19 November 2018

Pack of the Day 192: Two Boxes of 2018 Topps Archives Snapshots

I ordered two boxes of 2018 Topps Archives Snapshots. I was going to order more of it, but I watched some breaks online and they were mostly pretty brutal. That prompted me to stick with a 2-box break.

Each box has 12 cards total, with one of them being an autograph. There are a number of parallels available, as well as parallels of the autographed cards.

The cards are packed in a clear plastic bag. The box promises a look at photos from the Topps Vault. That means a lot of posed shots. If there are cards with action photography, I haven't seen them yet.

You do get a mix of rookies, veterans, and retired players in the checklist. I like the design of the cards, although I like cards better when the player's position is somewhere on the front.

The cards have a glossy front, which goes well with the photographs. I was happy to see an Astro in this first box, with an appearance from Carlos Correa.

I think the Black & White parallels, like that Amed Rosario card, are one per box. Tyler Mahle doubles up in this box, which gives a look at the difference between the base cards and the autographs. Having on-card autographs is nice. I think stickers would look pretty tacky on this set.

Starting off the second box is a bunch of retired players. John Olerud shows what the backs of the cards look like.

Pretty cool to get the Shohei Ohtani card in this box. Rick Ankiel is an interesting addition to this set. He is attempting to make a comeback as a left-handed relief pitcher. He was the first player since Babe Ruth to win 10 games as a pitcher and hit 50 home runs as a batter. Ohtani has 4 wins and 22 home runs. I wonder if he will make it to 10 and 50?

There are some pretty nice cards here, with Gleyber Torres and a Black & White parallel of Rafael Devers. The autograph in this box is Paul DeJong.

So that's the break. I like the base cards enough that it would be fun to collect the whole set. I don't think I would like to build the set through opening boxes, though. You get ten base cards per box, so you need at least 5 boxes with perfect collation to build a set. It is likely that you would need many more, because collation is unlikely to be perfect.

11 November 2018

Pack of the Day 191: Three Boxes of 2018 Topps UFC Chrome

One of my favorite products to break from last year was 2017 Topps UFC Chrome, so this year I ordered in three boxes of 2018 Topps UFC Chrome to get a good look at it. I didn't take pictures of the packaging like I usually do for these posts. I anticipate that this will be kind of a bare-bones 'look at the pictures' kind of post, but sometimes I get unintentionally wordy. I started an MBA program recently and my brain is kind of fried. I took on a little too much in my first semester, with two 8-week courses at once. I won't be taking two courses at a time again, that's for sure. I don't know how I got through my undergrad while working full-time, but over the last three weeks I've realized that I can't pull all-nighters like I could in my twenties and earlier-thirties.

There are 100 cards in the base set, which covers most of the big names and rookies in the UFC. One notable name that is missing entirely from the checklist is Ronda Rousey, as she has moved over to the WWE. Rousey and Conor McGregor are both missing from the autograph checklist, so the primary drivers of UFC card prices over the last couple years are missing from the key draw in Chrome, on-card autographs on shiny stock.

You get about 70 cards from the base set in a box with no duplicates, so it will take two boxes to build the set. Demetrious Johnson was recently traded to another MMA organization, and UFC is shutting down their Men's Flyweight division.

Photo variations are one per box, with a 10-card checklist. One problem with my new method of photographing cards instead of scanning them is that my phone and hands are always reflected on the shiny cards.

The photo variations focus on UFC personalities with long-standing popularity and/or success. The only female on the variation checklist is Octagon Girl Arianny Celeste.

You get eight basic Refractors per 24-pack box. They are satisfyingly shiny. I took pictures of all 24 from my three boxes. At least it gives you a pretty good look at some more base cards from the checklist.

Most of the photography in this set is pretty good, with plenty of nice dynamic action photos. I guess it would be kind of weird (and weirdly awesome) if Topps did a 1992 Bowman Baseball throwback set featuring UFC fighters in dress clothing.

Just as I get done talking about the dynamic photography, here are three dudes just standing around, although Reyes is flexing pretty hard and Machida looks like he means business. We also get Aldo's flying knee for good measure.

These are all doubles from the first scan, so I guess I really didn't need to take this picture. I did anyway, and now you get to see it.

Doubles of Paulo Acosta and Dominick Cruz bookend a Refractor of Arianny Celeste, which is not a double.

Aldo's flying knee makes another appearance, this time on the one-per-box Xfractor. They are unnumbered. The Green Refractors are numbered # / 99, like that Anthony Pettis with the ghostly dude in the lower left.

The Brian Ortega card is a Gold Refractor, numbered # / 50, and the one-per-box Blue Wave Refractors are numbered # / 75. That's a pretty nice shot on Khabib Nurmagomedov's card.

Here we get into the second box's colorful Refractors. Out of this batch, I guess the Joanna Jędrzejczyk Green is the best card, although it has a larger print run than the Tatiana Suarez or the Anthony Pettis cards.

I also got a printing plate from this box, the Yellow plate of Ovince Saint Preux. It's cool to pull a Printing Plate, but Yellow is the worst color and Saint Preux isn't a huge name.

Box 3 produced five more colorful Refractor parallels, with the usual Green, Blue Wave, and Xfractor pulls, along with another appearance by Ovince Saint Preux, this time on an Orange Refractor with a # / 25 print run.

The Notable Knockouts inserts come one per box and the name of the set pretty much lets you know what it's about. It's too bad I got two of the Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw cards, as these actually look pretty cool. It would have been nice to get a look at one of the other cards on the checklist.

You get 2-3 1983 Topps Design inserts per box, with the usual cast of fighters represented on the checklist.

That shinier Tony Ferguson on the right is a Pulsar Refractor. They are numbered # / 50. All of the inserts have three parallel levels, the Wave # / 99, the Pulsar # / 50, and the Superfractor # 1 / 1.

I got two Tier One inserts per box, doubling up on Daniel Cormier. I'll probably set one of those aside for whenever I can get a package out to San Jose Fuji.

These are the UFC Knockout Chrome inserts. I got some nice Pulsar Refractors in this bunch, with 'Thug' Rose Namajunas and another appearance by Daniel Cormier.

The last insert set before I get to the autographs is Museum Collection. Stipe Miocic makes three appearances here, although one of them is the Wave Refractor # / 99. I also got a base and a Wave Refractor of Georges St-Pierre. I came pretty close to pulling an Arianny Celeste card from every insert set, only lacking the 1983 Topps Design.

As promised, I got two autographs per box from my breaks. Supposedly there are Hot Boxes out there with special parallels and a third autograph in them. The Daniel Cormier signature was the only colored Refractor autograph I pulled. It's an Orange # / 25, which is pretty cool.

Tyron Woodley is the current Welterweight Champion, and Dominick Cruz is a former Bantamweight Champion. He's still ranked as the #2 contender at Bantamweight, but in another month it will be 2 years since he last fought.

It wouldn't be one of my UFC breaks without a Demetrious Johnson autograph, although I guess that might change now that he and the UFC have parted ways. Paul Felder is currently the #15-ranked Lightweight, and this is his 1st Topps autograph, which is something that usually carries a premium.

That does it for this break of 2018 Topps UFC Chrome. I like the product, and it is always a fun break. This year it just lacks a little of the excitement that came from chasing Rousey and McGregor autographs. No one has quite stepped up yet and been as universally popular as those two, although there is still plenty of star power for people who follow MMA a little more closely than the general populace. I'm not sure yet if I'll buy more boxes on the hunt for rare stuff or just cherry-pick singles online. You can get boxes pretty readily for $55, and if you buy a few at a time you can get that down to $50 per box. You're not likely to get your money back in cards, but there's some fun stuff in here.

21 October 2018

2018 Topps WWE Undisputed

Undisputed is the high-end wrestling offering from Topps. It comes on thick card stock and features 10 hits per 10-pack box, with 8 of those hits guaranteed to be autographs. I didn't buy a whole box, but I did snag some 2018 Topps Undisputed.

I found an online shop that was offering Undisputed by the pack at a reasonable price, so I ordered two packs. As I said before, each pack promises a hit among the five cards inside. Based on what I've seen, parallels are a little harder to come by this year, probably due to the fact that there aren't any parallels in the product that aren't serially-numbered.

Here are the pack odds. It's too late to send in a NPN request, as that expired at the end of September. I've been sitting on these photographs for quite a while apparently.

Most packs give you two or three base cards and one or two inserts. I like Sheamus, so that is a decent base card pull for me. I don't like Roman Reigns as much, but he seems to be pretty popular among wrestling fans. It is pretty nice to get an Andre the Giant appearance in this pack. He was one big dude.

Brock Lesnar irritates me, but I guess if a heel can get under your skin, that means they're doing their job well. The inserts I've seen all focus on 30 Years of Survivor Series and 30 Years of Royal Rumble. There may be other insert sets, but I doubt it. There's just not enough room in the checklist for much more.

The hit from this first pack is an Orange autograph of Jinder Mahal. He's not one of my favorite wrestlers, but he's a pretty big player on the current roster and I am happy to add his signature to my collection. I don't think I had previously acquired any of his signed cards.

I do kind of like his gimmick with the Singh Brothers. It's very much a video game set-up where the Singh Brothers are mini-bosses who pester you while you try to defeat the main boss, Jinder Mahal. They all play their roles very well. 

It's nice to get a Bayley card in the second pack, with a cameo appearance by Nia Jax. It is also fun to get a John Cena card in this pack. His new longer haircut kind of throws me for a loop, but that's just because it's different from what I'm used to seeing. Apparently I'm not the only person who was surprised to see it.

This pack also had a Royal Rumble card inside, with Lex Luger as the co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble.

I was pretty happy with the hit in this pack, a Green autograph of Charlotte Flair. This one is numbered # 02 / 50. The color splash on these parallels does some weird things to the wrestler photos sometimes, because it overlays the photos and changes their skin and clothing to that color.

This Nia Jax Blue parallel autograph was an eBay purchase. It is numbered # 22 / 25. I was also watching a Green autograph at the same time, but the Blue only went for a little more than the Green, despite having half the print run. It is a little bothersome that the blue ink of the marker blends in with the blue of the color splash, but I don't think it looks as bad on the actual card.

This last pack came from a group break I joined. It was a random pack box break, so there were 10 slots, and the packs from a box were randomly attached to a slot. I got some pretty decent base cards, with Alexa Bliss, Ruby Riott, and John Cena.

The hit of the pack would have been an awesome pull if it pictured a different wrestler. This is a Purple autograph of Dash Wilder, numbered # 4 / 5. I guess I shouldn't complain too much. I've had much worse results out of group breaks before.

Undisputed is a fun product, with a lot of on-card autographs and parallels to chase. I usually try to get a little of it each year, especially if my favorite wrestlers appear on the checklist.