Monthly Archives: November 2012

Black Friday Recap

Black Friday.  That great annual celebration of consumerism where we all gather around the great mall and pay our respects to goods and services.  In all honesty, not my favorite day of the year.  For one, people act crazy, for two, it tends to only drive sales to large corporations rather than small business, and three, those line are long.  I do, however, appriciate a deal.  As a public employee I’m not exactly at the top of my earning potential, so I take a bargain where I can get it.  So here is my recap of my sports card-relevant black friday pickups.

Functional Friday Pickup

I finally purchased a printer with a scanner, so from this point on all of my images will be scans.  Let me just say taht I can’t believe I didn’t have one before.  It’s much easier than trying to find that perfect angle with the digital camera and the images are super sharp.  Also, I got it for $30.  Very nice.  I would recommend a scanner for anyone who sells cards on-line or blogs.

On to the cards….

I often purchase a few boxes on Black Friday, usually on-line at either dacardworld.com or blowoutcards.com.  Both have very good box prices and great selections.  I continued that tradition by purchasing a box of 2012 Topps Archives Baseball from blowout.  It was on-sale for an outrageous $59.  I’ve already opened a box of it this year, but I love retro stuff and I can’t pass up the chance at two more on-card retro autos.  Maybe I’ll get the Ken Griffey Jr. auto that I want so badly (wishful thinking).  I do not have this hand yet, so I’ll post again with my box bustin’ results later.

This year I switched it up a little and also visted my local card shop, Showtime Cards, for their black friday sale.  Normally, I only buy boxes on-line because they are so much more expensive at the shop, however I wanted to throw a little love their way this year because I truly enjoy having a good shop near my home.  While I don’t normally buy boxes from them, I do get packs and all my supplies there and they are always congenial and knowledgeable.  So I decided that it was time to fork over a little extra cash and I bought a box of 2012-13 Panini Threads Basketball for $108.  It goes for $96 on-line, so the difference wasn’t too extreme and I got to feel good about supporting my local card shop.  Let me say, it was well worth the extra money for peace of mind and also because of what I pulled.

First things first, my local shop was participating in the Panini Black Friday promotion, so I got my requisite pack of Panini Black Friday cards.  I pulled a Bryce Harper and a Cam Newton card, unfortunately no auto’s or inserts, but at least I got a couple bigger names.  The cards themselves are not my cup of tea, both are full of shine and cut out player photos. I’m sure they will be nice for collectors of these players and because of that they will be on eBay post haste.

On to the box.  As mentioned in previous posts, I am a fan of this years Threads product.  I like the simplicity of the design, I like the unaltered photographs, and I even think the wood card stock autograph idea is a good one.  Overall, I think Panini did a good job with this product and I would like to see it become the flagship.  It really reminds me, design-wise of the mid-90’s Upper Deck issues, which were always nice and understated.  While I will always prefer classic card design with white borders, unaltered player shots, and a simple aesthetic, I also have a soft spot for the borderless design that Upper Deck was using for a while.  For one thing, it helps cards grade higher, which is great on the resale market and for another it really takes away the potential for awful, busy designs (which Panini has a propensity for).  I was happy to open these cards.  Pictured below are a few examples of the quality design aesthetic at work.

While I do really like this design, with the copper flourish, the real reason I splurged on a box was because of the promise of three on-card autos.  The autos were to be of rookies of this years and last years class and they were to be on wood card stock, which is a gimmick that I like because of the retro feel and the connection to the basketball hardwood.  Opening the box created a lot of anticipation because of the breadth of the rookie class, guys like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis had me excited for what was in those packs.  Remember the only rookie cards in this product are these autographs, therefore this box, moreso than the packs I bought, had the promise of amazing hits.

Rookie auto #1 – John Jenkins – great shooter in college, promise as a role-player but with great upside.  Solid, but uninspiring hit.

Rookie Auto #2 – Bismack Biyombo – Interesting player with good defensive potential, though I can’t see him being anything other than limited minutes shot-blocker.  Cool name, little esle to be excited about.

Rookie Auto #3 – Pack a Week HIT OF THE YEAR – Anthony Davis – This is the first time I’ve ever pulled an autograph of a #1 overall pick.  Davis is poised to be a star, he has the defensive ability and the offensive potential to be an Olajuwon or a Ewing, and as long as he stays injury free I think he will get there.  This has been a rough year on autograph hits for Pack a Week, but this is the sort of thing that gives you hope that you can occasionally get the big one.  It also makes me glad that I spent the extra money for this box at the shop.

Fear the brow! Seriously, fear that thing.

I also got a number of inserts, some ok, some bad.  I pulled a David West gold card, which is numbered out of /25.  It is the base design but with a gold bottom border instead of a copper border.  Given my affinity for the design, I like it, I’m just bummed it wasn’t a bigger star.

Also pulled were a few Floor Generals cards (including Kyrie Irving, who should bring a few bucks on the secondary market), A couple High Flyers (including Kevin Durant), some Century Greats (Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler), and a couple Talente Twosome cards.  Overall the inserts are uninspired, though inoffensively designed.  Most, other than the Century Greats feature full action shots and unobtrusive designs.  The talented twosomes really reminds me of subsets from the 90’s featuring teammates, which is an ok idea but probably not worthy of a full insert set, though I do like the single photos featuring two players.  The other ones just seem to be reaching for a theme and a design.  I also pulled a few of the Team Threads Jersey Die-cut Cards, including a Lebron James.  I’ve mentioned before that I like these cards.  They are kind of like the team stickers of our day and they add a little diversity to the product.  Overall the only decent inserts are the Team Threads and the different colored parallels.  I’m guessing we’ll see some of the bigger star’s platinums versions going for $30 – $70 on eBay.

Can I call him Durantula, or will that other guy sue me?

Finally, I pulled one relic card, Anthony Mason, which is not pictured.  There was also a pack of Kobe Bryant Anthology cards packed in the box.  Kobe is my least favorite NBA player of all time.  Bold statement, I know.  But I just don’t like his smug demeanor and his selfish style.  You can tell me he is a winner all you want and that he has that killer instinct, but it doesn’t change the kind of player he is and it’s not the kind I like.  The cards are simply designed no borders and Kobe’s name at the bottom.  If you’re a Kobe fan then this is awesome, if not…well…not so much.

After buying a box, I still really like this product.  I like what they’ve done with the rookie cards.  Making them all autos helps increase the value and also makes for something much more interesting.  The experiment of using wood card stock seems successful and I can’t wait for more of the same.  On-card autos is a double plus.  While I don’t love the inserts, three autos per box makes up for it.  The design is simple enough to withstand the test of time and I’m happy that Panini has put a decent set together given the fact that they are the only NBA game in town.  Overall: 4.5/5

Finally, after entering probably 30 Golden Giveaway codes with Topps this year I only came up with one card, which I received this weekend.  It’s Derek Jeter, which I like.  I like nothing else.  It is a non-sense die cut (why the jagged edges, does that symbolize something?), it’s shiny with some design in the background, and the picture is a cut-out.  Bleeeech.

 

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Rethreads

I ignored my own advice and bought a few more retail packs of Panini Threads.  I really did like the design and I was excited about the rookie autographs, so I couldn’t resist.  I’m also waiting for the on-line black friday sales before I buy any boxes, so this seemed like the best way to scratch my itch.  Though I stick by my advice in my original Threads post, I’m glad I bought the packs because I pulled one of the “wood card stock” autographed rookies.

Pictured above is a Mike Scott autograph.  Though I am excited to pull an autograph out of a retail pack, I must admit that I don’t know who Mike Scott is.  Best of luck to him, but I don’t recall his college career, and I’m a college basketball fan.  As far as the card is concerned, I like it.  The design is nice, almost retro and the autograph is on-card.  The card stock itself is actually a hybrid, the back is normal card stock but the front is a thin wood veneer.  The texture is interesting and it adds to the retro feel because it is cracked and imperfect.  I like the idea, especially as a connection to the “hardwood,” however I do wonder how the cards will age.  When I say age, I literally mean physically age.  Wood cards are a bit of an unknown (please correct me if I’m forgetting about other wood cards), and I wonder if there will be any degradation of the photo or ink over time, or if the wood itself will begin to deteriorate.  The signature itself has already bled into the wood and has fuzzy edges, so I’m wondering if there may be any other long term issues.  Beyond those concerns, I like these cards and this idea.  It has reinforced my desire to buy a box, which I should do by the end of the week.

I also pulled a Floor Generals insert, which is mostly inoffensive, but does fall under the heading of Panini inserts that I don’t care about.

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The Best: In Hand.

I am now the proud owner of the greatest card that I’ve ever seen.  Yes, I finally purchased a 1997 Bowman Derek Jeter Autograph card.

It is a thing of beauty.  The card is so simple, so perfect.  The autograph itself is worthy of the player who signed it.  Rarely do I say this, but it will never be for sale.  Behold:

The best player. The best brand. The best autograph. Definitive.

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Threads, success!

Here comes Panini again.  It’s Threads this time.  This is a product I’m usually not a big fan of, but I had to do my duty and pick up a few packs.

First a few interesting things to mention before getting into my packs.  First, all the rookie cards are autos in this set and I’m reading that they are on-card autos. Nice one Panini, you are continuing to move in the right direction.  Second, the rookies are all printed on “wood card stock,” I don’t what that is exactly but hopefully it’s not made from this:

Get it? Woodstock

Third, you get three autos and one memorabilia card per box.  Maybe a name change is in order: Panini Signature Edition?  Finally, following in the footsteps of the prior Threads issue, there are cards shaped like jerseys, which are a cool little touch.  They come in auto and non-auto versions. On to the packs. I will start off by saying that this is the best Panini base design of the year.  The cards have fantastic photography.  The pictures are big and unaltered.  The bottom border is made from copper foil, which is used subtly and adds a nice flourish.  The Panini logo is minimal and not intrusive.  The only complaint I have is the left border, which has a splotchy, faux wall design.  This is by far the nicest, most classic design of the year for Panini.

I absolutely love that angle with the arena as a backdrop. Need more of that.

While I like the idea of doing an all autograph rookie set, I did miss pulling rookies.  My two packs, not suprisingly, did not have any rookie autos, so all I got were a bunch of veteran cards and one insert (more on that in a second).  While making the rookie cards chase cards produces added value and excitement when you pull them, it also makes this a hard product to want to buy individual packs of.  Odds are that most packs from your local retail outlet will not have a rookie, so buying a box seems to be the only reasonable way to excited about opening the product.  With that said, I probably will buy a box of Threads; as I said it has the best base design this season, on-card rookie autos, multiple hits per box, and it costs less than $100 on eBay. Similar to the rookies, the inserts are tougher pulls in this product.  Threads shys away from the one insert per pack standard.  Out of my two packs I pulled only one insert: a Team Threads Jeff Teague card.  This is one of those forementioned jersey shaped cards that are returning.  While I’m not a fan of die cuts I do like these because they are not just a random shape, they actually represent something.  I also like basketball jerseys in general, especially classic designs like old Blazers jerseys or even the new Nets jerseys.

Overall, I think this is a solid product.  The base design is pleasing, on-card autos is a plus (but should be standard), four hits per box is a good thing, and there will be a lot of value on the secondary market because of all the chase cards.  On the down side the base checklist is all vets and some of the inserts reek of Panini trash (Floor Generals, High Flyers, etc.) This is probably a box buy for me and I’ll be generous and give it a 4/5 (subject to change after I see all there is to see).

See checklist here.

    

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The Best: College Basketball Kickoff Edition

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of college basketball.  Here in Tucson college hoops is an institution and it’s hard to grow up here and not become a fan.  I’ve had the opportunity to watch and meet many of college basketball’s legends, guys like Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Jason Terry, and Mike Bibby to name a few.  Two teams defined my childhood: the Yankees and the Wildcats. So it should be no surprise then that I have a number of college basketball cards in my collection.  This is an area of the hobby that I believe is both under represented and undervalued.  I’ve been able to get autographs of a number of my favorite Wildcats for less than $3 and even the higher profile names, like Bibby and Elliott, go for no more than $10 in their college uniforms.  While I know that guys like Jordan, in his NC blues, and Larry Bird, in his Indiana State duds, command some serious coin, lesser names go for next to nothing in their college unis.  This is especially true for guys from the Classic/Sage era, who signed a number of cards for those college centric sets.

With that in mind, I’m going to spend the college basketball season highlighting cards from college basketball sets (Classic, Press Pass, SAGE, etc.).  These sets were often after thoughts when they were introduced and are not often though about now.  Some of these sets are very well designed and the checklists are better than you remember.  For instance, check out the 1995 Classic Autographs checklist, while the draft class is not one of the best (Stackhouse, Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess), there are autographs of Jason Kidd, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dikembe Mutombo before the big boys even started including autographs as a normal insert.  Sets like Scoreboard Rookies and Press Pass continued including big name autos, especially in 1996 when the NBA drafted one of it’s best classes in history (Kobe, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Allen Iverson).

To kick off college basketball season, the first card I’m featuring is my 1995 Classic Rookies Preview card of Damon Stoudamire.

First of all, Damon Stoudamire is my all-time favorite college basketball player.  He had the sweetest shot and was, arguably, the best point guard in Arizona history helping to solidify Arizona’s reputation as Point Guard U.  Take a look at his stats, amazingly 4 years of them, and tell me he doesn’t rank up there with any of the great college point guards.  23 ppg, 7 apg, and 46% from the three point line as a senior?  Good god, he was a man among boys at only 5’10”.

While I have plenty of his college cards, including a few autos, I featured this card because of the outstanding photography and wonderfully simple design.  Classic hit it out of the park in 1995.  They maintained an understated design during the the time that the big guys were relying on die cuts and as much foil as they could put on a card.  Classic understood that cards are a time capsule, especially college cards given that the players are only there for a limited time, and focused on having a classic design and great photography.  This was also the first Stoudamire card that I tracked down, so it always has a special place in my collection.

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