Tag Archives: Topps

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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Cards for Sale

I try not to make my blog too commercial, but I’d feel a bit remiss if I didn’t try to help myself here.

Please check out my eBay auctions.  I recently had a bunch of Mike Trout stuff graded and am now selling a bit of it.  There is also quite a few other items for sale at the moment.

Check it out.

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The Best: The Captain

Baseball began for me in the early nineties.  You can look at my previous post about 1991 Topps Baseball for more on that.  When I began caring about baseball my favorite players were already established, guys like Griffey, Strawberry, Nolan Ryan, and Frank Thomas were established and, for the most part, had already had most of their great moments.  Griffey’s meteoric rise had already happened.  Ryan had already pitched all of his no-hitters, and Strawberry’s glory days were behind him.  These weren’t guys I grew up with, these were guys who defined the game before I was even interested in it.  I still loved watching their highlights and, even more, I loved chasing their cards, but they weren’t “my” guys.

All my favorite baseball players from 1992 in one place.

Around 1995 I started rooting for the Yankees above all else.  I no longer identified Ken Griffey, Jr. as my favorite player because he was not a Yankee.  I was true fan.  This was the influence of my dad.  He was always a Yankee fan and he made sure I became one too.  That season was a defining season for me and it was for the modern Yankees.  Though I watched in despair as the Yankees lost to my former favorite player in the ALDS, I also caught a glimpse of the future in the form of Derek Jeter.  The future captain got called up that season to play 15 games.  He hit .250 and I had no idea what was about to happen.

The next season Jeter became a regular, the Yankees hired Joe Torre, and the Yankees won the first of four championships with a Jeter/Torre combination.  I became all to used to October/November baseball and I got to witness the beginning of a career for one of the all-time greatest Yankees and my favorite player.  Since that time my dad and I have collected all-things Jeter, cards, coins, Starting Lineups, and miscelleaneous memorabilia.  He is one of the modern greats, a player with no ties to steroids (unless you talk to the skeptics and the Yankee haters), who played hard day in and day out and did it with one team.  His exploits don’t need to be recounted here, we all know them (first Yankee with 3000 hits, a .313 career average, five rings, and lots of unforgettable playoff moments).  Jeter is more than a great player for me, he is the one truly great player that I’ve been able to follow for his whole career and he has represented the last 16 years of baseball for me.

I own quite a few Jeter cards, including his Topps, Upper Deck, and Bowman rookie cards.  No matter the product, good, bad, valuable or worthless, I save the Jeters.  I know it’s funner to hear about the guys who collect the underdogs or the kooks, but I’m a Jeter guy, like a lot of other collectors, and there’s not much I can do about it.  We share a name and he’s the best player of the last 16 years (disagree with me if you want, but I think the arguments are pretty strong for him), he plays for my favorite team, and he’s the first guy in 25 years with even a plausible shot of breaking Pete Rose’s record.  I’m a Jeter guy and I’m not ashamed of it.  When he retires I’ll miss his sweet swing, his (unnecessary) jumping throws at short, and his diplomatic approach.  He has his flaws (most definitely a liability at SS for a while, doesn’t walk enough), but he’ll be remembered as a great and he should be.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Jeter card.  All of his rookie cards are solid choices (the Bowman is my favorite, but I’m a Bowman apologist), though the Topps card has always seemed a bit ugly to me (the background is plain stupid).  But if pressed I would have to pick the only Jeter autograph I own.  Let it be known that my Jeter autograph is the only card I’ve spent more than $100 on.  It is the only one I can imagine dropping that much coin on.  Also, let it be known that there is a Jeter autograph that I covet more than the one I own.  My most wanted card (in the world) is this:

1997 Bowman Autograph Derek Jeter. It’s so clean, the photo is perfect and the signature is immaculate. I will possess it someday.

This is the one that I own:

Forgive the dimness of the photo.

A 1997 Bowman’s Best Derek Jeter autograph.  Graded a 9 by BGS.  While I don’t love shiny cards, I love this one.  The autograph is perfect.  The photo is classic Jeter. And it is my most valuable card.  This will be my favorite card until I get the card mentioned above.

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The Show. Or, go to hell Topps.

Card show today.  Card show today.  So excited.

That was the reaction I had to card shows as a kid.  There were regular sports card shows at the El Con Mall in Tucson from my age 8 until I was about 12.  I loved them.  They were big shows by midsize city standards, with about 15-20 tables and plenty of oppotunities to buy packs and singles.  I generally had about $20 to spend at shows as a kid, and most of that was spent on packs.  None of this is particularly interesting to any audience but it sets up two things.  The first is that the communal experience and the build up to shows is what fed my love for sports cards.  It is those memories, primarily, that fuel my collecting to this day.  The second, is that it stands in stark contrast to the lame state of card shows today.

I went to a card show with my dad today.  I’ve always collected with my dad, so we still make it a habit to go to card shows when they are in town.  There are currently semi-regular card shows at the mall that is really far from my house.  These happen about 6 times a year and generally consist of about 6 tables.  Most of the tables are selling lower end autograph and relic singles and one table sells boxes.  No packs to speak of, which is a bummer, because I still love to buy random assortments of packs (which is my usual card shop fare).  I believe me and my dad are the only regular attendees of this semi-regular event and the sellers now lick their chops when they see us.  How else would they unload their Nick Swisher relics and Ian Desmond autographs?

Today saw the arrival of some new sellers.  Excitement ensued.  Then died.  They were selling vintage commons and semi-stars and an unholy amount of “in-person” autographs.  As an aside, I do like vintage cards…theoretically.  There are some fantastic designs (1956 Topps, 1961 Topps for instance) and a lot of history.  But the only cards I really want (Mantle, Clemente, Mays) are out of my price range, so I usually find myself admiring them then moving on.  I turned my attention to the tried and true guys, who I will refer to lovingly as “nice asian guy,” “fatty mcslob,” “long hair,” “nothing less than book,” and “the mogul.”  The mogul runs the show and sells the boxes, he is also and huge pain in the ass, more on that later, and got his nickname because his attitude reminds me of Dave Hester from Storage Wars.

Nice Asian Guy  is always my go-to.  He has a decent assortment of $3 autos and relics and will negotiate on some of his higher-end stuff.  Also, he is nice.  I mention this because some card guys, like comic book guys, can be a little hostile about their hobby, more on that later.  Nice Asian Guy didn’t disappoint, I picked up a 2010 Allen & Ginter Jeff Samardzija Relic (a guy I’m high on because of his apparent skill and his fortunate team association, Cubs fans will spend on their guys) and a 2012 Topps Museum Collection Alexi Ogando autograph (same reasons as Samardzija) for $5 total.  I’ll hold on to these for a while, the hobby upside on both guys is high.  Pops also picked up a Nick Swisher relic from Nice Asian Guy for three bucks. This is the second show in a row that he has purchased a Swisher relic.  I think Chris Olds at Beckett has some competition in the Swisher fandom department.

Fatty McSlob and Long Hair are usually busts and this show was no different.  Their inventory generally consists of late 80’s and early 90’s packs, along with team sets, and miscellaneous brick-a-brack like pennants.  These guys are for the casual collectors, not for seasoned collectors like myself (dismounts horse).   Nothing Less Than Book never sells anything for less than book value.  He has nice stuff, including the Bowman Albert Pujols rookie that I’ve been hunting for a good price.  But I never buy anything from him, because buying stuff for book value is not a good strategy.  At the last show he offered to trade, but I think he might be setting me up for one of those situations, as Mike Birbiglia described, where I end with less cards worth less money than when I started.  There is another dealer who is usually present, but noticeably absent this time, her name is “nerdy lady.”  Nerdy Lady sells cards and also Russian Nesting Dolls.  She usually has some good foot traffic for the dolls, but not for the cards.  Like Nice Asian Guy, Nerdy Lady has a good assortment of $3.00 autos and relics.  Sometime last year I got a Matt Cain auto for $3 from her that I turned around for a nice profit after his perfect game.  Who’s the mogul now?

Speaking of The Mogul, he is usually who gets most of my moneys.  He sells boxes at the show and has a monopoly on that.  He’s usually about $20 higher on the boxes than you can get on-line, but I can usually negotiate down about $15, so his prices end up nearly reasonable.  Notably, today he was selling a box of Topps Mini, see previous post, for $95.  This product is available, currently, on the Topps website for $50 a box.  That is ridiculous markup and I hate seeing people prey on the ignorant.  Shit like that is why people have such a hard time getting into the hobby.  He was also selling Topps Archive boxes for $99, which is almost $30 more than they go on-line, lame.  He sells singles for about half book price, which, to his credit, is fair.

I spent the bulk of my time today at the mogul’s table.  I bought six singles and a box from him.  The singles: 2007 SP Legendary cuts Paul O’Neill jersey card for $3 (I’ve always wanted more O’Neill memorabilia, he was one of my favority Yankees growing up and a woefully under-appreciated by the baseball loving community), two 2009 Bowman World Baseball Classic gold Aroldis Chapman cards for $4 each,  a 2001 Upper Deck Vintage Ichiro rookie card (very nice retro design) for $4, a 2005 Bowman Heritage Adrew McCutchen rookie card for $3, and 2005 Bowman Heritage Mahogany Andrew McCutchen for $3.  McCutchen is a beast, but you already knew that.  Odds that he plays his whole career with the Pirates? 1000:1? 10000:1? A million to one.

Now to the box.  The f***ing box. I decided that I wanted to make my first foray into the world of high-end cards today.  For reference I’ve never spent more than $20 on a single pack of cards.  I noticed that The Mogul had a box of 2011 Topps Tier One for $95.  I felt like this would be the right product to initiate myself into this world of caviar and champagne.  As usual, I refused to pay The Mogul’s full price for the box, knowing full well that it is $20 than on-line price.  So I offer The Mogul’s assitant $100 for my six singles ($21 total) and the box.  The assistant is not permitted to make this deal, appartently.  He finds The Mogul and conveys my offer.  The mogul inspects my six singles, twice, then references his price sheet.  Then a man walks up and asks The Mogul if he has any Peyton Manning cards.  The Mogul puts down my box and singles and begins helping the man find Peyton Manning cards.  Now, in general, Peyton Manning cards, with the exception of autos, are under $10 affairs, so at best the mogul stands to make $10-$20 off the new guy.  I still have a $100 offer on the table.  (Gets back on horse) You’d think he’d prioritize me?  Nope. (Dismounts).  He spends a full five minutes helping this guy sort through the Colts cards.  It’s worth noting that he is not particularly nice to new guy, so this is not one of those situations where he is an ambassador for the hobby, he is actually a bit annoyed to be taking on the task.  I look at the assistant, he looks back uncomfortably.  Finally the assistant clears his throat and reminds The Mogul about me.  The Mogul is annoyed.  This is weird, but reminds me again why “card guys” are not helping to expand the hobby.  We need to band together for civility, or something.  The Mogul looks at my singles two more times, says something to the assistant, who then comes over and says “how about $105.”  To which I respond, “he just made me wait 5 minutes and now he wants five extra dollars?”  Assistant goes back to The Mogul and returns to accept my original offer.  /End Rant.

Excitedly, pops and I return to my house.  I extract the single pack from the double box.  I slowly tear into it.  Mel Ott. Justin Upton. Ozzie Smith. Umm…Adam Lind autograph.  This has to get better.  WTF…Brad Hand autograph.  Who the hell is Brad Hand.  No one knows who Brad Hand is.  Why is his autograph in a high-end product.  Nooooooooooooooooo.  Roberto Alomar relic.  Joe Morgan blue parallel.  Book value of my $80 pack, $35.  Expected realized value, when I try to resell this awful haul that I never want to think about again, $15.  Go to hell Topps.  Adam Lind, I can accept that, he seemed like he might have a nice career at a time.  Robbie Alomar is a hall of famer.  But Brad Hand.  In a high-end product.  Go to hell.  This is not right.  He wasn’t even a true prospect.  The cards themselves are printed on thick stock and have a simple, pleasing design.  The autographs are on-card and the relic is neither big nor small.  I just wish the players on the cards were as nice.  Product Design 4/5.  My Box -1000000/5.

Who?

I’m sticking to mid and low-end stuff.  At least when I get Brad Hand in those packs I didn’t spend $80 on it.  BTW, to all those people who consistently pull 1/1 and Ty Cobb cut autos and all that stuff.  Go to hell.  Just kidding, I’m not a hater.  But please, start telling me where you’re buying your boxes, because it’s certainly not at the Tucson card show.

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Topps CrCl4 (or something like that)

I mentioned in my Topps Mini post that I’m not a fan of the shiny cards.  This remains true, but since I’m now producing a sports card blog I figured I should overlook my personal biases so I can discuss the new stuff.  So without furthe ado, 2012 Topps Chrome baseball.

Chrome adopts the design of the Topps base set, so no need to go into that, and makes it shinier.  If you like the Topps base design or regular things made shinier then this product will suit your fancy.  Personally, I don’t see myself buying more than the two retail packs I picked up but that doesn’t make it a bad product, it’s just not a product for me.  It does have a solid autograph list, including all of this years relevant rookies and Mike Trout.  The rookies are signed on-card, which is always a plus.  There is also an autograph insert set called Chrome Encounters that has a really nice design, too bad neither of my packs yielded one.

Good looking design, bad sticker drop

There is also a limited number of autographed buybacks, featuring players like Robinson Cano and Prince Fielder autographing their Chrome rookie cards. There is also a die-cut insert that is everything I hate in cards, gimmicky, shiny, and takes the emphasis off of the photograph, I will discuss it no further.   As usual there are a plethora of different refractors, which are always popular amogst the completists and the obsessive compulsives (just kidding, I love all collectors and their goals).  In the end 2012 Chrome is exactly what you would expect: it’s shiny, it has a good rookie autograph checklist, and its heavy on paralells.  I’m not buying anymore but I’m not saying that it’s awful, 2.5/5.

My packs yielded a few rookies and a Kevin Youkilis refractor.  I also got a Madison Bumgarner base card, which I mention only only to talk about the fact that Madison Bumgarner is a great pitcher (and is killing it for my fantasy team this season). Given the fact that Bumgarner has to share the spotlight with Cain and Lincecum, I sometimes think that he doesn’t get his due, but he’s sporting a low 3’s ERA, a 1.04 whip, is strikig 8.31 per 9.  He’s an ace on most staffs, even my beloved Yankees.  The advanced stats back up solid play, pegging him at a 3.35 xFIP, meaning that he’s ERA is right about where you’d expect it given his strikeout and walk rate.  He’s also only 23, so gievn the common conception that players tend to get better as they move into their mid to late 20’s, we should be seeing some improvement from the guy.  What I’m trying to say is that I want the Yankees to pull some strings and get Madison Bumgarner soon.  Trade Dellin Betances for him, do something.  Dave Cameron agrees with me, what else can I say.

Check out the Chrome checklist over at Cardboard Connection.

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The Best

Hey everyone, this Ryan Berry.

Ryan’s a dude on baseball card that I bought.  He’s pretty cool, he’s got a head of bushy red hair, a mustache, and sweet glasses.  Ryan is also the first subject in my weekly series of profiles of cards I love.  It’s called “The Best.”

Ryan came to me through the mail.  His fantastic image is contained on a 2011 Topps Heritage Minor League autograph card.  When I saw this picture on eBay, I knew it must be mine.  For the record, this was the one and only card I’ve ever purchased based on the looks of the player on the card.  I would do it again in a second.

Baseball needs more Ryan Berrys.  He isn’t afraid to look like the coolest guy you know.  He’s also not afraid to strike a few guys out according to the back of the card.  He also doesn’t over do it on the signature, much like yours truly.  A simple R.B is all that is necessary.  Ryan Berry doesn’t try too hard.

When I decided to use this card as my first “The Best” subject, I had high hopes that Ryan still looked this cool…or maybe even cooler.  I’m sad to report that he is currently less cool.

I still appreciate the mustache, but he is going to have to step it up if he ever wants to be the coolest looking guy in the majors.  He will also need to advance out of A ball next year.

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Small Things

So…Topps Mini…they are small.  Smaller than regular baseball cards.  Bigger than smaller things, but still small.  I bought four boxes of them, which is too many boxes.  I couldn’t pass up the $50 price point, which is very reasonable considering there is a guaranteed hit.  I was also intrigued when I watched the Beckett Box Busters video and they mentioned that there was a printing plate in every three boxes.  I’ve always wanted a printing plate (so I needed to buy at least three boxes) and, more so, I’ve always wanted to know how a printing plate works (spoiler: I got a printing plate, but it did not help me understand how they work).  It’s also been a while (read two months) since I’ve put a set together so I thought if I bought four boxes (240 cards per box) that I would definitely get a set (given the 661 card count).

Let me begin by saying that I’m not particularly impressed with gimmicks, I much prefer a solid design and nothing too shiny.  This probably explains my affinity for Bowman issues and autographs on base cards.  I just think that chrome, die cuts, and funky backgrounds take away from the essence of a card which, if you didn’t know, is the photograph.  The mini gimmick was appealing to me though because it didn’t mess with the picture.  I also like throwbacks, so this filled the bill.

The cards themselves are just slightly smaller versions of the 2012 Topps base set, so I’m assuming that anyone reading this blog knows what that looks like.  I thought this years Topps design was solid, if uninspired.  The oval nameplate doesn’t scream all-time classic design, but I’m sure we’ll still reminisce about it when it is rereleased in the 2062 Heritage issue.

(reference)

A sort of sub-gimmick, and a refreshing one, is the lack of inserts.  Aside from the hits in each box, the only inserts are the Golden Moments inserts, and the gold and platinum paralells.  The Golden Moments cards are boring little numbers, as they were in the Topps base product.  Golden edge, black background, yawn-a-thon.  The gold paralells are numbered to 61 and inserted every three packs.  That is great odds for such a low print run, which speaks more to the print run of the whole product than anything else but it doesn’t stop them from being a lucrative sell on the secondary market. For example: I recenly sold a Tony Campana gold mini for $10 on eBay.  The gold cards really make the box a good investment, with a little luck you could pay for your $50 box with 6-7 decent golds.  The platinum cards ar numbered to 5 and are tough pulls, I got one in four boxes (it was Felipe Paulino, fucking Felipe Paulino; if there is a Felipe Paulino card to be pulled, rest assured I will pull it).

I know that everyone is here for the hits.  This product is one auto or relic per box, but if my experience is any indication you are much more likely to get the relic.  If you are lucky though one of those boxes will contain two relics like one of mine did (this still pales in comparison to the time my dad opened a mini-box of Finest and had an orange Freddie Freeman autograph stuck to the back of a gold Freddie Freeman autograph which subsequently turned into $160 on eBay, but I digress).  I got four relics and one auto.  Relics: Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, and…wait for it…Rickey Romero x2.  Yes, two Rickey Romero relics, both gray, and both a bummer.  Rickey Romero and Felipe Paulino I loathe you.  I have a legitimate gripe with non-star relics and autos, do card companies not realize that there is nothing worse than getting all excited for your hit and it’s Rickey Romero?  Please, please, just relics of stars and rookies, that’s all we want.  Stars and rookies or none at all, because getting Rickey Romero as your relic is like losing on 20 in blackjack, straight deflated.  I’m willing to pay upwards of $10 extra if I know that my hits will be rookies or stars.  Auto: Chad Billingsley.  Better than Rickey Romero, slightly, if for no other reason than I also hear the phrase “BUZZZZSAW” in my head when I see him due to the Fantasy Focus podcast (good podcast, btw).  Autos are sticker drops, so unless it is a Yankee it’s straight to eBay.  No stickers for this guy.  Though I did appreciate the design of the auto cards, its a throwback style with the team name at the Topp and multi-color borders.  It seems to me to be an  homage to the 1975 minis.

Then there is the printing plate.  I got one in my four boxes.  It was a magenta Carlos Corporan.  He is a person I’ve heard of, that is the most I can say.  The printing plate is flat and metal.  It had some ink on it.  I still cannot tell how it works and I am apparently too lazy to look it up on Wikipedia.  Some things will remain a mystery.

Finally, and disappointingly, I did not make a set.  Not even close.  Got like maybe 75%, if that.  However, I did get the base set chase card…Bryce Harper.  One Bryce Harper in four boxes, so chase is truly apt.  Since I’m not a fan of the kid, or even all that high on his future, I put it up for auction.  The $22.50 I got help offset some of the $200 I dropped.

Overall I like the minis.  They are a fun, affordable product and the simplicity of them is refreshing.  The highlights: the throwback design on the autos and relics and the low print run.  The drawbacks: tough for set collectors to complete as they would probably need to buy five boxes, minimum, and the sticker autos.  3.5/5.

Got some of these for sale, check it: http://www.ebay.com/sch/d_rock999/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p3686

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