Monday, April 30, 2018

Black Friday Box Breaking - 6 Box Breaks, 1 post! (and 3 years!)

Last year, I remember looking at Dave & Adam's Black Friday sale, and seeing the great discounts and not being able to take part. Seeing some of those boxes that I really wanted marked down to 75% off the original price in some cases, and not being able to get any...not going to lie, that hurt some.

2015 was a different story. I was able to take part, and I got some spectacular cards, even adding two sets to my collection that were totally absent before. (Well, I had gotten a couple of inserts from 14-15 Totally Certified, but only in the week before Thanksgiving, so, close enough)
Of these sets shown, the only one I had opened a pack of previously had been Galactic Files 2, which I had gotten a box of for Christmas 2013. The biggest reason for me to buy that box, aside from the fact that it's my favorite Star Wars set of all-time and I had only around half of them, was that the poster/checklist is one of the items that I lost in the flood on February 5th. When I wrote up the post I linked to here, I hadn't even discovered yet that the poster was destroyed. (I have since replaced about 1/3rd of the damaged cards in the post)

The very first pack out of the box turned out to be the best...
A major card! I have not looked at what it sells for on Ebay, but I doubt I could have afforded it as a single! (Ok, I just looked, I won't spend more than $20 on a single card, so this one is indeed out of my price range, with the cheapest one I saw at $35). This is only my third Star Wars autograph, and my first from the original trilogy.

I did very well with the blue parallels as well, pulling 9 of them. It's also what I pulled from my first box, and none were duplicated. They are Serially numbered to 350.

As you can see, the blue is REALLY hard to pick up in a scan.

There was also one red in the box, just as in the last box and the box of Series 1 I did. I was not lucky enough to pull a gold, which are SN to 10. The cheapest one on Ebay is 50 bucks so I won't be having any of them in my collection anytime soon. The Reds, which I now have three of, are SN35.
The red doesn't scan much better, but you can see a little bit of redness.

This was the first new card in the box.
One of the Olsen twins went to the Dark Side.
Although I've only shown two colors, each movie, and each subset, has it's own border color. Green is clearly Return of the Jedi.

Next up was 2014-15 Totally Certified, which I always found to be too expensive at it's original MSRP for the few amount of cards you get. You only get 20 cards in the box, 4 packs of 5 cards each. However, marked down to 1/3rd it's  original price, I got a box. It's a great set, and in my first pack, I pulled a green parallel of Shabazz Napier, serially numbered 2 of 5! Panini always uses green for it's second rarest parallel, and with green being my long-time favorite color, I was happy to pull it.
Here is a base card..
This is actually a variation, and it's the worst variation ever. This is version A. Version B is the exact same photo...but shows his knees. That's the only difference!

Here is the Green Napier I mentioned...
But I think I actually like the Red version better, which is the most common, SN to 279.
The Clear Cloth insert is nice. My scanner can't pick it up totally accurately but the square where the player's picture is is clear acetate. The orange in this relic is bright orange, brighter than it shows. I think that it's from a warm-up or shooting shirt, rather than the alternate orange jersey, based on the texture, but Panini doesn't tell you so you are left to guess what the material is.
Here is my box's autograph, Noah Vonleh.
Writer's Note- I wrote up to this part in 2015, then didn't touch this post again until 2018! The next four photos were placed in 2015, but the captions were written in 2018.

Next came the box of 2012-13 Panini Marquee. This holds the record as the largest Panini set...kind of. It's 540 cards long, but it only has about 200 unique people in it. All the rookies, and the 2011-12 rookies Panini didn't give real rookie cards, each have 5 different designs. They have a Swirlorama, a Black Holofoil, a die cut, a clear plastic, and a leather, in order of rarity. (You got only one or two leathers per box, I don't remember at this late date.)
The die cuts are kind of cool, and possibly my favorite of the Rookies and not-rookies-but-called-rookies.
There it is held up in front of my computer, you can see my logo showing through.
The base cards are all holofoil, which is cool. Just a player cutout in front of nothing. not so cool. I got all 100 active players in my box.
I even got an error card, which is rare from Panini! And one of the biggest names in the game, even rarer. This was actually my favorite card of the box. I think. That was 3 years ago. If it wasn't my favorite at the time, it's the most memorable to me now.

2014-15 this point in time, I don't really remember what exciting cards came out of that. For some reason the 2014-15 season is not really something I store in my memory, I even had to look up what the Hoops design was that year, even though I have most of them.
Let's see what my Excel collection chart shows for December 2015...

Here's a Serially numbered parallel. 
. I also managed to pull #1 pick Andrew Wiggins' rookie card, one of only two rookies from the box (the other being Erick Green, a player no longer in the NBA)
As you can see, when I got these cards and scanned them, I was using a scanner that didn't play well with Panini cards. Even after I finish scanning everything, I might have to end up re-scanning a lot of what I've already done. That's a mess to deal with some time in the future.

The Swirlorama cards were sure cool.
A throwback to one of the greatest jerseys in NBA history sure doesn't hurt either!

The base cards look very similar to the Statline parallel.
Man, that one looks even worse. Those lines across everything are sure bad. I'm going to have to do a lot of re-scanning.

I pulled two jersey cards and one autograph out of the box...the auto was a good one...
 but it's my third different auto of Tracy's, I think. Maybe fourth! But it's die cut and serially numbered, so it's cool.

I pulled one more serially numbered card from the box...
Another Andrew Wiggins! I've done pretty well pulling his cards over the years. Not a bad thing by any means, I definitely consider myself a fan of his.

Overall, though, this set is not all that memorable to me. The 2015-16 Donruss set is one of my favorite Panini issues ever, but at the time I busted this box, I don't even know if it had been released yet. I gotta get my stuff in order so I remember the stuff as I'm writing about it!

Past & Present was a set concept that was cool...but could have been so much cooler. (if that isn't the Panini era's motto, it should be, as they constantly come close to greatness but end up failing miserably...moving on). The set was a mixture of modern players with some retired players, but as usual there is almost no representation of anyone pre-Magic & Bird other than token appearances by Wilt Chamberlain and George Mikan. This box had some pre-Magic & Bird, in fact my first card out of the box was Willis Reed.
Always cool to get one of the rare, lost teams, like the Cincinnati Royals. Did you know there are actually 9 teams in NBA history that have never had a single card issued? Granted, they were all early in the league's history, but still. (The most recent was the 1950-51 season)
But the title is Past & Present...those two are the past, these next two are the present, and that gets you all four designs used to make up the base set.

Most of the cards I got out of this box have not been scanned yet. That's a good thing as a few months after I bought the box, I bought a new scanner that can handle Panini cards (and more than a few other brands as well) MUCH better than the one I used to make the scans shown in this post. I'm not really a fan of the faux distressing but I like the set anyway.

Besides the base cards, this set had some interesting inserts. The Elusive Ink autograph set is a favorite of mine, because Panini tracked down some pretty rare people to sign for this set- there are some players who have their only card ever in this autograph set. (I need to look for more of them on COMC or Ebay or fact, when I did these boxes I wasn't aware of COMC yet, that came in 2016!) I didn't  get any of those rare players in that box, but I did get someone who I saw many, many times and have lots of memories of.
Brian Grant has a few hundred cards in my collection but I believe this is the only autograph...and he's one of the few players who has followed me on Twitter!

The Changing Times insert is structurally the best- it's about how the game has changed over the years, and is largely based on ABA players. If I have not made it clear before, preserving ABA history is very important to me.
Breakout features an unusual, almost rubbery texture on the card front. I don't know how to accurately describe it but I like it.
I also got a jersey card, something Panini really does not do a whole lot of.
It also features that rubbery texture.

The last box was 2012-13 Timeless Treasures, another set that at it's original price point, is way out of what I will justify. These went for like $100 for 5 cards. No way, no how, can I justify that when my medicine costs $500 a box and a box lasts 9 days. When it's marked down to about $30....that is more my style. Still a little too high for what you get, but I'm glad I did least once.

Base cards, meh, another set where it's just the player superimposed over nothing. Something I generally do not care for (yet it doesn't bother me in Past & Present for some reason, when it really should)
 I am not impressed.
I didn't get a single jersey card, but I did get two autographs and an insert...

 The autographs are actually pretty cool, because they are signed on a clear sheet in the card. However, neither of them were actually rookies, and it's not glass but plastic. Both were rookies in 2011-12 but once again, I have to say this- Panini didn't bother to give rookie cards to the rookies of 2011-12, but crammed them into 2012-13 and called them rookies even though they were not.
 This insert is die cut and serially numbered.

I also got a redemption card. My track records on redemptions is not great. One thing I will say about Panini, they do Redemption cards better than anyone else in the hobby's history. Yeah, sometimes they take a while to get to you, but they will honor them even if they have "expired"...this one did, and I got the card anyway. I wish the other companies did as well with redemptions as Panini does. I give them a lot of grief over their tiny sets but they deserve nothing but praise for this.

And here is the card that arrived in the mail. I opened the box and redeemed the card online on December 2nd, 2015. It arrived to me on December 29th, 2015. Fast service, and yes, it is on-card for those of you that care.

This turned out to be my biggest Black Friday splurge ever with Dave & Adams. 2016 gave me only one box, and 2017 saw only two boxes, but one of the was A Great One. The other, not so much. I don't know what the future holds, but hopefully it won't take me three years to write up a simple post like this again!

Friday, April 27, 2018

My one and only TTM success

I'm not really an autograph chaser...I have plenty of pack-issued autographs- over 1000, actually- but to get them on a card that wasn't specifically made for autographs? Just not my thing.

In my life, I've sent out two Through The Mail autograph requests, only one of which was successful.

First, the story of the one that was not a success. Back in either 6th or 7th grade (1996-98 depending on year, I no longer remember exactly) we had to write to a celebrity as part of a class project. I chose Rik Smits, who at the time was one of my favorite NBA players, mostly because of the local connection. He attended Marist College which is only about 20 minutes north of me, and I remember that in the letter we had to write, I mentioned about doing the class project (we had to mention that I think) and that I thought it was so cool that somebody who was "from" our area was in the NBA. I chose a duplicate of the 1996-97 Metal base card, and sent it off to the Indiana Pacers address that had been published in Beckett...and waited and waited for a return.

20 years later, I'm still waiting. I gave up hope long ago, and if you are wondering why he doesn't have a presence on Cardboard History that, say, Elton Brand has- yes, that DOES play a role. I did eventually get his autograph- I have the 2005-06 Topps 1952 Style All-Time Fan Favorites and 1996-97 Autographics, plus an IP on the 1989-90 Hoops base card which one of my fellow bloggers sent to me- I THINK it was Jon from A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, but it came in before I began recording where I got each card, so I can't be 100% sure.

Now, my one successful TTM comes from the world of NASCAR. It's a driver who at the time I didn't think had any pack issued autographs, but I found out later that he did. This time, though, I knew it was going to be a success before it went in the mail. I joined Facebook in 2008, and back then it was fun- it's not really much fun anymore- and when I first started, I sent out friend requests to several NASCAR drivers, some of whom actually accepted! The first was Stanton Barrett, who never really made it "big" in NASCAR, but it was kind of a hobby for him anyway. His day job is Hollywood stuntman! I sent him a message asking if he would be willing to sign an autograph through the mail and he agreed. I sent it to his race shop and shortly afterwords I got this in the mail:
Pretty cool, I think! Stanton only ever had 6 cards issued, all from his brief time in 2003 with Roush Racing's Busch team. Two of them are autographs, from the Press Pass Signings set and it's paralllel, and one is SN5, the dreaded Ebay Preview.. The 2003 Trackside base card is my only card of his- although technically I have two as I count the non-autographed version and the TTM auto as two separate cards.

Stanton has run 226 races over the Top 3 NASCAR series between 1992 and 2016, he also had a brief stint in Indy cars, and raced in Sports Car racing as recently as 2017. Most of his racing came in the Busch (later Nationwide, later still Xfinity) series where he made 203 of those starts, with a best finish of 5th at Atlanta in 1996, beating 10 of the 12 Cup drivers entered in the race. He is a second generation driver, his father Stan raced sporadically in NASCAR over 10 years, his only cards were in 1990 Maxx and the factory set glossy parallel.

I got this autograph 10 years ago now, in 2008, and I've been meaning to write a post about it for a while...finally, I did. My thanks still go out to Stanton Barrett for signing this for me...and if Rik Smits ever reads this, it's not too late to send the card back, the address is still valid!

I guess I should send out one more to see if I can get a percentage better than 50%....but, it's just not my thing, so I haven't. My streak of one per decade is nearly slipping away...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Ultra-Elite Team

A quick non-card post today...earlier this week, my brother launched his own comic book. This is something he has been working on for years- he began creating these characters before I was born. so I have been aware of them for a long time.

The comics are totally free, and are on YouTube, because they feature some things you can't do in print. (There is no sound).
Please check out his YouTube page: The Ultra-Elite Team

He also has a blog for the comic, which now appears on my blogroll, and I have added a clickable link to my right hand column with a direct link to the comic if you click on the logo.

Please check it out and subscribe. It means a great deal to him, so therefor it also means a great deal to me. Thanks!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Error Gallery : Off Center

THE most common error, and the culmination of my Error Gallery series, you can find off-center cards almost as easily as you can find properly centered- and in some sets, especially from the 1970s, they are more common.

I will collect and consider any card that is noticeably off center, but the most impressive and the ones I'm choosing to highlight here are those that are so far off center, they have part of another card present on theirs or part of the design totally missing.

1996-97 Ultra #41
 My favorite Error in my error collection. My favorite NBA set, and a high degree of off-centerness. The fact that the foil stamp was applied correctly makes it look even better.
1996-97 Ultra #46
These two being both from series 1 of 1996-97 Ultra makes me think there are a lot more out tantalizing. Hopefully someday I will find them.

1996 Press Pass #31

1963 Topps Baseball Sticker

1973-74 Topps #232

1974-75 Topps #91
 My first NHL error, and it's not only off-center, it's crooked!
1993-94 Hoops #52
 There are a LOT just a tiny bit off-center like this. I chose this one to show because part of the number is missing.
1993-94 Upper Deck #483
 Unusual in that the cut goes right through the embossed Top Prospects logo.
1993-94 Upper Deck #489

1995-96 Fleer #115

1995-96 Ultra #249

1996-97 Fleer #263

1996-97 Ultra #268
Ultra series 2 joins the fun.
1997 Press Pass Clear Cut #C3

1997-98 Z-Force #3

1998-99 Finest #114
 Even premium sets can show this error.
2001-02 Ultra #43

2001-02 Ultra #91
 Both 2001-02 Ultra cards shown came from a big group, and both these cards actually have two off-center version in my collection! I showed the most interesting ones, but I have an example of each that has part of another card on top. It's so small it's hard to scan.
2002-03 Upper Deck #9

Empire Strikes Back #134

Empire Strikes Back #158
 I see in posting this my scan is a little crooked...when I first scanned my errors I did not yet have the rotating tool on PhotoScape that I do now.
Return of the Jedi #65

Star Wars #16

Star Wars #202
And there's so many that have just a tiny little bit off, that it's almost imperceptible in a scan and not really worth posting because you can't see it...but you can in hand.

I'm starting to build some NHL errors already, too...

 gotta love 1990-91 Pro Set. It's the set that just keeps on giving. The MacLean has some white on the left side of the card, which must be the edge margin as there are no all-white cards in the et. The Duchesne from the All-Star subset is off at the bottom, with the top orange border of another all-Star card...and even a little black line, showing where it should have been cut!

This one is so far off that all the copyright info is missing, and there's lots of white border up top that shouldn't be there. Interestingly, I already have a non-error version of this card and when I got this one, I thought it was a duplicate...until I turned it over.

With off-centers, they tend to come in waves. I once opened a box of 1995-96 Hoops and almost every single card was off-center. I have not gotten them scanned yet. I believe this may be the only error type that I have more than 100 different cards of- in fact, I probably have that from that Hoops box alone. Some of which I have even more than one copy of with different degrees of off-centerness. I really need to find which box they are in and get them scanned. I thought I knew which box I stored them in, but I dug it out for this project, and they were not in it. I suspect they may have outgrew it actually, because I have a whole lot of them.

And that concludes my error gallery. It's a section of my collection that I have been talking about almost since I started this thing, but rarely ever showed, only when I got a new one. It's nice to rectify that.
Since the Trading Card Database now gives you the ability to create multiple collections, I created one for each major error type, and entered in only what has been scanned.
These numbers will go way up when I find my unscanned errors. I also have a few errors that are counted as part of my collection because I don't have a non-damaged version yet. Maybe someday I will be able to move them to their proper place.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned, because I will share the others when I locate them!

And that concludes my Error Gallery...for now. I hope you enjoyed reading about and seeing them as I much as I enjoyed writing about them.