Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Heritage Mars Attacks

Back in 1962 Topps released a strange, 55-card non-sport set called Mars Attacks.  The set has become somewhat of a cult classic, and is an all-time favorite of many non-sport collectors.  As a result, the cards from that original set still demand a premium in the online marketplace.  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the set's release, Topps recently put out a Heritage Mars Attacks set:

The base set is a reprint of the original 55-card set, and the cards come on the standard Heritage cardstock that we've all become accustomed to from the baseball sets.  Of course, there are also a handful of new insert sets available in the 2012 Heritage release, as well as artist sketch cards, etc.  I've always been a fan of these, so I was excited to check out the Heritage version.  There are a few somewhat violent cards to be found, but overall it's a fun concept.  The artwork is very vibrant, colorful, and bizarre.  These reprints now make it affordable to see what an entire set looks like together.  I picked up a base set on eBay, let's see some highlights from the best $10 I've spent on cards in quite some time...

The storyline is pretty straight-forward.  The Martians learn that their planet's days are numbered and they need a new place to call home, so they decide to come on down to Earth to whoop our asses, with a whole bunch of tricks up their sleeves.

Even the backs are true to the originals, with the only difference being the copyright line towards the bottom.  I applaud Topps for not changing anything here.

Here we see the Martians approaching Earth.  The first wave of the attack is your standard flying saucer fare.

As you'll see over the next few cards, things did not start well for Earth.  They caught us off guard I guess, what can I say.

For some reason the Martians decided that they were going to pursue major landmarks first and foremost.  Sure, they could have done something like drop a gigantic bomb, or poison our water supply, but they decided that the Golden Gate Bridge was a more critical target.

Not wanting to ignore the East Coast, they also hit up Times Square...

...and some skyscrapers.

This is possibly my favorite card from the set.  These guys know how to conquer a planet in style.  You don't roll up your sleeves and do the down-and-dirty flying saucer work.  No, you leave that for someone else.  What you want to do is just have it up on the big screen, and host a viewing party, complete with cocktails.

It seems the Martians, in addition to looking for a new home, are also quite interested in our women.  Our slender, blonde women that is.


The Martians have a variety of "rays" with different effects, one that frosts...

...and one that shrinks.  At this point, things were looking pretty grim for Earth's population.  We'd been blown up, frosted, shrunken, and they'd taken our beautiful blonde women.  Could it get any worse?

Yes!  The rabbit the Martians pulled out of their hat next was the ability to enlarge insects to 500 times their normal size (random?).

To make matters worse, the insects also developed a penchant for our blonde women!

In one final surprise, the Martians also launched an attack using gigantic robots with huge metal claws and rotating laser-heads.

Another great example of the colorful artwork.

Probably the most disturbing card in the set, card #36 features a Martian destroying a young boy's pet dog right in front of him as he cries out in horror.  The again, I omitted showing cards such as "The Human Torch", "Burning Flesh", and "Burning Cattle" so I guess there are some others in the running.

Here's where our front line met the front line of the giant insects, Braveheart-style.

One of the more interesting cards in the set.  The Eiffel Tower being destroyed by a gigantic caterpillar.  I guess this one doubles and also fits into my small Eiffel Tower collection.

Finally, around 45 cards in, Earth decides that it's had enough, and we send some soldiers up to Mars to fight back.

How could we breathe on Mars you might ask?  Bubble helmets, obviously.  And yes, we could have gone to Mars at any time yet we had no idea there was a Martian society living there prior to being attacked.

This guy's got a good cut.  The Red Sox could use a guy who can swing like that in their lineup right now.

Little known fact; the giant robots on Mars are designed exactly like the toy robots that children received as presents in the '50s and '60s.

In the end, the explosion that the Martians were concerned about, which was the catalyst behind the attack on Earth, occurs.  The planet Mars becomes millions of tiny asteroids.  The End.

The final card has a summary on the front and a checklist on the back.  So, that's a wrap.  This is an enjoyable and unique look back at an off-the-beaten-path Topps release from the past.  I would definitely recommend picking up a pack or two if you're looking for something a bit different...

Monday, July 23, 2012

What I Bought Instead of Allen & Ginter - Allen & Ginter?

Yeah, I spent some of my Allen & Ginter hobby box money on actual Allen & Ginter.  After all, this yearly project is not about bashing the Allen & Ginter set.  In fact, I kind of like the cards.  It's more about proving to myself on a yearly basis that a hobby box is just not a good use of funds given my collecting tastes.  So, for just $10 shipped I opted for a Red Sox team set instead:

#10 - Dustin Pedroia

It's been an awful year for the Sox so far.  They've been bitten by the injury bug worse than any other team in baseball, and the second baseman has not been exempt from it.  Pedroia's missed 18 games this year, mostly due to a couple of thumb injuries.  When he has been on the field he's been having a down year as well.  He's currently hitting .265, which would be his worst average in any full season with the club.  The power numbers are down also, with just 6 HR and 33 RBI in 78 games.

#18 - Kevin Youkilis

We all know what happened here, another symbol of Boston's struggles over the past year or so Kevin is now with the Chicago White Sox.

#35 - David Ortiz

Here's one of the few Red Sox players that was actually enjoying a fine season...unfortunately he's now on the DL as well.

#46 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Another bright spot, Salty's 18 HR are tops in all of baseball from the catcher's position.

#50 - Clay Buchholz

Buchholz has been decent.  He's 8-3, however that number is a bit deceptive given his 5.19 ERA.  At least he's been able to stay relatively healthy, already making two starts more than he did all of last season.

#118 - Carl Yastrzemski

The lone Red Sox retired star in the set is Yaz.  He's appeared in A & G once prior, in the inaugural 2006 set.

#136 - Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury missed a solid 3-month stretch after being injured on Opening Day.  He's been solid since returning to the lineup a little over a week ago, and just hit his first HR of the season yesterday in a horrendous loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

#146 - Josh Beckett

After a very good 2011 season (other than that little collapse there at the end), Josh is having a rough go of it in 2012.  I think the Red Sox would gladly ship him out of town if they could, but I doubt anyone would be willing to pick up his contract given how he's been hurling the ball lately.

#241 - Andrew Bailey

The Sox dealt outfielder Josh Reddick to Oakland for Bailey.  Andrew was hurt during Spring Training and has yet to throw a single pitch in a Red Sox uniform.  Reddick meanwhile has really blossomed after finally getting a full time spot in Oakland.  He's crushed 21 HR already in 2012.  Seems like the A's got the better of that deal.

#316 - Adrian Gonzalez (SP)

There are three Red Sox short prints in the set, the first being Gonzalez.  The big story with him was his lack of power through the first half of the 2012 season, however he seems to be coming around now with 3 HR in his last 7 games.  Besides, even when he wasn't crushing the ball early in the season he was still driving in runs, so he's currently sitting at a very respectable 58 RBI.  Sure, we're not going to see mammoth season totals like last year's .338 / 27HR / 117RBI but this guy can flat out rake the ball, and is going to be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.

#327 - Jon Lester (SP)

Jon has had the most painful season of any Red Sox player.  He seems to have totally lost all skill and confidence right before the fans' eyes.  Just yesterday he allowed a career high 11 runs on 4 HR to the visiting Blue Jays.  It seemed like every pitch he threw was crushed not just out of the field of play, but out of the entire ballpark.  It's been sad to watch, I hope he can turn it around soon here but I'm not sure that he can.

#331 - Carl Crawford (SP)

We finish things off with what has so far been one of the worst contracts ever handed out by the team.  The Sox made a huge splash in the 2010 off-season bringing in both Crawford and Gonzalez for the 2011 campaign.  While Gonzalez has lived up to the hype though, Crawford has had a tough time.  In 130 games last year Carl hit just .255, a career low.  After missing the entire first half of the 2012 season, Crawford has made an impact in the 6 games he's played since returning to the team.  You have to wonder how long he can stay healthy for.  There have been trade rumors surrounding him for a couple of weeks now, we'll see if anything pans out.

Total:  $7.50
Shipping:  $2.50
Total:  $73.19

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What I Bought Instead of Allen & Ginter - Shiny New Cards

Here are some shiny new Red Sox cards that arrived yesterday courtesy of some of my Allen & Ginter hobby box money.  The first eight cards all came from the same seller, $1.25 each with free shipping for a total of $10.

Two 2011 Topps Update Diamond Anniversary cards of Adrian Gonzalez.

He's actually got three cards in the 2011 Update set, so I've still got one more to track down to complete the tri-fecta.

I'm forever behind when it comes to the new stuff, so these are actually the very first Cognac Diamond Anniversary parallels I've seen in person.

I have to say, they really look great.  I'll be searching out the rest of the Red Sox if I can find them at a decent price.

Unlike most new, shiny cards these actually scan fairly well.

I picked up one Gold parallel, #'d / 2011.  This is the third Gonzalez card from the Update set that I mentioned above.

Finally, we have two more Cognac parallels, both of these from the Update set.  Aceves has been one of the bright spots on a Sox team that's been tough to watch at times this year, and I don't have nearly enough of his cards.  In fact, this is only my second Aceves card, and the first depicts him on the Yankees.  Ugh!

Here's another new Red Sox card from a different seller.  This one's from the 2012 Archives '58 Combos insert set.  It's definitely sort of an odd one, just weird seeing Yaz and Ellsbury photoshopped onto the same card.  These inserts are actually a pretty tough pull though, so I was happy to snag it for $3.38 plus $2.40 shipping and handling.  That sale price is a little less than half of what the insert I sold from this set went for, I guess Archives is old news already.

To finish things off, here's maybe my favorite card from the batch.  This one came from the same seller as the eight cards I led off the post with.  I may have overpaid slightly at $3, but shipping was free and as a child of the '80s I can't pass up a new card featuring Darryl as a Met.

Total:  $16.38
Shipping:  $2.40
Running Total:  $63.19

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I Bought Instead of Allen & Ginter - Something Modern, Something Vintage

A couple of more items that I used my Allen & Ginter money for have arrived in the mail.  First something modern...

My third (and likely final) 2012 Topps Archives auto, Luis Tiant of the Boston Red Sox.  This is my first Tiant auto, and given that he is one of Boston's most memorable players from the '70s, it's a welcome addition to my Red Sox autograph collection.  I was happy to win this one at $9.95 plus $2 shipping.

I now have Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Will Clark, and Tiant autos from this set, which were really the only three I had an interest in.  Putting these autos to bed is a good feeling, I'll never search eBay for this set again. 

The second card I added to the collection is of the vintage variety:

This card fills a longstanding hole in my collection; a vintage Drysdale.  The closest thing I had prior to this was a 1966 Topps Pitching Leaders card that features both Koufax and Drysdale.  Acquiring individual Koufax and Drysdale cards is something that's been on my long term collecting goal list, and now I can cross Drysdale off.  Still need a Koufax though...

I was happy to add this particular card as well, since I've been on a bit of a '64 Topps kick lately.  I've lost out on auctions for three of these in the past, but this time the price was right at $21.51 plus a reasonable $1.95 shipping fee.  I'll take this card over a blaster any day, for roughly the same cost.  Here are the totals so far, just three cards in and I'm already nearly halfway through my budget:

Total:  $31.46
Shipping:  $3.95
Running Total:  $44.41
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