Saturday, March 19, 2011

Then There Were Two........Well, Three, But......

Ever since I saw them on the sell sheet I knew I was going to build the set. Perhaps my relative newness back into collecting has yet to jade me, but, I am still quite content with the retro design releases that Topps is putting out there and the Series 1 Kimball Champions set satisfies.

This 50-card set done in the exact style of its namesake, the 1887 'Champions of Game and Sport' set released by the W.S.Kimball Tobacco Company. While the original set showcased sports of all kinds, containing only 4 cards devoted to baseball, this set obviously focuses on strictly baseball. I have no issue whatsoever with retro-themed sets like this being included as an insert in a modern product. Aside from the established sets like Heritage, Allen & Ginter and Goodwin Champions this is where retro-themed sets belong, as an enhancement. I am interested to see what happens with Gypsy Queen and how collectors embrace the "new kid on the block".

However, do not take my word for it. Judge for yourself.

As I am sure you have noticed there are a few blank spots in the pages there. I am down to the last few cards needed to complete this set and this is where you, loyal reader, factor in to the equation. I need your help. The last three cards I need are ;

#11 - Starlin Castro
#37 - Stephen Strasburg
#47 - Brett Anderson

I am pretty sure that the Starlin Castro card was pulled in the group break over at 'A Cardboard Problem' so essentially I am down to only the Strasburg and Anderson. I purchased a few lots off of eBay so duplicates/traders are not a problem. If you are working on your own set and can help me out I can easily send you a list of what I have. I also have a number of other inserts from Series 1 that can be sent your way, if you so choose.

Let me know what I can do to finish off this set and make those pages look pretty and complete.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mail Day (aka Patches and Swatches are Sew Sweet)

Back in mid-February Larry from 'Sewingmachineguy on Cards' took pity on a post I had made about trying to find a Starlin Castro 'Red Hot Rookie' from 2010 Topps. Now, Larry apologized that he could not hook me up with the RHR but he did have a Starlin Castro card that I was interested in. As well, he had another Cubs relic from '09 Goodwin Champions that he would be willing to send my way to help ease the sting. I did my best to find some worthy Detroit based cards that would seal the deal.

Today the cards from Larry arrived and the Castro card is even more impressive in person. When manu-patches are done like this I have no problem with them at all.

The Derrek Lee gets me one card closer to the Cubs relic set from '09 Goodwin. So yes, it is a Good win for me!!

Thank-you to Sewingmachineguy for the trade and for helping my Cubs collection grow.

Stop by his blog and spend some time. Check out his Want Lists and he will more than likely have something you want. As for my quest for a Starlin Castro RHR, it continues...........


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Box Break - 2010-11 Panini Crown Royale Hockey

The very generous folks at Panini sent me a box of Crown Royale Hockey to have a look at and review just for you. So before I go any further I would like to say thank-you to Tracy Hackler for providing this to me and I appreciate the opportunity.

Seeing as this is my first manufacturer provided product review I decided to take the next logical step in box breaking and record a video break. Please let me know how I did and how I can make it better. Practice makes perfect but feedback is more than welcomed.

As always before we break into any kind of box here we need the proper atmosphere. Today I decided to go with a band that can make any Sunday feel like a Saturday.

Soundtrack - The Detroit Cobras - Mink Rat or Rabbit

Box Breakdown - 4 packs per box
Pack Breakdown - 5 cards per pack

Firstly, what makes this product fun to open is that there is a hit in every pack. Be it a Jersey Relic, Autograph or Auto/Relic the anticipation greeting every pack is pure enjoyment. The complete set consists of 175 cards divided into 3 "sets". Cards #1-100 feature the currently active NHL stars and are essentially the "base" set. Cards #101-115 are entitled 'Regents' and features the Greats of the Game. Cards #116-129 are the absolutely stunning 'Rookie Silhouettes Signature Prime Materials' cards. While that is a mouthful to say I think that these 14 cards focusing on the Elite rookies of 2010-11 are the absolute signature of this release. Cards #130-175 are the 'Rookie Royalty Signatures' cards that encompass the remainder of the rookies.

Base set Cards - 12/100 (12%)
Doubles - I should hope not

The base design is the Crown Royale design that Pacific made famous. The die-cut crown is there, the shiny foil is there, the design that collectors either love or hate is all there. The one nice touch to the design is that the background colour of the card is set to match the team colours of the player pictured. A small detail but something so necessary when it comes to visual appeal. A couple things I would have liked to have seen on the base cards though is a little more space used for the player and team names and the team logo. Yes the logo is on the player jersey, for the most part, but it still needs to be an element on the card face.

Another feature that would have worked well would have been having the player image raised on the card. Some of the photos of the players in their road uniforms get lost in the card background.

The card backs are nicely designed and DO feature team logos but they are a bit small for the room provided. The other drawback is that there is only one line of stats. Minimum rule for card backs when it comes to stats should be up to 5-years previous with a career summary. Other than those minor details very little to complain about the base card design.

As is always the case there are parallel cards that can be chased. There are 6 different versions of the 100 base cards;

Purple #/25
Ice Blue #/10
Premiere Date #/100
Premiere Date Signatures #/100 (There are only 92 of the 100 subjects in this set)
Red - #/1
Red Signatures #/1 (Once again, only 92 of the 100 subjects)

When it comes to the Insert sets, once again, there are more than enough to keep the most ravenous collector satisfied while not completely overwhelming and alienating both Master Set and player collectors. Altogether there are a total of 9 insert sets with varying degrees of parallels. 5 of those sets have no parallels.

Razor's Choice is a 12-card set #/99
Calder Collection is a 12-card set #/99
Regal Achievement is a 20-card set #/499
Royal Pains is a 12-card set #/499
In Harms Way is a 20-card set #/499

Lords of the NHL is a 12-card set #/499
** Jersey parallel is #/99 or less & Patch parallel is #/49 or less
Living Legends is a 12-card set NOT serial #'d
** Jersey parallel is #/100 or less, Patch parallel is #/50 or less & Autographed parallel is #/25 or less
Loyalty is a 25-card set #/250
** Patch parallel is #/25
Lancers is a 25-card set #/250
**Prime Jersey parallel is #/50 and Patch parallel is #/25

Of the 4 cards I pulled none were of the Jersey, Patch or Auto parallel kind. The first card is from the 'Living Legends' set. Card #6 - Patrick Roy.

I like the looks of this set. The black and white image of the player manages to stand out in this design. A bit of a questionable checklist for this set but I imagine that rights have a major role to play in that so not a big deal.

The second insert card is from the 'Lancers' set. This set seems to honour the more offensive minded players in the league with powerful shots. I pulled card #6 - Teemu Selanne #131/250.

This set for me was met with a big "Meh.". The design itself makes the card feel cluttered and crowded. Looking at the checklist this could have easily been a a 10-card set rather than 25. The reuse of the same photo from the front of the card on the back does no favours for this card either. Not my favorite of the bunch.

As much as I was indifferent to the 'Lancers' set, I am a big fan of the 'Regal Achievement' insert set. I managed card #1 - Patrick Kane #229/499.

Everything about the design of this card works. It is appealing to look at and even though the photo reuse on the back still happens it is blended into the design of the card much better than the previous example. The checklist for this set is much, much stronger as well. This is a set that I would consider chasing.

Unfortunately my joy is short-lived. When I saw this set on the sell sheets and Panini's 'Sneek Peeks' on their website I got excited and was looking forward to seeing it in-hand. What was potentially another winning insert fell flat. I pulled an 'In Harms Way' insert card #2 - Pekka Rinne #266/299.

My disappointment with this set stems totally from the fact that I built up in my own mind what I thought this design was going to be. Seeing the colour image surrounded by the dark frame I was expecting an insert set reminiscent of Upper Deck's Masterpieces collection. Goalie cards are truly some of the best photos in any sports release and when done right they can be made to look spectacular. Using the near ice level perspective of these photos in this set, recessed into a replica frame would have made this set a must have.

Now we get to the meat of the box. The four hits that are guaranteed to be at least 2 autos and 2 relics. Included amongst these cards is the other half of the "main set", the 'Rookie Silhouettes Signature Prime Materials' and the 'Rookie Royalty Signatures'. In watching several breaks online I have seen a few of the Silhouette cards pulled and these things are beautiful. The card features an over-sized swatch of material or patch tucked under a die-cut image of the player. Words simply do not do these cards justice. I saw a Brayden Schenn pulled from a pack and my jaw just dropped.

The relic and autograph insert sets have a couple variations on them as well.

Rookie Silhouettes is a 14-card on card autographed set featuring the top rookies of 2010-11.
**Prime Jerseys are #/99 and Patches #/25
Royal Lineage is a 25-card set featuring 3 players per card.
**Jerseys are #/100 or less, Prime Jerseys are #/50 or less and Patches are #/25 or less.
Heirs to the Throne is a 50-card set.
**Jerseys are #/250, Prime Patches are #/50 and Autographed/Jerseys are #/50

Rookie Royalty is a 25-card on card autographed set featuring the remaining standout rookies.
Coat of Arms is a 50-card set that appears to be a Patch only set with each card #/25.
Voices of the Game Signatures is a 15-card on card autographed set NOT serial #d
Rinkside Signatures is a massive 100-card on card autographed set #/100 or less.

I will start off right away by saying I was not lucky enough to pull a 'Rookie Silhouette' but what I did end up with made me extremely happy and defined the "fun factor" of this break. Being able to pull a hit per pack definitely ups the cost of a product but it also raises the excitement level too. With Crown Royale I think Panini did an excellent job packing value into a 4-pack box.

My first hit is a Jersey swatch from the 'Heirs to the Throne' set. Card #JSK - Jeff Skinner #193/250.

The second hit is one of the 'Rookie Royalty' autograph cards from the main set. Card #133 - Sergei Bobrovsky #205/499. You can never go wrong with on-card autographs. EVER!!

Hit number 3 is from the other set that I was extremely excited to see in-hand. When I first saw the design for these cards on the Panini website I had high hopes. About as high as I did for the 'In Harms Way' inserts. Thankfully this set did not disappoint in the least. The 100-card checklist makes it a HUGE challenge as does the varying number of each card. I have seen some numbered /50. The one I pulled was #053/100.

The final hit of the box is disappointing in only one facet, it is a sticker auto. Now, I understand why it is a sticker auto, simply there is no place in the card design for an autograph. No problem. However, being serial #'d out of 50 this should have been a much more exciting card to hit. A great player with a tonne of upside so do not think I am complaining in the least. I am simply just telling you how it felt to pull the card. Card #JT #21/50 is an Autograph/Jersey 'Heirs to the Throne' of John Tavares.

Overall I would have to say that Panini Crown Royale Hockey is a very enjoyable product to break. If you are a hit chaser then it has everything you could ask for, the chance at some beautiful cards that will definitely hold their value and the off chance at some true works of art that should be on every list when it comes time to talk card of the year.

There are a few minor elements that keep this set from being an out-of-the-park Homerun but for the $90-$110 price tag that this will set you back, they will not deter one bit your enjoyment of this product. Sticker autos vs. on-card is a debate that will rage long into the future. Expectations about design not being met is a fact of collecting. The goal of everyone involved is to produce the "perfect" set but rarely if ever is that achieved.

If you are a player collector or a hit chaser then Panini Crown Royale should be a product you bust. If you happen to hit one of the Silhouettes you will NOT be disappointed.

Finally, thanks again to Panini for providing me this box to review and stay tuned to the blog in the coming days as I will be working out some way to get these cards into your hands.

Playing us out, as always here at LFB2B, is our musical guests. This time the Detroit Cobras bring it home.


'Got 'em, Got 'em, Need 'em'

Every single one of us at some time or another in our collecting career have uttered this classic phrase. Whether silently in our heads or out loud amongst a group of fellow collectors it is our mantra.

Authors Jon Waldman and Stephen Laroche have graced collectors with the latest addition to a growing number of titles regarding the Sportscard Collecting hobby. 'Got 'em, Got'em Need 'em : A Fan’s Guide to Collecting the Top 100 Sports Cards of All Time' is scheduled to be released in April of this year. The book is described as follows;

For over 100 years, kids of all ages have enjoyed the thrill of collecting sports cards. Whether it was souvenirs from their parents’ cigarette packs, pieces that came in bubble gum packages or the modern dazzlers, the simple formula of pictures and text on cardboard has been a part of North American society for over a century.

Now, take a look back at one of the most popular hobbies in history with Got ’Em Got ’Em, Need ’Em. Covering baseball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing and golf, this unique book offers a look at the greatest sports cards ever produced, including the players and personalities involved. Relive the days gone by with some of the industry’s most well-known experts as we count down the best from the business.

Plus, as a special bonus, take a look at the best innovations, the worst blunders and a special tribute to the hobby’s boom era in the 1990s.

If you plan on attending the 2011 Spring Toronto Sportcard & Memorabilia Expo make sure you are there on the Friday night, April 29th at 6pm. Jon and Stephen will be officially launching the book with a reading followed by a signing and a Q&A session. They will also be available to sign copies of the book on Saturday and Sunday at the ECW Press booth.

If you cannot make it to the show then follow this link to the ECW Press website where you can pre-order 'Got 'em, Got 'em, Need 'em'. Either way I have a feeling this book will be one that everyone will enjoy adding to their collection.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

LIVE!!! - Ustream Box Breaks

Feel like spending some time watching me bust a few boxes?

This is no 'Beckett Box Busters' and I am no Chris Olds but I figured, why not do what everyone else is doing, right?

Follow the link below on over to Ustream where I am busting a box of 2011 Topps Series 1 Baseball that I won from the generous folks at Topps and Card Corner club Radio. I am also busting a box of Panini 2010-11 Crown Royale Hockey. And, lastly a box that I picked up on a whim today, 1997-98 Donruss Studio Hockey.

Saturday Night Breaks

See you there.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Counting The Days - Vol. III

Mail has been rather sparse the last while but there are a few packages that I am rushing home daily in hopes of being greeted by them at the door. Today was one of those days where there were 4 envelopes sitting on the kitchen table and they were that familiar yellow colour that collectors have grown to love.

Three of those envelopes helped knock off one of the counters on my sidebar over there to the right. Well done Topps!!!

Compared to the 2009 versions of the Red Hot Rookie cards released in Flagship Series 3/Updates & Highlights the 2010 version of these cards look much nicer. Unfortunately, if early reports are to be believed, Topps will not be doing RHR Redemption cards in 2011. Kind of disappointing but not a tragic loss.

Two of my redemptions were of the same player.......

RHR-1 Carlos Santana (C), Cleveland Indians

The third card I received today was of a Philly......

RHR-7 Domonic Brown (OF)

Like I said, the design of these cards are the best of the last two years, and seeing as I have only been back collecting for two years, I have a pretty narrow frame of reference. These cards are a nice addition to a product that is usually a forgotten issue by the time it rolls around As well, this is a case where redemptions work. It is a nice fun feeling as a collector to be able to wait and watch as the "mystery" is revealed as to who your card will be, plus, coming home to an envelope in the mail is never a bad thing. If these are truly gone for 2011 I will miss them for sure.

As for the fate of these three cards, if there are any Indians or Phillies collectors out there that have a Starlin Castro that needs a home in Canada I would love to hear from you.

Until the next time we can eliminate a counter from the blog I leave you with the theme song of this segment.

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