Thursday, April 22, 2021

The last, for now

 We all know that the hobby has gone stupid lately. Cards are ridiculously overpriced, and not even available at retail. It started with basketball, and then moved to all the other sports. When it hit hockey and NASCAR at the same time, I knew that I was probably going to be done when opening new cards for the foreseeable future. The fun of the hobby had been sucked away. 

So I was REALLY surprised when my mom gave me a blaster of 2021 Donruss for Easter! I didn't expect I would ever get one. They either weren't stocked or scalped locally, and probably the latter. She had planned ahead and mail ordered it before the prices went crazy. (last I looked, blasters of 2021 Donruss NASCAR were running at $80)

So I knew that it would likely be the last new product I opened for a while...and I savored it. 

But I've been in such a card funk that I didn't scan them until today, April 22nd. That should say a lot about where I'm at in the hobby. Since I had ordered myself a hobby box back in February, I didn't actually need all that many of them, because, as is well known with Panini, they came out of the packs in the exact same order as they had come out of the hobby box, with the exception of the inserts, which are exclusive to each packaging format. 

Since this is "the end, for now", I decided to post every single new card I got in the box. Not something I normally do, but I'm going to here. 

First, the base cards...

3 of them was it. The rest were all dupes. 

The main draw of the blasters are the orange parallels, which are blaster exclusive. They come one per pack. 

Christian Eckes is a sort of "local hero", as he's from Middletown, NY, which is about 45 minutes away by car. 

The Silver parallels (really gray) also fall one per pack in the blasters, which is more than in the hobby box.

Interestingly, there are three cards where I got both Silver and Orange in the same pack. 

You may notice I mentioned that oranges and silvers are one per pack, but there are only 6 silvers vs. 7 Orange. That's because in one pack I got a serially numbered Red parallel instead!
Even after doing a hobby box and a blaster, each of which has multiple base cards and 2 parallels per pack, this is the only version I have of this card. Go figure. The SN is in the car's grill. 

Donruss Optic (a 100 card insert, which uses the same design, but different photos and card numbers) is also one per pack, and every single one of mine was a duplicate of one I had from the hobby box. However, I did get several of the Blaster exclusive Orange Wave Prizms. 

They look nicer in hand than they do in scans, to be honest.  They do not appear pink in hand, for instance.

I also got one of the Prizm parallels.

The inserts treated me well. Not wholly surprising, because the majority of them are retail exclusive, something new that was introduced with this year's set. 

I pulled the first three in hobby version, but the Edwards was totally new. Surprised to see the Nationwide image, circa 2010, on the Retro Series card. 

I pulled an auto of Dylan Lupton! I thought, when I pulled the card, that it was my first of him, but a quick check of my Cardboard History Gallery shows I have one from 2016. Even so, I'm thrilled to get it. I would much rather get cards of obscure guys than another Chase Elliott or Kevin Harvick. And one thing I will say good about Panini- something I don't do all that often- is that they are really stepping up the autograph checklists. It's got a wide variety of people. covering many NASCAR divisions, and pulling in some people to sign who are very rare signers. (A couple years ago they got 95 year old Hershel McGriff, which were his first autograph cards ever, for example. His first race was in 1950! His last in 2018. He has the longest professional career as an athlete in history. One of those autographs is waiting to ship to me from COMC) I digress. This insert is one of the few that is the same in both hobby and retail.

There are also retail exclusive Insert Parallels, because of course there are, it's Panini in 2021. I'd rather have more base set parallels, but I won't complain too favorite card of the box came from this section.
This one, right here! You guys know I'm a big supporter of Bubba Wallace and Victory Junction, so this was my favorite card in the box.

All three of these are called the "Checkers" parallel, which also looks much better in hand than in scans. Checkers is fitting for NASCAR...every person in the sport is trying to be the first to see the Checkered Flag at the end of the race. from the drivers down to the guy who paints the lug nuts. 

And that's the checkered flag on what will likely be my last new card addition for the foreseeable future. While I have zero intention of ever leaving the hobby, I am dialing way, way back. I'm not enjoying thee hobby at the moment,  from the crazy pricing/availability stuff to stuff going on behind the scenes elsewhere. I haven't even felt the desire to open my latest trades I've received, several of which have been sitting here over a week now, still sealed. 

I'm back to my main hobby, 1/64 NASCAR diecast. It was always #1 for me, but some stuff had gone on there, and when I got sick in 2013, I couldn't afford to collect both hobbies. I chose cards...and I made the wrong choice. I'm working on filling in what I missed, but it's going to be a long, difficult process, that's going to cost me at least three to four times what it would have if I had gotten them new. {sigh} But, it's my true passion, and I will do it. Mostly. Even if it takes me decades. Some of the rarer cars are going for $150 or more. Don't think I'll ever get them. (Would have cost me $7 or 8 if I had gotten them new, depending on which year it was from). In reality, I've been feeling like that choice I made in early 2014, is going to be something I'm going to consider one of the biggest mistakes of my be honest I was never happy with it in the first place, but I felt like my back was against the wall and I had no choice. Now that I'm back into the hobby full time, I actually feel something resembling happiness...maybe it is happiness. 

The timing actually works out well. I don't have to agonize over my choices- cards have been taken away from me due to something out of control...but I don't really mind all that much, because I'm putting them on the backburner anyway. 

Like I said though, I'm not leaving the hobby...I still need something to do when it's raining or too dark and cold to work on models. (Collecting 1/64 and working on models are tied together, they have essentially become one in the same. I am back to building cars that were not made in scale. I'm working hard on my NASCAR by the Numbers project, building one model of every number from 00-99, 110 different builds. I have 16 numbers left to build and 7 of them are in progress already! There is an outside chance I will complete the project in 2021). I just won't be doing as much card stuff.

As you may notice, that includes posts on Cardboard History as well. This is only my third in April. It may be the last for the month, which would be my new low. I just have nothing to say right now...beyond this post. I'll check and see if I have anything saved in drafts that I can crank out. I'm so far mentally removed from the hobby right now that I don't remember.

Just want to reiterate that Cardboard History is not ending, despite the overall tone of the end of this post. 


  1. I'm with you. Not much to say about the current state of affairs. At least I hope hobby boxes of Ginter won't be triple the price from online sellers. That's the only thing I expect to buy that's new. I'm still trading here and there and buying goofy stuff from eBay and others, but I have no great need for retail any more. This is just a good time to refocus on vintage and oddball set completion. Maybe when COMC catches up I'll send in some fancy serial numbered stuff to take advantage of the overpricing on stuff I'd otherwise have traded for little or nothing.

  2. It's sad the way things have gone in the hobby including singles. Glad she was able to find you a blaster!

  3. The orange parallels and orange prizms are incredible!

  4. The state of the hobby discourages me too. Sometimes I sell cards, or try to buy a card and sell it for a profit, but I just use that money to buy more baseball cards. If the price of all baseball cards are rising, that means that I can't get as many cards.

    I'm glad you're not retiring, or taking a indeterminate hiatus. Fuji semi-retiring is a big enough blow.

  5. Glad you got a blaster and got some new cards out of it. Hopefully the retail situation will improve for all of us. Hang in there!

  6. I feel like this bubble is going to burst here soon. The pandemic ending is in sight and as expendable income dries up along with focusing back to vacations things are going to ease up. Across the blogosphere and other comments I have seen, people might be a bit burned out and companies are struggling to provide any value anymore.

  7. The sport of basketball is only going to continue to get worse, so I wouldn't be too surprised if you don't ever fully come back to the newer stuff.

  8. I won't say I hold out any hope that things will change but in my mind I can see things getting better. Will we see it back to pre-covid days I doubt it but with the boom you'd have to think Topps and Panini will pump out more cards and some folks who jumped on board will drop off easing demand some. We'll see. I do like this year's NASCAR cards. Good pull and the Retro Series is a favorite. I'm big Bubba guy as well so fun seeing that card. Good post.