Sunday, July 15, 2018

How to Tell a Refractor from a basic Chrome/Finest card

I see this question asked all the time, which, being honest, I don't understand because there is NO way to mistake a Refractor from a base card...unless you've never seen either kind before. I decided to take some pictures and a short video to hopefully help anyone who is having trouble telling the difference. Panini's Prizms and Upper Deck's Rainbows use the same technology.
In the second image and the video, the Refractor is on top, while the standard Chrome card is on the bottom. Note how the light refracts from the Refractor, and just reflects from the Chrome card.

VIDEO on YouTube (in case the embed feature doesn't work)

 the arrows on the right side point to the refraction

When scanned, the Refractor appears to be glowing from within- these are my scans of the exact same cards shown in the images:

And the Refractor:

As you can see, there is a world of difference, and it's impossible to mistake them. Hopefully this will help anyone who is struggling to identify my all-time favorite Parallel concept in cardboard history.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


There's a lot of burnout going around the hobby, and blogosphere, lately. Sad to say, I'm feeling it too.

I've been thinking about it, and I think the general hobby malaise is due in large part to the cards being produced now. With every sport having an exclusive license, the card companies don't really have to do a good job in representing the long as they keep paying the league, nobody cares...except collectors, But, you know, we don't count. However....I felt this way a few times in the past. In 2006, it was a contributing factor in my walking away from the NBA for 5 years, something I now consider one of the biggest mistakes of my life. So it may not really be may just be the apparently natural sense of "everything was better in the past" which, based on what I see on a daily basis on facebook, is what everyone feels about everything.

For me personally, there's a few other things that are contributing. The pain...I've been in more pain the past three weeks than I've ever been in my life, and I've been living in pain 24/7/365 for more than a decade. I can't do anything without suffering. That includes sorting of the few things that I used to be able to do with (almost) no trouble. The medicine that the doctor gave me helps me get through and function, but I can't say I've truly been able to enjoy anything...and I'm not sure if that will ever change.

I need to get used to the fact that this may be "the new normal"...which is a pretty horrible thought.
I've already had to give up almost everything I love due to health reasons. Now I'm facing the very real prospect of not being able to do the one thing that makes me truly happy- my car shows. I've already missed more than 10 in the past 3 weeks due to my health problems. And there's more than that health wise, but I don't really want to talk about it.

And that brings me to another point...which I may have touched on here before, but I've gone on about elsewhere in the past. All my life I've only had one real dream. That dream is to own a classic car, and be able to enter that car in our local car shows. I can remember thinking about this one and only dream as far back as the late 1980s. Yet, instead of making that dream happen, I've spent decades collecting various things- more than 160,000 cards, more than 10,000 diecast car replicas, more models than I can count- literally, I stopped counting when I hit 1000 in 2007, and more...those are just the main hobbies. I can't help but wonder if I've made a huge mistake doing that, and that I should have saved my money for a classic car instead of spending it on one of my many hobbies as soon as I got the chance.

I have these thoughts, but just this week I've bought two Star team bags, 2 packs of cards, and a model, plus a few singles on COMC. I had to mostly give up the diecast collection due to my health problems so it's been a few months since I added anything there. I'm wracked by indecision, constantly unsure if what I'm doing is the right thing to do.

And then there is the thought...what if owning a classic car turns out to NOT be fun? I don't have the physical ability to perform repairs it may need, which could prove to be troublesome. Our Jeep would have been able to be entered in the local show next year, and that's certainly caused me plenty of heartache- with much more to come.

I've been building it up in my head for so long- I can't remember a time when this thought wasn't in my head- that it almost surely can't live up to my expectations.

So what if I stop with my hobbies, and just save up money to get a car. What it if turns out terrible, as anything I try has a tendency to do, then what? Then I've got nothing to show for anything, and nothing to do. What if it's frustrating, and not fun? Yeah, I've got enough cards needing scans that it'll be a few years before I catch up, even if I never got another one. But eventually, I will catch up, and then what?

There's a very real chance I could give up the hobbies that help me get through each day, and the car dream not work out. 

Add in the fact that I think my time to be able to truly enjoy car shows may be nearing an end, (due to the health problems) and I'm just really, really unhappy right now. 

Another thing leading to my burnout...I have spent the last few days working on entering my cards into my Excel charts. I've discussed this before. I scan them, and when they fill up the plastic cases that I have, I sort them by person and enter them into my Excel chart.
For some reason, I'm not enjoying it like I should. This used to be my favorite part of the process but lately it just seems like busywork to fill time, instead of an integral part of the hobby. I put so much effort into these excel charts...yet other than telling me what I have, it serves no real purpose. Nobody besides me ever sees it, other than the few times I've posted screenshots. I've been doing these charts for 15 years now, so why the change? I think it may be my outlook being not particularly happy/good right now, to be honest. Yet, I wouldn't ever think of skipping it. It's too important to mess up, especially now, this far into it. I spend, literally, weeks doing this several times a year, and lately I've just been thinking "what's the point?"

Just so this post isn't totally devoid of photos, here's the contents of the wave of cases sorted by subject, before I sorted them out by subject and typed them in.
 At the time of this typing (1:29 AM Friday into Saturday) I've finished everything except NBA, which I am currently typing in. There's about 4500 cards in this photo.

Another burnout cause- my scanner. It's been driving me nuts lately. Usually, I do a full page of scans, which is 9 standard size cards. Well, now, for the past month or so, it's been putting lines across everything. Usually, when it does that, it goes away after a few days, but this time it hasn't. It's gotten to the point where instead of removing those lines with PhotoScape, which is not hard, just annoying to do, I'm actually just doing 6 cards instead of 9 per scan. (the lines run top to bottom) Timewise, it isn't that much different, it's just frustrating. I've been using this scanner since 2015, and I put them though so much work that it's probably nearing the end of it's useful life. Just a rough estimation, I've made about 20,000 scans on this scanner, just since I got it in 2015. The scanner it replaced- which I still use for some things- lasted three years. The one that IT replaced, which I still use for neons- lasted me three years. Noticing a pattern? It's probably going to be time soon to buy a new one, but I'm going to keep using this one for as long as I can. I don't need to spend the money on a new scanner when this one sort of works.

Yet another cause of the burnout- the National. I really, really thought this would be the year where it would finally happen. It's my 30th anniversary in the hobby, and it's in Cleveland- which means I actually could have gone...if we had any money. I don't think I can handle the ride to Chicago physically, not that I would have any way to get there even if I could-my family won't drive there and I can't drive-and I really, truly loathe the roads in New Jersey. This felt like my last, best chance. Of course, it won't happen. As far as I know it's not returning to Cleveland anytime soon after this, but I could be wrong, as I've not really stayed up on it, as it's just too depressing. Again, I've built this up so long it probably wouldn't have lived up to my expectations, but it's just another disappointment in the same long line of disappointments I've been having in regard to this show, which I've wanted to attend since I found out it existed in the mid/late 90s. It would have been nice to actually get to a card show to celebrate my 30th anniversary in the hobby, and the National at that (I have not been to a card show since 2004 or 2005, I don't even remember anymore). But it would cost almost $1000 just to GET there- let alone be able to do any shopping there. (rental car, hotel and ticket fees). We just can't afford it. Needing a $500+ box of medicine, and it's just one of the medicines you need to stay alive, every week is challenging, to say the least.

To be honest, I didn't expect to actually get there. I don't really have expectations anymore. About almost anything. I've learned that things I look forward to, things I dream about doing...they either outright don't happen, or they turn out to not be what I expected them to be. If something good actually does happen, it's a pleasant surprise, but I just don't look forward to too much anymore. The one exception to that is Lake George. It never, ever disappoints. I just hope that I'll be able to enjoy it, with my mounting health problems that is something I am starting to fear won't be possible.

So what does all this mean?

Probably nothing. I know myself. I know nothing will change, I'll keep doing the same darn thing every day, even if I'm not enjoying it in the least- just like I've been doing for quite a long time now, because what else is there to do?

I'm sorry this came out so whiny. I know there are people with far worse problems than I have, and it makes me feel bad about myself that I'm so worried about hobbies when there are people struggling to survive...actually, I am kind of struggling to survive, but as long I continue to take the medicine I need I will...but I can't help who I am.

I'm not going to stop writing about cards. Cardboard History will continue as if none of this is going on behind the scenes. Once I get back to writing again (besides this post, which I just wrote last night) I plan to work more on the series I have long-neglected. I want the Encyclopedias and Uniform History to be the cornerstones of Cardboard History, and they have none of my personal thoughts or opinions in them as a general rule, other than I will mention if a person is a particular favorite of mine. It's been months since I posted in those series until yesterday and that needs to change.

Friday, July 13, 2018

NASCAR Encyclopedia: Mike Alexander

We come now the first driver to appear in this project.

Mike Alexander
Born: July 31st, 1957
Home: Franklin, Tennessee
Cards produced, according to the Trading Card Database: 6
Cards in my Collection: 5
NASCAR Winston Cup Career: 1980-1990

1991 Maxx Update #85
Mike Alexander is one of many drivers who have been adversely impacted by injury, in his case, it turned out to be career ending. He never ran a full Winston Cup season, although he was supposed to in both 1989 and 1990, injuries robbed him of all but one race in 1989, and the results of the injuries cost him his career after 7 races of 1990; he would never turn another lap in NASCAR. He is very well known in the Nashville area, known for being one of THE drivers to beat on the old Nashville track, in fact, it was his success there that got him noticed and into a Cup car in the first place, making his Cup debut at the track in 1980, at age 22, a rarity at that time to appear in a Cup race that young. His best career Cup finish was 3rd in the 1988 season finale, filling in for another driver whose career ended via injury, Bobby Allison.
Although I have not been able to find any records, he was a multi-time Champion in one of NASCAR's many divisions; while my focus is on the main division- Strictly Stock-Grand National-Winston Cup-Nextel Cup-Sprint Cup- (I usually just call it Cup) NASCAR has dozens of divisions which are almost never covered on cards and can be very hard to find information about...I've spent more than 20 years searching for information and still have large gaps where I have been able to find nothing. His 1989 Maxx card, his first, notes that he was 1983 Winston Touring Series National Champion and 1984 All-American series Champion.

Writer's Note: I wrote this up sometime in 2016, when I was planning to do the NASCAR Encyclopedia person-by-person. I've since decided to restructure it to be more like my NBA Encyclopedia, but instead of discarding or modifying what I had already done, I've chosen to just post it as is. I hope to relaunch the NBA Encyclopedia shortly and post more in the NASCAR Encyclopedia, but I just have not found the time to write any more yet, they are somewhat labor-intensive to create. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


A card showing a standard, every day electric plug...does it exist? The answer is, of course, yes.
2007 Legends #37 shows Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR Champion, standing in front of a non-desript wall with an electrical plug showing.

I just needed to "plug" a hole when I had nothing better to post, and this seemed as good as anything else. 

Just for kicks, I wrote it up on February 1st, 2017. Let's see how long it takes me to actually post it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

An NBA Hockey card

One of my favorite inserts of the Panini era is the Courtside set that was in Hoops for several years.
The photography in these is just...spectacular. They are all like this...this one is from the 2013-14 set. This photo was taken at the Staples Center, and take a look at the banners clearly shown in the rafters- they are for the LA Kings hockey team, showing retired numbers on the left and post season awards on the right. The banners on the right are probably a little different now- the Kings would win the Stanley Cup that season also.

The funny thing is, now this matters to me. When the card was issued, it wouldn't have, really. I would not have known who any of the names other than Gretzky were- even before I got into hockey, I knew that name- but now I do. I have cards of all of them as well. Something that- when this card was issued- I had only Gretzky in my Multi-Sport collection.

Luckily, I didn't get this card when it was new. I got it in trade with Trading Card Database member Bevans in June 2018. Now, I was able to appreciate it fully. There's another in the same set that also shows the banners that I got in the same trade:

I really need to be on the lookout for more cards that show cross-sport banners for the two indoor sports I collect. I know I have a Rangers card where Walt Frazier's retired number banner is visible, but I didn't think to make note of which one it was.

I'll make sure to show it when I come across it again. I've created a new tag- Cross-Sport- where I will track these as I come across them in the future.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Card of the Day - June 2018

The 1 New Card every day of the year project has reached it's halfway point! 181 cards down, 184 to go! OK, technically not half way, thanks to February being so short, but the June to July break is the halfway point of the year in my book.

I have to admit...I'm not really enjoying the project at this point. It's starting to become a chore instead of a fun project. I won't quit, though...I've come too far to do that now. I do know, however, that this is going to be a one time project. Before this year, I had done 1 new card every day in a month a couple times before. Doing it for a year seemed like a fitting celebration of my 30th anniversary in the hobby. I guess it still is. But I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

It probably doesn't help that my health- always troublesome at best- decided to really act up this month. I have not felt this bad physically in a long time, if ever. There are finally some signs of getting back to normal- which is still bad, but manageable. I've had to miss the one thing that truly makes me happy, car shows, for the past two weeks and I probably won't be able to do them next week, either. Add in the fact that the heat is here- June through August are really hard months for me to get through health wise, the dregs of the year. I dread the summer every year, so combining the heat and my health problems...I'm pretty miserable right now. I guess it shows a little on the blog because of the posts I published in June, I only actually wrote three of them in June, and one of them only took about 5 minutes to create.

But I'm sure you didn't come here to read my whining, so how about some cards?
June 1st:
2015 Panini Stars & Stripes #87
The month started off with disappointment. On June 1st, we drove as a family up to my favorite place in the world, Lake George, which I have talked about in the past somewhat. We went up for a family wedding (the first I've attended) and since it was close to Lake George, we took the opportunity to go there. I knew we were going to go up Prospect Mountain and I thought, I'll bring a pack from my stash and get a cool picture with the lake in the background. As soon as we got to the mountain...a thunderstorm came up. I took the picture anyway- but the clouds totally obscure the lake. You can't tell where I'm standing, or actually sitting in the rental car- at all.
We went back a couple days later- it didn't occur to me to take the card out and get another picture, when it was clear. I did take this photo, though, which is what I SHOULD have been standing holding this very card in front of.  Make sure to click on it to see it larger, I used the panorama setting on my camera so it's a long, wide image.
June 2nd:
2017-18 Parkhurst #160
June 2nd was a very, very busy day. First, we went to Lake George and walked around town. Then, we went to the wedding that was the reason for the trip. Then, we made a mad dash to the Saratoga Automobile Museum which was closing in less than 45 minutes! After walking around there, we went BACK to Lake George Village and walked around part of it again, and in the village I found a small sports apparel store that had some cards. After that we got Long John Silver's for dinner- a rare treat as they are not in my area. The apparel store had some of the Parkhurst team sets, including the Rangers and for some unknown reason a large quantity of Chicago Blackhawks. I bought one of each, but at $10 a pop I couldn't get the other teams they had. I had tried to find the Rangers set online but was unable. None of my local stores brought in Parkhurst so I am glad I was able to get the Rangers set finally- I couldn't even find a set on Ebay when I looked.

June 3rd:
Star Wars Galaxy LucasArts #L5
On Sunday, June 3rd, we left Lake George and headed home- but made a stop off at the Albany Comic Con, which was our first time at that show, but will not be the last. I had a large comic haul- about 60 comics, my best haul since I got into military comics, which I've posted on Twitter but have not yet gotten a chance to post about on my comic blog- and I found some cards, mostly promos, right at the end of the show. The price was really good- I am kind of second-guessing myself for not asking how much he would have sold the whole box to me for. I got what I really wanted, but there was more in there I would not be unhappy to add to my collection- I ended up with a stack of about 40 cards for $20. Since I didn't have my lists I had to guess on a few and came home with a couple of duplicates, too.

June 4th:
2009 Topps Toppstown #TTT5
The 4th and 5th are gifts from friend and frequently mentioned C2Cigars of the Trading Card Database, who sent me a custom-made pack of diabetic athletes. Although they don't appear after the 5th during June, they will appear again in this project.\
June 5th:
1994 Topps #98
June 6th:
2015-16 Upper Deck Overtime Blue #16
The 6th was another busy day, as I finished my 301st model that day. This card came out of my COMC box.

June 7th:
1995-96 Hoops Hoopstars #HS5
On June 7th, we still had the rental car and took a trip to the Ollie's in Kingston. On the way back, we stopped off at an antique store and to my surprise, they had cards...and even more surprising,  most of them were NBA! The next time we get the ability to travel I plan to go back more prepared...they are only open on Thursday-Sunday so I got lucky to be passing by that day.

June 8th:
1973-74 O-Pee-Chee dark back #167
I got a huge trade in the mail on June 8th, from Bevans of the Trading Card Database. A few hundred cards arrived in this trade- he used a 340 count box, and it was darn near full- and this was the first out of the box. It's also my first 1973-74 OPC card.

June 9th:
2017-18 Hoops Platinum #208
While we were in Lake George, we went to the Target in Wilton, NY (aka Saratoga) and they had stocked all the sets that came out that our local Target, which has not restocked since before Christmas, didn't bother to bring in. However, this card came from a repack, which I purchased solely because it was the card visible in the window- this Platinum parallel was not present in my collection, and I had to fix that.

June 10th:
2012 Triple Play #211
I almost missed it that day. I was working on models and wasn't paying attention to the clock- I looked over and it was 11:43 PM. I had to hustle to get something because I totally wasn't prepared. Luckily, I reached into my box where I keep my pack stash and one of these came out. Even though this set is pretty much a waste of cardboard, it was a card I didn't previously have, so it counts. You can tell I wasn't thinking quite right- the health problems I mentioned earlier were starting to get me- because I had a stash of hockey packs right next to my model/computer chair. In fact, one of them will appear later in this month!

June 11th:
Beach Boys #36
Just a card I needed out of a pack I opened from the hobby box I bought from Dave & Adam's.

June 12th:
2017-18 Upper Deck #380
June 12th turned out to be a momentous day for my NHL collection- I opened two packs from the hobby box I bought- the first and only NHL hobby box I've purchased for myself, so far- and one of the cards in it turned out to be NHL #10,000.

June 13th:
2018 Donruss #31
This year's Donruss release is one of the sets that our local Target didn't bother to stock. I got a blaster at the Wilton Target and opened up a pack for card of the day that day.

June 14th:
2017-18 Panini Threads Box Topper Memorabilia #BTM-NVH
This is now the largest card in the Card of the Day project, measuring 5x7. Threads was yet another set the local Target didn't bother to bring in but Wilton did. I was so busy working on models I didn't get a chance to scan the pack, which I do before opening, for two weeks, as I purchased it on the 1st. It will probably be the only box- not quite a blaster, but sort of- I ever do of the set.

June 15th:
2017-18 Panini Instant NBA Playoffs #211
My mom treated me to all 16 playoff team sets, and they arrived in one big box on the 15th. The T-wolves were the first team out of the box. Since Panini numbered the Team Sets as a separate set, I actually completed it in one day, only the third NBA set and 5th overall I've completed in 2018.

June 16th:
2017-18 Prestige #75
I found this pack at the local dollar store and bought it. Unfortunately the corners are all a little bit dinged up.

June 17th:
2017-18 Panini Threads #43
When I woke up on the 17th, I was in more pain than I could ever remember being in...I couldn't even reach the sink to wash my hands and that was a less than 5 inch bend down. It was brutal. The pain levels had been building for a while but it was nearly unbearable this day...and would be for several days. Still is when I first get out of bed. I digress. The box of Threads included the one oversize topper and a pack of three standard size cards. Since I knew that I didn't have any of the threads cards, and I didn't have to bend to get them, they were the card of the day. I like the design enough, but $20 for three standard sized cards and one boxtopper is a little steep to me...and the base set is only 100 cards. That's not even a real set.

June 18th:
2013-14 Panini Titanium New Wave #43
A card from my COMC box. My first card of him.

June 19th:
2017-18 Panini Contenders #087

 Another set my local Target didn't bring in but Wilton did. By time I got there, on June 1st, they had exactly one pack left in the store, which I purchased- the set was issued in February.

June 20th:
2017-18 O-Pee-Chee Platinum #41
This is the hockey card I had within inches of my chair that didn't occur to me earlier in the month. I opened a pack and was lucky to get a Ranger. I opened the pack during the NHL Award show.

June 21st:
2017-18 Panini Prizm Green Prizm #95
This is another parallel that was not in my collection that was in the window of a repack. It marks the second time in a month one of those appears in the project...although to be honest, I actually bought this repack in May and forgot about it. I opened it during the NBA Draft.

June 22nd:
2017-18 Upper Deck #403
I opened up 5 packs out of the hobby box I bought and this happened to be the first card out.

June 23rd:
Galactic Files Blue #282
You all know my love of serially numbered parallels....I don't have too many from the world of Non-Sports but I sourced this one off COMC.

June 24th:
1990 Maxx Glossy #101
Another card from the factory set...other than texture these cards look exactly like the normal cards. But I scanned them anew anyway. I really miss Maxx. They actually got NASCAR, they understood that there is more to the sport than just a handful of drivers.

June 25th:
2018 Victory Lane #32
Got this one a gift from Database and NUTS member Spazmatastic, we are both big fans of Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr..This is my first card from this set, and my first Cup card of Darrell, who I hope will win Rookie of the Year this year. The Petty equipment is not all that great right now but he's still got a chance. This card is etched foil and looks a lot better in hand.

June 26th:
Sports Illustrated for Kids 5 #737
I maintain a subscription to the magazine mostly to get the cards, but I actually read this issue! I think it's the first time since last winter- winter 2016-17, not 17-18- that I actually read one. I'm really, really backlogged with my reading. This issue's cards were kind of weak- half were college cards, which I can't stand- I loathe the NCAA- but at least they were all people who never got cards before. Although I don't collect golf like I do other sports, this guy is a professional and it's his first card so that's good. As an aside, if they televised miniature golf I would watch it. I love mini-golf. If I could bend down to retrieve the balls from the cup or whatever obstacle I hit the ball into, I'd gladly do mini-golf on a weekly basis. It's one of the things I miss the most that I am no longer able to do.

June 27th:
2011-12 Upper Deck #355
A pack from a blaster I found at my local TRU. I'm glad nobody thought to go there for cards because I was able to get some blasters dating back to the 2010-11 2018.

June 28th:
2014-15 Donruss #230
I was digging around my pack stash looking for something else, and I discovered I still had a pack from the hobby box of 14-15 Donruss that I got in the 2015 Black Friday sale! I had to do it, and all the cards in it were new. Every year, it seemed like I pulled a lot of cards of one rookie more than others. Russ Smith was the rookie for 2014-15. I think I pulled his card from every set that year! I say it in past tense because Panini doesn't produce enough real sets to really know anymore.

June 29th:
1999-00 EX #77
From my COMC box, this is a set I'd like to complete. I have all the veterans already, but the short printed, SN rookies are mostly missing from my collection. Working on it via COMC, although not very hard. (I have 70 of 90, so I'm getting there) Radojevic has to be the most disappointing draft pick in Raptors history. They used a lottery pick on him in 1999...and he played a grand total of 3 games for them. He played 12 more for Utah in 2004-05 for a grand total of 15 games. I have more cards of him than games he played. All of them from 1999-00, none from 04-05 (His last card was 2000-01). I have 22 cards of him now.

June 30th:
2004-05 Fleer Genuine #62
This one came to me as a gift from Database member terrbear5159. She sent along 16 cards, all of which I needed when she set them, although I got one in that time out of one of the repacks. Just my luck, hah. The best thing about this mailer, completed an insert set for me! I don't really have many completed inserts, my records- This list on the Database- show 99 total, over all subjects, not just NBA, which, after collecting for 30 years, is not all that many. The insert completed is the 25-card Block Party from 1995-96 Hoops.

Well, that's it for June. Hopefully July is better!