Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cardboard Commentary #58 (Player Watch - Edmonton Oilers)

For the past four years, the Edmonton Oilers were THE team to get in a group break. Because of their constant mediocrity on the ice, the Oiler have been 'blessed' with very high draft picks. The Oiler rookie cards have all started off scorching hot - usually the top cards to get of the season - and collectors scrambled to get a hold of these cards. But how long will they want to purchase cards of players who play on a team that can't break through with success in the wins column?

The young Edmonton Oilers have so much talent. Starting with the 2010/11 rookie card class of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and moving on to Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz this year, the potential for an amazing team and hobby domination should be there.

Hockey card collectors love to speculate on talent, and collectors have poured a lot of money into Oiler rookie cards. The future always seems so bright in Edmonton, but collectors might be wondering when the team will finally turn the corner and be good... how about the playoffs?

What I am wondering, though, is if the team doesn't have success and doesn't show significant improvement... when will collectors sour on the Oiler cards? I've always held the 2010/11 hockey card season as one of the best in recent memory because of the dynamic pair of Hall and Eberle. I'm excited to open 2010/11 products even now because of the those two players. And 2011/12 brought us the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - he was one of the very few players to want to pull that year. And if I get any 2011/12 product, he's who I want to see.

But nobody likes failed expectations, and Edmonton does have a danger of doing just that - failing expectations. If they do, it will be a major blow to the hobby as people who have heavily invested in these cards will not be happy as prices plummet.

We're not there yet, and I know there are plenty out there who are still chasing the young Oilers, but the Oilers need to get it together... and fast.

Have you collected the recent Edmonton Oiler rookie cards and prospects? Let me know what you think of the Oilers and their future value in the hobby in the comments section!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Retail Review #98 (2013 Topps Archives Football & Target Re-Pack)

I was hanging out in the town of Davis, Ca and decided to kill some time at Target. And of course I had to check out the card aisle there and see what they had. My first point of interest there was the discounted blaster section. They had a big selection of stuff, but the most intriguing was 2013 Topps Archives Football. I got that and also a hockey re-pack as the total price of both was about the same as one brand new Upper Deck hockey blaster.

Price - 
$12.99 (2013 Topps Archives Football)
$7.99 (Target Hockey Re-Pack)

Packs - 12
2013 Archives Football Blaster Packs x 8
09/10 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail
10/11 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail
10/11 Score Retail
10/11 O-Pee-Chee Retail

I am a big fan of Topps Archive products. It is so awesome to see all the old design back and done in a more modern way. To me, the older designs were so much more fun and creative than those of today's. Topps also has put autographs randomly inserted with old designs too. This type of product really speaks to a collector such as myself who has been in the hobby for such a long time. I am really excited to open up this blaster to see what's inside.

The hockey re-pack is something I wanted to get to keep the hockey focus going in Retail Review. I'm glad I was able to add it in as both boxes today came to about the same price as one Upper Deck blaster. I was glad to see that there was a pack of 10/11 UD Series 1 showing on the front. That's better than what they had at my Target in Woodland - which was all OPC.

Let's bust into these blasters and see what comes out:

Review -
This was a really fun break... it's been a while since there was one that was as fun as this one! The Topps Archives blaster didn't provide a huge hit, but it gave me something that kept my interest through and through. Recognizing the old designs and enjoying them made this break special. I did get a few inserts along the way as well... and they spiced up the action nicely. An autograph or memorabilia card would have made the break over the top, but I realize getting any type of hit in retail is very difficult.

The Target re-pack was also pretty decent. I'm really glad that this re-pack didn't just contain four O-Pee-Chee retail packs! Actually, I'd buy these all day long if they had what this pack had - 2 Upper Deck Series One packs. These Series One retail packs have the same odds for Young Guns as the hobby versions. In 09/10 there is a chance to get John Tavares, and in the 10/11 there are a slew of good rookies to find. I might just have to go back to Davis and pick up more of these.

I had a hard time choosing what were the top cards this week, but here they are:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Martin Brodeur Card No. 12
This was the bonus card in the re-pack. These bonus cards are so hit and miss! Often times these bonuses are mangled pretty badly. This Brodeur card was actually in nice condition, and the card looks pretty cool too.

#2 - Matt Duchene Card No. AR-5
Matt Duchene was one of the big rookies to get in 09/10, and I remember that fondly. His Young Gun would have been a much nicer pull, but getting this insert of his was pretty cool too. He has turned out to be a stand out player for the Avs.

#1 - Tom Brady Card No. 23
I wanted to pick an Archives card in the top 3 for sure, so I selected this Brady insert. I had a few cards I really enjoyed out of the Topps, but I chose this one to sort of represent them all. I'm really glad I broke that Archives blaster - it was just a lot of fun.

Overall Value -
Getting two blasters for a touch of twenty bucks isn't bad! Both of these blasters were interesting in their own right. For $12.99, I would be getting these Topps Archive blasters all day long! They are a great product to open. I wish hockey had something like this for collectors. And in terms of the Target re-pack... that was a solid break as well. For $7.99, you get exactly what you expect. I would definitely go for these products if I wanted something fun to open with a shoestring budget.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cardboard Commentary #57 (Player Watch - Sidney Crosby)

I will be doing a series of posts that briefly examine a player's impact and role in the hobby. Today's player is mega-star Sidney Crosby. Crosby has been a darling of the hockey card world for a long while now, but has his stock diminished a bit in the past few years? It's worth a look.

If I were to pick one current non-rookie player's auto to pull out of a pack, it's be Sidney Crosby. In terms of value, there isn't much that best him. Anytime I see a Crosby hit pulled, it's a special moment for that person. Crosby's impact on the hobby is undeniable - he is a force. Even if you are not a Crosby fan, pulling that Crosby hit will either net you a nice chunk of change or some great trade bait to get something else you'd want. Pulling a Crosby hit out is never a bad thing.

Crosby's stardom comes from his amazing play on the ice. Since his rookie season, he has shown the skills of an upper-echelon player. He has already won Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medals. And everybody remembers those things...

But has he won them too soon?

The current hobby is always asking 'what have you done for me lately?', and while he and Team Canada have recently gotten gold again, his team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, haven't exactly lit the world on fire for the past few years. The team has been very strong in their conference, but they have ultimately fallen very short in terms of getting back to the Stanley Cup finals round.

When the Pens were winning their Cups a few years back, Crosby was still very young... and I think people thought he was the next Michael Jordan, but for hockey. Jordan won... and won and won and won until the very end of his career. Perhaps sports fans and collectors had the same expectation for Crosby. His card values certainly showed it.

And they still do. Crosby's card values are still very high. But he hasn't been able to hold the Stanley Cup over his head for a few years now. He hasn't been 'like Mike' recently. Sure, he dominates stats still... and is in the running for MVP... but we want to see him win and be that player that is unmatchable.

He was there.

He's not quite there at the moment.

But he could be there again. He just needs to win... and win and win and win.

Crosby's card values remain high, but I wonder if they will stay that way if he fails to reach the heights he had during his Stanley Cup days. Will collectors lose the interest in him? Well, I'm sure there will always be interest in him, he's already done enough to cement a very good legacy. But it would be great for him (and the hobby) to build that legacy even more.

Crosby's cards are a a bit of a turning point right now. Is it time to buy, sell, or stay put? It's really hard to forecast this. I would say that it'd be safe to stay put on his cards at the moment. His values may drop slightly, but he's done enough to keep them afloat. The only way they will rise is if he transcends the sport again. And that's pretty hard to do.

Let me know what you think of Sidney Crosby and his card values. Is there a future in terms of Crosby card values going up? Has he peaked? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Retail Review #97 (13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster)

To my surprise, some of the discounted blasters at my Target were bought out leaving just racing blasters there. Looking at the shelf, I had the choice of getting another Target re-pack, or an Upper Deck product of some sort. Last week's re-pack was pretty terrible, so I chose to go with the UD2 blaster today, let's hope for the best!

Price - 

Packs - 12
13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 Blaster Packs

My previous few experiences with 13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 hasn't been great so far. I have found too many all-base packs in the blaster breaks I have done. I guess now that I know there are lots of all-base packs, and I'm expecting a lot of these all-base packs... that's fine. But I would like to actually pull something of note within one of these blaster boxes.

I just haven't seen much from UD2 this year. In fact, I have been having a tough time pulling any of the premier, top-level rookies from products of any sort! Maybe 13/14 just isn't my year to pull anyone big!

I'll go ahead open this blaster and see what comes out of it:

Review -
The disappointing UD2 trend continues. The blaster didn't have any hits, just the standard smattering of inserts along with two Young Gun rookie cards. I was getting a bit scared that nothing would come out of the blaster as the first slew of packs were completely all-base packs.

This blaster of UD2 really makes me question whether or not to keep up with UD2 blasters on into the future. My luck with them has been just terrible! The Target store does have UD1 still in stock. I might be better off getting some of those.

The only thing positive about this blaster is that I did get the two Young Guns that were supposed to be in there. But for $20, I could have gotten so much more had I chosen to use that money on single cards I wanted.

Here are the top three cards from the break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Jacob Markstrom Card No. C159
Markstrom had some popularity as a rookie a couple years back, but hobby interest in him is pretty cool at the moment. It doesn't help that he plays for the Panthers either. At least he has a cool canvas card that features him with a young boy. Is this his son? Not sure!

#2 - Evgeni Malkin Card No. 75
For some reason I find it hard to pull Malkin cards, so even though this is just a simple MVP base insert card, I'm happy to have it. Malkin is a beastly player that is tremendously skilled. Getting Malkin cards is always a good thing.

#1 - Ondrej Palat Card No. 481
Palat was the better of the two Young Guns I pulled in my blaster. There is definitely some hobby interest in Palat so I'm glad I got him - could have been much worse!

Overall Value -
The blaster gave me everything that I expected, but nothing more. I'm glad for the Palat, but like I said earlier, as I look at these cards I cannot help but think the value is nowhere near the $20 I paid for it. Hopefully the next break will have something nice in it... it's been a while since I've been excited about pulling something out of one of the retail products!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cardboard Commentary #56 (I Want Fleer!)

Upper Deck's recently released Fleer Showcase has got me thinking about the Fleer brand. Fleer was a company that put out some of my favorite releases when I first started collecting. Fleer was also (I believe) the first company to really hype up the one-insert-per-pack craze. Sure, it really made inserts a common thing, but it also gave collectors what they wanted in packs... something special.

The Fleer family of cards is enormous. There are Fleer cards for all types of collectors - from high-end to low. In today's Cardboard Commentary, I'd like to talk about the lower-end of Fleer. And that's the Fleer base card set.

In the 1980's, Fleer produced baseball cards right alongside Topps and Donruss. Fleer was a popular choice amongst collectors as it was probably the most 'premium' of the three brands. As Fleer continued on, they continued to make base sets in other sports such as basketball and football. Hockey? Not so much.

But I think a low-end Fleer set would be a great thing for Upper Deck to produce. It could pretty much take over the space Score is leaving behind. From what I know, Upper Deck will be coming back with their Victory brand. And as we all know... Victory has traditionally been terrible. At least Score had a lot of interesting elements in it that appealed to collectors both young and old.

Fleer could have that same retro appeal and vibrant look that attracts the masses. Fleer could have zany insert sets as well as harder to get autographs. It would be the 90's retro-ish set from the Upper Deck company that would pair well with what OPC is doing in terms of giving collectors a more 70s/80s type of set.

I'm not sure if Upper Deck reads my blog and card review... but if they do... please give it some consideration. Fleer is such an awesome brand to have. I just want to see it put to good use!

Let me know what you think of the Fleer brand. Would you like to see more of Fleer in hockey cards? Let me know in the comments section!

2013-2014 Upper Deck Fleer Showcase Review

Upper Deck brings back the Fleer brand with the recently released Fleer Showcase Hockey. It's a product that includes many older Fleer favorites in one... sort of a re-branded Fleer Retro. I'm looking forward to seeing what Fleer Showcase brings to the table. Fleer has always been a nostalgic brand for me - hopefully this product will give me some new cards to enjoy for a long time.

Base Card Design -
The Fleer Showcase base card comes on standard card stock with a white and gold toned theme. The elements on the card gives collectors who remember it a sort of Fleer Ultra type feel. To me, the foil last name and gold tones remind me of that brand - and I think that works well for a product called Fleer Showcase. These base cards have a modern look to them, and the colors work well. I wouldn't say that the base cards are plain, but they're not too busy either; it's a design that is well-balanced. I rather enjoy the look of these cards. The one element that is a bit jarring is the team logo. It is rather largely placed within a black box above the foil last name of the player. I feel that the logo could have been done more subtly than this. Collectors will find a mix of current NHL players along with NHL stars of the past mixed together in the base set.

The back of the base card is in full color with very little left over space. This is what I really enjoy about Upper Deck designs. They fully utilize the entire back, even with a simple three part scheme like the one used here. The top portion of the card has a rather large player photo, bigger than most other card brands. The middle section contains the player's vitals, and the third section the player's stats. I would have liked to see a little write-up of the featured player on the card back, but it's not something I miss too terribly.

The rookie cards in Fleer Showcase are given the Hot Prospects name. Longtime collectors will remember this name from years back. Interestingly, collectors will find some rookies featured with a partner in these Hot Prospects Dual cards. The gold/white theme is continued here. I am traditionally not a fan of fitting multiple players on a card, and these don't change my mind. Hot Prospects Duals each serial numbered to 299, and there are a total of 13 to be found in the main set.

If duals weren't enough, Hot Prospects Trios can also be found in Fleer Showcase. The trios cards obviously feature three players per card. For some reason, I like the trio format better than the dual. I couldn't say why, but I would still prefer to have just one player per card in most circumstances. The trio cards are horizontally oriented and are serial numbered to 399. 15 of these trios are in the main set.

Rookie autographed cards are available in Fleer Showcase in two forms. One is a standard autograph card, and the other is in patch autograph form like this Beau Bennett card above. The Hot Prospects patch autograph card look really, really good. The gold and white motif used in the base set is set off even more by the large amount of gold foil used to border the patch piece on the card. There is a classy elegance to these cards that cannot be denied. They are striking cards, and I was impressed the very first time I pulled one of these out of a pack. There are a few downsides to these cards though. They feature sticker autographs, have event-worn memorabilia, and are relatively highly numbered. On a positive note, these same qualities could make collecting these beautiful cards easier.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
Boxes of Fleer Showcase have 15 packs per box. Collectors can expect to find three hits per box as well as insert cards from all over the spectrum of the Fleer brand. To help ensure that things are fair, Upper Deck has inserted fat decoys into the packs so the Hot Prospect patch autos aren't cherry picked out of new boxes.

Does this card look familiar to you? It's a Fleer Ultra base insert from Fleer Showcase. They come on the same card stock as the Showcase base card, and have very similar elements as well. If you were just flipping through the cards, these could be easily passed over. Fleer Ultra was one of the first premium card brands way back in the early nineties. As the years went one, it was regulated down towards the lower-end. These look like what Ultra cards would look like had they not been discontinued. Collectors should pay close attention to the numbering on the back as there are short-printed variations of these cards in the set.

Parallel cards can be found of many of the cards in Fleer Showcase. This is a Red Medallion parallel out of the Ultra set. It is completely foiled and is numbered to 99. The foil on these cards can be prone to finger prints, but it does look very nice... especially the ice surface. It's almost like a glass mirror on these cards.

Another parallel from the Ultra set are these Platinum Medallion cards. These cards have a speckled foil that was used on a few sets back in the day. This process really adds pop to the card, and it's a look that always impresses visually. The Platinum Medallion cards are limited to just 25.

Metal Universe cards also find they way into Fleer Showcase. These popular foil cards depict the player atop a background of the city they play for. Collectors will find quite a few of these cards per box. The common Metal cards will be easy to get a hold of, but Upper Deck has wisely also included the immensely popular Precious Metal Gem variations of these as well. Many collectors will be on the hunt for those.

My only other hit besides the two Hot Prospects Rookie Auto Patches (my other one was a redemption of Drew Shore) from my box was this Uniformity dual jersey of Jack Campbell and Valeri Nichushin. It's a pretty plain card compared to many of the other cards available in the set. With so many nicely designed cards here, I would have liked to see a bit more from these.

Fleer Showcase has much more to offer than what I got in my box. Though I pulled cards from Ultra and Metal Universe, I didn't get any from the Skybox Premium brand. Getting two Rookie Patch Autos was very nice though, and seems to a pretty common occurrence too.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Fleer Showcase is a fun product that brings in elements from the old Fleer brands. Unlike Fleer Retro, Showcase contains cards that feature memorabilia, and that will definitely appeal to many collectors. The Rookie Patch Auto cards are especially nice looking and desirable. I'm sure that collectors will want to get their hands on those as well as their rare parallel versions.

Boxes of Showcase run slightly over $100. They go for about $125 or so, so Showcase falls in the slightly higher than mid-level product... and you only get three hits per box. But many boxes, like I said, contain two Rookie Patch Auto cards, so that might be worth it to some collectors.

I would recommend Fleer Showcase to those who are curious about the product. It's a great way to bundle cards from different Fleer brands and give collectors the best of what they have to offer. I really enjoyed opening the product - Upper Deck has a very nice product here!

Overall Rating:

Check out my box of Fleer Showcase from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Retail Review #96 (Target Excel Re-pack)

A few people have been wanting to see another Target re-pack, so here it is! I haven't gotten these since they ran out of the Trilogy ones, but they are cheap enough and can be pretty fun to open. Usually there are some interesting cards to look at and enjoy. I'm definitely curious as to what will come out of this re-pack box.

Price - 

Packs - 4
1 x 08/09 OPC Retail Pack
1 x 08/09 OPC Rack Pack
2 x 09/10 OPC Retail Pack
50 random cards + one bonus

I chose this particular re-pack box because it felt a bit heavier than all the rest. The box itself was also sort of bulgy. Those factors prompted me to buy this box. This reminds me of those who pick a pack because it looks bigger than all the rest... of course, sometimes fatter packs just contain a decoy and no hit. Hopefully this re-pack of cards will actually have some good stuff in it.

Both sides of the box show O-Pee-Chee packs, so that doesn't bode well, but there's always hope! Even if it's just OPC packs, it'd be OK with that. They would be better than getting those old Hoops or Skybox cards from the early 90's in the basketball re-packs.

Let's find out what packs are in store for me inside this box:

Review -
Well, there really wasn't much to this re-pack box. As it turned out, all the packs inside were OPC packs. I think I was hoping that there would be an Upper Deck Series 1 or 2 pack inside, but that wasn't meant to be. Though they were all OPC packs, I was a bit surprised to find a rack pack. That was what made the box bulgy. Rack packs are cool because they give you so much more card content... but they popularity of the rack pack has gone down considerably.

All you really get in rack packs are a bunch more base cards. I guess if you're a set collector, that might be good. And for OPC, that makes sense because the set is so big. But for people who don't want base cards, rack packs cost more for things you just don't want. There was a time when card companies put rack pack exclusive cards in, and those cards carried a good value to them. But alas, that's not what is is now. Though they are big and giant and seem fun to open... I would pass on rack packs at the store now.

The rest of the cards in the box were a mixed bag of stuff. The bonus card turned out to be damaged, but that's not a surprise given this has happened quite often in these boxes. They should just put a random jersey or autograph in a toploader for the bonus card. That would makes these re-packs so much better!

Here's what I picked out as today's top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Select Super Bowl Records Card No. 389
This top 3 selection won't contain anything mind blowing. This first card gets the nod for the number three spot as it is an error of sorts. This card is a football card with statistics about the Super Bowl. Whoops! Isn't this a hockey product?

#2 - Rene Corbet Card No. 20
I chose this Rene Corbet card for the sheer fact that his facial expression is priceless. I see these cards all the time in the 50-card bonus box, and I have no idea how whoever made these cards chose these photos. They are some of the most awkward I've ever seen.

#1 - Pat LaFontaine Card No. 260
It's a bit sad when the best card of the box is a mass produced base card that can be found for less than a dollar. But I do like Pat LaFontaine, and I'm happy with this base card. He's a minor PC of mine, and getting cards of PC players is always fun.

Overall Value -
I didn't pay too much for this box, and I definitely didn't get much for my troubles here. Nothing came out of this box that was of any real consequence. The most interesting things came out of the 50-card bonus box... and when that happens, you know it was a weak break. I am a bit hesitant now to get any of the other re-packs on the shelf. They all have the same OPC pack configuration in the window.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

2013-2014 Panini Playbook Hockey Review

Panini has once again crossed over a brand from one sport to another. Playbook, which has traditionally been a football product, has now come into the hockey world. Collectors will be treated to one booklet card per pack/box of Playbook. Let's take a look at what a box of the new Playbook hockey will bring us.

Base Card Design -
The Playbook base card is a thick, premium feeling piece of cardboard. The style of overall look of it reminds me a lot of Panini Prime - there is a familiar font and serial numbering that instantly makes me think of that particular product. Overall the base card is well done with bright and bold graphics. The card has the team logo implemented in a large way in the background. The Playbook logo sits in the upper corner along with the serial number to 249. The player's name and team are prominently foil stamped at the bottom of the card. The base cards are a mix of fun and premium. I find it interesting that Panini went for this look as it is a departure of sorts from the more 'classy/minimalist' designs for products such as these.

The back of the card card mixes some traditional Panini elements with some strong graphical ones. These backs are definitely more involved than some of the traditional backs I've seen from Panini. The back matches the front very well. I enjoy how the team colors continue to be a big part of the back's design. The player photo has been done in black and white - I thought that was a pretty artsy touch by the designers. Good job there! As for the stats, there is just one line done in the standard Panini way. Seasoned collectors of Panini products may notice that the stats portion of the card shares many similarities to other Panini product lines.

The regular set rookie cards are in booklet form. And that makes sense for a product with the name of Playbook. It's what sets these cards apart from the others. These cards feature a couple large pieces of event-worn cloth along with an on-acetate autograph. The card has a simple, geometric-pattern type design to it with a silhouette of the player on the left-hand portion of the card. I like the look of these cards, but the plain jersey swatches just don't do it for me. These large areas make me yearn for some crazy tangled patches. And those cards are out there, they are just in a different, much more limited, parallel variation. As for the 'cover' of the book? It's just white and gray. Book 'covers' have tended to be rather boring in nature... and these books don't do anything to alter that. Rookie booklets are numbered to 199.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
I thought it was interesting that Panini went for the one big brick pack instead of what they did with football. In football, collectors got to open a few one-card packs. I thought it was sort of a waste of materials, but it made for a more prolonged opening experience. These Playbook packs will typically give collectors one base card, another hit, and a book.

Since my booklet was a rookie card, the only hit I got from the pack/box was this Breakout event-worn jersey card of Ryan Strome. The Breakout design is, like the base card, nice and bold and bright. These jersey cards are serial numbered to 199 and contain a relatively small piece of jersey. It's a card that you probably won't think too much about after you pulled it.

With only three cards per pack, collectors will not be able to get a good sample of Playbook in a single box. For me, I was glad that my booklet card was the autograph. I personally feel that booklets need to cram as much goodness in them as possible to make the extra effort in making them worthwhile. And I know that there are Playbook booklets out there that are definitely not really worthwhile. I definitely have mixed feelings about this as it looks like booklets will be the next big thing to be the next fading trend... and fast.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Panini Playbook hockey is an intriguing product. If compared to football, it is a steal! The price of the box is about a hundred dollars less. But when you look closely at the product, there are things that collectors need to be wary of.

First, there are typically only three cards per pack, though I've seen some breaks with four. For collectors wanting some awesome booklets... well... they are there in Playbook, but more often there are unnumbered booklets with just jersey pieces in them. And I know those are not the kind of booklets that collectors want.

My box budget is about $100/box. So Playbook fits into that rather nicely, but it will not give you a long and satisfying break. It's a hit or miss break that will end very quickly.

So overall, Playbook is a product that you need to think long and hard about before jumping into. If you're a collector willing to take the risk and jump in... then go for it! If you're looking for a product to be able to slowly collect and enjoy, this might be one to avoid.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of Playbook from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca. below!

Cardboard Commentary #55 (LCS)

The local card store was once the 'home' of the card hobby. Years ago you could easily find at least two or three dedicated card shops in the bigger cities. Now... not so much. They are still around, but they are fewer and far between. I'm lucky that here in Sacramento, there are a few LCSs still around. It's a place that I wish was still in the forefront of the hobby. Will those days ever return? I have my doubts, but for now, it's a great place to treasure and go to find people who share your hobby passions.

The card shop that I go to is D&P Sports cards in Sacramento. It's a bit of a drive for me (30 mins), but it's worth it every time I go. This might sound weird, but there is a smell associated with unopened cards (and comics for that matter) that I really like. Haha, no, all the card shops that I have ever been too have not smelled like BO - all the owners were very meticulous in keeping their stores in order.

Besides going to the shop for the air quality, the LCS is a great place to meet and hang out with fellow collectors. I actually just went there today to get my box of the new 13/14 Panini Playbook Hockey, and there were a few guys just hanging out opening boxes of cards. It was great to just chat with them and see what stuff they got from their boxes.

Where else can you find actual people to talk to about cards? Well, of course you can hit up the forums over the internet (and those are great), but to find real people in a live environment is completely different and rewarding. One of the things I appreciate about D&P cards is their monthly trade nights. I haven't gone much recently because nobody in the area collects hockey cards, but that night is perfect to find people who have similar interests.

In the past, the hobby store was the place you went to trade and sell your cards. It was the place you could get all the specialized holders and binders. And nowadays, this still holds true. The hobby store is always stocked with things you find out you need when you get there.

I'd love to hear about your local card stores in your area. Do you even have any? Let me know about them in the comments section!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Retail Review #95 (2012 Leaf Pete Rose The Living Legend Blaster)

It's been a discount aisle spree recently, and that trend continues today. Today's retail product is purely baseball and comes from Leaf. It celebrates a player that baseball has tossed out of the game completely - Pete Rose. The box is guaranteed to either have an autographed card or a redemption for an autographed memorabilia card. Sounds like a good deal!

Price - 

Packs - 11
10 x Leaf Pete Rose The Living Legend
1 x 13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 Retail

I grew up in the 1980's, and I remember Pete Rose well. He was a tremendous competitor, someone who had a killer instinct. And that was a trait I really admired, and still do. Michael Jordan had that in him... and so did Pete Rose. Unfortunately, Rose was caught betting on baseball, and he was banned from the game.

You will not find any officially licensed products with Pete Rose. Major League Baseball will not allow it, so third party companies like Leaf step in and produce sets of his. Rose has signed for both Leaf and Upper Deck. I've always wanted his signature, and this was a pretty nice way to get it - and cheap!

Just for good measure I also purchased a single pack of 13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 hockey. There's always a chance that a Young Gun card is lurking inside.

Let's open both of these items up and see what comes out:

Review -
The Pete Rose Living Legend cards are nice. The cards are all black & white and come on a classic feeling cardboard. The set is very well done, and features some very unique photographs. For a tribute set, Leaf has done a wonderful job. The feeling it evokes with it's style - from the fonts to the photos - is perfect. Collectors who remembered Pete Rose from way back when should enjoy this set of cards.

With the Upper Deck pack, unfortunately there was nothing but base. I guess that's ok. You can't get something every time. I did, however, get a couple of San Jose Sharks... and that's always good. Upper Deck and Leaf both share something in common with these products - outstanding photography.

As someone who appreciates a good photo, both these products delivered well in that area.

Here are the top cards from this week's break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Brent Burns Card No. 259
This card is always a stopper when you pull it. It's such a fearsome card! I've spoken about this particular card before, but it has to be one of the best photos out of Upper Deck this year.

#2 - Pete Rose Card No. 4
Another photo that caught my eye from this break came from the Pete Rose break. Here we see Charlie Hustle in a more contemplative mood. He was always so intense, and this photo has that dialed down a bit.

#1 - Pete Rose Card No. AU-28
Of course the top card of this break had to be the autograph. Too bad it's a sticker auto, but that's ok... what can you expect out of a guaranteed auto box for the price it was at? The blue ink does work well with black and white though!

Overall Value -
For the price I paid, I think I did well. $12.99 was not the original price of the Pete Rose blaster. It probably was around twenty dollars. But at this price it's good. Pete Rose is a player that should be in the baseball hall of fame. One day he might actually be. Rarely do you get a guaranteed autograph of someone who was so good in a box at retail.

If I saw these again, I would actually consider getting another one as there are many different autographs to get... and of course there's the chance at a memorabilia autograph as well. I wonder if a big Pete Rose fan has put together then entire set of autographs. That would be something!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cardboard Commentary #54 (Set Collecting - Autographed Sets)

Set collecting has always been a popular thing to do in the hobby. It provides a challenge for collectors that is both fun and rewarding. Recently, I've become interested in collecting smaller autographed sets. Card companies make small (and large) autographed sets in practically all their products. It's just a matter of finding the one you like and going for it!

I specifically mention smaller autographed sets because of their relative ease to collect. Smaller numbers means less cards to track down. I have collected larger autographed sets in the past, such as the SP Authentic Future Watch cards. That set was a huge time and money investment that I will continue to do, but I realize that set isn't for everyone.

I'm talking about little autographed sets that can go anywhere from 5 or so cards up to 10 or 20. Usually these sets mix in a variety of non-star players, stars, and super star players.

If you've been following my Youtube channel, one of the sets I've been really going for recently has been the 2010/11 Dominion Brass Bonanza set. This is just a 10 card set found in that product. I actually fell in love with that little set for many reasons.

The Brass Bonanza set, for one, was just a ton of fun. The Whalers were never really a powerhouse franchise, but rather a team that nobody seemed to really hate. They were kind of the little brother of the league. Plus they had the Brass Bonanza theme song... which is totally awesome. If you don't know it, shame on you. Pump up the speakers and listen to this:

Anyways, I thought that the 10/11 Dominion Brass Bonanza set encapsulated everything cool about the Whalers... and I wanted to get it. With only 10 cards, the set was small so I hoped getting all the cards wouldn't prove to be too difficult.

Well, as I have come to find out, the set was more challenging than I thought due to two short printed cards - Brendan Shanahan and Bobby Hull. Both of them were numbered to just 24. I recently just got Hull, and I'm hoping one day to find the Shanahan to complete the set.

Another set I've been really interested in is the Upper Deck Exquisite Old School basketball set. These cards have a very retro look to them. You can tell I really love the retro stuff! But the biggest hinderance has been the Jordan card. That card alone can go for over $400. I'm not sure if I want to go for that set at this time... but maybe in the future. We'll see!

So you know I've found the kind of set that I like to collect. You might want to examine the autographed sets out there and see what you like. If you're into rookies, finding rookie autographed sets shouldn't be too hard as they are plentiful every year. And in doing so, you might pick up a sleeper early on and have a very valuable card when that rookie breaks through.

Other autographed sets have veteran players. Often these sets will contain a few big names like Sidney Crosby or Wayne Gretzky that make the set harder to complete... but if you happen to already have the most valuable card, that might be a good starter for you.

It just really depends on how you want to start after you set your eyes on something. I think going for a smaller autographed set is a really fun idea to try out! Let me know if it's something you have done or that you do currently in the comments below!

PS: If you know of anyone who has a Brendan Shanahan Dominion Brass Bonanza card, please let me know!!!