Saturday, January 13, 2018

One of the worst sights ever...

is when you discover that one of your cards had fallen under your computer chair and found it's way under the wheel for who knows how long?


I discovered this the other night when I thought I dropped a card, and got down on my floor to look for it. What can I say other than that I don't go under my chair all that often?

It turns out it was actually a flash drive I dropped, which is better, as no more cards were damaged.

I have already replaced it on ebay, waiting for it to arrive, already got the shipping notification. That was $20 I didn't expect to have to spend.

Later that day I had to go and two teeth drilled and filled...and the Novocain wore off before he finished. Finding the card hurt worse. That was only my second and third tooth repairs so that was a new experience. I still have 8 more that need fixing...sigh.

When the replacement arrives, I think I will hide this one deep in my storage unit. I can't throw away a card, even a badly damaged one. I doubt anyone would want it, even though the YatMing releases are not easy to find.

On the plus side, when the new one arrives and I can find out the year of release, I can add the set to the Trading Card Database. Although unusually shaped, these are cards.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Top 30 Favorite Non-Sport Sets of all time : #1

Writing out #30-2 was actually a lot of fun. Ranking them was harder, and given enough time, it will probably change. Some were admittedly toss-ups as it was, in regards to ranking. The Top 20 countdown I made for the NBA would be significantly different now, as a set I ranked 12th would be pushing the top 5 if I made the list today. I will be curious to see how it may/will change over the years when I look back on these posts. The great thing about non-sports cards is...there may be a set out there that would crack the top 30, but I may not even know it exists yet. The discovery aspect is something totally missing from the NBA or NASCAR, and will someday surely be the same for the NHL. Non-sports is different.

I said when I was going in that #1 was the only one I knew for sure when I started, and that has held true. It's a set I've written about multiple times before:

#1. 1954 Topps Scoop
#20

#89

#116
An 156 card set, I have 124, or 79.5% of them. What a set this is! It covers most of known history's most important events up to that time. Well, at least those that involve the USA. Unlike almost every other set, it doesn't limit itself to American history, it just favors it heavily. It is truly the most historically minded history set ever made, and for somebody like me, who dreams of being an archaeologist/museum curator/recognized history expert, this is the be all end all. It covers just about everything, and everywhere. I can go on and on about this set, but I'm going to link to the checklist, which has all scans front and back, on the Trading Card Database. Just take a look at the wide variety of subjects included! It covers some sports events, as well.

The only bad thing I have to say about this set is that, at 156 cards, it's too small. There's so much more that it could have done. Ancient history in particular could use more coverage. The backs were interesting, in that they were all done up as newspapers. Obviously, some of the newspaper concepts had to be made up, as they didn't have newspapers as we know them in ancient Rome, for example. But it works for me. The book I read- 1990's Chronicle of the World- that got me into history and really introduced me to the ancient world- was done up as newspaper articles which makes this set even better for me,

Here's a sample back, something that I didn't post for the other 29 sets on the list. Some of the backs have photos, some drawings. All card fronts have drawings.
One thing I should mention, these cards are smaller than standard size. 2 and 3/4ths inches by 2 inches. It's not really a detriment.

This set is a fairly recent discovery by me. I only discovered it existed in 2014, when I found a dealer with a binder full of them...he got them all new as a kid. Now I have the entire contents of that binder in my collection. It took me until 2017 to get them all, but finally, I did. It's funny...so much of this countdown was nostalgia based. Some of it was entirely nostalgia. But this set? All new. Not only that, it took until I was an adult to truly appreciate it. I would have gotten the car cards at any time, but pre-2007, this series would not have done all that much for me, let alone have been my all-time favorite non-sports set. Finding these, at this point in my life, is what allowed me to truly appreciate them. And I do!

This is also the first and as yet only non-sports set I've written up a wantlist for here on the blog. I plan to do them all eventually, but I have not worked on the wantlist much lately. This set, though, has one.

=======================================================

A couple of stats, because I have some free time to work on them since I finished getting my collection onto the Database, and I built in 4 days of lead time for this post:
  • Every decade from the 1910s-current are represented in some way
  •  Three sets span more than one decade
  • 12 of the 30 sets date to the 1990s, the second most well represented is the 50s and 80s, tied with 4 sets. I guess nostalgia did play a role.
  • Automotive has 7 sets, Star Wars has 5 and history has 4, however, military, a sub theme of history, has 3 more, so it could be reckoned that Automotive and History are tied at 7.
  • 9 different topics are covered
  • 14 sets were produced by Topps, 3 by Skybox and 2 by Impel. None others got more than 1. 
  • 1977, 1983, 1991 and 1992 have two issues each. No year has more than 2.  I did not count multi-year releases for this total, the other stats I did.
  • I have only completed 5 of the 30 sets!
To recap, here is the Excel chart I made to sort for this stats section, and the final countdown.


This countdown was a lot of fun. Not as hard as I thought it would be. Some of the exact placement choices were difficult, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected. Thank you for reading, if you read all four posts. I will do something I rarely do, and end with a question: What's your favorite non-sports set? Perhaps it's one I've never heard of!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Top 30 Favorite Non-Sport Sets of all time, #10-2

Now, we get into the top 10. These are the best of the best, at least in my opinion. These are the sets that I either grew up wanting, enjoying, or didn't know existed but would have loved to have- or the new sets that were so great they made the list anyway. As always, the set percentage completion comes from the Trading Card Database, and you'll have to wait one more day to see the winner...

#10 1961 Milton Bradley American Heritage Picture and History Cards
American Heritage Steamboats #15
Milton Bradley,  the board game people, are not known for trading cards. But in 1961, they did some. These cards are post card size, but they are trading cards, not post cards. they came in 4 sets of 40 cards, Steamboats, Classic Cars, Trains and Airplanes. I am still looking for the latter two but I will only buy them in the original box. They are fantastic. I discovered them in 2012, when I found one of the sets on Ebay. I don't remember which one I got first without checking my records anymore. They gave cards to subjects that never got any others, that I am aware of, and the Steamboat set even includes local coverage. One of the drawings in that set about 20 minutes from where I live, along the Hudson River. I've written about the set before (another card from the Steamboat set was my choice for Favorite card of the 60s in the 30 Day Challenge). The car set is all photographs, the steamboat set is a mix of drawings and photos, as many of the ships covered pre-dated photography.

#9. 1996 DC Firepower : Outburst
DC Firepower: Outburst #18
These were the last non-sports cards I really remember chasing and collecting before I went NBA-only in late 96/1997. They make the list mostly because of the memories, and the fact that every single card is embossed. I always thought embossing was cool. Not as cool as a hologram, but cool. It's a fairly small set, only 80 cards, and I have only 56 of them, for 70%. Someday I'd like to finish off the set. It was also the last DC set issued for a while, or at least the last one I was aware of. That surely played a role in why I stopped paying so much attention to non-sports cards, but of course, I just realized that a little while ago. I didn't know it would be the last at the time it was issued.

#8 2012-13 Topps Star Wars Galactic Files
Galactic Files #546
Structurally, this is probably the best Star Wars set ever. It covered everything- even stuff that is best left forgotten, like the 6 foot tall green rabbit from the Marvel Star Wars comics. I mean, this even covered the Christmas Special! It was issued in two 350 card series, and most every major character and pretty much every character who got into the movies got a card...some of them got more than one card. The backs were somewhat simplified but were written in continuity (the one Disney threw away). I did boxes of both series and two of one of the series, since I lost the poster in the flood I had in 2015. The first sketch card I pulled out of a pack came from series one. These replaced Galaxy, which is a little disappointing. There is enough difference that both sets could have easily been supported. If you were a true fan of Star Wars before the Disney disaster, this set would have brought countless hours of enjoyment. I know it did for me, enough that it is the only set from the 2000s to crack my top 10.

#7. 1980 Topps Empire Strikes Back
Empire Strikes Back #92
Empire Strikes Back is not only my favorite movie of the Star Wars saga, it's also my favorite Star Wars card set. Running three series for 352 cards, of which I have 150, or 42.6%, it's actually the original Star Wars set I have the least of! Go figure, right? Actually, that's for good reason. The third series is significantly harder to find than the first two series. The first two used this design above, with red borders and words for series 1 and blue for series 2. But series 3 had a yellow border with green and orange accents. The first cards my brother gave me to start my non-sports collection contained a grand total of 1 card from the third series. In fact, when I was real little, I don't think I ever looked at the back and realized it was part of the same set, or at least, I don't remember thinking of it as part of the set. That was a long time ago. I might have forgotten. The Battle of Hoth is my favorite cinematic sequence in all of history, by the way. One thing I liked about this set set in particular is that it gave cards to the vehicles, somewhat interestingly the snowspeeder is shown in space. A lot of my Star Wars knowledge has been purged to make room for hockey, so I can't remember anymore if that was feasible for the Snowspeeder to be able to travel off planet. I think it might have been, actually.

#6. 1991 Topps Desert Storm
Desert Storm Glossy #59
For military cards, this set, to me, is the one I think of first. It's the most iconic. It brings me back to my early collecting days. Issued in three series, with an asterisk, totaling  266 cards, I have completed it. However, I got most of them in 2010, I only got a couple of packs worth when it was new, all from series 1. Series 1, in and of itself, could use a detailed breakdown post- it's available in no less than 6 versions, only 4 of which are really notable. There's the original release, with brown Desert Storm logo. There's the second release, which has the yellow logo. There's another release, which was a factory set with white backs, there was a 4th release, which had the yellow logo and some differences in the cards, and there was a glossy release, which had white backs. This scan comes from that glossy release. And I just pulled all that from memory so it may not be totally accurate, but I will do a breakdown post at some point illustrating them better. The second and third series got one release each. I had no real idea so many military cards existed but exploring this set opened my eyes to one of my favorite sections of non-sports cards.

#5. 1993 Skybox Simpsons / 1994 Skybox Simpsons II
1994 Simpsons II #S36
Both series used the same design so I am combining them into one. They are easy to tell apart because the "flip book" on the back is a different color background. Both sets are 40 cards plus inserts, and of the 80, I have 78. The two missing cards can be found on the right side column in my Top 10 Most Wanted. These were great, but you can tell they were early- the Human Fly gets a card, Tattoo Annie gets a card, but Comic Book Guy didn't. Some of the artwork is off, too, including here. (Ralph's feet are not that big). But they are hilarious through and through. Although small, these are the best Simpsons sets I know of, and have long been a favorite of mine. When I made my paper listings for non-sports cards in 2010, I do believe this was the first non-current set that got pen to paper. Even when the majority of my non-sports collection was packed so deeply away that I went more than a decade without seeing them, these have always been at hand, and I would go through them from time to time. I am slowly working on a master set of these two sets, but some of the rarer inserts don't come up very often, and usually sell for more than I want to pay for a single card- I refuse to go over $20 on one card, but my usual average purchase price for singles is $1 - which is why it's slow going.

#4. 1994 Marvel Universe
Surprised to see a Marvel set so high? I am, actually, but not totally... I mean, I always knew this set would be high, but I didn't really think it would make the top 5. Yet here we are. This set has so much nostalgia/sentimental value that I can't really put it into words. I didn't read a single Marvel comic from this time period. But I did watch the Marvel cartoons, which were pretty darn good if I remember correctly. It's been decades since I've seen them. That's probably what led me to collecting these. Secondly, the local grocery store carried cards at that time. They don't anymore. But every trip to the store my mom took led to cards. They carried these...they didn't usually carry NASCAR. That's how I got most of these. So many, in fact, that I am missing only 6 of 200 cards. I have so many memories of this set from the year it was issued, that it alone is enough to propel it to #4. I really need to complete this set some day. The inserts were worth noting too. My favorite is the clear cards, now unfortunately turning yellow, that used the artwork from the cartoons. I think I've got 8 of the 10 now (Suspended Animation). This set ended up in my storage unit, and thankfully was one of the first things we found. Some took some damage, but not horrible, mostly bending. (not bad enough to break the surface) They had been in plastic case, but the lid got broken, allowing them to spill out. Finding them again was one of the greatest thrills in the hobby. I don't know when they were found (since they were not new, they didn't get a date added to my paper listing) but I remember the thrill of it. I think it may have been 2012.

#3. 1953-54 Topps World on Wheels
World on Wheels #72
Remember how I mentioned, for 1955 Topps Rails & Sails, how it was part of a trifecta of vehicle themed sets Topps produced in the early-mid 50s? Here's the automotive set. I have always loved cars. I love classic cars more than anything, even more than I love cards, if you can believe that. So a classic card set featuring classic cars? It doesn't get much better than that! Well, it would, if they were easier to find. That's why this set is #3 and not #2. These cards are not easy to find, although easier now with the internet. Issued in two series, totaling 180 cards, I have 125 of them, or 69.4%. But my highest number is #159. The second series is VERY hard to find. I've never seen one in person. There are none for sale on COMC. (I checked, and purchased two 1st series cards, in the process of writing this post) I got lucky to have as many as I do, as I found somebody who had purchased a collection and it included a large portion of these. Even so...I had to pay for them in installments. It was worth it! I have not really hunted for these much online, like on COMC, but I should. I keep being drawn to cheap serially numbered cards, or much older sets I've generally never even heard of before. But I should...it's not like I'm going to find these in the wild. I used to go to card shows every week in the 1990s and I found a grand total of 3 cards from this set in all those years.

#2. 1952 Topps Wings: Friend or Foe
Wings #92
Surprising to see an airplane set ahead of a car set, isn't it? It's not really nostalgia factor...it's...what's the opposite of nostalgia? The memories of this vintage set are all new to me, for the most part. Sure, for a short time in the 90s a card from this set was the oldest in my collection. But from whenever I got that card in the 1990s until 2010, I didn't know what this set was, and being airplanes, I probably wouldn't have cared, other than old = cool. Ahh, but things change. As I mentioned, in 2009 I joined my local International Plastic Modeler's Society chapter and since then, I have begun to appreciate aircraft. It was at our annual show, in 2010, where I met the dealer who I got most of these, as well as the World on Wheels cards and others, from. And I like these more than World on Wheels for a couple of reasons. The set is larger, at 200 cards, and none are short printed, meaning it's easier to get them- and I have 179 of them, for 89.5%. They came to me at a time where I was just beginning to learn about aircraft, at the time something totally new to me. When I got the majority of most of these, I could not identify a single aircraft on sight. Now, I can, and even more, I can even tell by sound when a vintage WWII aircraft is flying by. (The Collings Foundation comes to my area every year). They have actual backgrounds, unlike World on Wheels.  Even more than that...when I almost died in 2013...coming literally 5 minutes away...these cards, which I had paid for before my diabetes turned into Keto...arrived right in the middle. I was so sick. Too sick to even get on to my computer...I could barely see...couldn't eat. But these arrived...and I managed to look through them then. It is, literally, the only good memory I have of that time period. These cards, including the one shown. When I was able to come home, the first thing I did with my card listing was list these cards. They gave me something to look forward to in a very bad time in my life. In a weird turn of events...even though I am pretty darn close to completing the set...I have not gotten a single new card from the set since. Maybe subconsciously I don't want to, because there is no way I will remember which ones are new and which ones helped me through that terrible time.  I don't know for sure. I want to complete the set, for sure, but that's 5 years now where I have not purchased a single card...and these cards aren't particularly rare or expensive. I could complete it easily. I just...haven't.

One more to go! Which set ranks as my all-time favorite Non-Sport set? Tune in at 5:00 EST tomorrow, as I have the post scheduled to go off then! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

My Top 30 Favorite Non-Sport Sets of all time, #20-11

Here is part two in my countdown of my top 30 favorite Non-Sports sets of all time

#20. 1990 Marvel Universe
1990 Marvel Universe #23
Surprisingly, Marvel cards will appear more than once on this list. I've been a comic book fan since I was born- just about literally. I had my first comic read to me at 5 days old and I've never left the hobby. But...this is a DC household. In my life I've read a grand total of maybe 8 Marvel comics. However, I do have a lot more Marvel cards than DC cards. There are more to choose from. Marvel has had a much better representation on cards than DC has, and still does, to this day. This was the first non-sports set I ever got completed- my brother bought be a complete set when it was new, back in 1990. Although it was my third year in the hobby, I really can't remember a time when I didn't know this set.

#19. 1942 Gum, Inc. War Gum
War Gum #125
I'm a huge history buff. That's never been a secret. This set is really interesting because it was issued right in the middle of World War II...and was all about WWII. That's kind of unusual, and it was a pretty large set for the time. Before the war, most card sets were 50 cards or less. This one is 132 cards. (Of which I have 10, 7.6% according to the Trading Card Database). In fact, not only was this set issued in the middle of WWII, it is the only time many of these topics ever appear on cards. All feature painted artwork, some of which is really complex and detailed. One thing about this set that is a little jarring at first is that it tends to use slang terms for people. Especially Japan. We were at war and it was essentially propaganda, but it's not something I'm really used to seeing too often.
Funny thing about this set...I had no idea it existed. I thought that I was buying some cards from Horrors of War the first time I found this set. It was also made by Gum, Inc. and is considered the most important non-sport set ever. But I wasn't 100% familiar with the sets- non-sports is different from sports cards in that I am usually finding out about sets as they enter my collection, at least for sets issued before the 1980s. As it turns out, I like this set even better than Horrors of War, which I did finally add to my collection in 2016. It did not make the countdown.

#18 1983 Topps Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi #186
I used to really love Star Wars. My earliest actual memory of anything is watching Empire Strikes Back. I avidly collected Star Wars cards, comics, books and until 2007, I also collected the action figures- I'm pretty sure I'm one Ewok away from completing the original line. But then Disney got it, and their vapid mishandling of the universe has pretty much killed what was once there. I have not seen the original trilogy or the Prequals since 2015. (I usually watched them twice each year on DVD, and whenever they were on TV as well). I have not seen The Last Jedi, and don't plan to. Everything that was great and magical about Star Wars has been thrown away. I will watch the real movies again at some point. (Real = Pre-Disney). But I'm too frustrated to do that any time soon. I barely even collect the cards anymore. But I did, for a long time, and if the opportunity arises, I will still work on the sets from the real era of Star Wars. All three original sets are very important to me, because they are what got me started in the hobby. My brother collected them when they were new, and in 1988, he gave me his duplicates. He remembered that I had the Bigfoot cards first, but in my head, it was the Star Wars cards that came first. Either way, they were the first non-sports cards in my collection and why this 30th anniversary celebration is happening in 2018. The Return of the Jedi set, it's my least favorite of the three, partly because it's my least favorite of the original trilogy, partly because it's the smallest of the three original sets, with only two series. I have 207 of the 220 cards in the set, or 94.1%. (All percentages are supplied by the Trading Card Database, I don't need to keep typing that for every set, lol). Of the three original Star Wars sets, it's my closest to completion.

#17 1995 DC Power Chrome Legends '95
Power Chrome Legends '95 #67
An all-chrome set for DC, which, back when this set was issued, I thought was just about the greatest thing ever. I have only a few now, but I am absolutely sure I had the complete set at some point. It's probably lost in my storage unit. When I went to only caring about the NBA in 1996, my non-sport cards were sadly neglected until 2010. I still find some in my storage unit from time to time, and I'm still hoping that I will find the rest of these. I don't really look to add any more because I'm sure that I already have them, but I do count the ones I find or get as new. After all, my storage unit is a terrible mess and we may never actually go through the stuff, honestly. Now that I scan my collection, I don't like the Chrome sets as much. They, like all Chrome cards, scan horribly. But the memories I have of them from 1995, they are enough to get them so high on the list.

#16 1992 Collect-A-Card Musclecars
Musclecars #85
This is the only time anything from Collect-A-Card makes the list. As I've mentioned many times, I love classic cars. In pretty much any form. That includes in cardboard form. This is a 100 card set, and I've completed it. I kind of cheated, though. I bought a set in pages somebody else had put together at a card show. The Muscle Car era (1964-72) is not my favorite in automotive history. I tend to favor 50s and older cars. But I do love them...I just love the older cars more. I am glad to have these cards in my collection, and this was one of the first non-sports sets I scanned when I got them out in 2010. I prioritized it because the car cards are my favorites. But it's not my favorite automotive set...

#15 1991 Impel GI Joe
GI Joe #135
The 1991 Impel GI Joe set ran 200 cards and I have all of them. I was a huge GI Joe fan. I discovered it the day after Thanksgiving in 1990. It was one of those days that is so important it's burned into my memory, something that nothing can ever replace and I can't forget. Not that I would want to! I was a huge fan of GI Joe from 1990-1994, when the line was cancelled. I am still a fan. I still collect the comic, although I don't collect the action figures being produced...the proportions are all wrong. But that's another topic. I have batted the idea around of chasing for the figures I never get, but always wanted. I of course still have mine, and they are all photo documented, but I have not seen them since I took the pictures. It brings me comfort to know that I could get into them any time I wanted to, though. This set came our right in the peak year of GI Joe, which is nice. I can still remember-no paper prompt required- getting most of these figures on the store shelves at Ames, Kay-Bee, Jamesway, K-Mart, Toys R Us, Service Merchandise, and probably others. Those are some really great memories, of this whole time period, that alone gets these this high up on the chart. And to be totally honest, these probably could have ranked anywhere between 9th and here, but how I was thinking on the morning of January 4th, 2018, when I ranked them, I placed them here.

#14 2011 Topps American Pie
American Pie #86
This was one I debated ranking so high, but it played a role when I was getting back in to Non-Sports, and it commemorates on cards some stuff that's important to me, that otherwise would not be covered. It is a look at American history/pop culture from the end of WWII-2011. Some of the choices made for cards are kind of stupid, and questionable, but overall it's a good set. For example...MTV's Jersey Shore gets a card, but Star Wars does not. However, this set has the only card I'm aware of commemorating the first NASCAR race (it included some sports stuff too, even though the photo is not from that race) something NASCAR has actually never done on cards. It has a card about the birth of Hot Wheels. The Edsel gets a card, although it's kind of terrible. This set is important because it was the first Non-Sports box I did after I got back into Non-sports cards in 2010. I have not done a whole lot of non-sports boxes since I returned, 3 of the 7 have already appeared on this list and more are coming up shortly. I have 171 of the 200 cards, for 85.5% of the set. It was also a card from this set that I learned what a blog was. I didn't know it was a contraction of "Web log" or even what the concept was before I got that card. Now, as you are aware since you are reading it, I write one!

#13 1977 Topps Star Wars
Star Wars #30
This was the set that started it all. So incredibly popular it ran to 5 series, for 330 cards (of which I have 262, for 79.4%) these were the cards my brother gave me the most of to start my Non-sports collection in 1988. That alone gets them this high on the list. I literally do not know a time in card collecting that this set was not a part of my life.

#12 Topps Star Wars Galaxy
Star Wars Galaxy #702
Released in 7 series between 1993 and 2012, with a break between 1996-08 with no cards produced, the set ran for 835 cards. I can't easily tell you how many I have because the Database breaks them up for each of the 7 series listed individually. I do know, however, that one of the series- I can't remember if it's 4 or 5-does not yet appear in my collection at all. The set is entirely drawn, with various artists giving their interpretation of things in the Star Wars Galaxy. (Thus the name of the set). I have to be honest, I didn't like the first two series. I got a couple packs of series 1 and 1 of series 2, but I didn't care for them at the time- so I didn't get any more. When I got back into Non-Sports cards in 2010, they were already on series 6 or so, and the majority of my collection are of the final two sets. Some of the cards are truly great, like this one. Some are off the wall, some are funny, and some are actually even kind of bad. The wide variety of topics and art styles makes it very interesting, and I have come around on the earlier issues as my tastes have changed. There's even a couple fun "What Ifs", like a Gungan Sith Lord...which I almost used as the sample image until I found/remembered this space battle scene highlighting my favorite starfighter, the B-Wing.

#11 Musclecards
Musclecards #163
Although this is not the first car card set I was aware of, or last one on the list, this is the one I have the most memories of. My local comic shop at the time had packs of these for I want to say 50 cents, and I got a lot of them. It was two series, and they had more of the second series, so I have more of the second series, naturally. The photos tend to be a little dark, and the labeling on the cards is not very accurate, as they usually label a car by it's engine, not it's actual name. But I love it anyway. The neon pink and yellow just screams 1992, doesn't it? What a great time to be a collector.

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Top 30 Favorite Non-Sport Sets of all time, #30-21

Making lists is hard work. I generally avoid ranking parts of my collection, but I'm going to try to do it again. I ranked my Top 20 favorite NBA sets in 2016, when I celebrated my 20th anniversary with that sport. Well, 2017 marks my 30th Anniversary collecting Non-sports cards, so a Top 30 Countdown seems in order. I did the NBA list with each set getting it's own post. That was not as successful as I would have liked, so I will instead do it slightly differently for non-sports. It will be a 4 part series, with part 1 being #30-21, Part 2 being #20-11, part 3 being #10-2, and the "Winner" getting it's own post. At the start, the only number slot I'm absolutely sure on is #1...I will be determining the rest as I go through my collection scan files and begin to create the posts.

This will be entirely objective. This is my personal top 30, not a ranking of the 30 most important or anything. The cards must be present in my collection, and much like the NBA countdown, nostalgia will play a role, although perhaps not as much, as the vast majority of my Non-Sports collection was added as an adult, long after the cards were issued.

Enough talking, let's get to it!

#30. 1989-00 Top Pilot
Top Pilot #128
This multi-year series ran 246 cards, of which I have 84, for 31.4%. It was issued in multiple small sets, which all had a cumulative numbering system, and had photos of actual planes (with a few checklists) making up the set. I didn't begin to appreciate aircraft until 2009, when I joined my local IPMS (International Plastic Modeler's Society) chapter, the Hudson Valley Historical Miniatures Guild. Now, I really enjoy reading about them, and attempting to build models of them, but collecting cards of them is more my style (And I'm actually good at it!) The set was also available in non-sequentially numbered versions that I believe may have had silver foil applied, but I not only don't have any, I've never even seen any, so I'm not totally sure. These made a pretty big impact on me- all of the cards I have from the set I got at one time. The photos were spectacular- 90% or more were while the planes were in flight. Most are in color, if not all, and it is the only time in my card collection that my all-time favorite aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird, shown above, appears.

#29. 1993-98 Bon Air Fire Engines
Fire Engines #373
This set is the largest automotive themed set ever made, it totals 500 cards over 5 series of 100 each, with the final series not produced by Bon Air. It even includes some local fire companies, although I don't have that card(s) yet. This set makes the list because of it's size and because it covers locally, mostly. The "Fire Engines" wordmark is gold foil with s black drop shadow so it looks funny in scans.

#28. 1922 Lambert & Butler Motor Cars
1922 Lambert & Butler's Motor Cars #5
This set is really important to me, because I've completed it! It's a 25 card set. It is, by a WIDE margin, the oldest set I've completed- the next oldest is 1971-72 Topps basketball, 49 years newer than this set. I cheated and bought a complete set- to be honest, I didn't even know it existed until I found it for sale. It featured new cars from 1922, all of which are nearly impossible to see antiques these days. I have seen a 1922 Studebaker, though. Once.

#27 1911 Men of History/Heroes of History
This predates the concept of numbering cards
 The least well-represented set from this countdown in my collection- this is the only one I have, out of 100. But it's super, super important to me- it was my first Tobacco era card. My oldest before then was 1948-49 Bowman, and this jumped the age of my collection back 27 years. It has since been eclipsed- my oldest card as I write this is from 1888, 9 years after the first Non-Sports set was issued. But it will ALWAYS be my first. And even better, the subject matter. Ancient history is very rare on cards. I know of only a few sets that feature any of the Roman Emperors, or any Romans. (Caesar, technically, was never an emperor). Augustus and Nero have cards in the set, and Constantine Might, I don't remember...This set isn't all ancient history, but it is obviously included.

#26 2003 ArtBox Simpsons FilmCardz
2003 Simpsons FilmCardz #16
I'm a huge Simpsons fan...I've seen all but the new episodes dozens, probably hundreds of times. When the NBA/NHL season is not going, I always have FXX on every night except Wednesday. There's not a day goes by that Simpsons are not quoted in my house- usually many times, in fact. This is a cool set, but a little hard to get scans out of- the majority of the card is clear, and the corners are rounded. The image area is quite convex which doesn't help. (they spin around on the scanner tray) It's a small set, 45 cards and a checklist, which I completed from a single box a few years ago. It was the second series they did, and the most recent Simpsons card set produced, unfortunately. I have purchased a sealed box of Series 1, from 2000, but I have not opened it yet.

#25. 1977 Topps Automobiles of 1977
Topps Automobiles of 1977 #16

This was a great concept that unfortunately only happened one year. In this set, Topps issued a card for each new car on the American roads that year- not just from the American brands, but the imports as well. I have exactly 4 cards from this set, and they are all in this terrible condition. 3 of them, but not this one, are treasured by me because they are the only cards that were my dad's. He was not a card collector, but he was a car guy. The rest of the pack must not have survived the basement floods we've had. Someday I want to seriously pursue this set. I wish it had been something that was regular...imagine how great it would have been to be able to collect car cards from every year? To this car nut, it would have been a dream come true. The scans of the three I inherited are not good enough to use, I will rescan them when I find them, currently mixed into my collection. The one thing Topps should have done, though, was include pickup trucks. They did sedans and wagons, and some vans, but nothing with a bed...which means no El Camino card.

#24. 2009 Topps American Heritage / 2009 Topps American Heritage Heroes Edition
2009 Topps American Heritage #113
This set doesn't rank higher because of the way Topps did it. Two sets in the same year, featuring subjects from American history...that concept is all well and good. The problem is...they used the same baseball designs for BOTH SETS. Instead of using any of their other designs- there are other sports besides baseball- they didn't do that. And what's worse, they used the same designs for the subsets in BOTH SETS. Now, if they had been continually numbered, that would have been fine. Even if they didn't use the same design for both set's subsets, as shown above. But no, Topps didn't do that. Both sets start at #1. As a history nut, I love the concept, enough to get it onto this list. But the execution can be pretty darn frustrating when you can look at a card in hand and not have any way of knowing which series it came from without checking the Trading Card Database. I did pull one of the greatest cards in my collection from the box I did of the first set- a piece of wood they took off the USS Constitution when it was redecked in 1972- but this list is only base cards. Honestly, if there was not the frustration of the same design being used for the same card numbers in both sets, both of them would likely have made the list and ranked much higher. I've got a lot more of the first set, the Heroes set, which was actually issued later, I have less than 3 packs' worth.

#23. 1983 Topps Perlorian Cats
1983 Topps Perlorian Cats #33
Look at that picture. There's a whole card set like this. Need I say more? Sadly, I have only one pack. And this is the only set to make the list that's actually stickers. Close enough.

#22. 1955 Topps Rails & Sails
Rails & Sails #21
In the 1950s, Topps had a trifecta of transportation themed sets. All of them were great. This one is the least great (is that a term?) because unlike the other two sets, this one was a mixture. The first 3/4ths of the set were trains, the last quarter were ships. The trains seem to be more common than the ships. I think they could have stood on their own and supported their own sets each. That's why this set isn't higher. Oh, and I forgot to mention- the rails section and sails section use a totally different design. Something that in general irks the heck out of me, so the fact that this is ranked so high should tell you how much I really like these cards.

#21. Church and Dwight Arm & Hammer Useful Birds of America
1918 Useful Birds of America Second Series #24
Issued in seven series between 1915 and 1934, I just love these bird cards. I've written about them extensively- so much that I even gave them their own tag, which you can click on to see the previous posts. I have examples of most of the sets, but for the purpose of this countdown, they all count as one entry, especially considering that they all used the exact same design....which doesn't bother me in this case, because the series number is clearly printed on the back, so there's no confusion as to which set they belong to. I've been a bird watcher longer than I've been a card collector, and that's saying something.

End part 1...next post, counting down #20-11.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My Cardboard History Part 3: 2007-2018

While my first two eras of collecting may be where the majority of my collection was built, this third era, still currently ongoing, is the most dynamic and, in reality, the most fun for me. I'll explain why as I bring this project to a close and complete my personal Cardboard History.

2007

2007 started off well, for my NASCAR card collection, as I had had enough of not knowing, and powered through and finished my paper listing. I had done from 2000-current previously, but anything before 2000 with the exception of 1988 Maxx had not been done. I began this project at the very start of the year, January 1st, and this began my tradition of doing a major project to start each year...although there are some years where I don't have any projects to do. Actual new card wise, 2007 was my worst year for total number of new cards since probably 1989. I only got 244 new cards documented for the entire year! I am sure I got more- how many more I can't say, of course- but from the 2002-04 peak years, there were only 4 months where I documented less new cards than the entire year of 2007. Looking back, now, I realize my problems were exactly that- MY problems, not a problem with my sports or the hobby. I wish I could go back in time and make myself realize then what I know now, but if 2007 was bad, 2008 is absolute rock bottom,

2008 

The year is pretty much a total blank to me. My memories of the year (especially for cards) are pretty much nil- even looking through my photos don't really bring much back for me. In 2008 I was almost totally out of the hobby for the only time in my life. I wasn't thinking about cards. I wasn't looking at cards. I definitely wasn't buying any cards. My NBA listings, once the main focus of my collection, something that were always at hand, that I carted with me (literally!) from Maine to Indiana got relegated to the basement, something that now seems unimaginable.

I got only 14 documented cards during the year, 13 of them on Christmas. Every year my mom gave me the NASCAR Yearbook, which for several years came with a set of cards. If it was not for them, I would have gotten only one documented card for the entire YEAR. I think I did get more- my mom and brother would bring me random packs from Target, but I was so out of the hobby I didn't bother to list them. I only bothered to list one card in March 2008, and I don't know what card it is. It has to be NASCAR because I did not get any NBA cards in 2007 or 2008, that I know for sure. I hadn't gotten any non-sports cards since I purchased a single tin of Revenge of the Sith cards in 2005. I would have to page through my entire paper NASCAR listing to find out what it was.

What possibly may have played a role is that in 2008 I discovered coin collecting and worked that hobby hard. It took up most of my time that year, and played a pretty big role in my life, until 2012. I've been mostly out of it since then, but I still search every bit of change my family gets, and if the opportunity presents itself I will buy something, rarely.

The year in cards is a total loss. But thankfully, the years of 2007 and 2008 were a short lived dip...

2009

The year started out on the same course as 2008. In January and February I didn't get a single documented card, and odds are, that number is accurate. Even when I wasn't documenting I was sometimes getting cards, at least until early 2007. 2008 and the start of 09...the totally empty space in my Excel chart is probably totally accurate. But then...then, my "Card Renaissance" began. It started when my brother brought me a pack of cards from Target. Not just any pack, my first pack of 2009 Element. I had drifted so far away from cards I had no idea the set was coming until I got my first pack. It was totally unlike anything I had seen in NASCAR cards, and I was really a fan of it. It is, truly, the set that got me back hooked into the hobby. Another trip to Target soon yielded more of them. Then...back to Champion for the first time since 2006, a hobby box came home. A box of 2008 Press Pass (flagship) soon followed suit. I was back into NASCAR full time. By now, things had changed and I didn't have the same amount of money available for hobbies as I once did. I couldn't get a box of everything anymore, which meant Target was now my main source for cards. It still is today. I was soon making up for lost time and going wild with NASCAR cards. I was having fun in the hobby again! I did my first major card project in many years, and I began a different project that is still going on to this day. I sorted my NASCAR cards by subject, instead of by set, and typed them all into Excel. I created a chart that would be the "new style" chart. Previously, I had only a listing of how many cards I had of one person. With the new style chart, I actually typed out each card that I had for each person. Luckily, my NASCAR files were stored on a different disk than my NBA files were, so I didn't lose them. The project took me a couple of months but not too many. When I finished that project (actually, I think it was DURING that project), I began the massive project of scanning my entire collection- the project that is still ongoing. I got my first scanner back in 2005, and the very first scan I ever made was of a card, but it was a one-time thing. Now, though, I began the process of scanning my entire collection. At the time, I was doing fronts only, and focusing on the NASCAR segment of my collection, which was all I cared about in 2009. I finished scanning my NASCAR collection in 2011, although still with that asterisk as I finished fronts only...and I did a very poor job of it, but I considered it done at the time.
I also joined the NUTS forum- NASCAR Underground Trading Society. It's an all-NASCAR card board and it's a great place. 
I went from getting 14 documented NASCAR cards in 2008 to 4226 in 2009. I was back in a big way!
Sorting by subject. I wish I took more photos, this is the only one I took when I had them ALL out in stacks for each person. I worked progressively, doing a wave, then moving back and putting new stacks where I had been sitting, until I eventually ran out of floor space or cards. I can't remember which came first. You can see, near my foot, where one of the waves changed as the cards are going the other direction. Each stack is a different person.

A card from 2009 Element. It doesn't really hold up, but it was unique and cool at the time, and what I needed. The card number appeared on both front and back.

2010

The year started like 2009 ended- big on NASCAR. Nothing else mattered. At this point I wasn't even watching the NBA. Either 2009-10 or 2010-11, I didn't watch a single game. Possibly both. I don't remember. My mom continued to watch the NBA when I wasn't watching, and that's going to be important later. For some reason, I don't even really know why, at Target I decided to take a chance on some Star Wars cards. Since I am so OCD with my records, even though I let it lapse somewhat,  I can tell you exactly when it was- September 6th. They were great! It was a pack of the Empire Strikes Back 3Di cards, which are all lenticular and the scene moves as you move them. Empire Strikes Back was always my favorite movie of the series, and as I mentioned in part one, I really started with Star Wars cards. But for so long if it wasn't NBA or NASCAR, I wasn't interested. Now...now I was interested. 2010 was the "Year of the Non-Sports" That year I went big into the world of non-sports cards and to be honest, they have been my favorite segment of the hobby ever since, even though they get the least amount of dedicated posts. I got out my old binders of non-sports cards- they were still in binders, after I learned how bad pages were for cards in 2000 and took the rest of them out. I hadn't looked at them since probably 1997 or 1998 but I got them out, scanned them and made paper listings. I was now actively collecting non-sports and this became my focus in the hobby even more than NASCAR, although I still collected them. Even though I didn't restart with non-sports until September, I got almost as many non-sports cards in 2009 than I did NASCAR. As an added bonus, since there is less demand for them, they aren't as expensive as sports cards are. During 2010 I was mostly working on Star Wars cards, as I had ignored them for so long I had a lot to catch up on, but I also "discovered" the military cards that existed. I bought a box of each of the 3 series of Topps Desert Storm cards and the Pro Set Desert Storm set and opened a pack a day until I ran out of them. It was a lot of fun...and it was really just scratching the surface. Since the last time I had collected Non-Sports cards, I had "discovered" history. While it was always my favorite subject in school, I eventually found out true history (Most of what they taught us in school is an outright fabrication) and discovered how much I loved history, especially ancient history.
Somewhat randomly, in December, my mom brought me a single pack of 2009-10 Panini (flagship), my first pack of NBA cards and my first NBA addition since 2006. I don't know exactly why, I suspect she remembered how much joy and excitement the hobby and sport once brought me, now missing from my life, but the time was not yet right.
They look better in hand...trust me.

2011

This year was actually a big drop down from the year before. I don't really remember why, because I was still enjoying the hobby, I just wasn't adding as many new cards. I spent a lot of time documenting my collection, but I brought in only 853 new cards the entire year. Still way more than 2008, but less than 2010 or any year since. I do know I was not really collecting NASCAR this year. I had saved up for a box of 2010 Legends, which was about $150, more than I am really comfortable spending at this time...and it was filled with modern drivers who are in every single set, and about 1/3 of the set wasn't even NASCAR at all! Don't get me wrong, I collect modern NASCAR and other forms of racing, but to call a set Legends and just be the same basic stuff as every other set, just higher priced...that annoyed me. I mostly stayed away from Press Pass for all of 2011, which, I found out later, was a mistake, as their 2011 flagship- which actually came out before Christmas 2010- was one of the few times Press Pass got even close to doing it right.
It was in 2011, after finishing the fronts of my NASCAR and Non-Sports collection, that I really began to scan my NBA collection. It was the first time I had looked at any of them since 2006. My memories of the sets were in many cases gone. Stuff I once knew without a second thought was totally lost to me. And even more, my collection files being totally gone would prove to be no help. After they were lost totally I just gave up, and I realize now that was a BIG contributing factor in why I left the NBA. I would describe the loss of everything I had done as "soul crushing".  I discovered the Trading Card Database in 2011, although at the time I was using it solely for checklist purposes. When I scanned something, and couldn't remember what year it was, I would go to the Database to figure out what year/set it went to. That would be all I would use it for in 2011.
I do have two milestones on the year- in September, on our annual family trip to Lake George, I discovered a shop that was only there for about a year but had a lot of great cards. I got some NBA cards, and since I was working on scanning them, and had begun watching the games again if there was nothing better on, I got a couple discounted packs at Target. At the time I remember saying, "I think I will get some again but only when they get put into the discount bin at Target". How wrong I was.
The bigger milestone, however, was that I got my first tobacco card in 2011. The mystique of tobacco cards was well known to me, but it seemed like they were forever out of reach. I never thought I would be able to get even one...but I did. Many more would follow, and now I've even completed a Tobacco set, something that I honestly didn't even THINK about as it didn't seem like something that would be possible.
I sorted my NBA cards in 2011, the ones I could find, for the first time since 2004. It was great to see them again. I sorted them by letter and wrote down, on three sheets of typing paper, (by hand), everyone in my collection, in the start of the effort to rebuild my lost files.
halfway through
All of them that I could find! Note that the paper listings I've mentioned are visible in the top left corner.


2012

In 2012, three big things happened, and they are all related. During the year, I was collecting non-sports primarily, and NASCAR again on a lower scale then I did in 2009 and 10. I wasn't collecting the NBA on a regular basis, but that was going to change. The 2011 NBA Finals are what got me back in. Jason Kidd was always my mom's favorite player, and that was the year he won his championship with the Mavericks. I watched the Finals with her, and I really enjoyed it...it was a lot of fun to watch again. I was soon watching again on a regular basis, and it was in September 2012 that I began to collect for real again. The 2012-13 Hoops set had come out at the end of August and were on the shelves at Target for 44 cards for under $5. I couldn't resist that. I didn't. I was soon hooked again, and it wasn't long before I was collecting the NBA on a regular basis, and watching the games as often as possible on TV. I distinctly remember, during the pre-season, sitting on my bed listing a pack of cards while watching a Knicks game, in my newly rescued from the basement card listing, and thinking to myself that things felt "right" again.
Around the same time this was happening, I discovered that you could track your collection on the Trading Card Database! I began doing that on October 5th that year, helpfully the Database tells you this information. It took me about a month to enter my entire collection, and while I was doing that, especially in the NASCAR section which I had all my card fronts scanned, when I came across a set with 0.0% scanned, I posted one or two. But since I had done fronts only, I couldn't post the backs. That just didn't look good and I was soon scanning fronts and backs alike. It adds a lot of time to the scanning process, but it's worth it- best to do it right the first time. I've mentioned several times how I had to go back and do the card backs- and I'm sort of done. I've done all the ones that need to be done to the Database, but the ones that were already done by somebody else have been pushed off to after I finish scanning everything that needs to be scanned on both sides. I don't know when I will get back to them, but it's not likely to be this decade!
I discovered, in 2012, that I had actually missed some sets from the time period where I thought I had gotten every NBA set into my collection. I discovered this when I bought a repack and out came a card from a set I had never seen before! (2005-06 Topps 1952 Style)
By the end of 2012, the Trading Card Database had become my favorite website, and the one I spend the most time on- even more than Facebook or my very own website that I have maintained since 2004. That is still true to this day.
January 2012 is the most recent month where I did not get a single new card. I've gotten  at least 46 new cards every month since then, usually more. In fact, other than August 2014 I've gotten into the triple digits every month.
 By being away from the NBA, I missed my opportunity to collect Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and others' rookie cards, which are now well out of my price range. Leaving the NBA is now one of my biggest regrets of my life, and my collection from the 2006-07 through 2010-11 season is still very poor.

2013

This year is when things start to go from bad to worse, but card wise are pretty good. My health has never been good. I've mentioned that before in this series. On April 26th, 2013, I came literally 5 minutes short of dying. I had become diabetic, and hadn't known it. It turned into Ketoacidosis which, if untreated, is deadly. I wasn't treating it, because I was convinced it was just food poisoning, as the symptoms start out similarly, and they started right after I drank my once-annual Mountain Dew. As I distrust doctors, I refused to seek treatment. Eventually, my mom ignored me and called an ambulance. Several days in the hospital later, I got to go home and have a new start on life. In fact, I celebrate May 1st as sort of a second birthday. I don't really have any card milestones for this year, but not dying is plenty good enough for me! Ever since then my mom and brother give me birthday presents on both October 18th, my actual birthday, and May 1st, when I got the chance to begin living again.We're still trying to come up with a good name to call that day. Second Birthday and Glad You're Not Dead Day are the leading candidates, but we are open to suggestions.

In January 2013, I began to recreate the NBA collection files I had lost years before. (Luckily, I thought to type the date into the Excel file!) But instead of just the total number of cards I had for each person...I'm making it more detailed, better in every way. Now, I'm keeping the page with the totals, but I'm also typing out exactly which card I have for every person. I had created the file when I got my computer back in 2003, but I didn't really do much with it. I typed in some of the letter T but that's all I did. Then I forgot about it, on the hard drive of my original computer, for years. The last time I looked at it was probably in October 2003 when I first got my first computer. I found it when I was checking to see if I could salvage anything off my first hard drive. (I still have the computer, and it still works, but not well). This was it, everything else was gone. Today I'm still using the same file that I created way back in '03, although there's a LOT more on it then there ever was before- and I have 5 copies of it! (Hard drive, at least two different flash drives, Google Drive, Amazon Drive!)  I duplicate all my Excel file in those places...so finally, I have learned.
Here's a screencap I took of the file just on December 30th. I have refined it over time and it's still in progress, as I've mentioned. I just added the team notation in 2017.
From December 26-31 I sorted my NBA collection again, this time for posting to the Database. I pulled aside all my completed sets, my serial numbered, autographed and relic cards, and some I wanted to do before others. It took me most of 2014 to work on them. I won't do a major sorting again until I finish scanning everything.
Yeah, I really should have moved my photography lights.


2014

The year was pretty good for me card wise, but there's not much that stands out. The year is memorable, but not in a good way, because my mom was in the hospital for more than a month...she had been having health problems for several years and it all came to a head that year. It's still not great for either of us, but thankfully we both have been steadily improving since then, or even just staying put...it was a scary couple of years and the things that happened in those two years will affect my family forever.

The card highlight of the year is the founding of Cardboard History! I had begun reading the card blogs in either late 2013 or early 2014. I don't remember exactly when I started or who's was the first blog I had read, (I think it was Gavin) but I was enjoying what I was reading, and thought to myself, "I should do this too!" so I did. And I'm still here. Still posting. My follow through and project completion rates are poor so I'm actually kind of surprised that I'm still going- and that anyone's reading my writing- but I'm still enjoying doing it, and it's nice to be able to get stuff down before my swiss cheese memory loses it.
I picked out the color scheme the first day and have kept it the same ever since. It works for me so I don't see any need to change it.

In 2014 I began documenting the exact order I got every single card. I originally did it on paper but due to too many mistakes, the lack of fun it had become and the pain it was causing me physically to do it, I switched to doing it solely on Excel.
Here's a screenshot of that...it, too has been refined, as in mid 2017 I began keeping track of where I got the cards, not just the order they arrived in. I did this because so many people were sending me cards, I wanted to see where they were coming from.


2015

January 2015 may have been the busiest, craziest month of my life in the hobby. It started out with Press Pass going out of business, then I got sick, then I lost a favorite family member to cancer, then I pulled off my largest trade ever, which saw over 1000 cards change hands, then I got sick again, then, finally, on the very last day of the month, I got three boxes of cards which saw two friends send me more than 3000 cards- the most I've ever gotten in one day- the majority of them hockey. My friend Ricky, who sent me 27 pounds worth of cards, is a big hockey fan and wanted me to start collecting as well. It kind of worked, although not just yet, but more on that soon. It was so many cards it was almost overwhelming. I had 28 hockey cards when I woke up that day, I had more than 2800 when I went to bed! I got 3644 new cards that day, covering every sport and non-sports. I also got my first O-Pee-Chee brand card that day as well.
Here's the picture I took before I broke into the boxes that arrived that day...all these boxes shown were stuffed with cards.

On February 5th, the anniversary of when I lost my dad to cancer, I lost part of my card collection to a flood, losing some of the Star Wars cards that started my collection back in 1988 and several boxes worth of NBA cards. It was the most devastating loss any of my hobbies have ever taken and I've still not been able to replace them all. Doubt I ever will...and even if I do, I'm not going to be able to forget seeing the damaged cards, so the thought of them has been ruined forever.
I pulled off a lot of trades this year, and thanks to the gifts and trades, and the fact that I documented everything, not just NBA, when the dust settled 2015 was the second largest total of new additions in my life, 13,160 cards.


2016

This year was a lot like 2015, although less cards came into my collection. One of the files that I had and lost was a breakdown of my serially numbered, autographed and game used NBA collection. I recreated this in 2016, and of course it now includes the cards I'd added since the original file was lost. It ended up taking me a lot less time than I expected. That seemed like a major hurdle in my head but I was able to finish it in something like three days. I figured it would take a few months.
In June 2016 my remote hard drive crashed and took some stuff with it. Some scans and a couple of Excel files that I had forgotten to back up elsewhere, which, of course, were some of the ones that had the most work put in them...naturally, right? I still have not recreated them, although it's mostly just transcribing my paper listing so I could.
A friend sent me a totally unexpected large box of NASCAR cards and it ended up taking the #1 spot for most new NASCAR cards in one day. Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown also sent me a huge box of stuff and I got more than 2800 new cards from him that day! I never "broke down" the box though because most of the cards were naked ladies, which I do collect in card form but can't really post about. I did write up some of an intended post but never finished it.
I've gotten more than 1000 new cards in a single day six times, and four of them came in the January 2015-April 2017 time frame. (The other two were in 2002, as noted)
In November 2016, due to a post on the Trading Card Database, I began to watch NHL hockey on a regular basis...the Golden Knights team logo/name was announced, and I wanted to see it, so I put on NHL Network. As I was working on cards, I left it on, and I got hooked on the sport by the end of that day.
I hit the 1000 card mark for both football and baseball during the year, as well as 3000 for NHL.
I launched my secondary Nothing But Nets blog.
I sold a card for the first time in 2016, on COMC. I had been a very hard line non-seller, but I had so much fun buying stuff on COMC, I decided to send some in as well. If it brought me so much fun, perhaps it could bring somebody else that feeling, instead of sitting in my duplicate boxes? 

2017

This is the Year of the NHL. I became a fan, like I said, in November 2016, but I kept it secret. I saw my first game in it's entirety on January 1st, 2017, the outdoor game between Chicago and St. Louis. I kept it a secret because I wanted to be sure that I was really sure that this was going to be a part of my life, and it was...for sure, it was. I revealed that I had become an NHL fan on Cardboard History on January 14th and began buying NHL cards on January 15th. I even kept it secret from my family, which was highly unlike me and I knew I couldn't keep it up long. By the Stanley Cup Finals I had gotten my mom into it as well, although not as much as I am, she only watches with me, unlike the NBA and NASCAR which she will watch without me as well. For now anyway, LOL.
The fellow NHL collectors in the hobby have been very generous to me. They (you!) have sent me thousands of cards during 2017, and I appreciate every single one of them!
To be honest, I actually watched more and got more NHL cards than NBA during 2017, and the NHL has already surpassed NASCAR as my #2 sport...something I didn't think would ever happen. The NBA had taken it over for #1 probably by the end of the 2012-13 season. I suppose absence made the heart grow fonder, as they say.
In January, I finally made paper listings for the cards that came with diecast cars, and integrated them into my NASCAR collection. Previously I had considered them a separate collection. They were also the last cards I did not have a count on which allowed me to determine the actual number of cards in my collection, although I'm 100% sure it's not entirely accurate, I treat it as if it is. 
I did get another huge box of NASCAR cards from a friend and got 1079 new cards on April 26th- 4 years to the day since I almost died of Keto. (a total coincidence)
I decided in 2017 to count the International cards and Panini stickers as part of my NBA collection, previously I counted them as a separate collection, or didn't count them at all. When I mentioned that I counted them "last year" in a recent post I misspoke. It was last SEASON but this YEAR. My life revolves around cards so much that I often refer to NBA (and now NHL) seasons as "This year" or "last year" regardless of what the calendar says.

Very late in the year I created a couple of new charts that I plan to maintain going forward. I added teams to my listing by player, as shown above, and I created a chart to track my collection by team, year and overall. I copy and paste the info from one sheet to another so it doesn't take as much time and effort as it may sound. It will take me a while due to volume of cards, but eventually I will break even. When it's done it will give me a completely searchable and sortable document for my entire collection. But, I will only type cards into my files once they have been scanned, so it's going to be a long while before it's done...or I should say caught up because it won't ever truly be done.

Even later in the year, December 21st, I finished posting scans of my collection on the Trading Card Database. This is what I've spent most of my time doing since October 2012 and since I finished, I'm kind of rudderless at the moment, lol. But I have plans of card related things to do that will keep me going for years.

I hit 10,000 different people in my collection during 2017, thanks to actively collecting hockey.

In 2017 I officially admitted that my main focus has changed. I have always been a set collector. Building sets makes me happy. It's pretty much impossible, now, though. There are basically only one or if lucky two sets each year that are actually buildable per sport. The rest are not, which is depressing. However, my "Names Project" - what I call my project to get at least one card of every single person to get one in my sports- has been really exhilarating  and rewarding. It has given me the ability to feel more like a historian, than just a simple collector, and I have learned from it as well. It would not have been possible without the Trading Card Database. To make the list, I literally clicked on every name I wasn't 100% sure on to see if they were actually in my sports. I couldn't just use the list of names, because college players are not part of the project (NBA) or drag racing, Indy car, etc for NASCAR, although I do collect them as well. The scope of the project is NASCAR only, or NBA only. I have not made a list for the NHL yet...that's going to be a major task. I don't plan to do it for a couple of years, yet, because there are still so many people I don't have yet. I had already cleared the 80,000 card mark for the NBA and 30,000 for NASCAR before I made the lists. The NHL hasn't even gotten 10,000 cards into my collection yet. I will, eventually, but I'm going to wait until the time where every single pack doesn't provide a new player, which is kind of the situation I'm in now, and was unquestionably a few months ago. I also don't know the NHL as well yet, where I have the ins and outs of my other two major sports pretty well known. I don't even have all the current Rangers in my collection yet, for example. That is not to say I won't complete sets when I can. I usually complete Hoops every year, but that's about it. I completed one 2016 NASCAR set but all of the 2017 sets are unlikely to ever be completed. I have not completed a single NHL set yet, and not sure I will any time soon, thanks to the short printed Young Guns in the UD flagship. I will still, of course, keep my collection records by set. Any other way is just wrong, in my head, haha. My focus started to shift more towards this in 2016 (I created the charts in 2015, I think. I don't know for sure because it wasn't tied to a new card entering my collection) but in 2017 I finally realized that this is what I want to focus on.

2018 and Beyond

I am celebrating my 30th anniversary in the hobby this year, and I have one plan to make it totally unique and special- as you saw on the 1st, I am going to try and get at least one new card every single day of the year!  I think I will be able to pull this off, because I've been stashing cards for this project since 2015! Yeah, I think ahead sometimes...
I have not counted the cards I've got stashed, (looking through them would make them count for that day, after all) but I have a bunch, and some of them are football and baseball and sumo wrestling from Angus and Ryan, respectively. plus I have some NBA, NHL, NASCAR, and non-sports stashed as well. I actually tried to do this project in 2015, but I messed it up. I got through all of January but then in February I pulled out not one but two days worth which I was sure were new but turned out to be duplicates, and I was so sure I didn't check for almost a week, thus killing the project. Since I realized that I was nearing my 30th anniversary in the hobby, I decided to just work on building a stash of cards for 2018.

I don't plan to ever stop collecting again, like I essentially did in 2008. I realize now that leaving the NBA as I did was more because of me, not the faults I found with the NBA, and I now consider it one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life- and I've made many. It's hurting me now because I missed out on the rookie cards of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and others. Now they have gone out of my price range for the most part and I'll probably never have them. Even the basic Topps and Upper Deck cards are beyond me now, especially for Steph.

I would not be too surprised if I someday consider 2017 to be the start of my 4th era, as the NHL takes more prominence in my collection. After more than 20 years collecting the NBA and NASCAR I doubt I will ever get the card totals up near my NBA and NASCAR collections are, but maybe I will be lucky or win the lottery or something. On the other hand, thanks to my fellow collectors and the better representation on cardboard the NHL gets, already I've got the NHL to within 300 or so different people as I have in my NBA collection. I began 2017 with exactly 3000 NHL cards and I end the year with more than 9000, all but about 1500-2000 of the new additions being gifts. I have certainly spent more time on the NHL than anything else! Actually, they could pass NASCAR, as the NHL gets multiple sets each year that have more cards than all of NASCAR's yearly output combined. The NHL era has definitely begun, but hopefully I will be able to more properly balance my sports and non-sports pursuits, instead of ignoring most everything else like I did when I was younger. I'm not sure if it is the start of my 4th era or if my 3rd era is jut getting better...when I consider it the best already. And I do consider this my best era, even though it started weakly. I've been able to balance multiple topics- I am collecting 4 sports regularly (counting the Olympics as one sport topic) as well as the various non-sports topics I collect. The internet has greatly increased my enjoyment of the hobby- The Trading Card Database, the blogs, including my own, COMC, my Excel charts...not to mention the scanning and labeling project, which I greatly enjoy...all have increased my enjoyment. And it's hard to quantify, but I appreciate the cards more now. In era #2 in particular, I was all about the addition. Now, I'm all about the appreciation, whether it be the cards I've had since I was a kid to the latest new addition I added to my collection. In era #2 I generally didn't even read the cards. All my time was spent trying to keep up with documenting my new additions, both in my paper listing and on the now-lost original Excel file, while it existed. Now, I can't say I read them all, but I read a lot more than I used to, which was essentially none.

I'm getting closer to finishing scanning my collection, and when I finish scanning them is when I type them into my charts, and it will be so nice to finish recreating my long-lost files. It's going to be essentially lost for 15 or more years, although I've been slowly recreating it as I scan. When I get near the end of a project, I start to get really antsy and want to just power through and finish it. I've been feeling that antsiness now since early 2017, although I know I realistically won't finish until 2021 or later. By the way, I'm the world's worst estimator, I originally predicted that I would finish in 2016. Not even close! I hit the halfway mark on my NBA collection in 2016, not completion!

I have no more major projects planned. I have my paper listing where I want it to be, although I have not finished the NHL listing totally yet, I have nothing left to count, nothing major that needs attention. I'm actually kind of disappointed by that as I like starting out the year with a big project, and finishing off a major project to start the year is a nice feeling- even if some of my "major projects" lately have taken three days or less. (I wrote this paragraph in July. Since then, I've come up with the chart to track teams, years and overall, which I hadn't even thought of then. It turns out I DO have a major project I can work on, and I plan to! I have never had a count of how many cards I have from each team or season, so that will be a first- but I'm looking at years before I have that number, maybe even a decade)

I AM a little worried about what I'm going to do when I finish scanning everything. That has been pretty much my whole life for several years now and looks to be for several more years to come. I already thought of a couple more Excel files I can create, but that won't be quite the same. I do know when I finish scanning everything I will be resorting my NBA collection into sets for the first time since 2004. That is something I am looking forward to, and if I can, I may schedule that into a "year start" project. My NHL cards will get sorted by set for the first time ever then as well, which should be fun. By then, hopefully, I will know them like I know my NBA collection, because after all by then I will have been very actively collecting them for probably 5 years or more. Probably more, based on my track record of estimating things. When I truly run out of cards, I have my stamps, comics and magazines that need scanning, so my scanner won't be getting rest any time soon.

Of course, when I finally get everything sorted back by set, I will recount, taking notes as I go, and hopefully come up with an even more accurate number for my collection. And since I'll be letting Excel do the actual work, hopefully this time it will be accurate, unlike now, where I have three separate counts I've made, and none of them match!

Hopefully, 10 years from now when I hit my 40th anniversary in the hobby, we'll still be here, the internet will still be around and I'll still be here to post an update to this series. It'll be nice to look back on it and see just how my predictions pan out. Knowing how I am with predicting how long this takes me, I probably will still be working on scanning my collection...

Thanks for reading!