places you could be with a .500 record. 

I thought this was a pretty nifty play, worthy of filling out some space at the end of a low-content blog post:

Apologies if the video doesn't look formatted correctly. I am having a hard time getting it to cooperate with Blogger.

18 April 2015

Some Recent R.A. Dickey Pickups

I haven't posted for a little more than a week now, so I am trying to get things started back up by featuring a couple of R.A. Dickey cards I've picked up over the last couple of months. Dickey pitched today, throwing 7.0 innings and giving up 4 runs to the Braves on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6 on the way to a no-decision in a game the Blue Jays eventually won in the 10th inning on a Josh Donaldson home run. I didn't watch that game, but I did get to watch the last half of the Mets-Marlins game, where the Mets bullpen nearly gave up a 5-0 lead in the 8th and 9th innings, barely holding on to take the game at 5-4.

This first card is an auto-relic from 2014 Topps Triple Threads, numbered # 02 / 25. I thought the black relic swatch was pretty cool. It's not something you see too often on baseball cards.

Prices on Dickey's cards have come down a lot in the last couple of years. That would be a good thing, but in spite of the favorable market for buyers I haven't really taken advantage of it. I've been a little distracted from the hobby lately, I guess, and I pass over a lot of stuff because of parallel fatigue. But that hasn't stopped me completely from picking up parallels...

...like this black-bordered card from 2015 Topps Series 1. It looks a lot like the base version of the card, except without all the colors on the edges. I probably picked it up because it had a cheap shipping cost or something. One thing that has been preventing me from bidding on a lot of cards lately is what seems like a universal $3.00 shipping fee in addition to whatever the auction price is. The $0.99 starting bid makes a $4.00 base price for just about any card you look at, and that is just too much.

This card is # 42 / 64, making it just one number away from being a jersey number eBay 1 / 1. Hopefully the Blue Jays can make a decent run this year and at least get into the postseason. But right now I hope even more that the Houston Rockets can hold on for one more quarter and beat the Dallas Mavericks in their first-round NBA Playoffs match-up.

09 April 2015

Pack of the Day 97: 2014 Panini Father's Day

I think this pack might have been another booster to get past a threshold for free shipping on a card order. It comes from Panini's 2014 Father's Day promotion and contains a couple of cards.

First up is a team collection hit featuring George Springer of the Houston Astros. It comes from the Rookies portion of the base checklist and is numbered # 389 / 599. There are Cracked Ice # / 25 and Lava Flow 1 / 1 variations out there as well. Springer is one of the promising young Astros that did make the Opening Day roster, unlike my PC target and the subject of early trade rumors, Jon Singleton.

The Cordarrelle Patterson card is from a Rookie insert set of some kind. It is not serially-numbered. I don't really understand all of the different subsets and inserts that come out of the Father's Day packs. It's kind of like Panini took a bunch of 'hot' players, threw their names into a hat, and then drew a handful out at a time and made a subset based on them. I guess some of them have a theme, but the set as a whole seems a bit hodge-podge and thrown together based on the Cardboard Connection checklist. I had Cordarrelle Patterson on some of my fantasy football rosters early last season based on his hype and play-making ability, but so far that hasn't really materialized.

The backs of the cards feature a couple of highlights from each player's career along with the usual copyright and legal whatnots and a bunch of diagonal lines.

08 April 2015

2012 Greatest Heroes Iron Fist Sketch Card

Here is a sketch card I picked up a while back. It comes from the 2012 Greatest Heroes card set produced by Rittenhouse Archives. I think I was looking to fill out my sketch card collection with some of my favorite characters, and managed to get one half of the Power Man & Iron Fist duo. I still haven't picked up a Luke Cage/Power Man sketch, but I will get one eventually.

When it comes to sketch cards I can be a bit of a cheapskate, trolling the lower-priced listings for standout sketches. There is such a glut of sketch cards on the market that you can often find bargains if you are persistent and dig through the listings. I have picked up a few nice sketches from well-known artists in this way, but usually what you get in the $15 or less category are higher-quality sketches from lesser-known artists. In this case the artist is Rodrigo Martins, who has done sketch cards for a few Marvel-based sets. His work can be hit or miss, but this illustration is pretty good, with nice color work, great detail on the inking, and a nice use of perspective on the fist in the foreground.

I don't often really like the mystical characters in comics, largely because the authors who write them tend to be a bit too wordy for my tastes, but Iron Fist is pretty cool. He doesn't seem to get much respect compared to the big names in the Marvel Universe, though:

06 April 2015

R.A. Dickey 2014 Panini Immaculate Autographs Blue # 02 / 10

Here's a pretty nice card I picked up recently. It's an autograph of the Blue Jays' Toronto Baseball Club's knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. This card comes from 2014 Panini Immaculate. The autograph is on-card and the card is numbered # 02 / 10. There is a little divot taken out of the card along the top edge in the front, but that doesn't bother me a whole lot. It would really be nice if Panini could get a license to use MLB logos, but I don't foresee that happening anytime soon.

Dickey says he is coming into the season much better prepared to play well all year. We'll see how it goes. If he does put up some good stats he might start showing up in more checklists again, as his cardboard footprint has shrunk a little bit every year since the explosion of cards he got after his Cy Young Award-winning 2012.

05 April 2015

Josh Wise 2013 Press Pass Signings and Ignite Hot Threads

Here are a couple of Josh Wise items I've picked up. I got the 2013 Press Pass Ignite Hot Threads firesuit relic from eBay sometime during the last couple of months. I think multi-colored swatches are more common in NASCAR products than they are in the various stick-and-ball sports, but I couldn't pass on this three-color piece. I am not really sure where I got the autographed card, but I found it while sorting a bunch of stuff and figured I might as well scan it and put it up here on the blog. It's from some 2013 Press Pass product, and it is numbered # 15 / 25. You can tell by the relatively blank front of his suit that sponsors are hard to come by when you're a one-car operation without a superstar driver.

There isn't a race this weekend, so I can't fill space by talking about where my favorite drivers qualified and finished this week. I suppose I will just leave it at that.

MLB.tv offered a couple days' worth of free games to get people to sign up prior to the start of the baseball season. That was pretty nice of them. I still haven't decided if I will take them up on it or if I will just hold out for the price to drop a bit. It was fun to watch a couple of Astros - Royals preseason games, even if the Astros did lose both of the games I watched. I am trying to get excited about fantasy baseball this year, but I haven't been able to muster much excitement at all. I am in a few leagues still, but I usually prepare a lot more for my drafts and then go through my rosters all the time looking for updates and guys who are coming out of Spring Training with good numbers, but I have not done any of that. I even have a spreadsheet that projects what my league's numbers will look like that the end of the season so I can see what pace I'm on compared to everyone else, but I haven't even loaded the teams into it yet.

04 April 2015

Star Wars Masterwork Imperial Shield Bunker Relic

Here's another type of insert that can be found in the recent high-end Star Wars Masterwork release from Topps. These are relic cards containing pieces of the shield generator bunker on Endor in Return of the Jedi. I believe there are Frame relics and Panel relics. The cards feature various characters from the film alongside the relic piece. I picked up the Princess Leia Organa variation, serially-numbered # 022 / 155.

Relic cards featuring pieces of props from the movies aren't a new thing, as previous releases have included cards with fur from Wookiee and Ewok costumes as well as bits of Jabba the Hutt's sail barge. Bunker pieces are a new thing, though, and I think it's a pretty cool idea. I'm glad I was able to pick up one of these for my Masterwork collection.

03 April 2015

2014 Panini National Treasures Jon Singleton Auto-Relic

I got this 2014 Panini National Treasures Jon Singleton auto-relic a little while back because the price was right and it's a pretty cool card, even without any logos. The signature is on a thick piece of plastic and embedded in the card. These autographs on clear plastic seem to be pretty popular right now because they are like sticker autos, but classy on account of their thickness and the way they can be embedded in the card instead of stuck to the surface of it. I am curious to see if they will fade or yellow over time. The relic swatch is pretty plain, but I can live with that. The card is numbered # 58 / 99.

I guess the other cool thing about the autographs on plastic are that you can see them in reverse on the back of the card. Some athlete needs to get creative and write 'REDRUM' as an inscription on their little piece of plastic. I am not sure what this insert is supposed to be called. My best guess is Treasure Materials - Signature, but I guess you could also make a case for Signature - Treasure Materials or Treasure Signature Materials.

Singleton didn't make the Astros' Opening Day roster, getting optioned down to AAA to work some things out after hitting just .200 in Spring Training games. He's still got promise, but he's not quite where he needs to be. Hopefully he is able to get things sorted out and join the team later this year.

02 April 2015

Pack of the Day 96: A Box of 2012-13 Panini Basketball

I opened this stuff last year, but the post is in the queue and I might as well write it now. Dave and Adam's Card World had some decent deals during their Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale and I took advantage of some of them. One of the things I ordered is a Hobby box of 2012-13 Panini Basketball. Each box promises 7 Knight parallels and 2 autographs, along with cards from a handful of insert sets.

The base card design kind of resembles the NBA Hoops cards of the early 90's, mostly because of the key-shaped border around the photos. James Harden is having an MVP-contending season for the Rockets, and hopefully this year the team will advance past the first round of the playoffs. I'd probably start an Anthony Davis PC since I also have a unibrow, but I don't even keep up with the basketball PCs I already have. A new one would just be silly. JaVale McGee and Nate Robinson are a couple of fan favorite type players.

Chandler Parsons was on his way to becoming my favorite 'new' Rocket, but I didn't like the way he handled himself during and after his move to the Dallas Mavericks. Jeremy Lin has struggled as a Laker, and I wonder if Linsanity will be on the move again soon? David Robinson and Grant Hill are two of the players I collected a bit during my initial card collecting phase in the 90's, although Robinson was a rival to my favorite player, Hakeem Olajuwon.

This Matching Numbers insert takes a couple of players who wear the same jersey number and puts them on a card together. I guess it's a cool concept, but not a must-collect set for me. I'm not a huge fan of anyone in this group, either, so that's probably a factor in my lukewarm response to it.

These Spirit of the Game inserts fill the 'insert with photos taken from the vicinity of the backboard' niche. It's an all right insert, but I don't like how far the logo intrudes into the action photo. It takes up like a third of the card.

There's not much to say about these Knight parallels. They have the different logo down at the bottom and that's pretty much it. I've heard of Shved, but the other guys I am not that familiar with.

This batch is a little better, with Kyrie Irving as a pretty big star and Morris and Evans at least being guys whose names I know.

Here is the insert that fills the 'famous old guys' slot in the set, Heroes of the Hall. There are some big names here, but no one I have much attachment to. Moses Malone is pretty cool. Patrick Ewing is a villain.

And here is the star player insert, All-Panini. Zach Randolph and Dion Waiters aren't the biggest names out there. I guess I don't follow the NBA close enough anymore to know where they fall in the star/semi-star/scrub hierarchy, but they aren't in the core group of star veterans and they aren't the hot new rookies on the scene, so they must be in the middle somewhere.

It is really hard to tell from the front, but that Zach Randolph card is a parallel. It's a Christmas Card, too, carrying the # 12 / 25 serial number.

My two promised autographs are both redemptions for Rookie Signatures. One features Quincy Miller and the other is Kahwi Leonard. Miller has spent this season signing 10-day contracts and bouncing between the D-League and the end of the Kings' and Pistons' benches, not getting a lot of playing time. I imagine he'll probably be out of the NBA altogether pretty soon. Kawhi Leonard is the young star of the Spurs, the most boring great team in the Association. He was the NBA Finals MVP last season as the Spurs won the Championship, and he plays pretty good defense while scoring some points and getting some assists on offense. If he did similar things on a flashier team this would probably be a better pull, but even as it is this card will probably cover the cost of the box once it's redeemed.

And that's it for this box. I kind of like the base set, and maybe if I get around to sorting through the cards I will consider putting it together. The boxes are cheap, which makes sense considering what you get out of one. I am not too big on any of the insert sets. Mostly it's a good cheap break if you want to bust some basketball cards and take a flier on getting a decent autograph. But honestly, I opened a box of 2014-15 Donruss Basketball recently that I think was a lot more fun than this stuff. It's still a pretty low-end break, but there was so much more going on that it felt like I got more for my dollar. I'll post that whenever I get my scans all sorted out, so probably around the time 2015-16 Donruss releases.