31 May 2017

2015 Stardom 5th Anniversary Japanese Wrestling Cards from Stardom

In late April and early May, I posted about some cards put out by the Stardom wrestling promotion in Japan. So far there have been two sets released, a 5th Anniversary set in 2015 and another set in 2017. I purchased some singles on eBay, and I purchased some singles from the Puro Central Shop. The Puro Central Shop also gifted me a pack of the 2017 cards after I was unable to get some from the Stardom website. Both sets sold out pretty rapidly after the news broke that Kairi Hojo and Io Shirai from the Stardom promotion had accepted or were considering contract offers from the WWE.

Since the 2017 Stardom cards were sold out, I purchased a 5-pack of the 2015 Stardom 5th Anniversary cards. Like the 2017 cards, these shipped with the cards in a foil pack, tucked inside a paper insert, packed in a team bag. The paper insert has the checklist on the back. Autographs in the checklist are denoted with stars. Since autographs are numbered along with the other cards, this is a base set that is going to be difficult/impossible to complete, especially since the packs are sold out in the official Stardom store.

I didn't scan all of the cards, but I did scan some of the standouts, including cards of the previously-mentioned Io Shirai and Kairi Hojo. I've started a small Alpha Female wrestler collection, but her cards are pretty much limited to Stardom releases and that doesn't leave me with a lot of options to choose from. The card fronts are mostly in English, apart from outliers like Kellie Skater at the top center. As far as I can tell, that text says, "Kellie Skater!" I'm not sure why it's not in English.

The backs are not in English. I haven't taken the time to run my translation app across them yet, but I imagine they contain biographical data and maybe a paragraph describing a match or career highlights.

Here are a few more base cards. Some of the cards highlight the winners of specific tournaments, and some of the more interesting cards are found in a subset showing posters for different events, like Stardom Mask Fiesta, which appears to be exactly what it sounds like.

Card fronts tend to show portraits or posed photos, while card backs tend to show in-ring action. There are exceptions, and there are also cards that focus more on modeling than on wrestling. Stardom is kind of a hybrid organization. They aren't afraid to flaunt the looks of their wrestlers, and most of the wrestlers have done some kind of modeling. Stardom also seems to be the promotion that uses the most gaijin (foreign or non-Japanese) wrestlers as guests in their events. They show up in other promotions, but Stardom really leans on them and cross-promotes with organizations in other countries. That's why there are so many German, British, Australian, and Canadian wrestlers in the Stardom card sets.

I was lucky enough to pull five autographs out of my five packs of cards. I know that some packs didn't have autographs in them, but it seems like most packs did. I did pull doubles of Act Yasukawa's signature card. Haruka Kato's autograph is also a double for me, as it was one of my eBay purchases. Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid were new ones for me, though. You can see there is some smearing and bubbling in the ink on these. Both Stardom sets used a glossy card coating that didn't take ink well. It is rare to find an autograph in these sets that isn't flawed in some way.

Like I mentioned earlier, the autographs are numbered along with the base set, and the card backs are similar to the ones found on the base cards. It looks like the text on most of them consists of birth date and hometown (not for mysterious masked wrestlers, though!), height, weight, debut, and signature move. Haruka Kato's card is different, though, and I don't know what the backs of the other autographs look like.

That's about all I know about the 2015 Stardom 5th Anniversary trading cards. It is unlikely that I will get my hands on any more packs of these, and I'm sure singles will dry up relatively quickly. It would be neat to get a full set, but that would probably take more money and effort than it would be worth.

30 May 2017

2017 Topps Now First Day Cards

Our power went out for a while this evening. Without any internet to browse, I took a nap. The nap turned into full-blown sleep, and now I am awake in the middle of the night trying to figure out how I am going to get back to sleep and get a couple more hours in before work. The lesson here is that I am terrible at time management.

We adopted a puppy from the animal shelter over the weekend, but she kept being aggressive toward our eldest boy, so we had to take her back. She was a really nice dog otherwise, but we couldn't have her acting that way toward one of the kids. There must have been a similar-looking boy in her last home that didn't treat her well. Hopefully she can find a good home without kids. Meanwhile, we have a voucher to put toward adopting a different dog in the next six months. My dog was very jealous of my wife's new dog, so he has been sulking around. Hopefully he will get along well with whatever new dog my wife winds up with, or at least be indifferent toward it.

Our twins also have been begging me for mohawks, so I finally got out the clippers and did it. One of them didn't really like his and tried to cut it off with scissors, so my wife finished the job with the clippers. Now he's bald like me. The other twin really likes his, so he'll probably have it for a while.

Now for some baseball cards. I haven't picked up a lot of Topps Now baseball cards this year, but I did get the Astros' Spring Training/Opening Day set and a couple others so far. I did want to pick up the first card of the season just to get into the baseball mood and put myself in the running for any reward Topps wanted to send out to 2017 Now buyers, so I got this Evan Longoria card highlighting the first MLB home run of the 2017 season. Longoria has been his usual pretty good self so far, but my fantasy team would like it if he could either get his average up or mash a few more home runs like Joey Gallo.

I also got this Mad Bum card that references Bumgarner's two home runs during his Opening Day start. Madison Bumgarner is a Basset Hound guy, so I am pretty much obliged to be a fan. If only he could keep the rubber side down on his motorbike.

I do wish that Topps had license to do cards for some of the more infamous moments of the baseball season as well as all of the highlights and walk-off wins. I would pay for a card of Madison Bumgarner going to the DL for his wayward dirtbike ride and the Bryce Harper / Hunter Strickland punchfest. I think I mentioned similar sentiments last year after Roughned Odor cleaned Jose Bautista's clock. It'll never happen because MLB's PR folks wouldn't stand for it, but I would pay for those cards.

29 May 2017

Check Out My Cards 9: A Goodwin Shopping Spree

For a long time, the COMC marketplace wasn't really on my card-buying radar. I knew it existed, and I browsed and bought from it on occasion, but it always seemed like I had to sort through a ton of overpriced garbage to get to anything of interest to me.

But then I bought an awesome autographed booklet card featuring two famous drag racing sisters, and I started looking around for some more drag racing cards to add to my collection. I found myself on COMC, browsing the Goodwin Champions listings.

There were relics and autos of all kinds on there, and many of them could be had for a dollar or two apiece. I could save them in my inventory for as long as I wanted to take advantage of combined shipping at a later date. Later on, I went into the MMA listings and sorted the autographed cards from lowest price to highest, and I found a ton of stuff that fit into my fighter collections, and with combined shipping it was all priced well below eBay. Maybe it wasn't a life-changing moment, but it was a collection-altering experience.

My main objective was to see if drag racer Erica Enders had any cardboard out there. I figured that if she did, it would be in Allen & Ginter or Goodwin Champions. I found that she had autographs and relics in 2016 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions. I picked up a base version of each type for my collection.

While I was at it, I couldn't help noticing some of the other cards on offer. I watched David Boudia and the rest of the divers in the 2016 Olympics, so that was enough for me to grab this nice on-card signature. He won a Silver and a Bronze in 2016, and took home a Gold and a Bronze in 2012.

I don't know a lot about Formula D drift racing, but Monster Energy and race cars are something I can always support. Also, I think I got this one for less than a dollar.

I have a decent-sized collection of Japanese bowling cards, and I thought I would add an American bowler to that collection. She's probably got the most legible signature of this bunch, and it's pretty cool how she rolls the 'f' in Stefanie down into the 'J' in Johnson.

The last cards I picked up in this batch from Goodwin were a relic and autograph of hammer thrower Amanda Bingson. That's a niche sport if there ever was one, and the price was right for me to pick these up.

Bingson just missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympic team after making the 2012 Olympics and not getting through the early rounds there. She should be in contention for a spot in the 2020 games.

That was a pretty fun romp through COMC's inventory, and it sparked several shopping trips over the course of a few months. It seems like you can get a lot of bang for your buck if you do a little searching. Most of the time I'd rather throw ten or twenty dollars in store credit onto my COMC account than go to retail and buy a hanger box or blaster. You can have a pretty fun shopping spree without a lot of cash, I don't know if COMC changed, or if I just wasn't searching properly before, but I like this new purchasing option.

28 May 2017

2011 Press Pass FanFare Josh Wise - Coca-Cola 600

Although the vast majority of my NASCAR card purchases are for my Danica Patrick collection, I still pick up a few things here and there for other drivers, like the now-retired Josh Wise. I may have to start another driver collection at some point, as it seems like most of the racers I've focused on collecting are either retired already (Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Josh Wise) or are on their way out (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). That really leaves Danica Patrick as my only active driver collection. Some of those other folks will continue to get cards due to their popularity and status in the sport, but it's not the same.

This particular card is a Magnificent Materials dual relic card of Josh Wise from 2011 Press Pass FanFare. I don't recall where I got this one, but it was probably an eBay purchase. It's been a few months since I added it to my post queue. Instead of the usual firesuit or sheet metal relics, this one contains a piece of glove and a piece of shoe.

Back to active drivers, Danica Patrick qualified in 15th place for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That's a pretty good starting point for her (over 10 spots higher than her season average), so hopefully it will translate into a good finishing position as well.

27 May 2017

Ten of My Favorite Dickeys

We are in the last few days of a contest over at the Collecting Cutch blog. The method of entry for the contest is to post your ten favorite cards of your favorite player. The prizes on offer are pretty epic, so if you haven't posted an entry yet, I would suggest doing so by the deadline of May 30th. I have a couple of decent-sized player collections, but I decided to go with R.A. Dickey for this post. He was the first guy I started collecting heavily when I got back into collecting in 2013. These are ten of my favorite cards from my Dickey collection. They are posted roughly in ascending order of favoritism, but don't hold me to that.

This card gets pushed to the bottom of the list because Panini doesn't get to put logos on their MLB cards, so Dickey looks like he's wearing pajamas or a prison uniform. It gets on the list because it has a small print run, and more importantly, because it's an on-card signature that allowed room for Dickey to let loose with the marker. Most of my R.A. Dickey autographs are on stickers, and they look constricted. This one is from 2014 Panini Immaculate Collection.

I like this Red Ice parallel from 2014 Bowman. It's shiny and the # 12 / 25 serial number makes it a Christmas card! In 2013 and 2014 I tried very hard to build as many parallel rainbows as I could for my favorite players, and 2014 Bowman was one that I tried for Dickey. I think I got most of the easier variations, but no 1 / 1's or anything that epic.

This Prime Patch Red parallel from 2013 Topps Tribute World Baseball Classic Edition is a nice-looking card that features Dickey in his USA uniform. It's numbered # 07 / 10 and the text on the back actually asserts that the relic piece comes from a uniform worn during the 2013 WBC tournament. 

This Acclaimed Autographs Silver Ink card from 2014 Topps Tier One makes the list for many of the same reasons the Panini card up at the top does, but it gets a higher ranking because it has logos and because the metallic ink on a dark background looks so good.

This card makes the list because I chased it for a long time. It's a photo variation card from 2013 Topps Opening Day. The photo variations in this set were pretty hard to get, with odds putting them at 1:617 packs, or about 1 per 17 boxes. The photo variations in this opening day set featured one of two themes, playoff celebrations or press conferences. This was a press conference photo, when Dickey joined the Blue Jays in a trade.

This All-Star Workout Jersey relic comes from 2012 Topps Update, and features a swatch from Dickey's only All-Star appearance. I think this was a card that I found pretty hard to track down, and I was happy to have a Dickey relic from the event. It would be nice if he could get back to the All-Star game, but that ship has probably sailed unless the knuckleball magic comes back.

This is another card that I had a heck of a time tracking down. This is the most recent card on the list, as well, as after 2014 the card manufacturers moved on from Dickey for the most part. This is a Postseason Performance relic card from 2016 Topps Series 1. The funny thing is that Topps doesn't certify that the relic swatch actually came from the postseason, so it could be from anything. The 2015 postseason was Dickey's only playoff appearance to date, and his performance in the ALDS was really good, while his performance in the ALCS was really bad. Either way, this card was a bugger to get, and I was happy when I finally got a copy. This one is numbered # 066 / 100. 

The last three cards on my list come from one of my favorite card products, SEGA Card-Gen. These cards were produced as part of an arcade game in Japan, so they have star ratings and video game stats on the backs. I have the 2012 and 2013 base cards, and down at the bottom there is arguably my favorite Dickey card of all time, the 2013 SEGA Card-Gen Foil Rare. Not only is it a hard-to-find card of a favorite player, I was only able to obtain it through the help of another blogger. I knew the card existed, but I hadn't been able to track down a copy at all. Zippy Zappy eventually located it and pointed me in the direction of the seller. I don't know if I have a grail card anymore, but for a long time this was that card for me.

Bonus Card - This isn't a Dickey card exactly, as David Wright's name in on the front and back, but it's a photo variation from 2012 Topps Update that features Dickey and Wright as teammates on the NL All-Star team. It wasn't nearly as hard to track down as the Opening Day photo variation listed above, but I like the picture on it and I had to get a copy of it for my Dickey collection.

It was a lot of fun going back through my R.A. Dickey collection and trying to whittle it down to ten of my favorite cards. There are a couple of others I have that might have made the list due to scarcity or cool factor, but I think I selected the ones that are most exciting to me at the moment. There were even a few that I had forgotten about. Sometimes we get so focused on tracking down the next thing for our collections that we forget to enjoy the cards we already have.

Thanks for running this contest, Collecting Cutch! It was a good excuse to look through a player collection that's been neglected for a little while.

26 May 2017

Topps Star Wars Evolution Leia Morph Insert

A recent product that I kind of liked from Topps was 2016 Topps Star Wars Evolution. It's a fun set that looks at the progression of different Star Wars characters as they grew and changed over time. My box break was pretty good, which probably helped my opinion of the set. One thing I didn't pull, though, was one of the Morph inserts. These cards use lenticular technology to show a character changing back and forth between different versions, and they were a pretty tough pull at 1 per 3 boxes.

I eventually sought out the Leia Organa version of the card for my collection. There is also a short-printed base card featuring Leia that I'd really like to get, but those were an even tougher pull at 1 per 16 boxes and the price tag on them approaches $50 on the low end. You can see older Leia's purple vest showing through on this card. As you tilt it back and forth, the image switches from younger Leia to older Leia from the recent films.

I've missed a couple days of posting recently. I just haven't been able to get any writing done. It's just one of those phases most of us go through from time to time. Hopefully I'll get some energy back over the long weekend.