Friday, January 29, 2010

Mail Day: Check My Cards Out


This post might be a doozy.  I’ve been letting cards pile up in the CheckOutMyCards warehouse for a few months now.  I finally decided that it was time to have them come home and now that they’ve arrived I’m going to show them to all of you.  There’s a nice mix here of random cards, cards for my various player collections and cards to finish off sets.  Finishing off a set is always a good thing.

Leading things off is an Adrian Gonzalez 2001 Bowman RC.  I tossed this card into my cart when the rumor mill had Gonzalez on his way to Boston.  Jed Hoyer ended up getting cold feet and decided that he couldn’t trade his biggest star as his first major act as GM and the trade never happened.  There’s a chance that Gonzalez might still be traded once the trade deadline comes around, but the Red Sox may just stick with what they’ve got and then take their chances with a much better free agent class next year.


While I admire the fact that Topps remained true to the original ‘48 Bowman set by including cards with diagrams of plays on them, it sucks having to track these things down to complete a set.  The play cards are numbered to 1948, but I don’t even think that the fact there can only be 1948 possible complete sets of this will boost the value of the set.  People aren’t really interested in complete sets anymore since rookies, relics and autos are all the rage.  I couldn’t pass this up for a quarter and now I’m one card closer to the set.


It’s been a while since I’ve added any new Dee Brown cards to my collection.  I wasn’t actively collecting towards the end of his career.  This card is from 95-96 Upper Deck SP and it’s a great looking card.  I always looked forward to SP sets when I was collecting in the 90s and have all of the SP sets from the first two years of release in Baseball, Basketball and Football.  I ever tried putting together the hockey set that was a one-per-pack insert in that year’s Upper Deck Hockey.  Some day I may finish the set, but it is tough to justify spending money on any hockey cards at the moment.  Once I get everything out of storage, I’ve got to post all of my hockey stuff on here for trade.


It wouldn’t be a mail day post without some Big Baby cards.  I’ve been picking up a lot of his cards because his rookie and autographs are still very affordable and became even more so while he was injured.  I should pick them up now because once the New Big Three rides off into the sunset (and this might be the last season for both Ray Allen and Garnett), Davis looks to get a lot more playing time and if he can step up, his card prices could jump.

This 2007-08 Elevation RC is numbered 14/99.  I couldn’t let this one get away with a one dollar price tag on it.  I’m not huge on getting every single numbered parallel of a card, but when they’re affordable, I’ll pick them up.


Speaking of numbered parallels.  Here’s a numbered parallel from a set that is itself a parallel.  The Chrome cards inserted into regular Topps packs have a Bowman Chrome feel to it and have proven to be very popular.  This is the refractor here and it is numbered 082/500.  The picture of Davis leveling Brad Miller rules even more when it is presented in shiny chrome format.


This is a set that I’m putting together slowly but surely.  The problem is that most times people are pricing these cards way too high.  I love the whole “Cards That May Have Been” thing that Topps has done with various players.  I was a huge fan of the Topps Basketball Archives set that was produced in the 90s and also have the Bill Russell cards that were inserted in 2007-08 Basketball.

I’m not sure what it says about me as a collector that cards such as this one appeal to me a heck of a lot more than boring jersey swatch after boring jersey swatch.  That was such a cool idea when it started, but card companies have run it into the ground.  It’s cool when you can pick them up cheaply for your collection, but for popular players it quickly starts looking like the same thing over and over again.  I’ve stopped chasing most jersey cards for Piazza and Pierce because I have too many as it is.  Why pay a couple of bucks for another version of the same thing when I can add something a little more original to the collection.


This was something else that Topps did in the 2006-07 Basketball set.  They produced 33 different versions of card number 33, Larry Bird.  I think that I’ve got about half of the set at this point.  CheckOutMyCards has been great for putting this set together since you see an actual scan of the card that you’re getting.  I could never put this set together though Sportlots and on eBay I’d either pay a ton for shipping on individual cards or would have to wait for the perfect lot to show up.  Luckily, these don’t go for as much as the Griffeys from 2009 Upper Deck Baseball.  I’ve got two of those sitting around and while I originally wanted to put that set together, there’s no way I can afford that so I have to figure out whether to hold on to those or toss them up on eBay.


Here’s some more retro basketball goodness.  These 1958-59 variations were included in 2008-09 Topps Basketball packs.  These were the four cards that I still needed after busting open a jumbo box last year.  I’m not a huge fan of this set, but when you’re only 4 cards short and can finish the set for a dollar, you’ve got to do it.  The set does have a nice mix of current players, legends and rookies, but I prefer the set from 2007-08 to this one.


Even though Upper Deck made the bad decision to cancel the Masterpieces brand before a basketball set was produced, they gave a little tease of what it may have looked like it 2009-10 Basketball.  This is one set that I’m definitely chasing because of the beautiful cards and set content.  I’ll have to pick up a few duplicates from this set since there are some great Celtics cards in here.  Check out that sweet Larry Legend.  I’ve also seen great cards of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from this set.

Speaking of 2009-10 Upper Deck Basketball, one of the other inserts sets were these Now Appearing cards.  They look like movie posters and some of them feature great graphic design work.  Garnett looks like he’s about to dunk on Neo and Pierce is set to star in a gritty film about the tough life of a basketball player (yeah right).


This card is yet another insert from 2009-10 Upper Deck Basketball.  As a fan of Sportflics, these 3D Stars cards were right up my alley.  This card switches from an image of Paul Pierce to one of Kevin Garnett.

One of my favorite things to do on CheckOutMyCards is to pick up the inserts from the sets that I like which I wasn’t lucky enough to pull from my box.  The two Now Appearing cards and the 3D Stars card cost me less than a single pack even when you factor in shipping costs.  I don’t need any more of the base cards so this is definitely the way to go.  Between picking up the inserts on COMC and the base cards on Sportlots, it lets me cheaply add a ton of cards to my player collections.


I picked up this 2006-07 Upper Deck Ovation Leading Performers insert card after seeing one of the other cards from this set posted in a blog.  You could always count on Upper Deck for designing some beautiful cards even if they always charged way too much for them.  I got used to waiting for the boxes and singles to drop in price while I opened Topps products in the meantime.  I’m not thrilled with anything that I’ve seen from Panini yet so I might take this time to fill in holes in my basketball collection.  There are plenty of older basketball boxes out there just begging to be opened.  It might be time to open some older Finest and stuff like that where the prices have plummeted due to the expired redemption cards.  As long as it isn’t a product where the autographs were replaced with redemption cards.


Here’s something else that I don’t understand.  Why didn’t Topps end up putting Turkey Red inserts into its basketball packs?  Was the response to this product really that bad?  I was able to pick up a white border (1:4 packs) and black border (1:24 packs) Paul Pierce for $1.50 total.  These cards would probably sell a lot better if they were serial numbered, but this set came out a little before the serial numbering crazy really went overboard.


Here’s a 2009-10 Topps All-Star Relics Quad of Paul Pierce numbered 36/100.  Some of you might remember me already posting this card on the blog, but that card was either sold to me on eBay damaged or got damaged in shipment.  I didn’t pay enough to go through the hassle especially if the seller was going to require I ship the card back so I just went out and got another one.  It’s nice to have the All-Star jersey relics show up in cards designed for that purpose.  I’ve got Paul Pierce jersey cards with random blue swatches in them that make no mention of the All-Star Game.


Gene Conley is the perfect player to make the transition from basketball to baseball.  I had no clue who Conley was until I met him at a baseball card show at my high school in the early 90s, but now I’m a big fan.  Conley is the only player to win a championship in two of the four major sports doing so with the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Braves.  What made me become a fan was that he was incredibly nice to talk to that day and that he played for both the Celtics and Red Sox.  Eat your heart out Bo Jackson.


Those of you who traded with me right before I moved may have gotten some of these cards in your package.  I’m pretty sure that I opened two boxes of these Bookmarkers when they came out thinking they’d end up pretty popular with collectors.  They were licensed so there wasn’t any need to airbrush what for the most part are beautiful pictures which pop off of these larger cards.  If you collect someone who played in 1993 or want the players from your favorite team, drop me a line and we’ll work out a deal.


Having missed the opportunity to get a Junichi Tazawa autograph on a card, I figured that I may as well pick up a card and send it to Spring Training and see if it comes back signed.  I’ve been trying to track down a card of Casey Kelly to do the same, but so far all that I’ve found online are autographed inserts.

One more positive thing about these Obak cards is that they’re perfect for getting autographed.  I’ve never seen the need for super glossy minor league cards for that very reason.  Now that Topps is involved MiLB Tribute can’t be very far off.


I don’t chase Kent Hrbek cards that often anymore.  I end up spending money on more recent players before I search him out, but when I see a card from a parallel that once went for huge bucks then I’ve got to grab it.  When these were new even the minor stars went for big bucks, but I was able to pick this up for a single buck.  While not as flashy as Pinnacle’s Museum Collection, these were just as, if not more, popular.


It figures that when Hrbek is included in a current set that they decide to make him a short print.  I still love the look of the Goodwin Champions set, but the price and how they packed it out still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Even now that the price has dropped, I’m still hesitant to pull the trigger on a box because I know that it’ll just tick me off.  All of those 20th Anniversary cards and the packs with two minis just spoil the fun.  With my luck I’d also beat the odds and pull one of those etymology redemption cards which will probably never see the light of day.  Why am I picturing Upper Deck freaking out about a bunch of cards with nothing but bug fragments inside of them?  I digress.  This is a beautiful card and if it wasn’t short printed, I’d try to get the other versions of it.


The things that I miss out on the most when away from the hobby are things like this.  I haven’t participated in any of the National Trading Card Day events.  When it first started it was due to not collecting and now it is due to the fact that I don’t know of any participating card shops near me.

So, I had to buy a card that was given away for free, but that’s alright since it only cost a dime.  The shipping cost more than that.

This is the type of thing that the hobby needs.  Free Comic Book day seems to have become really successful, but that might be a side effect of all of the comic book movies that are coming out at the moment.  The average person only thinks of “what is it worth” when it comes to trading cards.


This is the set that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend.  Topps Tek has to be one of the crazier ideas to come from Topps, but there are a lot of people chasing the singles these days.  Unopened boxes can be tough to find and aren’t cheap when you do.

I’ve been chasing these cards because they register high on my oddball radar.  Some of the backgrounds on the cards are great while others are forgettable.  This here is one of the ArchiTEKs insert cards.  You’d get a few of these per box and these things are probably more common than each of the base cards.


Here’s another card that has been seen on this blog previously.  This card was available cheaply so I decided to get one to put into my Piazza collection as well as having one in the set.  That’s something that I’ve always struggled with.  If you have a complete set of something that contains a card of a player that you collect, do you count that card in your collection?  For example, I’ve got a 1992 Bowman Piazza in my set and another in my PC.  It helps that I pulled one out of my box and picked up the other for $3 when the set was new, but I wanted one in each collection.  How do those of you reading this feel?  I usually end up getting the second card if it is affordable.


I felt that a post this long required an Epic ending and here it is.  Oops, make that an EpiX ending.  These cards were the best part of a fun 1998 Pinnacle Zenith box break and I had to grab what was available for Piazza.  These cards look nice in the scan, but they’re spectacular in person.  I have a new appreciation for cards that do something when you move them because my daughter loves them.  She’s a big fan of lenticular and refractor cards.

The EpiX cards were kind of complicated.  Play cards were the most common followed by Game, Season and Moment which were the toughest to pull.  There were three color variations of each one with orange being the most common followed by purple and then emerald which was the toughest.  Is a purple Play tougher to pull than an orange Moment?  I’ve got no clue.  Even though the Moment is listed with a higher book value, I actually paid more for the Play.  Go figure.

That’s the end.  Thanks to those of you who read through all of that.  I think next time I’ll be better off breaking it up into pieces.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Box Break: 2009-10 Topps Basketball Jumbos

BabyI’ve been waiting to open a box of this for a while now.  I’ve been a huge fan of Topps jumbo boxes for a while now especially after pulling rip cards in the previous two years of basketball jumbos.  I’ve seen a bunch of great breaks online and watch the price of these boxes increase about $20 from when they were released.

One complaint that I have about the base cards is the photography on the cards with images from last year’s playoffs such as the Big Baby card to the left.  Those images look a little blurry or lower quality than the rest of the images in the set.  It’s especially disappointing since that includes most of the Celtics as well as the best players in the league.  It was a nice idea by Topps to try and use the most recent pictures available, but the results weren’t all that great.
RelicsAnother thing that wasn’t so great was the collation in this box.  One thing that I love about jumbo boxes is that you usually get a complete set out of the box.  It saves the hassle of trying to chase down singles.  I didn’t even comes close to a set from this box.  I have 279/330 cards along with 144 duplicates.  There’s no way that I should have to track down 51 cards after opening a jumbo box.

Jumbo boxes promise three relic cards and I autograph card, but I beat the odds with a fourth relic.  I’m not quite sure exactly what shirt the Harrington swatch is from.  Yes, it’s two colors, but it’s definitely not a patch.  The yellow is a rubbery type material.  It seems more like a shirt that would be worn underneath a game jersey.

My favorite of the four relics would have to be the Dwyane Wade All-Star Relic numbered to 199.  There’s some variety to the two swatches.  I’d much rather pull a card like this than one with two similar, single-colored swatches.

I pulled two cards like that though.  The first is a Yao Ming All-Star Relic.  It’s not even known at this moment whether or not Yao will ever be able to play basketball again.  One this is for sure, the swatches in this card are definitely not from the jersey pictured on the card.

I also pulled a card of Mr. No Effort, Vince Carter.  Yippie.  I pulled jersey cards of both Ming and Carter out of last year’s Upper Deck hoops release and those went towards by box of 206.  I have a feeling these will just sit there until I can find a similar offer despite their numbering to 199.
DurantIt’s a Topps product so you know it’s got to have gold cards in it.  There are 4 gold cards per pack which are numbered to 2009.  Some of the more notable players that I got are Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and consecutively numbered Tim Duncans.  A lot of the gold cards in my packs were damaged so I’ll be sending them back to Topps for replacements.  Who knows how that will go with the expiration of the license, but it is worth a shot.
WadeYou can’t really tell from the scan, but this is a gold refractor of Dwyane Wade numbered to 50.  The only problem is that there are all kinds of smears on the surface and spots where the refractory stuff didn’t take.  The Baron Davis gold that I pulled is alright though.  In regular refractors, numbered to 500, I pulled Jrue Holiday RC, Earl Clark RC, Tracy McGrady and Richard Hamilton.  The chrome cards are numbered to 999 and I pulled Derrick Rose, David West, Richard Jefferson, Anthony Randolph, Greg Oden and Pau Gasol.

You get one Draft Snapshot insert in every pack, but those aren’t anything special.  The cards have Draft Night pictures of current NBA stars from the year they were drafted.  I pulled two Ray Allens and that was the only thing of note.  I’ll definitely pick up a Paul Pierce for my collection, but I don’t see myself putting the set together.

This was all that I had with one pack left to open.  I had 4 hits so I was afraid that Topps had shorted me an auto and forgotten about my autograph card.  The final pack contained a great surprise…
GriffinBlake Griffin McDonald’s All-American autographed card.  This is an amazing pull.  It would have been even better if Griffin weren’t out for the season, but his cards are still in demand especially since he doesn’t have quite as many cards as players have had in past years with more than one licensed basketball card manufacturer.

Unless someone reading this offers up one heck of a trade, this card is going up on eBay.  One of these cards recently sold for a little over $150 which I think I’d mostly likely use to finally add a nice Piazza autograph to my collection.  I may be able to pick up another box as well.  I’ve got my eye on 2009 Update and Highlights Jumbos or 2010 Baseball Jumbos.

Overall, this final basketball release from Topps was disappointing.  The photography wasn’t that good, there were far too many damaged cards and there are only 15 rookies in the set.  No one is buying these boxes for the base cards though.  The boxes are jam packed.  Between the autos and patches, most boxes end up with at least one really nice pull and some have more than one.  While I would give the set a C, my box gets an A-.  The damaged cards and completely terrible collation drags the grade down even with the unbelievable pull at the end.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A little teaser

I just finished busting my box of 2009-10 Topps Basketball Jumbo downstairs with the family instead of upstairs in my usual spot. While my wife is out picking up dinner, I'm on the computer downstairs which doesn't have a scanner hooked up to it. I had to post a quick tease for the box break.

  1. By my first impression, I think this is the worst collation that I've ever gotten out of a Topps Jumbo box. I'm used to getting full sets and I don't think that was the case this time. Maybe I'll buy a hobby box if I need to finish one set so that I'll have some extras of the Celtics from the set as well as the rookies.
  2. More duplicates within insert sets. To me, there's just no excusing that.
  3. It wasn't until the last pack, but I ended up pulling a card that should easily sell for a good amount more than what I paid for the box. I'm lovin' it.
There you go. A little tease complete with a little hint. Hopefully I can get everything collated, scanned and written up within the next day or two. This is my one weekend this month to work so it may be a little bit longer.

Box Break: 2008 Masterpieces


I had already opened a box of 2008 Masterpieces retail that I picked up during the BlowoutCards Black Friday promotion.  Now it was time to open a hobby box to get started on the set.

I’m still wondering exactly why Upper Deck completely halted Masterpieces.  Even if they didn’t want to do a full set, there should have been a Masterpieces insert set in 2009 Upper Deck Baseball like their was in 2009-10 Basketball.  This set had beautiful cards, great looking relic cards and on-card autographs.  Between commissioning the art and getting the cards signed, these sets were probably a ton of work, but it was worth the effort.  In its place we get poorly designed cards and sticker autographs.  It’s a damn shame.

I combined the cards from this box with the retail box before seeing exactly what came out of this box.  I was rushing to get my checklists updated and totally forgot to check that.  Currently, I’m 3 base cards and 19 short prints away from the set which isn’t too bad.  I’ve also got a small stack of duplicates if anyone out there is looking for some cards from the base set.  Lets go onto the hits:

ChipperOne of the best things about Masterpieces is the framed parallels.  There are so many different colors that you can usually find one that makes the picture on the card look even better.  This navy blue bordered Chipper Jones is a good example of that.  The card looks good with a white border, but it looks even better with this darker border.

The other navy bordered cards that I pulled were Johnny Bench, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling.  I’ll be holding onto the Schilling, but the other three are available for trade.  Just post a reply or drop me an e-mail.

HafnerI pulled one red bordered card of Travis Hafner.  This is another example of a border making the card look better.  The red border is perfect for Indians.

Even though these red cards are rarer than the blues, since they aren’t serial numbered, they don’t really go for much more than the blues.  That’s good news for player collectors since you don’t end up paying more to pick up the parallels until you get to the numbered variants.

Hafner is available especially if a certain Indians collector needs it for his collection.


The next parallel… actually let’s wait on that.  My autograph for the box is from White Sox hurler Gavin Floyd.  Floyd had a breakout year in 2008, but wasn’t as successful in 2009.  It’ll be interesting to see if his 2010 season more closely resembles his dominant 2008 season or his solid 2009 season.  These Stroke of Genius cards are some of the best looking autograph cards ever produced.


I pulled a much better jersey card out of this box than I did from the retail box.  Without even trying, I’ve put together a decent little Griffey Jr collection over the years.  I’ve got rookies, a Sweet Spot signature card, relic cards and plenty of base cards and inserts.  I’ve even managed to pull three of the short prints base set cards from 2009 Upper Deck without yet buying a box.

I’ve always liked Griffey and it’s a shame that injuries kept him from challenging some of the records that many one day thought he would.  It’s nice to see him return to Seattle, but hopefully he doesn’t stick around too long.


Here’s that other parallel card that I was talking about.  It’s a David Wright gold parallel numbered 4/10.  This card easily beats both of the “hits” in the box and made this an excellent box overall.

In 2007 and 2008, Masterpieces was easily the best non-retro set produced.  The paintings are beautiful and the player selection is top notch.  On-card autographs are always nice to pull.  I just wish they limited the hits to the same players that are in the regular set.  That would make this an even better set, but would probably increase the price tag as well.  I would give this set an A and the box that I opened gets an A-.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Non-Glossy logo cards

I’ve got a question that I’m hoping a reader out there can help me with.  After recently getting caught off guard for an autograph signing with nothing to be signed, I was wondering if there are any sets out there that have nothing but team logos on the front.  For example, 1992 Upper Deck European Basketball have beautiful looking, horizontally oriented logos on a parquet floor background.  I’ve been buying those up whenever I can find them to use for Celtics autographs.  What I need is something similar with a Red Sox logo.  I don’t want a repeat of Monday were I ended up getting the autographs of ten of the top Red Sox prospects on sheets of notebook paper.  I was definitely caught unprepared for that one.  So, if anyone has any ideas where I can find a card to suit this need, please let me know.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finishing Move: 1995 Sportflix Football


I completed this set a while back, but never got around to posting about it.  I opened a box of this way back in 1995 and never found any singles available at the card shows or card shops at the time (and there were a lot more of them around back then).  Through the wonders of the Internet, I was finally able to track down the 16 cards that I needed on SportLots.  Best of all, most of the cards were the .18¢ minimum price.

I’ve always been a big fan of cards like Sportflix and Action Packed.  I’ve got bookmark sets and 3-D card sets.  I’ve got sets released in other countries and sets released by food companies.  The more oddball it is, the more I like it.

This set doesn’t have a lot going for it as far as value goes.  There’s a McNair rookie as well as a Terrell Davis rookie.  You can pick up most of the cards for pennies on the dollar of “book value.”  My collection is full of sets like this one.  I love fun sets that aren’t about future value.


There were some nice insert sets to be found in Sportflix packs.  Since it was a Pinnacle product, there had to be Artist Proofs.  ProMotion cards showed a player and his team’s helmet.  Rookie Lightning had a clear background.  Rolling Thunder cards had a stationary picture and a moving background.  There was also a Man 2 Man insert set, but I’ve never seen one of those in person so I’m not exactly sure what those cards did.  I think it was just a 3-D image of two players.

I miss these kinds of sets in the hobby these days.  It’s great when a company decided to flashback to something like this in one of their products like Upper Deck did in their final licensed flagship basketball product.  These days sets aimed at kids are no longer fun, they’re just cheap to produce and maybe will contain stickers or tattoos and that’s about it.  Just more evidence of just how out of touch some of the card manufacturers out there are with their customers.

When are shipped cards not shipped?

I’m starting to grow more and more tiresome of redemption cards.  Even when things go smoothly, there’s usually a long period of waiting if you are purchasing new product.  I’m not sure why card companies can’t just plan autograph inserts a year in advance.  Give yourselves plenty of lead time to get the cards signed on card.  Non-autographed redemption cards are even more frustrating.  Between the time that you pull the redemption and it arrives, there are a bunch of other rookies of the same players that you’re waiting for and people quickly forget about the redemption cards.

I ended up with 4 redemption cards from 2009 Topps Finest, 1 from 2009 Topps and 1 from 2008 Topps.  They were all marked as shipped around the same time towards the end of December.  I saw some of the Finest cards and Red Hot Rookies show up on other people’s blogs.  A Colby Rasmus Finest card arrived in my mailbox.  I figured that the rest would arrive in the next day or two.  I waited and waited and over a week later there was no sign of the other cards.

I sent an e-mail to Topps asking what was going on and if I had any recourse if the cards didn’t arrive.  What I got as a response was kind of surprising:

The products you are expecting may take up to 4-6 weeks to reach their final destination from the processing date. The date the order was processed was December 23rd. We apologize for any inconvenience, as we experienced a delay in the processing.

So, these cards were marked as shipped before they were actually shipped.  That’s my biggest complaint in all of this.  I get absolutely no information regarding the status of these cards.  Upper Deck a little better, but they aren’t all that great either.  There’s no shipping information on these so if they never arrive how am I to prove that?  Is it even worth the hassle?  What’s to stop people from falsely claiming that their cards didn’t arrive?

So, I have to wait another 2-4 weeks from the time that the redemptions were processed by Topps after waiting since May when I first redeemed these just to see if these ever arrive.  Who knows what happens from there.  I’ve sung the praises of Topps’ Customer Service in the past, but their redemption department really needs a lot of work and they need to cut down the number of redemption cards inserted in products.

In other news, I ordered a box of 2009-10 Topps Basketball jumbos and took the hit on shipping.  It’s almost impossible to find and I can see it easily jumping in price again.  I can wait to break that box open.  Topps jumbos are always a lot of fun and these boxes are loaded.  Of course, I’ve probably just jinxed myself and will get nothing.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

So frustrating

Instead of getting a cheaper box here and a cheaper box there, I should have practiced discipline and just saved up for the box that I really wanted. Now it is next to impossible to find a box of 2009/10 Topps Basketball jumbos for a decent price. It is in stock at a couple of online retailers, but they don’t offer free shipping until you reach $150 which means saving up a little longer.

I can’t complain because I enjoyed opening everything that I picked up with the exception of the base Panini Basketball. I just wish that I had picked up a box of this stuff back when it was $80 a box. Now I need to hurry up and get a box of 2009 Updates and Highlights before that dries up. That stuff doesn’t seem to be as loaded as basketball or even series 1 and 2 of baseball.

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Box Break: 2009 Upper Deck X


I’m one of the biggest fans of discounted Upper Deck products.  I don’t buy many Upper Deck products when they first come out because you get far too little cards for your dollar.  The example that I’ll cite time and time again is Goodwin Champions.  I was so excited for it until I opened a few packs and then it was put on the back burner until prices dropped.

Upper Deck X is another example of this.  Even though this is a product designed for kids, it is still pretty pricy for what you get.  There’s only 6 cards per pack and 24 packs per box.  Once you are done with a box you are left with 24 inserts, 24 parallels and no shot at a complete set even with perfect collation.  The base set is extremely blah, but the Xponential inserts are very cool looking and are worth it at the right price.  BlowoutCards’ special of $19.99 a box was the right price for me.


Upper Deck X is all about the hits.  Sure, they aren’t hits that will break the bank, but they are a lot of fun.  Even the most common of the inserts are nice looking.  It’s tough to see in the scan, but there are embossed rays of light shining behind the player.  My box contained eight of the base level Xponential cards putting them 1:3 packs.  The players that I pulled were Magglio Ordoñez, Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Bobby Abreu, Brian McCann, Jonathan Papelbon and Magglio Ordoñez again.  I’ll trade any of them except for the Papelbon.


The X² cards have a horizontal orientation.  I think this is my least favorite of all of the designs.  There’s a giant three dimensional X behind the player and that’s about it.  My box contained six of the X² cards putting them at a 1:4 ratio.  The players that I pulled were Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira (rainbow here I come), Manny Ramirez (Manny being everywhere), Randy Johnson, Big Papi and Chipper Jones again.  I can’t believe that I’ve Ortiz2Xalready pulled two doubles in the insert sets.  I keep giving Upper Deck chances to win me over and stuff like this keeps happening.  Luckily the prices on their products is as reliable as the sun coming up.  At the price that I paid for this box, I don’t mind as much, but it is still frustrating.  If you’d like to trade for anything other than the Ortiz, please drop me a line.


The X³ cards are back to a vertical orientation.  There isn’t a whole lot going on with these cards.  The top half has a picture of the player on a holofoil background.  The bottom half has an etched X design.  It’s a little busy, but I still like it more than the X² design.  There were five of these in my box so you’ll get one in every five packs (rounding up a little).  The players that I pulled were Matt Holliday, Miguel Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley and Chipper Jones.  I’m not attached to any of these, but I’d like to keep at least one of the X³ cards in my collection.  So, the first four people who want to trade for one will be able to trade for who they want.  If someone trades me a Red Sox player in return then all five of these can go.


The X4 (no exponential 4 available) cards are the sharpest looking of the bunch.  The black segments of this card aren’t reflective while the lines behind the player are.  The cards have a really nice look to them.  I had three of these in my box putting the odds at 1:8 packs.  The players that were pulled were Alfonso Soriano, Jake Peavy and Ryan Howard.  Same deal here as with the X³ cards.  I’m not attached to any particular card, but would like to keep at least one until I pick up a Red Sox X4 card.


Last, but not least (at least from what I pulled), are the X5 cards.  These cards are very sharp looking as well.  The only thing that could have improved these cards, and all of the other cards for that matter, were team colors.  The green cards are nice and the foil board makes it look even nicer.  GriffeyX5There were two of them in my box or 1:12 packs.  The players that I pulled were Ryan Howard and Ken Griffey Jr.  I think that I’ll be holding onto the Griffey, but any Howard collectors out there can trade me for both of the cards that I pulled.

I didn’t pull any of the X6 cards so I’m guessing those are every 1:36 or 1:48.  There are only 5 players in that set so they could possibly be even rarer.  The purple X6 cards are what Spectrum could have looked like with a good design.  I may look into picking one up if they aren’t too expensive.  There are also autographs to be pulled.  In a product such as this one they’re probably case hits.

Remember when I said earlier in this break that the collation on this product is terrible?  I didn’t even come close to a complete set from this box.  I have 61 out of 100 cards in the set.  I also pulled 24 doubles.  Actually, let me clarify that.  I pulled 18 doubles and 6 triples.  Triples?  Are you kidding me?  That’s ridiculous for something like this.

I’m not going to list off all of the die cut cards or my duplicates, but for those of you looking to trade, let me know what players or teams you’re looking for and I’ll tell you what I’ve got and set them aside for you.

One of the best things about this box was that it only contained 2 of the ridiculous 20th Anniversary cards.  One was basketball (Shaq) and the other was of the Avalanche goalie.  It those were the insert rates across all of the products, I probably would hate these cards a lot less.


Now for the hits that are what most people chase, but for the most part bore the crap out of me.  These cards are even worse than typical relic cards because the design is so terrible.  They just took the same design as the regular card and slapped a swatch right in the middle of it regardless of the picture behind it.

This here is a plain white jersey swatch of “Scott Rolen Game-Used MLB memorabilia.”  I think I had two Scott Rolen jersey cards in the big stack of cards that I used to get my box of 206.  It looks like this one is going to start the next stack in the hopes that someone else one day has another promotion.


Next is a “trading card with Eric Chavez Game-Used MLB memorabilia.”  This swatch is a weird shade of gray/green.  Both of these cards are also available for trade.

Normally that’s all you would get in a box.

Do I happen to get more than that?

I must have since I’m keeping this going.


I was lucky enough to pull a case hit of DeAngelo Williams.  Maybe it’s just me, but this is disappointing as a case hit.  Couldn’t they have at least put a patch in there or serial numbered the thing.  There can’t be too many of these floating around if they’re case hits can there?  Why even bother making a card this boring a case hit?

I bought this card mostly for the Xponential cards and I’m very happy with those.  I may even buy a second box of this to pick up more of those and hopefully finish off the base set.  The condition of these cards were pretty bad with many cards having soft or feathered corners.  The collation was terrible and the big hits leave a lot to be desired.  This box completely justified my policy of waiting until the price drops on Upper Deck products.  I would give the set a C- on the strength of the Xponential inserts and I would give my box a D due to the condition of the cards and the duplicates.  Without the case hit, it would have been an F.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Box Break: 2009 Obak


I wanted to break open a box of TriStar’s Obak baseball ever since I saw that they included Gene Conley in the set.  Conley played for both the Red Sox and the Celtics and is the only player to win championships in two of the four major sports.  Bo who?

These are beautiful cards.  The backgrounds are similar in appearance to those that you’ll find on Goodwin Champions.  The player pictures are great.  There are some pictures in the historical section of the set that are grainy from being blown up, but I’d rather have low quality images of those individuals than no cards of them at all.

Let me touch upon the composition of this set.  The first ten cards are the Pro Debut subset.  These are recent draft picks and international signings who are appearing in a minor league set for the first time.  That is followed by a twenty-one card History in the Making subset.  This subset includes cards of prospects such as Lars Anderson, Gordan Beckham, Tommy Hanson and Andrew McCutchen.  History’s Greatest Players is next and consists of ten cards of players such as Stan Musual and Ted Williams.  The rest of the set is made up of ten MiLB Legends and Heroes, nine Minor League Best, ten MiLB Player of the Year, twenty-five Game Changers, three Multi-Sport, two Presidents, two more Pro Debuts, six Historical Combos, three celebrities and three reprints.

WilliamsIt is the later subsets that really make this set a lot of fun.  A card of George Rawlings probably won’t ever be worth anything, but it is a great part of a set containing so much baseball history.  You’ve got cards of everyone from the people who created baseball to those who wrote songs you’ll hear during games.  It is those cards that really make this set a lot of fun.

I’ve read some complaints about the card stock used for these cards.  It is a little thinner than what trading cards these days is usually printed on, but  it reminds me of old time minor league sets so that’s fine with me.  I’m sick of retro cards on chrome or some ridiculous card stock that’s far from retro.  The only issue that I had with the cards is that around half of my minis were damaged.  I don’t think a different card stock would have prevented this.  I’ve contacted TriStar and am waiting to hear back on how to get these cards replaced.

WilliamsBack Obak boxes advertise nine hits per box.  You do get those nine hits, but they aren’t all autographs or relic cards.  (There are no relic cards in Obak.)  You get one 4-Card Uncut Strip of minis, three short prints, one numbered mini, two numbered cards and two autographs (one current player and one retired player.)  There are also variations to be found within the set.  Some cards have different pictures on the front while others have different backs with squares, diamonds circles and triangles around the card number.

The best parallel that I pulled out of my box was a black variation Ted Williams 1910 Back Variation diamond around number that’s numbered 47/50.  I also pulled a black variation Wesley Branch Rickey numbered 18/50 and a Russell “Buzz” Arlett 1910 Back Variation diamond around number.


One cool thing about my box was that I pulled a matching set of numbered parallels.  I pulled a regular sized green Jack Norworth numbered 14/25 and a mini green Norworth numbered 16/25.  If anyone out there has the matching number to either of these, I’ll trade you the other one.  Mr. Norworth wrote the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

There are some good and bad things about the set composition.  You’ll pull most, if not all, of the base set from a box, but only three short prints.  Luckily, there are only fourteen or fifteen short prints in the set, but that means there are still eleven or twelve short printed cards that you’ll have to track down in order to complete the set.

One good thing is that the mini set is smaller than the regular set.  The regular set consists of 114 cards, but the mini set is only 68 cards large.  That makes the mini set a little more manageable.  Both sets should be fairly easy for casual set builders to put together, but there are plenty of variations and parallels out there for master set builders who like a challenge.


My retired player autograph was that of Gary Redus.  These are sticker autos, but you can barely tell.  The result is a nice looking card.  All of the autographs are numbered to 200 or lower.  This Redus is numbered 8/200.  I’m thinking that there may be a Reds fan or two out there interested in this card.  Send me an e-mail or leave a comment.


The current player autograph was of Padres prospect Logan Forsythe.  This is the green parallel version of this card and it is numbered 6/25.  I’ll have to wait and see how Forsythe does in the majors.

I had a lot of fun opening this box.  There’s a nice mix of all-time great players and current prospects.  If you’re a fan of the game of baseball, you’ll spend a decent amount of time reading the backs of these cards, especially the non-players.  My collation was great and I got all of the hits that I was promised.  The only negative was the damaged cards and that issue should end up being resolved.  You can find these boxes at great prices now so I recommend picking one up if you are looking for a fun break.  I would give this set an A and my box a B due to the damaged cards.