Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nightmares On Cardboard IV... The Final Cut

This card just needed to be made, I totally forgot about one of the scariest movies of it’s time and the 1990 Topps No Name error seemed like the proper way to offer tribute to Linda Blair and the Exorcist. So this card will complete my 2010 Throzul Will Rule Nightmare on Cardboard contest custom cards.

A Georgia Mindset Contest

It is that time of year to go trick-or-treating so why not go asking for a hobby box of Topps Chrome Baseball? OK, so it is a contest and winning the box is not as simple as calling our trick-or-treat, but if you are interested in putting in for the contest take a look at the blog Georgia Mindset and read up on the requirements.

Act fast, the contest ends Halloween Night, Sunday October 31st at 11:59 PM.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quality Control Is An Issue

Quality control is a word that a lot of collectors know but it is often used in a negative connotation, especially when Topps is being discussed. But it is nice to see that at least one company is taking it to heart when their product is concerned.

There was a recent posting on the Panini blog regarding quality control specifically with the 2010-11 Score Hockey release. As I have stated before on my blog, I am not much of a hockey fan but this post was more then just about hockey, it is about how the company feels about the quality of their product and the image that they want to portray to their customers.

I just wished that all companies took such serious control of their product. How many of us pulled crimped A&G cards and I have heard of some problems with missing refractors/hits in the Chrome Baseball releases too. Has Topps become so lazy about their production that problems are expected before the boxes even hit the shelves?

So in a time where the hobby seems to be going up one day and crashing down the next, thank you to Panini for taking things seriously when it comes to quality and to Topps, please do something about your poor control over packing out and packaging.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2011 Topps Opening Day

Schedule Release Date: March 19, 2011
Box Configuration: 7 cards per pack, 36 packs per box
SRP: $36/box

Box Break:
1 Insert Per Pack

My Thoughts:
A set called Opening Day being released 2 weeks before the actual opening day, it just does not seem right.

This set is made for 2 specific types of collectors, children and set collectors and at roughly $1 per pack you can get quite a bit for your money. I am not certain about what is included in each box but Topps has come with some interesting hits in such a budget box. This does take me back to the 1990s when boxes were loaded with baseball cards and ugly inserts and a collector wasn't worried about getting an auto or relic card that would pay for the box.

Some of the interesting inserts in this set include parallels #/2011, printing plates (Hobby boxes only), Superstar Celebrations and Luck Charms (Team Mascots). 3D cards are making a return in the Opening Day Stars sets and glow-in-the-dark cards are back in the Under The Lights insert along with Presidential First Pitches featuring presidential first pitches throughout history (Hobby boxes only).

Another oddity making an appearance in the set are the intentional error cards in the Spot The Error insert, another gimmick card by Topps… who would have figured?


Interesting Inserts (3D cards, Glow-In-The Dark cards, Error cards and “shiny” cards)

Another baseball set showcasing the same exact players as the base sets.

Team logos, Topps logos, Opening Day logos... to many logos hurts a design and this proves it


The World Series is still to begin and we are 5 months away from Opening Day's release a lot may change before this set sees the light of day so I will not be rating the review since it is still to early. There are some nice opportunities here, I am a fan of the glow-in-the-dark cards, but I am not a fan of building a release totally on gimmicks.

2010 Crown Royale Football Rookie Die-Cuts Prime Signatures

Next week, November 3rd, Panini’s 2010 Crown Royale Football release will be hitting shelves. The set is an interesting collection of Crown Royale history and modern Panini design and I am actually pretty partial to the Kings Of The NFL insert.

A box runs around $80 and contains 4 packs with 5 cards each. You will pull two autograph cards and two memorabilia cards from your box along with a mixture of commons, rookies, parallels and inserts.

The big news comes from an exclusive sneak peak by Tracy Hackler on Panini’s new blog, The Knight’s Lance, where he posted about the Rookie Die-Cuts Prime Signatures set, a die-cut set made up of 35 prominent rookies containing both a prime patch and an autograph and each card is numbered #/50. Yes the autographs are on sticker but honestly I think you can overlook that when you see the cards. They actually have a vintage look to them and the die-cut window works perfectly with the design. This is an insert where you say “Panini got it right!”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Worth $50,000?

Aron Phillips of Dime Magazine calls this Upper Deck Black Michael Jordan and LeBron James dual autograph-dual patch- 1/1 card “The Most Coveted” basketball card in the world.

I can understand why any basketball collector would love to have this card in their collection I am just not sure that the card would be considered the most coveted. I am positive many people would be willing to argue this point. I would think that any number of Exquisites could make it to the list of “Most Coveted” or how about a top graded ‘87 Fleer MJ or even the Buyback autographed version? And while I realize they may not be priced as high as this MJ/LJ dual card, a ‘48 Bowman Mikan would be a happy addition to any vintage collection.

If you do happen to have $50,000 available burning a hole in your pocket and you feel like making an offer then check out the auction for the card. The seller is respectable (he has 100% feedback with over 1800 deals) but the card has been up for auction since September 4th and there have been 28 offers all declined so I am guessing the seller is pretty set on the sale price.

Any guesses at what you think the card might actually sell at finally?

Nightmares On Cardboard Part III

These are the final four cards from my submission to Thorzul's Nightmare On Cardboard III contest.

1984 Topps: John Kramer (The Jigsaw Killer)- Saw series

1986 Topps: Pennywise The Clown- It!

1986 Topps: Damien Thorn- The Omen

1990 Topps: Jason Voorhees- Friday The 13th

After posting the 10 cards that I created for the contest I realized I missed an opportunity here. I think I am going to work on one more card, I won't submit it for the contest but I will post it here just for fun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nightmares On Card Part II

Continuing with my custom cards for Thorzul’s Nightmare on Cardboard III contest.


1980 Topps: Norman Bates- Psycho

1980 Topps: Captain Spaulding- House Of 1000 Corpses (and The Devil’s Rejects)

1984 Topps: Johnny- Night Of The Living Dead (Zombie Dress Shirt Button replica relic)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dont Forget Thorzul's Nightmares On Cards Contest

For those that are custom card makers, or even aspiring custom card makers, don’t forget that the deadline for Thorzul’s Nightmares on Cardboard III contest is coming up quickly, October 24th.

I created a 10-card set for the contest, 8 base cards and 2 relics. The contest requirements this year is that all the cards have to be based on Topps baseball cards printed between 1970 and 1990. I unfortunately ran out of printer ink after printing a couple of cards (Both of my relic cards were printed but that is it) and can not make it to pick up more ink until Friday so I submitted my cards in digital form, which does not do the 2 relic cards justice.

First up:

1971 Topps: Fredrick Loren- House On Haunted Hill

1971 Topps: Edger Allan Poe- The Raven

1972 Topps: Malachai Boardman- Children Of The Corn (Corn Stalk Relic)

In case you are wondering, yes I bought an ear of indian corn so I could use the dried husk in the card. Part of the interesting factor with this card was actually being able to touch the husk.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is This Card On The Horizon?

In the last year we have seen Topps release some very questionable relic cards. In January this year they admitted that some of the more prominent cards in the 2009 Topps Tribute Baseball set actually contained wood from stadium seats and not bats as originally believed. This included the Babe Ruth Dual and Triple relics, Ty Cobb Dual relic and both the Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle Triple relic cards. Most recently there have been questions regarding Topps 206 Mickey Mantle “Warm-up Jacket” relic cards. I am not positive but I am pretty sure that Mickey never wore a warm-up jacket with pink or teal on it.

I suggest that Topps takes a look at relics that will not be in short supply any time soon. How about a relic insert based on jail garb? Every month it seems like another athlete shows up in another mug shot, so lets take these lemons and make lemonade.

Please note that I am making this post in jest, I really hope that none of the card companies become so desperate as to actually consider this avenue. But, with that being said I introduce my newest custom card set, the Jailbirds relic set. Each custom card will include actual jail-worn garb (Just so everyone knows these cards are just digital mock-ups and will not actually be printed plus I wouldn't even know where to go to get the jail gear.).

Watch for your favorite parolee to make their appearance in this promising new insert set. First up is one of my favorite jail birds, and University of Arizona product, Gilbert Arenas in his Washington DC Department of Corrections gear.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Random Blaster Box- 2010 Topps Chrome Baseball

I have never been the one to buy in to the hype of the various Chrome releases. I find it funny that some bloggers will blast designers like Panini for using foil board but get giddy when they hear Topps’ schedule for Bowman and Topps Chrome. To me shiny is shiny.

Now why I ended up grabbing a blaster of 2010 Topps Chrome is a surprise to me, maybe I finally bought in to the shiny appeal (Don’t bet on it) or maybe I just wanted to see what the “whoop-de-do” is all about, but Chrome is Chrome and here I sit with a stack of shiny cards laid out in front of me. With the playoffs in to the ALCS/NLCS round the MLB season will be finishing up soon so this will most likely be the final baseball packs that I open for a while.

I do honestly like the shine and some of the cards really pop out with the chrome but why did Topps go and ruin the allure of the refractors? Remember when Finest first arrived on the scene in 1993 and refractors were 1 per box? That was when a refractor meant something, now they are hitting at 1 in 3 packs.

I didn’t pull any Mariners, a disappointment for me, but I was fortunate enough to pull 2 young Diamondbacks, Justin Upton and Stephen Drew, so I had some luck with the blaster. One of the coolest cards though was the Prince Fielder; Topps picked a great shot to use on the card. The Upton card is a decent action shot too; it is actually pretty cool how the chrome highlights the slide marks in the dirt.

Most of the cards were of young players who merely filled in positions or old dogs on their way off to meet up with Ole’ Yeller. A post Tommy-John Tim Hudson, Todd Helton and Alfonso Soriano littered my packs. I did come across some solid players like Adam Lind and some kid out of Minnesota name Morneau. I know this year he only played half the season but his half season topped some player’s entire season.

I pulled 3 Refractors (Zach Duke, Adam Lind and Jair Jurrjens), 3 X-Fractors (Gavin Floyd, John Ely and Mike Stanton) and a Purple Refractor #/599 of Stephen Drew, definitely the highlight of the box. The Drew card is another card that pops because of the Chrome and the Purple Refractor makes it even better. Check out the ball whizzing by Drew’s head, he was safe by barely an arm’s length.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ITG Ultimate Memorabilia 10th Edition

Normally when I write up a review for an upcoming release I try to remain as unbiased as possible. I find myself in a difficult position with this review because I am utterly amazed with ITG's Ultimate Memorabilia 10th Edition.

Schedule Release Date: November 11, 2010
Box Configuration: 3 cards per pack, 5 packs per box
SRP: $620/box

Box Break:
5 Base cards
5 Autograph cards
5 Memorabilia cards

My Thoughts:
This high-end set is made for serious hockey collectors as well as vintage collectors and ITG went big with this release. You will be pulling 15 cards total from each box, 5 base cards, 5 autographs and 5 game-used memorabilia cards. I am not to keen on the idea of slabbing every card, including the base cards, but the slabbing (done by ITG and not graded) can help when storing and cataloging your cards.

The base cards are a tribute to the 1910-11 C56 hockey card set and you can actually pull a redemption for an authentic/graded 1910 C56 hockey card.

The thrill of the set is the amazing pulls that ITG has loaded in to each box. Some of the players that you can see include on the relics checklist include NHL Hall of Famers Newsy Lalonde, the Rocket Maurice Richard and Jacques Plante. How about some relic/auto cards of Colorado Avalanche greats Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic?

My favorite card has to be the triple autographs of NY Islanders greats Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy. I grew up on Long Island and I still remember going to games at Nassau Coliseum in the late 70s as a kid and this specific card just calls to me. Another card that I love is the Sakic Ultimate Emblem patch, how cool would it be to pull a Sasquatch foot logo patch? The Ultimate Decades is another one of the neat inserts.

Some cards are overpowering with all the relics and autographs being shoved in to the card design like the “Complete Jersey Autograph” cards where multiple patches and autographs are all forced in to the design along with a shrinking player image. The Hall of Fame Auto and Memorabilia card is another set that could work better without forcing additional relics in to the cards design.

I do not know the specific insert ratios for the inserts.

Awesome checklist through out the entire set

Nice designs with most of the inserts
Amazing relics going back to the infancy of hockey and the Original 6 teams.

Redemptions for original 1910-11 C56 hockey cards

Expensive ($620 box)

It has been pointed out that the autos are actually stickers and not on-card, that really hurts a set like this.

Forced relics in to some of the inserts

Not sure about the Real Heroes cut signatures

Every single card is slabbed

I rate the ITG Ultimate Memorabilia 10th Edition release as 4 out of 5 for a number of reasons. This set has tremendous historical value, which is of interest to me, and the set is all about the hits. The only thing I found negative about this release, outside of the $620 price tage, is in the forced relics in to some of the designs, sticker autographs and the slabbing of every single card.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet The Artist- Mike James: Part I

I would like to begin my post with an apology to artist Mike James. I made some assumptions and accusations without knowing the full facts and I am truly sorry for not doing more investigation before writing out my original post regarding his artwork.

Back in June I wrote up a post titled "You Sketch It... I Sketch It" about the "You Sketch It" cards that Topps was including in random packs of the 2010 Topps Baseball release. The cool thing about these “You Sketch It” cards is that artists, both established and aspiring, were able to create their own personal sketch cards and submit them to Topps to possibly be included in future releases. These cards were also being used by artists to sell their work using a dedicated medium (the Topps sketch cards), often people were jumping on the Stras band wagon and attempting to make big bucks with their sketches. Tonight’s post is about how things are not always as they seem.

In my post I pinpointed three specific sketch cards, a Strasburg, Ichiro and Abraham Lincoln card being auctioned for a price that I felt was a bit high. Imagine my surprise when the artist who created these cards contacted me regarding my post.

The artist is none other then Canadian artist Mike James. If you are a hockey collector you may recognize his name, he worked with In The Game and created the 2003-04 Be A Player Memorabilia “Brush With Greatness” insert set and the corresponding contest where collectors could win a Mike James one-of-a-kind hand pained jersey for specific players.

Since August Mike and I have had an on-going conversation, definitely a highlight for any collector and we discussed a number of points that I included in my original post.

First, regarding the prices, Mike let me know that he actually was not intending on selling the cards at that $60-75 price points but was actually garnishing interest in his work which worked out well. He was commissioned to create additional custom cards and eventually sold off the original three sketch cards at a much lower price.

Second, I brought up the $12.00 shipping cost, which many eBay buyers would agree is a high price. I never took in to consideration that these cards are coming from Canada, not the U.S. Mike wanted to make sure that each card was not only shipped securely but also offered the protection of tracking with his orders and this is what brought the price up. Considering that we are dealing with 1/1 custom sketch cards being sent internationally, tracking is definitely something that is needed to protect both the artist and the collector.

I want to thank Mike for taking the time to contact me and for being as personal as he has been. I made the incorrect assumption that he was just trying to make money on Strasburg and the “You Sketch It” phenomenon and that was unfair of me.

I conducted an interview with Mike and will be posting that up soon as Part II to this post. He has sent me some images of examples of his work and I will be including those images with Part II.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Topps UFC Nicknames

Topps recently announced that in the 2010 Topps UFC release there are 25 short printed “Nickename” variation cards. These shot print cards are limited to 250 copies each. The other day I picked up some packs unfortunately I did not pull any of the short prints.

Here is the checklist of the 25 cards and the nickname on the cards:

5 The Irish Hand Grenade (Marcus Davis)

13 The Outlaw (Dan Hardy)

16 The Natural (Randy Couture)

20 The Prodigy (BJ Penn)

26 The Dean of Mean (Keith Jardine)

32 Darth (Ryan Bader)

34 The Phenom (Vitor Belfort)

43 Rampage (Quinton Jackson)

44 The Skyscraper (Stephan Struve)

46 Rumble (Anthony Johnson)

47 The Iceman (Chuck Liddell)

49 Bones (Jon Jones)

52 Ace (Rich Franklin)

59 The Dragon (Lyoto Machida)

64 Minotauro (Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira)

66 The Carpenter (Clay Guida)

72 The Hitman (Martin Kampmann)

77 Hands of Stone (Sam Stout)

78 The Huntington Beach Bad Boy (Tito Ortiz)

79 The Axe Murderer (Wanderlei Silva)

83 The Nightmare (Diego Sanchez)

96 Shogun (Mauricio Rua)

100 Rush (Georges St-Pierre)

106 The Spider (Anderson Silva)

147 Kevin Ferguson (Kimbo Slice)

2010-11 Panini Timeless Threads Basketball

The 2010-11 Panini Timless Threads Basketball set is scheduled for release December 8, 2010. Each pack will contain 5 cards (3 Autograph or Memorabilia cards and 2 base cards #/399 or less) for $100.

I am posting up some of the preview images that Panini released. When you drop $100 on a pack you really shouldn't be pulling sticker autographs. I mean come on Panini, the NBA Threads release is being advertised as containing "Over 20,000 on-card autographs" and this is a $4/pack set so why is the $100/pack set coming with stickers?

Rajon Rondo base card

John Wall Rookie Recruits

Hakeem Olajuwon Home & Road Gamers

Magic Timeless Signatures

Andrea Bargnani Prime Patch Autograph

Friday, October 8, 2010

Topps Retail Hijinks

Is Topps preying on the uninformed collector with full box retail releases?

The problem with retail boxes is that while they may contain the same amount of packs as a hobby box, the hits come at a very diminished rate when compared to their hobby box brethren.

Tonight I stopped by the store and while there I took a look at cards and sitting along side all the blasters were a stack of the recently released 2010 Topps Chrome Baseball full retail boxes. Each box contained 24 packs and was selling for $71.48 plus there were no guaranteed hits. What would posses a collector to drop $72 on a retail box when they could spend less then $60 for a hobby box that contained 2 on-card autographs not to mention the hobby exclusive like Printing Plates, Super-Fractors, Team USA autographs and MLB Logoman Patch Cards? Lets not forget Topps recent hobby-only wrapper redemption program too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010-11 Panini Threads Basketball

Schedule Release Date: November 24, 2010
Box Configuration: 5 cards per pack, 24 packs per box
SRP: @$ 90/box

Box Break:
2 Autographs Cards
2 Memorabilia Cards
13 Inserts

My Thoughts:
The first thing I have to point out is that Panini is advertising the product as having “more then 20,000 on-card autographs in the product”. I guess you can say that is a start for Panini. They are bringing the collectors what they want by getting the cards hard signed and doing away with the lick-em stick-em autographs.

There are some interesting inserts like the "Rookie Collection". I like the layout and having a swatch and hard signed autograph make this card a winner. On the other side there are cards like the Rookie autographs. Unless the cards are made to be displayed side-by-side who thought it would be a good idea to cut a team's logo in half? I don't really even want to get in to the mess called "Triple Threats" or the "All-Time Big Men" autographs.

After pointing that out I find myself in a difficult position trying to find a reason to care about this product. It is actually as if Panini’s designers literally phoned in the design for the set. Take a look at the 2009-10 Panini Threads Basketball design and compare it with the 2010-11 Threads design, are you feeling a bit of deja-vu?

2009-10 Panini Threads base

2010-11 Panini Threads base

4 Hits per box (2 auto & 2 memorabilia)

On-card autographs

Die-Cut jersey cards also available in an autographed version #/99


Typical Panini designs

I find giving this set a 2 out of 5 is being generous. The hard signed autos are a start but so much more needs attention to really get over the hump of being just plain F’d up.

This set gets thumbs up for going with the on-card autographs and using some original designs like the die-cut jersey autographs but this set is just a big cluster. Serious design flaws and some inserts (like the Triple Threat insert) are just plain dizzying and are dragging the whole set down.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Random Blaster Box- 2008 Topps Baseball

This time of year is the best for sports enthusiast. Baseball has just finished the regular season and the playoffs are set to begin, the NFL is in full swing and the NBA just kicked off it’s pre-season today.

I decided to go with my final baseball blaster box, a box of lime green 2008 Topps Baseball Series 2. The 2008 Topps are by no means even in my top sets of the year, I don’t know but the bubble/dots across the top of the cards just bother me for some reason. The design is solid but that lettering seems to ruin it.

I can say that pulling a Griffey made the box worth it for me if I didn’t pull anything else. I find it interesting that I pulled a Homer Bailey card, which in itself is not a big deal, but how much does it suck to be named Homer as a pitcher? A solid hitter with that name would be cool, but you don’t want to be serving them up as a pitcher (To note, he has given up 34 homers in a 56 game career, he is 16-16 lifetime with a 5.09 ERA and 232 Ks in 304.0 innings).

Next up is the double dose of awesomeness from the Topps Stars insert, Jeter and Pujols. I actually like the cards, the gold foiling and stars in the background accent the hitters quite well and to be honest these are definitely two awesome hitters. I know that Jeter had a down year this year but even when he has a down year he often turns it around in the Post Season.

Mickey Mantle, nothing more needs to be said.

As a history buff I love these campaign cards, I know a lot of people are not keen on non-sports cards in a baseball set but this insert seems to fit considering that 2008 was an election year. Madison went on to win the election of 1812 and DeWitt Clinton and the Federalist Party went on to obscurity in the archives of American history. I also pulled a Bush/Kerry 2004 election campaign card.

I closed off the box with jersey swatch… or more specifically an “Authentic Game-Worn Uniform” piece from Scott Kazmir during his time with the Rays. I find myself still wanting to call them the Devil Rays for some reason.