Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Topps NFL Rising Rookies

Schedule Release Date: May 2011
Box Configuration: 24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack
SRP: Unknown

Box Break:
2 Autographs cards
2 Memorabilia cards
21 other inserts

My Thoughts:
I have only seen three preview images of the product that were posted by Topps on their Twitter account, a rookie auto redemption (which would change if the Panthers trade away the first pick), Peterson auto and a Bradford patch auto.

This release will contain the first cards of 2011 NFL Draft picks which is impressive considering it will hit shelves less then 1 month following the April 28-30 draft.

No information has really been announced about the set besides the box breakdown which includes:

• On-card Rookie Autograph NFL Draft Logo Patch cards

• On-card Rookie Autograph NFL Shield Logo Patch cards

• Autographed jumbo Relic cards

• Autographed jumbo patch cards

• Rookie 1/1 parallels

• 1/1 Rookie and Base Card printing plates

With a name like Topps Rising Rookies you would expect the product to be loaded with rookies. It is expected that there will be at least 100 rookies in the set and you will get your fill of them. Each pack should contain 4 rookies and 1 rookie parallel. Some of the rookies expected to be included: A.J. Green, Jake Locker, Cam Newton and Mark Ingram.

First cards of the newly drafted rookies

Plenty of hits per box plus parallel

On-card autographs with some of the patch and logo cards

With 100 expected rookies plan on seeing lots of late rounder and free agents who may never make the team

Sticker autographs

Redemptions for the autographs of the top picks

Because no real info has been released I am not going to give a rating yet. Hopefully more images will be posted by Topps so we can see what to expect with the base cards and various inserts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review- 2011 Press Pass Eclipse

Schedule Release Date: February 23, 2011
Box Configuration: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack
SRP: $110/box

Box Break:
1 Autograph cards
3 Memorabilia cards

My Thoughts:
This release is being described as “The Art of Speed” and I have to say that Press Pass really went the wrong way with this product. Art styled releases tend to not do very well and NASCAR is definitely one of those sports where you do not want to make “artsy”. Actually Topps Masterpiece baseball is one of the few sets that actually did the art effect well.

I am disappointed considering that this is the same company that just released Press Pass Five Star Racing a few months ago. This almost seems to be a filler for the release schedule which is poor timing with the NASCAR season starting only 3 days prior to this set hitting the shelves.

An autograph and 3 memorabilia cards per box
Art styling is not a very good mix with NASCAR products

I hate to do this but I give this set a 1 out of 5, Press Pass can do so much better than this release and it almost seems like a rushed product. It is like they were trying something new and hopefully this is a learning experiance for Press Pass.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Leaf MMA Wrapper Redemption Offer #2

In December I wrote about the Leaf MMA wrapper redemption program. There was not a whole lot of information regarding the program on the Leaf web site at the time but the redemption turns out to be an on-going program where new offerings will be made by Leaf from time to time throughout the year, so make sure to hold on to your wrappers.

The first offering (Offer #1) was a 2010 Leaf MMA Shogun Rua autograph #/85. This offer was valid through 1/31/11 or while supplies last. Leaf just announced that the Rua redemption has been sold out and is no longer available. I was able to find one sale of an autographed Rua redemption card, it sold for $180.

The next offering (Offer #2) is a 2010 Leaf MMA Alistair Overeem autograph #/185 and is still available for 96 wrappers. This offer also runs through 1/31/11 or while supplies last. I think we finally have an autograph candidate who will rival Chris Johnson autographs. I have found one sale of an autographed Overeem redemption card, also selling for $180.

Overeem is a workhorse of a fighter, he has been active in both kickboxing and MMA for over 10 years and has an impressive record in each going 10-4 in kickboxing and 34-11 in MMA. He is currently the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, which he has held since 2007, and he is also the Dream Heavyweight Champion, which he won last month, with kickboxing he is the current K1 World Grand Prix Champion. He is ranked in the Top 10 MMA Fighters and has had discussions about joining UFC but no contracts have been signed yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Missed Oppurtunity For Panini?

Have you ever had a situation when you pulled a card and you looked at it and thought “This is a missed opportunity”? As a graphic designer I tend to be picky about card designs and while I may pick up packs of various products just to see what they offer I will not buy any set I find flawed for my personal collection no matter who is on the card.

I recently pulled two Donruss Production Line jersey cards, a Russell Westbrook #8 die-cut and a Birdman #1 die-cut. When I pulled the Westbrook I thought the small floating “8” made the card unbalanced but when I pulled the Andersen I was just amazed that this card design was given the go-ahead. We are talking a jersey swatch that is not even dime sized; it is ¾” by ¼” in size. I like the production line idea highlighting various stats of the players but this insert could have been laid out in a different manor that would be more appealing.

 I thought that one of the most important changes was to go with a landscape layout, this layout would use a smaller player image but it would increase the real estate for the jersey swatch. Adjusting the placement of the text and added a die-cut window displaying the player's stat adds appeal to the overall design. I even used the background image to balance out the negative spacing on the card.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ITG 2011 Prospects & Heores Baseball Series 1

Schedule Release Date: February 24, 2011
Box Configuration: 5 cards per box
SRP: $95/box

Box Break:
5 Auto or Memorabilia cards

My Thoughts:
Just yesterday I was pointing out that card manufacturers seem to be giving no love to set collectors and here we go a day later and ITG is releasing a set made of only hits.

When I wrote about this release back in August I brought up the point that I am not a fan of joining superstars with prospects, my view has not changed since then. I don’t like that they are using sticker either, you would think with prospects ITG would be able to get on-card autographs. Stealing Upper Deck’s Sweet Spot Signature design for the “Between The Seams” design is just plain low.

Big time hits including: Johnny Bench, Tommy Lasorda, Yogi Berra, Tom Seaver, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Harmon Killebrew

Every 5 card box contains 5 hits, autos or memorabilia

Loooooooots of prospects who may never make it more than filler for a roster

Sticker autographs

Uninspired designs

Since I am not a fan of an all hits release not to mention that I think joining HOF players with prospects is a bad move I will reserve judgment and not rate this set,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Extinction Of The Set Builder

I once considered myself as a set builder. I would pick out a set or two each year and between boxes, packs and trades, I would complete that specific set. Over the last year I have found myself slowly losing interest in building sets. Gone is the feeling of accomplishment that I once felt when I would find that last card and could finally close the lid and set the storage box in to my personal collection. I have actually donated complete sets in the last few years finding myself overloaded with too many storage boxes taking up room in my closet.

In the last few years we have seen sport card releases change. Where checklists once included a base set and a couple of inserts we now find checklists that include a base set, base set parallels, short prints, short print parallels and so on. Even if you are able to complete a majority of the base set are you going to complete the short prints and inserts that are part of the checklist? What is the point of completing 90% of a release and then find yourself stalled because you cannot afford those 25 rookie SPs #/10 that are on the checklist?

Card companies have made it difficult for set builders with all the extra parallels and short prints and at times even releasing sets that are completely inserts and hits. Where is the love for the set builder? Even the low end base releases contain so much clutter that working on building the set is frustrating and confusing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010-11 Upper Deck Hockey

With the NBA and NFL lockouts looming (NFL agreement ends 3/4/11 and the NBA agreement ends 6/30/11) we may be down to MLB and NHL for our sporting needs so I decided to take the plunge back in to NHL to see what I have been missing since I stopped collecting NHL cards about 8 years ago.
The base card design is something we have seen time and time again from Upper Deck, a full-bleed image with the name, team name and a small face shot of the player. Pretty similar to the baseball designs over the past 10 years, which is disappointing considering that UD has to survive on NHL and NCAA so you think they would keep product designs fresh to keep the collectors wanting.

I got a couple of young players, Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby along with local player Scottie Upshall, not that I am really a Coyotes fan; I grew up an Islanders fan. I did end up pulling a couple of Islanders, D Mark Streit and G Dwayne Roloson, a player on the IR and has not even played a game this season (Streit) and a player who was actually traded a couple of weeks ago to the Tampa Bay Lighting (Roloson) color me impressed... said sarcastically.

I pulled a couple of Young Gun rookie cards, Eric Tangradi and Tommy Wingels, not really a couple of young guns setting the ice ablaze and both are currently in the minors but they do seem to have an upside and could be back in the NHL before long. I do like the design on the Young Gun cards; they stand out from the other base cards.

The EA Superstar cards are quite cool, this is the type of insert that makes UD stand apart from the lackluster we see with some of the other card companies. When you have one in your hand you immediately think “This is a hockey card worth pulling”. I pulled a Tavares and Daniel Sedin Superstar card.

Upper Deck included a number of 20th Anniversary variations and retros with the inserts, the Hockey Heroes is an instant classic taking you back to the 1990-91 set and pulling a Yzerman was a nice grab.

The best cards overall though are the 20th Anniversary base card variations. These cards are straight from a 20 year old pack. Upper Deck used the 90-91 design on the front and back and even used a similar thin card stock. At 1:9 pack odds you are bound to pull a couple even from single packs or blasters and they are very cool.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Next Up Lawrence Taylor

When an athlete makes poor decisions does it affect their collectability? There are certain cases where the extreme action, such as OJ Simpson being accused of murder, will usually deter collectors, but in cases such as Ben Roethlisberger being twice accused of rape or Michael Vick doing time for his connection with dog fighting do we see a drop in collectability over the life of the player’s career and afterwards?

The most recent case is Lawrence Taylor, who today agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanors of improper sexual conduct involving a minor. If you do not know the case, he had sex with a 16-year old prostitute and was arrested last May. By pleading guilty to the lesser charges he is expected to be sentenced to 6-years’ probation, he will need to register as a sex-offender and he will be fined $2,000.

Only a handful of cards have been put up for action since the latest news but there is still over 900 LT cards up for sale. Most cards from his playing days are in the $1-2 range with relics and autograph cards starting around $5 each. Will he be stigmatized by his actions or will fans stand up and support the Hall of Famer?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010-11 Donruss Basketball...Finally In My Hands

I have been waiting for the 2010-11 Donruss Basketball boxes to finally drop in my neighborhood and I finally came across a couple of blasters so I grabbed one to take a look. Looking at the sell sheets and box breaks I was really looking forward to this set. Panini did right, well mostly right, with this set. Outside of the semi-gloss coating they did a nice job recreating the retro Donruss look even going as far as making the backs look and feel like the sets from the 80s and 90s. I am not sure how I feel about the yellow/sepia tone on all of the players images. I understand it is used to give an “old” feel to a retro set but when you use the yellowing along with the semi-gloss you are not doing anyone a favor.

At best I would call my box mediocre, not because I didn’t pull a top-dollar autograph or relic card, but because the players selection at best is just alright, nothing spectacular. There is one card of note, a card that put a smile on my face at the end of ripping all the packs but I will cover that card at the end of this post.

Only a handful of the base cards are even guys I would consider to be team stars let alone superstars. Amar’e Stoudamire, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Shaq and possible-MVP Manu Ginobili are the top players on the list. Ex-Wildcats Channing Frye, Mike Bibby and Gilbert Arenas made the box more bearable.

I pulled a Wesley Johnson Rated Rookie but the rest of the list is made up of backups and scrubs that may be lucky to play 2-3 minutes a game and would be lucky to even still be in the NBA in 3 years.

I wanted to point out that some of the cards have been Photoshopped to blur the audience. I am not sure what was used to determine how players were selected for this process. The Jason Thomspon was the first card I noticed the blurred background when opening packs.

I pulled three Emerald Die-cut cards; Jameer Nelson, Dwight Howard and Anthony Morrow (another card where the audience is blurred).

Production Line cards include Emerald Die-cut Chris Kaman and Al Horford and a base Darren Collison, which is not die-cut. If you were to look at these die-cuts you might think that they were miscut cards during production. I have seen some odd die-cuts in pictures and on box break videos that make you wonder who was in charge of the die-cutting and why things went down the way they did.

My favorite cards on the checklist by far are the Jersey Kings inserts. These cards look amazing using painted images of players on a marble surface. The downside is that these cards were created with the autograph sticker in mind. The cards without autographs just seem unfinished.

I pulled an Emerald Die-Cut Andre Miller but the top card of the entire box is the Ruby Die-Cut Maurice Cheeks #/25. Mo may not be Hall of Fame material but in the 1980s he was Mr. Defense. He is still #5 on the All-Time Steals list, he was on the All-Defensive team through most of the 80s and he won a NBA Championship with the 76ers in 1983. My only problem with the card? WHY THE F@*K is he in a Knicks uniform? He played a year and a half in New York (107 total games) while he spent 11 years in Philly. Hell, he even coached the 76ers for a few season, now why would you go and put him in a Knicks uni on an awesome card like this?

The hit is a white dime-sized Deron Williams jersey card #/299. He is a pretty good player but the thing about the Jazz is if you aren’t named Malone or Stockton you pretty much are lost in the collecting world outside of Utah. Also I am not a fan of the Craftsman insert, it just doesn’t seem right.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review- 2010 Press Pass Main Event

I decided to go a little out of my comfort zone and picked up a blaster of Press Pass 2010 Main Event. I have watched racing in the past but it has been a good 6-8 years since I regularly watched a NASCAR season and I was never a collector of race cards. I have from time to time picked up individual cards that I thought were cool or a pack here or there so this is pretty foreign to me.

Press Pass is the authority when it comes to NASCAR cards and they have been for many years going back well in to the 90s. They were actually the first company to include relics in their cards when the Burning Rubber relic cards were inserted in packs in 1996.

I like Press Pass but I have to say that this set is a bit odd when compared with the cards from another sport because you have cars and drivers that are to be represented in the set so the base set does not have a standard appearance. I actually had mistaken some of the base cards for inserts because they were so different looking. I tried to select a pretty good variety to post up so you can get an idea of what comes in the packs.
First up are the base cards. This was a 100 card base set with cards 90-100 being Short Prints. Starting with drivers I pulled some of the regulars like Ken Harvick, Mark Martin, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch. The car base cards include one of my favorites, Jeff Gordon along with Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

The inserts I pulled are a Brian Vickers Tale of the Tape and a Kurt Busch American Muscle. These cards have a holofoil reflective surface to them so I knew they were not part of the base set even before I checked the card numbers.

Each pack also included a Fight Card mini card; there were 7 packs in the blaster so I got 7 minis. Oddly my cards were sequential in numbering. There are 25 Fight Card minis and I got cards 17-23 on the checklist.

I was hoping to find a cool memorabilia card and they are a reasonable 1:96 packs, but I had no luck. I love the Press Pass Five Star release but I am not a NASCAR collector and I don’t see myself buying any more packs in the near future.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Random Meanderings

Last night I finally got around to sorting a box of 2010 A&G that has been sitting on my dresser since last July and as I scanned through the cards in my hand and came across a Buster Posey rookie I thought back to the days when if you came across a solid rookie you would set the card aside and put it in a penny sleeve because you hoped that some day it would become something special. I mean I am holding the NL Rookie of the Year in my hand and if I was to try and sell the card I might actually end up paying more in listing fees then the final sale price.

Now we basically ignore the base cards no matter who is on the card outside of the occasional “OH NOZ SUPER MOJO!!11!!111!!!” rookie that comes around once a generation before going down with a shoulder injury. Even then we only want a short-printed colored-fractor version so we can claim “REAL 1/1” on the eBay auction.

I would gladly give up all the releases loaded with the middle-reliever autographs and dime sized white jersey cards from bench warmers for those days when a rookie card meant something more than trade bait or fire kindling. I know the hits are here to stay for now but I can hope right?

How About Those Seahawks?

I had a post written up and ready for posting this afternoon, which was until I got to sit down and watch my Seahawks pull out a completely unexpected win over the reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Honestly I was expecting to see the final game of the season for the Seahawks as they sputtered with the occasional highlight that would leave me smiling as I walked away saying “Just wait until next season” but instead with my house filled with visiting relatives (all from Seattle) we got to see more then the occasional highlight as Matt Hasselbeck showed glimpses of his 2005 self, Mike Williams continued to show that he truly is worthy of being in the NFL after not playing a game since 2007 and Marshawn Lynch clinched the game with a career-long 67 yard TD run.

How insane was Lynch’s 67-yard run? After making his way through 8 arm tackles and pushing Saints CB Tracy Porter off like he was a beggar child he danced in to the end zone to seal the win for the Seahawks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Time To Reconsider?

Before Andrew Luck stated that he planned on returning to Stanford and would not declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft there was the question on whether Luck and Harbaugh would go as a package deal. With the Carolina Panthers looking for a head coach and with the team holding the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft most people probably assumed that the Luck/Harbaugh team would continue their relationship in Panther Blue but now you have to wonder if they will continue together but instead of wearing Panther Blue they will be wearing 49ers Metallic Gold.

The 49ers now have the first piece of the puzzle with Harbaugh and considering that they need a reliable QB it is conceivable that the team may try to work a deal with Carolina to trade for the #1 pick. Now if Andrew Luck reverses his decision, he has until January 15th, and declares for the NFL Draft we may actually see this card after all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Andrew Luck Says "No" To The 2011 NFL Draft

Using the Topps 2011 Baseball design I created this Andrew Luck Topps NFL rookie card that unfortunately will not be seen in packs this year.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the projected #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, today announced that he will be returning to school instead of declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft. Luck claims that his reason for remaining in school is that he wants to complete his degree, he is scheduled to graduate early 2012, but you have to wonder how much of his decision was made after sources within the Carolina Panthers stated that they would be drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft this April.

Barring any surprise announcements regarding underclassmen declaring for the draft it now looks like Clemson’s De’Quan Bowers will be the #1 draft pick in what looks to be a First Round loaded with defensive players.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vince Young, Step In To My Office

In 2006 many fans were surprised when Tennessee selected Vince Young with the #3 pick in the NFL Draft, 7 slots before Matt Leinart who many assumed would be one of the first 2 or 3 picks that year. Given Young had just won the NCAA National Championship over Leinart’s USC Trojans but there were many questions about him including his Wonderlic Test score (rumored to have been a record low of 6/50), his leadership skills, organization skills and his work ethics.

After 5 seasons with the Titans, team owner Bud Adams has decided to sever ties with Vince Young. With Young being “fired” you have to wonder if he will pick up with another team next year, barring lockout. Will he follow another Top 10 Draft Pick failure party boy Matt Leinart and sit quietly in the #3 role or will he be out of football all together?

Even being picked #3 in the draft ahead of Leinart, Jay Cutler, Joseph Adai, Maurice Jones-Drew and Brandon Marshall, he was never a collectors dream. He didn’t seem to garner the attention that those other players received and his cards never really sold at the levels of Leinart's cards. I find it funny and sad that some people are still posting his 2006 Exquisite Auto-Patch #/99 for $3,500, even his Gold Exquisite 1/1 graded PSA 10 would be a stretch at the $2,400 asking price. There are some very interesting Vince Young offerings up for bid right now, but you will notice that not one card over $75 even has a bid and there is a reason for that… his work ethic of course being unemployed does not help.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday Night Raw Followup

The kids had a blast at WWE Raw last night. Unfortunately John Cena really got hurt last week so his match was scratched, it was supposed to be Cena and Orton versus The Miz and Wade Barrett. But WWE made up for it with a surprise Triple Threat Cage Match for the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship with Shamus versus Randy Orton versus Wade Barrett vying for the position to take on The Miz at Royal Rumble at the end of the month.

Some if the highlights of the night:

CM Punk talking about how he "hurt" John Cena, Wade Barrett came out and the two got in to it a bit before the Nexus came out. I guess this is a new storyline where CM Punk is trying to take over the Nexus group.

R-Truth vs Alberto Del Rio. R-Truth is one of the favorites of my kids so I have to add him to the list of highlights, he did loose but an entertaining match.

Shamus vs Randy Orton vs Wade Barrett Triple Threat Match. It was ultimately won by Randy Orton after the other two had plenty of opportunities to win but never got to the floor.

After the match finished and the cage was raised The Miz came out with his friend, not sure what his name is, and started spouting off. Michael Cole stepped up on the ring to support The Miz and needless to say Randy Orton went back in to the ring and beat up The Miz, his buddy and Michael Cole. Does anyone else notice that Orton’s RKO looks an awful lot like Stone Cold’s Stunner?


Honestly I had more fun then I thought I would. I occasionally watch wrestling with my kids so I know some of the wrestlers but seeing it live makes you feel more involved even when I was watching the matches with wrestlers I didn't really know. The tickets we got may not have been the best seats but we had a nice view and could see the entire arena plus they only cost $20 each and when you need 6 tickets even at $20 it adds up. To save on additional costs the tickets double as a free boarding pass on the light rail so the whole night for the family was not to expensive and we all had fun.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Heading to Monday Night Raw

Tonight we are taking the kids to Monday Night Raw so I wanted to make a quick post before we leave. John Cena is the guy my kids root for so I will be posting up some of their favorite John Cena cards.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leaf Muhammad Ali

Late last year Leaf announced that they would be releasing a set dedicated to Muhammad Ali, not much information was made available besides a potential release in the Fall of 2010. A recent press release has updated that to a February 2011 release, along with the announcement they also included a couple of preview images of three autograph-relic cards. Every autograph card in the set is on-card. No price point has been announced yet.

Each box will contain:

4 Base cards

1 Muhammad Ali “hit”

2 Related autograph cards (from other personalities not Ali)

Leaf describes the Ali hits as “A hit can include one of the 50 1/1 autograph/fight-used cards, fight-worn memorabilia, a cut signature or a 1/1 plate.” The other on-card autograph cards are of opponents, fans or associates of Muhammad Ali including Donald Trump, Magic Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roy Jones Jr. and Joe Frazier.

I like the idea of a Ali set, he deserves the recognition and I know Leaf and Brian Gray are working to give the fans a good product but I am not sure how I feel about the cards right now. I can tell from the images that these are just mockups and not the real cards so I am left wondering if this is just a teaser image to draw interest or the final design. I do like the cards design, it seems to work well here, but the images used seem cheesy and the soft edge cutouts do not do them any justice.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vintage Card Of The Month

I decided to start off the New Year with something old. I love history which has led me to being a vintage collector. Over that time I have picked up a number of cards from various sets like T206 and Topps All-American. Most of the players are commons but to me each card has a history and that is what interests me. 

The first card I will post is my favorite from my T206 collection, Eddie Cicotte. The card is graded by ASA, a company known for coin grading, as a 6-NM. The card is centered nicely. The back is Piedmont and besides “SPECIAL” stamped on the back it is as nice as the front. Cicotte was playing for Boston at the time of the card but he is best known for his time with the Chicago White Sox (1912-1920) because of the “Black Sox” scandal when Chicago players threw the 1919 World Series.

Most people know of him because of the scandal but they do not realize that he was an exceptional pitcher at times and may have possibly made it to the HOF had he remained in peak performance. His best years were clearly his time with the White Sox in 1917 and 1919.

In 1917 he went 28-12(1st), 1.53 ERA (1st) and 150 SO (2nd) he threw a no-hitter and won the World Series he even earned 4 Saves too. In 1919 he went 29-7(1st), 1.82 ERA(2nd) and 110 SO (7th) including 30 Complete Games plus 1 Save and he made it to the World Series but lost after going 1-2 in his 3 Series games. To add to his list of accomplishments he won the 1914 AL MVP Award. His lifetime ERA is 2.82 putting him at 24th overall on the Top 100 ERA list.

Because of his lifetime ban he is not eligible to appear in any licensed sets but Tri-Star remedied that this past year when his card was included in the 2010 Obak set with a base card and a cut-signature in the autograph checklist.