Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pack Break: 2015 Topps Series 2

I swear it just feels like the beginning of the baseball season was here and I was tearing through packs of Series One 2015 Topps...but here we are at the cusp of the All-Star break and Topps has released Series Two. In my need to open some packs to get my fix, I went a little overboard earlier this year and bought a Hobby box of Series One...which I still haven't even collated. I decided before the start of the 2015 baseball card "season" that I wasn't going to build the flagship brand of Topps, opting to stick with just Allen & Ginter. Well it turns out that hasn't been the case as I've ended up with chasing Gypsy Queen and to some degree Archives and Stadium Club.

Eventually I'll get those lists updated (or created in the case of Archives and TSC), but for now I'll satisfy my baseball urge with a retail pack of 2015 Series Two I picked up from Target a few weeks ago. While I've discarded the idea of building the entire set, I had to check out at least one pack of the newest set of Topps, right?

Most of the pack was filled with more basic base cards...although the photography on the Garcia card is quite nice. I don't hate this year's design, but the more I handle these cards the more I'm starting to dislike the "fingerprint" design. I guess now I'm spoiled by some of Topps' other designs...or lack there of such as Stadium Club!

Easily my favorite card of the back is this awesome card of Andrelton Simmons, stretching out at Short Stop to rob someone from a base hit. The first half of the 2015 season for the Braves has been better than what I expected after GM John Hart essentially gutted the team, sending away a lot of last year's team including fan favorites such as Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel. However the team still finds itself hovering at .500 and only a few games out of first place. Andrelton's glove has been one of the few consistent things so far this season and I'll never get tired of watching him make those spectacular plays in the field w/ the leather.

I ended up with one more Braves player, but Alberto is no longer on the team. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Juan Uribe. Even though his card has him at 2nd Base, he played the majority of his time at 3rd Base. The trade has been good for the Braves as Juan has really been a good fit. So good a fit that he has made Chris Johnson expendable to the point the Braves have been shopping him around. As far as Callaspo, I'll have to reach out to Night Owl or Greg Z to see how the trade has faired for the Dodgers.

Speaking of the Dodgers, my one insert per pack ended up being this Hot Streak card of Clayton Kershaw. The card looks much better in hand versus this scan. I'm guessing these cards come in sticker autograph variations as there seems to be some "empty" space. I don't search out Kershaw cards, but when I pull them from packs they end up in my keep pile.

Overall Series 2 is more of what you've come to expect. I think I have one more pack laying around here somewhere, but for the most part I'm done with the flagship brand. Now I just need to get my lazy butt moving and update my GQ Want List and decide whether or not I'm really going to go after 2015 Archives and or Stadium Club.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pack Wars: 2015 Bowman Football vs. 2015 Score Football

Here it is in late June and I'm already seeing 2015 NFL trading card sets hitting the retail shelves at my local Target. My curiosity usually gets the best of me and I end up grabbing a pack of the newest cards. This time it would be 2015 Bowman and 2015 Score. However instead of doing my usual "Pack Break" type post, I thought I'd try something different...


Let's take a look at each product and then compare it to the other brand and see which is the better buy. Sound simple enough?


Bowman: 7 cards per pack, $2.99 MSRP 

Score: 12 cards per pack, $1.99 MSRP

Before we even tear into the packs you can already see that Score is coming out a head with 5 additional cards and being a $1 cheaper per pack. If my memory serves me correctly however Score football packs used to come in at a buck a pack, so perhaps 2015 Score has upped their game?

Winner: Score


The base design Bowman chose to go with isn't bad, but to me it's awfully busy. The lack of foil on the front is a nice change of pace, however I could do without the design block thingies on the sides. 

The backs are typical Bowman fare. Resume, Skills and Up Close sections give you some insight to the player. Underneath you have last year's stats. That's about it.

Score again decided to go with a team color coordinated design and added silver foil. While I don't always care for foil, if it's used in moderation I don't mind it. Because this is a change for Score over previous years, I like it. The design doesn't impede too much on the photo which I like.

The backs use the same picture from the front, seems lazy to me, but Bowman doesn't even bother to put a photo on the back. Small write up of the player, last year's stats. Simple, but clean look.

Winner: Score


The last few years it seems as if the rookie cards in Bowman have this awful, drab look. Well that boring look is back. I can deal with the collegiate uniforms, but since Topps doesn't have the proper license they have to air brush out the logos like Panini has to do on their baseball cards.

The backs use the same design as used for the veterans.

Panini does have the collegiate license and I think it makes a big difference. The base design is basically the same as it is for the veterans, however you have the RC logo in the corner that Panini started using a few years ago.

The backs remain unchanged as well from the veteran design, minus the stats. In their place is the round and number pick they were drafted.

Winner: Score


Parallels come in a rainbow of colors and I just happened to pull a red parallel of Ereck Flowers. If it weren't for the serial number on the back, I wouldn't have known this was a parallel as it has that same boring look the RCs have.

Well what do we have here? A Red Zone Rookie Autograph parallel of Bernardrick McKinney! While not quite the same kind of parallel when compared to Bowman, you get the idea. Same design, just the border has been replaced with red foil. I'm kind of partial however to different colored border parallels over different colored background parallels.

Winner: Score


Well this comparison will be lopsided as I didn't pull a insert from the Bowman pack.

This Ground Gainers card is actually die cut, though with the white background it's hard to make out in my scan. Basically the card looks like a corner puzzle piece. I'm guessing there is some sort of aerial type counterpart card that "fits" onto the other side?

At first I thought this was a subset for the base set as I already pulled an insert from the pack...but it's another insert. Not my favorite design, but at least they are pulling in some history to the set with some retired players.

The last card in the pack of Score was yet another insert, Gridiron Heritage. I like the slightly retro look of the card. It fits the theme of the set quite well, both in design and player selection.

Winner: Score

Well it doesn't take a genius to figure out that I think 2015 Score easily topples 2015 Bowman. Perhaps the flagship Topps football would have been a better suitor to compare against Score, but it'll be another month or so before Topps has their base set ready.

As I mentioned earlier, Panini has really upped the quality of Score this year. It was a pleasant surprise for me and I found opening the pack was fun. Panini also has a contest going in each pack of Score football where you have a code to redeem online where a child over the age of 7 and their parent can win a trip to the Super Bowl 50 and be a "Kid Reporter"!

I should make mention that I'm basing my winner based on the 2 packs I opened. I haven't looked online at the checklist, insert ratios or anything else about each product. Heck, I didn't even know the 2015 NFL trading card season had begun until a few days ago when I grabbed these packs! No matter which pack of cards you pick up, it's just nice to know that the new NFL season is just a few short months away!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gotta Catch 'Em All: Special Pack Break Edition

It's been awhile since I've put anything on this page, but here I am with a little something different this time around.

I'm not sure how it happened, but my 3, going on 4 year old daughter, Winnie, has taken a liking to Pokemon. She would watch it every morning on Cartoon Network while I'd get ready for work. Now she watches it on Netflix whenever she can. So the other day while at Walmart I decided to grab a booster pack of Pokemon X/Y cards for her.

I wasn't sure if she'd even care, but I was thinking about making a trading card album for her upcoming birthday next month. Turns out she did like them. Wasn't crazy about them, but enough for me to at least move forward with my gift idea.

I haven't opened a pack of Pokemon cards in years. Though there was a time where I enjoyed picking up packs here and there. I played the Game Boy games so I was familiar with a lot of the characters, but never took the time to learn how to play the trading card game. Did anyone actually play the game or did everyone just collect the cards? Well regardless of that I grabbed a pack from the X/Y series called Furious Fists. Now I couldn't tell you the difference between all the different themed packs they had to offer, so I just grabbed one of the cardboard pouches that had one of the Pokemon I knew my daughter recognized.

Truth be told it was fun opening the pack with her, watching her face light up when she saw some of the characters she saw. Well since it's been awhile I thought I'd share the contents of the pack here. After all, this blog is all about cardboard, not just baseball!

These booster packs contain 10 cards and will cost you around $4 and some change, depending on the retailer. Like a lot of the modern trading cards games (i.e. Magic), the packs come packaged in cardboard pouches. I wonder if this contributes to the high price? There aren't any real odds on the packs of pulling a special card or anything, but I remember pulling Holofoil cards back in the day and being the subject of envy in your neighborhood or school yard. 

With my knowledge of the games and watching so many of the episodes with my daughters, I knew most of these characters...and so did my daughter. I thought it was funny when she looked at the two Trainer cards with a puzzled look on her "what are these doing in my pack daddy?".

She ended up pulling two Holofoil cards in the pack...and that really made her face light up! The Landorus card looked like the Holofoils that I remember. Just the image itself has the rainbow sheen. The Hitmontop card however is different. The whole card features that special rainbow shine. I don't know what those are called (is it Reverse Holofoil?), but again she was happy with the cards.

Neither of my daughters care too much for sports. in face my oldest just told me to turn down volume down on the TV as she didn't want to hear the boring Braves game I've got as I type this at the kitchen table! However my daughters are starting to like a few more things that daddy likes and anytime that take interest in trading cards or anything else daddy likes, my heart skips a little in excitement.

Now if you'll excuse me, we've Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Heavy Metal Baseball

I don't necessarily think of heavy metal music when it comes to the sport of baseball (or baseball cards), although I do seem to remember Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres coming out of the bullpen to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells".

Well in 1996 Leaf decided to shake things up with a their Preferred set of cards. While the base cards weren't anything special, there was a 77 card set printed on metal...or steel if we're being accurate. It wouldn't be until 1998 that game used cards would be introduced to the world of card collecting, so metal baseball cards really stood out...or at least they did to me. Like many of Topps' Refractor cards that came with a special coating that you could peel off, these Steel insert cards featured the same thing. I opted to peel them as they look way better naked.

The 90's were my heyday of collecting and I had many of these 1996 Leaf Preferred Steel cards, however I was never able to amass very many. A few years ago I decided to stop set building and focus more on insert sets and things I liked. I've always liked cards that were made of something other than cardboard so I put this set on my collecting radar. After several years I finally found a rather decent size lot for a very generous asking price so I jumped. Now that I've finally had some time to get then scanned, it's time to share them off. I've also updated my respective Want List to reflect what is left of the 77 cards to finish off the set. I also ended up with several doubles from this lot so if these interest you make sure to check my Trade List!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

3D Fireworks

During my heyday of collecting cards (the 90's) there was no shortage of gimmicks. In the mid-90's Pinnacle Brands brought back the SportFlix brand. At least to me these sets never really gained much of a following within the hobby, but I have always enjoyed things that were a bit different.

Lenticular cards are nothing new. However there are certain sets that use this card technology that I like and the 1995 Detonators set found in SportFlix is one of those. I'm not sure why as it tends to have a gaudy design, but it's a set I started building years ago when I was hosting group breaks on a regular basis.

For years I only had one card from the set (Frank Thomas), but it was enough to make me want more. However like many things, this set fell on the back burner, so much that I forgot about it. Recently however I had a few virtual bucks burning a virtual hole in my virtual pocket so I decided to see what cards from this set I could find. My results yielded 3 cards shipped for less than 3 bucks.

So there you have a few more pure 90's cheese I've added to my collection. The insert set is only 9 cards deep so that leaves me with 5 cards left. My want list has been updated.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Prepping some mail

Just because I haven't been as active on my own blog doesn't mean I haven't been active in other ways. Two particular bloggers have sent me some stuff in the last month or so and it's time I return the favor! I never want anyone to think I take others for granted or I'm "that guy" never sends anything back.

Let's just say if you are a fan of certain red bird or a west coast friar, you'll have a little package on it's way to you after Memorial Day.

I also hope to resume trading on my end very soon as well. If you've contact me about a trade, just hang in there. I'm still working 60+ hours in my new position, but I'm starting to figure everything out and hope to have at least a few moments where I can pull and mail some cards. Maybe if I'm lucky I can even scan some cards too!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just when I thought I was back in the swing of things, life happens

As the title of this post says, life happens. At the beginning of this month my employer was acquired my a larger competitor. I went from wondering if I was going to have a job moving forward to receiving a promotion! While I used to work primarily by myself in an office, I now find myself covering quite a bit of ground. This means I'm not sitting in front of a computer anymore and when I am the last thing I have time for is blogging.

This leaves me to jumping online on my laptop after my wife and kids are in bed...a la the Night Owl. However this also means that I'm usually tired and not on my A game. While I'm not ready to hang it up by any means, I won't be able to post with the same frequency. I still hope to continue trades and posting new acquisitions, but I know I won't be around as much as I'd like.

Isn't it funny that the more money you make, the less time it seems you have to enjoy it? While I'm not making significantly more money in my new position, I've found myself working way more than the 40 hours I'm accustomed to working. I hope I can use a few extra dollars in my pay check come this summer to pick up a box of Allen & Ginter. I figure now is a good time to place a pre-order before the prices start to rise the closer we get to release day. So the question is, which online vendor should get my money? Who has the best prices?

One of the perks of the job is a new iPhone, laptop and printer/scanner. Once I get those set up then perhaps I can scan some of my recent pick ups. So until then I'll drop in when I can and try to keep up with so many of the great blogs I've become familiar with over the last 8 years or so.