Monday, October 24, 2016

Box Break Review: 2016-17 Hoops

The NBA season is here! So let's take a look at the box of Hoops I received as a birthday present on the 18th.

Every year the Hoops set is my favorite of the year, and this year is going to be hard to top. The folks at Panini have stepped up the photography chosen for cards in the past several years and the trend continues.

Shots like this are common:
 I really like the behind the glass shots, but they have other great action shots, too.
Some of the players who changed teams- and there were a LOT of them- got studio photos in their new uniforms, while some did not, and have a photo from last season with "traded to/Signed by" the new team and the date on the card front. That is much better then a photoshopped uniform in my opinion.
 The majority of the rookies- there are 40 included in the set- have photos from the Rookie Photo Shoot in their new uniforms.
If Kris Dunn wins rookie of the year- a definite possibility- he would be the third consecutive Timberwolves player to win the award, which would be the first time in NBA history.

I really love the design of the set this year...I usually do but this one is better than the last two...and really loved last year's set- it was the first Panini era Hoops set I actually completed.

The one problem- and I know, this is a broken record by now- but the set is too small. As the flagship set of the NBA, 300 cards is simply not enough to cover a 450 man league. Because the set was issued so early, there are some players included with teams they no longer play for- in fact, there has already been a trade made this season after the set came out, but half of it won't matter, because Panini did not bother to give one of the two players a card. (Tony Snell) Jarrett Jack, former Net, signed with the Hawks during the off-season but was cut two days ago- he now has a card with a team he will probably never play with. It happens sometimes.

There are players now in their 5th season in the League who still do not have a SINGLE CARD. That is inexcusable and my only real problem with Panini's issues.

There were 6 veteran players who did not yet appear in my collection, and I got 5 of them.
Mejri, Huertas, Marjanovic and Felicio were all rookies in 2015-16 and all got cards, but I was not lucky enough to get any of them. The Mejri allows me to finally launch a series I have had in my plans for a while. Seth Curry is entering his 4th year in the NBA, and he did get some cards in 2015-16, I just was unable to get any of them. The missing 6th player is Cole Aldrich, who got his first cards in 2010-11, but despite being in the NBA the entire time since then, had not gotten cards since 2011-12, he did have one card- with two parallels- in Complete last year but I didn't get any of them yet.

One thing that should really be visible now is that each team has a color-coded scheme to each team.  I really like it- it's not overbearing, it's very well done, and the colors pop. Last year's set was also color coded but I think I like this year's better- the wood paneling just looks so good it's hard to vote against it.

Card backs, to be honest, are kind of a waste.
No color, minimal stats and no player gets more than 5 years. At least they finally switched out which round a player was drafted in to what year. With only two rounds, listing them on the backs of NBA cards was pretty pointless. It's not like baseball or football with multiple days of rounds of drafts...or even the NBA, which had 6 rounds back in the day.

Now, let's move on to the parallels. I really, really love the parallels in this set. I'm one of those rare collectors who actually truly loves parallels, and as I mentioned in the post I put up on the day Mom gave me the box, my favorite card in the box was the green parallel of Kristaps Porzingis I posted there.  Now I will post the other Green I pulled.
The Greens this year are SN149, and I love them. Green has been my favorite color my whole life, the walls in my room are painted bright green, I'm wearing a green shirt as I type this. The cards are really spectacular in person- it's not really captured how great they are in this scan. Although they went from being a non-serially numbered set to being SN this year, they actually got slightly more common- last year they were one per box, this year I got two. The Gold design returned but this year is SN10, much, much rarer. I did not get any.

The Red Backs return...unfortunately. There is really no point to these. I said the same thing last year. When I was opening my box, I thought at first I got a duplicate- until I turned it over. They could have at least used red foil for the Hoops logo (the only foil on veterans, the Rookies have the Rookie logo in foil as well).
At least I pulled one of my 5 favorite players in the League.

Silvers continue to be SN to 99, and I actually pulled three of them this year- the most I've ever pulled in a single year.
Not only that, you can actually tell that the borders are not white in scans this year! I'm not sure if that's because the cards have changed, or if it's because I used a different scanner than I did last year.

There are a lot more parallels that are retail only- each retail packaging version (blaster, hanger pack, gravity feed) has two exclusive colors. Teal and Orange join the Hoops family this year...I have not seen even a scan of either of them yet, although I have not really looked, either. (My local Target has not put them out yet)

Now, the inserts. I'm not really an insert guy. I prefer base cards, then parallels of base cards, then inserts. But they are nice this year, thanks to being largely holofoil. I got several different inserts and I will show each below.
Most insert sets are 20 cards, some are more and some are less. Many of them are 'heritage" sets, in that they are inserts that continue from year to year, instead of a brand new concept every year. I prefer this kind of insert.
 Action Shots has a lot of foil. Rare to see a shot of the back of a jersey on cards. Note the new Kings logo.
 Bird's Eye View is a fun set, which is mostly if not all shots from behind the glass. It's also all holofoil except for the player name and team. This is Rudy Gay.
 High Flyers has a great 1950s diner theme. The white spots are part of the card.
 High Flyers Artist Proof features gold foil as compared to the base silver, and is SN25. I got the penultimate number.
 Highlights is a favorite insert of mine- each is game-dated to show something important that happened during the season. They aren't chronological, as this is card #3 of a 20 card set and highlights the last game of the season. (which I watched live on ESPN!)
 Hot Signatures returns and they are pretty cool looking this year. The sticker does not allow guys with longer names like Motiejunas to sign their whole name...although I'm sure they sign so much they wouldn't anyway!
 Kobe NBA2K17 is cards #11-20, while #1-10 are inserted into the video game of the same name. You get three of these per box and in theory it wouldn't be hard to complete the Hoops portion of the set. Some of the cards show actual photos.
 One on One returns and highlights some popular matchups. This was, unfortunately, the only Karl-Anthony Towns card in the box. Towns has supplanted Anthony Davis here as "The Next Big Thing" and watching T-Wolves games, it's easy to understand why. The term "gifted" does not adequately describe how good he already is- and he's only going to get better. Davis has battled injury and has very little in the way of supporting cast so his skills are kind of being overlooked, but his potential is also very great.
 Picture Perfect...meh. We live in the 21st century, black and white photography should be a thing of the past.
 This year, the Rookies are not included in the main Hot Signatures set, but are instead in their own Rookie Hot Signatures set. I happened to pull a Red Hot version, quite obviously numbered to 25. This is the second time in three years that I have pulled a Red Hot signature of a rookie, having pulled Joel Embiid in 2014-15, and may very well be Rookie of the Year this year, after missing two full years with foot injuries. The bars across the bottom, the team name and Ellenson's name are all in red foil. Ellenson now takes an early (tied) lead for most cards of a player who joined the NBA in 2016-17, with 2. (Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Kay Felder also had two cards in the box)
 Road to the Finals, while serially numbered, is actually the most common insert. It is the third year this insert has been in Hoops, and I absolutely love the concept. Every single game of the Playoffs gets a card, with each round decreasing in number of copies produced. Round one had 2016 cards, round 2 had 999, the next round had 499, the conference finals 199 and the NBA Finals had 99. At 86 cards completing the set would be tough, but I love it all the same.  I got 5 in my box. If I were running Panini, there would be a set where EVERY single game of the season got at least one card.
 Spark Plugs returns for the first time since 2013-14 now adding holofoil. It returns to the horizontal format last used in 2012-13. All years of the set have had an orange theme.
Team Leaders is in it's second season, and is all holofoil. I got two in my box. Unfortunately each team only gets one card, instead of cards for each category's leader per team.

Like the parallels, there are plenty of retail-exclusive inserts, none of which appear in my collection yet.

In total, I got 288 new cards, 259 of them being base cards, with 8 parallels and 21 inserts, which include the two autographs. The base set is 300 cards, and I will be attempting to complete it via retail purchases (also hoping to get some retail parallels in the process). For the third year in a row I did not get a single duplicate.

Here is my Box Break Review of 2015-16 Hoops, the first set to have me post a Box Break Review in multiple years since I started Cardboard History.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

WNBA 20th Anniversary

Later tonight the WNBA will crown it's champion for the 20th anniversary season. I never got into the WNBA for what may be a stupid reason (more below) and I never really collected WNBA cards, but I felt it was important enough to make a post about- what is, to my knowledge, the first solely WNBA card blog post ever.

I remember when the WNBA was announced. It was nothing short of revolutionary. While professional sports leagues for women was not a wholly new concept, one with the major backing this received was unheard of. The WNBA has had a constant TV presence from day 1, cards on a regular basis, media coverage, etc. It was instantly seen as a legitimate sports league. And it was successful. It still is.

But I've only ever watched two games of it, despite my love for basketball can I put this without seeming creepy...fondness for the female form.

The whole concept lost me when they announced the team names. Instead of being their own, separate things, with their own identity, they were mostly all knockoffs of NBA team names. At least that's what I felt like it was when I was 13 and the league was forming up. It's a notion that I can't seem to shake even though I later found out almost if not every team is owned and operated by the NBA teams that I felt they were knocking off. Once the credibility was lost, it never could get it back...and every time I hear one of the "knockoff" names it grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I know it's me, and it's probably a rather stupid reason not to watch...but that's what it is.  I know I'm doing a disservice to myself, as seeing the same players in the Olympics is fun to watch- they really put on a great show- and I KNOW I'm doing a disservice to the athletes by not giving them the time of day. I can't change who I am, though, and now this far into it, I'm almost afraid to start watching because....I'm afraid I'll like it and regret the missed opportunities of watching and collecting all these years. Gotta admit, actually typing it out makes it sound really rather stupid, to be honest.

It's success has led to other successes as well...there's now a Women's Professional Hockey League, which debuted in the 2015-16 season, and there is a women's professional soccer league, though I don't know the name of it as soccer really doesn't hold my interest. Could either of these leagues have come into being without the WNBA's success? Probably...but I'm sure it didn't hurt to have the WNBA pave the way and show that women's professional sports can succeed and be popular.

The WNBA has been getting cards since day one, although I have only a handful of the sets in my collection- every single one of them arrived in my collection via the mixed boxes I prefer to build my collection with. Rittenhouse Archives has had the WNBA license for several years but I don't have a single card of any of their issues in my collection. Rittenhouse generally does non-sports cards but have ventured into sports with the WNBA, and they also had the Indycar license for several years- none of those appear in my collection (yet) either, though one day they will.

These are the WNBA sets in my collection:
1998 Pinnacle: I believe this was the first WNBA set. It was the only professional basketball set Pinnacle produced under it's own aegis, the brand made one appearance in the NBA under the Panini ownership in 2013-14. This design is totally unique- every other WNBA set in my collection uses the same basic design as the NBA set of the same name/year. I have 7 of the cards in my collection.
1999 Ultra uses the NBA's 1998-99 design. (I believe all Ultra issues across sports used the same design- ironically, something I actually like. Go figure!) This is the largest represented WNBA set in my collection, with 20 base, 3 parallel and 2 inserts in my collection.

1999 Hoops uses the NBA's 1998-99 Hoops design. It's not a favorite design of mine, but it gets the job done. This is my only card from the set, and was the first WNBA card I scanned, in 2010. I have misplaced the actual card and it's the only one I don't have in my small WNBA snaplock case.
2000 Ultra uses the front of the 1999-00 Ultra NBA set, but the back is unique. Design wise this is my favorite of the three Ultra WNBA sets in my collection, but this is the only card I have from the set. The real card has holofoil, but my second scanner put pinkish purple lines across holofoils...which shortly led to scanner #3.
2002 Fleer Authentix utilized the 2001-02 Authentix design from the NBA, a design which I thought was great when it was new...not so much now. My scanner #2 really didn't like these, so some day I will rescan them with scanner #4, which I got earlier in 2016. For now, they have a scan, so I am concentrating on cards that have yet to have any scan, even a poor one, made. The real card does not have the crosshatching you see but bright solid colors. I have 8 of these cards in my collection. I picked the best scan, but you can see the problem if you blow up the image, especially in her shadow.
 2002 Ultra is the most recent WNBA set in my collection, and the second largest with 13 base and 2 parallel cards in my collection. It uses the 2001-02 Ultra design from the NBA, which is not my favorite Ultra design by any may recall that Ultra is/was my favorite card brand.
Scanner #3 didn't like them, either.

I could swear I had a card or two that utilized the 2000-01 Ultra NBA design, but they don't appear in my files or on my website so it's possible they are missing somewhere, waiting to appear in a Lost & Found post.

Although my WNBA collection ends in 2002, some of the newer players DO appear in my collection. Topps has produced two Olympic sets, for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and both of them included WNBA players, even if their jerseys were "photoshopped" to be totally blank.

WNBA players also appear fairly regularly in the Sports Illustrated For Kids cards, which I have been getting again since mid-2015. They appear in their actual uniforms in these cards as well, a big plus.
I keep count in a very compartmentalized fashion, and the above three cards count not as part of WNBA collection but as my Olympic and Multi-Sport collections, respectively. (I'm still working on an overall count, but it's coming)

And finally, one can't write an overview of WNBA cards without including this final set. It's not a WNBA set, but it IS made of up future WNBA players and in fact was the first set to include WNBA players and no one from any other league or sport. It's the 1996 Topps USA Women's Basketball Team, which I purchased two packs of when the set was new.
The Olympic Women's Basketball team also appears in 1994 Flair USA, 1994 Upper Deck USA, 1996 Upper Deck USA and 1999-00 Stadium Club, the latter an otherwise all-NBA set.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Birthday Cards 2016

Today was my 32nd birthday, and it was a good one! I got a record number of birthday wishes on Facebook, and the night's not over.

I launched my new Nets-specific blog, Nothing But Nets. I have mentioned before that the Nets are my favorite team, now I have a blog to highlight them in detail. I will be doing the usual team blog stuff like All-Time roster, etc.
Here is the logo I made.  I think it's the first NBA team specific blog, I have seen some guys who favor one team but cover other stuff as well, but this will be solely dedicated to the Nets.

Later, my mom gave me a box of 2016-17 Hoops! This is the third year in a row she has given me the Hoops box for my birthday, and I am thrilled by that. However, I believe it is the first year ever that I got my first cards of the season on my actual birthday. Usually the set doesn't come out for a few days and I have to wait for it, but this year they got it out in time.

I will do a full Box Break Review shortly but here are a couple of scans to post tonight just so I can get something posted on my actual birthday- then back to editing scans!
First card of the season
First Rookie of the season
Favorite card in the box! The Green parallels are always great, and then to pull Porzingis was even better. I also pulled a Tyler Johnson from the same parallel which looks just as good, but...Porzingis, man! This year the Green parallel is SN149, so they are not common cards.

I have lots more to show from the set, when I do my Box Break Review, in a day or two, including autographs and cards numbered to 25. I need to get a lot of scanning done before I'm ready for that- they upped the amount of cards you get in a box to 288 and I've done a grand total of 27 of them, so I have a lot of scanning ahead of me- I just wanted to get this posted on my actual birthday!

Thanks Ma!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Do you know the way from San Jose? These cards did!

Because they came to me from San Jose Fuji, proprietor of the blog The Chronicles of Fuji. I won a contest he ran recently, and once I finally checked my post office box, it did not disappoint. In fact, in it he picked out a card for me that did something that hasn't happened since 2004!

There were so many great cards I literally cannot choose a favorite. But I'm going to show you some of them!

First is a card of Mr. Fuji himself. He becomes the first blogger to have a card in my collection (8996th person overall)
This is also the first time the 2015 Topps design makes an appearance in my collection. I really liked that design.

My gut reaction is this card as my favorite. Dikembe has always been a favorite player of mine, and this is my first autograph of his!
Panini even chose an image of him wearing my favorite Hawks jersey, to boot! It doesn't get much better than that!

From the same set, comes a very interesting card.
I'll be honest...I can't stand Larry Brown. He's one of my all-time least favorite people in the world of the NBA. However...I really wanted this card. Why, you may ask? Because of the team! The Washington Capitols were an ABA team, but, like most of the early ABA teams, they did not last. They were gone* by time the ABA started getting cards in 1971-72, and there was not a single card of the team issued until Panini included Brown in some sets in the last couple years. This becomes the first time since 2004 I added a new team to my collection, and that was only because the NBA had a single-team expansion that season. I really have no idea when the last time before that was. I understand Larry Brown is the only coach to have won ABA, NBA and NCAA championships...but, he takes pride in NOT playing young players, in fact in multiple occasions ruining their careers, and that just doesn't sit well with me. He's also mean spirited and vengeful. Not my kind of person. Still, I really wanted this card because I wanted to add this mostly forgotten ABA team to my collection, but I didn't want to spend any money on a Larry Brown card. Now, thanks to Fuji, I don't have to! Also, I have no idea how he keeps the color coding thing he does going, this is the extent of my tribute to his style, LOL

*= The Washington Capitols began as the Oakland Oaks in 1967-68, an original ABA franchise.  They were the Washington Capitols only in 1969-70, then became the Virginia Squires in 1970-71. They lasted until the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 but folded then, after the 1975-76 season ended. They have many cards as the Squires, which I do have represented in my collection. I suppose the argument could be made that the last time I added a new team was 2014 when the Bobcats became Hornets version 2, but since I didn't know they became the Squires until I looked it up for this post, I think I'll continue to think of it as a new team- after all, it's my first card that says Washington Capitols, and I have no other ABA cards that say either, whereas when the Bobcats became Hornets v2 they kept the name Charlotte, when Hornets v1 became Pelicans they kept New Orleans in the title, etc.

This is my first card from the first year of the Sports Illustrated for Kids series! I collected SI for Kids from 1996-2000, and then began again in 2015. They are on the 5th series, renumbering every so often. Series 1 ran from 1989-91 and I have cards from other years of series 1, but not the first year...until now! Even better, this is only the second racing card issued in the SI for Kids series! Mario Andretti had an issue earlier in 1989. I remember seeing her in the Indy 500, later in the 1990s. She competed in the Indycar series (and it's whole, convoluted system) from 1992-2000 but I probably only became aware of her in 1995, which is when I started watching the Indy 500 on a semi-regular basis. (I look forward to it each year now, but back then if it wasn't NASCAR or CORR I wasn't interested..until circa 1995 when I started watching anything I could find on TV) Also here was a Denny Hamlin card from the 5th series, from 2014, that I at first thought was a duplicate but then realized was in fact new, and just used a similar photo from a different Hamlin card in SI for Kids.
That wasn't it for NASCAR though...there was a smattering of inserts from the 2003 and 2005 Press Pass series, some of which didn't scan well due to being mirror foil, which Press Pass loved. But here are some highlights, (but not all of them)
 The Newman is from the long running insert Showman/Showcar. The Showman was hobby exclusive and the Showcar was retail. This is the hobby version, of course, and it's die cut, something Press Pass did a lot in the 90s and early 2000s but then went away from, unfortunately. It's mirror foil but I was able to pull a great scan out of it, somehow!
 A Dale Jr. Insert. Will always be happy to get a new insert of my all-time favorite driver, even if the car photo IS censored.
This is not really 3D, it just kind of looks it. Cup Chase was a long running program Press Pass had (it ran from 1996-2013 or 14) where if the driver won any of the races listed on the card, you could redeem it for a special insert set. If the driver you redeemed won the championship, you got a bonus card, which was usually race used. In 2004 and later, it changed to being if your driver qualified for the Chase (NASCAR's Playoffs) then you got the prize...making it possibly the only good thing the Chase has ever done for the sport.

But wait, there's more!

Fuji mentioned on his blog that he bought a lot of relics and half of them were coming to me, so the least I can do is show them all! I don't know if he planned it or it was a happy accident, but there was high Nets content here, the Nets of course being my favorite team. 4 out of 10 relic cards were Nets! Even better is that they are not guys I have a whole lot of. It's only my second Maurice Ager card of any sort, (both numbered, but the other is not a relic) 3rd Terrence Williams card but first with the Nets, and only my 8th Sean Williams card, all with the Nets, but my first relic of him! Jeff McInnis I have a lot more cards of, but not a lot of them were with the Nets. it's my 47th card of him, but only 6th as a member of the Nets! Bonus for him wearing #0, a number that has always fascinated me for some unknown reason. It's also only the third card I have from 2006-07 Sweet Shot.

Nick Fazekas is someone who was missing from my collection, it's my first card of him! When I was away from the NBA from 2006-12, there were a lot of players who didn't "stick" in the NBA who I missed adding to my collection when the cards were new, and he's one of them. Of course, there were some who DID stick but Panini chose not to give cards to as well, so are also missing from my collection.

This Chris Paul is my first relic card from 2007-08 Topps, the Sean Williams, Shannon Brown and Fazekas are only my second cards from those sets (The multi-player is my third from 2007-08 SPx, the same set as Fazekas) and the Faried Black Gold card is only my third from the set. Black Gold was the second to last set issued in 2015-16 and was high priced, so I didn't get to open any. I joined a group break and got two cards out of it or else it could have been the first one from the set in my collection. It didn't scan well, because it's a shadowbox type card. The color photo is printed on clear plastic, and the gold tone photo is set well back from it- far enough back that my scanner didn't pick it up clearly. It's striking in person, but not as impressive in the scan.
The Donnell Harvey is from a set I've completed, 2000-01 Fleer Tradition, but I didn't have any from this insert before now...and I love throwback jerseys, so that makes it extra nice.

There was one other relic I didn't show, because it's kind of a duplicate. How can something be kind of a duplicate? When it's an upgrade, of course! I have a lot of the 2005-06 SP Game Used Authentic Fabrics set. I had a source for them when they were new, although I don't remember what it was anymore, but I have way more of them than I should have considering my usual 2 box purchase pattern of the time. The card I have though was one that went off the table at one point and got a ding in the corner. Now, I have a replacement!
It is of another obscure player, Bernard Robinson, who only appears 8 times in my collection. You can see my scan of the first version of the card I have HERE, on the Trading Card Database (which is where all the numbers of how many I have of each person came from as well). I always prefer to get a card of an obscure player over somebody like Michael Jordan for example.

In conclusion, this was a great contest package, and I'm thrilled to have these cards added to my collection! Thanks again! You made my day for sure!