Friday, April 17, 2015

STASHED IN THE CLOSET - Jake "The Snake" Roberts

I got an e-mail the other day from a friend of mine asking if I'd be interested in checking out a documentary playing at one of the local film festivals this weekend.

Being a sucker for documentaries, I was quickly on board.

Partially because I have no life on a Saturday night (ha ha ha) but maily because of the subject of the doc.

When I was a kid, I was into wrestling.  But my first exposure to the squared circle wasn't from the company dominating the airwaves these days.  No, it was the local product - Stampede Wrestling.

Saturday mornings consisted of three things...sugary cereal, Superfriends and Stampede Wrestling.  I loved the characters, the simplicity (only one camera was used) and the host, Ed Whalen.

(not the best montage, but the intro sucks me in every single time).

Definitely a "Ring-a-ding-dong dandy!!!"

Well, that introduction into wrestling expanded to include the WWF when I got a little older.  I remember getting really excited when I heard that Saturday Night Live was not airing so that they could air Saturday Night's Main Event.

It was all the talk in the hockey dressing room Sunday morning.

So when the 13-year-old me heard that the biggest wrestling spectacle was available to view at the local hockey rink....I jumped on board.

Wrestlemania III was taking place at the Pontiac Silverdome in March of 1987.  And it was being carried via closed circuit around the world.  Remember, this was before home pay-per-view ability.

The place was pretty packed and I couldn't wait to see a number of huge matches.  Especially the main event - Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant.

No surprise that they donned the cover of the official program - one that I still have in my possession.

I flipped through the mag and the memories flowed back.

Lots of great matches, lots of great stars.

Look at that lineup.  Sure, there were some stinkers on the card, but a bunch of all-time great feuds came to a head that day.

And one of my faves is what got me to dig and find this program.

Ha ha....Jake "The Snake" Roberts.  He was easily the most intimidating guy on the microphone.  And he had a cool was that?

And joined by Alice Cooper.....sold.

The match was a dud, but that photo is spectacular.

So why did I pull this 30 year old program out of the closet?

Well, as I mentioned off the top, there's a documentary playing this weekend.

WARNING: This is the Red Band trailer - there's some profanity.

Wow.  You hear stories of wrestlers dying at an early age, struggling with life after their career is over, but to see it slapped up on the screen, raw and very real, definitely takes a world that many feel is "fake" and puts an authentic face to it.

I haven't followed wrestling for years and years, but I still find a dose of the vintage bouts a fun flashback.  This documentary, while probably not "fun" for the most part, has be intrigued.  A good story is a good story.

And as a bonus, Jake "The Snake" is going to be in attendance and doing a Q&A afterwards.  Me thinks I'll be bringing this program along....and a sharpie.

For my friend who invited me.....and is also a huge Alice Cooper fan, it'd be a cool gift to give him.  Can you image if one day that page gets signed by both Jake and Alice?

Yeah.......reliving my youth is fun.


Just a quick observation before I get started with my show & tell post.

I saw the new Linden cards added to Upper Deck Ice yesterday.  And I like 'em.  It's a nice refreshing change to the same ol', same ol' story I've been hit with of late.

Three variations on the Glacial Graphs insert.  He's had clear acetate signature cards in the past but I think these offerings are the best yet.

This is not my card.  I borrowed the scan off of ebay.  And it shows the yellow variation which has the inscription "Go Canucks" added.  It's not numbered (but you'd think it was based on some of the asking prices).

I'm looking forward to tracking this one down.

The regular version is the more traditional blue-themed card.  I've seen examples of other players and can imaging the Linden no prob.  I'm hoping to trade for it or pick it locally this weekend at the monthly card show.

This is the longshot of the three.  Again, not my card.  Limited to just 10 copies, this has the inscription "95-96: 80 Points".  Not the sexiest stat for a card this rare but I'll take it.

As nice as these cards look on my computer, I bet the scans do them no justice at all.

I'm looking forward to the chase.

Now....we return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Recently, I picked up a few less expensive Linden cards on ebay.  I had been patient with some and was rewarded with better than market prices and in one instance was able to scratch off a fairly limited card for less than $10.

This 2014/15 Upper Deck Buyback (yeah....more recycled cards) is identical to its 90/91 counterpart say for the - you guessed it - foil stamp in the corner.

I'm a little more tolerant about this one because it's got a print run of 25 (as opposed to a crazy limited 1 or 3) and the price on it was a lot more realistic.

Actually, now that I think about it, the markup on this card is was more insane than any ITG offering.  To think that the above card back in the early 90's would fetch maybe....MAYBE 25 cents, that's quite the inflation in buyback pricing.

But a $10 bill is way more disposable to me versus say $80  or $100.

Anyways, this card came from Series II of the flagship product.  There was also a Linden buyback tossed in Series I.  And it showed up in my mailbox today.

The big difference (obviously) is the signature.

I had passed on the first 4 or 5 of these that popped up on the secondary market.  The prices were pushing $100.  I don't know if there is any card out there numbered to 25 that would make me fire off that amount of least not anymore.

But patience paid off again and I was able to get this copy for a price I was happy with.

Of course, the story doesn't end there.  It never does.

Bubble mailer looked fine when I pulled it out of the mailbox.  Opened it up and found a flimsy toploader.....and the card peeking halfway out of it.


Absolutely zero extra protection on the card.  No decoys taped to the toploader to give the card a little more rigidity, no "throw me a bone" piece of tape to secure the top of the toploader, nothing.

Me being me, I messaged the seller to ask if this was standard for shipping (on a non-$5 card).  His answer - YUP.

But because the card I received wasn't damaged, I didn't really feel it was fair to slap him with a neutral or negative.  Instead, I gave him his positive feedback - and spelled it out in the notes.  Poorly protected card.

Could've been worse I guess.  I'm just happy to add this one to the pc.

And I've got a few final tricks up my sleeve before I go on my summer hiatus.  So stay tuned.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

STOLEN CARDS - Please Be On The Lookout

I read about this a couple days ago and feel the need to get the word out.

Recently, a collector who is a member of Hobby Insider (the boards I frequent) announced that he had some cards stolen while they were in transit to his house.

He purchased the lot on ebay from a very reputable seller and had the cards shipped as a group in one envelope.

The envelope arrived with a slit on one side and the cards removed.  A sticker was on the envelope stating that it was received without contents and received damaged.

Please be on the lookout for these eleven cards.

They are from the 2006/07 Between The Pipes product and the collector has spent many years slowly building a master set.

The cards were being shipped from Ontario to Michigan.  With a Toronto Expo just a couple weeks away it might be a scenario where they appear and looking to be sold quick - and cheap.

Some of these cards might not be of the rare variety, but in a lot of 11...will be easy to pick out.  And there are a couple that have very distinguishable patches (the Bryzgalov and Gerber especially).

I'm hoping that there will be a happy ending to this situation as I have dealt with this individual in the past and he is a top notch trader.

If you do see these cards and don't know who to contact.....feel free to send me a comment.  I can forward the information.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

OPINION - Stamped Cards Part II

It's been a couple weeks of frustrating back-and-forth internal dialogue when it comes to my player collecting.  I've been torn with what I think about some of the new cards out there.  But I've had enough sleeps on it and today, I am going to say some words that in my 20 years of Trevor Linden collecting.....I've never said.

If you read my last post from a couple weeks ago, you'll know that In The Game (in its final days producing products under its own brand moniker) recently released Superlative Vault.  These are cards that were leftovers from the ITG Superlative archive.  I believe they were cards that would be used as replacements should the need arise to deal with damaged product.  These are cards that have been printed, assembled, cut and on standby.

There are some pretty spectacular memorabilia cards in the release and the product run is extremely small (because there just wasn't the overstock on hand in the shop I suppose).  Regardless, the desirability factor is very volatile within the hobby.

Some are gobbling up this product as fast as they can.  And why not - it's great bang for your buck.  Others (like myself) are hesitant to pick up any new pieces for the pc.  Overpricing (at least from the Linden card front) and just a lack of excitement for product that has been recycled too many times now has left me on a bit of a downer.

Fast forward to today.....and ITG's latest announcement.

Yeah......Ultimate Vault.  If Superlative wasn't enough, now In The Game is doing a product dump for their Ultimate Memorabilia extras.

UM is what I would consider to be In The Game's highest-end product.  And I've spent a number of years (and a decent chunk of change) chasing down some key cards for my Linden collection from these sets.

Heck, some of the pinnacle pieces in my personal collection are from ITG Ultimate Memorabilia.

When I learned today this product was coming out (and I'm assuming Linden will be well represented in it), any desire to chase was extinguished.

I can appreciate that there will be many collectors clamoring over these cards and I'm confident there will be some spectacular items coming out of these boxes.

But it leaves me thinking that my years of chasing the original releases will just not be as special to me.

This gorgeous patch card came from Ultimate Memorabilia 10.  It's my favourite Linden card - period.  And it also happens to be the most expensive card I own.

When I see this, I think "one-of-a-kind".

The thought that another card like this (maybe not exact) could be included in Ultimate Vault leaves me torn.  Actually, it leaves me saddened.  I'm already looking at the above card differently.  I don't see the thrill of finding it and acquiring it.......all I can think about is Ultimate Vault and stamped cards.  I don't like that at all.

I think that the pattern of those with deep pockets reaching even deeper to hoard these products...only to see singles show up on the secondary market with inflated prices will just continue to grow.

As it is, I have a watchlist on ebay that has 20 or so cards on it which are in some way "stamped".  Some have been on there for years, and I see them continuing to be there for many more.  Oversaturation....and overpricing.

To think that the saturation level of these stamped variations will be going up even more has led me to make a very important announcement.

I will not be chasing any of the Trevor Linden cards to come out of ITG's Ultimate Vault.  It does not matter what the price tag is on them - I want no part of the product.  I won't entertain offers and I won't be looking on ebay for them.  They'll pass right on by like it's a card I've already crossed off the list.  This product does not exist in my eyes.

I feel that these "recycled" releases, while excellent for anyone who wants to gamble on some nice memorabilia items they might not have in previous years, are nothing more than a product dump from the company.  As well, I think that these releases are geared more for the "flippers" as opposed to the collectors.  The secondary market will continue to be flooded with these cards - and many at higher asking prices than their original release prices.

I think people who took a loss on the products the first time around now have a chance to "get a little closer to even".

Not me though.  The only thing I'd like to get from Ultimate Vault is a checklist of Linden cards in the product.  And I doubt I'll even see that.

My end-of-May hiatus can't come soon enough.  I may even start early now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

OPINION - Stamped Cards

Before I start my blog post tonight, I'd like to share the newest ESPN 30 for 30 short film I just finished watching.  It's a great story that is certainly appropriate on a day like today.


George Plimpton = Tremendous storyteller with a unique perspective.

I had heard about Sidd Finch but really didn't know the whole story until now.  I don't know if it's possible to pull something like that off today with social media what it is and a lot more cynical and skeptical audience in the world of sports.

As I finished watching that video, I took a look at the scans for my opinion post.  It made me think that maybe I'm being hit with a bad April Fool's Day joke.

Sadly......I'm not.

This In The Game Emblem Gold card is a pack inserted 1/1. It comes from the 2010/11 ITG product Decades 80s.  I was excited when this product came out five years ago as it really upped the Linden chase for me.  Three different tiers of cards (jerseys, numbers and emblems) along with three levels (black, silver and gold).  Nine different combinations.

And it took a long time and some definite help from fellow Linden collectors.....but I managed to get 'em all.  And I've got the only set of nine.

I wish the story ended there, but it doesn't.  In fact, the story expanded immediately after the product was released.

I was in Edmonton for the Summit II show as it had been a while since Alberta had seen a huge card show.  I went also because of Decades 80s.  ITG were set up and had special redemption 1/1 cards stamped for the occasion.  Buy a box, get a random card.  I bought 4 boxes but didn't hit a Linden.

What I did do when I got home is alter my wantlist.  I had to add nine more cards.  Unfortunately, there is no firm data indicating that each of the Linden variations were handed out that day.  I have no idea if they are out in collector's hands, still sitting in a box in the ITG archives or destroyed altogether.

So I had to change the way I chased and documented these new adds.  Until I confirm with my own eyes the existence of a doesn't go on the list.

Not long after, The National in Chicago had a similar promotion....and similar looking cards.

Once again, I added to the wantlist....this time with a little more of a disgruntled approach.  From 9 to 18 and now 27.  Nothing new in terms of aesthetics.....just some gold foil stamps.

If only it ended there.

For a few years, Decades 80s bore no rumblings in the hobby world.  That was until the recent merge/acquisition of ITG with Leaf.  The question became "What to do with all this extra stock?"

Well, I guess you put it in a product called "Best Of Hockey" (the stamp is in the upper right this time......fancy).

I really grew to hate these cards.  Numerous ITG products have been pilfered for stamped insertion.  Decades 80s. Forever Rivals, Captain C, Decades 90s. And the cards have gone from being an extra giveaway at shows to insertions in current products.

And now the piece de resistance......

A product consisting solely of unused cards.

This stamped 1/1 comes from ITG's final product (as a non-Leaf effort) called Superlative Vault.  The idea is to take all the extra Superlative cards from various years, put a stamp on them and throw them into packs.

Now I can appreciate that there are some great ITG cards left unused as replacement backups or future show redemptions and some of them have outstanding patches from what I've seen.  You don't want to see them go to waste.

But to see yet another batch of cards that I've chased years ago makes me feel very uninspired to do so.

In The Game did a great job at placing the price points for these boxes in a range that made it great bang for your buck.  But the aftermarket is what worries me.

I've already come across a few copies of these "1/1's" and am already seeing people treat them (in terms of price) as if they were in the original products back in the day.

It's as if people are going to try and recoup their lost monies from these products that might have stung them over the years.  Case in point....the above card.

It's the silver version which I grabbed originally back in the day for maybe $10.  But now....because a special stamp has been placed on it, seventy bucks!

Not a chance.  That's beyond a "Linden Tax"'s an "I'm going to get my money one way or another" tax.

For a card that bring zero excitement in the sense that it's not new....not original.....and definitely not desirable for Linden collectors (or at least the ones I've talked to), the seller should be asking for a fifth of his price.

So I'm now left to add some new...err old cards to the wantlist AGAIN.

I'll be happy when this phase (and I really hope it's just that) ends and we can get back to creating new products with new ideas and designs.

And we can stamp out these silly cards.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - Small Victories

It was just over a week ago that I proclaimed my lack of ebay pickups so far this calendar year.  I also mentioned that I had just pulled the trigger on some new adds.

Two of them hit the mailbox today.

And while neither of them might be the jaw-dropping 8-color mega patches that would stop traffic and start the parade, these new additions to the collection are a pair of very welcome visitors.

2014/15 Upper Deck
25th Anniversary 1990/91 Buyback
#480 All-Star  /25

This card comes from Series II of Upper Deck's flagship product.  And it balances out the buyback placed in Series I (Linden's regular UD card from 90/91......but autographed).

The silver foil stamp is the only thing differentiating this card from the plethora of knock-offs that Captain Canuck is fudging up with his blue sharpie.

I had been keeping my eye on this card since the first couple showed up on ebay.  The signed card from Series I has been fetching a fair penny, but these non-signed versions (of all players) have been lukewarm at best.

I caught things on a lucky lull and paid less than the going rate.  For a card numbered to just 25 copies, I'm thrilled to cross it off the wantlist.

2014/15 O-Pee-Chee
Marquee Legends Retro
#563 blank back

Now this card might not blow anyone away either, but the moment I saw it pop up on the open market....I attacked pretty aggressively.


That's why.

Blank back cards have been my nemesis for years, going all the way back to 2008/09.

It was the first year that OPC dod the retro variations and I was excited to see Linden get the "Gretzky RC" treatment.  In addition to the regular retro card, there was a rainbow parallel numbered to 100 and the dreaded blank back.

In the seven years since......I've never seen a copy.

I'm starting to question its existence.

So when Upper Deck reintroduced him into this year's OPC product, you could guess my level of anxiousness when it came to the blank back chase.

It was a few months, but up popped an auction that if you weren't paying attention - you'd miss.  In fact, when I e-mailed another Linden collector to see if he was going to bid on it, his response was "I didn't even see it until you pointed it out to me".

I like that.

I think a lot of people missed the blank back description as (part of a 3-card blank back lot) I won the auction for far less than anticipated.  In fact, I might be able to recoup my entire purchase when moving the other two cards.

Win - win.

Two more off the list, none to be added (although I'm anticipating him being added to ITG's latest....and last release as a sole ITG product - Superlative Vault...more on that release later).

And I've got just a couple months left before I shut things down for the summer.  While it's been a slower go in 2015, I can't complain about the fun I've been having and the involvement in the hobby I still get each month.

Like I said.....small victories.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Slowly, But Surely

I can count on one hand the number of ebay transactions I've made so far this year.

I haven't been able to brag like that in a long time.

It's not for lack of trying, it's for lack of quality cards out there.

The market seems to have dried up and all that's left are redemption 1/1's or "pack-added value" 1/1's.  They don't interest me much.

I've missed out on a few auctions.  My bids were just too low.  I find that I'm getting frugal in my old age - or I'm cheap.  But when I get a price in my brain, I can't let it go.  I've been dinged a few times in the past and I try not to let the hobby get the best of me anymore.

But that doesn't mean I'm not adding to the player collection.

Trades...old school, like "in person".  For reals.  Hobby boards, trade nights and even social media.

This past week brought in a bubbler that came about an odd way.

I picked up a rather odd Trevor Linden Brilliance signature late last year. Seems a card got mixed up and Tyler Seguin decided to sign it.

I wasn't huge on picking it up, but the price was right at the time.  I thought maybe I could parlay it into a Linden for my pc.

That thought paid off.

2013/14 In The Game
In The Game Used - Cup Battles
#CB-07 Gold w/ Messier, Richter & Bure (limited to 10)

First of all, I had a hard time typing Mess....his name.  But to grab a card limited to 10 for the collection was just too good to pass up.

Barely a 2-color piece on the Linden, but with a nice seam, the kicker for me was that Moose gets a bland, red jersey piece.  Ha ha ha!!!!  Who gets the last laugh now???

This puts me one card away from completing the non-1/1 cards from ITG Used.  Another one of those saturated products for player collectors.

Do I miss the messed up auto?  A bit.  But I'm happy with the end result.

Note: I wrote this post a few days ago. I have since won three eBay auctions. Clearly I was affected by my writings. Ha.