Friday, December 30, 2011

UFC Fight Of The Year

The final UFC fight of the year, UFC 141, contains one of the most aniticpated fights of 2011 with the return of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar versus Alastair Overeem.

Brock Lesnar last fought in October 2010 when he lost the belt to Cain Velasquex (who lost the belt last month in his first title defense against Junior dos Santos). Overeem last fought in June in Strikeforce (a rather boring fight against Fabricio Werdum) but then fell in to limbo after a falling out with Strikeforce and his Golden Glory team. He signed a contract with UFC in September (he is currently with Xtreme Couture).

This fight has been highly anticipated since Overeem’s September signing and the winner will be heading in to a Heavyweight Championship fight against dos Santos next year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vintage Card of the Month: Amos Alonzo Stagg

The College football bowl season has started and I decided to go with a college legend for this month’s Vintage Card of the Month. The card, Amos Alonzo Stagg from the 1955 Topps All American set.

Stagg played as an End for Yale in the late 1880s (1885-1889) and was selected as a First Team All-American in 1889. The year after his graduation he began his coaching career at Springfield College before moving on to the University of Chicago a few years later, he spent 40 years coaching at Chicago and even won two National Championships there (in 1905 and 1913). While at the University of Chicago he coached one season for the basketball team and he was the baseball coach for almost 20 years.

After he left Chicago he continued coaching until he was 96-years old, at Susquehanna University and the University of Stockton. In his almost 70 years of coaching he revolutionized the game including changes to the offense and defense and is believed to have a “hand” in the creation of the forward pass in 1906 and the creation of the Line Backer position.

As was pretty common at the time, the card is cut off-center as well as being off top-to-bottom also. The top two corners are rounded pretty awful but the bottom two corners are in decent shape, the white border has yellowed a bit and the colors have muted over the years. The picture include of Stagg was from his later career (from his time at the University of Pacific) instead of from his college days.

Most ungraded copies sell in the $25-50 range with graded copies running a bit higher depending on grade.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas To All

Merry Christmas to all

and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Mrs. Claus Secret

For years I have been hunting down the 1992 Pro Line Santa autograph card to add to my collection and this year after being hidden away a couple have made it up for auction, though I am not currently in a position to drop $65-80 on an autographed Santa Clause card, but the important thing is that some of the cards are surfacing and I had forgotten which set the card was part of so now I have saved the search for the future.

But as I was looking thorugh the various auctions I came across the Mrs. Claus autograph card, which Pro Line released along with Santa's auto, and I noticed something odd. Do you see something different between the two cards?

Card #1 has an additional "Santa" autograph on the 1991 Pro Line card in the picture frame next to Mrs. Claus. The first card with the additional autograph sold recently at $35 where Card #2 is sitting at $68 with no bids. I think that was pretty cool that the signer added in a little additional bonus auto for the collectors.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Is So Special With Topps 2011 American Pie?

I am trying to figure why so many people have a boner over the new Topps American Pie release. I know there is some reminiscing and nostalgia involved which can be fun and has done well in the past but the main reason people buy sets like this is the hits included and this release seems to be seriously “reaching” when it comes to the personalities included on the checklist. While previous American Pie releases included relics from Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe the best this set can muster is the likes of AJ Hammer, Tia Carrere. and Dean Cain. Hell, out of the 6 different “relic” sets only 1 is a true relic (American Pie/Pieces Relics), the rest are made up of The Walk of Fame, Letters and Fold-Out Letters (Manu-patches), stamps and coins.

OK, Jimi Hendrix does have a true relic in the set and John Wayne, James Cagney, Duke Ellington and Gary Cooper do have stamp or coin relics but come on…

There are some autographs that make up for the lack of relics including Charlie Sheen, cut signatures of the Odd Couple, Cheech and Chong and some quad-cuts from Gilligan’s Island and some buyback cards signed by Paul McCartney and right now there is a Richard Nixon cut sig/relic card up for sale at $12,000 BIN but when you look at the autograph card numbers they are extremely limited making it more likely that your 3 hits will be relics or a Wilmer Valderrama chicken scratch.

Like I said back in August when I did a review of the set, this seems to be a rushed attempt by Topps to counter Panini and Leaf's nostalgic sets and they did a pitiful job with it. I will probably pick up a blaster to have a closer look and I may hunt down some of the American Pieces relics but when it comes to the better nostalgic sets I think Panini may have a slight edge with their Americana release.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Guild Autograph Signing Party

Last week I did a write-up about The Big Bang Theory set that Cryptozoic Entertainment is putting out early next year and I brought up that they are also working on a The Guild card set too and to my surprise they just released some updated information about the autograph checklist along with some preview images for The Guild set. I like that to get all of the autographs done at the same time they invited the entire cast of the web show to a party and had them sign all together.

Among the information that has been released so far includes pricing and inserts: 5 card packs will run $3.50 each and there will be autograph and memorabilia cards plus two 9-card chase sets. The set will cover the first 3 seasons of The Guild, Season 5 just finished so expect to see additional sets if this release does well.

One thing that you will notice is that the autograph card design reflects the guilds that their characters are in, or connected to, with most of the main characters being in the Knights of Good with a couple in the Axis of Anarchy. Additionally the main actors have autograph cards as their in-show persona as well as a second card as their character from The Game. For example, Felicia Day has an autograph card of her as Cyd Sherman, her everyday character in the show as well as Codex, her Cleric Priestess character in The Game. I like that Cryptozoic did this, it is a nice way to involve characters who play dual personalities in the web show. I wonder if one will be a short print or if one will be a bigger draw then the other?

One autograph that drew my attention is Wil Wheaton, who plays the Axis of Anarchy guild leader. This gives me hope that he signed for the Big Bang Theory set too.

If you a gamer or even enjoy playing video games The Guild is a wonderful web series, there are now 5 seasons with each season having between 10-12 episodes. Each episode is only 8-10 minutes long so you could easily watch all 5 seasons in one evening.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Preivew: 2012 Leaf Metal Golf

Leaf is once again going after an untapped market in collecting, this time it is golf. It has been almost a decade since we have seen an all golf product, though some golfers have appeared in various sets from Topps and Upper Deck over the years. Brian Gray has announced that early next year, February or March, Leaf will be releasing 2012 Leaf Golf Metal. Each box will contain 2 base cards and 3 autographs and boxes should run around $70 each. No checklist has been released but Gray did make it clear that since UD has an exclusive contract with Tiger Woods he will not be included.

Leaf has released some preview images of Jack Nicklaus autographs to show the various versions that will be included. Additionally, every autograph will be on-card.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yu Darvish To Texas

Last night the MLB announced that the Texas Rangers had won the right to negotiate with Hokkaido pitcher Yu Darvish with a posting bid of $51.7 million. The team now has 30 days to sign a deal with Darvish or he will return to Hakkaido, it is expected that the initial offer will be 5 or 6 years and around $12-15 million a year.

It seemed like Toronto had the edge in the bidding war but the Rangers were talked about a bit when it came to Darvish and I think that collectability-wise he will probably draw more attention in Texas especially considering they have a solid core of players and their two recent World Series trips. It is possibly he may just end up being the final piece to put the Rangers in to the “Win” column if they are able to return to the World Series.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Bidding Is Done And Yu Darvish May Be On His Way To America...Well Canada

The final posting bid for Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish has been made and it is rumored to have topped the $51.1 million that the Red Sox paid to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka back in 2006, which now in hind-sight appears to have mostly been a bust for the Red Sox.

The team believed to have come out on top? The Toronto Blue Jays!

Once the posting bid has been accepted the winning team will have 30 days to come to terms with Yu Darvish or he will return to Hokkaido.

Currently Darvish has a handful of World Baseball Classic Topps cards including Bowman Chrome, Bowman Sterling and Topps Triple Threads with his refractors and relic cards commanding a premium, with some sellers setting prices teetering on the edge of insanity.

In 7 seasons playing for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Darvish is 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA and 1,259 Strike Outs. He is a two-time MVP, an Eiki Sawamura Award winner (Japan’s Cy Young Award), he has been selected to 5 All-Star Games and a Japan Series Champion (Japan’s World Series) in 2006 plus a World Baseball Classic Gold Medal in 2009.

I am sure there will be some serious clamoring for his first true rookie cards and if he turns out to be a lights-out pitcher similar to his past 7 seasons he will probably keep the attention of fans but you have to wonder if people will really pay top dollar for a Blue Jays player?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Trade News- Chris Paul & Dwight Howard

Today the New Orleans Hornets traded Chris Paul to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu plus an unprotected First Round Draft Pick. Paul seems to be excited about the move and is looking forward to playing alongside reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin.

The question of the day is will this trade increase or decrease Chris Paul’s collectability?

Now that the Chris Paul trade has gone through I think many people are turning their attention towards the possibility of the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard being traded. This has been an interesting situation beginning last week when the Magic brass claimed the Nets began talks with Dwight Howard violating the NBA’s tampering policy. This was followed by rumors that Howard would demand a trade on Friday, the first day talks could begin and low and behold, Howard did indeed demand a trade on Friday morning. Reports have claimed a Howard trade is in the works with the Nets but the Lakers and Mavericks have also begun to appear in rumors. Currently the Magic claim trade talks are off and they are trying to work things out with their star Center but according to Howard’s Twitter and Facebook page the trade request is still on. Only time will tell.

Question #2 of the day, will Dwight Howards collectability increase or decrease with a trade to the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets? How about a trade to the Lakers or Mavericks?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Big Bang Theory Gets Some Love

Cryptozoic Entertainment, a company that you can really describe as an all-around entertainment company who produces games, comic books and trading cards, has just announced an upcoming entertainment card release for the hit television show The Big Bang Theory.

The set is scheduled to be released February 14, 2012 and each 24 pack box will run between $60-80 each. There will be 5 cards per pack and inserts include autographs and wardrobe cards though no pack out information has been announced.

So far the 5 main actors (Cuoco, Galecki, Helberg, Nayyar and Parsons) have been confirmed for the autograph list. I wonder if we will see Mayim Bialik or Melissa Rauch and I would not be surprised to see a Will Wheaton autograph too. I know he has been in only a handful of episodes but Cryptozoic Entertainment is also doing a The Guild card set (If you have not seen any of The Guild webisodes and you are a gamer I suggest you take a look at the show) and Wheaton is on that show too so they could get him in for both cards sets at one time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Rack Packs: 2011 Topps Chrome Football

Since I have been going through a lull in pack opening I grabbed two rack packs of Topps Chrome Football recently. Each rack pack contained 3 packs of Topps Chrome Football and 3 additional Orange Refractors.

Like my rack packs of Topps Prime Football that I opened last month almost every card pulled was either a Running Back (9) or a Wide Receiver (16 counting Tight Ends). Besides pulling an A.J. Green rookie most of the other RCs were disappointing including a number of players who have already been cut/waived or are close to losing their jobs. Last year it seemed like ever pack I opened always contained a Mardy Gilyard rookie and this year that bad luck has been replaced with Clyde Gates. To make it worse I pulled a base Clyde Gates refractor as well as an X-Fractor, talk about a disappointment.

To close out my pack break I pulled a Blue Refractor Ronnie Brown #/199, 6 Orange Refractors and 2 Bowman Chrome Rookies- Ryan Mallett and Ryan Williams.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Preview: 2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball

With the return of the NBA comes a slew of basketball sets and Upper Deck is going the retro way with the release of the 2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball. The base set (50-card checklist) of this high-end product will appear familiar to many late 90s Fleer sets and the set will also include 33 Rookie Sensations that will use the 1990-91 design.

Each 20-pack box (two 10-pack inner boxes with 5 cards a pack) will run $200 and include 6 autograph cards and 4 inserts. The autographs will be either from the Autographics set (1996-2000 designs) or Fleer Retro Cards set (1961/62, 1986-89 designs) and the inserts will be from one of 15 insert sets:

Precious Metal Gems- Red #/150, Blue #/50 or Green #/10
Fleer 1961/62 1:100 Packs
Fleer 1986/87 1:20 Packs
Fleer 1987/88 1:10 Packs
Fleer 1988/89 1:5 Packs
Golden Touch 1:180 Packs
A Cut Above 1:144 Packs
Noyz Boyz 1:144 Packs
Big Men on Court 1:180 Packs
Competitive Advantage 1:144 Packs
Metal Championship Hardware 1:90 Packs
Intimidation Nation 1:180 Packs
Ultra Court Masters 1:90 Packs
Ultra Stars 1:180 Packs
Flair Showcase #/150

It will definitely bring back memories of the junk wax era for those of us who collected during the 1980s and 90s and it may have done well if the price point wasn’t so high not to mention the players are all depicted in their college or high school uniforms. I am betting that the nostalgic collector will probably stick to buying singles instead of dropping $200 on a box hoping to pull a LeBron or Jordan autograph.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Preview: 2012 Press Pass Total Memorabilia

Last year at this time Press Pass introduced collectors to Press Pass Five Star, a super high-end product that included some solid card designs and loaded with amazing hits from a decent checklist. This year another new product is being introduced by Press Pass, the 2012 Press Pass Total Memorabilia release. Look to see the product drop February 2012 with boxes running $125 each.

Each 5-pack box (9 cards per pack) will include 5 hits, 1 per pack. To keep things easy there are only three different hits Rising Star Autographs (#/125 or less), Total Memorabilia multi-relic card or Total Memorabilia Signature Collection booklet card (#/10 or less).

I like that Press Pass is putting some serious thought in to what collectors want, unfortunately Press Pass is the only company that is doing this and it is limited to NASCAR but you have to admit they do put out a sweet set.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Preview: 2012 ITG NHL Enforcers

When it comes to hockey everyone loves a scorer and the goalies grab whatever love is left over but the enforcers are what makes hockey really hockey. As the old joke goes “I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out”. 

 In The Game, the first card company to create a goalie-only set has now turned their attention towards another ignored group, the enforcers. If you look closely you will notice that the autographs and some of the memorabilia cards have blood splatters included in the design. This reminded me of a card I pulled a number of years ago from a Pacific product, it was a Yzerman/Lidstrom dual memorabilia card and the Lidstrom sweater patch had blood on it, one of the coolest cards I ever pulled. I sold it when I was clearing out my collection, that is one card I wish I could get back just because it was different.

You will notice that Marty McSorley is included in the autograph checklist. What Enforcers set would be complete without McSorley, one of a handful of players to actually be charged with assualt following an on-ice hit?

2012 In The Game NHL Enforcers is scheduled to be released January 15, 2012 but no pricing information has been released yet. Each 12-card box will be hand-collated to ensure proper pack out and will contain:
5 Autographs
2 Memorabilia cards
5 Base cards

 Base Inserts include:
Record Holders compiles the stats
Tale of the Tape offers a glimpse at both combatants in classic battles
Bloody Battles is an artistic rendition of notable scraps (This is not a sketch card)
Tough Franchise pays tribute to the legacy of various teams' enforcers

Memorabilia Inserts include:
Combatants - Dual Memorabilia cards
Tough Franchise - Quad Memorabilia cards
Fight Strap (#/8)
Fight Strap (#/1)