14 September 2018

Pack of the Day 189: I Missed the Gint-a-Cuffs Entry Deadline, but Here's What I Pulled

I announced my intent to join in on Gint-a-Cuffs again this year, but I must have missed the official sign-up deadline. I had already ordered a box, though, so let's bust it open and see what Allen & Ginter looks like for 2018.

2018 Topps Allen & Ginter offers 3 hits per Hobby box, with a variety of cards acting as hits. Most often you get one 'A-design' full-size relic card, one 'B-design' full-size relic card, and then one of the other hit types.

The bottom of the box lists the Box Loader odds, as well as the No Purchase Necessary rules.

The pack looks like an Allen & Ginter pack. A box contains 24 packs, with 8 cards in each pack, unless you pull a thick hit. If you do, your box will be short a few base cards.

Here are the odds for all the stuff you might pull in a pack of Allen & Ginter. Each pack contains a mini card of some kind.

My box loader features Cal Ripken Jr, posing on a baseball field near a house in the woods.

Here are some of the base cards I liked. The set looks like a pretty typical Allen & Ginter set. I am not a details guy, so I can't tell you specifics about how it differs from previous sets. It just looks like Allen & Ginter to me.

You should get 12 short-prints in a box. Here are the first 6 that I pulled. I'm not sure how Topps goes about choosing who makes the short-print checklist.

Here are the other 6 short-prints from my box. Eckersley is probably my favorite of the bunch. Julia Morales, part of Houston's TV broadcast team, recently ran as Eckersley in Oakland's mascot race at a game. That was pretty entertaining.

I think these are the 9 regular minis I pulled from the box. Pretty standard stuff, although it was nice to pull an Astro.

It looks like I got three black-bordered minis, a couple of SP minis, and 5 A&G-back minis. The Bo Jackson is probably the best one here.

Here are the Fantasy Goldmine inserts I pulled. I kind of like seeing a set based around the WAR stat. I acknowledge that WAR probably still isn't a perfect measure of a player, but I like to use it because it's relatively easy. I am not enough of a math-head to understand it all, but I do know a lot of folks take issue with how defensive WAR is calculated.

World Talent is another neat set, with MLB players hailing from so many different countries around the globe. I got a nice mix of countries represented in this group.

Baseball Equipment of the Ages isn't my favorite insert ever, but it's a nice enough set that matches the theme of this product.

World's Greatest Beaches is another insert that fits the product well, but doesn't interest me a whole lot. Fun fact: I hate the ocean and other large bodies of water. They are fascinating, but I don't want to be in or on them. I love tide pools and frog ponds, though.

I do like the Magnificent Moons insert set. It's a little funny to me that all these other moons have cool names, and our moon is just 'Moon.'

Here is my Home Run Challenge card of the box. Pretty decent player to get. I guessed September 10th, and Goldschmidt did not hit a home run on that day. Oh well.

Here are some mini inserts. I guess Postage Required is my favorite in this group. I really enjoyed stamp collecting when I was young, but fell out of it at some point. I think I would like Folio of Fears better as a set if they used different pictures. This ghost just looks like a poorly-filtered photo. I would prefer a drawing or a picture over a picture doctored to look kind of drawn.

These are the other two mini inserts I pulled. Much has been said about the Flags of Lost Nations set, which appears to be a favorite among bloggers. I think I prefer The World's Hottest Peppers, though. I don't have a high tolerance for stuff like that, but I will test my limits every so often. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion has a cool name, too.

On to the hits! This would have been a great box for a Cubs collector, just to foreshadow things a bit.

First up is a basic B-version relic (1:20 packs) of the Cubs' star second baseman, Javier Baez. He's having a pretty good year.

Next up is a framed mini relic (1:56 packs) of Yu Darvish, who struggled for the Dodgers in the World Series last year, pitched a little for the Cubs this year, and then went down with an injury. He had an elbow surgery a couple of days ago.

The last hit is a Rip Card (1:161 packs) of another Cub, Anthony Rizzo. It is numbered # 03 / 75. I debated on whether or not to rip it for a couple of hours, but I couldn't resist the urge to see what was inside.

The prize inside was an extended-checklist mini of Boston's Rafael Devers. He has struggled this year, but he's also just 21 years old. There is plenty of time for his talent to catch hold.

Here is the back of the mini. The Devers card is number 360 in the extended set.

That does it for this box of Allen & Ginter. It wasn't the most exciting box for me, an Astros fan, but it probably would have earned a decent Gint-a-Cuffs score and it's always fun to get a Rip Card. Maybe next year I'll get my entry in by the deadline. I have gathered most of the non-baseball autographs and relics I wanted from the 2018 set, so I probably won't be buying much more Allen & Ginter this season.

02 September 2018

Pack of the Day 188: Two Collector Boxes of 2018 Topps Fire

I was in Target the other day, and I saw that they had Collector Boxes of the new Target-exclusive 2018 Topps Fire Baseball on the shelf. I had to give it a try.

Each box has 20 packs with 6 cards per pack. There are 2 hits promised per box, with one of those hits guaranteed to be an autograph. The store had 3 boxes on the shelf. I bought one, then went back a couple of days later and saw that one was still left, so I bought it, too.

Here are the pack odds and NPN information from the box. There are several tiers of parallel, 6 different insert sets, and a number of autograph and relic sets.

The pack design mimics the box design, with Kris Bryant being chosen as the cover boy for this product.

The base cards are certainly colorful. There are 200 cards in the base set, with a mix of stars, rookies, and retired players. In the first box I pulled 99 / 200 base cards, and in the second box I pulled 96 / 200 base cards. Even with perfect collation, you're not going to get a full base set out of two boxes.

While I did not get doubles within either of the boxes, nearly every base card in the second box was a duplicate from the first box, so now I've got 102 / 200 in the base set and a whole lot of doubles. That was kind of disappointing.

There are a number of parallels in the set. My first box yielded 8 parallels. The most common are the Flame parallels, falling at 1:4 packs. They are not numbered. The Billy Hamilton and Miguel Andujar cards are Orange parallels, which are numbered # / 299 and fall 1:13 packs. The Victor Arano card comes from the Green parallel set, numbered # / 199 and falling 1:19 packs.

The second box game me 9 parallels, with five Flame parallels, Orange # / 299 parallels of Bob Feller and Cody Bellinger, a Green # / 199 parallel of Noah Syndergaard, and a Purple parallel of Ralph Kiner. The Purple parallels are numbered # / 99 and fall 1:39 packs.

The Cannons insert highlights players with strong arms. Most of the inserts in the product are seeded 1:14 packs, so you'll get either one or two from each insert in each box.

Fired Up features players who are stars. It's a pretty colorful set. If you like Yankees, this product is good for you. Most teams have 20-30 names on the total checklist, but the Yankees have 39 cards in the checklist. The only other team with more than 30 is the Cardinals at 32. The Blue Jays and Rangers bring up the rear, with 3 and 5 mentions in the checklist respectively. Other teams with less than 10 cards in the checklist are the Brewers and Padres, with 9 each. 

Flamethrowers features (mostly) pitchers who are known for throwing the ball hard. The back of the card lists the pitcher's average fastball velocity. Chapman and Syndergaard have appropriately gaudy numbers, but I don't know if Greinke's 91 mph heat really moves the needle here.

Hot Starts inserts feature players who had a good start to the 2018 season.

These cards are called Golden Sledgehammer on the packaging, but the card numbers have a 'PP' prefix and the checklist on Cardboard Connection lists this insert as being called Power Producers. Either way, this set shows off players who hit the ball hard.

The last insert is Speed Demons, a checklist full of players who are known for being fast. Billy Hamilton shows up here, along with guys like Elvis Andrus, Jose Altuve, and Dee Gordon.

The first hit from my first box was a basic relic card of Dominic Smith. He hasn't exactly been setting the league on fire.

The second hit of the box was more impressive, a dual autograph of Oakland's Matt duo, Olson and Chapman. Between the two of them, they've got 10.6 WAR so far in 2018. The card is numbered # 07 / 20, and dual autographs fall 1:4,559 packs, or once every 228 boxes.

The first hit out of the second box was a base autograph of Paul Blackburn, another Oakland player. He's on the 60-day DL with elbow trouble, so he's not quite having the season he'd like to have. Base autographs are a 1:29 pack pull.

The second hit of the box was another tough pull, and a bonus autograph to boot. It's a Fire Autograph Patch card of Royals catcher Salvador Perez. He's been injured recently, but is still having a decent year, and has been on the All-Star squad for 6 straight seasons. This card is numbered # 09 / 25, and these are a 1:518 pack pull, or once in every 26 boxes.

Outside of all the base doubles, these were a pretty fun break. I feel like you get a decent value in a box for your money, compared to products at a similar price point. The card design is fun, and there are plenty of shiny parallels and inserts.