Monday, January 3, 2022

Top 12 Cards of 2021, Year in Review

 Last year I thought ahead and updated the Top 12 Cards of the Year post after every month or close to it. This year, I didn't do that. I kept saying "do that post, do that post" but I never got around to it...I didn't even start it until December 21st. The best laid plans as they say...of course it took me so long to finish this post it's no longer "last year" or "this year"'s now 2 years ago and last year. 

So, now I get to look at my Excel chart and hope against hope that the cards will be scanned so I can show them...that's not as much of a guarantee as in previous years. Although I got less cards this year than any other year since I started Cardboard History, that was by design, as my arm hurt too much to scan and edit the scans, and also to write them into my paper I have specifically tried to not get as many much so that the majority of trades I did this year I didn't even actually open. And then the whole "cards not being available" may have played a role, too. 

To refresh your memory, and mine, this post is a countdown of my favorite card from each month of the year. 

January was one of the largest months of the year for cards, with 763 cards added, mostly all due to my friend Pat and also the fact that I bought two hobby boxes late last year and they arrived in January. Although I was seriously tempted to go with the Rangers team card from the Tim Horton's set in all it's lenticular glory, I had to go with this card instead...

My very first card of the Cleveland Barons! You may recall that I had, at one time, a team on my Wantlist that I didn't want to make public because I wanted to get it naturally...not have my family or friends specifically go out and buy one for me, and I was certainly not going to buy one on COMC or wherever. That team was the Cleveland Barons, the last team to fold in NHL history, and the only team to fold after WWII. The two boxes I bought were the Eastern and Western US boxes of this three series set from 2004-05, the In the Game Franchises set. I have been unable to locate a box of the Canadian teams to buy yet, nor the update. I did buy a complete set of the box-topper team logo cards which I also very nearly made the choice for this month as well.

February saw me buy a 5000 count box of NASCAR cards and while I have not finished going through it yet, I did add 989 cards to my collection that month, with the vast majority coming from that box.
However, my favorite card again came from the world of Hockey, as I got my first 1965-66 Topps card, a rare single card ebay purchase, and considering it's my favorite 60s hockey design...and quite possibly my favorite vintage hockey design of all sets up to the Expansion era, being my first and currently only card means it "wins" the month.
March saw only 411 cards join my collection, but the favorite was very easy to figure out, my first Seattle Kraken card!
I even wrote a post dedicated to this very card. 

April is where I run into a problem for the first time. Not really thinking about this post, I stopped scanning in March. However, typing wasn't as painful and I did a typing project, or at least started, it's only about half done now. I mixed in new cards as I got them so I have NO idea which of the unscanned boxes the card is in. However, I do have a photo of it in the package. It's a car/card combo I chased since 1997! I knew it existed since new but I had never been able to find it, but I finally nabbed one on Ebay in April, after all these years. TJ Clark is a fairly obscure driver in NASCAR history, making only 31 career starts in the Truck series, with 1997 seeing his final 2 (although he DNQd for 5 more). I really wish I had thought about this post and didn't mix the cards in, but I can't help that now. I got only 195 cards in April. 

May saw only 108 cards join my collection, from three main sources- 1/64 diecast, a trade with Marius in Lithuania on the Database, the first of 3 we've done, and the Topps Now stickers. None really stand out above and beyond the rest, so I'll choose this one:

It's from the 2001 Winner's Circle Lifetime series for Jeff Gordon and features one of my all-time favorite special paint schemes. This was the first Chromalusion car and would change colors as it moved or as your position around it moved. Unfortunately he ran out of fuel and lost the race but this car has always been a favorite of mine. It was only ever raced once, at The Winston, NASCAR's All-star race, and it was also the first year I got to see the Winston live, in previous years it was on TBS, which we didn't get at the time. I don't remember if we got TBS or they moved it to a different channel but either way I got to see it for the first time. 

June saw 137 cards, due mainly to ordering a blaster of Upper Deck Series 2 and the majority of the Topps Now cards showing up that month. Although I got some great cards my favorite of that month was my first K'Andre Miller card, which I wrote about HERE. With hockey, it's not uncommon for a team to draft a player but him not joining the team right away, very much different from the NBA that I am used to where a player that is drafted by a team either joins them right away or they cut him loose and he is no longer a member of the team. K'Andre Miller was the first player for the Rangers I really experienced that with, as he was drafted in 2018 and joined the team in 2020. That's not a long time- it can take more than 4 years for some players- but I've only been watching full time since 2016 so comparatively it's most of my time watching the sport. He has been excellent since joining the team, being named to the All-Rookie team. This was my first card of him, and I now have only two. Hopefully will add more in the not too distant future.

July was the smallest month for new card additions for me since I started Cardboard History- only 74 cards joined my collection. I don't have any of the cards scanned yet, and I hit a pretty big milestone that month, if my records are correct (they probably aren't) in that I think I cleared the 17000 non-sports cards on a RAOK from SumoMenkoMan, that I planned to do a full post about but never got the chance...mainly because I was working on proofing my numbers but never finished when I went to modeling. Since I don't have a scan or a photograph of those cards, even though I actually do know where they are, I will instead go with a card I do have an image of, which came as a RAOK from Kenny AKA Zippy. 
If the Mats Zuccarello wasn't a duplicate it'd be that one, but it's the Marc Staal Autograph/dual relic in the middle. 

August is traditionally my smallest month for new additions- I don't deal well in the heat, so I go out looking for cards less, I suppose...and also usually saving money for the trip to the Adirondack Nationals every September. This year that wasn't actually the case, as I got 264 new cards. This year the cards came to me, as I made an order with one of the online card venders- can't remember if DA Cardworld or Steel City anymore-and also from Upper Deck directly. My favorite card is actually one that I found locally on one of the Dutchess County Exploration rides I did with my brother, and that is the FDR card I wrote more about here, but I did manage to get that scanned, which I have not shared before, so here that is. 

The only president from my home county, can't go wrong there. 

September was another small month, with only 138 new cards added. Once again, it's a 1997 Racing Champions truck card that "wins" the month, and this one has quite a story behind it. Way back in 1997, I was at my local Wal-Mart and I saw this truck for sale, but I didn't get it thinking I already had it. I was mistaken, I had the 1996 version, and, if my memory is correct, we went back the next day to get it but it was gone...and I never saw another one come up for sale again. Until this one came up in a 5-truck lot on Ebay in August that is. I put in a VERY strong bid to make sure I didn't let it slip away again, and honestly, it's probably my favorite new addition of the year, considering the backstory behind it. A funny thing about the 5 truck lot...I knew that I needed two of them. After it arrived, and I checked them against my collection (I check every diecast I get to be sure- luckily that hobby is fully photo documented so I can!) and it turns out that I actually needed three of them...basically I bought this truck, got two more I needed as a bonus and two for my trade or custom donor stash. Wins all around.
October was smaller still, with only 45 new cards joining my collection. I didn't get any cards for my birthday this year, which is very unusual...there simply weren't any around for my family to buy. (I did get a new card on my birthday...a Zorro promo that came in Non-Sport Update, which just happened to show up in the mail on my birthday). I also got two cards as a birthday present from a Database member but I didn't get them until a few days later. 45 is actually the lowest total of new cards I've gotten in a month since January 2012, when I got none at all. Of the 45 new cards, 28 of them came from the overpriced blaster of Metal Universe I bought, and my favorite card also comes from that box even though I'm not a big fan of the set (and actually have a post written about it waiting in my queue)

The blue parallel came up with a Ranger so it is my favorite card in the blaster, too. 

November saw me return to a card show for the first time since February 2020, and the cards went back up to 191 new additions joining my collection, with a big part of that total coming from CrazieJoe. However, even though I got a 1/1 at the card show, I must go with the card I got signed by Stephane Matteau, the first NHL player I've ever met!
Honestly, there is no way it could be any card other than this one! 

December was huge...due entirely to Christmas. Christmas was incredible, with 1075 new cards joining my collection on that day alone! That's more than I got in any other entire MONTH during 2021, and there were very few duplicates since it was all from sets I didn't have a lot of. (1144 cards total added in the month) I will get a post up on the cards I got from Christmas shortly...I posted the image of the packaging before I opened them on Christmas day, but I will show them more in the near future, I hope. However, my favorite card of the month was actually one I got at a card show back on December 4th. I got an autographed booklet at the card show, something I didn't previously have in my collection. I did have two NBA booklets but none had any autographs. Funny thing is I'm not even really a fan of Chase Elliott, but since I collect the entire sport, I will jump on any cards from anyone I come across, especially when they are priced significantly less than I would expect them to be. 

I've also gone on about my love of sheet metal relics in the past and this is now the largest piece in my collection- this is almost full standard card sized here! 

In total I added 4459 cards to my collection in 2021...a small number for a full time set builder. It's my lowest total since 2012 when I only got 3367 all year. I think 2022 might be a higher number, since I didn't open most of the trades I got in 2021...I think I still have a few from 2020 I still haven't opened yet too. I intend to do them shortly. I didn't want to open them when I was working on models because it would be too hard to keep track of them while not able to access my paper listing, since to work on that I have to take down the model stuff as I use the same table. It's too cold to work on models at this time, so I will work on them, or at least that's the plan. I also plan to ship my COMC order for the first time since December 2019 as well which will be a couple hundred cards. 

Last year I made a fun prediction at the end of my post..

That record "could fall as soon as next year"...haha. You could say that. My goal was to finish 26 1/64 builds...I finished 166. In fact, nearly 1/4th of my entire lifetime building total happened in 2021! I don't even know how I was able to not only do so many but also do them to such a high quality. Not only did my output go way, way up, the quality is also the best I've done as well. 
There were so many that PhotoScape couldn't even process them into one combined photo this was too big to save. I had to shrink it down small and screencap it.

I don't have any specific number targeted for building in 2022...after putting 166 on the board in 2021, it just seems silly to pick a number. What I am going to do, for sure, is complete my NASCAR by the Numbers project next year. 2022 is the 30th anniversary of my discovering NASCAR, and when I made my year-end chart, I realized I came a lot closer to completing the NASCAR by Year chart than I realized, so I will make the effort to finish that as well. 

Not only did I do all that work, I did my first ever Truck series build, and I did my first Busch and ARCA builds since 2007 during 2021. I also learned how to resin cast and I cast my own wheels and tires for three of the builds. 

You can see that I'm very close to completing the number project already, with 7 left...I finished for the year with #39 in progress and the decals for #94 showed up in the mail literally in the week before Christmas. I have all the decals, and I will get the couple of donors I need off Ebay soon. The numbers I built for the first time in 2020 were: 05, 35, 48, 59, 62, 65, 76, 81, 84, 95 and M-1. For the #s 05 and 78, they are the only cars currently possible to build of those numbers, so when I do next year's update, those are sure to be the representatives for those numbers again. I commissioned the #65 decals as well, the rarest number in NASCAR history. Interestingly, I built so much last year that no only did I build all those numbers for the first time, I finished multiple builds for several of the numbers, including three different #81 cars! 54 of the numbers feature cars I built in 2021, I will probably select different cars based on what I build next year as well. 
The year project came along a lot better than I thought it did, not realizing it was so close to completion until I made this chart with PhotoScape. Even better, I have what I need to do all the missing years except 2022, which isn't available to anyone yet. If I didn't lose the windows for the 1949 build I would have had that one done in 2021, too. It's so close! The years I built for the first time in 2021: 1952, 1961, 1962, 1976, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021. Now that I realized that I am this close, I will prioritize the missing years and complete this project in 2022 as well. 

In total I completed only 5 card sets in 2021, which is lower than normal. I did complete two parallels, which is unusual, considering I've completed less than 5 total parallels even though I truly love the concept. 

I stepped away from the Database for much of the year so I let my lists go, I usually kept track of the SN, Auto, Relic, trades, and new people added to my collection in a given year, but I can't post them because I stopped updating them. In fact I've let the people in my collection chart go a little bit and I don't even know which are new to me at the moment...I can get that info back, it's all written down, just have so many things I'm trying to do that I have not found the time to do it. Those 166 models don't build themselves, you know. 

Thank you for reading, and I hope your 2022 is as excellent as my modeling in 2021 was. 


  1. Happy New Year! Hopefully better health and card fortunes are in store for you!

  2. I like this month-by-month breakdown for each favorite card. I want to do it for my blog, although it's a bit late for 2021(and I'd be repeating myself a lot).

    1. Feel free to use the idea! Even if there is some repetition I'm sure it would be a fun read.

  3. Cool post. Although most of the cards aren't things I'm super interested in... I like the stories behind them. The one card that really caught my eye was the FDR. But after clicking that link... I like the Reagan even more. Happy New Year Billy!

  4. I'd love to do this kind of year-end post too, but there is absolutely no way that I'd ever remember to note after each month which was the best card gotten, and I'm certainly not gonna remember which were the best come years end if I didn't keep track each month.

    1. I am pretty obsessive with my lists so it's easy for me to go back and read through and see what stands out...but doing it after the months end is so much easier! I wish I had done that all in 2021 instead of starting it on December 21st and finishing on January 2nd.

  5. Humorous post-script to this...I DID in fact keep the T.J. Clark card separate. I just totally, completely forgot until yesterday when I opened the box I use to keep the cards separate that have to be scanned as a unit and there it was, first card in the row.