31 May 2016

Power Girl Sketch Card by Joe Simko

I've got a long list of artists whose work I am seeking for my collection, and it feels good when I knock another one off my list, especially if I can also add to one of my sketch card PCs. That was the case with this Power Girl sketch card by artist Joe Simko. Simko is known for his work on Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages sticker cards, as well as art for bands and his own parody sticker card series Cereal Killers. Although I grew up in the right era for it, Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages never really popped up on my list of interests. I was aware of them and had a few friends and cousins who were into them, but for whatever reason they never appealed to me. But I do like to think that I appreciate a skilled artist, and Joe Simko definitely falls into that category.

I was pretty happy when this card popped up in an eBay search and then stayed in my Watch List long enough for me to buy it. The seller even accepted my Best Offer on the card, so I got a bit of a discount. My original offer was a little low and got rejected, but my second offer was more realistic and got me the card. Then I had to wait F-O-R-E-V-E-R for it to get here from Australia. It seems like cards from Australia either get on a fast boat (plane, more likely) or a slow boat, because they will arrive in a couple days or they will take a couple of weeks. There doesn't seem to be a lot of in-between. I am glad that it arrived safely, and I think it's a great depiction of Power Girl. This sketch came from Cyptozoic's DC Superman: The Legend set that is a few years old now. A Power Girl sketch card from this same product done by Ashleigh Popplewell was one of the first sketches I pulled when I got back into collecting.

30 May 2016

Building a Collection through Combined Shipping

I've noticed that UFC card prices are all over the map, so often I can get cards that are a pretty good deal by taking a shotgun approach to bidding. If I find something I like, I will look at the seller's other items to see if there is anything interesting that I can place a low bid on. If I don't win it doesn't break my heart, but a lot of the time one or two extra cards will fall to me. With combined shipping in place, it doesn't wind up costing me much more than just purchasing the original item I was after. One thing that happens from time to time, though, is that I get outbid on my original item of interest and wind up winning the extra items. That didn't happen with today's cards, but it has happened to me.

This is the card I was originally chasing. It's a Gold parallel of Randa Markos from the 2016 Topps UFC Knockout set. As far as I know, she doesn't have any autograph or relic cards, so I am limited to chasing parallels or inserts for my PC. I am able to pick up most of the ones with higher print runs fairly easily, but any of the Red/Ruby # / 8 cards or the 1 / 1 cards are beyond my means. I'd rather spend that money on other stuff.

The seller had some other UFC stuff up for sale and I bid on a few things, but this Cat Zingano relic from 2015 Topps UFC Chronicles was the only extra I wound up with. It's not numbered, but it's got a nice red fabric swatch. Zingano has a fight coming up against Julianna Pena, her first since losing to Ronda Rousey in February 2015.

29 May 2016

Danica Patrick Parallel

Even though I took almost the entire month of April off from posting, I am still feeling a little bit of blogging burnout. I like posting cards and thinking about cards and writing about cards, but I feel like there isn't much for me to say that I haven't said before. Part of my burnout might not even be related to my blog or my collection. I am worn a little thin at work and home lately, and those things might be harshing the mellow on my hobby stuff a little bit.

I picked up this card a while back for my Danica Patrick collection. It's a Red parallel from the 2013 Press Pass Legends racing set, numbered # 20 / 99. It's a nice-looking card, but I don't have much else to say about it. Lionel Racing recently put up the preview image for a die-cast car based on Danica's ride for the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it looks pretty sweet:

I may have to find a way to add that one to my collection. I still don't have her regular Nature's Bakery car in my collection, but I have to accept that there are going to be holes in my collection from time to time.

28 May 2016

Pack of the Day 134: 2015 Topps UFC Chronicles - An Eye and an Eye

The main business over at Team Breaks is group breaks, but he also sells individual packs and boxes from time to time. Sometimes I will pick one of them up if the breaks are sold out or I don't see anything that really interests me. 2015 Topps UFC Chronicles has a jumbo pack format, with 10 forty-card packs per box and five hits, so you've got a 50% chance at a hit.

I'm starting this post off with an eye, as Heather Jo Clark's eye is looking pretty puffy there. I think this picture was altered for different Topps cards, so on some of them her eye is puffier than in others. I am pretty sure that someone else in the blogosphere has discussed this, but I pulled a couple of images from COMC to show the difference:

You can see that on the Chronicles card her eye is swollen and purple, but on the Champions card it's been altered to hide the swelling and discoloration. Pretty crazy stuff. I guess they didn't want her looking like a fighter on her Rookie Card.

I scanned a couple of horizontal base cards, too, with Ronda Rousey and Georges St-Pierre being the biggest names in the pack by my estimation.

Here are the inserts. I think the Fight Posters inserts are kind of cool. They don't seem to be very popular, but it seems like they are perfect for a trading card set. I don't think I'd want a whole product made up of fight posters, but a subset or insert is okay. Victorious Debut is an insert devoted to fighters who won their UFC debut. Todd Duffee isn't a big name as far as I know, but he knocked out his first UFC opponent in 7 seconds. That's pretty spectacular. Chris Weidman appears in the Octagon of Honor set, which I guess in baseball cards would be your Superstar insert set. Weidman was supposed to fight in the headliner of the upcoming UFC 199, but he backed out with an injury.

The Silver parallels aren't numbered. For vertical cards I got Frankie Edgar and Valerie Letourneau. Edgar has a fight coming up against Jose Aldo in UFC 200, and Letourneau has a UFC Fight Night bout coming up in mid-June against Joanne Calderwood.

Beneil Dariush is the other Silver parallel I got in this pack. The Green parallels are # / 288 and the Gold parallels are # / 88. To bring things full circle I will close this post with an eye in the form of a Jessica Eye relic card. The base relic cards are unnumbered, although there are numbered parallel variations.

I can't complain too much about this pack. There was nothing mind-blowing in it, but I got a relic card hit and a couple of numbered parallels. I can't complain too much about that.

27 May 2016

Breaking it Down 34: 2016 Topps UFC Knockout Hits

This is going to be a, "Look what I got!" post because I've run out of things to say and for the most part no one looks at my UFC posts anyway. I got these from some box breaks over at Team Breaks.

Based on eBay traffic this Cole Miller autograph from 2016 Topps UFC Knockout seems to be a dollar box-filler hit. I guess getting a hit is better than getting no hit, even if the hit is more 'hit' than hit. I was going to say that at least it's not a manu-relic, but the last manu-relic I got from a box break was a case hit that I sold for $42. This autograph is numbered # 019 / 249.

I was much more excited about this card, as Neil Magny is a guy I collect. This is a Knockout Autograph Relic card, numbered # 016 / 350. That seems like an awfully big print run for a relic / auto card from a niche sport, but I'm not the one making the decisions at Topps. Each box has at least 8 hits in it, so they needed plenty of cards with relics and autographs to fill out the cases. In spite of my snarkiness, I was happy to get a card of a PC guy from a break. I take kind of a shotgun approach to collecting UFC cards, grabbing whatever is interesting and cheap, but I do focus a little more on a few fighters. Neil Magny is one of the fighters I will grab whenever I can. Often watching a UFC event or looking at an upcoming fight card will prompt me to look for cards of a few fighters I find entertaining, and in turn my card collection will sometimes influence my rooting interest when watching fights. I've been having fun with it lately, so my blog and my buying have had a heavy UFC flavor recently.

26 May 2016

An Avengers: Age of Ultron Sketch by Kate Carleton

I've been trying to build my post queue up, but I have mixed feelings about it. Right now I'm five days out on posts, so I am writing this five days ago. Things that are current now won't be current when you read this post on Thursday, and it is highly likely that something of note will occur during that time. So if I'm ahead on posts there is a risk that the content will no longer be relevant upon publication, but if I don't get ahead on my posts I am always under the gun to get a post written out for the current day. Probably the right answer is to just get photos processed and loaded up, but save the actual post writing for one or two days out. But the real right answer is just to get as many posts as I can written whenever the blogging bug hits me, so that when real life interferes or I get into a motivational slump I still have stuff ready to go. None of that has anything to do with today's card, though. It's just what I've been thinking about.

This is a sketch card from 2015 Upper Deck Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sketch is Avengers character Scarlet Witch, done by artist Kate Carleton. I've mentioned a few times that I don't especially like Scarlet Witch as a character, but it seems like there are a lot of good sketch cards out there featuring her. That means that when I am trying to track down a certain artist for my collection it is likely that I might end up with a Scarlet Witch sketch.

Kate Carleton is one of the artists I'd been trying to track down to add to my collection, and this sketch was the right one for my collection. It sat in my Watch List for a long time and I always figured that someone else was going to snag it before I got around to buying it.

25 May 2016

Cheki Wrestling Photos from Japan

I mentioned in yesterday's Tim Lincecum post that I'd grabbed a couple of wrestling cards from the seller in order to take advantage of combined shipping. What I got from him was some of the tougher pulls from the BBM True Heart Wrestling products, the Polaroid-style Cheki cards.

In my quest to better understand what it is I'm collecting, I decided to try figuring out why these photo inserts are called Cheki. It didn't really take me long to find out, as I came across an article about the Fujifilm company's Instax line of cameras, which produce these little instant snapshots. They are marketed as Cheki to young women, apparently with great success. In this digital age, a film camera is seen as a fun novelty, and the Cheki cameras are selling at a pace that nearly outpaces Fujifilm's digital models. Moving on to the actual cards I bought, you can clearly see the Fujifilm and instax labeling on the back of the photos. It all Check(i)s out!

藤ヶ崎矢子 - Yako Fujigasaki

This first autographed photo comes from the 2016 BBM True Heart product. The wrestler is Yako Fujigasaki. She appears in a lot of the photos that get posted to the JWP Facebook page, but I don't know much about her outside of that. This card is numbered # 4 / 8. In previous sets these were the hardest pulls, but in 2016 BBM included special inscription autographs that were # / 5. These photos are probably still cooler than those autographs.

永島 千佳世 - Chikayo Nagashima

This one comes from the 2015 BBM True Heart product and features Chikayo Nagashima, another wrestler that I don't know much about. She's been wrestling for a long time, debuting in 1995. According to Wikipedia her last couple of matches have been against Ayako Hamada, whose cards are collected by buckstorecards as part of his 2/14 birthday collection. This photo is numbered # 1 / 7.

Although I don't know much about these two wrestlers, it was nice to find these photos for such a good price. It would take several boxes to pull even one of these, and after the exchange rate and shipping from Japan it's hard to get unopened boxes right now for less than $65-70 apiece. I haven't purchased any boxes since my initial order when they released. I don't know that I'll be able to pick up any more of the 2016 product in unopened form. I'll need to save my pennies just to be able to buy some of the 2017 when it releases.

24 May 2016

Tim 'The Angel (of Anaheim)' Lincecum

I picked up a few SEGA Card-Gen cards of pitcher Tim Lincecum from a seller in Japan, and they arrived in the mailbox just around the time Lincecum signed a contract with the Angels in an attempt to get his career back on track. Actually they didn't actually land in the mailbox, because I had to sign for the package and the mail carrier brought it straight to the door.

This 2010 card came out just after Tim had won his second Cy Young award and just before he won his 1st World Series ring with the Giants. In SEGA Card-Gen terms, that means he gets 8 stars on the front of his card and a nice full ratings block on the back. I don't have many 2010 SEGA Card-Gen cards in my collection, so I am always happy to add a new one. This seller is the same guy I get most of my Card-Gen cards from. He doesn't post auctions all that often, but when he does there are usually a few things I jump on right away. I combined this Lincecum lot with some Japanese wrestling cards he posted to bring down the per-card cost for shipping.

This 2012 card features an identical number of stars and the exact same stat ratings on the back. Although Lincecum's 2010 and 2011 seasons were a step down from his Cy Young years, he was still among the best pitchers in the game, and when this card came out he was close to winning his 2nd World Series ring, this time pitching mostly in relief during the playoffs.

This 2013 card is not Lincecum's base card. This is his Foil Rare card, a special set that features a foil background with a SEGA Card-Gen logo on it and a slight ratings bump on the back over the base card, as well as a different picture and different numbering. You can see Evan Longoria's cards side by side on this post if you want to see how the Foil Rares differ from the base cards. For a long time R.A. Dickey's card from this set was my most-wanted card, but blogger Zippy Zappy helped me track it down from this same seller's webstore. The wheels were starting to come off on Lincecum's control by this point, but he was still a celebrity and a star, so he kept his high ratings in this set. If there had been future sets I imagine reality would have set in soon enough.

I hope Lincecum can revive his career with the Angels, as baseball is more fun when the exciting players are playing well. Of course I still want the Astros to catch up to the Angels and the rest of the AL West, but hopefully they can do that concurrently with a Tim Lincecum revival.

23 May 2016

Power Girl Sketch by Elfie Lebouleux

I wouldn't say I've been all the way down on baseball lately, but I have slowed down on picking up baseball cards and even a lot of the stuff I have picked up is cards that don't lend themselves to blog posts. I've got a lot of UFC stuff recently, but there's only so much of that I can post without burning out myself and my readers. My eBay Watch List is a pretty good indicator of what's been catching my interest lately, and it's probably 75% sketch cards and wrestling / UFC stuff, while baseball and NASCAR make up most of the rest. The problem with sketch cards is that they are not cheap, so they usually just cycle through my Watch List until someone buys them or the seller gets tired of listing them. But I keep adding to my list, because every so often I am able to pick one up and even if I can't it helps me keep track of artists whose work I want to add into my collection.

I'd been wanting some art by artist Elfie Lebouleux for a while, but it took time to find the right piece at the right price. I eventually was able to win this Power Girl PSC (Personal Sketch Card) from her personal eBay page. It's a nice sketch and makes for a welcome addition to my Power Girl sketch collection. In the past I have almost exclusively chased licensed sketch cards from the sets put out by various non-sports producers, but I think that kind of limits my access to perfectly good pieces of art. I still chase licensed cards when I can get them, but if the right sketch comes along on plain stock or the artist's personal sketch card stock I will chase it down. The only reason to exclusively licensed sketches is the perception that they are more valuable, but in all honesty my collection will never be worth more to someone else. I can't imagine a situation in which I would try to sell most of my sketches while I'm still alive, so why not chase art I like whether it's on official card stock or not? Anyway, that's my thought for the day.

22 May 2016

Click Here to View Cart 12: 2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling Autographs

I was able to get a couple of 2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling autographs featuring some of my favorite wrestlers from an online shop that specializes in Japanese wrestling memorabilia. They have an eBay presence, too, but their website often has better prices and cheaper shipping.

The first card is autographed by Rabbit Miu, who is currently nursing some kind of leg injury:

I pulled that picture from the JWP Facebook page and cropped it a bit. I believe the wrestler whose face is in the foreground is Leon. Rabbit Miu is super-short and has a ton of energy. It's too bad she's out of commission for a while.

The other card I got in this purchase was for my main Japanese wrestling player collection, Command Bolshoi. Earlier I got her short-printed 2016 autograph with pink ink and an inscription, but until now I hadn't picked up the base version. I've got a good head start on her autograph timeline, but I'm missing a few years in the mid-2000's.

Rabbit Miu might be injured, but that doesn't stop her from goofing off while Command Bolshoi puts in work at the gym:

I took this photo from Command Bolshoi's Facebook page. She posts a lot of gym and food photos, but I put up with that because she also posts plenty of wrestling stuff and a lot of other wrestlers make cameos in her feed, like in this photo.

21 May 2016

Some Josh Wise Relics on NASCAR All-Star Weekend

Here are a couple more Josh Wise relic cards I picked up a while back. This weekend is the All-Star race in NASCAR, which is about as meaningless as any other All-Star event in pro sports. Josh Wise has a pretty interesting All-Star race story, though, so although he isn't in this weekend's race it is appropriate to post about him here.

In 2014 a Reddit user took note of Wise and started a push to get him voted into the All-Star race, as well as to get him a Dogecoin sponsorship. Most of the spots in the All-Star race are allocated to drivers who finish well or meet other performance-based criteria, but there is also a fan vote that allows for other drivers to get into the race. Over the last few years that vote has largely gone Danica Patrick's way, but in 2014 the support of the Reddit / Dogecoin community pushed Josh Wise past her in the voting and into the All-Star race, where he avoided a couple of wrecks and finished in 15th place. Lionel made a die-cast car of his Dogecoin car, which I was glad to add to my collection.

Today's relic cards come from 2014 Press Pass Total Memorabilia. Press Pass sadly went out of business right at the beginning of 2015, and eventually Panini picked up the NASCAR license. They haven't put out any NASCAR products yet, but they have announced a few products coming down the line, with Panini Prizm probably being the first one. This first card is a single-swatch tire relic, numbered # 076 / 275.

Next up is a dual relic with another piece of tire and a plain blue firesuit swatch. It is numbered # 149 / 150. I've slowed down a bit on my NASCAR collecting lately, but I will still pick up stuff here and there. I think getting a couple of Panini products out will really be good, because we 'need' some fresh material in the marketplace.

20 May 2016

Rainbow in the Dark 36: Josh Reddick 2013 Topps Printing Plate

I've been working on a Josh Reddick 2013 Topps 'Super Rainbow' for a long time. I call it a Super Rainbow because Topps used the same picture for his 2013 Topps Series 1 card, his 2013 Topps Opening Day card, his 2013 Topps Chrome card, and his 2013 Topps Mini card. I've been trying to track down all of the different variations, and I have everything except for a number of 1 / 1 variations. The last time I added to this collection was in November 2014, when I got the Magenta Printing Plate out of 2013 Topps Chrome. That post I linked to also has a big row of scans showing everything I'd collected for the Super Rainbow to that point.

That Magenta plate was the 38th variation in my collection, and this Cyan Printing Plate from 2013 Topps Series 1 is the 39th. The blue plate was up on eBay for quite a while at a price that I thought was about 3x what my top-end for it would be. After a couple of months the seller dropped the price gradually down to about 2x my top-end price and then never came down any further. Eventually I broke down and paid up for the card because I 'needed' it for this Super Rainbow. It's interesting that you can see ghost images of other card fronts on here, including a recognizable Braves logo.

After this addition I am down to needing just four cards from 2013 Topps Series 1 (Platinum 1 / 1, Black PP, Magenta PP, Yellow PP), four cards from 2013 Topps Opening Day (all four PPs), three cards from 2013 Topps Chrome (Magenta PP, Cyan PP, Yellow PP), and five from 2013 Topps Mini (Platinum 1 / 1 and all four PPs). There also may be some Blank Back Topps Vault cards out there, but they were sold on eBay as opposed to being sold in packs, so I won't count those unless I am able to acquire them. Every card I need is a 1 / 1, so I am kind of at the mercy of fate as far as when or if those individual copies pop up. I guess that means there are still 16 pack-inserted variations out there, which seems like a lot, but when you consider that only one copy of each exists it makes sense to consider the rainbow pretty much completed. I will still keep an eye out for the rest of the cards, and I especially hope to grab at least one 1 / 1 card from Opening Day and Topps Mini so that I can have a 1 / 1 representative from each set.

19 May 2016

Four 2013 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling Autographs

These cards have been in my scan folder for so long that I didn't really remember where they came from or how I got them. Luckily I found this picture on a Blowout forum thread and if my post is to be trusted, these came from a box of 2013 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards I opened on 02 JUN 2015.

This was a pretty good box as far as autographs go. In the upper left is Lin Byron, who is probably better known by her masked alter ego, Ray. I've posted a couple of times about Ray, as she is a wrestler I collect, and she also was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor in her head a few months ago. She is undergoing treatments and there have been a couple of charity wrestling events in Japan to help her out.

Next to Ray is 235, who is also known as Fumiko Sato. I don't know a lot about her, but it seems like she doesn't get much respect among fans of joshi puroresu.

In the lower right is probably the best pull of the box, as KAGUYA is a masked identity of the very popular but now-retired wrestler Mio Shirai. It's a pretty cool card. She and her sister, Io Shirai, were a very popular tag team. Io is now one of the more popular wrestlers in the Stardom promotion. Stardom is the promotion that really seems to be pushing an American presence. They did a couple of shows in California last year, they recently opened up an international webstore (with prohibitive shipping rates), and they also have a subscription-based Youtube channel that rebroadcasts all of their shows in a timely manner with English subtitles.

In the lower right is Mima Shimoda, who has been wrestling for so long that she's got a fansite hosted by GeoCities. Granted, GeoCities is still available in Japan, but for Americans it's a relic from the 90's. She is one of the more famous and revered Japanese women's wrestlers. Her career stretches back to the the late 80's and she's still in the business, with ten matches so far this year.

I don't know why I never got around to posting these cards over the last year, but here they are. I haven't been chasing much in the way of baseball cards lately. I still pick some baseball stuff up, but most of my eBay watch list right now is wrestling cards, comic book / Star Wars sketch cards, and UFC-related stuff. That doesn't make for a lot of blog page views, but baseball stuff was starting to all feel the same to me. I'll come back around to it eventually.

18 May 2016

Back to Houston's Glory Days with an eBay Addition

I picked up this 2015-16 Panini Totally Certified Champions card of Hakeem Olajuwon from an eBay seller as part of a combined shipping deal. Sometimes if I notice a seller offers combined shipping or a discount for multiple purchases I will search their inventory for a few of my favorite players to see if anything comes up that I can add on to an order. In this case the order was mostly UFC cards, but I was also able to grab a recent card of my all-time favorite basketball player. This one is serially-numbered # 068 / 199, but more importantly, it talks about the two Championships Olajuwon won with Houston and the two Finals MVP awards he picked up in the process.

Unfortunately, the Houston Rockets haven't been back to the Finals since then. This past year was disappointing. The Rockets barely made the playoffs after a long year of ineffectiveness and infighting, and they were quickly dismissed in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. I don't really see a way forward for this team with James Harden and Dwight Howard as their main players, so maybe it's time to blow up the roster and look for a different answer. That kind of rebuild will probably result in several years of painfully bad records, but I don't know if that's any worse than the good-not-great team Houston is rolling out now. I guess it's disappointing not to see any progress from year to year.

With the Rockets bounced out of the playoffs early, I was hoping that the Spurs would have a strong run left in them, but they got ousted by the Thunder in a rather surprising turn of events, and then the Thunder went out and beat the Warriors on the road in Game 1 of their Western Conference Finals match-up. I don't really want any of the teams that are left to win the title so I guess I am rooting for the Raptors now, although they are currently down by 15 points to Cleveland in the 3rd quarter of their Game 1 meeting. I imagine that by the time this posts they will be down 0-1 in that series.

I don't see much good coming out of Houston basketball in the near future, but at least I can relive their glory days by reading the backs of my Olajuwon cards.

17 May 2016

2013 Press Pass Ignite Hot Threads Josh Wise

I meant to post this sooner, but I didn't get around to making a NASCAR post on Sunday after the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. It was a pretty significant race for one of the drivers I collect, as Danica Patrick finished in 13th place for her best finish of the season so far and her 4th Top 20 finish this year. People are saying that she benefited from the wreck that involved 18 cars from the field, but the same could be said of anyone else who finished among the leaders in the race. Dale Earnhardt Jr., another driver I follow, wrecked out of the race and finished the race in 32nd place.

Lastly, Josh Wise finished in 36th place, taking his usual spot among the racers at the back of the field. It would be interesting to see what he might do with better equipment, but there aren't usually a lot of open spots in the big-name cars. I picked up a handful of Josh Wise cards a few months ago, and this 2013 Press Pass Ignite Hot Threads relic is one of them. It's a nice enough card. I opened a fair amount of 2013 Ignite and it was also among the first products I opened when I returned to collecting in 2013, so I've got a bit of a soft spot for these cards.