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.

15 October 2018

Pack of the Day 190: Three Boxes of 2018 Topps WWE Women's Division

I haven't blogged much lately. It's been a common theme for me throughout this year. During most full blogging years I approach 300 posts, but this year I will be lucky to hit half that. There are a number of reasons for my reduced post output this year. I think I have covered some of them in previous posts.

One of the main things keeping me from posting is guilt. I have received many packages over the last few months from other bloggers, including San Jose Fuji, SumoMenkoMan, Jon aka Penny Sleeves, Cards on Cards, Corky of Pack War, Twitch, Baseball Card Breakdown, and probably others that I am forgetting at the moment. I have blogged about a couple of them and I have pictures of the contents of a few more, but as time has passed I've forgotten the names associated with the photos or lost track of the cards completely. Some are shuffled into stacks on my desk:

I know someone is going to recognize that Pokemon card holder. Others have been caught up in bouts of desk-clearing as I've tried to keep my life in some sort of order. I know for a fact that the bulk of an amazing package from San Jose Fuji wound up somewhere in this stack of 5000-count boxes before I got photos of it:

I don't know where in that stack of boxes those cards are, though. And until yesterday, those boxes were scattered around my basement instead of neatly stacked behind my chair. I consolidated them while I stacked them, and with all of the shuffling Fuji's cards (as well as the contents of other card packages) could be anywhere. I also have failed to respond to at least some e-mails from other bloggers, and I feel bad about that. I won one of the Ginter contests at Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits, but never really got back to him even when he tried to get me to choose a prize.

I think that at this point it will be nearly impossible for me to catch up entirely on mail day posts. The cards have been shuffled around too much, and the details in my mind are too fuzzy. I really appreciate all of the packages, and I feel extremely guilty about my lack of record-keeping and timely posting. I know that people who are important to me are going to be left out, and it feels easier to just avoid blogging so I don't have to think about it. I am going to try to post as many thank you posts as I can, but it may take a while and I can't guarantee I'll be able to match every package to a name. I am grateful for my blogging friends and the time and care they've taken to build packages tailored to my collection. The guilt of falling behind and losing track is nearly enough to convince me to shutter this blog forever.

In addition to guilt over my inability to track packages, several other things have helped me to avoid my blog. August and September are my busiest months at work. I think I worked every day from mid-August through the end of September. It's nice to earn some comp time and overtime, but when I'm in the middle of that stretch I find that all I really have time for is work and sleep. I have been having some trouble with my physical fitness, too, so I've had to find time every couple of days to go running. I know there are some people who run for fun, but I am not one of those people.

I had a close friend pass away of cancer in late June, and that took up a lot of my time as I tried to spend some time with him and his family before and after his death. Another Army friend of mine died a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't as close to him, and his death came under some pretty dark circumstances, but it still affected me. I would like it if my friends would quit dying.

We've also been having some problems with one of my kids over the last few months. He's been acting up at summer day camp and at school, to the point where he is pretty close to being kicked out of his current school. He goes to the school where my wife works, because it is a little easier to deal with that than to have him at the school where his brothers go. Every couple of days for the last month, either my wife or I have received a call from the school that his behavior has escalated to the point where one of us has to pick him up. We've taken him to be evaluated for some things and are working on an education plan that will hopefully allow him to stay in school, but it's been pretty stressful all around for us. And with all of the attention he's been getting as we try to work this out, his brothers are jealous and more clingy and needy than they normally are.

With all of that going on, my wife is at the end of her rope. I understand, as I am also overwhelmed, but I feel like I have to pick up the slack because that's what you have to do. I've been blessed/cursed with a sense of duty, so I have to kind of suppress my own depression and be as functional as I can be until she works her way out of her funk. My medication at least gives me the physical energy to get through each day, but mentally I am pretty low most of the time. My boss is supportive of me, but I know he's got to be frustrated by my frequent absences due to medical appointments, my son's outbursts, and trying to make sure things at home get done.

With all that, I read and comment on blogs when I can, and I am on Twitter every so often, but I haven't been able to get much motivation for writing my own blog posts. I haven't even gotten to the cards on this post yet, and this is the third seventh day of working on it.

I pre-ordered three boxes of 2018 Topps WWE Women's Division several months ago when it was announced. I think each box has 24 packs in it, with 7 cards in each pack, except for packs with thicker cards in them. Each Hobby box promises two hits per box, with one of those being an autograph.

As with most Topps products, the pack design mirrors the box design. Ronda Rousey is the big draw here, as I believe this product is the first (or at least one of the first) Topps WWE products with her autograph included in the checklist. 

Here are the pack odds. Just as in last year's product, parallels of the base cards are pretty tough to pull. In all three of my boxes, I found the promised two hits and one parallel.

Here is the base card design. You can see that Ronda Rousey's card is marked with the RC logo. There are 50 cards in the base set. Cards 1-31 feature wrestlers on the main WWE roster.

I like the card front design. It's got pink and orange, but it's not trying too hard to be girly. It is pretty condition-sensitive, though. That black on the bottom left corner shows dings very clearly, and most of the cards I pulled showed spots of white on that corner. 

The card backs are decent, with a nice parahraph about the featured wrestler. The color scheme is a muted version of the pinks and oranges on the card fronts.

Cards 32-46 feature wrestlers from the developmental NXT promotion. I can't help thinking that Candice LeRae looks a lot like Britney Spears there.

Cards 47-50 make up the rest of the base set, and feature WWE Legends. I got a full base set plus 12-14 duplicates in each box I opened.

In addition to the base set, each WWE brand gets a subset. The NXT subset is the largest, with 30 cards. Each box of cards got me a full set plus 8-9 doubles. They go through the calendar year and highlight big events that occurred. A large portion of the NXT set features matches from the Mae Young Classic tournament.

Here is the back of the card for Ruby Riott's debut. Usually the cards have the date at the top, a headline, and a description of the event depicted.

The Raw and SmackDown subsets each got 10 cards in their checklists. For the Raw set, I got all 10 cards and 3 doubles in each box.

These cards tend to highlight title belts changing hands and roster moves. Since they focus on title matches, there are plenty of big-name stars on the checklist.

I pulled a full SmackDown set in each box, along with 1-2 doubles. Again, you can see that the checklist highlights major events like title changes and roster moves.

There are a couple of insert sets in the product. The Mixed Match Challenge set follows a tournament of the same name that happened last year, where mixed-gender teams fought it out for charity.

There are 24 cards in the set, and I got a full 24-card set in each box with no duplicates. Some of the cards show the different teams that participated in the event, while the rest describe match results.

In addition to the Mixed Match Challenge insert, there are Royal Rumble inserts that fall 12 per box. The insert set is 24 cards deep, and I didn't pull any doubles per box. I was able to complete the set with two boxes, and the third box provided another half-set. The checklist is in the order that each wrestler appeared in the Royal Rumble match. I was curious about why the set is 24 cards when there are 30 participants in the Rumble, so I went and looked up who was missing. The missing wrestlers are: Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Kelly Kelly, and Jacqueline. I imagine they were excluded due to licensing or contract issues.

Each card back tells a little bit about the wrestler's appearance in the Royal Rumble, like who she eliminated and who eliminated her.

There are two other inserts, but they are not found in Hobby boxes. Regular blasters have the Power Couples insert, which features the relationships of wrestlers throughout the years, like Brie Bella/Daniel Bryan, Stephanie McMahon/Triple H, and Miss Elizabeth/Macho Man.

The other insert set features Women's Champions and is exclusive to Walmart blasters. I was able to complete the set from three blasters I got from the local Walmart. I am not aware of any other packaging options for this product, like rack packs or hanger boxes.

Each Hobby box I opened had two hits and a parallel. The first box doubled up on Aliyah, with a Blue autograph and a Blue parallel. The Blue parallels for both of these are Hobby-exclusive and numbered # / 25.

The second hit in this box was a Royal Rumble Mat Relic of Nikki Bella. This is the Green version, and it is numbered # 062 / 150.

The next box gave me an autograph of one of my favorite wrestlers, Bayley! This is the Silver parallel of her signed card. Interestingly, the parallel I pulled from this box has a picture of two men on it, with their female partners not visible in the frame. This is the Silver parallel of the card, and the only clue to that is that the lines on the bottom are a little more silver than a base card, and there is a serial number on the front.

The Bayley autograph is # 44 / 50. I was pretty excited to get her signature out of one of these boxes.

I also got a Nia Jax Royal Rumble Mat Relic card. This is the Purple version, numbered # 42 / 99. Nia Jax is another favorite wrestler of mine, so I was happy with this pull.

The last box gave me a Blue parallel of Liv Morgan and a base autograph of Bianca Belair. The Liv Morgan parallel is numbered # 18 / 25 and the Bianca Belair autograph is numbered # 186 / 199. Neither are big favorites of mine, but I'm not going to complain too hard about these pulls.

It was a little disappointing to pull a manu-relic as the second hit in this box, but at least it features a wrestler I like, Charlotte Flair. This is the Purple parallel of her Commemorative Championship relic card, numbered # 98 / 99.

I enjoy opening this product, and I've pulled some fun cards out of the Hobby boxes and blasters I've opened. You can get a complete base set out of one Hobby box, but to complete the insert sets it will take at least a Hobby box, 3 regular blasters, and 3 Walmart blasters.