Saturday, September 24, 2016

CARDBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY - George Brett

I'm so late to the party on this one....but I was sifting through some of my cards last night and stumbled upon a stack of 2015 Topps Stadium Club baseball.  They came from a heated round of 'pack wars' that I won oh about a year ago.

I've been on a bit of a baseball kick of late.  Chalk it up to a great stretch run (or frustrating if you're a Jays fan) to the season, some new #WalletCard Oscar Gamble pickups and some eBay cheapies to add to the tradebox.  So when I flipped through the stack of TSC I was doing it with a big grin.

There are some great photos used in the set (I think Stadium Club is generally known for its solid photography).  But when I got to a certain card - I stopped sifting.

2015 Topps Stadium Club
#210 George Brett

There's a lot that I like about this card.  First and foremost...it's George Brett - my favourite player when I was a kid.  After all, his last name was my first name.  How cool is that?  I always wanted a Brett jersey...I thought it would've suited me well.  Heck, I still think about picking one up.  It's now a tossup between Brett and Gamble (Cleveland Indians era).  Oscar is catching up in the race.

But back to the card.  The photo is just tremendous.  It harkens a time when players were totally accessible and many were more than willing to give a young fan a couple moments of their time...and a sweet sig on a newly purchased baseball.  This shot has a distinct 70's feel.  The stadium in the background, the jersey, the shaggy hair...it's all there.  But to me there's just a little more.

This card (it seems) has had a little work done to it.  It almost has a painted look to it.  I'm convinced that if this card was blown up 5 or 6 times in size I'd hang it in my office.  It looks like a fine piece of art.

The photo had me so interested that I began researching it on the good ol' computer.

Well worth the time.

I'll begin by sending you to a story on National Geographic's site.  It seems as though there a neat story about this pic.

note: Again, I'm so late to the party on this one....I'm talking a couple years late.  But like I said...it's a neat story.

Pop star Lorde said that this George Brett photo (which appeared in a 1976 edition of National Geographic) was the inspiration for her mega-hit 'Royals'.

"I had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs.  He was a baseball player and his shirt said 'Royals'  It was just that word.  It's really cool."

Seriously??  That's incredibly random...and the song has nothing to do with baseball.  But what the heck...a person can have ideas shoot into their head from the strangest and unlikeliest things.

This is the full version of the photo that was used in the article.  Taken by photographer Ted Spiegel, this moment in time really has a certain type of energy to it.  Not in a frantic or explosive way, but in a motivating and innocent mode.

But my hunch about the card having some work done to it might have some merit.  This photo looks to be a little underexposed (it could just be the scan) and you really don't get a full sense of the expression on Brett's face.  The card does a nice job of evening out the contrast and making everything  less harsh to look at.

There are few occasions where I like to see baseball cards showing players doing something other than play baseball.  The old "sitting in the dugout" shot or "fake pose" down the third base line doesn't really do it for me.  But this shot just has a distinct uniqueness to it that frankly can't be matched.

The more I think about it, the more I want to find a nice copy of this photo so I can hang it up in my office.

Friday, September 23, 2016

OUTSIDE THE BOX - OK....Blue Jays

There are times when I just take a flyer on things.  Be it a pack of non-sport, a box of CFL or a pair of autos that I might be able to parlay into something more.

The last month - heck....this whole baseball season - has been a truly exciting rollercoaster ride for Toronto Blue Jays fans.  A whole lot of expectations after a breakthrough 2015 season.  Thoughts of a division title and dare I say...World Series birth are on the minds of many.

Come October, should the Jays make the postseason, I feel as though certain players may have heightened interest in the hobby.  And what can I say...it can never hurt to have a couple Toronto autos in the trade box.

A recent venture into the ebay vortex had me searching Jays autos.  I saw an auction that I thought I'd take a stab at.  Whatdyaknow....I won.

Roberto Osuna might just be one of the top young pitching stars in the game.  He's got a maturity to him that far outweighs his early-20s inexperience.

This hard-signed card from Topps Supreme came at the right price.  I have no doubt that I'll be able to trade it away for something I really want - or bolster my trade box.  Again, it's nice to go to trade night with some new stuff in the arsenal.

Quick note....sloppy sig.  Let's get these young guys slapping a better auto on these cards eh?

While Dalton Pompey might not be meeting expectations in the 2016 season, I think he definitely has some upside in the Jays organization.  With a guy like Jose Bautista likely on his way out, that might open the door for Dalton to come in and become a mainstay of the Jays outfield.

Another Topps Supreme card, hard signed, numbered to 25, it was in the same lot as the Osuna so it was coming along whether I liked it or not.  I like it.

Again.....let's get some penmanship going guys.

A couple new cards to add to the trade box and here's hoping that the Jays go deep in the playoffs.  It'll only up the value of these cards even more.

Now....time to head back into the vortex.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WALLET CARD - A Pair Of Gamble Autos

They say "slow and steady wins the race" and I'm hoping that is true because my card pickups for the year have been really thin.  Very few Linden pickups (easily my slowest year in a decade), a handful of goalie mask, HOF autos and Cup Raisers and the odd card for sheer tradebait.

I'm not disappointed by any means as I feel even more confident in my quest for cards.  I go at my pace and I pick up what I want - when I want.

And it seems that I want to pick up Oscar Gamble cards.

It would not surprise me in the least if #WalletCard ends up being at the top of the list in terms of number of cards acquired this year.  Many of them go for really good prices - compared to the crazy asking prices of some Linden offerings.  It's just a lot of fun building a nice small player collection like this.

Recently I have been getting help from a fellow collector who has a US address.  The savings I get on shipping are immense.  It's almost to the point now where any card being sold from the States goes through him.  And Oscar Gamble baseball cards are tougher to come by here in Canada.

My most recent cry for help (thanks again Kevin) landed me a pair of autos.  Let's check out the goods.

2014 Panini Golden Age
#GAM Historic Signatures

I really like this card.  The uniqueness in design layout, bold name font, interesting photo placement and prime signature area combined with the old cardboard-stock, matte finish, hard-signed script has me just admiring this great piece.

Yeah, there's nothing fantastic about this card - heck, there aren't even logos (no MLB license for Panini)....but it just works.

The scribble is a little wobbly, but I'm ok with that.  It's par for the course.

I think all that this piece of cardboard is missing is a nice big afro.

2004 Upper Deck Yankees Classics
#AU-48 Classic Scripts

A sweet swing highlights this signature parallel from the mid-2000's.  Not a tough card to find by any means, but to get it for the right price is where the challenge lay.

The auto isn't as solid as the first card, but I chalk that up to the pen.  It is what it is (stupid pen).

To knock this one off the list for the price paid suits me just fine.

These two cards put me at the 45-card mark out of a total of around 155 cards.  Oscar has been included in a couple recent releases - Topps Archives (5 cards) and Topps Archives Snapshots (5 cards).  See....nothing crazy like 32 or 61 cards.  Five.  FIVE.  I like that.

I find that I'm leaning towards two types of #WalletCard pickups these days...autographs and stamped buybacks.  I feel as though the regular base cards are easy to find any time I want.  The buybacks though may only have a certain shelf life before they get tossed in the never-to-be-searched box.  Luckily I've been able to land almost every buyback I've laid eyes on - and again, for a good price.

Is that enough foreshadowing for my next Oscar Gamble post?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

PACK RIPPING - 2016/17 Tim Hortons Hockey

One of the lasting impressions of the previous hockey hobby season (for me) was the overwhelming success of the Tim Horton's hockey release.  It hit a wide audience, was a quality product (that wasn't ultra high end) and had some staying power while collectors and fringe fans tried to hunt down their set needs.

It caught me a little off guard as I really didn't think that the "restaurant issue" product would really fly.  McDonalds did an admirable job with their sets over the years and really found a niche collecting audience, but what Tim Horton's did blew that out of the water.  I really feel as though it introduced a lot of new people to the hobby....if only for a little while.

So I was excited to learn of the return to the market this month for Upper Deck and Timmy's.  The drive home from work had me stop off and pick up a few packs.

Twenty - to be exact.

Now, stupid me thought that if you bought your beverage that you would get all of your packs at the discounted price (yes....I'm a maroon).  But even at the regular retail price, it's a fun and inexpensive rip.

Three cards to a pack - two base and an insert.  Lots of insert sets to be had and some tougher pulls (and crazy longshots) give something for everyone.

Um.....he's not with.....huh.

Ok, I guess UD decided that leaving Hall in the set as a n Oiler would be less of a headache than pulling the card and replacing him with another player.  I would have loved the ol' 80's OPC treatment...

"Now With Devils"

That would have been sweet.

The base cards are your usual food-issue foil-type card.  Nice, but not jaw dropping.  Not much in terms of photography or player poses...pretty simple actually.  But the checklist is solid.

100 base cards with a smattering of current stars, young studs and Tim Horton.  Cool.

I have no doubt that the Connor inserts will be popular among his young fans.  The McDavid train in chugging along at full steam.  And if there isn't enough hype on him already, his play at the World Cup is certain to get people drooling for the NHL regular season.

This Game Day Action card is a neat concept and it seems.....SEEMS as though the photos are taken from the actual game depicted on the back description.  Not bad.

Hey now.  I had to do a double take when I saw the vintage Canucks sweater with the 'C' on it.  But yes...it's Henrik from last year's retro jersey night (oh how awesome was that).

The Local Leaders set is a great concept that has had success in the past under different monikers.  And in my opinion they should go back to them.  Local Leaders doesn't breathe excitement.  It feels like a city committee meeting roll call.

Still, nice card.

Pure Gold reminds me of the early 90's Pankhurst emerald parallel.  A simple cutout slapped on a foil coloured background.

These should trade well.

I like the looks of this insert set.  Goalies....close ups of masks....sign me up.

Platinum Profiles though are not just full of tenders (bummer) but are left for the top stars.  A good silver foil makes this easily smudgeable.  Ha.

This was my big hit of the lot.  They come in 1:16 packs so I caught the right odds.  It's a nice clear card (like UD Ice) and has a slick, bold design.

I would have liked a Connor McDavid....but hey, so would everyone.

Overall, this pack rip session was a lot of fun.  There were no high expectations for big hits and I know that there will be a lot of people looking to trade.  And at the end of the day, isn't that what the hobby should be about?

Will I buy more packs?  Probably.  But I doubt I'll binge for 20 packs at a time from now on.  Maybe one overtime I hit up the drive-thru.

Good stuff UD.  (except for the Taylor Hall flub......and why is Karri Ramo in the set?)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BOX BREAK - 2016 Upper Deck CFL

Well, I was really looking forward to this Saturday afternoon.  Nice weather, a break from some of the recent hectic travelings and a chance to get back out on the golf course to smack the ball around and get some good cursing going (ok....I'm not THAT bad on the course).  But there was only one little problem.

I went to the wrong golf course and as a result - missed my tee time.

It was brutal.  Especially when I started receiving texts from my golf buddies heckling me to no end.

So I decided to do some office cleaning and card scanning.  Not even close to making up for the "botch of the year".

But I digress.  On to a nice story about cards.

Right before I left for my trip to Brazil, I managed to make it out for the local trade night.  I knew it would be an abbreviated go as I still needed to pack....and but stuff....and just do a bunch of overall prep work.  I like to leave things to the last minute it seems.

Anyways, while I was at the card shop I was really....REALLY wanting to open some packs.  Sadly, there was no hockey product that was speaking to me.  Even the baseball (which is my second choice) didn't have anything I was excited in.  Not even the non-sports stuff was catching my eye.

Worried that I would be leaving with no cards in tow, I decided to take a flyer on the recent CFL product just released by Upper Deck.  The price was right so I decided to give a box a go.  Shall we see how I did?

2016 Upper Deck CFL
6 cards per pack
24 packs per box

I feel as though the CFL product has a pretty strong niche collector following - especially in Canada and I thought if I could hit a couple cards, maybe some trading could be had at future trade nights.

The base cards are nothing jaw dropping.  Simple design, some decent photos (some not so much) and a good overall checklist it looks like (163 base cards with the shorter print ones after card 100).  No career stats on the back...just the past 5 years (a bit of a miss here) but a good effort once again by Upper Deck.  After all, this is their third year doing the CFL release.

A breakdown of the base shows (and I'm going to go out on a limb with a guess here) that cards 1-100 are a given (I had about 15 doubles on top of that).  So that's a real nice start.  Cards 101-140 which are the special teams cards land about 1:2 packs.  I ended up with 11 cards - no doubles.  So some work to do if I want the complete base set.  Cards 141-163 are All-Star cards and land 1:6 packs.  I ended up with 5 so I exceeded the expected 4 cards I should have received.  Nice.

BTW....the horizontal cards don't do it for me at all.  I think it exposes just how bad the logo looks on the front.  I feel as though UD could have done a better job incorporating the logo into the overall layout of the card.

Overall though, the base card offering in this product is pretty good.

Some OPC retro cards in this product (42 cards) and they have their distinct retro look.  I like these cards a lot - except for the smudging just above the photo.  These have a definite 1971 feel to them and I'm sure that set collectors will enjoy the additional chase.

They are 1:3 packs so I should have received 8 in total.

Drumroll please.....

Eight it is.

The box odds call for 2 memorabilia cards and that's just what I got.  Nothing to write home about but I feel like these would make for some good traders.  More so than the dollar jersey cards you tend to get in hockey products these days.

There are patch variations /15 in this product and a quick look on eBay shows some impressive patches.

The more I look at this product, the more I see Upper Deck taking the best of the best from other signature sets and building a real nice niche product for diehard collectors.  I'm impressed so far.


Hey.....I got a thickie.  This was a great surprise.  These manufactured patches are another notch from the OPC belt.  They come 1:128 packs so I definitely hit a tough one.  I especially like that I got a Stampeders logo as I know I'll be able to trade this one locally pretty easily.

And a quick look at the checklist seems to reveal that these are an extension of previous UD CFL releases (as they are listed TL-51 to TL-62).  Pretty cool.

Wow!  Another great box hit.  This High Gloss parallel is numbered to just 10.  While not the top QB in the league, it's still a QB....and should get good trade value as well.

I must say that I'm quite pleased with what this spur-of-the-moment pack ripping adventure has resulted in.

But if only that was all.
There are autos in this product.  Three different types.

Offence base card autos (40 cards) run 1:96 packs, Defense/Special Teams base card autos (12 cards) run 1:256 packs and then there are the All-Star autos (11 cards) numbered to /25.  There are also CFL Scripts (which is what I landed) and they are also numbered to just /25.  Yes, it's a sticker auto but still....more good tradebait.

So.....I can say pretty confidently that I hit a really good box.  Does that change my perception on the product?  Maybe.  Will I try my hand at another one?  Doubt it.  I really like that I have some good traders and should be able to recoup most (if not all) of my box dollars on this one.  Pretty rare when that happens.

If you're a CFL fan....then I would think that this is a must-try product for you.


Have you ever stepped outside the box and tried a product you normally don't rip?  How'd it go?  Did it meet your expectations?


Well....I feel like I accomplished something tonight.  Better than nothing I guess.

But make no mistake, I'd much rather be losing golf balls in the pond today.  Ugh.

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.