Sunday, July 15, 2018

Congratulations France!

What a fantastic World Cup that was.  I watched almost the entire thing, from the outset of the group stage right through today's thrilling final.  I'm very happy for France and their deserving win, especially since it's my favorite country outside the United States, and one I've visited more than once already.

I've mentioned lately that I've been picking up more soccer cards for my collection than anything else, I guess it's the World Cup impacting my collecting.  One recent pick-up in particular though really had me smiling...

This Kylian Mbappe Green & Orange Wave parallel from the 2018 Prizm World Cup set was potentially the most I've ever spent on a single soccer card at $14.99, but I have a feeling it may prove to be a bargain in the long run.

Mbappe is already tagged as the heir apparent to Ronaldo or Messi, and if you watched much of the tournament that just wrapped up it's easy to see why.  At just 19 years of age he's already been named Young Player of the Year in France's top professional football league for consecutive years, and only minutes ago won a World Cup with the national team!  Not only did Kylian not look out of place among his more experienced peers, he looked like an absolute star.

Mbappe ended the tournament with four goals, including France's last goal in today's final.  In doing so he became the first teenager with multiple goals in a World Cup game, and the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since...

Yup.  Pretty damn cool.

There's obviously a long road ahead of him, and anything can happen over time, but it will certainly be a lot of fun watching this kid's career unfold.  For me, it will be even more fun to witness with this shiny representation of his first historic World Cup firmly entrenched in my soccer collection.

I've actually picked up this card and a couple of other Mbappe cards over the past couple of weeks, hoping to build up a small collection before his prices skyrocket beyond what I'm able to pay.  Just think, he's young enough that we may see him play in another three or even four World Cups for his country!

How about you, did you watch any of this year's World Cup?  Did you pick up any cardboard, or even other collectibles to commemorate it?  If so I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Congratulations again to France!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

One Card Post - Bullpen Cart!

What:  2018 Topps NOW #174 - Arizona Diamondbacks Bullpen Cart
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $5.00 (free shipping)

Why?:  I'm not all that into Topps NOW cards these days, certainly not like I was during the first season where I felt compelled to grab all of the Red Sox.  This is only my second one this year, but I simply could not pass up the chance to add a card of a bullpen cart to my baseball collection.  Just fantastic!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dime Box Dozen - Manny & Nomah

Recently I was the recipient of a very generous bubble mailer stuffed with wonderful cardboard, courtesy of my buddy Nick at Dime Boxes.  In fact, it was so generous that the sheer volume of cards (combined with the volume in another package that arrived around the same time) just crushed my ability to stay caught up.

So, instead of trying to deal with all 100+ cards at once and inevitably delaying this even longer, I decided to feature just the first dozen tonight.  I'll get to the rest soon, in fact I scanned the majority of them last night, but for today here are the first twelve...

Coming out strong with a Hawk from Upper Deck's 1994 "Fun Pack" release.  I always liked these, and even more so the Topps Kids set; a nice change of pace that was truly meant to appeal to kid collectors.

This is an odd one, from the Trading Card History insert Topps had in their flagship release about a decade or so ago.  I honestly don't recognize the set that this one's paying tribute to, although it looks pre-war.  No time to look any further into it tonight!

This package contained many firsts for my collection, including my first 2018 Bowman card in the form of this Andrew Benintendi.  I like it, I guess.  It's about what I'd expect from Bowman.  Andrew's currently in the "final man" voting for the 2018 All-Star Game.  I'd love to see him make it, he certainly deserves it with the numbers he's posted this year and you get the feeling that it would mean a tremendous deal to him.

If I were to take on the insane task of ranking all of the baseball card sets released in the 1990s, I guarantee you that 1994 Topps Stadium Club would be inside the top 20 for the entire decade.  I've always adored this set, largely because it was released when I was at the very impressionable age of 11 and I have fond memories of ripping packs of this back then.

In this mailing Nick included not only the base card of Roger Clemens...

...but also the Golden Rainbow parallel!  I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that these two were among my favorites in the entire package from Nick.  Great stuff.

This "Onyx Extreme" insert is from the 2000 Stadium Club set.  It's not the last Nomar you'll see tonight.  Fine by me.

Here's another one from the turn of the century, a very busy insert from Pacific Aurora.  Nomar is currently tied for 6th place for most cards in my baseball collection (with Nolan Ryan).  Of course, I still have a ton of cards to enter into TCDB before I can say with any certainty who really leads in my collection, but at this stage he's within the top 10 anyway.

Here's another one that was new to me.  This is a mini-sized card from 2003 Topps Opening Day.  I found out it's actually a sticker.  Go figure.

Another Nomar, a nice defensive shot here from Fleer Ultra.

Apparently there were Home and Away versions of these inserts from 2005 Leaf.  Not very hard to discern which one we have here.

Another thing I do not recall having seen before...2007 Topps 1st Edition?  Were these inserts?  Some sort of separate set?  I got back into the hobby in 2007 and I have no memory of these whatsoever.

Another Manny brings us to a dozen cards, so we'll stop here.  I needed every single one of these for my Red Sox collection.  Best of all, I've got a few more posts of equally solid Red Sox material to come from this package.  Thanks Nick!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Checking In

If it seems to you like I haven't been posting here as frequently as I once did, that's because it's true.  My career is in the IT industry, and the job has been particularly busy/stressful/challenging lately, leaving me less time for my hobbies than I once enjoyed.  To compound the problem, when I do get some free time, using a screen and keyboard is about the last thing I feel like doing.

Anyway, I'm still around and I'm still collecting.  I apologize to the folks whose generous trade packages I haven't managed to feature yet (Oscar, Douglas, Nick, Gavin, and probably others), I will get to them soon.  In the meantime, just figured I'd check in.  Here are five random singles I've picked up, just to leave you with some cardboard at least...

Love this beautiful Brooklyn Dodgers card from '57 Topps.  I'll never pass up a '50s Brooklyn card for less than a couple bucks, especially in this kind of shape.  Cards like this one are why I love the '57 set so much, it might have the best background scenery of any set from the decade.  There's a reason I got this one so cheap though...

Pen marks!  My best guess at what happened here is that some kid placed the card face down and used the top edge like a ruler to draw a straight line with a pen on something.  Whatever, doesn't bother me all that much, a perfectly fine placeholder card in a set that I have a few dozen cards from now.

Always on the lookout for these '92-93 Ultra buybacks from Fleer Showcase.  I've got a saved eBay search for them that emails me daily, and when this one popped up recently I snagged it right away.  Not only is it nice to land another HOFer for my small collection of these, but this is also my first Nordiques card from the set.  Love those sweaters with the fleur-de-lis shoulder patches!

Obligatory look at one of the best-designed card backs of all-time!

I mentioned in my last post that I've been picking up a few soccer cards of late, as well as watching a ton of World Cup action.  The Pele card that I featured in that post was nice in that I now have the greatest player of all-time in my soccer collection, but I also wanted to add some more cards of the greatest current players in the world.

I got this extremely bright and shiny Ronaldo for around $4 on eBay, which is actually a very solid price given the following that he has.  This one's definitely in contention for shiniest soccer card in my collection.

The floating heads checklist cards from 1967 Topps are some of my favorite checklists ever produced.  While I've never made an effort to actively seek them out, I was helpless when I stumbled across this Jim Kaat, in really good condition and priced at just 67 cents, during a recent COMC sale.  Paying 67 cents for a 1967 Topps card just felt right I guess.

Here's the last card I have for today, a sweet 1967-68 Topps Red Berenson of the Rangers.  I'm interested in any Topps hockey card from 1972 and earlier that I don't already have, however I don't run across them all that often.  I snagged this one on COMC for a mere $1.50.  How could that be?!?!

Well, this is how.  If I ever have a chance to upgrade this on the cheap I will, but in the meantime this one works for me.  Better than an empty binder page pocket.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoy your Sunday.

I'm going back to doing things like this...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

One Card Post - GOAT

What:  2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Stars Red & Blue Wave - #41 - Pele
Where: eBay
How Much?:  $9.99 (plus shipping)

Why?:  I've officially come down with a case of World Cup fever.  I've really been enjoying the tournament this summer, and have in turn been adding some soccer cards to my collection of late.  I'm a huge fan of the Prizm sets that Panini has released for the last two World Cups running, and have wanted a copy of this Pele "World Cup Stars" card from the 2014 release for some time now.  In particular I wanted a "wave prizm" parallel if at all possible, since I'm a total sucker for these colorful, shiny bits of cardboard.

The cheapest copy of this one on COMC is listed at north of $30, way beyond what I was willing to pay for the card.  Instead, I took a stab at a Buy-It-Now auction for $14.99 or best offer recently, and was pumped when the seller accepted my first offer that was a mere 1/3 of the COMC asking price.  A solid card of the greatest soccer player of all-time, and instantly one of my better soccer cards in my admittedly small collection of the sport!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Signature Sundays - Rolling the Dice with Another Redemption

Last year I did something that I've typically avoided during my time in this hobby, and took a shot on a somewhat expensive redemption card.  I really didn't like the concept of "hoping" that the company in question (Upper Deck in this case) would come through with the promised card, but the redemption was for a card that I wanted badly and would have precious few chances to land so I went for it.

In the end it worked out quite well, as Upper Deck supplied the promised card and this sweet Jagr buyback auto became one of my best additions of 2017.  Since I had a positive outcome last year I decided to roll the dice again here in 2018 with another redemption from this same release.

This particular card is one I wanted as badly or maybe even more so than the Jagr.  In fact, I saved an eBay search for it months before I even knew whether it existed or not.  After a good long wait, and a couple of missed opportunities, I ended up winning the redemption card on eBay.

When it arrived I dutifully scratched and plugged my code in at Upper Deck's website.  I fully expected to see some sort of message that the card would ship soon, as the other examples I'd lost out on were the actual, redeemed card.  You can imagine my surprise when I was greeted with "the athlete has committed to signing soon, thank you for your patience".

Another few weeks passed, and then one day I found a FedEx label stuck to my front door with the signature required box checked.  The sender was The Upper Deck Company; my card was here.  Behold!

Ain't she a beaut'?  I love that Teemu went big and bold with the signature, looks great!

The second I heard that there were '92-93 Ultra buybacks included in the 2016-17 Fleer Showcase release I immediately thought of this card.  I was a rabid 10-year-old hockey player and fan when Selanne burst onto the scene and recorded 76 goals (a rookie record that still stands and may never be broken) and 132 points in 1992-93 with the Jets.  He was right up there with Eric Lindros in terms of guys with tremendous hobby buzz who could potentially take the torch from the Gretzkys and Lemieuxs of the world.  Collectors were crazy for both players, and I spent many hours trying to emulate them at the rink, and with my street hockey stick and net in the back yard.

While Teemu did have a card in the 1991-92 Upper Deck set, he was depicted with team Finland on that one.  Besides, since he didn't debut in the NHL until the '92-93 season I always considered this Ultra card and his '92-93 Upper Deck card to be his true rookies.  I love the post-shot follow through photo on this card, and of course the iconic (for those of us who are children of the '90s anyway) gold foil ROOKIE ribbon affixed to the Ultra logo is the icing on the cake.

'92-93 Ultra is one of those rare sets where the design of the back of the card is so good that I feel compelled to show them every time.  Nice that you get a look at both the home and away Jets sweaters here as well.

The sticker on the back of the card is matched by serial number to the CoA, which as I've said before is nice with a card of this magnitude.

This card seems to be very highly coveted on the secondary market, which is no surprise.  Getting a redemption really paid off here, as I haven't seen any of the live cards fetch below triple digits on eBay, and the last two that surfaced sold for almost exactly twice what I paid for mine.  Admittedly it's a very small sample size, but I couldn't be more pleased with my redemption experience with Upper Deck to date.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is one of my single favorite pickups in the entire 10+ years since I got back into the hobby.  I never thought I'd be fortunate enough to have an autograph of The Finnish Flash at all, but to have the HOFer, 600-goal scorer and Stanley Cup champion's John Hancock on this particular card is just awesome. 

Like the Jagr, I smile every time I look at it.  I always told myself that in the future if my priorities or interests changed and I decided to sell off my collection, I'd keep a small box (a shoebox, of course) with a select few favorites to remember my second run in the hobby.  This card would, without a doubt, have a spot in that box.

Are you old enough to remember Selanne's breakout season in 1992-93?  Can you think of anyone else who has generated that much hype in their rookie campaign since?  Sidney Crosby?  Connor McDavid maybe?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Stiff Competition

Time has been tight lately to say the least; I've been lucky to get even one or two posts a week up here.  A nice rainy Saturday seems like the perfect time to get back on the horse though, and since I haven't made any contributions towards my Buyback Franken-set in over two weeks we'll start there.  Another batch of ten today, hand-picked from an eBay seller.  Let's dig in...

1962 Topps #36 - Don Leppert

Some noticeable surface crease marks on this '62 Don Leppert, but it's still a nice card.  I don't know much about Don, but I do know that 1962 Topps doesn't have a lot of representation within the franken-set binder currently.

This '75 Joe Lovitto already sits in slot 36.  Not exactly a superstar either, but I've always liked the fact that it looks like Joe is swatting at the baseball in the lower right corner that Topps uses to designate position.

I could really flip a coin here, but decided at the end of the day that the Leppert just wasn't compelling enough to unseat Lovitto.

1990 Topps #633 - Dennis Cook

I grabbed this one for obvious reasons, figured I'd fill a hole in the 1990 Topps buyback binder at the very least.  As it turned out though, I was lacking a #633 buyback for the franken-set binder, so Dennis Cook will reside there until I can find another 633 to bump him out.

1991 Topps #157 - John Smoltz

At the end of the day I think I paid around 30 cents per buyback that you see in this post, and at that price I just couldn't pass on a HOFer from one of the more under-rated Topps sets from the junk wax era.  Of course Smoltz will make the franken-set, I'm not going to shun a guy with a plaque in Cooperstown, am I?

Not so fast!  While there's no argument to be had in terms of who had the better career, if we're talking strictly cardboard this Wes Covington blows the Smoltz out of the water!  Maybe not quite on a par with Wes' '61 release (which I've never seen in buyback form to this day), but a very solid card nonetheless.

Yup, I gotta go with the '60s bat rack photo here.

1993 Topps #435 - Willie McGee

Here's another interesting one, featuring the great Willie McGee catching a pop fly.  The Wrigley ivy makes it almost impossible to see the REDISCOVER TOPPS stamp along the right edge, but trust me it's there.  Will Willie fare any better than Smoltz?

Man, another brutal match-up.  I really thought when I picked it up that McGee had a great shot...

...but I just can't boot that Concepcion in favor of Willie.

1990 Topps #339 - Dave Clark

Another 1990, this time Dave Clark showing off a two-bat grip.  Look, I'll be the first to admit that this one is far from the best that '90 Topps has to offer.  My hope here was to slide it into the 1990 Topps buyback binder...

...and that's exactly what happened, since I already had this great Chico Ruiz in slot 339 of the franken-set.

Clark is relegated!

1991 Topps #387 - Julio Franco

Picked this one up because I've always been a Julio Franco fan.  It's hard not to respect a guy who took his final Major League at-bat at the age of 48!  This one was a win/win because, while I'd love to see it make the franken-set, it will still be a solid addition to my small Franco collection absent that.

I was not expecting Julio to run up against the buzz-saw that is HOFer Phil Niekro.  Easy call here with Phil being enshrined in Cooperstown, combined with the fact that I have scant few 1981 Topps buybacks.

Niekro defends his pocket in the binder!

1991 Topps #70 - Ellis Burks

Another '91 here, featuring Red Sox fan favorite Ellis Burks.  Being a number that's a multiple of ten, I figured Burks would meet some stiff competition, but worst case it'll still make for a unique addition to my ever-expanding Red Sox collection.  Well, that's exactly what happened... one of my personal favorite buybacks just happens to be a #70.

Even as an unabashed Red Sox fan, there was no way I could choose Burks over Carter in that match-up.

1999 Topps #105 - Trevor Hoffman

Easy to see why I snagged this one, as Trevor was finally elected to the Hall of Fame this year.  I love the perfectly framed high leg kick here of the closer who was the first to reach both the 500 and 600 save plateaus.  A lock for the franken-set, right? 

Not so fast, Don Mossi and his legendary ears have a thing or two to say about that!  I know the right thing to do is to go with Hoffman here.

But my gut is telling me Mossi.  I ruled against a '62 Topps buyback to begin this post, so I'll rule with the '62 here.  With that being said, this is one I will seriously consider revisiting someday.

1990 Topps #222 - Kurt Stillwell

How about one last '90 Topps buyback for today?  Kurt played in a career-high 144 games in 1990, so there's that I guess.  His father also had a brief MLB career with the Senators in the early 1960s.  Not a very strong contender for the franken-set here.

Easily bested by the buyback that was already in slot 222, this colorful 1969 Duane Josephson.

Off to the dedicated 1990 Topps buyback binder with Kurt.

2011 Topps #218 - Victor Martinez

Last card for today, and one that I was excited to find in buyback form.  Martinez was solid during his brief tenure in Boston, and I've always enjoyed this home run celebration on his 2011 Topps flagship card.  In addition to that, 2011 Topps is probably my favorite flagship set design since I returned to collecting back in 2007.  You don't see them in buyback format all that often, since they're not all that old.

Hat-less Ken Suarez has been holding slot 218 steady for some time now.  But if you know how I feel about cap-less ballplayers then you won't be surprised...

...that I'm ousting him in favor of the Martinez.  This card was part of a completed page, too.

Here's a look at it when Ken Suarez was resident...

...and here it is with V-Mart having supplanted him.  A solid page indeed!

With over 600 different numbers in the binder now it's really getting to be a challenge to find new ones, as is evidenced by today's single new number.  Nevertheless, that was a fun grouping and I added some serious star power to the box where I keep my rejects as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 610/792 (77%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 67/792 (8%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 480
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,157
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