Sunday, April 24, 2022

Long Weekend

I spent a few days in Boston. My daughters wanted to see some historical landmarks so we visited the Old State House, South Meeting House, Freedom Trail, and Paul Revere House.

There were some Topps cards in the Old State House:

I sent my former manager G a postcard. Told her I miss my restoration "family" and wished her a happy spring. Asked about her daughter's cheer competition and told her to let me know how it goes. I ended the message by saying hi to K-dub and Baldy. And no one else.

On Wednesday we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. While waiting outside some Masshole asked me if I was a Celtics fan. I was wearing a Vegas Golden Knights hat. I told him no. "Why not?" He shouted outside the passenger's side window. I don't dislike the Celtics, they're fine. And I'm happy that they're beating Brooklyn. But I root for players, not a specific team. That would take too long to explain so I just told him I wasn't from Boston. "No? Then what the fuck are you doing here?" Good question.

Red Auerbach statue at Quincy Market. My nine year old saw the plaque with Larry Bird's shoes to Red's left and surmised that this was Larry legend.

Stopped into Newbury Comics. My daughter got a squishmallow. I saw a scattering of sports cards but balked at the price: $40 for a blaster of UD hockey; $8 per pack. $4 for a pack of MVP hockey. There was Topps baseball but I couldn't see the price tag. Probably $40 for a blaster there, too. I got excited for a second when I saw Panini Prizm.. but it was a wrestling blaster.

Newbury had a pack of regular-sized top loaders: $10.99 for 25. Same price for ten super-thick top loaders. No thanks.

Alex Ovechkin hit 50 goals for the ninth time. I'm hoping Jonathan Huberdeau wins the Art Ross trophy because he won't win the Hart. Mike Bossy passed away before my vacation started. Guy Lafleur passed away while I was in Boston.

Watched a Red Sox game Friday night. The Sox nearly took a 7-2 lead but Travis Shaw's home run was ruled foul. The Rays had runners on and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth so I turned it off. Somehow Boston's bullpen held on for the 4-3 win.

Someone needs to explain to me why this guy is Josh LOW

.... but this guy is Brandon LOWE(as in oww!)

Miguel Cabrera collected his 3,000th hit while I was gone. Shout-out to the Rockies for having the guts to pitch to him.

The weather was nearly flawless while I was on vacation. In Jersey it rains every other day, and every single Saturday. Aside from some brisk wind every day was perfect.

We spent Saturday in Salem. On the way up I passed two sports cards and memorabilia stores in Saugus. They were right off the highway but we'd left Boston without eating breakfast. If we were going to stop it would have to be on the way back.

While the Mrs. went looking for distant relatives at the burial ground I ambled about town haunted by a more recent past.

In between the shops and the cemeteries a bubbly blonde woman clapped when she saw me. No one has been excited to see me in quite some time. "Are you from Las Vegas?" She asked me. I had to tell her I wasn't. She apologized for stopping me and explained that she's a big Golden Knights fan. "That's awesome!" I replied. Was no trouble at all for me, in fact it was nice to be interesting for a moment.

I have now become the guy who wears hats for the logo and colors, rather than the loyalty to team. My tween self would be so disappointed.

At least it disturbed me from my crystalline stupor.

We left Salem around 2pm. The GPS didn't send us through Saugus on the trip home. It sent us to Peabody.

So close, yet so far away. This wasn't on our itinerary, therefore the driver did not stop. Maybe next time.

We stopped at my mom's on the way home. I was exhausted and in a mood so it hit up eBay. Bought three singles from the same seller, all set fillers. One was a Patrice Bergeron RC.. to commemorate my trip to Boston.

When I got home I had three PWEs waiting for me, including the custom cards from Gregory at Nine Pockets. I'll show those off soon.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Window Shopping, Non-Sports Edition

While finalizing my current COMC order (and doing some Challenges to pay for said order) I've come across some interesting cards. At least three to five times per session I'll hit 'add to watch list' and wait for a price to pop up. Usually the prices are more than I want to pay, and I remove them. This first card is no exception. However it did pique my curiosity, as I am unfamiliar with non-sports issues and why they cost so much.

I'm not a Comic Book Guy at all but I instantly recognized Melissa Benoist as Supergirl on this single. Melissa is one of my favorite famous women even though I'm scarcely familiar with her work. That won't stop me from capturing her cardboard though! (I honestly don't watch much sports anymore, either.) 

 I had no idea what X Crisis was but I added it to my list. A few days later the price popped up: $10.23 on sale. Huh? What? ... Why?

Again, I know next to nothing about non-sports. This is apparently a promo card for a set called Crisis on Infinite Earths released by Cryptozoic czX in 2020. If you thought it was tough to find baseball cards during the pandemic...

[Upon further review it appears the promo card was released in '20 but the set itself was delayed until this year - since it is listed as a 2022 issue.] 

A Supergirl trading card set was released in 2018, and I was able to pick up a couple base cards of Melissa as both Kara Danvers and her alter ego:

These were less than a dollar each in winter '18-19. The prices are kinda all over the place now ($50 for a base card?!?)  As for the Infinite Earths issue, it appears to be a high-end product along the lines of Topps Museum Collection or Triple Threads:

Definitely not busting anything that expensive, sports or non-sports. But I thought I'd search the secondary market for some interesting singles. That's where I found another pricing anomaly.

COMC has dual and triple relic cards of Melissa available from $50 to $72.25. That's a lot higher than a memorabilia card of a sports star, but those have been on the market for 20+ years and even deceased legends have had their jerseys and equipment cut up so many times that the supply far exceeds demand.

The anomaly is in the non-relic low-numbered STR PWR inserts. Both of those are priced higher than the wardrobe relics. And before you can say "different sellers, different prices"..the relics and inserts are all owned by the same seller. I'm trusting their judgement since we've established I don't know sh!t.

Since each of those $400 boxes promises one on-card autograph (and actors sign far fewer trading cards than athletes do) you would assume that a Melissa Benoist auto is the big prize and sells for a lot of coin.

But.. would you believe they've sold for well over four figures?!? Granted this one is a dual auto Melissa shares with a personalized signature from Brandon Routh. And this one is a 1/1 sketch card.

She's alone on this next single. It's numbered to 100 and chipped a tiny bit at the bottom. This one can't be a thousand bucks.. can it?

Nah. This one sold for $1,400. And this is why I don't collect non-sports products. If prices were comparable to baseball or hockey products I'd have her and Anna Kendrick and Kristen Bell and Jennifer Lawrence in my collection a dozen times over. (Kristen's auto is actually affordable by comparison.)

There is another actress in this set that I sort-of like. I'd kept my eye on Katherine McNamara a few years ago, when she was an orange-haired rising star (a "prospect" if you will.)

I even watched her show Shadowhunters for a while. My former manager G (whom I miss as much as Office Girl) was a big fan of the show Arrow and mentioned that Kat was in that, too. "She's a badass." G said.

Unfortunately for me there was no trading card release for the Shawdowhunters series and the only Arrow trading cards pre-dated her character's inclusion in that show. 

But! This Crisis On Infinite Earths set includes Mia Smoak somehow (don't ask me how the multiverse works.) Four years ago I'd been on the hunt for a Katherine auto, thinking she'd be just well-known enough to have an autographed trading card but not so famous that it would blow out my budget:

Put your money where your mouth is, big boy. Because our KitKat's got an on-card auto now.

Oh for frick's sake! Nevermind.

Kat doesn't have any wardrobe relics in the set, and her serial-numbered STR PWR insert is more expensive than Melissa's. Plus she's got an eye mask on and it's not the best photo. I'd buy it for a buck or two, maybe. And since it was well over a buck or two -- in the neighborhood of a high-grade Juan Soto rookie card -- it appeared that I would go home empty-handed. No new Melissa Benoist cards and no Kat McNamara cards would fit in my budget.

That is, until I scrolled through all Crisis singles and found... a base card!

This was not labeled under McNamara or Mia. Like any super premium sports card sets the base cards seem to be an afterthought. I've mentioned how much I enjoy picking up cheap singles from Panini Immaculate Collection on COMC and eBay, since I'll never be able to afford a box. Same principle applies here.

It took me over an hour to earn enough challenge credit for this card but I found a way to add Kat to my collection (and I even had a little left over for a cheapo hockey card.) Oh, and Melissa Benoist is on the back:

Bonus! 😊

Thanks for reading, and Happy Easter!


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Window Shopping, Sports Edition

I've been dismayed by the lack of originality in recent sets. It seems like the monopolies that produce sports trading cards are only interested in recreating past designs. That's.. not always a bad thing. I've picked up some cheap singles that pay tribute to my all-time favorite sets. And I'd love to own a couple of these:

You all remember the Fleer Pro-Visions inserts from the early 1990s, but did you know Upper Deck brought them back in 2020 as an insert for their Credentials hockey set? I sure didn't.

I've seen some singles of the Credentials base and parallel sets but had no idea that these existed until a couple weeks ago. Trading Card Database lists them as an 'unannounced insert' - so even if one were to buy a hobby box there would be no indication that these beauties were possible pulls.

The Connor McDavid card above is one of six such inserts in the Credentials Pro-Visions set (and the only one sold out on COMC.) Might as well show you the whole set here. These next two aren't particularly interesting to me, but let me know what you think in the comments:

I'm not exactly sure what's going on with Brent Burns here. Are animals flocking to him because of his long beard? The back refers to him as Chewbacca, but that doesn't explain the wildlife. And that's.. a Texas state flag?!? Last time I checked, the Ontario native plays for a California team. Am I missing something here?

Toews and his comically large hand are showing off three Stanley Cup rings. It's incredibly simple, but at least it makes sense.

It figures that these two are the only singles available for under $10. This next one is exactly $10 and I like it a lot - I just wouldn't buy it because the team and player aren't among my favorites:

The Rangers' return to contention is so far ahead of the Devils I don't even want to discuss it. However their young stars have not developed as expected. Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere were gifts from the lottery gods - who have totaled 39 points this season combined. Even if he never produces to the level of a #2 overall pick this is still a killer Kaako card. 

And since I mentioned lottery picks (and Devils).. here's the sixth card in the set:

How frickin cool is this Jack Hughes card? The Devils are dead last again but it ain't this guy's fault. He was absolutely on fire before an MCL sprain shortened his season. Even if I wasn't a Devils fan this would be my favorite card in the set. McDavid and Kaako would be next on my shopping list based on  artwork alone.

If I were actually throwing down $25+ for these cards I'd pick up Hughes and Alex Ovechkin:

The reference here -- which was a lot more enjoyable before this year -- is a quote from his rookie season: Russian machine never breaks

The Ovechkin insert above sells for $40 on COMC. I've spent less than that on the 51 singles currently in my inventory so I won't be adding Alex to my cart any time soon. Perhaps I'll get the Hughes one day. I'm sure the Mrs wouldn't mind that one nearly as much as the non-sports singles that have caught my eye lately....

Here's a Trevor Story Topps Inception parallel that I tried squeezing into my budget:

This card is only $2.75 but a) I only had $6.50 my account and b) I need to save $5 to pay for shipping. Out of curiosity I searched the seller's other items and that's when I found this beauty:

If this is supposed to be 1994 Flair it's missing something. Was Mary Jane always this sexy?

In my next post I'll discuss some cards of real-life women - who play comic book characters on-screen. The prices of those cards are astonishing, and definitely beyond my budget.. except for one ;)

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Set Building Progress Report - Baseball

The 2022 baseball season is about to begin! Why not celebrate the occasion with an update on my baseball set builds? 

I'm not attempting a 2022 Topps set build, but I've picked up some singles in TCDB trades. I had to bite the bullet and buy a small binder at Staples for Red Sox overflow; Dime Box Nick filled up the last of my five full-sized Boston binders!

Some more flagship singles I recently acquired. Three of these four aces have World Series rings; the other has pitched for the Astros and Yankees 😜

I'm still chipping away at inserts from two sets nearly a quarter-century apart: 1993 Fleer Ultra and 2017 Topps Heritage. And I need Nolan Ryan in each of them!

His Strike Out Kings card would complete that six-card set. I also need two Home Run Kings inserts - Joe Carter and Barry Bonds. (No plans to finish other '93 Ultra insert sets at the moment.)  This Flashback insert of a young Ryan is the only 2017 Topps Heritage insert I need that isn't a Topps Game card. Just yesterday I picked up a Jake Arrieta single from the 'main' Topps Game insert set on COMC. That means Anthony Rizzo is the only other card I need - unless I decide to pursue the tough Rookie 'Game' insert sets.

2013 Topps Update is nearly complete, thanks to these recent acquisitions from COMC:

Puig my friend. The rest of these guys... not so much. Although I've got nothing against Gattis or Didi. I was lucky to snag the Cole RC (the one on the left) for $4.25; they're usually at least $6 on the site. However I passed on a chance to procure the Mike Trout All-Star card (#300) for $3.00 and now the cheapest copy is over $5. You win some, you lose some.

Aside from that Trout I only need the Nolan Arenado RC.. and maybe a Grant Green upgrade.

It's a similar story for my 2014 Topps set build: I need a Mike Trout, a star third baseman's rookie card, and an upgrade of a common card. Four more cards - including a Trout checklist and Marcus Semien's RC - are waiting in my COMC inventory, leaving me with the 'base' Trout (#1), a Logan Morrison upgrade, and a rookie card of recently-extended Guardians slugger Jose Ramirez to finish off '14 Flagship.

And then there's 2018 Topps Chrome. I've been chipping away at this one as much as I can, through trades:

I traded a PWE full of 2014 Topps blue parallels for these

COMC purchases:

And Sportlots. I found a seller who had three rookies I need and charged just 95 cents shipping for up to four cards. Once those arrive - and the four COMC is holding for me now - I'll have just six cards left to acquire:

  • #12 Tyler Mahle RC
  • #25 Rafael Devers RC
  • #66 Max Fried RC
  • #72 Ozzie Albies RC
  • #150 Shohei Ohtani RC
  • #193 Ronald Acuna Jr. RC

Eeek! I can see myself giving up on this set build six cards away from completion, like I did with the 2014-15 Panini Prizm basketball set. Not to get too off-topic but I needed the Joel Embiid and, rather than pay $150+ for that card during the pandemic, I broke up the set and earned about $150 for the lots I sold. Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season and that Prizm RC has actually gone... down. Huh?!?

Not ready to throw in the towel on the 2018 Chrome set yet.

Future Projects

Aside from a few 1993 inserts (Score Franchise, Donruss Diamond Kings) the only other baseball sets I'd consider building are 2010 Topps and 2012 Topps. That would give me a complete ten-year run of flagship - which is certainly tempting. I already have the 2012 Topps Trout, so that will save me $10-20.

However I'm nowhere close to completing either issue. I've actually got a higher percentage of 2010 Topps Chrome(20.9%) and Update(17.9%) than the main set (15.6%). I'm barely at 10% of the error-filled 2012 "surfboard" set, and I'd need the Bryce Harper RC to complete that one.

How many Topps flagship sets have you completed by hand? Do you own any Topps factory sets? Have you spent $25 (or more) on a single card to complete a recent set?


Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Baseball cards COMC to life

I recently made a trade with Bo (Baseball cards Come To Life) after inquiring about his 1971 Topps Senators team card:

... which he received in a Texas Rangers lot. This one is in really nice shape considering the pesky black borders chip easily. It looks a little pinkish but that's probably the photo more than the card itself.

Bo had some other cards on my wantlist and we agreed to a PWE swap. You can see his end of the trade here

I received nine cards, including two from my birth year. I've been on the hunt for a Dave Stieb RC for a while, especially since the Secret Base documentary debuted.

Rickey Henderson fans will be very interested in this segment ;-)

I also picked up a pair of New Haven Ravens for my Connecticut collection:

TCDB tells me I have 50.5% of all Ravens cards ever produced. I'm sure there are some team sets or oddballs they don't have posted but if that's accurate I am very pleased.

Here's a pair of 1972-style Topps cards - an original Dave Giusti and a Wilbur Wood from 2004 All-Time Fan Favorites. Both cards are candidates for my All-Time Teams binder, which I plan to update aft the conclusion of the 2022 MLB season.

The last two cards from Bo are upgrades for completed sets.

This 1993 SP Carl Everett foil is far less scratched than my copy (upgrade on the left, original on the right.)

I've been trying to upgrade this 2012 Topps Archives Jordan Walden card for nearly a decade. The copy on the right came out of the pack with white scratch lines and I resisted paying 50 cents or more for a clean copy. I'm assuming the BaseballCardStore didn't have one because I'd surely pay 5-10 cents for an upgrade. Regardless I didn't have pay a penny to because Bo came in clutch.

Bo, thanks for another great trade!

I'm working on COMC challenges as I type this so why not show off some cards from my most recent shipment.

At the top we have a John Tavares OPC Retro parallel I picked up for 26 cents, along with a Big Papi base card from 2020 Stadium Club (38 cents). In the middle row a pair of Pristine singles - the Alexander Semin is an 'uncommon' numbered to 699 - not considered an RC, and not considered necessary for my 'complete' set. Still, I couldn't pass it up for 74 cents. Dominic Moore is an actual 'base' RC, numbered to 1199, and that one cost a dollar. I'm one card away from completing the base portion - but it's a big one.

Btw, Topps Prisitne is returning this year (supposedly, Topps products are so unreliable these days) I doubt I'll be able to afford a pack, much less a box, but I might have to try for old time's sake. 

February... lol

Two of the cards I was most excited about in my last order were these Alex Ovechkin Game Dated Moments singles. The top card depicts him passing Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL's all-time goals list (which he did on my wife's birthday.) The second card commemorates his placing fifth all-time a month earlier.

I can't wait to acquire the next Ovechkin card in the series - when he passed Jaromir Jagr for third all-time. Btw, these three cards were the fifth, seventh, and eight-most expensive in my previous order - the Allure Red Prizm was the highest price at $2.85.

I'm even more excited to send away for my next order - it's got some vintage goodness I can't wait to inspect in-hand - but I'd like to have at least 50 cards in my cart first (I'm at 34 now). Better get back to those challenges :D

Thanks for reading!