Saturday, January 30, 2010

National Hockey Card Day

Upper Deck is running a promotion today for the second year in a row.

National Hockey Card Day is celebrated a few ways. Firstly, a 15-card set designed strictly for release today is available for FREE at participating hobby stores across Canada. The set is broken up into packs of 5 cards. FREE packs are also available at select retail stores as well.

On Upper Deck's Facebook page they have posted photographs of 11 Hobby Stores across Canada. If you are the first to arrive and purchase the required product you can claim the prized memorabilia designated to that store.

Of course this is ALL in accordance with the TRUE event of the year. Hockey Day in Canada. Check it all out and enjoy National Hockey Card Day and Hockey Day in Canada!!


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Flagship Flies North of the Border

Seeing as everyone else has been enjoying the budding emergence of 2010 Topps Series 1 Baseball and the mercury here has been sitting below 0 for the last couple days I decided to venture out and see if I could do something to warm the cockles. If there is one thing I succumb to easily it is envy.

I am not proud but I am accepting of my foibles.

Alas, as I walked into the card shop there it was in all its smurfy-blue/Wally-gator-green glory!!!!

Once again a tip of the hat to Topps for taking care of the pack collector. Four variants with four big names. (on a personal note to Topps, Jackie better be in Series 2, okay?) Lets rip the pack with The Mick on the front and see who is first out of the blocks this year in my collection......................

What th............HEY!!......Stop that guy!!!!! He's got my lunch!!!!

Right out of the blocks I am pumped about this product. Chris Snyder launching out of the pack and charging into spring!!

The Detroit Tigers are represented next by Aubrey Huff.

Third card in is elicits another "Yay" from me. My namesake, stretching for a line-drive and adding some nice symmetry to this card........

First Checklist - Texas Rangers Andrus and Kinsler.

Insert Time - Gold Parallel Ichiro #31/2010, Turkey Red Andre Ethier (this set is going to be another hit this year for Topps) and Topps Town Josh Hamilton. Last year I managed to build two full sets of the Topps Town baseball cards. Not sure if I will try for it this year.

Atlanta Brave Yunel Escobar was next followed by Milwaukee Brewer Mat Gamel. The last card in pack number one of the 2010 collecting season sums it up nicely and sends us off the field into the dugout for pack number 2. Magglio Ordonez giving us the "We're outta here!!!" pose......

Pack #2 (Ryan Howard on the front)

Chicago White Sock - Alex Rios (what else do you grammatically call a single player from Chicago's south side? Also, still has one of the coolest birthplaces I have ever seen. Who would not want to be from a place called Coffee??!!??)

Franchise History - Washington Nationals (no matter how hard I try when I see their logo I cannot help but think there is a missed opportunity to brand merge the franchise with Walgreens)

Baltimore Oriole - Luke Scott
Baltimore Oriole Team Leaders card
San Francisco Giant - Randy Johnson (going airborne)
Batting Average Leaders card

Insert Card time - Tales of the Game - 1969 Amazin' Mets, Peak Performance Vladimir Guerrero (a player who's appearance is forever insanely announced in my brain thanks to Stale Gum) and Topps Town Kevin Youkilis.

Closing out this yawner of a pack is San Francisco Giant Barry Zito.

Pack #3 (Albert Pujols front)

Colorado Rockie - Jason Marquis (this card confirms what I have been thinking so far about this design. Clearly the better move is to have the team logo from the back moved to the front of the card. This card is plain "fugly")

Kansas City Royal - Jose Guillen
Cleveland Indian - Michael Brantley (the new RC logo?? - Not a fan, sorry Topps. Switch it back!!)
Cy Young Award Winner card - Tim Lincecum (this pose is TERRIBLY overused)

Cleveland Indian - Asdrubal Cabrera

Insert Card goodness - Gold Parallel Atlanta Brave Reid Gorecki #515/2010, WTWY - Ryan Doumit (ugh, aluminum in the hands of a child....sacrilege), Topps Town Ryan Howard.

Tampa Bay Devil Ray - Ben Zobrist
Houston Astro - Mike Hampton

Finally, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh there we go....thank you Topps. I was starting to feel neglected, starting to think you no longer cared about me. I thought I had done something to upset you. Whew!! Now I can go about my business. I have been ADVERTISED to!!!!! (if anyone actually plays this online email me for the code, it is yours.)

Pack #4 (Going out with a BANG or a BUST rides on the shoulders of Babe Ruth)

San Francisco Giant - Freddy Sanchez
Walgreen National - Shairon Martis (until I become bored of it, that is how I will refer to this team from this point forward. So shall it be......)
Los Angeles Dodger - Jim Thome (sweet looking card or is it just that anyone looks like a classic baseball superstar in Dodger blue?!?)

New York Yankee - Michael Dunn
Arizona Diamondback - Justin Upton

Inserts - Tales of the Game - Ozzie Guillen "flips", Legendary Lineage - Reggie Jackson/Adam Dunn (*note to Topps - leave the 'Then and Now' subset in Heritage and think up something original) and Topps Town Ryan Braun.

Lastly, giving their grittiest effort to bring this pack home as a winner, just look at the strain on their faces. Kansas City Royal, Zack Greinke and Cincinnati Red, Willy Taveras.

As always with any product you care about as a collector there are minor changes you would personally make. However, on the whole I like what Topps is putting out for 2010. The photos, as usual, are well chosen and the design, for the most part, works. I am not sure I will be chasing as many of the subsets this year, like I did last. Turkey Reds will be another big hit for Topps this year and I can see The Cards Your Mom Threw Out set being popular as well.

I will be building this set this year and have already placed the order for my box of jumbos at the local hobby shop.

Before I shut this down I also picked up a single pack of 2009 Topps T-206. I am addicted to this stuff. I placed an order for my fourth box while at the same store. As a bonus pack rip, here is what I got from this.......

Base Cards - Jacoby Ellsbury, Rickie Weeks, Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Alex Rodriguez, Andrew Bailey and a Mantle Checklist.

Inserts - Bronze Parallel Fernando Perez and Polar Bear back mini Robinson Cano.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Perspective - There are those who could use some

I understand the initial rush, stampede, blind-mad-dash when a product hits the market. Especially when it is prior to the scheduled release date.

However, this makes me weepy when I see this, this, and this.


Cannot fault the seller, it is the consumer that makes me *sigh*.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Box Break - 2009 Topps T-206 [Box 3 of 3]

This is the third and final box from my original purchase of Topps T-206. I have some loose packs elsewhere and when I find them, if there is anything interesting, I will be sure to post as well. So far the first two boxes have been superb and my enthusiasm and expectations for this product has been met. However, of course there has to be a "however", this trilogy ends on kind of a THUD rather than a triumphant flourish. As we go on you will surely understand.

We all participate in a hobby that is, more and more everyday, considered "niche". To me that is a polite way of saying that it is a hobby that if the proper circumstances present themselves could be extinct quite suddenly and easily. Perception and reputation rule card collecting and hopefully card companies realise this to some extent. Why do I say this? As you all have read in the past two posts I am completely taken in by this product and had been anticipating it since the first whisper about it surfaced. After braking this third box I have to honestly say, had this been my first box I would have considered this product mediocre at best and quite possibly a fail.

Let us see what box #3 had in store.

First and foremost, as will always happen with any box break at LFB2B from now on........

Soundtrack - The Jam - Direction Reaction, Creation [Boxed Set]

Box Break Stats ;

Base Cards - 135
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 45%

Base Card Variants - 5
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 10%

Bronze Parallel Cards - 18
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 6%

Piedmont-backed Mini Parallel Cards - 16
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 5.3%

The Base Set Variants pulled from this box were #129 Ichiro, #130 Honus Wagner, #171 David Wright, #268 Aaron Poreda and #271 Lou Gehrig.

Bronze Parallel - Michael Bowden (BOS), Jim Thome (CWS), Rogers Hornsby (STL), Melvin Mora (BAL), Hanley Ramirez (FLA), Brian McCann (ATL), Carlos Beltran (NYM), Jake Peavy (CWS), Felix Pie (BAL), Ryan Braun (MIL), Tommy Hanson (ATL), Aaron Poreda (SD), Lou Gehrig (NYY), Colby Rasmus (STL), Fausto Carmona (CLE), Joe Mauer (MIN), Tim Lincecum (SFG) and Babe Ruth (BOS).

Piedmont Minis - Scott Rolen (TOR), Josh Reddick (BOS), Robinson Cano (NYY), Dustin Pedroia (BOS), Rick Porcello (DET), Jim Thome (CWS), Hanley Ramirez (FLA), Fernando Martinez (NYM), Chase Utley (PHI), Ichiro (SEA), Mickey Mantle (NYY), Pee Wee Reese (BRO), Vin Mazzaro (OAK), Christy Mathewson (NYG), Kyle Blanks (SD) and Matt Cain (SFG).

The mini inserts fell as per odds but this was the first bump in the road for me where Topps T-206 is concerned. The two per box Polar Bear backed minis were Mat Gamel and Jorge Posada. The Old Mill backed insert was David Huff of the Cleveland Indians.

The serial numbered Cycle back mini was a terribly mis-cut card. I can understand Base Card mis-cuts and other cards that are printed in the thousands. However, when a card is of a limited run, in this case 99, you would hope the companies spend a little extra time and effort making sure each card is carefully processed. As a collector, as far as I am concerned, this card is useless. I have no plans of building the set but I am also not going to sell this card or use it as trade with other collectors. Very disappointing. The card itself belongs to Michael Young from Texas and is numbered 22/99.

The guaranteed box hits this time around were both framed autographs. I really, really like these for several reasons. The on card auto as far as I am concerned should be the only way to go. The fact that they are framed in a full size card adds to the beauty of the card as well as making storage easier. I will have to take this under serious consideration but this may be a set worth trying to put together. A very daunting challenge which is the bane of any set collector. This time around I pulled autos of James Parr of the Atlanta Braves and Scott Elbert of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Perhaps the extraordinary luck of the first two boxes raised my hopes beyond proper expectations but this third box left me feeling a bit disappointed on several fronts. There were no extra "hits" in the box, just the guaranteed two. The box hits that did emerge held no "wow" factor to offset that underwhelmed feeling. The other thing that bothered me was the card quality in this box. I previously mentioned the serial numbered mis-cut, but there were also a number of damaged cards that had surface dents or gouges. As well there were what I can only imagine were packaging damages on the cards that looked like roller marks.

As I had stated earlier, this hobby is dependant upon the people already participating in it and the companies that produce cards need to be aware that their reputation for quality is the only thing that will guarantee them customer loyalty. Collectors buy what they perceive is value for their money. Had this been the very first box of Topps T-206 that I had opened I would have been very disappointed and felt that it was just another product that a listless card company was just grinding out to an under appreciated public.

After three boxes I am still excited about this product but wary of what lies on the horizon for the next box I buy. Yes, there will be a next box, maybe even two. Sadly though, there is still a bit of cynicism lingering.

Thanks for following these three box breaks and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. I will be posting a traders list and a want list shortly. I am also looking to trade for any of the Piedmont minis as I will be building the set. Let's talk trades!!!!

Finally, I leave you with The Jam........enjoy!!!!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Box Break - 2009 Topps T-206 [Box 2 + some of 3]

With box number one out of the way and a general happiness so far with Topps' efforts with this product let us head directly into box break number two. Now, the reason I titled this "Box #2 + some" was that when I went to open this box I found that the packs were already busted and there were more cards than there should have been. I must have purchased some loose packs along with this box and ripped them during my plague-filled haze a while back. Whatever the case, as you will see, this product continues to satisfy.

First off, providing the soundtrack, Goldfinger's 2000 release 'Stomping Ground'

Box Break Stats ;

Base Cards - 157
Dupes - 17
Set Completion - 53%

Base Card Variants - 7
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 14%

Bronze Parallel Cards - 22
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 7.3%

Piedmont-backed Mini Parallel Cards - 19
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 6.3%

Base Set variants pulled consisted of #36 Jimmie Foxx, #61 Derek Holland, #83 Rogers Hornsby, #103 Andrew Bailey, #107 Fernando Martines, #207 Jackie Robinson and #224 Roy Campanella.

Bronze Parallel singles were of Ryan Howard (PHI), Juan Pierre (LAD), Dan Uggla (FLA), Matt Holliday (STL), Ian Stewart (COL), Bobby Parnell (NYM), Jonny Gomes (CIN), Justin Morneau (MIN), Jay Bruce (CIN), Jayson Werth (PHI), Walter Johnson (WAS), Randy Johnson (SFG), Ubaldo Jiminez (COL), Mark Melancon (NYY), Wade LeBlanc (SD), Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS), Glen Perkins (MIN), Roy Halladay (TOR), Conor Jackson (ARI), Akinori Iwamura (TB), Johnny Damon (NYY) and David Freese (STL).

Piedmont-backed mini parallels were; Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Bobby Parnell (NYM), Mel Ott (NYG), Rich Harden (CHC), Cliff Lee (PHI), Ty Cobb (DET), Rogers Hornsby (STL), Ryan Perry (DET), Chris Dickerson (CIN), Tris Speaker (CLE), Elvis Andrus (TEX), Thurman Munson (NYY), Jhonny Peralta (CLE), Gordon Beckham (CWS), Carlos Delgado (NYM), Justin Masterson (CLE), Jose Reyes (NYM) *in all his bunting gloriousness* and that guy from St.Louis who is kinda good.

Next up are the mini inserts; Short printed variant was CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees. Seeded 1:20 packs is the Old Mill backed parallel belonging to Toronto Blue Jay rookie Travis Snider. The Polar Bear backed parallels seeded 1:10 were of Juan Pierre (LAD) and Micah Owings (CIN). Lastly, the serial numbered Cycle backed parallel #'d 43/99 was of George Kottaras (BOS).

This is the part of the break that I was most happy with. The box hits were there as well as a few "bonus" hits. All counted I pulled 2 autos, 2 inserts and 1 relic. Not bad for 25 packs in total. The autos were 1 mini Piedmont framed on-card auto of Ryan Braun and his accompanying regular sized card sticker auto.

The relic pulled was an Old Mill framed pants relic, which are seeded 1:105 packs, of Miguel Tejada from the Houston Astros.
Finally the last two pulls were a serial numbered insert and a one-of-one. I pulled my second framed silk card in as many boxes. The silks are seeded 1:160 packs. The 1/1 was a Base Card magenta printing plate. These are seeded 1:258 packs.

The silk is numbered 48/50 and is of Evan Longoria.

The printing plate is Rick Ankiel. I think this is my first printing plate too.

So far, out of two boxes I am extremely happy with what I have seen from Topps. The only disappointments this time around were a miss-cut David Price mini and the sticker autographs do look pretty terrible. The shiny foil just does not work with a retro-themed set.

Thanks for wasting your time reading this and I cannot wait to see if my luck continues into box number three. Thanks also to my musical guests, Goldfinger, who provided a perfect soundtrack to this break. See you soon for the next box and rest assured my satisfaction with this product will be resulting in a box 4 and 5 break later on.

Play it Goldfinger...........................!!!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Box Break - 2009 Topps T-206 [Box 1 of 3]

So, as you may or may not know this is the release of 2009 that I had been waiting for and had been saving all my shiny nickles for. Well, more than just nickles, but could you imagine how many freaking nickles it would take to purchase this stuff? Also, this makes me long for the days when a handful of nickles COULD get you some cardboard. However, I am seriously digressing here.

My main objective with this set is to put together the mini Piedmont back parallel set. Over the past year and a bit that I have been getting back into the hobby I have discovered that I am a sucker for the retro-themed releases. I like collecting cards that look and feel like baseball cards. I think I have found the niche of the market that will become the staple of my collecting obsession.

Enough talk, there is a box to be broken......

Firstly, to set the mood, we have the accompanying music for this break. This time it is Concrete Blonde and their 1986 self-titled debut record. I had and always will have such a wicked crush on Johnette Napolitano.

Box Break Stats ;

Base Cards - 135
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 45%

Base Card Variants - 5
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 10%

Bronze (Sorry Topps, that's NOT "gold") Parallel Cards - 17
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 5.6%

Piedmont-backed Mini Parallel Cards - 15
Dupes - 0
Set Completion - 5%

The Base Set variants I pulled belong to.................................

#1 - Ryan Howard
#49 - Walter Johnson
#137 - Mark Teixeira
#181 - David Price
and #300 - George Sisler

The Bronze Parallel cards were of Ian Stewart (COL), Geovany Soto (CHC), Chien-Ming Wang (NYY), Jay Bruce (CIN), Jason Marquis (COL), Bronson Arroyo (CIN), Hank Blalock (TEX), Jordan Schafer (ATL), Fernando Perez (TB), Luke Scott (BAL), Dexter Fowler (COL), Rick Ankiel (STL), Jermaine Dye (CWS), Rafael Furcal (LAD), Brad Nelson (MIL), Pat Burrell (TB) and Tim Hudson (ATL).

Piedmont-backed minis pulled were ; Erick Aybar (ANH), Dan Uggla (FLA), Wilkin Ramirez (DET), Matt Kemp (LAD), Michael Bourn (HOU), Chipper Jones (ATL), Dexter Fowler (COL), Brian McCann (ATL), Yunel Escobar (ATL), Rafael Furcal (LAD), Gil Meche (KC), Roy Halladay (TOR), Francisco Cordero (CIN), Aramis Ramirez (CHC) and Brian Bannister (KC).

While recording the minis I noticed an error on the back of the Aramis Ramirez card that probably will not be fixed but it is something I will watch for throughout these breaks. It lists the Chicago Cubs as being in the American League.

The other mini inserts pulled from this box were a mini SP of some guy from St.Louis who is supposed to be good......
The 1 per box Old Mill backed mini was of Jacoby Ellsbury.......

The 2 Polar Bear backed minis were of Russell Martin and Jeremy Guthrie.............(Jeremy will soon be on his way to the bearded one, if needed)

and last mini insert was a serial numbered Cycle backed of Mike Fontenot #27/99.

Last but not least we get to the guaranteed box hits. This box yielded one of each, a framed autograph mini and a framed relic mini. There was also a bonus framed insert to go with them. The Autograph was in a Piedmont frame and was of Minnesota Twin, Bernard Span.......

The framed relic hit was a jersey card in an Old Mill frame of New York Yankee, Robinson Cano....

And finally, the "bonus" hit of the box was a serial numbered, Piedmont framed silk variation of Phillie Ryan Howard. Numbered 03/50.

I have to say that I am completely satisfied with this first box of Topps T-206 Baseball. It was everything I would expect from a release. Great design, great collation and a totally satisfying box break. The 9 cards per pack is sufficient as far as I am concerned and there really is nothing that feels like waste when all is said and done.

I am looking forward to breaking box #2, hopefully I can post it in a day or two to keep things rolling here. Until then, I will end with the "official" providers of the soundtrack to this box break.