30 July 2016

A Museum Full of Planes and Ren Faire for Redheads

On Friday we had an exam in this course I am taking, but after that my day was pretty open. So I decided to take the rest of the afternoon an go to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This was pretty cool for me. When I was a kid my dad was stationed here at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Museum is one of the big things I remember from that time.

I only took pictures of one plane, the SR-71A Blackbird. When I was young I chose this and the F-15 Eagle as my favorite airplanes (probably heavily influenced by some model kits and posters I had and my dad's influence). It was just such a cool aircraft, and it was the fastest and the highest-flying.

It also happened to be in the most dimly-lit hangar in the museum, so it was pretty difficult to get a decent picture of it, especially while also trying to get myself into the frame. There are so many cool aircraft in the Museum, and I don't even know if I saw them all. I really like the WWII and Vietnam-era aircraft, but each era has some pretty cool stuff. There were quite a few that I remembered from my visits as a kid, and also a lot of new stuff. One new thing was that they had an area set up with the Air Force One planes from different areas, and you could walk through them. The walk-throughs were pretty cramped because all of the seating/working areas were blocked off by Plexiglas, but you could see all the different stuff that was in there. Probably the most interesting one was the plane used by Presidents from Kennedy through Clinton, as it identified the places in the plane where Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in after the Kennedy assassination and where a wall was cut away so that Kennedy's coffin could be carried in the cabin rather than in the cargo hold. That all happened before I was born (my parents were just 2 years old when Kennedy was assassinated), but it's a pretty big moment in American history.

Here is the information plate for the SR-71A. The last sentence mentions that the aircraft was flown to the Museum in March 1990. I remember that day, as I was an elementary school student here in Dayton at the time, and we all went outside during the school day to watch the plane fly over on the way to the Museum. Later we went and saw it close up as a family. Or maybe not as a family. I don't remember if it was just me and my dad or if my mom and my sisters went, too. I was there, at least. I saved a couple of newspaper clippings from the event, but I don't know if I still have them.

I picked up one souvenir from the Museum. I got this catalog showing the aircraft on display at the Museum. It's got a couple pictures of each plane, as well as what appears to be the text from each plane's placard in the Museum. When my grandparents came out to visit us (probably in 1989), my grandpa got whichever edition of this catalog was current at that time. A couple of years ago my grandma gave it to me, along with a couple of postcards I sent to him after their visit.

Today I planned to go back over to the park on the river and catch Pokemon. When I got there (after some re-routing due to construction), I found that the Dayton Celtic Festival was going on. That's not really my thing, but it was a good opportunity to people-watch. There were plenty of food vendors, lots of bagpipes playing, some other music, a million beer tents, some sellers of other stuff, and a lot of people milling about. There were plenty of people wearing kilts, lots of folks wearing green, and many folks who seemed to be using the Festival as an excuse to break out their Ren Faire costumery. I also saw a handful of folks wearing furry tails, so that scene was represented, too. I guess I can't knock them too much for having fun in their own ways. I collect cardboard with pictures of dudes in uniforms printed on it, after all. There were also a lot of people playing Pokemon Go. I had some fish & chips that were all right and wandered around for a while.

I took a short detour to stop back by the Dayton Visual Arts Center and hit up the Art-o-mat again. This time I got art from Aaron Butcher (left) and Teresa Wise (right). I also went back through the gallery and took note of a couple of artists whose work I want to look up later.

I planned to visit the Dayton Art Institute museum, too, but I lingered too long at the Celtic Festival and ran out of time. Maybe I'll find some time for that next week. I've mentioned before that I'm not really an a wizard at art appreciation or knowledge, but I'm trying to get out there and broaden my horizons a little. In the evening I watched parts of UFC 201. It wasn't an amazing card, but it was okay. I was distracted quite a bit and didn't really get hooked in by any of the fights. There were some good moments, though.

28 July 2016

N20 Allen & Ginter Prize & Game Chickens 26: Japanese Bantam

I found some 2016 Allen & Ginter yesterday, but a couple of weeks ago I found another card toward my N20 1891 Allen & Ginter Fifty Prize & Game Chickens set build. These cards are over 125 years old, and I've now officially moved over the 50% completion mark on acquiring the set. I got this one on eBay, and it's a pretty nice-looking example.

The bird on the card is a Japanese Bantam, which is a true bantam breed, meaning that they have no regular-sized counterpart breed. They carry their tails in an upright manner and are bred with a variety of feather colors. There are frizzled Japanese Bantams, too, which means that their feathers curl around, giving them a windblown look.

Photo of Japanese Bantams from the breed page on FeatherSite
I think these are a pretty cool chicken, and I wouldn't mind having a couple around if I ever get a backyard flock off the ground. This is one of the cards from the set I was really looking forward to obtaining, and I am glad I was able to get such a nice example.

Not much on the tourism front today. I did go to Maverick's again to get a top loader and sleeve for my 2016 Allen & Ginter hit. I decided to list it on eBay right away so I could catch some of the initial rush as set and player collectors try to get the cards they want for their collections. I didn't really want to buy a whole pack of top loaders and a whole pack of penny sleeves, and the guy behind the counter gave me one of each for my card. I thought that was pretty cool. I picked up a couple packs of Topps Star Wars: Evolution while I was there, but didn't pull any cool hits or character cards that blew me away. They are pretty nice-looking cards, though. They have display cases with LEGO kits that have been assembled and are being sold as-is at a steep discount. I was looking at a set yesterday that really tempted me and today it was gone. The price was really good, so I'm not surprised it was already sold.

One thing that really bugged me for the first few days I was here was that on the horizon the sky goes all the way to the trees. Where I'm from in Idaho there is almost always a mountain range or some hills in the distance in every direction, so there is something between the trees and the sky. It's just one of those things that you don't even notice until you actually see a horizon with no mountains in it.

27 July 2016

I Found Some Allen & Ginter...

...but I'm not going to post any of the cards from it. While I was in class today the instructor mentioned a comic book shop while giving directions to another student. I asked about the comic book shop and he told me approximately where it was. I had also planned on going to a Maverick's Cards and Comics location nearby, so now I had two locations to check out. I went to Maverick's first. They had some pretty cool stuff in there, including quite a few LEGO kits and a pretty fair number of action figures, toys, statues and whatnot. On the way out I saw that they had boxes of 2016 Allen & Ginter for sale, but the price was a bit higher than I wanted to pay. I needed to get out of the shop and run the numbers a bit before committing.

So I went to the place the instructor had mentioned, Bell, Book and Comic. It was a pretty decent comic shop, as far as I could tell. They had a guest artist there signing a shop-exclusive comic book variant, so that made an already-cramped location even tighter. There were a few things that caught my eye, but nothing I absolutely had to have.

I went back and forth for a while and finally decided to just get a box of Allen & Ginter from Maverick's. After tax it was about 32% more than the delivered price on the cheapest boxes on eBay and about 14% more than the delivered price on boxes from the big-name online retailers, but I wanted my A&G fix NOW, and I ponied up the extra to get it done.

I won't say much about the box I got, as it's probably the only box of A&G I will get this year and that means I have to save it to score for Gint-a-Cuffs. Unless there is some miracle, I do not think I will have a chance at winning Gint-a-Cuffs this year. If my recollection is correct, you need over 200 points most years to win, and I am guessing that my box will finish well under the 200 mark, maybe in the 135-150 range. I did pull one hit that seems to be doing well on eBay right now, and I am hoping that I can flip it quickly and at least recoup the cost of the box. I wasn't very impressed with the rest of the box. Maybe I am just jaded after my three years back in the hobby. I guess at the moment busting packs feels a little empty to me. I could pick up probably all the singles I want from this set for the price I paid for the box, and the box didn't really yield anything PC-worthy. I was lucky to pull a decent hit, but if I hadn't pulled that card I would have felt really bad about this purchase instead of merely ambivalent.

Here is a card I got on eBay for much less than a case hit should sell for. It's another Members Only parallel from 2014 Topps Stadium Club. Pedro Alvarez isn't all that popular these days, which is something that seems to happen when a low-average power bat becomes just a low-average bat. I am just happy to add another of these Members Only parallels to my collection. They rarely show up these days, and I pounce on them when I can.

26 July 2016

Click Here to View Cart 14: Some BBM True Heart Autographs

I added a couple more autographs to some of my joshi puroresu trading card PC's recently, ordering from the webstore of a guy who seems to specialize in Japanese wrestling memorabilia. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting ready to downsize his store's inventory in the near future. There are still a couple items he has that I 'need,' so I will have to look into making that happen before I get cut off.

This first one goes into my Command Bolshoi collection. I am not 100% sure, but I think this alternate mask and uniform is what she wears when she wrestles in the Daijo (OSAKA Woman's Pro Wrestling) promotion as opposed to her usual home as the president of JWP Joshi Puroresu. Either way, this is a Bolshoi card I didn't have and I was excited to land it for my collection. It comes from the 2014 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling set and is serially-numbered # 53 / 90.

Another JWP wrestler I have a PC for is Rabbit Miu. I don't have as many of her cards, and sometimes her name is hard to search for online. On the JWP Facebook page it often gets translated into 'beautiful rodent.' In spite of those difficulties, I was able to get this card from the 2013 BBM True Heart set. It is numbered # 069 / 100.

Here in Ohio I have continued my quest to find neat hobby places to visit. Yesterday after class I stopped in at All-American Trading Cards, which I'd seen on the way to class one day. It was a disappointing mess. The three guys in the store were not interested in having a customer there, there was a motorcycle parked in the middle of a haphazard pile of hobby supplies and cards, and there were stacks and stacks of early- to mid-90's wax and sets everywhere, piled in no particular order all over the floor and tables. The stuff in the display cases looked like it had been sitting in the sun for about 25 years, and I guess a lot of it probably has been there that long. There were a few boxes of recent releases on the shelves behind the displays, but there were no prices anywhere and by the way the guys in the shop were acting it seemed like I was an invader in a private clubhouse more than a customer in a store, so I left.

Tonight while I was grabbing some dinner I saw a shop called The Game Haven. I went in and found that they had most of the same stuff you'd expect to find in a gaming store. I saw a few comic books I would like to get and some promising Lord of the Rings miniatures from Games Workshop in the clearance bin, but I was in a hurry to get home with my food and didn't purchase anything on this visit. I'll probably go back later, though.

Tomorrow I plan to visit a collectibles store called Maverick's. It isn't too far away, and I think they might have Allen & Ginter in stock.

25 July 2016

Jean Segura Members Only

I guess this card has some relevance to my recent history, as this past weekend I saw Jean Segura hit a lead-off home run for the Diamondbacks at the game I attended this past weekend. I had to look  up how exactly he got to the Diamondbacks from the Brewers. It was a trade, and the names I recognized going the other way were Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill. Segura is having his first pretty good season after he broke out in 2013.

This card is another 2014 Stadium Club Members Only parallel. I have added quite a few of them to my collection since the release of the set, mostly only in the semi-star and just-a-guy categories. These parallels were pretty limited, falling at one per case and carrying a rumored print run of only 5-10 copies each. Most of the big names go for big money, but every so often one slips through the cracks. This one sat on my eBay Watch List for a few months, and I finally got around to making the purchase around a month ago. I keep thinking I'm done getting these Members Only parallels, but every so often I still pick up another.

24 July 2016

A Visit to the Great American Ballpark

This past Friday I continued my adventures in Ohio, this time with a more sports-oriented excursion. I ventured out to Cincinnati for a Reds game. I planned to go to the Aquarium across the river from Great American Ballpark before the game. On my way to Cincinnati, though, I had to stop at the bank for a minute, and on the same street as the bank I happened to see a tabletop gaming shop and a comic shop with matching branding across the street. So I found myself spending some time inside both locations of Bookery Fantasy Comics, Collectibles, and Gaming in Fairborn, Ohio.

They had a pretty nice selection of items, and in looking at their website it appears that I completely missed their Comic Cave, which boasts a great many back issues at $1 apiece. I determined that I would make a purchase while I was there, and selected a book from the Horus Heresy series that I knew I hadn't read yet.

Then I looked through their discount bin and found a box of Space Marines at a ridiculous discount. I haven't painted a wargaming miniature in years, but I hold out hope that one day I will return to that hobby and the piles of unpainted plastic and metal I have in my basement. I don't have a very organized want list for comic books, so it is pretty rare for me to buy anything in a comic book shop. I did have a pretty good look around, though. By the time I got to Cincinnati it was too late to really see the aquarium before the game, so I got some ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery and headed over the bridge to the ballpark instead. Parking was only $3 for the day, so that was a pleasant surprise after the scalping we endured going to a Phillies game in April. On that trip it cost some insane amount in tolls just to get into and out of Philadelphia, and then parking in a surface lot was like $20 besides. I didn't pay any tolls in Ohio, and got a parking spot in a secured garage for just $3.

I could see the ballpark across the bridge, so I took a picture. Once again, it was swelteringly hot and humid. I couldn't look down from the bridge without getting dizzy, so I snapped a couple of quick pictures, put my head down, and hurried across.

Thanks to StubHub I got a pretty good seat at a discount. I was just behind the camera pit to the side of the Diamondbacks dugout. The Diamondbacks players were pretty friendly at the start of the game, but once the Reds got out to a decent lead I saw Paul Goldschmidt tuck the ball in his glove under his arm instead of throwing it to the kids clamoring for his attention. There was a bit of a ruckus in the 3rd inning as well, as Jean Segura was hit by a pitch and felt like he'd been hit in purpose in retaliation for his lead-off home run. That probably didn't improve the mood of the Arizona players at all.

This picture is from the bottom of the 7th inning. Joey Votto had just advanced to 3rd after Adam Duvall grounded into a double play, and Brandon Phillips was up. In a minute Phillips would single, leading to a Votto score to put the Reds up 5 - 2. Earlier Votto had hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first to make up for two runs Dan Straily had given up to the Diamondbacks at the top of the first. Billy Hamilton's wheels were on display, as he stole 3 bases on the night. So I pretty much got to see everything you'd want to see at a circa-2016 Reds game, with power coming from Votto and speed from Hamilton. It would have been nice to see Goldschmidt hit a ball over the fence. It was nice to see Dan Straily and Tony Cingrani pitch, although I can't really say I collect either pitcher's cards.

I took this selfie later in the game, probably in the eighth inning. I wanted to get a picture with the features in the outfield. I have to admit that I didn't like the Great American Ballpark as much as I liked Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The seats seemed a little more crowded and the fans less engaged. Maybe it was just the heat and the lack of a really good match-up, with two last-place teams playing each other. The in-game promotions were pretty good. Maybe I just didn't enjoy the park as much because I was alone instead of with a group.

After the game I stayed because it was Fireworks Night. They put on a pretty good show. They had a soundtrack by The Grateful Dead, but I honestly could have done without the music. It was loud and trended on the obnoxious side. I looked around at the shops for a while to see about a souvenir to take home, but the prices were too much for me. They wanted $40-50 for a t-shirt, and I just couldn't do it.

I got a picture of me with this super-creepy billboard of Mr. Redlegs on the way out of the park. You can see that even with my back turned I was keeping an eye to the side, because that is one shady-looking dude.

And here is the view of the park from the bridge. I am glad I went to a Reds game on this trip. It was good to see the home team win. They have one more home series while I'm here, but I don't know if I'll make it to another game, especially one during the work week.

21 July 2016

My Long Journey to See the Art-o-mat!

Some time ago I was goofing around on the internet, as is my custom, and I stumbled across something called Art-o-mat. An Art-o-mat is a retired cigarette vending machine that is refurbished and converted to dispense pieces of artwork that are the same size and weight as a pack of cigarettes. I thought that was a pretty cool thing, but I checked the map and saw that Idaho does not have an Art-o-mat machine in the state. I did, however, notice that there is one in Dayton, Ohio. I happen to be in Dayton for some training right now, so I put it on my list of things to do while I'm here.

My work has kept me pretty busy during the day and I have been studying in the evenings, so I haven't had a lot of opportunity to get out and about yet. But today we got out of class early enough that I had time to put my plan into action. The plan was to park my car at a park near the river and walk the trail down the river to the Dayton Visual Arts Center, where I would use the Art-o-mat, see what else there was to see, and head back down the trail to my car, hopefully catching a lot of Pokemon along the way.

Things started out pretty well. The trail is paved and it was pretty scenic. Ohio is very green. If you leave nature to fend for itself in Idaho, it turns brown and rocks come out of the ground. If you don't mow every 8-12 hours in Ohio, you get a wall of brush and weeds 20 feet high.

My main complaint is that it was hot and muggy. I think the temperature was around 90 degrees and the humidity was like a million gallons per atmospheric unit or however they measure the water in the air. That is one reason why I was the only person on the trail aside from the occasional bicyclist. The other reason is that after I got down the trail a ways it was blocked off and closed for construction. There were detour signs, so I followed them and found myself walking several miles through the less-scenic parts of Dayton. There were waste management companies, recycling facilities, scrapyards, forges, abandoned buildings, and all the stuff you usually see while driving quickly through the industrial part of town. I am glad that for most of the detour there were sidewalks. I noticed that I continued to be the only person stupid enough to be out walking in the heat.

After a long time, I got to where I was headed. There were people there, and I saw a park with a water pad and benches and a vending machine where I might find a cold bottle of water. But first I had to get to the Art Center.

This is me in front of the Dayton Visual Arts Center. I actually took this picture as I was leaving, but that doesn't really matter. It didn't change much while I was in there. Before getting to the Art-o-mat I signed the guest book, enjoyed the air conditioning, and looked at the displays they had up. It's a small building, but there was enough art there to keep me busy for 20 minutes or so. I don't have much of an art vocabulary, but there were a few things that made me linger and think for a minute. There was a guy moving around, setting up a table with hors d'oeuvres for an event they were having. One art fixture was a wind chime/gong-looking thing. I wanted to make a sound with it, but I wasn't sure if it was okay. Later on a couple came in for the event and the guy went over and rang the chime and I cheered a little inside. They were known to the guy setting up the table, so it was probably better for that guy to be the one to bang the chime.

So I finally got back to the Art-o-mat machine and had to decide which art to get. It's a pretty cool-looking fixture in itself. They are all different and there are a lot of them. The gallery of machines on the Art-o-mat site is pretty impressive. Each slot in the machine is stocked with art by a particular artist, so you have some idea about what you might get.

I saw a familiar name among the listings, as Kettle is a pseudonym for John Soukup, an artist I've featured many times on my blog. I knew from my research beforehand that each piece of art costs $5, so I had a couple of fives ready. Two times I put my bill in the machine and pulled the handle, and after a ker-chunk sound and some rattling a painted block of wood slid out of the chute.

Here are the pieces I got, both by Kettle. In retrospect it might have been cool to sample some other artists, but maybe I can visit again and give it a shot. I was happy to add another couple of pieces to my Kettle art collection. I'm pretty sure that I purchased the last two Kettle pieces in the machine, as when I looked at the slot in the machine that painting of the girl was the one on top of his stack. Not all of the art is paintings on blocks of wood. Some artists make jewelry and put it in little boxes. I saw that one person makes little toy rocket ships that can be assembled. Artists make little notebooks or figurines and package them so that they are the right shape. It's a pretty cool idea.

At this point I realized that it was about time to start heading back. I hadn't thought ahead enough, and now I had a dilemma. I had these two pieces of artwork painted with water-soluble paints, and I had to get them all the way back across town to my car. I asked the guy at the gallery if they had a bag I could take with me, and he went in the back and found something that would work. I thought that was pretty nice of him, and I thanked him and went on my way because it looked like the art event was about to kick off and I didn't want to be there when that happened. I don't have a goatee, so the art folks would have known me for an outsider and hazed me or something.

I walked back by the park and found that the vending machine didn't work, but there was a concession stand and I bought a slush drink from them. It was probably the best dollar I spent this year. It was just icy sugar water, but I was hot and miserable and that sugary water ice drink was the best thing in the world. I noticed that there were a lot of people around looking at their phones, so I got my phone out and saw that I was right on top of two Pokestops. I sat there with my slush for a while and caught a lot of Pokemon, including several new ones that I hadn't seen yet. The breeze coming in off the river made the weather almost nice, if a little hot. Once I started walking again that niceness went away. I walked past Fifth Third Field where the Dayton Dragons play baseball, but they didn't have a game tonight. It looked like there was something going on in the park, but it wasn't baseball. After that I walked through a slightly different part of Dayton's industrial area than I had on the way in. Again, I was the only person on the sidewalk for the whole time.

At one point a woman called out, "I like your bag! It's real cute!" from a car stopped at a red light. I thanked her, but I think she must have been messing with me or something. As you can see, it's a plain white bag with handles on it. I guess maybe it's an odd thing for a man to be carrying around the industrial area of town. I am not very good with social cues and interactions, so I don't really know what was going on there. Hopefully she got what she was looking for.

Eventually I got back to my car and I was very happy to be sitting down in the air conditioning again. My feet still hurt, and I imagine I will have more aches and pains tomorrow. The walk was a little too long and the heat was a little too hot for me to be doing that kind of thing. I would like to go back over to that area of town, but next time I will park a lot closer. At least I got some nice art, some new Pokemon, and a decent story out of the ordeal.

15 July 2016

A Thick Mini Dickey from eBay

This card popped up in my eBay feed a while back, and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed to try to make it mine. I was aware of the 1972-style minis in 2013 Topps, but I don't recall hearing much about the relic parallel. Only 15 of the 50 cards in the Series 2 version of the 1972 Topps Mini insert had these relic parallels, and PC guy R.A. Dickey was one of them. The bidding didn't go quite as high as I thought it would and I came away as the winner.

When the card arrived in the mail, I was surprised at how thick it is. The fact that it is a mini enhances that appearance, but it is also just a really girthy piece of cardboard. It's not quite as thick as one of those manufactured relic cards with the pins or medallions in them, but it's closer to those than it is to your standard relic card. I don't think there's any way Topps could have disguised these hits in a pack with their small length and height and their large width. This insert was pretty rare, with this one being card # 22 / 25 in the print run.

On an unrelated note, the other day I mentioned that I'd looked over the upcoming Allen & Ginter's checklist to see if there was anything non-baseball I should chase. At that time I didn't really see anything of interest to me, but Cardboard Connection made a page with a rundown of all the non-sports signers and there were a few things that caught my eye. My short-list includes actor/comedian George Lopez, football coach Jen Welter, swimmer Missy Franklin, basketball coach Nancy Lieberman, and Jersey Shore cast member Vinny G. None of them are autographs I feel very strongly about, but if I am going to chase anything non-baseball from A&G this year, those would be the ones. There were a lot of sports talk folks and some Field of Dreams actors on the list, but none of that really appeals to me.

13 July 2016

Still Chasing the Past: A Couple of 2013 Hits

The 2016 Allen & Ginter's Checklist (thanks to Crackin' Wax by way of Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits) is out now, so I thought it would be the perfect time to show off some 2013 A&G cards I picked up for my collection.

The first is a card I've wanted for quite a long time. It's the mini framed autograph of bodybuilder and current reigning Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath. This card has been elusive for me, and I've been chasing a copy of it since I discovered it existed. I finally found one in my price range and grabbed it up. Pretty good stuff. It looks like the 2016 Allen & Ginter non-baseball autograph checklist is heavy on broadcasters and comedians, and on a quick review of it I didn't find much in the way of autographs I absolutely have to have. Maybe that will change once I look at the checklist again more closely.

This is a card that I already had a couple copies of, but I picked one up again because it was cheap and I have some kind of problem when it comes to cardboard. This relic swatch is at least a different color than the other two I have. I don't know if it comes from a different item or just a different part of the same colorful piece of clothing. I think I'm done chasing Phil Heath cards from 2013 Allen & Ginter's, but I can't really say that for sure. There are still plenty of other cards I 'need' from the last few years of A&G, so I'll probably try to focus on acquiring them if I can.

12 July 2016

Click Here to View Cart 13: Topps UFC Now Kicks Off with UFC 200

So I watched UFC 200 on Saturday and for the most part I thought it was decent, but there was a long dead spot right in the middle of the Main Card that started with the Aldo - Edgar fight, hit rock bottom during the Cormier - Silva Snuggle Match, and finally started picking back up with the return of Brock Lesnar to the UFC.

The thing that really interested me about UFC 200, though, was the introduction of the Topps Now program to UFC trading cards. During the week before the event, Topps opened the cards up for sale, announcing that the cards would feature the winners of the Main Card bouts, with art being revealed on Monday and sales lasting for 24 hours past that point. I ordered all five cards, one from the Topps site and the other four from eBay sellers. I don't have them in-hand yet, but I was really curious to see today what the print runs would be once sales ended. I anticipated that they would be much lower than the baseball print runs just because the UFC market isn't that big.

For the most part my expectations were accurate. The Cain Velasquez card was the lowest print run of them all, with only 87 cards ordered. I don't know how popular Velasquez is, but I know most of the people in the chat rooms pan Travis Browne cards when they get pulled. The Jose Aldo card was third out of the five when it comes to print run, although it was closer to the bottom two than it was to the top two. His card got up to 110 orders, probably because both he and Frankie Edgar have decent followings.

The Daniel Cormier - Anderson Silva fight was a real snoozer, and people in the arena booed throughout as Cormier kept taking Silva down to the ground, holding on to him and preventing any kind of striking from going on. It was probably a smart strategy for winning the fight, but it was horrible to watch. As expected, the next two cards had significantly higher print runs. Brock Lesnar's card had the highest of all at 320 cards, probably due to his celebrity reaching beyond the UFC and the fact that his return was the most exciting storyline of the event. The fight could have been more exciting, but Lesnar was at least active in his wrestling and the size of the dudes involved in the fight meant that at any point a solid punch could lay one of them out. The fight went the distance and Lesnar won in a decision, but I was entertained in spite of the lack of fireworks. His post-fight speech was a little weird, but that's okay. I think he meant well.

The Main Event (of the Evening!) was a title match between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes for the Women's Bantamweight title. Nunes came out fast and absolutely rocked Tate early, which led to a quick choke submission in the first round and the crowning (belting?) of a new Champion. It was pretty exciting after all the slow-moving Men's bouts, and I was happy for the early finish because I had to be up early Sunday morning for work. The Women's divisions are extremely popular among card collectors, so this card wound up with a print run of 214, which is good for second-highest among these five cards. If this were a baseball card, it would be second-lowest, just above an Evan Gattis card with a print run of 212. I think the print run might have been higher if Miesha Tate had won, but that's just speculation because she got her nose broken and looked absolutely lost before the submission that ended the fight. I thought the ref could have ended the fight a little earlier because she was clearly running away and dazed, but I guess he saw enough fight in her to let it continue.

So there are the first five Topps UFC Now cards. I am interested to see them in-hand, and also whether Topps sees fit to continue the program after these low print runs. Topps had to expect that they wouldn't sell as well as the baseball cards, but I wonder what their threshold is as far as sales needed to turn an acceptable profit? Is 100 cards enough? What about 87? The price goes down as individuals order more cards, so a 100-card print run only generates between $400 and $1000 in sales, while an 87 card print run only brings in $348 to $870. It that enough to warrant designing and producing a unique card? Anyway, I wanted to get in on the ground floor of this one. We'll see if Topps saw enough good out of it to continue the line.

11 July 2016

Sketch Card Week: Power Girl by Josef (Joe) Rubinstein

This is the last post for Sketch Card Week, which went for an extra day because I took a break in the middle of it. I actually just received a couple mailers full of sketch cards that would allow me to extend this event by another week, but I've got a bunch of non-sketch stuff in my queue and I'll probably just post these new sketches later.

This sketch is another Power Girl sketch from Cryptozoic's DC Comics: The Women of Legend product. It was done by Josef (Joe) Rubinstein. This appears to be an older version of Power Girl, which kind of makes sense because Rubinstein came into comics in the 1970's, and his work has the look of the comic art of that era. There are probably people out there who could name his influences and artistic lineage, but I am not one of those people. I mostly can categorize the art styles as recent, old, and older with moderate accuracy. Anyhow, this is kind of a cool sketch that shows Power Girl in a different light than the usual fare. I thought it was pretty neat, and I grabbed it up for my collection.

This post will barely sneak in before midnight tonight. I was in the middle of writing the draft when we decided to go walk around town with our kids and catch Pokemon on the Pokemon Go app. It was pretty fun, and there were a lot of families, couples, individuals, and groups of friends walking around doing the same thing. Everyone was friendly and smiling, and people from all sorts of social groups were bonding over something they now have in common. Pretty cool stuff.

10 July 2016

Sketch Card Week: Red Sonja by Danny Silva

Today artist Danny Silva gets featured for the second time during Sketch Card Week, this time with a nice sketch of famed barbarian(ess?) Red Sonja holding what appears to be an orc or goblin's severed head. Gory stuff, I suppose, but fighting goblinoids isn't clean work. This set came out a couple of years ago, but Silva recently posted a video of him working on this sketch card to his blog.

That's pretty cool stuff. It's neat to see the progression of the art from pencil to inks to colors. I'm glad I was able to find the video. This card came from Breygent's Women of Dynamite card set, which is based on the various female characters whose rights are owned by comic book publisher Dynamite Entertainment. It was a small set released in sketch card packs that were only available at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con (and later from resellers). Each pack had two sketches, 6 base cards (from an 18-card base set), and a promo card (from a 6-card promo set). I bought a pack of the cards once, but I never blogged about it here. One of the sketches was a little on the risque side and I wound up selling it on eBay for a couple hundred dollars to a person who PC's the artist. If I recall correctly I paid about $35 for that pack, so it was a pretty good deal for me.

This sketch joins my small Red Sonja PC and I'll definitely be looking for more work by Danny Silva in the future.

09 July 2016

Sketch Card Week: Power Girl by Lin Workman

After taking a break yesterday from Sketch Card Week, I am returning with another sketch card featuring DC character Power Girl, from the Cryptozoic DC Comics: The Women of Legend set. This card features Power Girl in her short-lived New 52 costume, and the artist is Lin Workman. He's got a card with Power Girl in her more recognizable costume for sale on his website, but the asking price is a little out of my range at the moment. I am still pretty happy with this sketch card, though, as I had been wanting to get one of his sketches for a while. The right one finally popped up and I was able to acquire it for my Power Girl sketch card PC. Pretty cool stuff! Sorry for the short posts lately. I've been busy.

08 July 2016

Sketch Card Week: A Momentary Pause

I don't have it in me to write a sketch card post tonight and I have to be up early tomorrow morning for work, so I am pausing Sketch Card Week for a day or so. My page views are way down since Sketch Card Week started, so I'm thinking people won't mind too much.

07 July 2016

Sketch Card Week: Leia by Jason Keith Phillips

I am trying to beat my self-imposed deadline to write a Sketch Card Week post today. So far passively watching UFC Fight Night is a lot more interesting to me than trying to come up with words about cards. Then after that ended I saw the news about the police officers being shot in Texas and I really didn't feel like posting, but I tend to subscribe to the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' mentality when faced with tragedy. If criminals and terrorists keep me from doing the things I would normally do out of fear or sadness, then they win. So I'm going to write this post and get it out there before midnight strikes.

This sketch card comes from one of the Topps Star Wars Galactic Files sets, but I am not sure which one. There were a lot of them, and I haven't researched them all. I got it from eBay and the auction listing also didn't mention which specific Galactic Files set this was from. I am not sure if the design of the sketch cards was different from set to set or not, so maybe that branding on the front or the picture on the back would be an easy tell upon me doing some research. Well, I didn't do any research.

I am familiar with the artist, however, as I have picked up some of his work in the past. Jason Keith Phillips has done quite a bit of sketch card work, although I think he recently (as in, within the last six months or so, I have no real sense of time passing) announced on his Facebook page that he is moving away from work on corporate-owned properties to focus on his own creations. I thought this was a pretty neat rendition of Leia and the price was right, so I snapped it up. I really ought to sit down one day and count up how many Leia sketches I have now. It has to be more than ten at this point, I would think. It's a pretty cool sketch. I was happy to make it a part of my collection.

My thoughts go out to the police who were attacked tonight in Texas. Law Enforcement Officers have a tough job. I think I will leave it at that.