Monday, March 29, 2021

Almost There

As I mentioned in my previous posts I've been working on set builds and deciding which ones to complete. This will be a three-sport post thanks to an above average mailday but I'm going to focus mainly on my four basketball sets: 

I threw in the towel on my 1988-89 Fleer set build because I didn't want to spend $150+ on the Michael Jordan base card (and he's got an All-Star card at the end of the set.) If I wanted to, I could sell some of my high-grade Hall of Famers and buy a "raw" set, but that's a decision for another day.

Since the '88-89 set was too expensive to compile I thought I'd try the next best thing: 1989-90 Fleer. As of last week I (technically) needed just six cards: John Williams, Mike Woodson, Gerald Wilkins... and Larry, Magic, and MJ. Once I got within ten cards of completion I splurged $32.95 (plus tax) on the Jordan card:

If I were submitting this to PSA I'd be bothered by the yellow bubble on the right side border. But I'm not. 

With the "goat" in hand I'm absolutely going to finish this set. Heck, I'll even go for the master set since it only requires two additional cards. I have an incoming trade for three cards, which (if all goes well) will leave me with just Magic Johnson, both John Williamses, a checklist upgrade, and a Gerald Wilkins variation left to acquire.

The next basketball set build is an even smaller one: 1992-93 Topps Archives. As mentioned on my 1993 Blog I'd been trading for singles from this set just for the heck of it, and ended up with more than half the set. When I compared prices of the 1989-90 Fleer Jordan I noticed the price of his "First Topps Card" from Archives was as high - or even higher - than the Fleer issue. Since most of my Archives singles are in less than mint condition and I've got 46% of the set to go, I made the decision to abandon this set build. 

But then.. while I was at work today, I received a trade offer that saved this set from the scrap heap. A Canadian trader asked for three 1979-80 OPC hockey singles I'd just added to my tradelist last night. 

In return he's sending me seven Archives singles - all Hall of Famers (except Shawn Kemp.) One of them is the Michael Jordan card. The set build is still on!

Ah, but now it gets really difficult. Jon Pennysleeves (tm Julie) sent me a starter set of 2014-15 Panini Prizm a few years ago. I'd been plugging away at it here and there, until I got within six cards of completing the 300-card set. At one point the Giannis ("second year Prizm") was selling for $150. I held onto it because I was determined to complete this bad boy. At that time Joel Embiid's RC could be had for about $60. I kicked the tires but ultimately passed. 

Aaand it's more than double that now. Also, Zach LaVine sells for about $50. Andrew Wiggins was over $20 not that long ago but it's much cheaper today. I can't catch a break because Jordan Clarkson sells for a Jackson now. Jordan Clarkson. I nearly bought the Marcus Smart RC a couple times but passed. Oh, and I still need the Kevin Durant base card.

Sigh... this set is going to cost me a minimum of $200 to complete. But I really don't want to break it up. 

While I ponder that one a little more I decided to work on my 2015-16 Donruss near-set. This build began with two retail boxes purchased from Dave & Adams for a total of... $39.98 (plus tax/shipping)

I really wish I had a Crystal ball and stashed those two retail boxes because now D & A are asking slightly more for them. Wow.

Alas, I opened the boxes and began the set build. I only got one of the top three rookies (Karl-Anthony Towns) so I needed to track down Nikola Jokic and Kristaps Porzingis. Luckily I bought the "Joker" before the pandemic (for $3.05!!) and four of the five remaining rookies are no big deal. I found a TCDB user in Australia who was willing to trade me a Terry Rozier RC, so that knocks it down to four. 

The Unicorn was the big obstacle, so I searched eBay for his rookie and... snagged a copy for $5.05 after tax and shipping. Assuming those transactions go smoothly I'll have three more to go: Kelly Oubre (I pulled his autograph out of one box but not his RC), Jarrell Martin, and some guy named Christian Wood. Never heard of him. Is he good?

What. The. Fork?

Okay, yes, Wood has become a breakout star for the Houston Rockets. But this is a hundred dollar card, which I can only attribute to two factors:

  • Donruss was the only brand that made a Christian Wood rookie card (Porzingis has about a hundred more RCs to choose from.)

  • The hobby has gone absolutely insane

I might have to wait until this Rocket comes back down to Earth before continuing this set build.

Moving on to other sports.. I received three PWEs in today's mail - including two from fellow bloggers.

Here's the PWE from TCDB user jmkidd. I sent seven Seattle singles his way for these set fillers.

Robert is working on the 1986 Topps football set and I had a couple extras he needed, including a slightly creased Bruce Smith RC I'd just received as a freebie in a TCDB trade. Four of the cards I asked for are set fillers: the Upper Deck SP inserts and the 1988-89 Topps singles.

Last but not least we have a PWE from the aforementioned Jon, who contacted me about a Haywood Jeffires Sports Illustrated single after reading my post about the 1993 Houston Oilers

He also offered up some cards of UConn alum Richard Hamilton. No set fillers here, but all six cards were new to my collection. Jon, thanks for the nice Rip(s)!

It's high time I sent out some freebies to my loyal reader friends but instead I have an idea for a sort-of contest that combines Easter with my upcoming 500th post. Who's up for a blog "Easter Egg" hunt?

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 27, 2021

What Would You Do?

My last post got a ton of great comments (and I was afraid it was too wordy) so I'm going to try the "ask a question in the title" device again.

I've been contemplating the future of my unfinished set builds, specifically 1956 Topps baseball and 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee Hockey as they are graded set builds. For this post however I'm focusing on traditional non-graded sets that I'm very close to completing. Perhaps you can help me decide their fate.

By the way, it was 80+ degrees and sunny yesterday and I had to dig a pair of shorts out of my closet when I got home from work. The past 12-18 hours has felt like a summer weekend. Bring on the baseball!

I'm four cards away from completing the 2003 Finest baseball set*. They are all on the way to me via Sportlots, which seems to be taking for-ev-err because I chose the box option. (I'm such a noob.)

Once those are in hand I will be ten autographed cards away from assembling the complete set. Yes, the asterisk means that the 100-card veterans portion is not the entirety of the set. Of course not. However..

..the ten autographed rookies are not big names at all. The only names I know are Adam LaRoche(weirdo), #1 overall pick Bryan Bullington, and Daryl Clark - only because I pulled his auto back in the day. Most - if not all - of these could be acquired for a buck apiece. Is it worth spending $20 at most to have a true complete set?  


I've continued to plug away at the 2016 Donruss football set, which started with a hanger box or two. Four years and several TCDB trades later I'm down to three needs in the 300-card veterans portion. One of them - #18 Desmond Trufant - is on its way to me from user jmkidd. Once that PWE arrives (which could be today) I'll be two veterans and 24 rookies away from completing the full 400-card set. 

That number should be one fewer, as I received a PWE from Thunderfoot yesterday and learned that I already had a Keenan Reynolds RC #379. I needed a Kenyan Drake RC #381. My mistake. Or was it..?


Upon further review I'd asked for Kenyan and received Keenan instead. I also got a Vince Carter Chrome card with a crease in it. D'oh!

Most of the remaining rookie cards should be easy enough to acquire. However the three top quarterbacks are all missing from my binder: 

I really do not want to spend $30 or more on a Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Damn expensive ham.

I'm just glad I have the Pat McAfee base card. This frickin' punter sells for $10? Why, cause he has a podcast?

In my next post I'll discuss some basketball sets that are so close to completion - yet so far away. If you think the McAfee card is overpriced, wait till you see a certain 2016 Donruss NBA card!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!


Thursday, March 25, 2021

What kind of collector are you?

I think I've asked this before. There are certain bloggers who are definitely one type of collector. Collecting Cutch, The Lost Collector, and Nachos Grande have impressive single-player collections. Night Owl, Too Many Verlanders, and Cards on Cards concentrate on one or two teams. Of course player collectors can be team collectors and team collectors can be set collectors, and so on. 


I've never been able to narrow my focus. By now you probably know what teams and players I collect. I've got an entire 3-row shoebox for my Brett Favre collection, another for Peter Worrell, and another row or two for other favorite players. My Ikea bookshelf holds five full binders of Boston Red Sox base cards, three full binders of Green Bay Packers (plus the start of a fourth), and five binders of New Jersey Devils. 

The rest of the binders on my bookshelf are for complete sets. Not all of them, of course. According to TCDB I have 196 complete sets. Adding factory sets to the total pushes me over 200. Some of these are very small, five-card insert sets. Heck, TCDB counts this as a set - and I have all one of the cards. 

Over the past few months I've realized that certain parts of the hobby are no longer enjoyable for me. I doubt I'll ever buy another hobby box of.. anything. I'll never have a PSA membership again. COMC and the Beckett Marketplace have annoyed me (and I might be adding Sportlots to that list.. we'll see.) Investing in the latest prospects and budding superstars has been an absolute disaster

I can count on one hand the number of  high-value rookie cards I don't own that I truly, legitimately would like to buy before I die. I'm not even counting legends like Ted Williams or Wayne Gretzky, who are well out of my price range. And I'm not counting players like David Ortiz or Barry Sanders, who have affordable - but bland - rookie cards.

While I was doing my sports card soul-searching I thought about how I would answer the question What kind of collector are you? If you'd asked me a year or two ago I'd say that I'm now a low-end collector, like Dime Box Nick. Once I started going to card shows again I rediscovered the joy in pouring through dime and quarter boxes. One time I picked up nearly 200 dime cards. But then the dealers' inventory shrank, the pandemic hit, and my space dried up. Storage boxes and penny sleeves have doubled in price - and I'm almost out of both.

Within these dime boxes (both in person and online) I found the seeds of some set builds. Once I accumulated enough singles I augmented my purchases by trading on TCDB for more set fillers. Trading my duplicate cards from completed set builds to fill in other set builds sparked even more joy. 

As of this year if you asked me What kind of collector are you? I think I'd say I'm a set builder.

But here's the problem. I've got over two dozen incomplete sets in the works. Some are five-card insert sets. Others are suddenly a lot more expensive to complete than they were when I started them just a couple years ago. And as I approach my 500th post dedicated to sports cards I'm also approaching a crossroad: should I break up my great big set builds? If so, which ones?

Thankfully, not every set build is as daunting as the 1956 Topps set.

These 1989-90 Fleer basketball singles arrived in a trade with TCDB user Tigerfan22. I'm now just six cards away from completing the set - though three cards from previous trades need to be upgraded.

I made a trade with user Driver8k for four of these and he threw in three more - the team action and Record Breaker cards were a nice bonus. Holmoe was part of the trade with Tigerfan, while Walker was a replacement for a 1986 Topps football card he couldn't find (which I was only trying to upgrade anyhow.)

There are always more set builds to focus on further down the line. These five Prizm cards bring me to one-third of the 2015 set (100/300). 2019 Score isn't an official set build yet but thanks to Driver8k I'm at 27% completion (119/440).

I've got more set fillers on the way from TCDB and Sportlots - and I just made a fairly major purchase on eBay. Over the next few posts I will have more to share about the joys and challenges of trying to complete all these sets, culminating in my 500th post celebration later this spring.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Immaculate Collection

Here's something I've wanted to do for a while. About a year and a half ago I had a tab at the top of this blog documenting all my purchases of Panini Immaculate cards. It's in need of an update as I've added a few since the last count. The goal was to acquire as many of these cards as possible for less than the cost of an actual box of Immaculate -- which now sells for ... 

Oh holy sh*t. In my original post I was going off the $500-600 price point for a six-card box. I'd made an offer on an older box of immaculate at $400 and it was declined. So... that's as close as I'll ever come to buying a box of this stuff. Since I could theoretically buy hundreds of singles for less than $2,000 I think I'll leave them all here and discontinue the project (it's not like I'm going back to COMC any time soon.)

Scherzer and Barnes are the only two Immaculate singles I've received from bloggers (Dennis and Gavin respectively).

Here's the total breakdown for baseball:

yearsettypenameSN #dcostacquired from
2014Immaculate Swatches PatchrelicMax Scherzer49$0.00Dennis (TMV)
2015Shadowbox Signatures GoldautoMatt Barnes23$0.00Gavin (BCB)
2015Shadowbox SignaturesautoJosh Harrison99$2.25COMC
2017Immaculate SwatchesrelicTommy Henrich99$2.97Beckett Market
2017Immaculate CollectionbaseBuster Posey99$2.05COMC
2018Immaculate CollectionbaseJoe Jackson99$1.52COMC
2018Immaculate Legends BatrelicPaul Waner25$5.25COMC

total for baseball (7)

I flipped this Paul Waner relic on COMC for $10.13 before I'd officially begun hoarding Immaculate cards.

If Panini had an MLB license I'd have a lot more of these. Probably 25 or so, going by my totals in two other sports.

Here's the total breakdown for basketball:

2012-13Immaculate QuadsrelicBrooklyn Nets50$2.50COMC
2014-15Immaculate CollectionbaseLarry Bird99$2.88COMC
2014-15Immaculate CollectionbaseKyle Lowry99$1.15COMC
2014-15Immaculate StandardrelicGoran Dragic50$2.40COMC
2014-15Immaculate StandardrelicGary Harris75$2.02COMC
2014-15Immaculate StandardrelicBrook Lopez75$1.35COMC
2014-15Shadowbox SignaturesautoTom Chambers49$3.97COMC
2014-15Shadowbox Signatures GoldautoAlex English10$9.60COMC
2015-16Immaculate CollectionbaseGordon Hayward99$1.00COMC
2015-16Immaculate CollectionbaseDirk Nowitzki99$1.65COMC
2015-16Immaculate Coll. BronzeparallelTim Duncan49$3.25COMC
2015-16Immaculate Coll. BronzeparallelNerlens Noel99$0.78COMC
2015-16Immaculate Dual MemorabiliarelicDeMarre Carroll25$1.75COMC
2015-16Immaculate Memorabilia RedrelicAl Jefferson25$1.67COMC
2015-16Immaculate StandardrelicRay Allen75$4.90COMC
2015-16Immaculate StandardrelicSerge Ibaka75$1.15COMC
2015-16Shadowbox SignaturesautoDavid Thompson99$4.30COMC
2016-17Heralded SignaturesautoKenny Anderson99$6.00card show
2016-17Heralded SignaturesautoDan Majerle99$6.00card show
2016-17Historical SignifiganceautoRick Barry99$12.00card show
2017-18Immaculate Swatches GoldrelicXavier McDaniel10$7.30COMC
2018-19Marks of GreatnessautoHorace Grant99$15.00card show
2018-19Modern Marks GoldautoKevin Love10$15.00card show
2018-19 Immaculate SwatchesrelicChristian Laettner99$1.62COMC

total basketball (24)

Outside of COMC these singles get more expensive. I don't mind paying a premium at a card show though.


Four Immaculate basketball cards I purchased are no longer in my collection. I flipped three of them on COMC, earning a grand total of $1.44 in profit (I should have just kept the cards) and I sent one to Kerry.

My favorite subset/insert set under the Immaculate brand are the acetate relics from 2015 football. They're numbered to each player's uniform number, which makes certain players (such as Brett Favre) very tough to obtain.

Here's the total breakdown for football:

2015Immaculate CollectionbaseLen Dawson99$0.95COMC
2015Immaculate CollectionbaseMarshall Faulk99$0.95COMC
2015Immaculate CollectionbaseAdrian Peterson99$1.75COMC
2015Immaculate CollectionbaseRoddy White99$0.88COMC
2015Immaculate CollectionbaseLaDanian Tomlinson99$1.22COMC
2015Immaculate Collection GoldparallelJulio Jones25$1.00COMC
2015Immaculate Collection GoldparallelMichael Strahan25$1.45COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicTim Brown81$5.00COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicEric Dickerson29$14.27COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicT. Y. Hilton13$4.52COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicSteve Largent80$8.75COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicJordy Nelson87$16.25COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicAdrian Peterson28$22.99Beckett Market
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicRoddy White84$1.95COMC
2015Immaculate NumbersrelicLaDanian Tomlinson21$24.00eBay
2017Immaculate CollectionbaseEric Dickerson99$1.62COMC
2017Immaculate CollectionbaseJohn Elway99$1.25COMC
2017Immaculate CollectionbaseBrett Favre99$2.20COMC
2017Immaculate PatchesrelicJordan Reed8$8.45COMC
2018Immaculate CollectionbaseDavante Adams99$1.12COMC
2018Immaculate CollectionbaseDrew Brees99$1.65COMC
2018Immaculate CollectionbaseLeonard Fournette99$0.95COMC
2018Immaculate CollectionbasePeyton Manning99$2.00COMC
2018Immaculate NumbersrelicTerrell Suggs55$2.50COMC
2019Immaculate Players GU/AUMorten Andersen99$26.66eBay

total for football (25)

I flipped one football card on COMC: a Steve Largent gold parallel which earned another $1.34 in profit. 
Shoulda brought this one home, too.

Including cards I've flipped for a tiny profit on COMC (and the one card I sent to Kerry) I have spent a total of $290.36 on 60 Immaculate singles. There aren't any "sick hits" in my stack but I think it's a better value than a 6-card box - even at pre-Covid pries:

Thanks for reading!