Monday, April 22, 2019

2017-18 Panini Vanguard Kemba Walker High Voltage auto

Back in January I acquired a redemption off eBay for a steal of Kemba Walker. This was around the time where Kemba was freakin' unstoppable and was making his claim to be an All-Star in his home city of Charlotte in February. 

For such an electric player, his RCs and autos can be had for reasonable amounts online. I imagine if he were to sign elsewhere and get more exposure his cards would go for more. However I'm hoping that doesn't happen. He's a free agent now and all of Charlotte is wondering if he'll stay or if he'll go. he has said he loves Charlotte and wants to stay, but he also wants to complete for a NBA Championship. As much as I love my Hornets, I just don't see them being a real contender...ever? Professional sports leagues just aren't designed in a way where small market teams can really compete.

If Kemba does leave, it'll be a dagger in the heart of Charlotte. Perhaps knowing what may (or may not) happen I've been wanting to pick up a few autos of his. When I won the redemption card, I had no idea what the High Voltage cards even looked like. If the Vanguard name sounds familiar, it should as it was a piece of the now defunct Pacific Trading Card company that Panini acquired.

I don't know how much you can tell, but this is a shiny card. The whole front of the card is printed on foil board with a rainbow sheen. There is a small lightning bolt running down the middle of the card. At first I thought it was a crease in the card. There is a large area for the player's on card auto, however Kemba's auto is pretty small so it doesn't fill up the entire space.

The same photo is duplicated on the back of the card. As you can see, there are only 49 of this auto in existence and I have number 18. I redeemed the code on 01/14/19 and received the card on 04/18/19. Panini's turnaround time for redemptions has proven to be pretty quick in my experience.

Thankfully we have the NFL draft coming up to distract us Charlotte sports fans from the Kemba Walker saga. I feel it's going to be a long summer as we await to hear what his decision is.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Verse - Easter Edition

John 10:28-30

New International Version

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Read all of John 10

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Verse

Matthew 7:13-14

New International Version

The Narrow and Wide Gates ] “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Read all of Matthew 7

Sunday, April 7, 2019

2019 Topps WWE Road to Wrestlemania - The Complete Set

The biggest day for professional wrestling is finally among us, Wrestlemania 35 kicks off later tonight and should be an entertaining event as the company usually pulls out all the stops. Leading up to the big event Topps has been chronicling the previous year leading up to Wrestlemania, hence the name of the set.

2019 marked the first year where I grabbed a hobby box instead of trying to piece together the set with retail packs. I'm glad I did because my box yield me a complete base set and all but 2 of the Wrestlemania insert set. Earlier this week I collated the set, grabbed some pages and a small binder and went to town.

I wasn't sure if I was going to page the set, but the Road to Wrestlemania set isn't like other wrestling sets. This is a set that's fun to go back and look at, especially if you're a wrestling fan like myself that tune in each week to the weekly programs. Then I thought why not share the set here on the blog for others that may be interested, but not enough to purchase a pack. Keep in mind you can click on the images for a larger view.

The base set is only 100 cards so the final card, "Woken" Matt Hardy got a page all to his lonesome self. I hate that and I really wish Topps would've made this set 99 cards or 108 cards so it would've fit evenly in the 9 pocket pages.

I only need #30 and #39 to complete the 45 card Wrestlemania set. This is an insert set that had I not bought the hobby box and got 43 of the cards, I probably wouldn't have pursued it as the posed shots just seem odd in a set where the rest of the cards chronicled previous events.

I'm ready to sink into my couch with something cold to drink and something to eat and enjoy the marathon coverage of Wrestlemania this evening. This set has been a lot of fun, especially over the course of this week, reliving past events.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Topps Now Future?

When Topps first launched their Topps Now product a few seasons ago I was on board. I purchased just about every Braves card made...and did so for a portion of the 2nd season. Then I learned that I could get the same card for half price from eBay sellers, thanks to the discounts given by Topps to buyers of multiple cards.

I still like the idea of Topps Now and I plan on picking up cards of Braves players this season as well. It's fun to look back at these cards as they really help paint the picture and lets you recall the action of that day's game.

I received and email from Topps this morning that was introducing their newest card/game/sweepstakes/money grab...Topps Now Future. It appears that for $12 you get a sealed pack of cards (3) of more than likely the stars of the game. I didn't see a checklist nor did I see a Braves player, but I kept reading to see what this was all about. They'll be printed on 16-point glossy cardstock and they'll be 90 cards in the set. Packs are only available on for 2 weeks or until their stock runs out.

The cards also seem to double as a redemption ticket of sorts that you can redeem online for a prize assuming the team represented in the front wins the World Series for instance. Topps has done this sort of thing in the past, currently with the Home Run cards randomly inserted into their flagship set. I'm also reminded of Upper Deck's old Predictor cards/contests as well.

It'll be interesting to see how well these go over with collectors. I guess if you're used to paying Topps $10 for one Topps Now card then 3 cards for $12 is a steal! Overall I'm OK with what they are trying. If it yields limited, exclusive physical cards then I'm sure there will always be takers. My guess is they'll sell out before the countdown clock ends. Either way, this is one collector that will be eager to see more of these cards.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

An unexpected mail day

A couple of weeks ago while I was busting some 2019 Donruss I hit a Mother's Day parallel of Mitch Haniger of the Mariners. I knew as soon as the card was pulled who I needed to send it to so off it went the next day to Steve of Tridents and Trading Cards.

The great thing about the blogging community (and Twitter too!) is how fellow collectors take care of one another. When I sent off the card to Steve I wasn't expecting anything, but I knew he'd appreciate the low numbered parallel more than myself. However this weekend I received a piece of mail from Steve with careful instructions on how to open it. I thought why the special instruction...then once I carefully cut the tape of the large piece of cardboard halves I knew why...

One of the things inside the two cardboard halves taped together was this oversized card of Tom Glavine from 1993. I'll be honest, I've never heard of Topps Full Shot before, but I've got to say these are pretty cool. I'll have to find a way to protect the card before I add it to my Glavine collection, however I'm happy to have this "oddball".

On that same token, Steve also sent over these Lykes food issue cards of John Smoltz from 1992 and 1993. Granted I don't know much about the Lykes brand or these cards, but I don't have them and now I do!

The Braves have had a lot of great pitchers come through in my lifetime, but Smoltz (and Tim Hudson) are my two favorites. Smoltz accomplished so much...both as a starting pitcher and coming out of the bullpen later in his career. He's great on the mic and an awesome guy away from the sport as well.

I really wasn't expecting anything in return when I sent off the card to Steve, but this is one of the reasons that makes collecting in this day and age so much fun. Thank you for the cards Steve!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Box Break: 2019 Panini Donruss (hobby)

I really wanted to get this posted about two weeks ago, but I had some stuff go down at work that sidetracked me from getting this ready. However I guess this is one of those "better late than never" kind of posts, right?

I know there are a lot of card collectors out there that do not like product that doesn't feature the team names and logos, but I find Panini's Donruss effort to be a breath a fresh air inserted into the "Toppsopoly" of baseball cards. Do I wish Panini had a full baseball license, of course I do. I long for the days when there was more than one baseball company producing cards, but since Topps' exclusive deal with MLB was once again renewed last year, I'll have to make do what what I'm given.

That said, 2019 Donruss is another step forward in the brand's resurgence from a few years back. Each year I think Panini is doing a better job and when I saw the ads solicited for 2019 I knew I wanted back in.

Each hobby boxes yields 24 packs with 8 cards per pack for a total of 192 cards. Each box also contains (on average) 3 hits - a mixture of autographs and memorabilia cards. The set is comprised of 250 cards, broken down between Diamond Kings, Rated Rookies and current/retired players and Retro 1985.Like last year, there are 50 variation cards, but they are not short printed. Most of these variations either feature a different photo or the player's nickname in place of their real name. Unlike 2018, there isn't an easy way to spot these variations so I've been using the photo guide put together by Cardboard Connection.

As with Topps using their past designs for current product, the same is true with Donruss. This year's set features their 1985 design. I think the Diamond Kings look so nice this year with the Dick Perez inspired painting of the player. The card backs however don't really offer much and looks more like an after thought than a real design.

Rated Rookies make their return and feature some promising young names in the game. I love how the old school Donruss logo re-appears for the first time on the cards too. The card backs only give you one line of stats along with a little write up of the player. Could be better, but I've also seen worse!

I like this year's base design. While I'm not a fan of the white border, I do like the rest of the design. The diagonal stripes are color coded for the team, which is a nice touch since Panini can't actually use the name of the teams. Like with Rated Rookies, the old school Donruss is used in the corner. The player's name and team abbreviation are on white strip near the bottom of the card. What I originally didn't notice was in the lower right corner of the card, the gray area contains a portion of "D" of the Donruss logo, enlarged. Also written in a smaller, lighter font is the player's position and the team name spelled out. 

There are 50 variation cards in the set, such as this one of Acuna which spells out his full name. Others contain nicknames or a different photo. These thankfully aren't short printed, but unlike last year's Donruss set where the variations were easy to spot (thanks to the card backs) these are tougher to spot if you don't know what to look for.

Card backs are similar to the Rated Rookies, just with a different color. Only one year of stats along with a blurb on the player. At least the variations contain different text from the main base card.

Panini has been using older Donruss designs since the brand was brought back to life. This year they are using the 1985 design. This is a fairly bland design in my opinion, but since it's part of the main set I'll be looking for all of them.

This year there are tons of parallels to chase, both serially numbered and non-numbered. My box yielded a few of these, but I didn't get an example of each.

150th Anniversary Glossy parallels feature a silver holo foil "150" stamp on the front along with "150th Anniversary" across the top of the card. These are serially numbered to 150. As the name states, the front are glossy while the card backs have a matte finish. All of the parallels include all the different cards, even variations which I'll display shortly.

Stat Line parallels were a staple in the series the last few years before the brand's demise. These are serially numbered to different stats for the player - either in their career or for their season. All of these cards feature a holofoil sheen to the card's front.

The three cards above are Career Stat Line. Votto is numbered to 427, his career on-base %. Mookie Betts is numbered to 500, his career slugging % (though it's listed as .518) and Justin Williams is numbered to 319, the number of RBIs he put up in the minors. 

I pulled one Season Stat line. It's numbered to 73, the number of extra base hits by Goldschmidt during the 2018 season.

Holo Back parallels are exactly what they sound like. The back of the card got the holofoil treatment. These are serially numbered to 99. The front of the card is the same as the regular card, minus the numbering. These are odd parallels in my opinion, but I guess I like them enough to have already chased down the Holo Back for young Braves' pitcher Touki Toussaint.

Independence Day parallels take the white border and replace it with blue and white stars. These are not serially numbered. As you can see with the above Ozzie Albies card, the variations are also included.

Some of the other parallels not pulled are Father's Day Ribbon (blue bordered w/ a foil ribbon, serially numbered to 49), Mother's Day Ribbon (pink bordered w/ a foil ribbon, serially numbered to 25), 42 Tribute (blue border w/ white 42s scattered across the border), Artists Proofs (serially numbered to 10), Press Proofs (serially numbered to 5) and Printing Plates (serially numbered to 1).

Action All-Stars look much better in hand than scanned. These feature a rainbow sheen with curves (half circles?) and come in 10 varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/49), Green (#/25), Black (#/1). I was happy to pull the Acuna to say the least.

Dominators is a familiar face in a flood of inserts. These cards have the same circular type rainbow sheen as Action All-Stars. They also come in 10 different varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Franchise Features...well features franchise players like Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies. Like the other inserts, they feature the same circular holofoil background design and come in the 10 varieties: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Highlights is another familiar design, but instead of simply a subset it's now it's own insert. Features the same background design with the rainbow sheen and the same 10 levels: Diamond, Pink Firework, Rapture, Vector, Bronze (#/349), Blue (#/249), Red (#/149), Gold (#/99), Green (#/25), Black (#/1).

Other inserts not pulled from this box include American Pride (featuring Team USA players), Elite Series, Nicknames and Whammy! (featuring cartoony depictions with enlarged heads).

As previously mentioned, each hobby box yields 3 hits (on average). I say on average because my 2nd hobby box had 4 hits! Some of the hits have great designs, like the Bleachers auto set, while others just insert a plain jersey swatch into the base design.

My first hit was a Retro 1985 memorabilia (jersey) of Justin Verlander when he was still with Detroit.

Rated Prospect Materials feature a larger swatch of jersey. In this case I pulled another Detroit hurler, Franklin Perez. These cards also come in autographed versions as well.

There are several different autograph sets and I was lucky enough to pull one of the better ones, Fernando Tatis, Jr.. This card is from the Signature Series, which while not as cool as the Bleachers design, is still pretty impressive. I've yet to scratch off this card to redeem as I'm on the fence of what to do with it. Should I keep it? Should I redeem it and then trade it, or trade it straight up as it is pictured?

I've collated this box already and I'm happy to report that I got ZERO duplicates. Take that Topps!! Here is the break down of what was pulled:

Diamond Kings - 14
Rated Rookies - 11
Base - 124
Variations - 24
Parallels - 11
Inserts - 5
Hits - 3

Total - 192 cards

Overall I'm very impressed with 2019 Donruss and happy with the results of this box. I still have one more hobby box I need to collate to see how much of the set I have before I can make my want list. Because there aren't as many fans of the unlicensed baseball releases I'm hoping I can find a few traders because I really would like to complete the base set before Gypsy Queen releases. Prices of hobby boxes seem to be hovering around $70...which considering you get (at least) 3 hits and with a good checklist of players and some nice inserts/autos I find the cost to be better than flagship Topps. I picked up this box from my LCS, Grand Slam in Rock Hill, SC. I'm gonna wrap this up so I can start getting myself organized and collate that other box.