30 November 2017

Seeking Redemption 21: Steven Matz 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic

A couple of months ago, I posted about some group breaks of 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic that I participated in. One of my hits was a redemption card for a Steven Matz Red parallel autograph. I entered the code into the Topps website, and within a few weeks I saw that it had shipped.

Here is the card, locked into the magnetic case with a Clearly Authentic-branded sticker. The Red parallels had a print run of 50 cards made, and I think mine is # 10 / 50. I am not 100% sure, since I didn't make a note of it when I scanned the card, and the scan pictured above isn't all that clear. This card probably isn't worth what I paid for the group break spot, but it's better than getting nothing at all. Matz had a tough 2017, starting and ending the season on the disabled list, with mismanagement and poor performances in between. The Mets appear to be a total circus. I wonder if that will change for 2018?

Lately, Topps has been including bonus cards with redemption shipments to increase goodwill among collectors who have to wait on their redeemed cards to arrive. It's a pretty cool move on that part of the company, and I enjoy seeing what they surprise me with. This time I got a Matt Wieters relic card from 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1. It might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it's a nice enough card and it was free. I was actually a little surprised to see that Wieters is a four-time All-Star. I thought he'd been a little more star-crossed than that. I was also a little surprised to see that he's 31 years old. I thought he was younger. He didn't have a great year for Washington in 2017, but maybe he'll bounce back.

This redemption didn't take too long to be fulfilled, and it's cool to get a bonus card out of it. I now have only one outstanding redemption, a basketball card from Panini. It's been out there for a couple of years now, but they've never sent it and haven't responded to me when I've asked for a status or replacement. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong trees.

29 November 2017

Another Power Girl Sketch Card by Joe Rubinstein

I showed a Power Girl sketch by Joe Rubinstein last year, and I've since added another one to my collection.

This is a less angry Power Girl, with shorter hair than the one I showed before. Both sketches are from Cryptozoic's DC Comics: The Women of Legend trading card set. Rubinstein has a Facebook page, but other than that I can't find much online presence for him. It is interesting how some artists are on every social media platform, and others are almost invisible online. Maybe part of it is that in comics he is primarily known as an inker, and he started doing sketch cards as a way to stretch his skills and range as an artist. Here's a good interview where he talks about that. I'm really happy with both cards I've picked up featuring his work, and hopefully I'll find more of it for my collection in the future.

28 November 2017

Care Package from Fuji

When I got home from New Jersey I had a veritable mountain of mail sitting on my desk. Among the mailers was a package from Fuji over at The Chronicles of Fuji. Inside I found a whole bunch of items that hit many of my different collections.

First up is a number of Hakeem Olajuwon cards. Those Upper Deck holograms were huge for me back in the day. These are the cards I coveted in the 90's. There's also a Manute Bol card hiding down there in the lower right.

I like lists, and those NBA Jam Session cards take a list and put it on cardboard. There's a lot of star power on those cards. The Trading Places insert at the bottom was new to me. I got out of collecting around the time that Olajuwon went to the Raptors, so I haven't seen most of his later cardboard.

Fuji also hit up my Nolan Ryan collection. I'm not a very good Ryan collector, but I like getting his cards when they show up. Out of this lot, I especially like the O-Pee-Chee in the upper right and the Starline card in the lower left. It's also nice to see a couple appearances by the Astros' rainbow uniforms.

There were plenty of Astros in the package, including the Killer B's, player collection guy Jon Singleton, and World Series hero George Springer.

Hologram technology makes another appearance here, with a Denny's oddball of Jeff Bagwell. I've probably eaten at Denny's three or four times in my life, so I wasn't ever exposed to these until I started reading card blogs. There's also a nice-looking Craig Biggio League Leaders card here.

My R.A. Dickey collection got a little boost, too, with a few different things, including two different Bowman Platinum parallels, a shiny foil Stadium Club card, a Little League card (from a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine), and some Museum Collection and Ginter to round it out.

This slightly over-sized Kellogg's Raisin Bran card was one highlight of the package. I don't think I'd ever seen this one before, so it was a welcome addition to my Olajuwon hoard. It highlights his college career.

This 2017 Topps Series One Jackie Robinson Logo card of Alex Bregman is a solid chunk of cardboard. These were a one-per-blaster inclusion in the retail release of this product, so the card for a given team would be a pretty difficult find.

The last card in the package was this Jason Lane patch relic from 2002 Leaf Certified. This is the Mirror Blue parallel, numbered # 68 / 75. Lane played outfield in parts of 6 MLB seasons, with his only full season being 2005. That means he's played in four more World Series games than most of us have. He fell out of the MLB after 2007, but bounced around the minors and came back as a pitcher, throwing 10.1 innings for the Padres in 2014. I thought that was pretty wild, especially with the long gap in between. I believe he is currently a hitting coach in the Brewers organization.

Thanks for the package, Fuji! There was a lot of variety in here, and I enjoyed looking through all of the cards you sent!

27 November 2017

Pack of the Day 180: 2017 Topps Holiday Box

I was at Wal-Mart last night, looking at Collector's Boxes of Topps Gallery but unable to justify $70 for one of them, when I saw some Topps Baseball Holiday Boxes next to the Gallery display. They had a more reasonable price tag, and I grabbed one of them along with a hanger pack of Topps Gallery.

Each box advertises that it has 10 packs of 10 cards each, with one relic, autograph, or autographed relic card per box. Maybe not quite as enticing as the two promised autographs in a Collector's Box of Topps Gallery, but quite a few of the Gallery box breaks I've seen haven't had autographs worth writing home about anyway.

Here are the pack odds. You are likely to find 5 snowflake parallels and a relic card in each box. Autographs fall about once every 27 boxes, and every other hit has pretty astronomical odds. There is also some No Purchase Necessary information on here for those who are into that.

The product is basically the same as the 2016 version. It takes the current year's basic Topps design and adds a snowflake pattern to the upper right corner. The card backs have different numbering. I think the checklist has 200 cards, so it's pretty much a stars and rookies kind of product. I haven't checked to see if the card backs contain different write-ups or if they are the same as the base product.

Here are a few of the standout base cards. I was lucky enough to pull a few Houston Astros from this box. I also pulled a few stars from the teams that the Astros vanquished on their way to the championship this year. Max Scherzer got included because I like him and Ben Zobrist got included because Astro Evan Gattis makes a cameo on his card.

I got the expected 5 snowflake parallels, which are just like the base cards except that they have glitter affixed to the snowflake portion of the card. I guess Yu Darvish is the best pull I had on that front. In the bottom right is my relic card, featuring World Series MVP George Springer. Not a bad box for an Astros fan. The only disappointment with the relic card is that the relic doesn't fill the window. There is a distinct gap at the bottom of the window where the fabric doesn't reach the edge. I'll probably wind up buying another box or two of this in an attempt to complete the base set.

26 November 2017

Hulk vs. Thing by Rich Woodall

DC's Power Girl and Star Wars' Leia are the main characters in my art collection, but I do try to grab up art featuring other characters from time to time. One group of characters I like to keep an eye out for is the four heroes my kids are named after, Thing, Hulk, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler.

This sketch card from Rittenhouse's Marvel Bronze Age set has two of the four characters on it, and they are fighting something out, just like my Ben and Bruce do all the time. The two characters have a long-standing rivalry in the comics, and their battles are usually pretty fun due to the strength they each possess. The artist on this sketch card is Rich Woodall, who has a Facebook page and an online shop along with various other online presences. I haven't interacted with him directly, as this sketch was an eBay purchase. It's a pretty neat piece of art, and I would definitely be interested in picking up more of his work some day.

25 November 2017

Randa Markos Knockout Red and Autograph

I sat down to type this post up earlier in the day, but then our Lab ran into the house with poop on his paw. This made the kids jump around and yell, and that made the dog run around even more. So I had to corner him and get him into the bathtub, clean him up, then find and scrub about 10,000 pawprints all through the house. By the time I got all of that done it was well past the kids' bedtime, so I had to get them rounded up and into their beds. My wife and I are both dog people, but sometimes I think they are more trouble than they're worth. I have a hard time imagining life without a big dog or two around, though.

I picked up a couple of nice additions to my Randa Markos fighter collection recently. The first is this Red parallel from 2017 Topps UFC Knockout. The Red parallels are pretty hard to come by, with this one being numbered # 13 / 25. The color of the parallel goes pretty well with Markos' bright red hair, which she's had for a while now. She's got a fight coming up at the end of January, and probably needs a win to remain as a contender in the UFC. She's been alternating wins and losses since she joined the UFC, with her last fight being a loss to Alexa Grasso in August.

It took quite a while for Markos to get an autograph in a Topps product. Fighters' first autographs are considered a big deal, and they usually sell at a premium. This one was no different, and it took me some time to win one at a price I was relatively comfortable with. I still overpaid for it, but prices haven't really come down on this particular card, either. This one is numbered # 80 / 99. I don't think Markos has a relic card out there yet, so that is the next thing I am hoping for. It's more fun to collect people who are included in the relic- and autograph-heavy releases, as they get cards more often and there is a larger variety of stuff to chase.

24 November 2017

2013 Topps Opening Day R.A. Dickey Photo Variation (Again) - Patience is a Virtue (That I Don't Have)

One thing I struggle with is patience. When I want something, I want it immediately, not later. Many times I wind up spending more than I should on things because of that. I think that Black Friday is a good time to post about that shortcoming, as it's one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I usually spend too much on this day. This year I didn't do too badly. I mostly avoided the big card sales on the Dave & Adam's and Blowout Cards websites. I stayed away from the Topps online sale. I only added a handful of cards to my collection on COMC to bump me over the free shipping threshold. I took my kids to the local LEGO resale store, and they saved a little money while spending their allowance on some figures they'd been saving for. I only grabbed a couple of minifigs for myself. I've also gathered a few LEGO sets for myself as I purchased the LEGO sets my kids have on their Christmas lists. It's a good thing we all like the same stuff.

Thanksgiving this year fell on my birthday, which happens every few years. It was a pretty decent birthday, although birthdays don't matter all that much to me anymore. Our Thanksgiving meal was low-key, but it was good. My wife and kids gave me a LEGO set from the recent Thor: Ragnarok movie. I took a nap and scanned a bunch of cards and artwork to build up my stock of blog post drafts. My wife is gone on a girls' weekend now, so it's just me and the kids and the dogs for a couple of days. So far it is going okay.

Sometimes I can be patient. According to this post from 2015, it took me about two years to pick up my first copy of this card. I probably overpaid for it, but this photo variation of R.A. Dickey's card from 2013 Topps Opening Day just hasn't shown up all that often. If I am remembering right, that auction from a couple of years ago sat at $19.99 for a very long time before the seller dropped the price and I picked it up. When today's copy popped up on eBay for just a couple of dollars, I had to bid on it out of principle. I wound up winning it for a fraction of what I spent on the original card. I guess the shine has kind of come off of R.A. Dickey's cards in the last few years. I still like getting his cardboard, though.

22 November 2017

Topps Triple Threads Dickey

I'm pretty tired tonight, so this will be a short post. I thought about skipping out altogether, but I usually feel better if I manage to get a post written.

This card comes from 2013 Topps Triple Threads. It's some kind of multi-relic parallel, numbered # 3 / 9. The player on the front is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whose pitching is considered 'Trickey.' The relic windows are filled with bat pieces. 

I got the card on eBay, and probably for a decent price. The back of the card manages to link Trickey Dickey up with Richard 'Tricky Dick' Nixon.

21 November 2017

Three Fred Hembeck Marvel Sketches

I snagged a few more sketch cards from Fred Hembeck's eBay store, since he listed some characters I like. Right now I think he's got a bunch of combo cards listed, picturing comic book characters standing with Santa. The Punisher one he's got listed is pretty funny, as Punisher is holding a couple of gifts with gun barrels poking out of them.

First up is She-Hulk, a character I apparently already had a Hembeck sketch of. This one is a little bit different, so no harm done. The back features Hembeck's usual self-portrait and certificate of authenticity. I think the purple and white costume works pretty well for She-Hulk and is a bit of a nod to Hulk's famous purple pants, but my favorite She-Hulk costume is her blue and white one from her time as Thing's replacement on the Fantastic Four. There is also a red, yellow, and blue variant from a different stint on the Fantastic Four that is pretty neat.

The second sketch I got was the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman in her traditional uniform. Hembeck added a little extra to the sketch by showing her leg phasing into invisibility. I thought it was a pretty cool sketch of a character that doesn't get much time in the sketch card spotlight, especially with Marvel's legal battles surrounding the movie rights to the Fantastic Four. It's been several years since the team had a comic in print, although Human Torch and Thing are coming back in a Marvel Two-In-One series soon.

The next sketch features Invisible Woman in a costume that debuted in late 1992, when Marvel was trying to be X-Treme and X-Citing! Susan Storm announced that the old jumpsuit uniforms made her feel frumpy, so she was unveiling this new look. The keyhole swimsuit costume only lasted a few issues before artists started filling in more fabric over time, and eventually her uniform pretty much went back to where it started. I still remember seeing this costume on a comic book cover at the store and being like, "Whaaaat?" so I guess it had the eye-catching effect that Marvel needed to get attention from juvenile male comic buyers. Hembeck added the invisibility effect to this sketch as well, on her left arm.

Those are three of my latest Hembeck acquisitions. I like following his auctions to see which characters he will offer next, and sometimes I bid on and even win a few.

20 November 2017

WWE Topps Now Connor's Cure

I don't buy a lot of WWE Topps Now cards, but I get one here and there. One thing I do try to do is pick up a copy of any Topps Now card that has some kind of charitable component to it. Every so often Topps will release a card with the announcement that proceeds are going to a particular cause. There was one a while back for hurricane recovery in Houston, and another one that donated to veterans' organizations on Memorial Day.

This particular card celebrated a meet & greet benefit that the WWE held in order to raise funds for the Connor's Cure organization, which supports research on pediatric cancer. I'm not much of a cancer fan, and pediatric cancer is one harsh sonofagun. That made this card an easy purchase for me.

One of my coworkers is currently fighting melanoma, and it's a pretty dire diagnosis. It went into remission once, but it's come back stronger and in more places. He's been having a rough go of it recently. We deployed to Iraq together in the same Army National Guard unit in 2004, and we've worked at our day jobs in the same building since 2008. Currently we are in the same work area as Contract Specialists. He's been like a big brother to me in many ways, and we've been through a lot of crazy stuff. If you're feeling generous, I'd invite you to click the link above and make a donation to the GoFundMe account on his behalf. He's got a list of things that he wants to do with his family along with all of the medical costs and uncertainties that go along with the disease, so every little bit is appreciated. He's a genuinely good guy.

19 November 2017

Contested Shots 29: Charlotte Flair Relic from Sports Card Info

Back in October I won a contest on the Sports Card Info blog. It's taken me a while to get the post up, because I was out of town for a month.

The card I won was this Charlotte Flair mat relic from the 2017 Topps WWE Women's Division set. It contains a bit of the mat from the Survivor Series 2015 event. The timing of this contest was pretty cool for me, as I met Charlotte Flair at a book signing on September 30th.

This year's Survivor Series event was tonight, and Charlotte Flair defeated Alexa Bliss in their match during the evening. I didn't watch the event, although I thought about it. I am having a hard time getting back into the swing of things at home, and I didn't feel like adding more noise into my life. My kids have been on one today, and I have had a month without all of the sound and questions. I'll be a little happy to go to work in the morning and sit in silence for a bit.

Also included in the prize package was a pin with the Sports Card Info logo on it. I think it's pretty neat. The Sports Card Info blog holds a lot of contests and posts plenty of card reviews and box breaks. Go and check it out if you don't already have it on your blog roll. Thanks for the contest!

18 November 2017

Danica Torque Quad Relic / 25

I spent a few hours on an airplane yesterday, and got home late in the evening. There was a veritable mountain of mail on my desk, and when I opened it all I wound up with a couple good-sized stacks of new cards to run through the scanner. It's nice to be home, although it's been a little hard getting re-accustomed to the noise and bustle that go along with my three sons and two dogs. The difference in time zones is a difficult adjustment, too.

Danica Patrick recently made the official announcement that she would retire from full-time competition after this year. She is scheduled to appear in a couple of races next year, but not a full-time ride. All of my favorite drivers are retiring. They will still get cards printed, but it would be nice to have an active driver to focus on.

This card comes from 2016 Panini Torque, and is part of the Quad Materials insert set. This is the Green parallel of the card, numbered # 02 /25. I've already shown the Red parallel of this card, and this Green one doesn't look a whole lot different outside of the foil color being different. This was an eBay pickup for me.

16 November 2017

Neil Magny 6 / 8 Red Parallel

My month away from home is nearly at an end, which is a great relief for me. It wouldn't be so bad, I guess, if we had internet access in our barracks. It might also be nice to have regular beds instead of bunk beds, and thermostats in our rooms. That's nearly over now, though, as I fly home tomorrow. I should have a veritable mountain of mail waiting for me, so I'm looking forward to opening a lot of padded envelopes.

I did get to visit New York City last weekend, which was pretty cool. One of the guys in my class grew up there, so he led us all around. I saw the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial and museum, Times Square, Katz's Deli, Freedom Hall, and some other stuff. I was pretty happy about it.

Here's a card I picked up a while back. It's a 2015 Topps UFC Knockout Ruby parallel of Neil Magny. These are pretty scarce, with my copy being numbered # 6 / 8. I was glad to find one on eBay for my collection.