Saturday, December 31, 2016

Still Alive

As we have come to end of 2016, there is no doubt that the past year will be remembered as the year that death reigned. We lost a number of cultural icons in the entertainment business; the U.S. political system as we know it seems to have died; Topps dropped the borders on its flagship product and many lamented the death of a once great company.

I won't address the first two 'deaths' but I will be addressing the final one because that's what we do here at Collating Cards; we collect-and talk about- Topps baseball.

The cries of a premature death actually began during the summer of 2015, when Topps first released images and details for 2016 flagship. It was a departure from the traditional bordered set and collectors did not like it. My initial response was that I wasn't happy that they dropped the borders but the design (name plate, diagonal bars with team logo) wasn't bad. The smoke effect was a little different, but I was reserving my opinion until I had the cards in hand. Once the set was released, my opinion slowly changed from 'meh' to 'it's really grown on me.' Needless to say, I felt like a voice in the wilderness for the better part of the year.

So, no, Topps has not died; the company is alive and kicking and, with the popularity of the Topps Now product, seems to be doing quite well. We're only a month away from the release of 2017 Topps Series 1 (a design which I really like) and I'm preparing myself for the onslaught of negative comments that will surely accompany its release. But we're here to talk about this past year, so let's review some of the best things to come out of 2016 products (and one stinker).

Favorite Card: (Tie) Topps #479b Marcus Stroman and Stadium Club #280 Mike Trout

 As much as I like these cards, they're ones that I do not own and (in regards to the Stroman) probably never will own, given the price it commands. Regardless, they're great shots of a young rising star holding a bobble head doll from what I'm presuming was the June 7, 2015 stadium giveaway and an established star next to a life-sized bobblehead. While I like action shots, portraits etc., the hobby needs more photos portraying the 'fun' side of the game, and these are two of the best.

Most Overrated Set of the Year: Topps Bunt

Once again, I find myself a voice in the wilderness on this one. I've seen a lot of collectors comment on this being the set of 2016, and I just don't get it. The common denominator in all of their comments is the low pack price and how it will bring the youth back into the Hobby, which leads me to believe many collectors are out of touch with today's kids. I think some- not all- of these collectors are still stuck in the late '80s, expecting to pay less than a buck for a pack of cards.

Besides the price point, the big-ass team logo in the background seems to be a popular aspect of the design. The logo appearance, to me, is a bigger distraction than the smoke on flagship. The design also includes a lack of borders; collectors complain about no borders on flagship and are convinced that it was designed to accommodate its digital brand, but they love this design. So, what's it going to be? Would you still love this product if it was flagship? As far as the inserts found in Bunt... I really see no difference between them and those found in Series 1, Series 2 and Update, which are often described as uninspired. Would I love to see lower price points across the board within the Hobby? Absolutely. Do inserts make or break my interest in a base set? No. Does a design determine if I will collect a product? In the case of flagship- no, because it's what I collect. (Although, I will say that my interest can wane because of a bad design)

In summary, I have found that many lauded the product for the same things they hated on in this year's flagship, leaving me scratching my head. I find it to be an inferior product and one that won't save the Hobby.

Set of the Year: Topps Marketside Pizza

I was tempted to name Stadium Club Baseball as my set of the year- beautiful photography, strong checklist and decent price are tough to beat. However, my pick of the year is for a product that marked the return of the food-issue. After all, any set that can compel me to drive to Wal-Mart and buy some of their nasty pizza (or even the decent breadsticks) has something going for it.

My initial reaction to the design of this set was mild at best, loathsome at worst. But like flagship, I eventually found it growing on me and decided to complete the 50-card set. Topps can be forgiven for not including any retired veterans (two or three would have been nice); the inclusion of the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met more than make up for that omission.

Biggest Surprise of the Year: 2016 Topps New Era 

Not only did cardboard return to the food aisle in 2016, but we also saw it return to retail outlets such as LIDS and LIDS Clubhouse stores. It was in these stores where my choice for Biggest Surprise  of the Year were available.

The announcement of this 9-card set (available in four-card packs) came unexpectedly and excitement was quickly dampened for those of us who didn't have any nearby participating stores. Never fear, as the cards began appearing on eBay as quickly as they had left the store shelves.

Insert Set of the Year: Tribute to the Kid

While not the prettiest insert set, nor the most rare, Tribute to the Kid, found in Topps Series 2, is my choice for Insert Set of the Year. After all, no player, save Mickey Mantle, has impacted the Hobby as much as the Kid. He's a Hobby Icon and this set chronicled his storied career in a 30-card set- and just in time for Junior's Hall of Fame induction this past summer. And for one summer, collectors were able to relive the joys of collecting the Kid during the 90s and early '00s.

Twenty-Sixteen gave us many reasons to be excited about this Hobby of ours. It resurrected some of those things we enjoyed during the Hobby's 'Golden-Age' and proved that not all of our cultural icons are dead. Yes, the Hobby is still very much alive and we can hope for more of the same in 2017. Happy New Years, everybody!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Last Present

A number of years ago we started a new Christmas tradition: dinner at the Jones' (not their real last name), followed by just hanging out for a few hours- conversing, playing games, watching movies or whatever else we feel like doing. Most of their relatives are elsewhere, and they think of us as family (we consider them family, as well)- so it's been nice to have another place to gather for the holidays.

Rick (the husband) texted me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I had any 1979 Topps cards or any extras of Braves players who reportedly sign TTM autos. I found a number of cards for him, as well as a double of an Albert Pujols variation, and brought them with us to Christmas dinner.

After handing him the stack of cards, Rick said that he had something for me and went in to his office to retrieve whatever it was he was going to gift me. Coming back out, he had a lucite card holder in hand, saying he thought I might like this:

Um, yeah.

Rick knows I'm done with collecting Braves cards but also understands that a vintage Eddie Mathews card is irresistible.

I might not have gotten much for Christmas this year, in way of cardboard, but what I lacked in quantity, I made up for in quality. Thanks again to my buddy Rick for this classic card!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Well Stuff My Stocking!

The amount of cardboard I received for Christmas this year was pretty minimal, which was to be expected. I had other wants/needs and only received one pack of 2016 Topps Update in my stocking and a vintage card that I will feature in my next post.

As far as the pack in my stocking... I really didn't need anymore of the base Update cards but once I discovered my wife had bought me a pack, I was hoping to get either a variation or one of the Rookie Birth-Year insert cards.

BOOM! There it is, the Julio Urias Rookie/Birth-Year card that is on my want list. I need to start having my wife buy all my packs, because there is always something good in the ones she gets for me.

Rest of the pack, meh. Nothing to get excited about. I'm still on the fence regarding the Franklin insert set; I thought I'd try to do a master set but haven't made a big push to pick up anything other than variations and the RC/BY ones.

What did ya'll get under the tree or in your stocking?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

No Secret Santa, Just an Anonymous One

I have never been one for trends. Even during those peer-pressured high school years I tended to march to the beat of my own drum. Things haven't really changed much as an adult, although I must admit that I find myself getting caught up in what's popular on Netflix at times or using popular hashtags on social media sites. Our hobby isn't devoid of such things, either. I suppose the one time I conformed to a trend within the card collector community was during the #WalletCard contest. My interest quickly faded, however, as I never go anywhere exciting. The humdrum life isn't very conducive to interesting photo ops.

Two other trends within our community come to mind: the #SuperCollector thing and the more recent Secret Santa. Having been less involved in blogging (and the blogging community in general) the past six months, I have no idea of the origins of this Secret Santa Society, but I have seen at least one blogger bring it up.

So yes, once again I find myself on the outside looking in- but that's alright. I have a Secret Santa of my own. Well, at least an anonymous one.

No, I did not receive this awesome looking card from someone in the Brotherhood. The 'Secret Santa' er, Anonymous Santa I'm referring to is the dude behind Murph. I have no idea who it is. The card itself, well, that's my own creation.

My childhood idol (Mr. Murphy) recently tweeted the following:

I liked the photo so much that I took it and ran with it- all the way to the Topps website, where I was able to make a custom card. I decided against trying to order this thing- for now, anyways (they have copyright law agreements you have to sign off on)- but I did save it to my desktop.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Long and Short of It

All these years later and I'm still trying to figure out just what makes parallel cards attractive to the collector. If you're talking about a Nestle parallel from '84- okay, I get it. But colored parallels? Sorry, but I just don't understand why I need eighteen colored parallels of the same player.

One thing I do get: photo variations. Y'all poo-poo them because they are short-printed and view them as a gimmick.

But I dig them. Can you diiiiiiiig it?

Working towards as much of a master set as I can, I have made it a habit to pick up as many of these beaut's as possible- whenever the price is right.

Some have been purchased as lots.

Others, as singles for very little.

You don't like them- and that's okay. You can send them my way.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Now is the Time for Holiday Cards

Topps seems to get a lot of flack within the collecting community for its customer service and for what is perceived as a lack of any kind of concern for its customer base. Most of this gnashing of the teeth appears to be connected to Redemption cards and since I have never had anything to redeem, I cannot speak to that. But I will say that the assertions made by many collectors that Topps doesn't care about their customers are ridiculous. You cannot not care and still stay in business. Such apathy will eventually catch up and sink your company. But perhaps I'm just wearing rose-tinted glasses and am completely off in my evaluation in how business operates.

My theory that Topps does, in fact, care seems to be supported by an envelope I received in the mail on Saturday. Inside of the envelope was a 'Holdiay Card' from Topps Now, along with an actual Topps Now card featuring Kris Bryant and Gary Sanchez on one side and Ichiro and David Ortiz on the other side. And while I don't PC any of the players, I am more than happy to add it to the shoe box that houses all of my 2016 Topps Baseball cards.

I'm assuming that every customer who ordered one of Topps' on-demand cards received one of these things, so the card will certainly never be worth much of anything. But that's not really a concern of mine. I'm just glad that the company appreciates its customers enough to send out such a gift.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Closing Chop, Opening Another

It's been a little over months since I've posted anything here on the blog, but that doesn't mean I've been away from the hobby. It's been a draining summer and the last thing I have felt like doing is blogging. That being said, I have published a few posts- just on a different site. During this time away I decided to close up the Chop.

You might remember earlier this year I explained the name change (not the url address, however) for something that would better reflect my collecting interests at the time. I had come to an end of team set collecting, focusing instead on a complete run of Topps flagship sets. Well, despite the change the 'cardchop' name was still there and I couldn't shake the name association with the Braves. Yes, I'm still pissed that ownership doesn't care and don't have faith in, or trust, the new regime (and I won't even mention Andrelton Simmons is proving them wrong with his hitting...).  Throw in my getting tired of Blogger/Google and I've decided to move shop to a different address- on Wordpress.

I made this with the CardChop a couple of years ago and saw readership plummet, so moved back. Was it the right move, coming back? I don't know. While I write for the enjoyment, there is also that aspect of being part of a community of like-minded collectors. And when there's no one reading it gets frustrating.

So...I'm giving it another go. With the move I'll be linking it more through different social media sites with the hopes of getting subscribers and I'm hoping those of you who have been reading this blog over the years will add my new blog to your blog roll. You can visit me at Collating Cards. I don't now if I'll post as much as I did here during my peak, but am hoping to average 2 or 3 posts a week. I hope to see you there!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Cubs for My Collection- Whaaaa?

There's nothing like coming home after a long day at work and seeing a couple of bubble mailers and/or PWE's waiting for you. I was fortunate enough to come home to exactly that last evening- one bubble mailer coming from a Sportlots purchase and the other a PWE from Peoria, IL. That means one thing, of course: P-town Tom.

Tom was a part of a trio of collectors, each of whom received a Red Lobster Cubs card from last month's card show and reciprocated by sending me a couple of... Cubs cards?

I thought he was the collector of Cubbies.

After what seemed like way too long being spent trying to figure out why I would be the recipient of Cubs cards it finally dawned on me: I'm working on those two sets. So I logged on to Google Drive and sure enough, I'm in need of the cards Tom was kind enough to send.

Whew. I thought maybe he was purging some of the doubles in his collection and trying to add passengers to what I'm sure will be a very big (band)wagon this year.

One of the '77 Topps cards I really remember well from my childhood was Jose Cardenal's. I think it was because of the afro he wore. And so imagine how confused I was for a minute upon seeing this Dave Rosello.

Now, look at Cardenal's 1977 Topps card:

See what I mean?

Finally, more confusion as I saw the Scott Servais card. (Are you detecting a trend here?)

Anyway, I knew this card looked familiar- but it turns out that I had a Cooperstown Collection (or whatever) parallel at one time.

Of that, I'm certain.

 Thanks again, Tom for the two #92.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My First Blowout Buy

I saw an exchange on Twitter recently in which two or three people were discussing blogs, forums and the use of other social media for selling and trading cards. In the midst of the discussion, the Blow Out Cards forum was mentioned as one such destination. Now, I haven't been one to put too much time into forums (I think I used to use the Beckett one? But even that was minimal), but it got me thinking about other means to pickup items for the collection. 

So while sitting on a bed in the hotel room on our recent vacation, I signed up on the site and posted a few comments before heading over to the buy/sell/trade section. Once there, I found a guy who was selling stuff from 2015 Heritage High Numbers and for a pretty reasonable price. In case you haven't been over to Blow Out, they have a way of leaving feedback much like the one on eBay, so if the seller has positive feedback you should be pretty safe in buying. And best of all- for sellers- there are no fees.  Anyway, I picked up a nice sized lot of inserts and SPs to go towards finishing off my set. I forgot to count the number of cards, but judging from the photos below it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 40- all for $23 delivered. 

Once I get more familiar with the site, I too will be trying to sell some stuff on there. During our vacation, I talked to my wife about the desire to get back into doing card shows and selling online. I won't be going nuts on breaking large number of cases, but would like to do something on a much smaller scale- just to make a little extra cash and have some fun while doing it. 

The one negative thing about the BO forum (or any other such ones, I guess): trash talking, bickering and fighting. Of course, we can have plenty of that on the blogs, as well. One interesting discussion I came across was some of the big case breakers bitching about guys like myself who put their Kevin Costner autos (or whatever) on eBay and undercut them. They seem to think they set the market prices. I'm just a guy who broke a couple boxes and doesn't have to have some big hit to save my butt because I'm breaking 60 cases and am not getting a return on my investment. But I digress. Sorry. I just thought it was lame.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cardboard in the Morning...and at Noon...and at Night

I received some cards over the weekend from Tim at I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning, whom I had contacted recently about some Heritage SPs. Turns out that Tim had a few, as well as some of my other sets needs- namely, 2015 Topps Update. I like the title of Tim's blog, except for me, cardboard always smells good. At morning, at noon, at night.

Part of my questions whether or not we will ever see Josh Hamilton out on the baseball field again. The man is one broken dude. What a shame, as he was such a talent...

Joc Pederson. I haven't looked up his stats, but I wonder if participating in last year's HR Derby was a bad idea. Seems to be all-or-nothing with him since then.

Didn't Todd Frazier participate in the same derby? Whatever the case, he's leading the majors in homers. Or at least he was, last time I checked.

Garrite Cole- yeah, he's pretty good.

Will the real Matt Harvey please stand up, please stand up. Oh, and another Pederson. Why did they produce one of these MLB Debut cards for him when it wasn't during the then-current season. Isn't that what they usually do? Anything to milk that RC logo, I guess.

Anyway-- thanks, Tim, for the great cards and the trade.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


It started off innocently enough as a trip to the LCS to pick-up a box or two of 2016 Archives. We had just gotten home from vacation yesterday and I don't have to go back to work until Friday (it was going to be Monday, but that's a different story). Anyway, once I got to the LCS, I saw the $100/box price tag and said 'gimme one.' But right before paying I told the shop owner that I'd take a second box. I'm glad I did because I don't know which of these two came from which box.

The only question now is: auction, or BIN?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Now That's a Card

We are just finishing up our vacation and are getting ready to head home today, but I did scan a few things before leaving- just in case I felt like entering a new post. Today's will be short and sweet.

A few weeks ago I complained on Twitter about Topps failing to recognize Felix Hernandez' passing Randy Johnson as the team's all-time strikeout King, so when they issued a Topps Now card of The King passed Jamie Moyer as the team's all-time leader in Wins, I had to put my money where my mouth is.

*wanted to insert photos here, my iPad won't allow me to drag the photos--see below*

My thoughts on Topps Now after landing my first card: card stock was what I thought it would be. Card front isn't bad- not crazy about the 'brushed' look around the edges. The circles and line connecting them reminds me of that insert from 2015 Topps (I forget the name?). I'm not crazy about the design on the back, but I don't know what I was expecting. Perhaps the player's linescore from the game would have been nice. The packaging was a surprise, as earlier reviews were upset that they just threw it in a Card Saver. My card was in a penny sleeve, then placed in a top loader and then placed in the envelope. 

Overall, not bad- probably costs much more than it should be, but I'm not sure if it's sustainable. Cards every day, many of the same player and same type of moment (walk-offs) just leave me questioning whether collectors will get burnt out. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cards for My Collection from Cardboard Collections

When I decided to go back and begin adding Heritage sets to my collection, one of the things I was undecided on was whether or not to collect some of the insert sets. I do not do this with the flagship Topps sets, but the Heritage ones are a whole different beast. I really like how News Flashbacks and Baseball Flashbacks revisit the past and how Then and Now connects the past to the present. 

Once I decided to go ahead and add those to the sets I began scouring eBay for some of the inserts sold as sets. I did pick up a couple of lots, but I also decided that I had better depend upon trading for some of the singles. 

Shortly around that time I saw that Colbey from Cardboard Collections needed 2016 Topps I singles for his set, and I just happened to have quite a few of them. A deal was worked out and he was able to knock quite a few of the Flashback cards from my 2011 Heritage want list. 

Nothing like some ol' time trading to take care of your set needs, I say. 

Thanks again, Colbey, for the trade!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Food-Issue Friday: A *Food-Issued* Rookie

It's been a while since I've done a food-issue Friday entry- heck, it's been a while since I've posted anything- but I'm in a hotel room with not a lot to do, so what better time to catch up?

I remember mentioning a couple of years ago how I would really like to pick up an Ichiro 'Rookie Card' from the Keebler Mariner set. Part of this is due to a certain 'mystic' of other such oddball rookie cards from the past- Hammerin' Hank, Yount, and The Wizard-Ozzie Smith, just to name a few. I had since forgotten about that until recently, when Ichiro began his hot streak as he marches towards 3,000. About that time I saw a Keebler set listed on eBay for $10. It's not really a 'food-issue' but it's my blog, my rules. You dig?

I really don't know how much interest there is in the states these days, but I figured there might be some interest in the international market and decided I'd jump on the set just in case prices begin climbing. 

The cards themselves were a bit of a disappointment, as they remind me more of playing cards than trading cards. But the way they were distributed is an interesting story.

Handed out at Safeco Field on July 15, 2001, the 20,000 packs contained 28 cards- 20 of which were of all different players. The other 8, however, were all of the same player. The purpose of this was to encourage trading your duplicates with others in order to complete a set. 

Thankfully the set I received had all twenty eight unique cards. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Spring Card Show #3: Thr3e

My final purchase from this past weekend's card show was done, at least partially, out of wanting to give a particular dealer some business. He's a nice guy who's a veteran of the local card scene and whom I've bought starter sets (among other things) from in the past. He was supposed to be on the other side of the table this time, but a table had been cancelled at the last minute and he was asked if he could fill a table.

Two of the items were not 'must haves' but with a discounted price I figured why not? Plus, they fit with my Heritage habit of late...

The other item purchased from this dealer was the thing I really wanted. In fact, it took me back to my early teen years- as I had one of these from a preseason Seahawks/Cardinals game we attended in August of 1984. For $2 I could not pass this one up. In case you didn't know-- 80s NFL was the best.

Well, that's it for my card show pickups. Thanks for reading.