Monday, July 30, 2012

Group Box Breaks; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

With the popularity with online trading and buying, someone out there thought of an idea that boomed a couple of years ago. Online Box Breaks. When you first heard of it you were a little weary. Then you saw a couple of posts or videos and you wanted in. Fun, exciting and someone else doing all the work of breaking and sorting your cards out for you. Seems like the best possible scenario, and it is if you find a reputable company/person/group to do it with.
I have been involved with numerous group breaks in the past and currently hop on a few if I like the product and group running it. In fact I just was apart of one this past weekend. Each one I have been involved with has been different and good experience. What I hope to share with you is the ins and outs on Group Breaking and what to watch for good and bad. 

The Good:
The main reason I like the Box break is the cost. Most are relatively decent pricing, with of course the added cost to certain teams depending on the product. You can buy a team anywhere from $5.00 for a random selection up to $200+ for a team with a lot of hits. I like both the Random and selecting a team on these breaks. if you get in early enough on a new product and get your favorite team it's great. Or if you want to try and hit that big one and flip it you could choose the more money option. It's all preference.
Randoms are fun too, again it is a gamble but you could end up with one of those big teams with a lot of hits. Prices on the randoms are also good too because they are in the mid-range and some people prefer to go this route and take a chance.
Most Box Busters are really good with live video feeds to see the hits come in as well as taped versions. Shipping out of the cards is also great as the busters are most of the time collectors too and take care of the cards they are shipping out to customers.  
With Group breaks you aren't forking out all the money to buy the case yourself and you just sit back, relax and watch the show.
The main reason I find I like Group breaking is the community. We have a great one out there, group breaks provides an outlet to discuss anything from cards to the weather in your area. I have met a few great people through breaks and it makes it very easy to enjoy a break once you know some people involved to chat with.

The Bad:
With all good things there is another side of the group breaks that isn't great. There are a few out there that try to scam anyone, whether its cards, other collectibles or anything else you can think of off the net. Box breaks have had this happen. Some of the cases aren't factory sealed, they might have hit the "white whale" already and replaced the box from another case. Or you might just have people ready to take your money for nothing.
You need to make sure that you find a box breaker that has followers or references from other collectors. Card forums are great resources for this. Posting a simple question like "Have you ever done a group break before?" This will prompt a lot of responses, however I have seen in the past some sites deleting posting with group breaks in them because they don't want to have any liability or association with them. You will find some forums have their own group breaks from time to time. Just make sure you do your research before buying into a break.  

The Ugly: 
There is an ugly side to box breaks. Skunked, yes it has happened and happens a bit more then you would like. The toughest part is when you get a really good team like the Yankees, Cowboys, or Oilers in either a random break or selected team and pay the highest cost to get them. Nothing is a guarantee in any product you buy. Remember everything is left to chance and luck. Whether buying a single pack, box or buying into a case break. Now most of the time I have seen breakers offer a free hobby pack to a customer not receiving a hit. This is great customer service, but keep in mind you just spent anywhere from $5.00 to $200+ for a break and come out with a hobby pack instead of a hit. The odds are in your favor on case breaks but you can have a few people in this situation. The good thing in this is that you won't be skunked on every break you go into.

In summary I encourage Group Box breaks. They are good for the hobby and the card making companies. It creates interest in the products being produced and generates revenue to the companies and breakers. It is us that keeps the hobby alive and Group breaks are a very good way in growing our community. You might meet a whole new network of collectors out there that you might not have known existed before. Could develop relationships with some for trading or talking about the hobby. Once you have been involved in a few different ones you will have a preferred breaker and stick to them. This could be driven by the cost but mainly I find it's the customer service you receive and the group you are breaking with. It is a very diverse and great community we have out there. Group Box Breaks brings us closer together.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: 2012 Panini Football Donruss Elite Football Hobby Box

This week we had some new releases which I will review each one by one. The first will be the 2012 Panini Football Donruss Elite. This has always been a really good product in the past and again for 2012 this didn't disappoint.
I purchased 1 Hobby box on release day to try them out this year. The base cards are sleek in their recognizable Elite design and the hits are 4 per box (2 autographs and 2 memorabilia cards) in addition to this are 4 rookie cards numbered /999 or less.
Filler cards were only in 10 packs leaving the other 10 packs thin. Easy to pick out which had which to search. Good idea but might have been better for all packs to have them to take both the autographs and memorabilia packs a secret.
After opening the first few packs I noticed that you really need to be easy on the ripping as the cards can easily bend or chip due to the foil on the cards. The are thin cards so this will happen all the time if your not careful, luckily I didn't have any damaged cards in the box.
Each subset card is numbered, which I find adds more value to them and the design of the subsets are always great with this product. I came away with 7 numbered subsets that were all different.
After all done and said here is what I received in the box break:
Base cards - 88 (6 doubles)
Numbered Rookies - (4) Hightower /999, Turbin /999, Brown /799, Harnish /999
Memorabilia cards - (2) New Bread Jersey Ronnie Hillman /399, Redemption Prime-Auto Miles Austin /10
Autograph cards - (1) Rookie Dan Herron /399
Subsets - (7) Craftsman (Manning /149, Turner /399), Hitlist (Lofton /999), Elite Series (Doug Martin /999, Gates /999), Prime numbers (Marshall /999), Rookie Hard Hats (AJ Jenkins /399)

Overall I'm very pleased with this box. I loved the base cards and the subsets. Numbered cards always are exciting to pull out of packs. I'm not a fun of sticker autographs but the memorabilia pieces look great. Didn't pull any of the high-end rookies but with only 4 in the box they are tough to pull. I did miss out on 1 hit but Panini is very good at providing a reliable customer service and after the break was done I filled out the forms and sent in the required items to their department. I will provide an update once I have the replacement card in hand. 
I would recommend this box to any collector looking for a mid-high range product to bust. The cost currently is in the $110-120 range but could be higher depending on how well the product does on the secondary market. If your looking for a score on flipping this product it is a little tough. I managed to pull the Austin /10 but you won't find that on every box. You might get your money back on the box and might have a big score to add a little extra but it is a hit or miss on the product for book/secondary market value. 

Gambler Overall Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Cost: 3.5/5
Autographs: 3/5 
Memorabilia: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Rookies: 4/5
Fun Aspect: 4/5

Friday, July 27, 2012

The story behind: The Pack Gambler

Back when I was around 6 years old I remember my Mom and Dad driving my brother and I to the local convenience store to pick up the daily paper and a lottery ticket for the nights draw. When my Dad returned to the car he had a box with him. He reached around to the back seats and handed us a box of 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards. We thought that was pretty cool of him to give us. We really weren't exposed to cards yet and this was something new and interesting for us.

We went home and began opening up the packs. We sorted the cards by team and then split everything in half so we each had the same amount. We both liked reading the stats on the back of the cards and trading with each other for our favorite teams. In Canada we didn't have very much Baseball come up here so when my Dad saw them at the local store he would buy them up for us. By 1989 we had a decent collection of both hockey and Baseball.  

1989 came the turning point for me and collecting. This was when I was introduced to my first card show. I remember a kid in my class and I were trading cards during recess and he invited me to come with him and his dad to a local card show. I had never been to one before and was super excited to go and see a bunch of people that collected cards. I was only exposed to the local store carrying a couple of boxes of hockey cards and the rare baseball box. Needless to say I was floored when I arrived. Dealers were set-up around the room with their displays of sports cards and memorabilia. The one thing that was prominent at every table was a new product I never heard of before called Upper Deck. People were buying them by the pack, box and case. I never seen such a sight of grown men buying cards and spending large amounts of money on collectibles. I felt very low on the food chain with my $10.25. An hour and a half later I came out with a couple of packs of the 1989 Upper Deck baseball and a couple of single Jose Canseco cards for my collection. 

After that show in 1989 it seemed like everywhere I went card shops were opening up. In strip malls, people's basements and anywhere they could fit one in. My parents found a shop recently opened in a guys basement. He had turned it into a mini show room of cards and comics. he did some of the local shows and was able to bring in new product when ever it was available. I remember my first factory set was bought there, 1989 Score Football for a whopping $9.95. 

Collecting starting picking up for me in the early to mid 90's. Card companies were producing more cards and different products to buy and card shops had a ton of selection. I was into baseball and hockey cards as well as Starting Lineup figures and 25cent mini helmets. I collected anything I liked and kept everything on display in my bedroom. Cards were organized by teams and players. Figures were displayed with their mini helmet beside them. I was having a different display every week. 

My habit continued into 2001 and then started to dwindle down. eBay was just starting up and gave me a place to sell most of my collection for some decent cash to buy other things I needed like gas for my car and new clothes. I kept in-touch with the hobby buying the random Beckett Baseball Monthly and looking on eBay for players I use to collect. It was a long 6 year hiatus away from collecting. 

In 2007 I saw an advertisement for the new Topps Series 1 Baseball cards and really liked the design. I went to the local (and now very rare) card shop by my work and decided to buy a couple of packs. I went home and opened them up and it felt like I never left the hobby. It was an exciting feeling to open packs again. I went back the next day and bought a few more, and the next week a couple more, and the 3rd week bought my first hobby box in 6 years. I was back and decided to take a new approach on collecting. I heard of a new rookie coming up playing Short Stop for Colorado and liked everything about him. I did some research and started to collect only Troy Tulowitzki cards. I bought online, at stores and traded for his cards. By the end of 2009 I had one of the biggest Tulowitzki collections out there. it was fun and exciting, but the down side to enjoying collecting and following baseball is you begin to like other players as well. this turns into collecting their cards and the snowball effect is in place. Now your collecting everyone under the moon and things can get a little expensive. 

The great thing about collecting is you can go so many different ways with a collection. Single Player, Team, City, Subsets, Companies,  you name it. Which brings me to the most recent and current state of my own collecting. Early last year I looked at the amount of money I was spending and what I was getting out of the hobby. I was buying every Baseball product that came out and the odd Football or Hockey product. I wasn't collecting anyone specific or a team. I was mainly buying a box and flipping the cards in a trade or to sell them off while they were hot. I felt like something was missing. So I decided to look at a different approach to my own hobby which was providing information to the average collector of what I was buying, my experience with the product and what I thought of the product.  

Over the last few months I have been involved in Case Breaks, Box Breaks, Retail blasters, and High end Hobby boxes. But my knowledge and information has still been limited to those that know me at the local card shop and limited postings within online forums. My plan is to use social media to add some value to the collecting industry from the "average joe" collector who loves the hobby and willing to spend money on any product. 

I know there are many people out there doing this already but I still feel that I could add some additional value to a wide range of collectors that love this hobby. I love sharing experiences with people and hope that this will encourage people to continue in the hobby and possibly attract new collectors. 

My mission statement over the next few months is to provide reviews and experiences of opening new and old sports cards products. I will use Twitter, Facebook, and this Blog as my main avenues to reach collectors. I will also add some YouTube videos in the future to share recorded experiences during a box or case break along with giveaways to followers. 
The main thing is that there is not a limit to the amount of resources I could run with, but will start off a little slow in order to make things right and enjoyable for everyone. 

Lastly, the reason behind the name. I consider myself as a Pack Gambler when I buy products. You don't know what you are getting in each case, box or single pack. It doesn't matter if your buying a Retail Blaster box or a high-end hobby product. Like most of us in this hobby you are taking a chance on pulling that Short Printed Rookie or Jumbo patch card. The odds are there for the sole reason to beat them, to be one of the winners in the hobby to pull that White Whale. I've been on both sides and continue to play along, hence the name The Pack Gambler.