Thursday, December 31, 2009

Box Break: 2009 Topps 206


The WWE Heritage box from my last post was the last break from the pile of boxes that I got during Blowout Cards’ Black Friday sale.  This box was one that I got around the same time, but this was from my local card shop, Kenmore Collectibles.  They were running a promotion similar to one that Blowout Cards had also run.  Blowout was offering $1.25 in cash or $1.75 in trade for baseball autograph and relic cards.  Kenmore was offering a dollar for autograph and relic cards from all four sports as well as any cards numbered to 25 or less.  The Blowout promotion had ended at this point, this offer didn’t require any packages sent through the mail and it allowed me to get something for a bunch of hockey, football and basketball cards that I didn’t want and couldn’t even get a dollar for on eBay.

I’m a big fan of the 206 set.  I wasn’t in the hobby in 2002 when they did this the first time around so it is all new to me.  This set combines a lot of the things that collectors look for in sets.  You’ve got short prints, a retro theme, minis, on-card autographs, serial numbered parallels and rainbows for player collectors.

The retro filter that they applied to the pictures on these cards works very well for the close-up portrait cards.  It doesn’t work that well for some of the cards where the player is further away.  There’s a Ken Griffey Jr. card in the set that comes to mind which is far to blotchy and blurry for my tastes.  The bad looking cards are by far the minority in the set.

Lincecum I’m also a fan of the Allen & Ginter sets, but the short prints can make the set a bit of a chore at times.  While there are short printed variations in Topps 206 packs, I love the fact that they aren’t part of the regular set.  Master set and player collectors can track them down if they’d like, but in order to put together the regular set, you don’t have to chase down a single short print.  Another good thing that the short prints have going in favor of them is the fact that they have different pictures on them.  Check out the base and SP Lincecum cards Pujols here.  I would think that a master set displayed in a binder would look beautiful with all of the variants right next to their regular versions.  The two different Pujols here look great as well.

Even if you were to choose to pursue all of the short printed cards, there are only 50 of them which falls in line with what you normally see in a set this size.  The regular sized SP aren’t too tough to come by and you’ll get around 5 per box.  The mini SP are a lot tougher and you’ll only get one of those per box.  Since I’ve Porcellobeen pulling him in every other type of variation and parallel, I of course ended up pulling Rick Porcello.  If he continues to pitch well, I’ll have a nice little collection of his cards.

The mini SP cards have the variant picture on them, but you can also tell them apart by the fact that they are printed on a white card stock that is easily seen on the side if you’ve got a stack of minis in front of you.

One of the few negatives to this set are the bronze parallels.  While they seem to be doing a good job at thwarting would-be pack searchers, it can be annoying getting two different parallel sets in one pack.  The fact that there are 9 cards per pack keeps this from being too annoying.  If this were an Upper Deck product, there would only be 4 or 5 cards per pack and the parallels would get annoying.  Think of a Goodwin pack where you get two minis.  It’s a huge reason why I won’t touch that stuff in pack form.



There are different ad backs on the minis similar to the original T-206 set.  The Piedmont, Old Mill and Polar Bear variants aren’t numbered, but the Cycle backs are numbered to 99 and the Carolina Brights are 1/1.

My box contained a Cameron Cycle along with a Cunningham Old Mill, Burrell Polar Bear and Adrian Gonzalez Old Mill.  Unfortunately, it now looks like I’ll have to wait until the trade deadline to possibly see Gonzalez in a Red Sox jersey.  Could someone please tell Jed Hoyer that Clay Buchholz will be an absolute beast pitching in a weaker NL with half of his game in mammoth Petco.  Ellsbury’s no slouch either.


While this is just another bat card of A-Rod, is has an Old Mill frame which makes it a little rarer and a little more valuable.  This is definitely a card that’s not staying in my collection.  There was a time when I was rooting for A-Rod to be the guy to wipe out all of Bonds’ records, but then it was revealed that A-Rod was just as dirty as Bonds.  At least A-Rod has come clean and isn’t trying to pretend like he hasn’t done anything wrong.

ArodB One interesting thing about this card is that it is an uncorrected error.  The back reads that this is a Game-Worn Jersey Relic Card.  In this day and age, something like this is no big deal.  It’s not that rare to see relic cards with swapped jersey swatches or cards just completely manufactured wrong.

Personal feelings aside, this is a 1:105 relic card of one of the top players in the league so it’s a nice pull.  This card will eventually make someone else very happy.


I absolutely love these framed, on-card autograph.  These cards are mainly rookies and younger players who Topps could get to sign this year cheaply.  There are also full sized autograph cards with stickers on them.  This is where you’ll find most of the bigger stars, but since it is the same stars that you’ll find sticker autos of in almost every other set out there, are these cards really that desirable?

When it’s all said and done, I think this may be my favorite baseball set of the year.  Keeping the short prints out of the regular set gives it a slight edge over Ginter.  I also like the inserts a lot more than Ginter.  There’s not as much empty space in the frame and the frame isn’t something you might see on a Hawaiian shirt.  The set doesn’t try to do too much which Ginter seems to do with all of its insert sets.  Yes, some are great like the Mythical Creatures, but those don’t even fall one per box.

As far as grades go, I would give the Topps 206 set an A with some points off for the second parallel set.  I would give my box an A as well.  I got two very nice hits and no misses.  I pulled some nice short prints.  The only way that this box gets better is if my hits are of players that I collect.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Box Break: WWE Heritage III


There weren’t a lot of baseball or basketball boxes available to me in the BlowoutCards Black Friday sale since I was working that day and couldn’t camp out at the computer.  I did take the opportunity to grab my fair share of wrestling boxes.

I thought the idea of WWE Heritage was an interesting one, but the boxes always seemed too expensive to me.  I’m not a huge fan of the hits that you get in wrestling boxes and that seems to be what you are mostly paying for.  I seem to remember the boxes not costing as much when Fleer was putting out the WWE sets, but I could be wrong.

The main design from this set draws from 1980 Topps as you can see here on John Morrison’s card.  The former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion is one of the more exciting stars to watch.  He’s a less risky, more technical version of Jeff Hardy.  His finisher, Starship Pain (a split legged corkscrew moonsault in the corner), is one of the cooler finishers in the WWE at the moment.


Wow, these cards scanned really poorly.

The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase was one of the bigger stars when I watched wrestling as a kid.  He was known for his valet Virgil (who would eventually turn on him), the Million Dollar Championship, trying to buy the belt from Andre the Giant on Saturday Night Main Event and stuffing money into the mouth of his defeated opponents after putting them to sleep with his finisher, The Million Dollar Dream.  Ted’s son, also named Ted, is currently wrestling in the WWE as part of Legacy.

The designed used for the WWE Legends is the wood grain from 1987 Topps.


Last, but certainly not least, we have the WWE Divas who appear on cards using the 1982 Topps design.  Divas are all about looks first and wrestling ability 22nd.  If the match doesn’t involved Mickie James, Natalia Neidhart, Gail Kim, Melina or Beth Phoenix then you aren’t going to see much wrestling at all.  That’s why there’s a never-ending stream of pillow fights, bikini matches and other gimmick matches that try and hide the fact that most of these ladies just can’t wrestle.  They’ve got good looks and implants and that’s plenty for many of the WWE fans out there.  Me, I fast forward through most of the Diva matches that are on WWE programming.  I’d never, ever fast forward if Mickie James and Natty Neidhart ended up facing each other in the ring though.


To me, this was the hit of the box.  I absolutely love the Allen & Ginter WWE minis and this one here is the best of the bunch from Heritage III.  Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was by far the best thing about wrestling in the 80s and 90s.  His quick wit and sarcasm added so much to the matches that all kind of resembled each other back in those days.  He and Gorilla Monsoon were the main reason to watch Prime Time Wrestling which I would still watch over Raw, Smackdown, Nitro or Impact any day of the week.

Heenan has battled and beat throat cancer.  While it has limited his public appearances, when he does speak you can see that wit and humor is still there.  Here’s hoping that one day he’ll be healed up enough and has the desire to make a return to the wrestling world.

I also pulled Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Chief Jay Strongbow minis.  According to the odds, I should have gotten 4 minis, but one of them didn’t make it into the box.  I’ll forgive them for giving me The Brain because he’s easily worth two regular minis.


Jeff Hardy was at the height of his popularity when he decided to take a leave of absence from the WWE.  Unfortunately, soon after he got into some legal problems involving some drugs which led to all kinds of speculation and rumors.  Hopefully he’ll rest his body and mind for a year or so and return to the WWE.  While in the Hardy Boyz, Jeff did some ridiculous things especially during big pay per view events.  His matches were always worth watching because you didn’t know what insane spot he’d perform next.

I already have a Jeff Hardy autograph that I got in person so this card will most likely end up on eBay.  A thirteen year old, female wrestling fan with stockings on her arms and black nail polish will appreciate this a whole lot more than I will.


I’m posting this card last because it will be remaining in my collection and because I have a story to tell.  I made a trip to Wizard World Philly a while back to see Kevin Smith do one of his amazing Q & A sessions as well as get something signed by the man.  Matt Hardy was also making an appearance at the convention so I decided to bring something to have him sign as well.

What I decided upon was a Jakks Pacific wrestling figure in the package.  The figure came with a little boom box that played the wrestler’s theme music.  Matt loved the figure when he saw it.  He was playing with the boom box and having a great time.  I was surprised that he wasn’t sent any figures by Jakks.  He said that they sent him some of the first couple of figures that they did, but that was about it.  He was a great guy and it was a fun interaction.  Matt’s got a great autograph that you can actually read (unlike his brother) and the figure looks great.  That will definitely get posted once it is out of storage and on display in the room.

While this was a fun idea for a set, I’m glad that Topps has gone away from the Heritage theme and is now using the current year’s design for the WWE sets.  I got a complete set out of my box along with a stack of 20 or so extras.  I give the set itself a C+.  The legends are kind of weak in this set and I’m not a big fan of the design on the autographed cards.  I’ve got to give my box an A+.  I got two hits that are going to become great additions to my collection and one of the better autographs that can be pulled.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Collectibles Room – Assessing the Damages

My family has moved twice in the past 6 months.  Once was to a temporary place and now we are in the place that we will be living for a long time.  One of the positives of the new house is that the layout allowed for me to have a room to myself.  What’s even better is that the room is pretty much the whole third floor.  The bad news is that the room is in pretty bad shape and will need a lot of work to get it into usable condition.  It’s shaped weirdly and is almost all angled ceilings which presents challenges.  Hopefully I don’t get concussed up here by standing up in the wrong part of the room.


There’s the staircase up to the third floor.  Both railings are loose and need to be fixed.  There’s a small closet to the left of the stairs with an accordion door on the front of it.  That space could become handy, but it’s too out of the way to store anything that I’m going to use frequently.  I picture it as possibly a storage space for things like extra chairs and other stuff that would come in handy when people come to visit.

Ideally, this will be a room to showcase my collectibles as well as a place where I can have friends and family over for things like sporting events and wrestling pay per views.  If I get a better TV, I can also bring Rock Band or Guitar Hero up here when I don’t want to tie up the TV downstairs.


That ugly mirror has got to go.  That’s prime real estate for a framed picture.  I’ve got a ton of stuff that I want to put up on the walls and as you’ll see from these pictures, there isn’t a heck of a lot of space to hang the pictures unless they’re hung at a height appropriate for little children to look at.

There’s my tiny little TV.  It was a doorbuster special that I got back when I was working at Toys R Us in the late 90s.  It’s made for gaming and has multiple inputs.  (These days you just buy a switch and can easily add multiple consoles to one TV.)  There are doors that swing open which have speakers built into them and there’s also a big bass woofer on the back of the TV.  It’s still a great TV, but it’s a little small.  It’ll be used for my daughter to watch TV on and play her Leapfrog games on once I’m able to upgrade to a better TV.


This picture shows off some of the weirder parts of the room.  Keep in mind that the straight part of the wall is only 3’ 9” high.  From there', it’s all slanted ceiling.  There are two inset shelving areas in various locations.  They’re nice, but it isn’t nearly close to the amount of shelves that I’ll need.  To the left of the shelving area is a little door that leads into the attic-type space that is at the end of this room as well as around the side.  It’s dark and dirty in there and I don’t see myself ever using it for more than storage of stuff that I rarely ever use.  The attic space towards the end of the room is a lot more usable.  The weirdest part about this little door is the reflective metal on the front of it.  The middle tile has a design on it.  Luckily for me, the tiles have already started falling off of the door and I’ve only got 7 of them to get rid of once I get around to that.


Here’s the door to the attic space at the front of the house.  The roof is only seven and a half feet high at its apex so there’s no room for anything huge.  Luckily, I’ll be able to fit my 6’ IKEA Expedit bookcase in there with its 25 glorious compartments for the storage and display of my collection.

Check out the rug in front of the door that was left here by the previous owners.  They left a ton of junk in the house when it was sold and this was one of the few things that wasn’t absolute crap.  They had to pay for 1-800-GOT-JUNK to come and haul away the rest of the stuff, but I held onto the rugs for now.  The tile floor in the room is in terrible shape and will need to be replaced.  I’m thinking a nice parquet floor like you’d find in the Garden.  I want it to squeak if I were to make a hard cut in sneakers.


This picture doesn’t illustrate it all that well, but on this side of the room there are two inset areas that are about nine feet wide with a protruding section in the middle that is around 4 feet wide.  Those sections aren’t all that great as they are now, but they got my gears spinning and got me thinking of some ideas to improve the room.

Here’s a better picture of the protruding section that I mentioned.  The straight wall 101_4818 there is 6’ 4” tall and is something that I can live with.  It’s just a shame that wall isn’t larger.

In the background you can see the other nine foot section.  These would be nice places to store things, but as the room stands now it would just look like piles of stuff.  Even if I purchased shelving units, it still wouldn’t look at that great with everything exposed in piles and piles.


Here’s a wider view of the room.  What I forgot to take a picture of is the other inset shelving area.  It’s behind the protruding section and this one is a little larger with three shelves as opposed to the two in the other one.

Also in this picture is my IKEA Lack table and the beginnings of my Expedit desk that added another 8 display/storage cubes to the room.

One of the biggest challenges for this room will 101_4820 be what to do with the walls.  Most of the molding is already falling off so that will probably go.  I don’t know how much of a project getting rid of that horrible paneling is going to be or what I’ll find underneath.  I was thinking of painting the paneling, but I don’t know how well that would turn out.  It could be a disaster and I’m not really sure if I want a striped room.  In a dream world, I’d have a wall with the Green Monster painted on it.  I don’t think that is going to happen though.


Here’s a basic floor plan of how the attic is now that I whipped up in Google SketchUp.  It’s a great little program and I only used about 1% of its functionality.  The stairs are in the back, the two nine foot sections are on the right and you can see the door to the attic in the front.

I used this program to plan what I want to ideally have done with the room.  It’s fairly simple so it should end up happening.  What I want to do is have a wall built that basically extends the wall that protrudes in the idea middle creating two closed in areas with doors leading into them.  Within those closed in areas, I can build shelves to store things such as my finished sets and comic book storage boxes.  That way those things will be out of sight since I don’t need to access them often, but they will be easy to organize and access when I do want to get to them.  The new wall will give me somewhere to hang my pictures and stuff like that.

So, hopefully some of you out there found that interesting.  This first installment really didn’t mention any specific sports cards or collectibles, but as I get the room together and start to put things out, I’ll add them to the updates I’ll write about the room.  Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear any suggestions that you may have for the room.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gonzalez, blasters and video games.

Posting from work again so there's no fancy pictures. On the edge of my seat for the Adrian Gonzalez trade rumors. I'd hate to see Buchholz leave and I think that Buchholz and Ellsbury is too much, but I really, really want to see Gonzalez in Boston.

Picked up a trio of blaster boxes the other day at Target and killed the odds. 2 autos in 3 blasters. I picked up Topps T206, 2008 Stadium and 09-10 Panini Basketball. Which blaster let me down? Stay tuned to find out.

Getting Guitar Hero delivered today. That combined with the holidays might lead to less posts and I was on a roll there. I've got two more box breaks to post along with the blasters. I also want to post some pictures of my collectibles room in the early stages before I start doing anything to it. The room has a lot of potential, but right now it's just an empty space.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Box Break: TNA Impact 2009 Edition & Maximum


I’ve been a wrestling fan for most of my life. World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment has been there all of those years, but for the most part I’ve never been a big fan of the main event stars that WWE likes to shove down your throats. I couldn't stand Hulk Hogan and his title reign that lasted for years. I’m not a big fan of HHH. The exceptions have been Don Muraco, Bret Hart, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle and John Cena. For the most part, those are all high charisma guys who made wrestling entertaining. the WWE likes to push the big brawlers whether they are entertaining or not. I guess that’s why I’ve always easily strayed to other wrestling federations.

What drew me to TNA was their X Division. They had a group of highly talented cruiserweight wrestlers (plus Samoa Joe) who did things in the ring that you’d never see in a WWE ring. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Chris Saban, Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal and others drew people to TNA who wanted to see great action in the ring. It helps that TNA hasn’t tried to produce a AJ G rated product like the WWE does these days. The WWE would never allow anything along the lines of a finisher called the Flying Firecrotch Guillotine. Heck, they changed the name of John Cena’s finisher from the F.U. to the Attitude Adjuster. Lame.

That’s it for the wrestling history. I’m sure that people aren’t coming here for that. You’re here for sports cards and here are some sports entertainment cards for your viewing pleasure. I had a bit of a brain fart on Black Friday and ended up ordering one of each type of TNA Impact box from BlowoutCards. That means that I’ve got a whopping 10 hits to present to you. Things will start off a little slow, but I promise that they’ll pick up at the end.


Each box contains one glitter parallel numbered to 20. I got Christopher Daniels and family. Daniels himself hadn’t appeared on TNA programming for a while after getting fired in a story line, but he wrestled as both Curry Man and Suicide during the time that he was away. When he came back, he was turned heel and is now feuding with longtime friend and TNA Champion AJ Styles.

I’m not sure what these numbered cards go for, but I’m willing to guess that this might be one of the cheapest low numbered paralleled sets to put together. No one is looking for these cards when they bust these boxes and I don’t think that the demand for them is very high.


Doug Williams autograph numbered to 60. Imagine if a sports card company came out with a set where you got three autographs per box and each one was numbered to 60 or less. That would be the most popular set ever don’t you think? Do the autographs on-card and collectors would flip. Scrub autographs wouldn’t look so bad if they were numbered to 60. Speaking of scrub autographs, I present to you this here Doug Williams card.


Daffney autograph numbered to 60. I’ve been a fan of Daffney’s ever since she was in WCW as David Flair’s girlfriend.

TriStar has made these sets fun. They’ve had the wrestlers put a lot of inscriptions on the cards. Again, this is something that’s a huge deal when it comes to mainstream sports cards. Heck, you have to pay more for inscriptions these days when you get an autograph at a card show. Daffney is known for the screams that she unleashes during matches and added the inscription “Scream Queen” to this card.

ODBODB/Cody Deaner dual autograph numbered to 60. Deaner was brought into TNA as the “winner” of a contest to go on a date with ODB. They were a couple for a while with Deaner managing ODB until they got into a feud over who was the true TNA Knockouts Champion. Yeah… It’s probably for the best that Deaner hasn’t been seen on TNA programming for a while now. Dual autographs. Something else that’s huge in mainstream cards.
TweatNext up is what I pulled out of the Maximum box numbered 9/600 (The regular box was 1012/1800). My parallel card from this box was a little disappointing. It looks exactly like the base version of the card. Not that I’m a huge fan of the glitter that’s all over the inserts, but I want there to be something different if it is going to be a parallel.

This caricature of Mick Foley (Tweak) and Jeremy Borash (Tweet) came from a segment where Foley was talking about how he tweaked matches and Borash Tweeted about it. Yeah, the writing and backstage stuff in TNA isn’t all that great, but the in-ring action more than makes up for it.

Rayne Madison Rayne autograph numbered to 60. I now have autographs from two members of The Beautiful People (the other being Velvet Sky). This card shows one of the many bad things about sticker autographs. Stickers are small and autographs can run off of them. That happens at the bottom of this sticker, but don’t worry because at the top of the sticker you’ll find run-off from the sticker above. Another cool inscription can be found on this card.

Morgan Matt Morgan autograph numbered to 60. TNA has done a great job building up Matt Morgan into a main event superstar. He’s the type of wrestler that you’d expect to see Vince McMahon drooling over, but WWE passed up on him. If he decides to stick with TNA, “The Blue Print” will be one of their top stars for years to come. Again I’ll mention what if any mainstream sports set had this many inscriptions in it.

Kiss ODB Kiss Card numbered to 99. Maximum boxes guarantee one kiss card per box. There are plain kiss cards as well as cards with both lip prints and an autograph. I think there are also dual kiss cards. The card gods decided that this would be an ODB box break since I now have an autograph and lip print from her. ODB started off as more of a comical wrestler which made her popular with the fans. She’s a multiple time TNA Knockout Champion and is entertaining to watch.


Jeff Jarrett/Mick Foley dual autograph numbered to 25. Talent wise, this was the best card in the box. Both of these guys are wrestling legends. Jeff Jarrett was a star in both WWF/E and WCW before founding TNA. Foley and his various personalities have won titles all over the world and have made multiple appearances on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I don’t think there are many cards better than this one available to pull.


Danny Bonaduce autograph numbered to 10. I put this card last mostly due to the fact that it is numbered to just 10 copies. I’m not sure how much of a market there is out there for autographs of this former Partridge Family star. It looks like there were autographed buybacks included in Topps American Pie.

TriStar seems to have a bit of a problem with collation. While I did get a full set out of the regular box, I was 8 cards short of a set from the Maximum box. This is the second time in three boxes that I didn’t get a full set from a TriStar product. Good luck finding singles of stuff like this. Ripping open a box and ending up short of a set really can take the fun out of opening a box such as this due to the lack of available singles.

The design and quality of pictures on these cards are a huge improvement over the last TNA set that I opened, Cross The Line. One or two insert sets would break things up a little bit, but might increase the collation issues. It would be great if TriStar were able to get some on-card autos. It wouldn’t be difficult at all since TNA is headquartered at Universal Studios in Florida. Just send an employee or two there with some cards to be signed and get it done. These inscriptions were look even better if they weren’t crowded onto a small sticker along with the autograph. I don’t mind the absence of relic cards. I don’t feel like they add a whole lot to the WWE sets especially since they started putting a ton of mats pieces into cards. Yawn.

I would give this set a B overall. I would give my regular box a C and the Maximum box an A-.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2007 Masterpieces glossy variations


Has anyone else out there seen Upper Deck packs containing only cards of their local team?  I saw them in K-Mart around this time last year and bought 2 or 3 of them to open.  I wanted to go back and get some more to set aside for trading purposes, but never saw them again.  You can read about what I got in my first pack in this post here.

The interesting thing about these packs is that they contained glossy Masterpieces cards.  I don’t know how many cards from the set are available in these variations, but for player collectors, it might be a variation worth noting.

Check out the two Schillings over to the left.  The top card is the regular, run-of-the-mill Masterpieces card.  The card on the bottom is the glossy card from the Red Sox team packs.  The colors look much darker on the glossy card.  Another way to tell the difference is the color of the foil border.  The regular cards have the gold border that you know and love while the glossy cards have a silver border.

Has anyone else out there ever seen these glossy variants?  It makes me wonder if any of the other cards in the Red Sox packs were altered from their original versions.  I don’t have any Artifacts, Future Stars or Legendary Cuts to compare those cards to.  What I do have is another side by side comparison for you.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Box Break: 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Baseball Retail


This box was another part of my haul from BlowoutCards’ Black Friday Promotion.  They had these boxes at this price level to help people reach the free shipping price limit.  I wasn’t able to take advantage of that, but I still had to grab a box at ten bucks.  I know that at some point I’ll end up buying a hobby box of this stuff and this will make a nice start towards the set.  I wasn’t able to get a full set out of the 2007 box that I opened and know that the same will be true of 2008.

Masterpieces is a beautiful set.  I can imagine that it is a lot of work for Upper Deck to commission all of the paintings and then produce them in card form, but collectors loved this set.  It had some of the most popular parallels despite the fact there seemed to be about 20 of them.  It had some of the best looking, on-card autographs you can find.  There are amazing patch cards to be found.  So, why did it not sell well enough for Upper Deck to keep it going in 2009?  Two words: price point.  Many collectors passed on Masterpieces at its original cost due to the low number of cards that you get per peck and per box.  Like many Upper Deck products (think Heroes or Chronology), it has only found a huge following once the price has dropped.  Now people love busting it in mass quantities.

FielderMy box had the following contents: 2 damaged cards, 87 cards to start the set, 4 duplicates (at least two of them were BoSox), 1 damaged Yankee Stadium Legacy (Babe Ruth), 5 YSL (Joe D, Waite Hoyt, Earle Combs, Gehrig and Herb Pennock) along with a couple of hits.  Without further ado, here’s the hits.

My jersey card was a Prince Fielder striped swatch.  This guy is haunting me.  This is either the third or fourth Fielder jersey card that I’ve pulled.  This card joined all of the other Fielder jersey cards that I had and went towards a good cause of adding something else to my collection.  All will be revealed in a future post.  Let’s just say that my dislike of scrub autos and boring swatches allowed me to take advantage of an offer at my local card shop.


This hit was the card of the box and was probably worth the price of admission all by itself.  It’s a brown bordered Pujols numbered 031/100.  Unlike Fiedler, Pujols is a player whose cards I add to my collection when I pulled them.  I haven’t actively pursued any Pujols cards since his rookie year, but when I do get them I hold on to them so this card made me happy.

I don’t understand why Upper Deck limited the parallels in the retail product.  There don’t have to be a ton of numbered parallels, but why not have 4 or 6 of the unnumbered parallels in the box.  Quality control wasn’t all that great for this box.  Out of 101 cards, I had 3 damaged cards and 4 duplicates.  7% of the cards in the box isn’t all that great.  I’m more annoyed about the duplicates than I am about the damaged cards.  Masterpieces is one of the few Upper Deck products where you don’t have to worry about every card having  soft corners right out of the packs.

So, there you go.  At the sale price point I’m very happy, but at the suggested retail price of $3 a pack, I would have been extremely let down.  Again, that’s a reoccurring theme with Upper Deck products.  Once the product takes its one-year-since-release price drop, it’s a great buy.  Before then, you’re most likely going to be unhappy with the contents.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Box Break: Fantastic Four Archives


I’ve read comic books for most of my life and for all of those years, I’ve been a fan of the Fantastic Four.  I’ve had my eye on a box of Rittenhouse’s Fantastic Four Archives for a while now and BlowoutCards’ Black Friday sale presented the perfect opportunity to pick up a box.

This was the first time that I had opened a box of any Rittenhouse product.  The cards are nice.  They’re printed on a sturdy stock and have a nice gloss to them.  The colors are bright and pop off of the cards.  The front of the cards have an image from an issue of Fantastic Four.  The backs of the cards display the cover from that issue along with a short summary of the events that unfolded in that issue.

Doom My box contained a complete set which is always a good thing when it comes to non-sport sets due to the fact that singles can be tough to find.  Even in this day and age with singles readily available on the Internet, non-sports singles can still be a challenge to track down.

Nemesis cards depict some of the Fantastic Four’s biggest foes.  The stated odds for these cards are 1:8 packs and that held true in my box.  I pulled Red Ghost, Super-Skrull and Dr. Doom.  When it comes to the Fantastic Four’s foes, there’s none bigger than Dr. Doom.


The next insert set is titled Ready For Action.  These are inserted into every 12 packs.  From the two that I received, it looks like this insert set consists of images of the Fantastic Four ready to head into battle.  These cards are printed on foil board that is only exposed in certain areas such as the Human Torch’s flame and the 4 logos on the heroes’ uniforms.  This printing process gives the card a unique look that you can’t really see in the scan.

The next insert set also uses foil board in the printing process.  The Legendary Heroes come one per box and there are nine different cards.  Since the Fantastic Four only consists of four members, they decided to include some of the other superheroes who have filled in as a member of the team including Sue Crystal, Medusa, Power Man, She-Hulk and Black Panther.  I understand why they did this, but when I’m buying a box of Fantastic Four, I want cards to be of the four main members of the team.  Luckily, I was able to pull one of the charter members in Sue Storm, The Invisible Woman.

The main reason that people open these boxes are for the other one-per-box insert.  Sketch cards have gotten very popular within the hobby to the point that they’ve been included in various sports sets by Topps.  While I StormSketch lucked out with my Legendary Heroes card, I wasn’t as lucky with my sketch card.

Like a lot of people, I’m hoping that these boxes will yield a Katie Cook sketch card.  My wife introduced me to her art and I’ve been following her work online for a few years now.  She’s become extremely popular with sketch card collectors and her cards go for huge amounts of money.  Pulling one out of a box is probably the only way that I’m going to end up owning one.  I didn’t pull a Katie Cook sketch, but what I did pull is a beautiful sketch card of Storm done by Dennis Crisostomo, but I’m not a huge fan of either Storm or the X-Men.  Yes, Storm has spent time as a member of the Fantastic Four, but if I wanted a Storm sketch card I would be opening boxes of X-Men Archives.  So, this card is destined to make its way to eBay.  Luckily, it looks like Crisostomo is a popular artist and right fully so because it looks like he’s done a lot of beautiful sketch cards.  If this was of the Human Torch, Thing or the whole team it would be a great part of my collection, but now it may end up paying for my box.

I was very happy with my first Rittenhouse product.  The quality and collation were great.  I would give this product an A and my box in particular a B due to the fact that my sketch card wasn’t one of the main members of the Fantastic Four.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Box Break: 1998 Pinnacle Zenith

Piazza After reading dayf’s great 1998 Zenith pack break, I knew that I had to break open a box of this myself.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Pinnacle and all of their innovations.  I’ve used a can opener to get to Pinnacle cards in the past so why not pull out a box cutter and free some cards that way.

The first thing that I noticed is that my large 5” x 7” cards weren’t in the greatest of shape.  A lot of them had bent corners or nicks in the side.  It made me feel better about the fact that I was planning on cutting all of these open.

As I opened the box, I set aside the players that I collect as well as the Impulse silver parallels.  I pulled two Mike Piazzas which will be going into my collection.  I had 4 Impulse parallels of Smoltz, Mo Vaughn, Tony Gwynn and Lou Collier.  I got 39 different jumbo cards + 4 Impulse + 10 doubles and triples (I pulled three Mondesi jumbos) = 53 cards.  Yep, one of my packs only contained 2 cards instead of three leaving me a card short.  My bad luck spans decades.


Here’s a jumbo card next to a regular sized card that you find inside.  One nice thing is that there are different pictures used on the two cards.  Pinnacle could have been lazy and used the same picture on both cards.

The smaller Thomas pictured here is a Z Silver parallel.  I pulled Thomas, Edgar Martinez, Derrek Lee, Andy Pettitte and another Frank Thomas.  Collating the large cards is one thing, but it looks like collating the smaller cards wasn’t easy as you’re about to read.

I got 8 inserts in the smaller cards along with 43 base cards and 2 cards still living inside of the Piazzas.  Of the 43 base cards, there were 34 different cards.  I think there are 100 cards in the set so that’s right around a third of the set.  I don’t see too many people chasing this set by busting open packs and jumbo cards.  I ended up with 4 Cal Ripkens out of this box.  I was going to keep the Impulse jumbos unopened and that would have been wise since 3 out of the 4 cards contained a Cal.  If someone were to open a bunch of packs, there is one benefit.


The Epix cards that Pinnacle inserted across its brands in 1998 are great looking cards.  There were Epix Play, Game, Season, Moment and All-Star Moment cards in the following colors: Orange, Purple and Emerald.  I’m a sucker for just about anything Dufex and naturally I love these cards.

Right here we’ve got a Paul Molitor Orange Game.  Game is the second easiest Epix set to pull and Orange is the easiest color.


Here’s an insert of Big Mac.  The design on the Play cards is my favorite.  This Orange Play is the easiest card to pull.


My final Epix is of Roger Clemens.  These Purple cards look sharp.  I’m definitely going to have to track down the Purple Piazzas for my collection.  I wasn’t lucky enough to pull an Emerald like dayf was and if I had pulled an Emerald Piazza I would be doing cartwheels.  I love the Epix cards and have already picked up a few of the Piazzas that were on

If anyone out there is interested in cards from this set for your team or player collections, let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll tell you what I’ve got.  The jumbo cards have a slit across the top on the back, but look perfect on the front.  They’re perfect for displaying.  I’ll trade the Epix cards that I have for Piazza Epix cards that I don’t yet have.