31 January 2016

No Contest

I picked up this card a couple weeks back. It's a Cup Chase contest card from 2013 Press Pass. There were 18 cards in the set and if the driver depicted on your card made the Chase, you could redeem your code for a special insert set. If they won the Championship you could get the Grand Prize, which was a special memorabilia card of some kind. I don't know what the prize cards looked like or if they were even made. This Danica Patrick card wouldn't have been a winner anyway. I thought it was a cool-looking card, though. It's a lot darker in the scan than in real life, as pretty much the whole face of the card is foil. Not much else to say about this card. It's cool. I like it. I have to wonder how many new Danica cards I will be able to add to my collection before I run out of affordable options. I'm sure there are plenty, but it's something I think about from time to time. I wish someone would pick up the NASCAR license so we could get cards featuring her with her new sponsor and the associated change in color scheme.

With this post I reach a full month of posting every day for 2016. I've toyed with the idea of trying to get a post per day done for the year, but I have some work stuff coming up later in the year that might keep that from happening unless I really build up a queue of posts. As it stands I have enough drafts in my folder right now to get me halfway through February and plenty more photos in my scan folder. It's just a matter of getting it all processed. I don't really need this blog to turn into a job.

30 January 2016

Pack of the Day 121: 2014 Topps Update Series

This next pack from the repack I've been working through is more typical of the stuff you'll find in these repack products. It's a 12-card pack of 2014 Topps Update Series. It's also one of those packs that you open and scan and think,"I have nothing to say about these cards at all." But I need posts and this will help to pump up my numbers.

This Carlos Gomez card is probably my favorite one of the bunch, but that's not really saying much. He was a Brewer at the time but he got traded to my team, the Astros, in the middle of the 2015 season. He's a bit too demonstrative for me, but I guess that's not a super horrible way to be. I think baseball needs to have some emotional guys around to keep things interesting. His antics have contributed to some bench-clearing incidents over the last couple of years. I hope he can produce for the Astros in 2016.  

Like I said in the opening paragraph, this was a pretty slow pack. It's nice to get a couple of pictures where you can actually see the ball in play, like that David Murphy fielding shot or the Leury Garcia bunt.

I've heard more chatter recently about the NL moving to a DH format, which I personally would like to see. Let the pitchers pitch and the hitters hit. Maybe I'm just bitter because Adam Wainwright was one of my higher picks in fantasy baseball last year and ruptured his Achilles tendon while batting in April. Besides, adding the DH to the NL means 15 more potential big bats to chase for my fantasy rosters. I say let it happen. The only thing we'll miss out on is the comedy of errors that is Bartolo Colon at the plate.

My obligatory insert for the pack was a Gregory Polanco Gold parallel. That's a pretty decent card to pull as a parallel, given the many middle relievers and platoon players that appear on the checklist. I think it should be a rule of some kind that only even numbers of horizontal and vertical cards should be placed in packs so that I don't have to do these funky scans with 3 or 5 cards in them.

29 January 2016

Splitsville: Lose-Lose on eBay

I absolutely love eBay. I've had thousands of transactions on the platform over the last 15+ years, and for the most part it's been a pretty good experience. But sometimes things go wrong, and when they do it often feels like both parties come out losing. That was the case with this card, which on the surface is a beautiful 2015-16 Panini Totally Certified Materials Camo parallel of late NBA player and humanitarian Manute Bol. It's got a nice three-color relic piece and is serially-numbered # 07 / 25. It took a little while to arrive because it shipped out of Hong Kong, and I was pretty happy after I opened the package. Upon further inspection I found this:

The patch piece is so thick that the card bulges in the middle and it has actually begun to peel the layers of the card apart. The first thing I did was go back and review the auction listing to make sure I hadn't missed anything in the description or the pictures. There has been a time or two where I got a little too hasty with my bidding and went back to find that the faults were clearly listed in the item description or one of the photos. In those cases I just ate the loss. But this auction featured just one photo that didn't reveal the damage and the description said that the card was Near Mint to Mint in condition.

I spent enough on the card that I didn't really want to just drop things, so I took a picture of the damage and opened an Item Not as Described case on eBay. I always feel like kind of a douche when I open a case, but I also don't want to pay for something that isn't what was listed. I uploaded the picture and wrote a message describing the problem.

The seller refunded the money pretty quickly and eBay sent me a message saying that there was no need to send the item back. I was kind of relieved that I didn't have to ship it back as shipping it to Hong Kong was going to be a hassle, with customs paperwork to fill out and probably more cost than the card was worth. But I also felt bad because now I had a damaged card and my money back, and the seller was out the money I'd sent plus the money it took to ship the card. It was kind of his fault to begin with for not inspecting what he was selling but it still sucks for everyone involved.

I left positive feedback for the seller because he made things right. I'm not out to rip anyone off or blast someone who has done the best they can to make things right. A little while later I got kind of a passive-aggressive e-mail from the seller saying that the card had come out of the pack like that and that now that I had my money back maybe I could find another copy of the card, but that even if I found another three-color patch card from someone else it would probably have the same issue as the one I'd purchased from him. I understand that he is frustrated at the situation because he's now out the money and the card. In my mind we both lost on the deal. I didn't get the product I wanted and he lost money on the transaction.

I also sent a message out on Twitter directed at Panini with a picture of the damage and a complaint about their quality control. I am pretty sure that exactly 0 people saw that Tweet. It was worth a shot, I guess.

The card looks good from some angles, but in addition to the damage on the bottom edge it also now has negative feelings associated with the eBay experience I had. There are items in my collection that would otherwise be okay, but because of the way they came to me I have these bad feelings associated with them and I keep them tucked away so I don't get all fired up again. This will be one of those items. Whenever I stumble across it in the card boxes I will be reminded of the bad side of eBay, where everybody loses.

edit: I went back and sent the seller the amount that was charged as a shipping and handling fee. It felt like the right thing to do. It's only a few bucks.

28 January 2016

Pack of the Day 120: 1994 Fleer Ultra Series 2

Here is another pack from the retail card purchase that I made a couple of weeks ago. This pack of 1994 Fleer Ultra Series 2 Baseball came from the repack I got. It promises 17 cards, with the back of the pack guaranteeing that one of the cards will be an insert. I wasn't really collecting baseball when this pack came out, so for the most part only the big names are familiar to me.

And here's the insert from the pack. It's an Ultra All-Star card of Cal Ripken Jr., who certainly qualifies as a big name. He won a couple of MVP awards, a World Series ring, appeared in approximately 3 million games in a row, went to the All-Star game a buttload of times, and eventually waltzed right into the Hall of Fame.

I recognize three of these dudes, so that's a pretty good percentage so far. Eric Davis threw me off for a second, because I was really only familiar with him as a player for the Reds. His first stint with them roughly lined up with my family living in Ohio, where I went to my first (and last) professional baseball game. I had to look up his Baseball Reference page to make sure it was the same guy. I also recognized Palmeiro and Bell. Sorry, Todd Benzinger, I have no idea who you are. Apparently he picked up a World Series ring in the same year that Eric Davis got his, though.

Another 3 for 4 scan for me. Curt Schilling is kind of a loudmouth but he also helped to keep a complicated board game I (try to) play (Advanced Squad Leader) alive by joining up with Multi-Man Publishing to buy the rights from Hasbro when the original publisher (Avalon Hill) finally died. I'm also somewhat familiar with Larry Walker and Chan Ho Park. David Nied is the odd man out here for me.

The card backs are photo-heavy, with three pictures of the player and just a couple lines of stats. I guess that's all right, but I think I prefer a smaller photo and full career stats on my card backs.

I guess this was a decent pack for me as far as name recognition goes. Shawon Dunston is the most recognizable name for me here, although I am familiar with Bret Boone and Alan Trammell. Dunston was apparently a member of the Hall of Hanging Around, because his numbers don't seem to support the 18-year career he had. Tony Tarasco hung around for a little while, but his name isn't familiar to me at all.

And here is where things fall apart for me. Mike Lieberthal is the only name here that rings a bell for me. Those other guys don't show up on my radar at all. Maybe if I thought hard enough about it I could convince myself that I've heard of John Burkett and Rod Henderson, but science says you can manufacture memories of events that never happened if you try hard enough. Dave Staton is a guy I'm pretty sure I've never heard of before.

And that's the end of that pack. It was nice to get something that I'd never opened before. That Cal Ripken insert is decent if you like zany red backgrounds on your cards. The rest of the cards feature piles of gold foil and okay photos, although there's a bit too much torso-mania for me. I probably wouldn't seek out a box of this stuff, but one pack out of a repack was okay.

27 January 2016

Pack of the Day 119: 2015 Topps WWE Heritage

Part of my ill-fated retail purchase a while back was this pack of 2015 Topps WWE Heritage cards. I like the look of this product and I'll probably hunt down a complete set (base + inserts) of it at some point.

I got some Legends in the pack. I guess my favorites here would be Big Boss Man as part of The Twin Towers and 'Ravishing' Rick Rude, who seems to be about the sleaziest man on earth in every picture he appears in. I guess to truly be the sleaziest he would need to be sporting a little more body hair, but the mullet and mustache nearly make up for that.

I also got a handful of inserts in the pack. Paige is a WWE 2K16 card that promotes an upcoming video game. Rusev's card comes from a WWE Rookie of the Year set that covers the best rookie wrestlers over the last 30 years. The Bad News Barrett card is part of the NXT Called Up insert, which covers wrestlers who have been called up to the main roster from the developmental NXT promotion.

The final insert in the pack was this Then & Now card of Trish Stratus, showing her both now and as she appeared when she debuted.

Here are scans of the main inserts and base cards. I didn't scan the back of the Paige card because I'm super-lazy. It basically looks like the back of the Rick Rude card but cuts the bio to a couple of lines to make room for promo text about the video game.

I didn't get any parallels or hits in this pack, but those are available in the product. I don't know that I will be buying any more of this stuff in pack form, but I would like to add the set to my collection. There are plenty of them on eBay right now, although I imagine the product's eBay cycle will run out soon.

26 January 2016

Doubling Up with Topps Supreme

I picked up a couple of Topps Supreme autographs recently. In what has become a recurring theme lately, one of them was an example of a card I already had in my collection. This first one is nearly the same as a card I already had, but it is at least a different parallel which means those little triangular swooshes at the bottom of the card are a different color and the print run is different. This one is the Orange parallel of Munenori Kawasaki's 2013 Topps Supreme autograph card. It's got a nice low print run, being # 06 / 15.

Kawasaki recently signed a deal with the Cubs. I hope he gets pictured on some cards next season, although I have to wonder if he will get any playing time. The Cubs are pretty well-stocked with talent. I am a fan of Kawasaki independent of any loyalty to the Blue Jays, so the move doesn't have much effect on me either way. I just think that he had room for more playing time on the Blue Jays roster.

Here is the card I already had a copy of, a Purple autograph of Jon Singleton from 2014 Topps Supreme. This one is numbered # 16 / 25. It's a cool card, but I don't really need two of them. I can take some consolation in the fact that it was cheap, selling to me for the opening bid of $0.99 + shipping. I don't know what I paid for my original copy, but I can be pretty sure that it was more than that.

25 January 2016

A Big Piece of White Fabric with a Picture Beside It

I was hoping to get a bunch of posts written today (I am writing this on Saturday, January 23rd), but my kids have been jerks all day and I've had it up to my eyeballs with their crap. That makes it hard to get through writing anything at all. They all need some more sleep, but we can't let them nap right now because if we do they'll be up all night, so we just have to grit our teeth and ride it out. It doesn't help that this card is not particularly interesting. It is a pretty rare card with a big piece of fabric, but to be honest it's not very exciting. It's a 2013 Topps Five Star Jumbo Jersey Relic card of R.A. Dickey. There are a ton of parallels to this card and this is the Orange version, numbered # 08 / 15. I got it pretty cheaply on eBay.

I do wonder how much longer Dickey will stay in the game. His numbers are decent enough, but you have to think that at some point younger arms with more potential might start to crowd him out. He has a good floor, but scouts and teams are often more interested in a player's ceiling than their floor. I haven't heard any retirement buzz or anything like that. I just know the day is coming and I need to figure out what I will do with my collecting when it happens. Hakeem Olajuwon retired well over a decade ago and I still haven't found a decent replacement among active players. But Hakeem is a Legend, so he still gets cards issued every year. Dickey probably won't get many cards once he retires. I hope he keeps pitching for a few years, so I can push that problem off for a while.

24 January 2016

Purple Premium Patrick Parallel

I've had pretty good luck at picking up Danica Patrick parallel cards lately. I got this card from eBay for a very nice price, even with shipping factored in. I was surprised that there were no competing bids, as it was a $0.99 auction and Danica is a pretty popular driver. This is the Purple parallel of her Studio Insider card from the 2011 Press Pass Premium card set and it is numbered # 07 / 25.

I recently picked up a cheap base set of this product without consulting the checklist first. Danica didn't get a base card in the set, just this card from the Studio Insider subset. The back of the card even references her popularity with card collectors. I was really happy to get this card for the opening bid price, although the seller probably had different feelings about it. I know that feeling. The Sasha Banks WWE autograph I posted about a few days ago sold for $10-15 lower than I was hoping for. I still came away with enough in my Paypal to ship out some long overdue trade packages and buy a couple of things from eBay, so it was still a good sale. Maybe that low sale price was karma coming back to me for getting a good deal on this Danica Patrick card. I can live with that.

I am writing most of my posts a couple of days or more before they go live on the blog in an attempt to have a post a day go up for as long as I can manage it. Unfortunately that means that a lot of my posts aren't very timely in nature. I guess that means I will have to start bolting paragraphs onto the end of my posts when something comes up that I really want to talk about.

The Broncos - Patriots AFC Championship game made me about as anxious as I could get while watching a game, especially the last couple Patriots drives where I just knew that the Broncos were going to lose it all. The missed PAT by Gostkowski early in the game really came into play as the Patriots needed a last-second 2-point conversion to tie the game and the Broncos defense was able to knock the ball away to seal the victory. I am pretty excited to see my team reach the Super Bowl again with Peyton Manning at the helm, but I really hope it doesn't turn into a bloodbath like the last Super Bowl they played in against the Seahawks. I really hope they have enough offense in the tank to win one more game this year.

23 January 2016

Wrapped in Plastic, It's Fantastic!

When 2015 Topps Archives Signature Series was announced I didn't give it much thought. It's not really the type of product I chase. But then I saw them popping up on eBay and some of the cards in the checklist caught my eye. In particular I wanted to grab a Jim Abbott card with a buyback from the 1990 Topps Baseball set. I have a small Jim Abbott player collection, but I have somehow failed to blog about it. The 1990 Topps Baseball set was my initiation to baseball cards so I've got a soft spot for the design. I bid on several copies of this card and eventually got one in my price range. It's way off-center, but I am not too bothered by that. This one is serially-numbered # 45 / 46 and features an autograph just above the nameplate. I do wish the autograph was a little more visible, but I still really like this card, big clunky sealed case and all.

Since I got this card I've noticed a couple of other cards from the Archives Signature Series set that I might pick up if I get a chance. I'm not chasing the low print run, high dollar cards. It's mostly fan favorite-type guys who have cards in the set that I find interesting for one reason or another. Luckily the ones I'm chasing all have relatively high print runs, like this Jim Abbott one. The product also has a Rookie Debut card in the 1990 design for Abbott with a nice action photo, but I think it was limited to 12 copies and I just wasn't going to get one of those in my self-imposed price range.

22 January 2016

Check Out My Cards 8: Jon Singleton Bowman Parallels

This is the last post about my recent COMC order, which I used to build up a couple of UFC player collections and add a number of Jon Singleton cards to my collection of his cards. I've already shown off a couple of common 2015 Topps parallels and a nice relic-auto hit from Panini, but I also grabbed a handful of Singleton parallels from 2015 Bowman. First up is this Silver Ice parallel. The Cardboard Connection page for the set says that Silver Ice parallels were only one per box in 2015, which is much more rare than they've been in the past. At least that is my recollection. And my recollection would be wrong, because the entries for 2014 and 2013 Bowman both show the same seeding for Silver Ice cards. 

This is the Silver parallel, which is the most common of the serially-numbered cards. This copy is # 014 / 499. The Silver parallels feature printed-on serial numbers rather than the foil-stamped numbers that the less common parallels carry. I wonder if that was a cost-saving measure, and what the difference is between the production processes for each method?

This Purple parallel features the foil-stamped serial number # 030 / 250. There's not much else to say about it. It's interesting how the border color influences the way the rest of the picture looks. The blue parts of Singleton's uniform look a lot more purple to me in this photo than they do in the other cards in this post.

And this is the card that set me off down the 2015 Bowman road in the first place. It was a reasonably-priced Orange parallel with a nice low print run, being copy # 08 / 25. There wasn't much in the base Topps rainbow for me on COMC, so I went with these Bowman parallels instead. I was pretty happy to fill a few more spots in my Jon Singleton collection, especially this rare Orange parallel.

21 January 2016

Flight of the Conchords Autograph by Way of Middle Earth

One show that I enjoyed watching was Flight of the Conchords, starring Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as themselves trying to make it big as an indie band without finding much success. Bret Mckenzie has gone on from that show to find success as a songwriter, most notably putting music together for The Muppets movie and a couple of episodes of The Simpsons. Jemaine Clement has had a couple of roles that I enjoyed since the Flight of the Conchords show ended, in the films Gentlemen Broncos and Dinner for Schmucks. In watching Youtube videos of those roles to refresh myself I realized that in both of those roles he plays self-centered creative types who aren't as good at their jobs as they think they are. Hmm.

But long before all of the fame that Flight of the Conchords would bring, the native New Zealander Bret McKenzie found notoriety as an uncredited elf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. His imdb entry has this to say:

 Although his elf role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) was only a brief silent cameo, his attractive character was noticed by female fans, who made him a minor Internet celebrity, and dubbed his character "Figwit" (short for "Frodo is great...who is THAT?!?"). When this came to the attention of director Peter Jackson, he arranged to have McKenzie reprise the (still-officially-unnamed) character in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). In interviews and commentaries, Jackson has informally approved the name of Figwit for the character. McKenzie was also brought back to play an elf character named Lindir in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
I guess that bit of interest from the fans was enough to get him included as one of the autograph subjects in the 20014 Topps Lord of the Rings Trilogy Chrome set. I believe my wife is the one who showed me that McKenzie had autographed cards in Topps products. I went and searched this one out. He has an autograph in the Topps Lord of the Rings: Return of the King set as well, but that one seems to sell for about double the price of this Chrome card. This is just a fun novelty item for my collection, so I went with the cheaper option.

20 January 2016

Check Out My Cards 7: Some Easy Topps Parallels

I mentioned before that I have inadvertently collected much of Jon Singleton's 2015 Topps rainbow, grabbing up many of the rarer parallels as the year went on. This latest COMC order was a good opportunity for me to pick up some of the more common parallels in the rainbow, something I had neglected to do thus far as I was not consciously chasing every variation of the card. This first one is the Rainbow Foil variation, which I believe is usually packed out at around the same rate as the Gold parallel but is not serially-numbered.

And this is the Gold parallel. This copy is numbered # 1626 / 2015. There wasn't a lot of other stuff available for Singleton from 2015 Topps, so these two cards were all I came away with from this purchase. I don't know what Singleton's status will be for the 2016 season. He had a pretty good 2015 in the minor leagues, but the numbers didn't carry over to his stints on the big-league roster. Most of the press out there seems to focus on how the Astros can avoid playing him by acquiring a third baseman and moving Luis Valbuena to first base. For now, his cards are relatively affordable and I'll keep picking them up when I can.

19 January 2016

Check Out My Cards 6: UFC Player Collections

Recently I showed off a nice Jon Singleton card I picked up from COMC, but the real reason I was on COMC in the first place was to build up a couple of UFC collections. This Neil Magny autograph from 2015 Topps UFC Champions was the main target, but I picked up a few other things as well. I chose to collect Magny partly because he's a National Guardsman like myself and also because I liked the way he carried himself in the couple of videos I saw. He doesn't have a lot of cards out there, but I was able to track down a few with his picture on them. This is the standard base sticker autograph from the Champions set.

This die-cut card comes from one of the Champions insert sets, Fighting's Future. There is an autographed version of this card that I believe is limited to 50 copies. I may try to track one down at some point, depending on the price.

I grabbed two Magny cards from the 2015 Topps UFC Knockout set as well. This first one is the base card, which is a good place to start.

This is the Silver parallel, which is the most common parallel in the set. It is numbered # 108 / 199. There are a few other parallels out there. I may chase them down someday. We'll see. He also has a few hits in this set, an autograph card with a few parallel versions and a triple autograph card that he shares with Cat Zingano and Brandon Thatch. I'm guessing that triple auto is out of my price range, but I could see myself chasing down parallels from the base set and at least one version of his solo autograph card.

This card probably should have been posted up with the rest of the cards from the Champions set, but I didn't think about that when I loaded the scans into the post and it's too much trouble to move the pictures now. This is the Black parallel, numbered # 159 / 188. I think I've already got his base card and the unnumbered Silver parallel of this card, but there are still a few others (Blue # / 88, Gold # / 25, Red # / 8, and Platinum # 1 / 1) out there.

The other player collection I got started in this COMC order was one for Randa Markos. While she doesn't have the greatest fighting record, I chose to collect her cards mostly because of her Iraqi heritage. Although the years I spent in Iraq weren't under the most peaceful terms, I do feel a bit of a connection to the country. Her backstory was a good enough hook to get me to watch her fights. This is her base card from the 2015 Topps UFC Knockout set. So har she just has base and parallel cards from the 2015 Knockout and Champions sets, so there's a pretty limited array of stuff to collect. I picked up one or two of her Champions cards in group breaks, so all I got for her in this order was cards from Knockout.

This is the Silver parallel of the card, numbered # 164 / 199. That does it for the UFC portion of this COMC order. The prices were pretty good, and the $3 flat rate shipping was a big plus when compared with eBay's typical $2-3 per card shipping charges. I've still got a few baseball cards to exhibit from this order, but not today.