Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Seeing the World on cards

Recently The Shlabotnik Report proposed a Blog Bat-Around of how many different countries we have represented in our collections. I thought that was a great idea and this post is the result...

1. USA
2001 Racing Champions United We Stand

Being from the USA, and the USA's obsession with sports, means that the vast majority of cards in my collection are from my home country.

#2. Canada
1981-82 O-Pee-Chee #307
Speaking of national sporting obsessions, I've since gotten addicted to hockey, and Hockey = Canada. O-Pee-Chee and Parkhurst are both Canadian companies, now contracting with Upper Deck to produce their cards.

#3 England
1908 Wills European Royalty #3
There is some doubt in my mind where trading cards were invented. I know the USA had them as far back as 1868, but I don't know when they arrived on the scene in England/GB. Most of my British cards are of the Tobacco variety, but they still produce cards to this very day.

#4 Japan
1999 BBM Sumo #3
The vast majority of my Japanese cards have come from Ryan, aka SumoMenkoMan...as in I think all except one that I bought on COMC have come from him. Japan has a rich history of cards...most of which leaves me very confused.

#5 Spain
2012 Angry Birds #5
In 2012, Spanish company E-Max got the Angry Birds license and issued a large trading card set for the game's characters. I began building my pack stack in 2012 with this set, and I still have one pack left to open, or maybe even more than one.

#6 Germany
1933? Yosma #81
Trading cards were a big deal in Germany...until WWII. While they still get some, it's not like it was before the war.

#7 New Zealand
2018 NRL Traders #36
This country, represented by only a single pack, came to me entirely from SumoMenkoMan.

#8 Cuba
1920s Calixto Lopez #485
I picked up 4 Cuban girlie cards earlier this year...this is the only one that does not feature nudity.

#9 Ireland
2018 Cúl Heroes #465
Another set represented solely by SumoMenkoMan

#10 Italy
2018-19 Panini Stickers #17
Panini Stickers are made in Italy, and sold around the world. Panini is an Italian company.

#11 Portugal
1995-96 Collector's Choice Portuguese #11 
In 1995-96, Upper Deck produced versions of Collector's Choice for sale exclusively in 7 different countries outside the USA- at least, that was the plan. All except the Japanese version were widely sold in the USA, although the set issued for Portugal was the second rarest. The fronts are identical among the issues for the USA, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, England, Portugal and Japan.

#12 France
1995-96 Collector's Choice French II #165
Read the caption above for Portugal, and it applies to France as well. There are fully French cards- made by French companies, for the French market, not just made for the French market by a US company, but I don't have any.

#13 China
2013-14 Panini Chinese Golden Foil #74
Represented by only a single card in my collection, this card comes from the 2013-14 Panini Chinese set, which was only sold in China (naturally). China actually has more NBA fans than the USA does, believe it or not. There are cards out there for the Chinese Basketball league but I've never seen any in person.

#14 Belgium
The most mysterious card in my collection. I know almost nothing about it, other than it was made by a Belgian chocolate company. Like China it's represented by this single card.

I know cards have been issued for the Philippines professional basketball league. I'd like to get them represented in my collection at some point, but they are not here yet.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Ten Year Anniversary and Contest!

It was 10 years ago today that I began my project of scanning every trading card in my collection.

My hobby was VERY different in April 2009. I was, at that time, collecting only NASCAR. I had drifted away from non-sports a decade earlier, and I had left the NBA at the end of 2006, which, I thought at that time, was permanent. I now regret that immensely.

My hobby was also pretty solitary. I had not yet discovered the Trading Card Database, though it did exist then. I was a member of Trader Retreat but my activity was way down. (a forum I miss, had good times on there). I had not yet found NUTS, that would be a few months later. (sometime in August 2009)

I had zero idea what a blog was, even less so that there was already a vibrant card blogosphere. I would not discover that until I found the Trading Card Database.

Things were going to change drastically for me soon...I got back into Non-Sports in a big way in September 2010, I found the Database in August of 2011 but found I could track my collection there in October 2012 (I used it for checklists only before then) Entering my collection on there got me fully back into the NBA, after I had begun watching regularly again in 2011, and eventually, in 2014, the Database spurred on the creation of Cardboard History, and then in 2016, got me into hockey, which has since taken over my life.

But one thing began that day, ten years ago, that would become the thing I spent most of my life on for the next 10 years, and counting. Scanning my cards! In 2009, I had sorted out my NASCAR card collection from set to by person, and entered what I had of each person into an Excel chart, which I have discussed many times in the past. Well, my scanner, ever present on my table next to my computer, was of course right there so I thought to myself, "I wonder how scanning cards would work?" It worked well, and this was the first card I ever scanned:
This is the factory set special insert in the 1995 Hi-Tech 1994 Brickyard 400 set, which is embossed gold foil on both sides. Since it scanned pretty well, I decided that I would do everything else! The only way I know now what day that was, is because I instantly created an album for my card collection- at that time, one album for everything- and uploaded it on my website. Luckily, my website, which I've maintained since 2004, automatically provides the upload date of each image (and for photos, the date taken as well, if you have the camera settings correct)  At that time, I was doing only card fronts, and I did not always do a very good job, a combination of it being "close enough" to the fact that I had not yet discovered PhotoScape, which means I couldn't properly fix each scan. Since I was doing the fronts only, and since I was not putting much effort into them, I got the fronts done by early 2010, but I did such a poor job that I've been debating just starting over from scratch with them, holding off mostly because I did them on my original scanner, which was the highest quality. Since I got a new scanner, perhaps of even higher quality, in February, I may end up rescanning them instead of trying to fix my crappy early scans. I am going to work on what does not have any scans first.

And that's what the contest is about. I'm well past halfway on the scanning...I would say at least 3/4ths, maybe further, along. Keeping in mind that I originally estimated that I would finish scanning everything in 2016, and that obviously didn't happen, my current estimation is that I will finish in 2021.

Here's the contest: Guess what day I will finish scanning everything, and be "caught up" for the first time ever. Guess a specific day, and just for fun (not part of the contest, will not increase your chances of winning) guess what topic the card that ends up last is. (basically, which sport, or do you think it will be non-sport, or multi-sport or...? I have a little bit of everything left needing scans, from vintage to modern). The Caught Up Date that determines the contest winner PROBABLY doesn't reflect the NASCAR cards that I did the fronts poorly on. If I do everything else, and finish my "To-be-Scanned" boxes, that will count as the end of the project. If I get on a NASCAR and Non-Sports kick (they need to have the backs done as well) and do them BEFORE I finish my To-be-scanned boxes, then it WILL impact when I finish because the time spent on them will take away time from working on the To-Be-Sorted boxes that the contest is based on. While I'm always working on "something" with cards, I have the attention span of a squirrel so who knows what I will work on when? Even I don't know.

Whoever comes the closest, by number of days away (either direction) will win...something. I don't know what yet. I'll tailor it to whoever wins. You can feel free to promote it if you want to, but it's not going to help your chances of winning, it's one entry per person, whoever gets closest wins, end of story. (I maintain the right to disqualify anyone for any reason, but I don't forsee having to do that)

Now, like some of my other contests, this is a long-running contest. I guarantee you this won't come to fruition in 2019. I can almost guarantee it won't be 2020 either, but I can't guarantee it fully, so if you want to risk it, go ahead. I mean, if I really get going, and my health doesn't act up, I can scan 300 cards in a day. It's rare, but not unheard of.

Any cards that arrive to me- either by trade, gift or I go out and purchase them, are going to be mixed into the stash so even I cannot predict what/when it will truly be yet...and since I predicted 2016 originally, my predictions are maybe not the most reliable anyway, lol.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Richter Scale

The Richter Scale is used to measure earthquakes. Mike Richter was the Championship goaltender the last time my favorite team won the Stanley Cup. Using a bit of play-on-words, here's a scale (countdown) of my top 10 favorite Mike Richter cards that I have scans for in my collection.

#10 1991-92 Upper Deck #175
I'm not a big fan of extreme closeups on cards. It doesn't really give you "the whole picture" of what's going on. Check out that plain blue helmet.

#9 1995-96 Topps Super Skills #47
Digitally altered background...text overlaying the feature that adds nothing...cheesy yet also likeable cartoon pucks taking up as much space as the photo...yeah, not going to be high on the list. Yet...when I think of Mike Richter cards in my collection, this one pops into my head for some reason. 

#8 1994 Sports Illustrated for Kids 2 #284

SI For Kids Series 2 is actually probably the greatest sports card set ever. It used multiple designs and this is not my favorite although also not my least favorite. The design- and the fact that these are slightly oversize- keeps this one lower on the list. Good photo though. I have to do a post about the set at some point.

#7 1993-94 Power Play #165
The tall-boy cards are such a pain- you can't store or sort them with your other cards. Decent photo, and Nobody Beats the Wiz is an iconic ad campaign from my youth. 

#6 1989-90 Marine Midland New York Rangers #35
A regional promo that is slightly oversized-but not so much so that it can't be stored in my boxes with my other hockey cards. My copy of the set is a little dingy, note the staining in the bottom right border, but I'm still pretty thrilled to have it. I lucked into finding most of this set locally, except the checklist/cover card, which is now my most wanted NHL card. 1989-90 was his first season in the NHL, so you have a rookie regional promo, with a great ad on the boards, this one has a lot going for it. Do they still make Chuckles? I used to be a big fan, but would not be able to eat them anymore even if I could still find them. We had an account with Marine Midland back when these cards were issued, and they also did Knicks sets, but both were issued before I discovered each sport. 

#5 2002-03 Topps #128

We go from his rookie season to his final season, which saw his career get ended prematurely due to a skull fracture suffered on the ice (!) I dislike the Topps design of this season but the card features a great action photo. 

#4 1997-98 Score New York Rangers #16
This card features the Statue of Liberty alternate that many people are hoping makes a return now that the NHL allows more than one home/road design again. 

#3 1996-97 Leaf #178
A cool angle for a photograph, even if the action doesn't really convey. Where's the puck? I think it is in his glove but the shadow is too deep to be able to be 100% certain. I got this the very first day that I began buying hockey cards, before the Rangers even became my favorite team. 

#2 1993-94 Starting Lineup #99
Good design and great photo, taken down a bit by the realization that this was probably a goal for the opponent...note that he is looking into the net, past his glove. I don't have the figure this card came with, nor do I have the Score card it's based on, yet. 

#1 1993-94 Ultra #228
It's hard for me to go against Ultra, my favorite brand in cardboard history. The great action photo- look at that puck in the air!- cements this as my favorite card of his, in my collection, so far! 

I've only scanned 12 cards of his, although a quick trip to his listing on the Trading Card Database tells me that I have 28 of him in my collection. Perhaps I will revisit this Scale at some point. Even if I did have all 28 scanned, the #1 card would not change. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

New York International Auto Show

Yesterday, my brother and I went to the New York International Auto Show, held at the Javits Center, in Manhattan. I've always wanted to go to this show, but never figured I'd ever get to NYC. I mentioned that to my brother, and he made it happen! It was a great day, although the crowd started to bother me about halfway in- that was a challenge for me to overcome. I came very close to leaving before I had seen everything, but I forced myself to stay.
I ended up seeing everything, even if some was at a distance, but I was not able to photograph every car-which was my intent when I first found out I was going. Even still, I took 1220 photos, which is the second most I've ever taken in one day.

A highlight of the show for me was meeting NASCAR driver Derrike Cope! He is the last one still racing from when I discovered the sport in 1993/Christmas 1992, although he's mostly transitioned to the car owner role now. I actually had a chance to talk with him, and I got a photograph and a signed hero card as well. (will be included later in the post)

I ended up seeing several car brands I had never seen before- and photographing others I had seen but had never shot. Several brands were making their official debut at this show!

I saw an Indy car for the 2nd time in my life, and I saw an F1 car, a Daytona Prototype and one of those electrical racers for the first time. (saw more than one Daytona Prototype actually!) There were three NASCAR cars there as well.

The Javits Center is a series of large glass squares interconnected to make several floors of display space. I actually took this photo after leaving the show, but it's the best I got of the outside of the building.

The first thing you see when you go in the front doors is the Saratoga Automobile Museum exhibit, which was very cool as I have been attending this museum for almost 20 years, since it opened in 2001. You'll see their logo on my hat later in the album.

Next up is the Karlmann King, essentially a cross between a tank and an SUV. You can get it armored or not, and the base price is over 2 million dollars. This is the kind of car you buy when a Humvee just won't cut it.

Next, you walk down a long corridor past food and seating, and see a single Genesis- Hyundai's new luxury brand, launched in 2015. This is the first time I've seen one of these, I think. The body is kind of generic, so it's possible I've seen one on the road and didn't notice.
After that, you go up a flight of steps, and right at the top of the staircase is StarCom Racing, which is owned by Derrike Cope, who is in the gray shirt on the right side of the photo. This was StarCom's first racecar from the 2017 season.
To the right of StarCom, was Mullen, a brand debuting at this show, so it's another brand. They had one of the smallest displays, with only one car on display. It's electric.
 Then you go to the left of StarCom, past the escalator to floor #3, which is just seating for lunch, and you head onto the main floor.. This is a somewhat blurry photo, but Ford is the brand you first encounter.
 A 2019 Edge, in the same red as my family's car. The 2019 model year has a different hood, grill and taillights. I like the lights and grill of 2018 more, but the 2019 hood is an improvement.

 I like the Titanium we have more than the Sport model, shown here.
 An electric Fusion.
 The 2020 Explorer.
 Another Explorer, up high
 A cutaway Explorer

 Have you guessed by yet that I'm a Ford fan?
 2020 Escape
 Shelby Mustang
 Lego statue

 Ford GT!
 I can't really get excited about Hyundais. But I was still doing good at this point so I faithfully photographed them all.
 At least this one has a memorable grill.

 Nissan had a model city of the future with tiny cars that drove around on tracks.
 Nissan Leaf. All plug in.
 EV racer.
 The Datsun Z car debuted at this very show in 1969. They had a parade of them to celebrate the 50th anniversary on Saturday, and some of them where on display in the basement, which I will get to later.
 They also brought over some Skylines
 They were doing some mostly easy trivia questions (What does EV mean? is one that I recall) but they stumped me on one- when was the Nissan name first used? 1930s is the answer.
 Now we get to Dodge. I won't own a Dodge again, but I love the looks.
 Challenger! I sat in this car. Of the three Pony cars, this was the largest inside. I didn't hit my head. I did hit my head when I tried a Mustang, and I couldn't even get my head into the Camaro.
 Dodge is basically down to Charger, Challenger and Durango models.

 It was on a turntable.
 Durango Interceptor
 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy purple.
 Next I crossed over to the Chevrolet display. I've always been a Chevrolet backer but I am leaning more towards Ford lately. I still love Chevrolets. This is a Colorado ZX2.
 I'm glad they brought the Chevrolet Blazer name back. I've never been inside one, but they are icons of growing up in the late 80s and 90s.
 2020 Silverado
 2019 Silverado
 Volkswagen had some USA Soccer players there. I'm not sure if these are known players, but the guy standing by the ball was doing some tricks with it.
 The Volkswagen booth was one of the most crowded. I wasn't able to get as nice photographs as I would have liked.

 VW is bringing out a dune buggy!
 I liked the full length headlights, and the light up VW logo.
 I sat in this new Beetle. This now holds the record for widest time span between years of a single model I've been in- a friend had a 1956 Beetle which I sat in a while back.
 I also sat in this Corvette Grand Sport- not an easy task.
 Kia HabaNiro concept. My first real concept car!
 They should have had hamsters there. Kia Soul.
 Kia Stinger.
 Kia Telluride
 After looking at the Kia display, we went and had lunch. This is looking up at the roof, which is all glass. You can see a skyscraper out the windows/roof.
 We went upstairs to the 4th floor after lunch, which was mostly all vendors. Including, of course, Geico.
 This Subaru was part of an exotic car importer's display. I sat it in, the first time in my life I've been  in a right hand drive car.
 A solar powered race car.
 From the 4th floor, you can see the Hudson River.
 After going back down to the second floor, I saw Scott Dixon's Indy car in the Honda display and made a beeline for it!
 I can't get excited about Hondas, either...however, this is a car that can't be bought yet, a 2020 model, so that's cool.
 The Joe Gibbs Racing Supra that was build to introduce the new model late last season (it debuted on track in February this year)
 I didn't catch the name of this single person concept.
 A Denny Hamlin Cup car converted into showcar duty.
 A Prius. I told you I was trying to photograph everything....
 Honda brought one of their crash-test cars.
 Subaru's display was a favorite. The floor was an LCD screen and changed pictures. They also made fake snow and a fake geyser...
 ...which the new 2020 Outback rose up out of!
 Mazda Miata
 Mazda something or other.
 I've always been a fan of Porsches.
 This model debuted at this show.
 Got $330,000? That's what it will take to get into this Rolls Royce.
 The Supercars were roped off, so you could not get in them or even touch them. Fine with me- better photos! This is a Bugatti.
 BAC (Briggs)


 Glickenhaus. I never even heard of this brand. It appears to be a street legal Daytona Prototype.

 Cadillac had a small model display, which were a mix of promos and models. (same tooling used to create both)
 Cadillac had their Daytona Prototype there as well.
 Buick has a traditional station wagon! Only one I saw in the show.
 an Audi in a fantastic color.
 Rivian is a brand new company, making 100% electric tricks and SUVs. The gray one is a pickup, the green an SUV. These are about the size of the Ford Expedition.

 Acura NSX, my favorite Japanese car model ever.
 Another Daytona Prototype
 This Acura is all carbon fiber.
 No idea what this is, other than Lexus.
 Lincoln Continental. Luxury!
 Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary edition. Only 80 will be made with the suicide doors.
 Lincoln Corsair. I liked this one a lot because Corsair was an Edsel name, and now it's back in the Ford family.
 Lincoln Navigator. Big Luxury
 Lincoln Nautilus. Basically a fancy Edge. I sat in this one, and it feels pretty much like the Edge.

 My first F1 car, in the Alfa Romeo booth.
 Alfa Romeo
 Look at the nose on this Lexus!
 Smart car. Surprisingly large inside.
 Heading down the escalator from the 2nd floor, which is the largest, to the entrance hallway. Another escalator takes you to the basement, which has more cars.
 The GMC grill is like a chrome plated brick wall. I love it.
 You could get it without chrome, too, but why?
 The new Ford Ranger. I sat in this one. I like it. If my health problems didn't keep me from driving I would probably get one of these.
 At this point, my health problems were acting up, and I couldn't bear to do much more walking, so I'm only photographing what I really wanted to at this point.
 The F-150 had a surprisingly small presence at the show. It's the best selling truck on the market by a wide margin. I noticed that when I went to Massachusetts in March, at least one third of all trucks that passed us were F150s, ranging in age from the 80s to today. I guess they don't need to do much to sell it. Personally, I think the F150 has gotten too large, but the Ranger takes care of that. Fun fact- the Ranger name used to be a trim level on the F150 before being launched as a small truck in 1985.
 Subaru WRX
 There were some classics, but not many, in the show. A 1972 Corvette (above) and 1956 (below) were part of the same display.

 A vinyl wrap company had this all gold plated VW Beetle...I loved it. One of my favorites in the entire show.
 Roush Mustang
 Street Glow is an aftermarket light company. This is actually illegal in NY and most other states, but it's really awesome to see a car with a light kit going down the road. (you can sell them because they have an on/off switch, supposed to only be used for show duty.) I have a video of these lit up cars, which I will try to include below.
 Not sure what this display was about, but the cars in it were all damaged in some way.
 NY Fire Department
 Street Sweeper

 NYPD Dodge Charger Interceptor
 Part of the Z car display in the basement.

 A Baja 1000 truck!

 a Nissan Altima with treads. Cool!
 Jeep Compass
 Chrysler 200. Chrysler is down to only 2 models now, this and the minivan. Sad.
 Ram- which is now it's own brand- I still consider them Dodges. But they have not been since Fiat bought Chrysler.
 DJ Maui Babe. She gave me a bit of a dance pose after she saw I was taking the picture, but I had already gotten my shot by then. Appreciated though!
 2020 Toyota Tacoma

 2020 Toyota Highlander
 I love classic Mustangs. Before I discovered the El Camino and Edsel this was my main automotive fascination.

One of things I thought was really cool was an all-Lego Chevrolet Silverado, with working head and taillights, to boot!
The Jeep experience, which was outside, looked like a lot of fun, but the line was easily over a thousand people long, so I didn't wait. I watched for a few minutes though.

Let's see if I can get those videos posted:

Now, some pictures of me:
 Me in the Ford Ranger. I could get used to this.
 Me in the Corvette Grand Sport. I would not enjoy riding in this. It's difficult for me to get in and out of, and the top of the windshield blocked most of my forward view. But at least I can now say I've been in a Corvette. A have a friend who's almost a foot taller than me with a hardtop Corvette, I don't know how he gets into it.
Me with Derrike Cope!

I was able to make some additions to my card collection while I was there- besides the hero card that I got signed...

they also had one for Landon Cassill, the main driver for the team this year.

There were also cards from car companies:

Secondary Market Customizers:


 an automotive photographer...
 a tv show about cars...
a custom wheel company...
and even a car dealer!

One thing I was specifically hoping to find, were some of the Chevy Truck Legends cards. I thought it was a 4 card set, since I first heard about it on Wrigley Roster Jenga back in February.

Well, I was only able to get three of them but one was not one Tony got. I decided to research them, and discovered it's not a 4-card set...I have found 13 different cards at least, just based on what Tony got, what I got, and what's for sale on Ebay. I would suspect there may be more. Chevy Truck Legends is an exclusive club only open to people who own a Chevrolet truck with 10,000 miles on it, or can prove they have purchased or leased more than one in their lifetime. I fit into none of those categories, so my only chance for getting more of these cards is at the show next year...because, even though this was my first time going...it won't be my last. In fact, I plan to go every year from now on, as long as I am physically able.

One other anecdote I want to share here...although there are no pictures, I remember a conversation I had with my dad circa 1998 where he told me about attending this same show in the 1950s, and seeing the Corvette Nomad, which I recently found out still survives and it now appearing at some select car shows. That was his favorite car ever, but he didn't think it was still around. I wish I could tell him it was.

EDIT: I forgot to include the link to my website where I have all the pictures! (Over 1100 after removing the rejects and family photos) New York International Auto Show 2019