Monday, January 31, 2011

Something a Little Different - Fedorov Topps Slide Negatives

Most of my "hobby money" is spent on cards. While I do enjoy reading about other odds and ends on collecting blogs, it's very infrequently that I purchase anything out of the ordinary myself. Every so often though I look through the ToppsVault eBay store. If you've never checked it out, it's definitely worth a look. I've seen everything from 1/1 cards, to color negatives, to signed Topps contracts up for auction. Many of the nicer items are far outside my price range, and I've never bid on anything until recently. A couple of weeks ago I made a low-ball bid on an item I thought was interesting though, and luckily I was the sole bidder so I won it at the starting price. A few days later a package arrived containing these:

Topps slide negatives of one of my favorite childhood hockey players, Sergei Fedorov! The auction was for 2 "circa-1992" negatives of the Russian star. It seems as though this first one was taken in March of 1993 though based on the markings on the left-hand side. Not surprisingly, the negatives themselves are a bit dark and don't scan too well inside their plastic encasement, but here is a picture from the eBay auction that was created using this first negative:

Pretty cool, huh? Here's the other negative from the auction:

It may be hard to see in the scan, but the red stamping on the right border of the negative indicates that this shot was snapped on November 28, 1992. This would also be supported by the fact that Sergei's wearing the Red Wings red road uniform in the photo, and the Wings were away for a tilt against the Blues in St. Louis that day. I know the game ended in a 2-2 tie (yes, there were ties back then!), but I can't find any detailed info on the game. Anyone know where I could perhaps locate this?

I believe both negatives were shot by the same photographer. Although I'm no handwriting expert, both scribblings of the word Fedorov beneath the negative look extremely similar. The little curl at the top of the capital F is odd and a dead giveaway. Then again, I guess it's not necessarily the photographer that would've written this. Anyway, here's what the second slide looks like blown up:

The negatives themselves are about the size you'd expect, and are affixed to a cardboard backing that's about the standard size of a card. Here's a scan of one side by side with a Fedorov card so you can get an idea of the scale:

On the back of each cardboard backing there is a small hologram with the words Topps Vault and the item number on it. The hologram drowned out the writing when it was scanned but you get the idea:

These were packaged up pretty nicely with the negative on cardboard backing encased in card holder that's about the size of your standard smaller screw-down or magnetic holder. The top where you would open the holder is sealed with a ToppsVault sticker:

Finally, accompanying each card was an envelope containing the Certificate of Authenticity:

Here's a look at the certificate itself:

Nothing too exciting here, but I guess it's nice to have in the unlikely event that someone accuses me of making my own bootleg 1992-93 Sergei Fedorov Topps negatives!

Well, there you have it, something a little different for a change. I thought these were a cool addition to my growing Fedorov collection. For $11.50 I was pretty pleased with the product, the packaging and the overall experience. If the price was right I'd definitely purchase from the ToppsVault again.

Have you ever purchased anything from the ToppsVault? If you're a player collector, what's your favorite non-card item?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New to the Shoebox - 1976 Topps Johnny Bench

Here's another recent addition to the collection:

1976 Topps - #300 - Johnny Bench

There's not much I can add here, the scan says it all. You could make an argument that it's the best Johnny Bench card Topps ever produced, at the very least the best of the 1970's run. The photo is a classic, and I've always been partial to the 1976 set (this is my 51st card).

I like the card for another reason though. I know I've said this a few times before, but one of the reasons I enjoy collecting is that my cards comprise a kind of pictoral and statistical history of the game, neatly packed away in monster boxes in my office closet. This card makes me think of Bench's 1976 season. After a sub-par season by his standards, Bench bounced back with an amazing post-season in '76. It culminated in a World Series where Johnny hit .533 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, capturing World Series MVP honors and leading his Big Red Machine to their second straight title.

The card's in great shape, off-centered top to bottom a bit but for $6 I was more than satisfied. I picked this one up on the same trip as the 1973 Topps Fisk from a couple of posts back. Two iconic 70's cards of Hall-of-Fame legends for about half the price of a blaster. At this rate I may never buy another card at Target again...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From the Dollar Box - Unknown Mattingly

Here's a random card I scrounged out of the dollar box at the local hobby shop a couple of months back:

No, I did not get a 1984 Donruss Mattingly rookie for a buck. This is a 1993 Donruss "Special Commemorative Anniversary Edition" insert card. You can tell because the Yankees "swoosh" on the front of the card is done in silver foil, as opposed to yellow ink on the original card. The back of the card is also slightly different than the original:

The copyright date at top right displays 1993 and there is also a bar across the bottom letting you know that this is a special commemorative anniversary edition card.

Can anyone shed some light on this 10 card insert set? Were these randomly inserted into packs of Donruss' flagship set in 1993? If so, anyone know the odds? I found an eBay auction for card #7 from the set, Wade Boggs, also paying homage to his 1984 card. Were all 10 cards based on the 1984 design or were other years involved? What anniversary would Donruss have been celebrating in 1993 anyway, the 10th anniversary of the 1984 set?

So many questions. One day I would like to obtain the real deal, but until then I'm happy with this insert for a dollar!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New to the Shoebox - 1973 Topps Carlton Fisk

I have a wedding coming up, less than four months away now, so naturally I've been much more frugal lately with card purchases. I am trying to make every dollar count, so as much fun as it is opening random packs, there's not much of that in my near future. I won't be ripping any blasters and putting the cards away in a monster box to collect dust for the next five years until I ultimately trade or give them away. Instead, I'm finding cheap ways to fill in my collection with cards that actually make it significantly better in my eyes. First up, a Red Sox card that I have wanted for some time now:

1973 Topps - #193 - Carlton Fisk

As a Red Sox fan, it's pretty inexcusable that I went without this card in my collection for so long. I know he played significantly more career games with the White Sox than the Red, but he's a legend in Boston. Forget everything else he did in a Red Sox uniform, he's a household name for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series alone.

I know it's not the greatest looking card Topps ever produced. Like many 1973 Topps, the photo is not exactly stellar. I've always liked the design nonetheless, and Carlton's odd facial expression at least gives it some life. The Topps All-Star Rookie cup is a nice plus. This is Fisk's first solo Topps card, as everyone knows he shared his '72 Topps rookie with Mike Garman and Cecil Cooper. Someday I hope to pick that one up as well. Let's look at the back:

Nothing ground-breaking here, I like the cartoon catcher but the cartoon overall isn't anything to write home about. We learn that Pudge was unanimously voted the 1972 AL Rookie of the Year, after leading the Red Sox in round trippers (and setting the club record for a catcher). I'm interested in the "In Military Service" caption that replaces Fisk's would-be stats for the 1967 season. Can someone out there fill me in on this? I found a couple of sites indicating he had a military obligation to fill but didn't dig into it any further.

This card is in absolute mint condition, four sharp corners, no dings or scratches, and good centering. It only set me back a five spot at the local hobby shop, which I happily forked over. I will certainly enjoy it much more than a rack pack from Target!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Buy It Now Success

I still picked up some cards here and there during my absence from blogging, including a stack of cards to get me closer to completing 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee hockey's retro parallel set. This monster 600 card set (800 if you count the update/high number series) is a tough one to complete. Because it mimics one of the greatest hockey card designs of all time, the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee/Topps set, the cards are still in relatively high demand, especially given that they've been around a couple of years now. A decent lot of these will still attract plenty of bidding action on eBay and even no name singles are tough to find under 50 cents or so.

I had an auction saved in my watch list for quite some time that consisted of 150 of them. The seller wanted $99.99 via Buy It Now but the option to make an offer was available. I only needed 37 of the 150 that the seller was offering, so I contacted the seller and offered $17 for the 37 I needed. She agreed and for less than the price of a blaster I picked up close to 40 more cards for my set. Most of them were common no-name players but nonetheless it's nice to get that much closer. Here are a couple of my favorites:

#109 - Paul Stastny - Colorado Avalanche - Peter's son is having another solid year for the Avs. He's just shy of point-per-game pace, with 40 points in 45 games so far. Actually he seems to go at about this pace just about every season. His rookie season in 2006-07 he tallied 78 points in 82 games. The next year, 71 points in 66 games. After limited action in 2008-09 (36 points in 45 games), he scored 79 points in 81 games last year. For his career, he's sitting at 304 points in 319 games.

#123 - Olli Jokinen - Phoenix Coyotes - Olli's now with the Flames. He's a -14 so far this season, which sounds about right given the team's sub-.500 record. In fact the only team below them in the Western Conference standings at this point is the Edmonton Oilers. Ouch!

#397 - Peter Mueller - Phoenix Coyotes - Phoenix's number 1 pick in the 2006 entry draft has had a tough go of it lately. Now a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Mueller is dealing with a concussion and has not suited up so far this season. The good news is he's only 22 so he has plenty of years left ahead of him.

#471 - Cristobal Huet - Chicago Blackhawks - Huet is playing in the Swiss National League A this year rather than the NHL. I included his card because it illustrates one of my gripes with this parallel set. If you're trying to mimic the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee design, and the photo you use depicts the player with a team other than his current one, why would you not use the "NOW WITH..." text on the card as was done with the original set?!?! One of my few gripes, if not only gripe, with these parallels.

#451 - Ondrej Pavelec - Atlanta Thrashers - Pavelec is turning in a great season so far. He's just outside the top 10 in the league in GAA, and is currently 4th in save percentage. If he keeps it up this will easily be the best year of his career so far.

#495 - Ryan Getzlaf - Anaheim Ducks - We finish off with a couple of Anaheim Ducks. Getzlaf suffered a pretty nasty injury back at the end of December when he caught a puck in the forehead that causes several nasal sinus fractures. He is expected back sometime in February.

#258 - Teemu Selanne - Anaheim Ducks - We finish it off with my favorite card of the bunch, the Finnish Flash. This guy just seems ageless. At 40 years of age he's still a top notch scorer. He's got 41 points in 41 games this year, and recently recorded his 1,300th career point! he needs just 26 more points to crack the top 30 of all time, which could conceivably happen this season at the rate he's going.

This latest lot puts me at 430 cards down, 170 to go. It would be a great feeling to get this one finished off someday...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Monster Trade from Reader Daniel - Part 1

I haven't been able to muster up a post in quite some time. Between the holiday season, and quite honestly a lack of interest in cards for a while there, I just didn't have it in me. I'm finally starting to work up the motivation to get going again, and what better place to start than showing off the first part of a monster trade with reader Daniel. Way back at the end of November, I put out the call for help with my 1988-89 Topps hockey set and boy did Daniel answer! He sent what is easily amongst the best trade packages I've received since I started the blog over 3 years ago. The package contained so many cards that I'm going to break it out into half a dozen posts or so.

For the first post, we'll start off with some 1985-86 Topps hockey stickers:

An under-rated scorer, and a name probably not recognized by the casual modern-day hockey fan, Ogrodnick had a monster year with Detroit in 1984-85. He set career highs in goals (55!), assists (50) and points (obviously).

These aren't listed in my Beckett, but if they were I'm guessing Gretzky would have the highest "book value". It's always nice to add a new Gretzky to the collection.

Sticker number 3 in the set is Gretzky's linemate from Edmonton, and one of my favorite 1980's players, Jari Kurri. This card came out during the stretch when Kurri was logging 100-point seasons regularly.

Paul Coffey makes it three straight Oilers. Coffey was the league's most offensive-minded defenseman in the mid-1980's, winning the Norris Trophy in both 1984-85 and 1985-86. He also scored 48 goals in 1985-86, breaking Bobby Orr's record for goals by a defenseman in a season. Not too shabby.

Paul Coffey might've been the league's top defenseman when these cards were released, but Bourque was right on his heels. He would take home Norris trophies in 1986-87, 1987-88, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1993-94.

Pelle Lindbergh's sticker represents just my second or third card of this tragic figure. Pelle received the most votes of any player for the 1986 NHL All-Star game, which occurred just months after his untimely death. It was the first (and still only) time a player was posthumously selected for an NHL All-Star team.

The design for these stickers is nearly identical to the 1985-86 Topps base cards. The upper left corner contains the NHL shield logo, whereas in the base set the logo for the player's team was found here. On these All-Star stickers the logo is always in the upper left, but in the base set the design alternated, sometimes the team logos are upper left, other times upper right. The All-Star banner along the top was obviously absent in the base set as well, but those are really the only differences in design.

Bring back the Jets!

I've gone on at length about Bossy in previous posts so I'll spare you. Arguably the greatest pure goal-scorer in the league's history.

This shot of the always-helmetless Doug Wilson fits nicely within the frame of the card's border.

Finally, we have Tom Barrasso displaying an incredibly old looking set of goalie pads and sporting a Cooper helmet.

The first 12 stickers in the set are these All-Star player stickers. Daniel sent me 11 of the 12, I just need to track down #10, Rod Langway. There are also team stickers, which comprise cards 13-33.

One of my major goals for 2011 is to finish my run of Topps hockey sets from 79-80 - 90-91, and get them all neatly organized in binders. These stickers have been put in place and look pretty nice in Ultra Pro pages I have to say. I'll be posting more of what Daniel sent soon, along with a couple of pack rips!
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