Monday, April 14, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Hobby Box

For the past couple of years this has been the product that I keep going back to. Topps Gypsy Queen is a very close version of another Allen and Ginter product but keeps to Baseball only specifics. 2014 Gypsy Queen is in for another great year in the hobby. 

The richness of the design and photography bring collectors back each year to complete the set. 300 cards deep with 50 SP's to collect is the continued standard for this product each year. New into the fold are 50 Reverse Negatives to hunt down. I'm not a fan of these in any product but I can only assume Topps was trying it out this year. Framed Parallel's are back with Blue numbered to 499, White (Retail) and Silver 1/1. 

One of the successes of Gypsy Queen are the Mini's. These of course are back and include Black, Red, Sepia, Wood, and Leather parallel's. These are always in high demand and tough to complete a full set. The Mini's also have 100 SP's to collect which are found in packs and Mini Box Toppers (Hobby Box only). 

A couple of new Mini Parallel's to hit this year are 151 Clear Mini Framed and Graphite (each 1/1) and Mini Birth Year Pennies (100 cards) all 1/1. Speaking of new editions, Topps also has introduced Around the Horn Pop-up Autographed Book cards, Dual and Triple Autographed Relics, Bat Barrels, Dual and Triple Button Relics, and Hometown Flag Patches. 

There is a lot of things jam packed into the 2014 edition of Gypsy Queen. Some say to keep things the way they are and continue with the "tradition" of the original release. Well this could be true for a couple of new items like the Hometown Flags and the Birth Pennies, but all in all Topps has produced another great product into our hobby to enjoy. 

Lets find out how we did in our box break;

Base Cards: 181 (0 doubles)
Base Card SP: 6 - Tanaka (RC), Boggs, Trout, Hunter, B. Hamilton (RC), S. Gray
Base Card Blue Paper Parallel: 2 - George Brett /499, Jonathan Schoop /499
Base Card Mini: 19
Base Card Mini SP: 1 - Hunter Pence
Base Card Black: 3 - Posey /150, Ziegler /150, J. Fernandez (SP) /150
Base Card Sepia: 1 - Willie Mays (SP) /50
Base Card Mini Box SP: 10 - Trout, Johnson, Fielder, Martinez, Goldschmidt, Sandoval, Smith, Ryan, Schmidt, Napoli
N174 Gypsy Queen: 6 - Jeter, Puig, Ruth, Rivera, Ripken, Jackson
Dealing Aces: 6 - Price, Bumgarner, Lee, Kershaw, Strasburg,Wainwright
Debut All-Stars: 4 - Longoria, Fielder, Harvey, Hernandez
Glove Stories: 4 - Jeter, Crawford, Puig, Gomez
Game Used: 2 - Zack Wheeler, Gio Gonzalez (Mini Framed)
Autographs: 2 - Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Martinez
Printing Plate: 1 - Brandon Moss 1/1

Lets start with the basics. 2014 comes in with another great vintage design which brings to live each player in the 350 card set. Our box didn't have any doubles which provides some hope in completing a 300 card set without SP's in two boxes. The SP's are tough even at only 50, and with some of the big names included your sure to pay a bit to complete your set.
How can you not love Mini's? They really bring the old time cards into our recent products. Only 1 of our Mini SP's came from a pack with the rest being from the Mini Box. The Black and Sepia borders are great looking. Mini's will always be fun to collect and trade among collectors.
Inserts in Gypsy Queen are just as nice as the Base Cards. Plus depending on who you pull just as valuable. Glove Stories always have great shots of amazing plays and the newly added Debut All-Stars is a nice add of players in their rookie days at an All-Star game.  
Another new insert the N174 are pretty cool and provide an even stronger presence of vintage to the product. The feel and look of the Framed Base are pretty cool. Adding the serial numbering helps this insert in the secondary market and also gives a very strong collecting notion to collectors. Grabbing your favorite team or player would be the best way to go with these instead of the full set. 
If you love on-card autographs, this is a product for you. It doesn't matter who you pull or which team for some collectors looking for this in a product. Gypsy Queen again delivers the on-card autograph and it is nothing but great. Both players we pulled weren't the top of the checklist nor a team we collect, however being on-card these will keep their value over time compared to sticker autographs.  
This was definitely a Pitcher collect box, as our two Relics were also pitchers. Happy to pull the Wheeler for our PC and the Mini relic of Gio is a great presentation. Mini relics always do well and this year will be no different.
We managed to pull a printing plate out of our box for the second year in a row. This is always a treat and extra bonus you can find in a box. Printing plates don't have the same flare as they did when first introduced, but like anything if you pull the right one your in for some big returns.

Overall I'm very happy with the 2014 edition of Gypsy Queen. Another great looking set with lots to collect. It really has something for everyone that collects baseball. These hobby boxes can be a hit or miss and some might even consider this box to be a miss. Sure looking at just the Hits pulled I can see it, but when you combine that with 60% of the 300 card set pulled, the multiple inserts, the multiple Mini's and parallel Mini's this is a no brainer buy for a collector. If your looking for more out of this like one high end Autograph or Relic you should stay away. This product is strictly for set collectors and baseball nuts like myself to have a lot of fun ripping open the packs and enjoying the fullness of the product.

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Memorabilia: 4/5
Autographs: 4.5/5
Parallels: 5/5
Inserts: 4/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Press Pass NASCAR Total Memorabilia

It's been a long time since a new product caught my eye like this one did. 2014 Press Pass Total Memorabilia is a high end NASCAR release that is sure to get the attention of all racing collectors. Press Pass has always brought some very cool designs and memorabilia to racing fans and this year is no different.

With being a high end product you are limited to only 5 packs per box with 9 cards per pack. The breakdown for the 45 cards you will find is 25 base cards, 5 base parallels, 5 NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaques, 5 Acceleration inserts and 5 Autograph or Memorabilia cards.

Each pack of this product is providing you some good value where you'll find 1 Autographed or Memorabilia card. With NASCAR memorabilia, there are always multi color or nice big pieces put into the cards which bring you that much closer to your favorite drivers.

The Base Card set is only 50 cards deep so you will need to crack open at least 2 boxes in order to collect it. This is the same for the Acceleration Inserts (only 10 in the set) and the NASCAR Plaques are 25 cards to collect.

Getting back to the Memorabilia of this product, each card is numbered with the highest being only /275 (Retail) /175 (Hobby) and the lowest being 1/1. The Autographs are even more scare than the Memorabilia as they are between /125 and /5 for the Rising Stars and between /10 to 1/1 for the 14 Veterans listed. The items listed for the memorabilia range from Hats, Gloves, Shoes, Shirt, Sheet Metal, Tires, Firesuit,  and Windshields.  That's a lot packed into trading cards, and all look pretty cool.

Another cool thing is only Tony Stewart Autographed Memorabilia cards are redemption's, everything else is live in packs. Press Pass has always been great about this on all NASCAR products.

You'll find boxes around the $100-$125 range which broken down is not too bad for a high end product that yields a hit per pack. Especially with the low serial numbered checklist this was an intriguing product from the start.

Lets find out how we did in our box break;

Base Cards: 20 (0 doubles)
Base Card Gold Parallels: 4 - Menard, Mears, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson Cup Champion (all /175)
Acceleration Insert: 4 - Edwards, Truex Jr., Earnhardt, Kyle Busch
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaques: 3 - Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Maurice Petty
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaques Holo Foil: 1 - Bill France Jr.
Total Memorabilia Dual-Gold: 2 - Trevor Bayne (Tire/Sheet Metal) /150, Kasey Kahne (Tire/Sheet Metal) /150
Total Memorabilia Quad-Melting: 2 - Martin Truex Jr. (Sheet Metal, Firesuit, Glove, Shoe) /25, Marcos Ambrose (Sheet Metal, Firesuit, Glove, Hat) /25
Clear Cuts Windshield Melting: Dale Earnhardt Jr. /25

This is a very strong and pretty awesome product overall. The base cards and parallels are nice with the foil technology however a couple of things noticed. On the front you'll notice it says "Since" near the bottom left of the card. The Right side was to say the year they joined Cup racing but that is missing. Might be a miss on all cards as every card I pulled was the same. Secondly, using this thin stock can cause some chipping around the foil area of the cards. Be careful pulling them out of the packs.
Both inserts, Acceleration and Plaques are basic looking and similar to other inserts found in Press Pass NASCAR products. Nothing too special on this ones and might have expected a little more from a high end product. Managed to pull only 1 Holo-Foil which was the France Plaque. 
The Dual-Gold memorabilia of Bayne and Kahne were good pulls. The Bayne Sheet Metal has some nice damage to it and Kahne's Tire has some wear on it. Also Kahne's serial number is his car #, small bonus on that one.
Both of our Quad-Melting cards had some great pieces included. The Truex card has multi-color Sheet Metal and Firesuit. Ambrose's pieces of Hat and Glove are both cool as they almost jump right out of the card at you. Both cards numbered out of only /25 and both providing low numbered card quality on the pieces they carry.
Last but not least is one of the thickest cards I've ever pulled in a break. The Earnhardt Windshield card is simply amazing. New this year to the Press Pass memorabilia pieces able to pull and yet again another cool piece. The Windshield in the card spans from the front to the back of the card and leaves little room for the outside layer of the card. 
Most of the cards since online have been clear but ours is the top black piece of the windshield which is pretty interesting. The scan and pictures don't really show the detail of the black on the windshield but in person it's a special piece of memorabilia.  

This is a very recommended product for all you NASCAR collectors. The Base Card designs are great and the Memorabilia cards can't get any better. We didn't pull an Autographed card but very happy with all of our 5 hits we came up with. our total cards from the box was 37 but this was due to the hard to pull Windshield card which is simply awesome. NASCAR products are different from other sports as your only dealing with 43 drivers and some rising stars. A much better chance of pulling your favorite driver or comparable driver that provides you great value. 

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Memorabilia: 5/5
Parallels: 4/5
Inserts: 3/5
Concept: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who to collect in the 2014 MLB season Part 2 - National League

We featured Part 1 with the American League on Tuesday. Today we dive into the Senior Circuit. 2014 should be a good one for those in the NL. Collectors also should have a have time stocking up on youth and superstar talent.

Finishing this 2 Part series is the National League;

Atlanta Braves:
Don't hesitate: Chipper Jones
- Yes he's retired and yes he'll be in the HOF someday soon. So why not pick up some nice graded RC's before they jump in price. Chipper's Autographs aren't cheap but you can grab a couple decent relic cards for your collection while hunting down his RC's.
Watch for the breakout: Andrelton Simmons
- I know there is a theme with Shortstops in our reviews but this is yet another one to grab and hold. He had a really good season last year and will continue to build on this in 2014. With already one Gold Glove on his resume, look for bigger things in the field and at the plate.
Be Cautious: Evan Gattis
- If he had a fixed home on the field he would be one to collect. The Braves don't seem to have a plan for him currently which will be the reason his values won't be higher right now. Best thing for Gattis would be a trade. If that happens buy, buy, buy.

Miami Marlins
Don't hesitate: Jose Fernandez
- Love the way he plays the game. As a pitcher being cocky is a good thing. Gets you in trouble sometimes but more so his pitching will backup his words. He'll be good for years to come. When and where he is traded to will only increase his value.
Watch for the breakout: Adeiny Hechavarria
- Who you might say. He very well could be the modern day Omar Vizquel.  He is great in the field and has been building up his hitting the last year. One of my own PC players even after being traded from Toronto in the Jose Reyes deal. Has a lot of potential, if his bat picks up he'll be a good one for years. Just leave some cards for me ok.
Be Cautious:  Garrett Jones
- Not a well known collected guy unless you lived in Pittsburgh the last few years. Recently signed a two year contract to play for the worst team in the Majors. The park is too big and won't work for Jones throughout the two years. He might have a good month or two but don't jump on his cards anytime soon.

New York Mets
Don't hesitate: Noah Syndergaard
- There are about 3 other players that could be here but Syndergaard might be the best under rated player in the system. This kid has lightening stuff as a pitcher and will be apart of an amazing pitching staff in the near future. They might not be able to hold him back too long and bring him up this year. Watch out once he's on the 40-man roster, he'll be sticking around for a while.
Watch for the breakout: Travis D'Arnaud
- I don't get too excited about catchers but D'Arnaud might just be the one of the best of his era. Another Toronto prospect that came over in a deal, this guy is going to be a solid player and should see some good pitches to hit in the Mets decent lineup.
Be Cautious:  Matt Harvey
- This was a tough one. Harvey is one of the best young arms in the league but when he needed to have surgery this year he made everyone question if this would be a trend. I personally hope not as he can win multiple Cy Young awards if healthy on this team. Lets see after the surgery how he does.

Philadelphia Phillies
Don't hesitate: Cole Hamels
- The best player on this team is one that will be traded at some point to a contender. Once he leaves Philly his value will increase. Currently you can grab some decent cards of Hamels on the cheap.
Watch for the breakout: Domonic Brown
- Too much pressure on Brown when he first came up and his value dropped. He might just be in line to have a really good season and rise his value. He cards are at a lower price now but could start creeping up as he does better. Be on the watch.
Be Cautious:  Rollins, Utley, Howard
- At one time these were the three top players in the league. Now they are on a do not buy list. There older now and should have been traded away a couple of years ago. They aren't going to help the Phillies back to any playoff caliber team and they aren't looking at HOF careers anymore. Even if they have a good season they won't bring the value back afterwards.

Washington Nationals
Don't hesitate: Bryce Harper 
- Just like Trout, you can't avoid this superstar. He's he real deal and continue to get better each year. If he stays off the injury path he'll be around for a long time. If you find an RC, autograph or relic at a decent price buy it and ask if they have anymore.
Watch for the breakout: Tyler Moore
- Not too well known but will be soon. This guy is just waiting his time until he becomes a starter on this team. He can flat out hit and will be a force with Harper for years to come. Might see a struggle once up full time but just watch for him to come alive.
Be Cautious: Anthony Rendon
- With one surgery under his belt he'll try to make a come back this year. Rendon has a lot of potential but again with the injury last year this could set him back for a while. Hopefully he'll still produce as his projections but time will tell.

Chicago Cubs
Don't hesitate: Kris Bryant / Javier Baez 
- The best farm system currently and will be a force once they are up in the majors. They are both two years out from making the club but are already a big presence in the hobby. Both of these guys will be future all-stars and might help the Cubs reach the World Series in about five-seven years. Big things for both of these players.
Watch for the breakout: Mike Olt
- Changing from the Rangers over to the Cubs was a good thing for Olt. He now just needs to become comfortable. If he plays the full season he will be putting balls over that short porch in Wrigley for years to come. Another one of the young guys that will help the Cubs go far.
Be Cautious: Anthony Rizzo
- His cards are so temping to buy with the cheap prices for this talented player. However the amount of pressure he has on him is not going to help him. Don't think he will just turn things around and expect what he's been putting out. If collectors keep expectations low you'll be happier and save some money for other players worth their value.

Cincinnati Reds
Don't hesitate: Joey Votto 
- The best Canadian baseball player since Larry Walker will continue to put up MVP numbers each year. His cards aren't too expensive and can only increase as he'll be reaching some history marks in his career.
Watch for the breakout: Jay Bruce 
- Can he get any better? He sure can, Bruce is raking up some big numbers each year and this might be his best year yet. His values are very affordable and you should buy now before his values increase to superstar highs.
Be Cautious: Billy Hamilton
- The fastest man on the field just might only have that tool to use. He will be exciting to watch and should have a good season playing in front of Votto, Phillips and Bruce but if he can't hit he won't be a factor. His cards are pretty high right now and could see a drop if his average is around the low 200's so be careful.

Milwaukee Brewers
Don't hesitate: Jean Segura 
- Proved last year what a good player he was, this will continue. Segura is a good find and keeper for the Brewers. His prices are really good value currently and might not see much movement but well worth the investment.
Watch for the breakout: Ryan Braun
- PED's or not Braun will come out this year to prove he can be the same if not better than what he was when using them. If he does watch out National League, maybe even win his first fair NL MVP award.
Be Cautious: Prospects
- There isn't anyone in their system currently worth talking about. That's not to say someone comes up this year and makes a splash but it's unlikely. Hold off buying any of their prospects until they are proven, remember it is Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Don't hesitate: Andrew McCutchen 
- With his first MVP award last year watch for more from McCutchen. He will have a few new players coming up in the next coupe of years that will improve the club and continue the winning. If he continues what he did last year he'll be headed to super stardom until he hits the Hall.
Watch for the breakout: Gregory Polanco
- Just one of the best prospects coming up. He'll be in the outfield before the end of the year hopefully. If he does watch for him to help this team make the playoffs again and bring the future to Pittsburgh a little sooner that thought.
Be Cautious:  Jose Tabata
- When Polanco comes up Tabata will be the one to leave. High hopes for him as a rookie and even the turn around last year but he won't last long. His cards are cheap and collectors have just been waiting for him to do something like Rizzo in Chicago. Stay away from him and invest in Polanco instead.

St. Louis Cardinals
Don't hesitate: Oscar Taveras
- He is that good, buy while you can. Taveras will be one of the best players in the game in the not too distant future. He has all the skills and just needs to join the MLB club to show it off. When that happens is maybe the middle or end of this year, but when it happens watch out.
Watch for the breakout: Shelby Miller
- This kid will be the next Carpenter for the Cards. It's only a matter of time until he wins the Cy Young and is a dominant pitcher in the league. His cards are at decent prices for autographs so buy now and watch your values increase.
Be Cautious:  Jon Jay
- He might be the odd man out when Taveras joins the club so don't invest too much into him. His cards are cheap as well which is temping but try and hold out and put into Taveras.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Don't hesitate: Paul Goldschmidt 
- You thought he was good last year? Watch what happens with Trumbo in the lineup with him this year. The sky's the limit for him and he's a young player that will be around for a while. His prices are cheap compared to his peers on bigger market teams so buy now, if he ever is traded or becomes a FA his value will rise.
Watch for the breakout: Didi Gregorious
- Gregorious came p a little sooner than thought in Arizona last year. He's a really good fielder and could be a good average guy down the road. Talks of him being trade bait could increase his value if he goes to the Yankees to replace Jeter in 2015. His cards are really cheap now and you should stock up while you can.
Be Cautious: Gerardo Parra
- Had a really good season last year if your in a fantasy league, but this is collecting. His cards are really cheap and the reason is he's a base card player at best. Don't invest in something that won't increase your future value. If traded to a contender or big market team lets have a different discussion then.

Colorado Rockies
Don't hesitate: Carlos Gonzalez
- The most under-rated player in the game. His cards are very affordable and you should be stocking up sooner than later. He'll be increasing his value over time and if he is ever traded out of Colorado the values will sky-rocket.
Watch for the breakout: Troy Tulowitzki
- With injuries hopefully behind him watch for Tulo to have an MVP season. The best Shortstop in the game, has very reasonable prices like Cargo since playing in Colorado. Continuing to put up the numbers he does and staying off the IR will only bring good value to your collection.
Be Cautious: All Pitchers
- Coors Field is the worst park for pitchers. No matter how good they are don't buy into them. Colorado hitters are where your money should be going. With Tulo and Cargo at under valued prices invest in them.

Los Angeles  Dodgers
Don't hesitate: Yasiel Puig 
- Even if you don't like him, buy him up. He will be with the likes of Harper and Trout for years to come. He's on the right team and will only continue to get better as he learns more about the game. Remember he is young and has not even hit his prime yet, that's scary.
Watch for the breakout: Matt Kemp
- We haven't seen him play in a long time and this will be his time. He might not play at the start of the season but he's got to have that MVP season in him somewhere. Values for his cards are really low with the injuries so buy now instead of after the season with a possible MVP Award.
Be Cautious: Dee Gordon
- He could make the team and impress enough people to stay at Second Base, but with Guerrero in this could be it for Gordon. That's not to say he could end up on another team and become the player he should be. Be careful if he makes the team and does well. Don't buy high on him if he has a good season just yet.

San Diego Padres
Don't hesitate: Rymer Liriano 
- The best prospect in the Padres system is a couple of years away. He could have really good potential on cardboard if not with the Padres. Watch and see if he is traded down the road and ensure you don't miss the boat.
Watch for the breakout: Josh Johnson
- Going to the very pitcher friendly ballpark, Johnson should have an amazing year. He didn't live up to his potential with the Jays last year and this could be his redemption year. He's been a fan favorite among collectors and could see some increase in value when he does well this year. Being 30 he has a few years left that could help his value stay consistent, if he stays with the Padres it would be the best for him as a player and those collecting his cards..
Be Cautious: Chase Headley
- Ever since that amazing year, Headley has had injuries and more injuries. His value won't increase even if traded like he's been rumored for the last two years. Stay far away from buying on him.

San Francisco Giants
Don't hesitate: Buster Posey
- One of the best in the game. Pick up anything you can of him and hold on. After his injury everyone thought he was done, but he has come back and been an amazing player to watch and collect. Playing some First Base will only help his career last longer. You can find some of his cards in decent price ranges being that he's on the west coast playing for the Giants.
Watch for the breakout: Tim Lincecum 
- He won't hit his high values when he won his CY Young awards but watch for this season to become one to bounce back with. Being the fourth Starter will only help him pitch better. He could be the biggest breakout in the majors this year and if o his values will start to rise so buy now and watch.
Be Cautious: Michael Morse
- His cards are not expensive but I find him to be an over-rated player with collectors. Being on a one year deal could give him more reason to have a great season but don't buy in as he'll be on yet another team in 2015.

Thanks for reading our 2 Part Series on Who to collect in the 2014 MLB season. Enjoy watching your favorite teams and players this year. Hopefully you can score some good investments this year in cardboard.

Thank you for your support towards The Pack Gambler
Make sure to visit our storefront at www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who to collect in the 2014 MLB season Part 1 - American League

The 2014 MLB season is fast approaching. If your a collector of baseball cards and memorabilia you know that you need to be on top of your game to snag those prospects and superstars at the start of their great season ahead.
Being a baseball collector myself for the last 20+ years, I've put together a listing of players to collect in 2014. Some are looking to have bounce back seasons while others are looking to breakout or expand their resume in the baseball world.

Let's start Part 1 with covering the American League;

Baltimore Orioles:
Don't hesitate: Manny Machado
- Even with his season ending injury last year, Machado is one of the brightest young stars in the game. He will only continue to get better and become possibly (dare I say it) next Jeter. He's on the perfect team and his cards will continue to rise, if you see a deal snag it up.
Watch for the breakout: Matt Weiters
- He's been on everyone's radar since he was a prospect. He really hasn't had the chance to work with a great lineup from 1-9 before and this year will give him his best opportunity to increase his value. His game calling continues to improve and his 2014 season should show his true hitting potential.
Be Cautious:  J.J. Hardy
- Hardy's on the last year of his deal and is looking to be the top SS in FA for the 2015 season. He'll have a great year and his value will rise, but the following season his cards will drop down to what they are currently. Buy low and sell high late in the year and you'll be fine. Don't hold too long.

Boston Red Sox
Don't hesitate: Xander Bogaerts 
- I love Shortstop prospects and this guy is a good one. He'll be around for a while in the sport and should be a cornerstone to Boston's next championship. Prices are high right now and will be throughout the year. If you see them starting to rise get on the train fast.
Watch for the breakout: Will Middlebrooks
- He's been in the collectible world for a while but has had sub-par results giving him lower prices in his cards. This year given a full year he will prove himself worthy of high stock. Even if he doesn't stay with the Sox, his a valuable young player for the future.
Be Cautious:  Jackie Bradley Jr.
- There's a lot of pressure on him being the next Ellsbury and he isn't the same player. Sure he has the speed and defensive play but he won't hit a lot of homers or be a big RBI guy. Don't be fooled about his prices, remember what happened to Carl Crawford?

New York Yankees
Don't hesitate: Derek Jeter 
- He'll be missed on the field and in regular cardboard releases. Of course Topps will have multiple of ways to include him in most products, but his stats will end after 2014. 1st Ballot HOF player and the top icon in collecting for the last decade of collecting. His Rookie Cards will be the ones to hit hard at. High Graded are even better for your future collection.
Watch for the breakout: Brian McCann
- This will become his team to captain after 2014. This year he will just go out and rake in Yankee Stadium. McCann will have an MVP type season and will for the next few years in this park. He's pretty cheap right now so stock up before the middle of this season.
Be Cautious:  Yankee Prospects
- Who's the next Jeter, Cano, or Rivera? Exactly, the Yanks don't have the greatest system right now and they will continue to feed their team with FA's for the next while. if any prospect comes up this year be cautious on jumping on his cards right away. Not to say they won't do well, but might be a while for the next Yankee grown within to appear.

Tampa Bay Rays
Don't hesitate: Wil Myers 
- Do you have any of his RC's? If not get them, all! He will be one to watch. The barehanded batter will continue to grow and thrive in Tampa until they can't pay him the contract he deserves. When he leaves Tampa he'll become an even bigger star in collecting.
Watch for the breakout: Chris Archer
- Pitchers are hard to judge but when it comes to Tampa pitching prospects you know they will be good ones. Archer is one of those that will follow into the David Price mold. He might not win a CY Young award but he will become a front line starter on any team.
Be Cautious:  Tim Backham
- This is one Shortstop prospects I liked until he had problems off the field. This will continue to hurt him in the long run as well in the Majors. The kid has great talent and should be on a "Don't hesitate" list but unfortunately he has a history that can't be avoided.

Toronto Blue Jays
Don't hesitate: Marcus Stroman 
- This former Team USA star will become the next Chapman in the MLB. He's a small hard throwing pitcher that will be closing games for the Jays by the end of the 2014 season. He has potential to become a starter but might find a safe spot in the bullpen as the everyday elite closer. His cards are starting to creep up so watch when they spike up soon. Hopefully you'll have a few before then.
Watch for the breakout: Brett Lawrie
- A lot of people don't like him but he has great potential. He'll bounce back from the horrible 2013 campaign and become the solid hard playing third baseman that he is. His cards are affordable on Autographs and relic pieces, for now  
Be Cautious:  Kevin Pillar
- He has a lot of great tools but he's on the wrong team. Unless Bautista is traded or an injury happens he won't see playing time. If he ad enough at bats he will show you power and decent hitting that can develop further. He could be involved in a trade down the road which at that point could change him into one to watch for.

Chicago White Sox
Don't hesitate: Jose Abreu 
- The hottest Cuban player in MLB. Power, Power and more Power. His potential is the same as Cespedes and will continue to grow. He'll have a great year in Chicago and will become the AL ROY. His cards are already high and will continue to rise once his first Topps cards hit the market.
Watch for the breakout: Avisail Garcia
- He'll finally have all the playing time in the world to become hi touted "Next Miggy" title. With this lineup he'll shine and provide the building block for Chicago's future. His Autograph RC's are pretty cheap so pick some up.  
Be Cautious:  Tyler Flowers
- Flowers will do well this year and might even have a breakout season. However he won't continue to thrive in this role. He's a good catcher and should be a decent hitter for the next few years but he won't be the star on this team. You'll see a spike this year but don't go crazy.

Cleveland Indians
Don't hesitate: Francisco Lindor 
- The top prospect in their system will be a good one. His cards are high but they are worth it. He'll be the future of this franchise and will be a contentious All-Star participate.
Watch for the breakout: Micheal Brantley 
- He's under the breakout title only because he continues to increase his value. Playing in Cleveland the rest of the league might not have a chance to see him play. He's a top defender and can rake. His cards are pretty cheap all around so now will be the time to check in rather than paying more once he is a well known name.  
Be Cautious:  Lonnie Chisenhall
- He might be on your fantasy team but don't put much value in cardboard on him. he had high potential when he first arrived but now he would be better off in a trade to another team. Don't think you'll see him hit higher than base card value, he's more of a home team collector player.

Detroit Tigers
Don't hesitate: Nick Castellanos 
- Just like Wil Myers this guy can hit. Having a full time spot on the team will increase his value 100%. He doesn't see the same prices as Myers autographs or RC's so now is the time to grab him. Will be the cornerstone for the Tigers with Miggy.
Watch for the breakout: Jose Iglesias
- Jose never had a chance in Boston to show his potential. This guy has great defensive skills and will continue to improve his hitting in this lineup. His cards a very low and his split playing time last year, but this year he'll show the collecting world he will be a star in this league.  
Be Cautious:  Ian Kinsler
- Always have like Kinsler, a cheaper cardboard infielder that is a really good player. Moving to the Tigers should bring good things to his game but going from the extreme heat to a colder city could impact his play either way which is a toss up for his numbers. His RC's and autographs are pretty cheap to begin with so that should hurt too badly, just don't go nuts with high expectations.

Kansas City Royals
Don't hesitate: Salvador Perez 
- Why his cards aren't higher is beyond me. This guy is the real deal and will be the best catcher in the game for years to come. Playing in KC has it's bonuses of not being in the spotlight and working on your game but also has a draw back of not being well known. He is the future of the Royals and you should have his cards in your collection.
Watch for the breakout: Mike Moustakas
- He's never had his moment yet. A great prospect coming up had his troubles playing but has great potential. This could be the year he makes a name for him self in the collecting world. He's part of this great young team, it's just a matter of getting his cardboard to rise.  
Be Cautious:  James Shields
- The whole contract talk before Spring Training is a sign he might not be back. Shields is a good pitcher and if on the right team could see his card prices influx but as he gets older it might not be the long run some thought. Might be the time to sell and fast.

Minnesota Twins
Don't hesitate: Miguel Sano
-  Just a matter of time until he's called up. He'll be one of those young and talented infielders that the American League will have. A core piece of the Twins future. Look for his 2010 cards to sky rocket once he's up full time.
Watch for the breakout: Joe Mauer
- not that he needs to breakout but moving from Catcher to First base will do wonders for Mauer. His hitting is already one of the best in the league but we should see a spike with the move. His cards are pretty decent to pickup a RC or autograph. He should be considered as HOF member once he retires so get on the Mauer buying spree before prices increase.  
Be Cautious:  Starting Outfielders
- If he didn't have the surgery this year Byron Buxton would be with Sano on this list. He's a couple of years away but has tremendous potential. The Starting outfielders for the Twins are just filling in until he's up. Don't become attached to any of them this year or next. They might do a decent job but Buxton is coming.

Houston Astros
Don't hesitate: Mark Appel 
- Will be the number one starter for this team once he's up. He has the right agent also when the Astros won't be able to sign him later in his career. They are taking their time bringing him up but he will come with a couple other pitchers that will make him better than what people are thinking.
Watch for the breakout: George Springer
- Full time in 2014? We'll see, but if he is he'll make this a pretty fun team to watch. Already full of youth this guy looks like he's been in the majors for years. Lots of upside with him and he could be a standout in the league.
Be Cautious:  Young Prospects making a splash
- Houston is a young team that could surprise a few people this year. Along with Appel and Springer, Carlos Correa should be on this list. However there is a ton of talent coming up from the farm and just need to watch on those other young players. More so the hitters on the team will be figured out by veteran pitchers in the league and could make for a long summer. They are three to four years out from competing yearly in the AL West so have patience with them, don't jump on any collecting wagons just yet.

Anaheim Angles
Don't hesitate: Mike Trout
- There just isn't anyone on the team like him or could come close. Most of us missed the boat on him when he arrived, but that's not to say you can't get in on some deals at card shows or expos. If you do see a decent autograph or relic card pick it up.
Watch for the breakout: Albert Pujols
- The former top player in the majors can't continue down this path can he? I don't think so, he might not get back to the MVP seasons but he has a chance to have a few great seasons with Trout in the lineup. His RC's have dropped a little and would be a good investment for your collection.
Be Cautious:  Josh Hamilton
- Same as Pujols he should be back to form this year but we can't count on it. Since the trade he's been injury prone and not done very well. If he stays healthy he could become the former MVP he was but again be cautious, one bad cold or injury and he'll be out for a period of time or for the year.

Oakland Athletics
Don't hesitate: Yoenis Cespedes 
- If not for Trout this would be the guy everyone would be collecting. His cards are decent prices and you can find a nice relic or autograph for your collection. He will continue to do well and already has proven he can hit in the big Oakland stadium. If ever traded watch out!
Watch for the breakout: Jarrod Parker
- This is his best chance at a break out. He has a lot of potential and can provide that number one starter for the A's. His cards are super cheap and if he does live up to the billing they will rise.
Be Cautious:  Jim Johnson
- He should do well in that huge park however a move like this can work both ways. He's not on anyone's collecting radar really as a closer but those that do jump on his cardboard don't go overboard.

Seattle Mariners
Don't hesitate: Brad Miller 
- Not well known and has very affordable cards, this guy is going to be a good one. Miller has been under the radar for being with the Mariners but can really breakout with Cano coming on board. Grab his cards now, he might be a few years out from being an All-Star but will be worth your money.
Watch for the breakout: Kyle Seager
- like Miller this is another of the young talent that the Mariners have. Seager is a really good player and should be about to reach his breakout soon. His cards are similar to Miller so try and stock up.
Be Cautious: Buying all the young prospects
- Like Houston the Mariners are full of young talent. The talent they have is very MLB ready and will be the core group for years to come. The reason to be cautious is that you could spend an awful lot of money buying up all these players cardboard. They have very high potential at every position and should be a treat for collectors buying into the Mariners. Just watch the wallet and pick one or two players to collect, you won't be able to afford them all.

Texas Rangers
Don't hesitate: Jurickson Profar
- Again I'm high on middle infielders and Profar will be an exciting player to watch. He will get his shot at the full-time gig with Kinsler leaving and will live up to his billing. His cards are high already but you might be able to find a steal somewhere, if you do hand over your money.
Watch for the breakout: Elvis Andrus
- Andrus has been on my radar since he was with Atlanta, He's been up there in the past but this could be his all out year. He's cards are affordable and some of his relics are nice pieces to own. He will be one to hold onto for years to come.
Be Cautious: Prince Fielder
- Prince should do very well in Texas with the stadium. He's on the cautious listing as his cards tend to fluctuate the most in the hobby. When he's killing the ball his cards are the highest, then maybe an 0-4 and they come down to life. try and buy a nice on-card autograph of his and you'll be happy, but don't buy into a lot of cards to flip or trade. Catch him on his lows and then wait for the highs if you go that route.


Part 2 featuring the National League Teams will be out later this week.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

What are you receiving in Game Used Relic cards?

Have you ever wondered what is really inside your game used card? Ever wonder how much you are really getting inside your card of that players uniform, bat or other pieces or memorabilia? Collectors spend most of their money on game used or autograph cards, these in turn become some of their prized possessions in their collection. Game used relic cards continue to grow and have a strong secondary market for any player. Some legends or superstars have prices in the upper hundreds for some of the limited cards. Which brings us to our topic; What are you really getting in those relic cards? If you spend $200 on a Babe Ruth bat relic how much of his bat are you owning from the bat that was used to put into the cards? What percentage of a jersey are you receiving in a small swatch relic card?

We decided to run a little test on two damaged relic cards we have and see what was inside and provide some information to collectors on what they are receiving in relic cards. Both the cards we used were damaged and both are different companies and years. The test was to see what was inside and compare between the two if possible.

Card #1 is a 2012 Topps Tier One George Bell Triple Relic Bat /25. This is a great card and was part of the PC until it showed up damaged from the seller. There is a heavy crease at the top right where the relic starts on the front and back of the card.

We took a knife and cut down the left side of the card right beside the relic. Once cut, we started to peal the back of the card to show the relic. The first thing we noticed was the bat relic was in three different pieces. the second noticeable thin was that each piece was just a little more width of a piece of paper. Needless to say we were shocked. The pieces were so thin and fragile that while we were carefully peeling them off the card they were breaking into pieces.

After we took the pieces out we were left with multiple pieces of a bat sliver. This was a good example of a card which was low numbered having very little quantity of a relic. This wasn't a patch or barrel but we would have thought that maybe one-eighth of an inch might have been a good representation for a relic piece. Almost wonder how many thousands of bat cards could still be made from 1 George Bell bat.


Card #2 is a 2005 Donruss Absolute Tools of the Trade Jeff Bagwell Triple Relic /175. Yes another great relic card that was damaged. It doesn't show well on the scan but this one had a crease right above the Pant relic and a very large crease down the back. Another card coming in damaged from shipment.
This one was a little unique because it had two fabric relics and one bat relic. Like the Bell card we took a knife and cut down the right side of this card beside the bat relic. Peeling the card apart we noticed the bat relic right away was the same width as the Topps card. Now this bat is different wood so it didn't break easily from the card. One piece on the right did break off but the reminder of the relic stayed together. The two fabric relics were both nicely cut to fit the space on the card, small but were not torn or cut badly.

The difference on the Bagwell relics was the fabric relics had printed numbers and Bagwell's name on the glued side. Both have different numbers so Donruss could tell which was the pants and the jersey. Not sure if Topps or other companies do this but kind of cool to know the way Donruss knew back in 2005. The same result on this card was that you received three small pieces of relic from that player. All three were just over a half of an inch in length, which again could give companies thousands of relic cards to produce.


In conclusion, if you really think about what you are spending on relic cards you may want to think of maybe a different route. It is one of the greatest innovations in our hobby and a very important piece to each company producing cards today. But if you thought about buying an authentic jersey or bat of a player how much do you think you could spend on that piece compared to the numerous relic cards you may have or are willing to buy of that player. The convenience of having these pieces in a baseball card is a lot easier to store than an actual bat or jersey but it is another way to look at collecting. As an example of the George Bell card, I paid $15 for it which isn't too pricey. However I know of a local person that has an authentic game used bat of his that he is looking for $150 for it. I wonder how many cards I could make of out that one if I end up picking it up some day?

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Topps Series 1 Jumbo Pack

Being that Spring Training has arrived, you can't go wrong with busting open a new baseball product. Now this isn't release date new but new in the sense of 2014 products. 2014 Topps Series 1 is a typical solid seller each year as it kicks off the new campaigns of MLB teams hunting down that elusive World Series Championship. Now you've seen us review Hobby Boxes in the past but being this is a different outlook for 2014 for The Pack Gambler, we've decided to start 2014 with 1 Jumbo pack for our review.

We've always stated Jumbo boxes are the way to go for value and amount of product you receive for the money. Jumbo packs are also the better way to go from the hobby box single packs. Looking at it from a 1 Pack perspective you have to take into account a few things; your only buying 1 from the 10 packs from the Jumbo box, your odds change of finding a relic or autograph and your price point is different. Taking these into the review makes this an interesting way to start our 2014 product reviews.

For those on a budget, buying packs, rack packs or blasters is the only way to go. This might also happen if you don't have a hobby store close to you. In any case, Jumbo packs are certainly the best bang for your buck. You will receive 50 cards per pack which will include a couple inserts and maybe a relic or autograph. Packs wise your odds are best in Jumbos with a 1:10 of finding an autograph and 1:5 of finding a relic. Of course these are based on a freshly opened jumbo box, but you still will receive more value.

The cost of a Jumbo pack will vary. I've seen them for as low as $11.99 up to $14.99 per pack. Averaging it out you are spending about .27 cents per card in a jumbo pack. The difference between a hobby pack and Jumbo is around .02 to .03 cents per card which isn't much. The difference is the odds of parallels, relics and autographs that make the Jumbo a better buy. Now don't get me wrong, I've seen some "duds" of jumbo packs opened but the majority are pretty good and have seen packed with value.

We went to our local hobby shop and picked up the first pack (on the top left) from a freshly opened box. Lets see how we did;

Base Cards: 39
Base Card Red Sparkle: 1 - Luis Valbuena
The Future is Now: 1 - Jean Segura
Upper Class: 1 - Roberto Clemente
Relic: 1 - Stan Musial Rookie Class of 1942 Ring
This was a pretty decent pack breakdown overall. First with the design of 2014. I like the white bordered design that has continued from last year. Nice subtle changes to the layout and back of the cards. The one cool addition is the Future Stars tag on some of the younger players. We pulled a Nick Franklin with this stamp. 
We received 1 Parallel and two subsets in our pack. The Red Sparkle is a continuation from the Green Sparkle from last year. Nothing too impressive except a different flashier color this year. The Future is Now Segura is a very plain card. Not too impressed with this subset. Topps could have added some foil on the front to maybe attract collectors. The Clemente Upper Class isn't bad. Nice foil and classic design to go along with the photo.     
The big hit was of course the Musial Class Ring Relic. Its a neat relic concept to have and Topps continues to create these manufactured Relics for us to collect. The design of the metal ring piece is very intricate with all of the lines, lettering and number. It's not as thick as first thought compared to the award winners of last years relics.
So overall we did well with pulling a relic in 1 Jumbo pack. BV was over the $12.80 we paid for the pack, which is always nice to see in any break of a pack or box. Because of the Relic we didn't receive 50 cards and were short 7 cards. Would have liked to seen a couple more subsets in the pack but really can't complain with pulling a relic. Not impressed with the subsets overall or the parallel. Wish that Topps came up with a better way on these that we pulled. I'm sure that the other parallels look better with this 2014 design.
Would recommend buying a jumbo pack to any collector still. It could be just to see if you like the product before purchasing a box, or could substitute for buying hobby packs or rack packs with less value in them.

Most cards/hits pulled in our breaks end up on our site storefront www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at packgamblersales@gmail.com

Gambler Overall Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Cost: 4.5/5
Base Design: 4/5
Parallels: 3.5/5
Inserts: 3/5
Relic: 4/5
Fun Aspect: 4/5

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The Story behind that PC find Part 3 - Troy Tulowitzki


Part 3

In early 2006 I started to collect a young Short Stop by the name of Troy Tulowitzki. He was just about to come up to the majors and already was pinned to be in most the 2007 baseball products. One of these products was Upper Decks SP Authentic. The set he was going to be in was called "By The Letters". This was a very cool product where Upper Deck put together manufactured Letters of the players Last Name or Team in some cases. Each Letter was autographed which made the cards very desirable among collectors.

I set out to try and complete the Tulowitzki Last Name once the product hit the shelves. The first letter I grabbed off of eBay was the "I" numbered out of /35. At the time I paid $18 for it since there would be more "I" cards then any this would be a cheaper letter to find.
Over the first three weeks of 2007 SP Authentic being out I managed to grab 3 other letters from eBay. "O" with a nice pinstripe down the middle which cost $32, another "I" which was $11 and an "U" which was $28. So far I was on a decent pace of collecting all ten letters.
During the same time I was trying to stick with the Letters numbered out of /35 and not the lowered tiered numbers. It was really hard not to pick up a "T" /20 for only $18 or so just to finish the name. It just wouldn't look right to have a different numbered card in your set like this let along a different front to the card.

After another week of searching through forums and eBay, I found another four letters to fill in some of my gaps in the name. "L" with a pinstripe off to the right side was $34, a "K" with a pinstripe down the center of the card for $32 and a really nice "Z" came up with 2 pinstripes on each side which cost $42 in a bidding war near the end. All three of these went to the end of auctions on eBay and won them thankfully. The "K" and the "Z" were tough ones to track down and was happy to have won them.
Only three letter to go and two of the easier ones to find with two "T's" left. One of the letters I was struggling to find in any numbered format was the "W". I thought it might be the toughest to find after the "Z" and "K". The letter "T" I was less concerned about finding as they were all over eBay and forums, so I decided to hold off and only search out the "W". This took about 4 more weeks of searching in order to finally have one show up on eBay with a "Buy it Now" of $45. Without hesitating I bought it within minutes of it being listed. I was really excited to grab the last tough card of the set.
With the span of over 8 weeks since the product went live you'd think that the "T"'s would be out in full force. Well it turned out that they were more scarce now then any of the other letters I had. Just my luck that I would be stuck with "ULOWIZKI", not a very nice looking display that's for sure. So again I was on the hunt. After about a 12 days I found a "T" on eBay and picked it up. It only cost me $12 which was a double bonus. Another few days went by and I started seeing a few "T"'s showing up, but none of them were /35. The more I searched around the less I was finding. So I made a decision and picked up a "T" numbered out of /20.  My name was finally complete, now I can rest and stop searching for that one letter.
Like any collector I had each card in a magnetic holder and displayed them out. It was pretty cool having the full name on display. The one thing though was that it wasn't perfect, the "T" /20 was bothering me, so much so that I decided to go on the search. I went through all the places I was in previously and couldn't find too many out there. it wasn't until one day many weeks into my search that on a Beckett Forum I found a Tulowitzki collector looking for some cards for her PC. She was looking for the letters which turned out to be the ones numbered out of 20. I sent her a message and we started talking about how we were collecting the full name. I told her how I was looking for a "T" /35 but couldn't seem to find it anywhere. Turned out she had a "T" /35 and was looking for a "T" /20. Both of us were thrilled about being able to help each other out. Within a week we both received our cards in the swap and I completed the full name once again.
To this day I still have it displayed out and look at them once in a while. They really are cool cards individually or as a name. As you may recall when I took apart my Tulowitzki collection they were the only ones I kept in my collection and I think it will always stay that way.


"The story behind that PC find" Series continues with Part 4 later this month. 

Thank you for your support towards The Pack Gambler
Make sure to visit our storefront at www.packgambler.com, or our COMC account ThePackGambler 

If you have any similar stories about one of your PC cards or items please send us an e-mail and let us know at packgambler@gmail.com We might feature you in an upcoming story.