31 August 2016

Members Only in the Hall of Fame

It's not often that these Members Only parallels from 2014 Topps Stadium Club pop up for Hall of Famers, and most of the ones that do come up are usually Buy It Now listings that are priced well out of my price range.

So I was pleasantly surprised when this Tom Seaver card popped up in my eBay feed at a reasonable price. It was still a bit more than I am usually comfortable paying for cards from this set, but I usually have to settle for semi-stars and common players when it comes to Members Only. It was nice to add a certifiable star to my accumulation of these cards for just a few dollars more than I typically spend on cards of less-prominent names.

30 August 2016

Shooter McGavin...in Space!

Not every pop culture property get a card set made for it, and not every property that gets a card set includes autographs and/or relics. Sometimes that means you have to get a little creative if you want to acquire an autographed card or relic of a celebrity. Some of them appear in general pop culture sets like Leaf Pop Century or Panini Americana, and others show up in the card sets for other shows or films they appeared in. One example from my collection is Napoleon Dynamite. There was a Napoleon Dynamite card set, but it was a bare-bones affair. Most of the key actors in the film don't have autographed cards out there, but I was able to acquire a (Deb) Tina Majorino autographed card from her appearance in the Veronica Mars card set. I don't know what Veronica Mars is, but I recognize Deb from Napoleon Dynamite when I see her. 

Likewise, when this card popped up in a sales thread on the Blowout Cards forums, I didn't see Lt. Richard Castillo from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I saw Shooter McGavin, the antagonistic golfer in the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore. That was enough for me to pick it up, as I don't think we're going to see a Happy Gilmore trading card issue any time soon. Honestly, an Adam Sandler career card set would have such an awesome checklist if they were able to get actors from most of his movies from like 1995-2007 to sign autographs for it. Maybe it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but I came up with just a quick list and I would probably spend a lot of money chasing that product down.

Adam Sandler
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (Veronica Vaughn)
Steve Buscemi
Christopher McDonald
Bob Barker
Carl Weathers
Kevin Nealon (the heckler from Happy Gilmore)
Drew Barrymore
Rob Schneider
Burt Reynolds
Terry Crews
Michael Irvin
Chris Rock
Kevin James
Christopher Walken
Tracy Morgan

And that's just the big names that jumped out at me from the IMDB listings. There are tons of others who could be included. It's unfortunate that Chris Farley, Richard Kiel, and Ellen Albertini Dow have all passed away in the ensuing years, as they played memorable roles in some of those films. Anyway, I'm sure licensing would be a nightmare and you probably couldn't get half of these folks to sign, but that would be a dream set for me.

Until that happens, I'll just have to keep picking up these autographs wherever I can find them.

28 August 2016

Danica Patrick 2012 Press Pass Ignite Parallel - Pure Michigan 400

At some point I thought it would be cool to have a NASCAR card ready to post for every race in the season. I guess it still would have been cool to do, but I didn't actually do it. But today things lined up and I have a card to post for today's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

I picked this up a long time ago, probably in May or June. I think it is the last card from that lot of parallels I bought from that seller. The card is a Black & White parallel of Danica Patrick from 2012 Press Pass Ignite, numbered # 44 / 50. Panini's release of NASCAR Prizm seems to have reignited the market for NASCAR cardboard, as I haven't been able to snag many really good deals lately. I would love to gather a few Prizm parallels and some of Danica's relics from Prizm, but there is pretty strong demand for them across the board. It also seems like sellers have caught up to the USPS postage increases, and adjusted their shipping charges accordingly. My mind still hasn't made that jump, so I remain reluctant to increase my total cost of acquisition by that amount per transaction.

As far as today's race goes, Danica Patrick started in 23rd and finished in 23rd place, which is a little better than her average start (24.7) at the track and several spots worse than her average finish (19.0). She was also overtaken by Paul Menard in points, and fell from 23rd to 24th in the season's driver standings.

27 August 2016

Click Here to View Cart 16: Wrestling Autographs from Japan (Including a Polaroid and a Quadrograph!)

I've had these four cards on my want list for a long time, but they were only available from a wrestling shop in Japan with relatively high prices to go along with a big shipping fee. The shop is called Toudoukan, and it carries a lot of cool wrestling and martial arts stuff. Their English functionality is pretty limited, though, especially when it comes to using the search tools on the site. I usually have to find the kanji characters for what I'm trying to find, search using them, and then look through the pictures. I have a pretty long Wish List saved up there, even after purchasing these four cards that were at the top of my 'needs.' 

I've been working on collecting the full timeline of Command Bolshoi autographs, and 2008 was a year I didn't have. This card is numbered # 01 / 30. I'm not sure why the 2008 print run is so low compared to other years. In 2009 the print run went up to # / 49, then # / 50 in 2010 and the print runs in 2011 and later have been near # / 100. I don't know if print runs have actually increased, because these days you get more hits per box than you did in previous sets. I don't have any history from prior to 2008 outside of a print run of # / 117 in 2003. It would be interesting to see what 2004-2007 looked like.

I have a few of these Cheki (why are they called that?) wrestling photos already, but I hadn't yet grabbed one featuring Command Bolshoi. Now I've got one! This one comes from the 2012 set, and is numbered # 5 / 7. Obviously since these are actual instant camera photos with stickers slapped onto them, you could call them # 1 / 1 cards, but even a print run of # / 7 is pretty rare.

These two autograph cards come from the 2013 set. One is an alter-ego of Command Bolshoi, which I believe is a uniform she wears when guest wrestling with Osaka Joshi-Pro. I'm not 100% sure of the connection between the wrestlers on the quadrograph card. About all I can find is a 4-way match they all participated in at the JWP Kayoko Haruyama 15th Anniversary Show on January 27th, 2013. I think these sets usually get released around January, though, so this might be cutting it too close as a connection that could realistically make it into the 2013 card set. They also all are relatively young wrestlers who started their careers with JWP in 2011 or 2012. I have to wonder if that caption in the middle of the card explains what this is all about. Counter-clockwise from the upper left, the wrestlers pictured are Rydeen Hagane, Manami Katsu, Nana Kawasa, and Rabbit Miu.

The Bolshoi autograph is # 021 / 100 and the quadrograph is # 90 / 99. Along with several other wrestlers I like, Command Bolshoi is actually going to be wrestling in the United States on Labor Day weekend at the Chikara Pro King of Trios event in Easton, PA. That's a bit of a trip for me, so I'll have to miss it. It sure looks like a good time, though.

26 August 2016

2000 Future Bee 'Autograph' Cards

I picked up this lot of 2000 Future Bee Women's Pro Wrestling autograph cards on eBay quite a while ago. I went back and forth a little bit as to whether I should get them, as I wasn't 100% sure they were real autographs. They look a lot like sticker autographs in scans, but the handwriting looked a little thin to me and the price seemed a touch low for real autographs of these wrestlers.

But I 'needed' this Command Bolshoi card for my PC anyway, so I pulled the trigger and waited to see what would arrive in the mailbox. I was right to be a little suspicious of these autographs, as upon their arrival I found that the 'autographs' were etched foil in a white printed box. I'm not heartbroken over it, but real signatures would have been cool.

I don't know much about this set outside of what's on the cards. It's interesting to me that many of these wrestlers are still active, despite starting their careers when I was just a couple of years old. Manami Toyota's most recent match was just a few days ago.

I can't find a lot of information on Cooga. Her profile on Cagematch says that she wrestled pretty actively from 1986-1999, then took a long break before doing a reunion show in March of 2016.

Ai Fujita retired in 2004, but came back in 2015 for one match. Apparently she has also released a music album and done comedy.

Chigusa Nagayo was apparently a pretty big deal in the wrestling heyday of the 80's. She retired in 2005, but had some matches in 2006 and resumed wrestling with some regularity from 2014-present. I guess it's hard to let go of that wrestling life.

Rumi Kazama is another wrestler from the 80's and 90's. She retired in 2003, but came back for single matches in 2006, 2009, and 2012. I don't know much about her.

This was a pretty good lot of cards. I mostly bought it for the Command Bolshoi card, but I don't mind having the other ones. There were a few other lots from this set available, but I couldn't justify the price and I haven't seen them relisted since I purchased this lot.

25 August 2016

Pack of the Day 139: 2016 Topps Factory Set Hobby Edition

Instead of busting Hobby boxes of Topps Series 1 and Topps Series 2 this year, I decided I would just buy a Hobby set, the one that comes with a pack of 5 serially-numbered foil parallels. As I mentioned yesterday, these parallels can be some of the most difficult ones to find, as most of them stay locked away in sealed factory sets. So even though the print run is usually pretty high, they can be as hard to find as some of the cards that are numbered to # / 10 or # / 5. When I was working on my Josh Reddick rainbow from the 2013 Topps Sets, the Factory Set parallel was one of the worst to find. It took several months, and I eventually found one copy buried on a card shop website. I believe that's the only copy I've ever seen, so I was lucky to be the one who stumbled on it. 

So here's the box. I'm sure just about everyone has seen one of these in a card shop or at the local big box store. There are several different versions of these, each with a different-colored box and a different type of special insert inside. I wanted the Hobby one with the 5-card pack of numbered parallels.

One thing I found interesting upon opening this was that the cards aren't in sequential order. From the side I could see that there were a couple blocks of cards with similar lines visible on the side. Upon further inspection I found that the bands of white I could see were all of the horizontal cards from each series, packed together. They must print the horizontal cards on their own sheet or something. My guess is that these are packed in the order they get cut from the sheet. Series 1 and Series 2 are separate from each other, and the horizontal cards in each series are in their own block in the middle of the vertical cards.

I was kind of hoping that I'd pull some big name players from my foil pack, because one or two of those could probably pay for the set. Out of these three, Billy Hamilton is probably the biggest name, but that's not exactly saying a whole lot. They are cool enough cards. The foil kind of reminds me of the Opening Day parallels without the blue accents. Each one is numbered out of # / 177. The foil treatment does kind of make the people in the background look ghostly.

Wade Miley and Tyler Saladino probably aren't going to do much to inflate my Paypal balance, either. Oh, well. I was going to buy the factory set anyway, and it probably didn't cost me anything more than a hand-collated set would.

Today Topps released their first Topps Chrome factory set, which for the first time features the full Topps flagship checklist on Chrome stock. You also get a bunch of fancy parallels (2 Superfractors, 13 Blue Sapphire 65th Anniversary parallels # / 5) and whatnot in the set, but it carries a price tag of $1,500.00 with a print run of 250 sets total. I guess you could probably automatically make money buying a set and flipping the singles, but that's a lot of work and (for me) a lot of money up front.

Well, that's my review of the set. Sorry I didn't post any base cards. I think we've all seen plenty of flagship base by now. If not, imagine the cards pictured above are a little less blurry and take the serial numbering away. Voila! That's what base Topps looks like this year.

24 August 2016

2012 Topps Factory Set Orange Josh Reddick

My Josh Reddick collection has kind of fallen by the wayside lately. I just can't keep up with everything that I like collecting, so I've let a lot of it slide. I haven't even picked up any meaningful amounts of Heritage, Stadium Club, or Archives this year. I've barely touched my R.A. Dickey collection. I've made a couple of notable additions to my Jon Singleton and Josh Reddick player collections, but certainly not at the pace of previous years. 

Some of the money that would normally go to those collections has merely been diverted to other things. I got into UFC cards a little bit. My wrestling collections (WWE and Japanese promotions) have taken a chunk. I've picked up a lot of sketch cards this year. I think I've also reduced my expenditures a little bit this year, too. Our debt elimination project continues to chip away at the balances we built up in our 20's, and hopefully in another couple of years we'll be all the way there. We are so close to finally paying off one card that's been with us for about 10 years. I hate that card and the bank that issued it for many reasons, and it will be really nice in September to finally be done with them forever.

The card for today is this Factory Set Orange parallel from 2012 Topps. These cards are much harder to find than their print runs would have you believe, as I think most of them stay locked away in their sealed boxes. I have a 2016 Topps Factory Set arriving in the mail today, and I am excited to see which parallels I find within. I won't be keeping it sealed. If I find a popular-enough player, my Factory Set might pay for itself! This Reddick card is # 171 / 190 and shows him engaged in a celebration with his Red Sox teammates.

This year Reddick got traded from the A's to the Dodgers partway through the season, and he hasn't had much going right for him in L.A. I think he's played 19 games for them so far and still doesn't have an RBI to show for it. In addition to some pretty poor numbers, he also was recently injured at the team hotel when he caught his finger in the door to his room after ordering room service. I think that counts as a hurt hand and a bruised ego. I hope things pick up for him soon. Even though I don't pursue his cards as much as I have in the past, he still has some pretty good cardboard out there and I root for him as a player.

22 August 2016

A PC Card and Thoughts from UFC 202

I watched UFC 202 this weekend. I was pretty excited for it, largely due to the fact that a couple of fighters I collect, Neil Magny and Randa Markos, were on the undercard. Unfortunately, anyone I choose to collect is contractually obligated to fail, so they both lost their fights in pretty convincing fashion. Magny got absolutely rocked early and often before getting TKO'd in the (very) first round, and Markos put up a decent fight but then got turned around and submitted, again in the (very) first round. I even saw some people on Twitter calling for Markos to be cut from the roster after the loss due to her UFC record of 2-3. I don't know that it's time for that, but fighting is a strange game when it comes to who stays in and who stays out. It's a blend of performance and politics, so who really knows what will happen? Ultimately I think the managers will do whatever makes them the most money.

Soapbox rant (skip to just beyond the pictures if you don't want to read it)...

I try not to be too much of a social justice warrior, but I also saw a pretty popular Twitter MMA humor account making fun of fighter Raquel Pennington for having a 'dad bod.' I guess it's just interesting that even in the middle of a fight the female fighters are expected to look good for the audience in addition to trying to win the fight. There was a little back-and-forth between that Twitter account and some other people about it, but I think ultimately everyone just blocked each other and went on their way. Twitter isn't really a place where anyone goes and says, "Oh man, that Tweet was insightful! I'd better change my worldview!" Oh, and Pennington managed to win the fight in spite of a couple of unflattering camera angles.

I know that we are wired to quickly evaluate people and sort them into categories like friend/enemy or mate/not mate as an evolutionary mechanism, but I think we could make an effort to see the person behind the exterior. That effort on my part has made me a little more sensitive when I see other people doing it. You see it a lot in the Olympics, too, especially in some of the sports like volleyball or diving. I heard one guy say something to the effect that those ladies can really play volleyball, but their racks aren't great. I don't remember seeing a line on the scoreboard for awarding breast points. You also don't hear anyone commenting about a male diver, saying, "He's such a good diver, but doesn't the pouch on his Speedo look a little underfilled?" I'm sure this is a little disorganized and maybe not the best explanation of my thoughts, but I wanted to get it out of my system. Even if an athlete or entertainer is performing their craft for us to watch as entertainment, they are still a person and they have value beyond their appearance. We don't have to like them or like the way they look, but we can choose to be nice to them and treat them well. Getting off the soapbox...

...This is a Randa Markos card I picked up a while back. It's a Gold parallel from 2015 Topps UFC Knockout, numbered # 89 / 99. There's nothing too spectacular about it, but it was sitting in my Draft folder and that is reason enough to write a post about it.

The main fight between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor was pretty epic. I thought Nate Diaz did enough to win, but McGregor got the win by decision after 5 rounds of fighting. There were a couple of times when McGregor was really staggered and Diaz probably could have finished him, but he didn't and anything can happen when you leave it up to the judges. Some of the other fights were pretty entertaining as well, so it was overall a pretty good event. There were a lot of strikers on the card, so there were plenty of TKOs to go around and that seems to play better on TV than 3 rounds of wrestling. 

21 August 2016

A Real eBay 1/1, Part 2 (of 2)

Last week I wrote about my purchase of a 1/1 2014 Topps High Tek Black Press Proof from an eBay seller, who then contacted me and asked if I was the writer of The Raz Card Blog, because he had some PC cards to send me. In that post I showed off a few awesome Astros cards he included in the package, but that wasn't the crazy part of the package. In his message he said that he recognized me as a fellow Shannon Sharpe collector, and that he had a few rare Sharpe cards that he's like to pass along. Well, he definitely delivered some rare Sharpe cards. My football collection is pretty neglected, so this package made my Sharpe player collection about 3000x cooler than it was before. I still haven't researched all of these cards, so I don't know all of the set names and what to call the parallels, so this will mostly be a pictures post. But pictures are really what we're here to look at anyway. Just look at these crazy cards! It's going to take me a while to research all of them, but I wanted to get this post out there and thank the seller for a crazy bunch of cards. They make my day every time I look at them. 

I may wind up researching all of these tonight anyway. I believe this is a 1998 Playoff Prestige Hobby Gold parallel, serially-numbered # 5 / 25. I can't even imagine pulling a # / 25 card from a product in 1998. This one card alone is probably worth as much as (or more than) the one card I actually bought from this seller. I like the #84 emblem that Sharpe is wearing around his neck on the back of this one.

This is a 1999 Collector's Edge Advantage Gold Ingot parallel. In 1999 I was still pretty into basketball card collecting, but I was on the eve of my long hiatus from the hobby, so this is a set that I don't remember from that time. The Collector's Edge brand name seems familiar to me, though.

This is another Gold Ingot parallel, this time from 1999 Collector's Edge Fury. Again, I am not very familiar with this set.

Next up are 6 different Topps Stadium Club Members Only parallels. They come from the 1993-1995 sets. I am not sure exactly how these were distributed, but it looks like they might have been factory sets that could be purchased by people who joined Topps' Members Only club. I could be wrong on that, though. Those high-end shenanigans were well out of my middle- and high-school purchasing ability.

It's kind of fun to see the brightly-colored Xtreme design on the back of this card. I think Fleer probably stole some of those fonts and colors for their 1995 releases. 

I love those orange jerseys and that old-school helmet logo. I guess the Broncos can't use that helmet/logo for any throwback uniforms because of a rule that requires teams to use the same base color on their helmets for every game. If that's true, it's a dumb rule. I love those colors and that logo.

This jersey with the NFL 75 patch is one of the Sharpe replicas I own, although after thinking on it for a couple of years I am pretty convinced that I wound up with a bootleg Mitchell & Ness jersey. Every so often I look it up online and go back and forth as to whether mine is authentic or not. I still like it, though, and I almost always get compliments any time I am out and about in one of my Sharpe jerseys. He's apparently got a lot of fans in Boise and the surrounding area.

I'm not sure on the story behind this card. It looks like maybe Topps commissioned an artist to put their own spin on the photo. I just went and looked at the Barry Sanders Chalk Talk card, and the illustration on the back doesn't match the photo, so I guess it's just happenstance that these two are so close.

This card rightly recognizes Sharpe's talent as a receiving Tight End. I didn't realize that there are only 8 Tight Ends in the NFL Hall of Fame. That's a pretty exclusive list, although I would imagine there are a few more on their way there pretty soon, like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and maybe Jason Witten. People talk about Rob Gronkowski like he might get there some day, too, but he is injury-prone and probably needs to put together a pretty long career before that talk gets really serious.

Getting back to rare numbered cards, here is a 2004 Score Scorecard parallel. This one is numbered # 390 / 625. This is also a sunset card, mentioning his retirement and featuring his full career stats on the back. I was completely out of card collecting at this point in time, so this is probably the first time I've seen a card from this product.

This crazy die-cut card is a 1999 Playoff Absolute SSD Absolute Honors Gold insert. Wow! It's numbered # 06 / 25, and it's just a really cool-looking card. Again, this batch of cards just blows me away every time I look at them.

Although I don't like the Baltimore Ravens at all, I am glad that Sharpe's time there helped him win another Super Bowl ring and solidify his resume for the Hall of Fame. This is a 2001 Pacific Prism Atomic Red parallel, numbered # 067 / 310.

Pacific was a company well-known for crazy die-cut cards, and even this die-cut design is a little understated compared to some of their other products. This is another parallel from the 2001 Pacific Prism Atomic set, the Premiere Date parallel, numbered on the front # 69 / 86.

This is a card I am having some trouble identifying. I have it narrowed down to 1994 Playoff Contenders football, but it is a blank-back and doesn't show up in the couple of sites I've checked so far. I found pictures of similar cards for Jerome Bettis and Barry Sanders, but they didn't have images of the card backs.

This card mentions Sharpe's return to the Broncos, but shows him in his Baltimore uniform. This is a 2002 Upper Deck MVP Silver parallel, numbered # 089 / 100. That's a pretty busy card design, but I kind of like it.

The rare parallels from 15-25 years ago just keep coming in this package. This is a Star Ruby parallel from 2001 Fleer Premium. It is numbered # 124 / 125. It also features Sharpe in his Ravens uniform.

This is a 1995 Pro Line Printers Proof Silver parallel. This was pretty early in the days of numbered print runs, when cards didn't usually get individual serial numbers. They just got a stamp indicating that they were 1 of ### cards. Actually, back then it seemed like most things were 1 of ##,### cards, so I think a print run of only 175 was pretty special at the time. Nowadays it seems like we turn our noses up at anything with a print run over 50. It's nice to see that classic Broncos helmet pop back up here.

This shiny card is a 1999 Collector's Edge Masters HoloSilver parallel, numbered # 2713 / 3500. There was also a HoloGold parallel in this product with a miniscule print run of only 25. I can't even imagine the pack odds on one of those.

Apparently 1999 was the year of Holofoil, as this 1999 Pacific Paramount card is a Holo-Silver parallel, which I guess is distinguished from the Collector's Edge version by that hyphen. These ones are not quite as shiny as the Collector's Edge cards, but they are much more rare, with this being copy # 92 / 99.

And that does it for this package, but what a package it was! I had no idea what to expect when the seller said he would be including a few Shannon Sharpe and Astros cards in with the Jon Singleton card I bought, and I certainly didn't expect that he would pump up my Shannon Sharpe collection by this much! I am extremely grateful for these awesome additions to my collection.