Tuesday, August 23, 2016

OUTSIDE THE BOX - Olympic Pins

To say that the past couple weeks have been a blur would be an understatement.  It's not everyday that one gets a last minute invitation to go to Rio for the Olympics.

Yup....you read that right - I just got back from spending 8 days in Brazil representing my workplace (and Canada) at Rio 2016.  And while it was not a working trip, it was extremely planned and executed as opposed to if I were heading there on my own.

I got the invite late in July and immediately had to see if my passport was up to date (it was not).  I also had to get a few needles to protect me for being Zikafied.  A few briefings at work, some Canada garb at the store and I was off.

My work in the equestrian world meant that we (about 50 people in total) would be taking in the show jumping events - 4 days in total.  That's a lot of jumping....but it's not like I'm going to complain.  Additionally, I was able to check out boxing, wrestling, table tennis and field hockey.  It was a full slate of events.

One of the things I wanted to try when I was there was the long-standing tradition of pin trading (the collector in me couldn't resist).  I bought a lot of about 50 or so pins here in town (mostly Calgary 88 pins) and was off to see how I'd make out.  Most days didn't really allow time to do any trading as we were shuttled in and out of the venues pretty quickly (we had other engagements lined up) but I did manage a couple solid outings.

It all started with this Rio 2016 CBC media pin that I received from my supervisor.  He was doing work on the CBC broadcast and had a couple extra pins that he knew I'd appreciate.  This one is a definite keeper.

Here's the total haul.  Thirty-three new pins I brought home as a reminder of my time in Rio.  I really had no expectations on what type of pins I was receiving...all I knew is that if I could trade - I would.  Many of these trades were with the volunteers that were strewn about the venues.  They would typically have a few pins on their lanyards so it made it quite easy to pull off a deal.

I had my pins on a scarf that made it easily identifiable that I was a "pin guy".  A lot of the locals just wanted to come up and take a look as they had never seen anything like it.  Tons of fun.

I do have some pins that are more favourites over others.  This one has the Olympic mascot (Vinicius) which is a representation of all the animals in Brazil.  Born out of an "explosion of joy" when the Games were awarded to Rio back in 2009.

I don't know if I was supposed to take trade for this pin.....it's says "workforce team" and is likely an equivalent to a name pin that workers normally wear.  I had no idea at the time and the guy was more than willing to trade it.  It's thick as heck and really well made (which is why it appealed to me).

I like that I was able to land this one as it represents the many people that I made trades with.

All the elements of what we were there for....Brazil flag, Rio 2016 and horses.  A lot of the pins I traded for were not really of high quality, but I could care less.  I just wanted something different.

This one is really different.  I have no clue what this is but I would guess it is Swedish in origin.  I was going for anything and everything different and this was that.

Samsung must have put out a complete set of olympic sport pins and I was able to land a few.  Anytime I saw one I would ask to trade.  I like that I was able to pick up the badminton one as it reminds me of my nephew and I playing on Sunday mornings.

Lastly, the future site of the Olympics in 2020.  I have no doubt that these Games will creep up quickly.

So what did I gain from the pin trading experience?  There's a real joy in sharing a passion of collecting and trading with people who might not fully understand the process.  Getting them excited about giving and receiving with no other agenda or goal other than to share in the experience.  While there were some people out there looking to trade in order to flip on eBay (and yes....I know they are there - I don't even have to look) I am excited to keep these pins (and the other mementos from this amazing experience) as a reminder of one of the most incredible trips I have ever taken.

And that's worth a ton.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Sign Of The Times

I purposefully left this Linden card off my previous show & tell because I decided to share it as an individual pickup.....and to get a little something off my chest.

I'm a big fan of custom made cards.  I love the creativity and thought that goes into some of these unique offerings.  Heck, I've dabbled in them myself over the years.

But I've always thought that there was a line that shouldn't be crossed - and I fully realize that it gets crossed everyday.  For the most part I don't see it as I am out looking for it, but recently it crossed my path head on - and I bit my tongue for a while, but when I saw the comparison to the card I just picked up....well, here are my thoughts.

2014/15 Upper Deck SPA
#SOTT-TL Sign Of The Times

I really have liked the looks of the last couple Sign Of The Times auto cards offered up by SP Authentic.  The photo in the shot is a little closer up than the full body shots of previous years, lots of signature space and the design is clean and simple.  It's a sharp looking card.

I held off for a while before pulling the trigger on one of these because they either popped up for a strong price or they just didn't pop up at all.  I didn't think they were that rare (other SOTT cards weren't) so I just stayed patient and waited.

When I finally decided to snag one, I may have been a little temped due to the lack of Linden card purchasing in general....still, I paid a price I was happy with.

So when the package arrived, it was just a day or two after I saw this...

This "Signature Series" card is a custom.  Looks nice, has a strong autograph on it, I recognize the photo and is also a simple design.  A solid card all around.

My beef is that it has been plunked on eBay with an asking price that is over three times the price of the SOTT card - which is an authorized signature card from the only company that is legally able to use team logos.

A custom card is a great thing, but to slap it up on eBay, with full designation that it's a custom, does not clear the designer from all issues.  I'm gonna guess pretty strongly that the designer did not get permission fro the photographer to use that Linden photo.  And I'm also pretty sure that the NHL did not allow the designer to use the Canucks team logo.

I got a chance to talk to Canucks team photographer Jeff Vinnick a number of years ago and I really admire his work and (quite frankly) think he has one of the greatest jobs in the industry.  While I'm not sure if this head shot of Linden is his or not, it still bugs me that his photo just gets stripped off a Google search, slapped on a custom card and the thrust up on eBay at a crazy price.

A Linden auto tends to drift in the $10 range (at most) for his non-limited signature offerings.  This seller is asking $30 and feels that his ability to call it a SSP makes it not only rare, but desirable.  It pisses me off.  It's almost as if the seller knows that Linden gets good attention on eBay and is trying to capitalize on it (a quick search on eBay shows that this seller has over 1600 items up for sale....holy crap).

It's clearly not the first card custom he has sold on eBay and obviously it won't be the last.  I have no doubt that there are many custom card guys who have made a killing on the open market.  But it's a shame that these guys are doing it on the back of someone else's work.

Now I've seen a lot of the work the seller has done over the years.  He's a staple of custom creations on hobby boards and such.  He's done great work and I really like his attention to detail.  I'm sure he's done cards for many people....commissions and such, but I've never seen him flat out selling his stuff online until now.

Am I jealous that I'm not the one cashing in?  I don't know...maybe I am.  I would love to just sit in front of my computer, come up with custom cards all day and then sell them for top dollar.  But there's got to be some level of ethics....right?

Maybe I'm a hypocrite because I can definitely say that I've done my own google searches for my own custom creations, but I don't go out advertising my work and I certainly have not put them up on eBay for the highest bidder.  There's got to be a line.

In the end, I know that it is impossible to see the custom card world living in a space where everyone follows the rules and I know that it's impossible for all the photogs to get their just due for the photos they snap.  But when I saw that Linden custom signature card pop up, I just became a little more disheartened.  It just furthered the divide of what's right and wrong (in my eyes) and shoved it square in my face.

I hope I never see another Linden custom card on the secondary market ever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WALLET CARD - More Buybacks

When I first started collecting Oscar Gamble cards, I was excited to build the master checklist of cardboard to chase.  A far less daunting task that compiling my Linden list.  At the time #WalletCard had about 130 cards in total - a list that even with the 1/1s I felt I could tackle fully and completely.

Shortly after starting this project, I discovered that Topps were inserting buyback cards into some of their products.  That created a bit of a challenge as it's not normally advertised which cards are stamped and inserted into products.  I really had no guide as to which new cards to include to my list.  The only thing I could do was add it once I physically saw a copy pop up somewhere.

Since that chase has begun, I have seen 11 different Oscar Gamble buyback cards...and I've been lucky to land most of them.  A couple more hit the mailbox recently.

2016 Topps 65th Anniversary
#390 1978 Buyback Blue

This card comes from a robust buyback offering where multiple stamp colours were used to indicate the level of scarcity.  They ranked as Black, Red, Blue, Silver and Gold (1/1).  Now I don't know if a blue stamped card means there are black and red versions of it as well but as I mentioned earlier, I'm just adding them as I see them.

It's weird, as I type this I can't help but look at the comparisons to these stamped cards and ITG's Vault stamped cards (which I really don't care about at all).  Why do I enjoy chasing one but not the other?

I think it has to do with the limited number of overall buybacks with my #WalletCard as opposed to the over saturation of Vault cards put out by ITG.  I also think that many secondary sellers of the Topps buybacks know that these cards aren't $20, $50, $100 cards whereas Vault......

2014 Topps 75th
#263 1979 Buyback

My first question is - How can Topps celebrate a 75th Anniversary in 2014 and then cheer on a 65th Anniversary two years later?  Odd.....but I'm sure there's a reason for it.

This cards crosses off the final buyback from the 75th series that I have seen - all four cards stamped with the little silver Topps75 in the corner.

Let's admire the sweet uniform for a moment.  The Padres getup is particularly strong circa late-70's.  The jersey, the cap.  I'm sure the pants have stirrups to complete the trifecta.  It almost....ALMOST detracts from the strong 'fro and pork chop sideburns that Oscar is sporting.

Solid look.

I've got one more buyback in the queue and have my eye on the 1976 Topps Original Buyback #74,  the elusive last card (for now) on my buyback checklist, which is on COMC for about 3x what I hope to pay.  Hopeful to make a deal on it soon.

Maybe one day I'll actually buy some non-stamped Oscar Gamble cards.

One day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

BEHIND THE MASKS - Cross Off Another Set

Recently I made some purchases from COMC and I tend to bundle when I do so.  I try to turn a 1-2 card pickup into a good 8-10 minimum.  Now because I was having a fellow collector pick them up on my behalf, I knew that he would likely be adding to the mix.  He had his latest order shipped off which meant I would be receiving some cards soon.  And it was exciting to see the bubble envelope in the mailbox.

In addition to some Lindens and Gambles, I picked up a few goalie mask cards....even going so far as finishing off a set.  I thought that the line between the asking price and my finishing up a set was right along where I was willing to walk.  Hey, when you're three cards away you tend to see that light at the end of the tunnel get even brighter.

2013/14 In The Game
Masked Men 6
#MM-22 Matt Murray

Masked Men 6 was the most recent goalie mask set to be produced and one that I chased pretty well locally at a few card shows until the well dried up.  Not too many guys have these sitting in their trade box anymore.

This Matt Murray was the trigger for me completing the set when I did as I thought it was sitting at a good price (considering he just won a Stanley Cup and is likely to dethrone Marc Andre Fleury as the number one guy in Pittsburgh) and so I grabbed it quick.

Looking at the remaining two cards on my list, I wondered why I didn't already have them, but then I quickly rectified that conundrum.

2013/14 In The Game
Masked Men 6
#MM-26 Steve Baker

The last of the vintage guys in this set, Steve Baker's mask is a mix of bold simplicity and team/city inspiration.  I really like the old fibreglass offerings for their more straight forward designs that can be appreciated from afar.

The Empire State Building sitting in the middle of the mask really gives it an obvious symmetry and produces that brilliant offset of red on blue.  So effective.

2013/14 In The Game
Masked Men 6
#MM-04 Viktor Fasth

As you can see, the intricate detail on this mask just gets lost in the overall presentation.  What is it that I'm looking at?

I've been looking at it now for a couple minutes and I still can't make it out.

A quick internet search shows that this is the Mr. Bane Duck mask.  Inspired by the Batman villain.

Alright then.

This card finishes off the Masked Men 6 project which leaves a bit of room on the wantlist for an upcoming Masked Men set being released by Leaf.  I only hope that they do the goalie mask thing justice and not try to create some 'scarcity' product.

2010/11 In The Game
Masked Men III
#MM-12 Cory Schneider

As I mentioned, when I browse on COMC I tend to buy in bulk.  This ex-Canuck mask card was sitting at the right price and so I figured I'd cross it off the list at the same time.

It's a great homage to past Vancouver masks (Bromley, Garrett, McLean...just from what can be seen on this one side)...I only wish the Nucks still had Cory tending the pipes.  What a mess they've made of the goalie position in recent years.

Still leaves me with a couple left on the wantlist from this set (Luongo and Giguere) but I am in no rush to pick those up for a price higher than I want to pay.  I do think I'll be knocking them off the list sooner than later...after all, it's been six years now.

The accomplishment of completing a set might not be what it once used to be but I still like to sift through the cards to see the end result.  Lots of fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - A Milestone Of Sorts

With Leaf's checklist release of their upcoming ITG In The Game Used product (and subsequent 20 new Linden cards to chase....most of which are limited to 9 copies or less....don't get me started), my quick calculations show that Trev now has over 2000 different cards that have been released.  It's been quite the adventure since the 2010/11 season when Linden was inserted into sets as a retired player as opposed to the occasional inclusion into a product as an aging veteran.

Add to that the 'new kid on the block' - Panini as well as In The Game's knowledge that Linden was a fan fave among hobbyists and the checklist ballooned....fast.

Leading into the 2010 season, Linden had around 1200 cards (according to my master checklist).  That's over a 22-year span.  In the past 6......800+ cards.  Parallels galore and insertion into numerous products created a bit of an oversaturation in my opinion.

But that's how the hobby world has decided to structure itself and so I tackle the challenge in my own way....at my own speed....and with my own decisions on what to buy and when.

So let's take a quick look at the recent pickups (to celebrate in a way).

2014/15 Leaf In The Game Used
ITGU Game Used Patch Trios
#GU3P-15 Silver Prismatic (w/ Hull & Modano)  /3

This card came from last year's ITGU offering.  A healthy 42-card chase that had me quite disinterested early.  I've slowly picked off a card here and there still have less than a quarter of the cards available.  And the prices on these in the secondary market - plummeted.

That's good news for me.....and it's the only reason why I took a stab at this one.  Definitely not because of the killer swatch pieces (Modano is nice).

I must admit....I bought this card mainly because I could cross it off the list.

Moving on.

2015/16 Leaf Ultimate
#US-TL2 Ultimate Signatures Silver  /30

This auto finishes the rainbow of cards from this set (I don't count 1/1s anymore in the quest).  Would've been a killer card if it was hard-signed.

Funny thing is I bought this one way back through COMC and since then have picked up the /9 for about the same price and the /3 for less money.

This hobby makes me laugh sometimes.

Moving on.

2014/15 Upper Deck Masterpieces
#133 Red Framed Memorabilia  /85

This one had me laughing as I forgot that I needed it.  I've passed many copies on eBay with nary a look.  Then I decided to update my wantlist and discovered the hiccup.

I didn't rush to grab this one (still looking for a good value on one) and when this one reared its ugly head I struck.  It might be the first time I enjoyed chasing a white swatch.

Price was right and it finished off the tidy 7-card Masterpieces chase.  Now that was fun.

If only they could've improved on the picture....the older Masterpieces release was way nicer.

Scary to think that this red memorabilia parallel was the most exciting card of the three for me to check out.  Funny how cards sometimes work that way.  Scarcity doesn't always equal desirability or value.

So that's three new cards to the collection.  I've got more to share, but that'll be for another day.

And a celebration of hitting the 2000 card plateau.  I'm curious to see how long it will take for this hobby to hit 3000 Linden cards?  I hope (and expect) it will take longer than 6 years.

Friday, July 29, 2016

SIGNATURE CHAMPIONS - Martin St. Louis

I made it!  I made it to the end of July (I knew that I would).  The last couple months have been a big grind but things are about to shift into a new gear.

August brings with it some vacation time and I'm officially off work for a couple weeks.  Unofficially...I might have to pop in for a day or two to get some stuff ironed out before and even bigger trip.  Can't divulge much on that one at this time but I can definitely say that August will be an exciting month.

In the card collecting world, things have been pretty quiet.  A couple new releases here and there but nothing that really gets me excited anymore (more on that in a later post).  I've picked up a few cards (thanks to Kevin and his US address) and so I did some scanning this afternoon.  I've got to say that even though things have slowed down considerably from 2-3 years ago, I can still jump into this hobby and have a blast.  Hunting for stuff, digging for a great deal, chatting topics with others and enjoying the pickups that others track down.  It's a great world.

I recently popped into one of the local hobby shops and not soon after was hit with this card.

2014/15 Upper Deck Premier
Signature Champions
#SC-MS Martin St. Louis  /99

The other thing I love about this hobby is that people look out for one another (thanks Captain Canuck).  I've done a fair job in advertising what my various projects are and a lot of people know to put Linden cards, mask cards, Oscar Gamble cards and Stanley Cup raising cards aside (or at least in the back of their heads for future access).

And while it had a healthy price attached to it, I'm always happy to pay a little bit more to obtain something locally.  This offering has slid down the price chart considerably of late and is now selling for $4-5us on eBay.  I paid a little bit more and that's.....OK.  Like I said....it's the price for buying local - and I'm good with that.

I still am struck by how much I like the looks of these cards.  What a fantastic concept and execution done on them by Upper Deck.

In the interest of picking up more great deals, I finally started a COMC account (I had been using a fellow hobby friend as my go to for COMC pickups and thought it was about time I just buck up and do it myself).  One of my first purchases was another card from this great set.

Who knows how long it will be before I have it shipped...I'm likely to wait until I get a few cards in my purchase pile.  So stay tuned.

Looking forward to sharing more of my recent finds and I might even dip into the closet and pull out some hidden gems.

It's August!!!  It's hockey card time......right?


Current Collection - 6 of 24  (25%)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - A Pair Of Ultimates

Hey everyone!!  How goes?  Work has finally cooled down for me and I'm getting back into a bit of a normal routine.  Still busy, but not crazy long days anymore.

It's been pretty quiet on the card front.  A couple things I'd like to share though.

First, an unfortunate lost card callout (they do happen).

2015/16 Leaf/ITG Stickwork
Tape Job Gold 5/5   (LOST)

This card was bought by me on eBay back at the end of May.  Sadly it has not arrived yet.  The seller and I have communicated a number of times and they are super to work with.  As bummed as I am that this card is lost, I'm thrilled to know that there are sellers out there who look to work WITH the buyer when crap hits the fan.

Just a heads up in case anyone happens to stumble across it.  It was coming from Winnipeg to Calgary.  Lost in transit.


Second, I read a cool article written by Trevor back in his rookie year.  A fun read.

I enjoyed hearing about the preseason game in Duncan, BC and it reminded me of the infamous #49 jersey (the number he wore as a rookie during the preseason).  I did a quick Google search and discovered this...

What a great pic.  Never seen it before.  I might just have to see how much one of these go for.  Would surely look great signed.

Lastly, let's take a look at a pair of Linden cards that have found their way into my collection.

These Leaf Ultimate Signature cards are nice but would be a heck of a lot nicer if they were hard-signed.  Not sure how they determine which ones get the sticker treatment and which ones don't (he has both in different products).

The sticker just detracts from the whole vibe for me which is why I decided I wouldn't fork out too much for these tough parallels.

A local collector had one of these at the monthly show and asked if I was interested.  At the time I was (since I didn't have this one).  I asked how much and sadly the asking price was way too much.  I made what I thought was a fair offer and he declined.

Good thing in the end as I bought this copy for half the price I offered the guy at the show.  She went cheap.....especially for a card /9.

Why did I offer the price I did at the time?

Because I had bought the /3 version recently (for a good price IMO) and refused to pay more for the /9 version.

These are cards that are nice to knock off the checklist but are in no way "must haves".  I only chased them because I got them for great prices.

I kind of have a list of those cards that I am not chasing (Vault) and those that I am likely not to chase unless the price is really good.  There are a handful of cards that I've got an eagle eye out for and those are the most desirable at this time.  Things like some older issue stuff, hard-signed autos and unique or landmark cards in the Linden world.

Not too many new releases with Linden out there (which suits me just fine).  I'm happy to drift through the summer with minimal card purchases.  I have snagged some COMC stuff (and even signed up for it myself....yes, I caved) and am excited to add some fun items for other non-Linden projects.

But that's for another day.

Hope you're enjoying summer.