Saturday, October 27, 2012

Product Review: 2012 Bowman Chrome Baseball Hobby Box

The annual Bowman Chrome Hobby box came out last week and like all years past provides a lot of players you have not heard of before. For a lot of the baseball collectors this box passes them by and they look for the single cards on auctions sites or trading forums. For the in-depth Baseball collector this is the box that most people wait for. it is packed with minor league players that were not apart of the 2012 Bowman release and also include autographs from these players.
The box specs are 18 packs per box with 4 cards per pack. You will receive 8 Refractors, 1 Futures Game Insert, 1 Franchise All-Stars Insert and 1 Autograph. New for this year Topps included a second autograph every third box. So if you land one of these your receiving an extra hit in your box.
Refractors are the same as they have been with Blue, Purple, Gold, Orange, Red and Super Refractor. All numbered from 250 to 1/1.
The inserts this year are also new with Future Game All-star, Franchise All-Star and Legends in the Making. These are included into the boxes with ratios of 1:18 to 1:24 for the base inserts. The Legends in the Making have Autographs which are numbered from 15 or less each. They are using the same crisp Die-cut design they have used with Finest and Platinum. And to think this might be enough, Topps has added in Game Used items from the Futures Game as redemption cards. This can be redeemed for Hats, Bats and Jersey's Topps obtained at the game.
I wasn't going to pick up this box for 2012 as in previous years I wait a bit for the prices to go down and then pick up a couple and sit on them for a year or two. I was in my hobby shop picking up some supplies and saw he had two boxes left on the counter and I decided to purchase one. I brought it home and was going to store it away for a couple of years and see if anyone could be in there. After looking as some box breaks and the checklist i decided to rip it open and maybe pull one of those redemption cards or a sweet autograph. Here are my results:

Base: 26 (no doubles)
Base Rookie Prospects: 35 (no doubles)
Refractors: (5) Mike Trout, Brian Pointer, James Shields, Corey Hart, Daniel Bard
Blue Refractor: Yadier Molina /250
Legends in the Making: Clayton Kershaw
Franchise All-Stars: Beltran/Taveras (Cardinals)
Future Game All-Stars: (2) Alfredo Marte, Rymer Liriano
Autograph: Chase Davidson
I think I should have stuffed this one away in storage for a bit. I wasn't overly happy with this box. The card designs are great and really standout with the chrome but overall I wasn't too impressed. I did go in not knowing what i was going to get and knowing that some or almost all of the cards in here would have no value for a few years to come. I think the main reason for being a little disappointed was the refractors. I would have liked to seen another color in there rather than just the one blue refractor.
I did manage to pull a Legends in the Making Die-cut of Kershaw, these cards are very sweet looking. I really do love the die-cuts from Topps this year, very impressive.the autograph of Chase Davidson is not too bad, he is a decent prospect in the Houston organization. The On-card autographs also help of course for secondary market value once these players make it up to the big league. I think with the addition of the Futures and Franchise All-Star inserts they have taken away from the Refractors or other Rookies to pull from this product. They are nice cards but will hold no value in the community.
For this product it is really a hit or miss on who you pull. If you pull a Top Prospect, Refractor, Black or Veteran Autograph you have really have made good on this buy. Again you might just have to wait a while for those prospects to make it up and they could take an average or below average box to the upper levels.

Gambler Overall Rating: 3.6 out of 5
Cost: 3.5/5
Autographs: 3.5/5 
Parallels: 3.5/5
Design: 3.5/5
Rookies: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 3/5

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

**Update: 2012-2013 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Hockey Canadian Redemption**

So back in late August I purchased two boxes of 2012-2013 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee Hockey. The product was really well received and I also really enjoyed this years edition.

The one special thing about this years product is that Upper Deck offered a special Wrapper Redemption for Canadian residents only. The program details were that you needed to provide 50 Hobby Wrappers to a Certified Diamond Dealer (hobby shop) and they would send in for the redemption packs.

The packs would consist of 5 Red Boarded 2012-13 O-Pee-Chee parallel cards along with 1 All-Star card.

Depending on when your dealer sent in your wrappers depended on how long it took Upper Deck to send out the redemption packs.

I received mine just yesterday after waiting almost two months. The packs are in cello wrappers and you can see the top and bottom cards. The bottom cards are the All-Star cards which are very hard to find and collect since you would need 50 redemption packs to just maybe have a shot at the subset.

Here is who I received in my pack:
Red Boarder Base: Manny Malhotra, Wayne Simmons, Andrew Macdonald, Kris Versteeg
Red Boarder Marquee Legend: Jari Kurri
All-Star: Sidney Crosby

When I first saw the cello pack I thought that dealers would just pull out the top players and hand out the lower tiered to us collectors. If your not close with your hobby shop this might be a problem. My hobby dealer told me they had Bobby Orr, Crosby, Ovechkin and Joe Sakic come into the shop among others. Not too bad of pulls from the redemption.
As for the designs of the cards, they are the same as the regular base cards but just with a red boarder. Nothing too fancy here, but set collectors will want them. I was hoping they would be like the rainbow parallel set but free cards for wrappers is nothing to complain about.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 Topps Heritage Baseball Update set

Yesterday Topps started accepting pre-orders for their 2012 Topps Heritage Baseball Update Set. A few special things about this certain set is that it is only available on, will be limited to 1000 sets and will include one on-card autograph in each set.

Heritage is a very popular set within the Baseball collectors world so this should sell very well. Plus it will include the rookies that missed the 2012 Heritage regular set that came out earlier this year.
Topps hasn't provided any checklists yet on the product and this includes the autographs as well, so your going into this for $100 some what blind. Knowing what Topps has done thus far with the Baseball rookies, I'm betting the 100 card set will be full of the big ones.

Another note about the autographs is that you could find a Red Ink Autograph card /10. This is an additional reason why I would look into buying this product. On-card autographs are a sought after item for collectors and do very well in the secondary market. Again we don't know the checklist of those autographs but This might be a good gamble on a pre-order product.

The tentative shipping date is November 6th but might change. For those in Canada interested in this product note that the shipping charge is $24.84 USPS priority mail service, so we are looking at $125 in change for this set. As collector I'm in as well as a Pack Gambler on those autographs, you never know if you'll pull someone big or one of those Red Ink Autographs to make this all worth while.

Once I receive my set I'll send out an update blog on my results (fingers crossed).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Product Review: 2012 Panini Certified Football Hobby Box

Panini has continued to impress me this year and again has done it with another great Football product. 2012 Panini Certified came out this week and it provided more punch into the depth Panini has provided to collectors this year. 2012 Certified comes in a ten pack box providing four hits per box. The four hits can be a combination of Autographs and Memorabilia, along with parallels of base cards and the same autographs and memorabilia. Each pack with contain one of these along with four base cards. The base cards this year sport the very common backing that Panini is known for with team colors. The front of the cards are again a Panini trait with the shinny silver reflective design. Parallels for the base cards range from Mirror Red /250 to Mirror Black 1/1. Two sets within the set are Immortals /999 and the New Generation Rookies /999. Both also include the same amount of parallels to chase down.

Autographs are plenty in this product. You are guaranteed to pull at least one autograph per box, which could come from Rookies, veterans, or retired stars. Of course these are all Sticker autographs, but at least you shouldn't have too many show up as a redemption.
Memorabilia,  Memorabilia and more Memorabilia! Again Panini has packed a product loaded with lots of memorabilia used cards. These range from Veterans, Retired Stars and of course a very heavy Rookie insertion. Now some might say there are way too many memorabilia cards to pull from this product, but I say bring it on. Of course with the amount of memorabilia in this product your chances of pulling a top player could be harder, but Panini is usually pretty good with their box assortments.

As with most collectors, I was waiting for this product to arrive. It has always given good results in the past and I really like the designs of the base, autographed and memorabilia cards. Aside from the hits and the parallels, the cost of this product (which is around $100) is great for any collector. Here are my results:

Base: 42 (no doubles)
Base Mirror Red Parallel: Aaron Rodgers /250
Base Mirror Blue Parallel: Alex Smith /100
Immortals: Irving Fryar /999
New Generation: Devon Hill /999, Vick Ballard /999
New Generation Red Parallel: Ryan Lindley /250
Autograph: (2) Lavonte David Red Mirror /250, Matt Kalil Red Mirror /250 (Redemption)
Memorabilia: Ryan Tannehill Certified Skills /299,
Prime Memorabilia: David Wilson Fabric of the Game Prime Patch / 49
This was a very good box overall. I really like the base card design, even though you might end up with finger prints on your cards. Also I didn't end up with any damaged cards in this box, the last few Panini boxes I had some damaged corners but this box was clean all the way through. The Parallels are nice looking for the base and rookies, very new reflections off of them and the cards really standout. As for the Rookies in this box they were not as abundant as in previous releases where they are over flowing. It does turn out to be a good small size and this will provide a higher secondary market value due to this point.
I was able to pull two autographs and two memorabilia cards of decent draft picks. A split in this assortment was nice, even with sticker autographs and one being a redemption. Not to mention the David Wilson Prime Patch is a very sweet looking card, the patch has a lot going on too and it seems like it's over flowing off the card.
I really like this product for the value, amount of cards, design and the number of hits per box. For a product with only ten packs per box, this really pulls all the stops. I do have to say this box was one of the better ones I have seen busted so there is a chance to pull some basic memorabilia with just one autograph, but I think the chance is worth it on this great looking product.

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Cost: 4.5/5
Autographs: 3.5/5 
Memorabilia: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Rookies: 4/5
Fun Aspect: 4.5/5

Monday, October 15, 2012

Collector Tips: Buying at the right time

Like most of us in the hobby we collect certain players, teams or cities. The problem with this is we aren't allow, there are multiple people collecting the same across the community. You can't have everything of one player or team but if you really wanted you could pay the high prices and take everything in stock. Most of us don't have the money to spend a ton of cash on certain players cards, especially those 1/1 Refractors, Printing Plates or Autographs. We just hope that sometimes we get lucky with an auction or spot a card at a decent price at a show and scoop them up.
But what is the best way to build your collection without spending a lot of money on cards? Well there are a few tips that you could use and have proven to help me in my collecting as well as others in their collection needs.

#1. Try not to buy when your player/team is hot - This is the time old story of everyone on the planet jacking up their prices because the player is on a hitting streak, breaks a record, or wins a championship. Without a doubt this will happen all the time. The amount of cards that come out of the woodwork after an MVP season or a team championship is amazing. Those 1/1's you've been looking for, well someone was just waiting for that player to win an MVP to put them on the block and sell at a premium.Now this is a hard thing to hold back on as well, since so many cards are surfacing you might find ones that you really need and haven't seen in years. The best thing to try and do is maybe speak with the seller and see if they are able to work out a deal with you. Chances are they will since they want to sell, just watch out for the price. Having patience and waiting can be challenging but a must need in order to stay within your limits and not giving in.

#2. Slumps or Injuries are your collections best friend - Of course since you root for you favorite player or team you never want them to loose 100 games a season or get hurt. Your collection on the other hand loves this. It is the best time to buy anything of your player or team when this happens. Everyone is dumping what they have and you can get some really good deals on items. Anything from Autographs, Patch cards and low serial numbered cards will be out there to buy at cheap prices. And in addition this is when you can put in some low offers and will get that price or close to it. This might be the worst time for your player or team but it is a really good time for you and your collection. Great examples are Arod and Robinson Cano, both are going through the worst slumps of their careers. Both of their cards aren't going to drop down to rock bottom prices because they are Yankees, but you can bet they will be cheaper in the next little while.

#3. Always be on the lookout - The one day or week you don't check listings of your player is the day those big cards might have been gobbled up. It's a challenging hobby to keep on top of your game in collecting your player. You need to continue to search and look for cards all the time. You never know when that listing of a players wrong name is listed on a hard to find card, or they are in a huge lot and not mentioned in the listing. This is mainly searching online within forums and auction sites, but again you can never really stop or take a break from searching out your player for cards.

#4. Off-Seasons and Strikes -  During the off-season people still list their cards and try to make some money on some new releases that came out either at the end of a season or in the off-season. When this happens there isn't a lot of people on looking for cards so it is a good time to check out some cards in supply and get some deals or buy in bulk. Another time is during a strike or work stoppage in a sport. This is currently happening with the NHL but that hasn't stopped card companies from making cards or people from selling them. This is a really bad time for the sport but an excellent time to get cards at rock bottom prices. Since no one is playing nobody if splaying nobody is hot or leading a scoring title. This makes everyone on the same playing field no matter superstar or not. Also a lot of sellers are trying to get whatever they can for cards and will sell cheaper than if the season was in full swing.

Utilizing these four tips can improve your buying of your collection and keep money in your pocket for more cards down the road. The cost it took to put your collection together and the value increase that you have gained can be a satisfying feeling, and when you can look back and see the amount of deals you made for some of those tough cards by following a smart and patience system can be well worth it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Superstitions, Myth's and Truth's about buying buying boxes and cases

For a long time now we have heard from buyers and sellers of sports cards that there is a trick or multiple tricks to buying the right box or case. Unless proven to you in person or documented, you really can't just take the word of the hobby sometimes. All collectors would love to have the odds in their favour and be able to pull those massive hits in a box or case, it really mess's around with our buying if we here of certain "whispers" within the hobby of tricks.

With most products now having a serial number attached to each box and case, it is very easy for the card companies to know what cards are in each of those cases down to the box. The main reason for this is to ensure quality control with the end consumers (you and me) on damaged or missing cards within a box or case. This is also to prevent boxes/cases from being sold outside of hobby shops, control of who sells the products is becoming more important to the card companies than in years past.

So have you heard of a Myth or Superstition in buying products? I think I ran out of counting how many I've heard a few years back. I have to say though that I have tried a couple of them and even came up with a few of my own over the years. Some were bang on and others were so far off that I forgot what I was looking for.

Recently I heard of one collector that buys based on numbers on the boxes. Panini specifically has a different serial number on each box they produce. So he simply looks for his number and buys only if the numbering is in the serial number. In his case he looks for the number 44, if it shows up anywhere on the box or case he is buying he rips it. He's been very lucky in the past with serial numbers having 44 in it so that is his own theory. I thought I would give it a try recently and found my number and ripped a box, read my review on 2012 Panini Prominence and see how I did.

Just like collecting everyone has their way of picking product. One guy I know has to have the 4th box pulled out from a case. Another collector buys his products on an even numbered day and has to have an even numbered serial number on the product. This other collector picks the highest serial number between the boxes and buys it. Another one I heard of was a collector who lived on the East Coast but was a West Coast fan of teams. He would only buy products that were shipped from the West Coast because he thought they would have more of the local teams in the product then any other spot selling products.

A lot of this boils down to superstitions in buying, but others seem to have cracked some sort of code and not stop using their method. I have to agree on the serial number ideas out there, if you do pull really decent cards every time out of the same set of numbers you have to stick with it. You can't back down on history because it's proven, until of course you start running down a very long bad streak and need to change it up.

The only one who truly knows where everything is? The companies themselves. They have to know and if you hear any different someone is trying to fool you. Now of course there have been theories out there that only the big distributors receive the best cases or boxes of certain products, but I don't think that is the case (at least not anymore). Being up in Canada it sometimes gets hard to find Baseball products in plentiful quantities, so you buy what you can and open it up. And believe me I've seen some great cards pulled, especially the last two years. heck even the other day at the hobby shop someone pulled a Bryce Harper Finest Autograph.

Going forward there will always be more superstitions than hard core facts about buying boxes. You really don't know for sure what you will pull out of a box these days. Unless you buy products by the case it's a crap shoot on what you pull. I love hearing stories from other collectors on their own tricks/superstitions on buying product. I hope that never changes as it has been one of those never ending stories within the community for years. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Product Review: 2012-2013 Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey Hobby Box

I'm not sure if it's the playing of EA Sports NHL13 daily but the lockout hasn't stopped me from buying Hockey products. This week Upper Deck came in with a Star Studded one this week in 2012-2013 Artifacts. This has been a very decent product in the past but this year Upper Deck injected some super added relics and autographs that it will be hot from the get go.

The configuration is the same as last year with ten packs per box and 4 cards within each pack. Now for the goodies; each box will contain 1 Autograph, 1 Multi-Player Game Used card, 2 Single Player Game Used Cards, 1 Rookie Redemption, 2 Rookie Cards /999, 2 Goalie Insert cards /999 and 2 Team Canada Insert cards /999. Also on average every box with have a card featuring either a Patch, Strap, Stick or Tag!
In addition every other box will be packed with either a Autographed Rookie Redemption /99, Patch-Stick /10, Dual Patch /15, Patch-Tag /2, Dual Jersey Auto /12, Patch-Jersey Autograph /8, Dual Patch Autograph /3, Patch-tag Autograph /1, Black Foil Autograph /5, or a Tandem or Trio Patch, Strap or Tag from /35 down to /1.

Needless to say this product is loaded. With Panini providing very solid hockey products this year, it was really Upper Deck's time to shine and step-up. The price point on this product is very good as well, coming in at around the $100 range. Not one of the high end products within the sport but looking at the very affordable mid-range area with multiple hits. With the added Patch, Strap or Tag in each box this is sure to be a very popular product on the secondary market.

For myself I have been a fan of the Artifact product since it was introduced into baseball a few years back. It wasn't very flashy or had a reputation of a stellar product in years past, but it was a decent product. This years hockey seems to have morphed into a super-high attention flash into the market with the added value.
I was planning on purchasing this product and was happy it was on schedule and not delayed on hitting the market. I picked up a box and here is how I did:

Base: 28 (no doubles)
Base Parallels: 0
Rookie Redemption: Chicago Blackhawks
Rookie Cards /999: Jussi Rynnas & Tyler Cuma
Goalie Insert /999: Steve Mason
Team Canada Insert /999: Shea Weber
Multi-Player Game Used: 1 Tundra Tandems Zetterberg/Franzen
Single Player Game Used Card: Taylor Hall Dual Jersey /125
Dual Jersey Autograph: Brayden Schenn /12 (Team Canada)
Patch Jersey Emerald: Chris Pronger /75 (Team Canada)
I can't say it enough, this product is very strong for this year. The Base cards are very nice and have a nice foil on the bottom, but I did find some that were chipped or in some cases a little bent on the bottom corners. I only received a couple but still with only 2-3 per pack it's not a great feeling to find them there. The Dual Jerseys of Multi-Players are cool, nothing too special about the swatches but could only imagine if I pulled a patch or other special relic how they would look. The Chris Pronger Patch-Jersey and the Brayden Schenn Dual Jersey Autograph were both really nice pulls. Especially living in Canada that these were Team Canada relics and not other team relics. The very low numbered pulls I received were great, you really can't argue with hits at numbers of /75 or less. The Rookie Redemption cards will have to wait and see, you don't really know who these will end up to be so you either take your chance and redeem them or flip them. As for the Autograph, it is a sticker and wish for an on-card but I'll take it. The odds of pulling 2 Team Canada and Goalies SP's was off by 1 each but I suppose maybe the high-end hits took over for those? Either way I'm happy.

Overall I really like this product. I think it is very good value coming out of the boxes I had as well as others I've seen opened. This product certainly has taken a strong charge on the mid-range market and has put Upper Deck into the conversation as one of the stronger products of the year. I would recommend this product to any range of collector. The Lower-end collector will have a great time opening up this product, and that goes the same for the Mid-High end collectors. With the value of the Patch, Strap, Stick or Tag card in the box your bound to pull something very good from this product.

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autographs: 3.5/5 
Memorabilia: 5/5
Design: 4.5/5
Rookies: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Do we really need to continue with the Photo Variations?

This might turn into a rant but has anyone had enough of these yet? Maybe it's just me but I really don't look forward to these the last few years. All three main companies; Topps, Upper Deck and Panini have had these in at least one or more products this year. Topps being the most across all lines that have included these into their products. Of course it is mainly the lower end products that have these but we have seen a couple of mid-range products with these variations included.

One of the hardest things with these is knowing which is which. You need to do a little research in order to figure out if you have one or not. Sometimes there might be 3 or 4 different variations of the same player too, Andrew Luck in 2012 Topps is a perfect example.

I personally am not a fan of them, I wish they would put more into harder to pull inserts or subsets to draw interest. I understand that this has been done in the past and the photo variations have done very well for the companies. I just would hope from a collectors point of view they would stop the photo variations. I just have no interest in trying to find or paying big money for a different photo of a player on a base card.

I think one of the worst two sets that were out this year that included the Photo variations were Topps Baseball Series 1 & 2 and Panini Score Football. These sets had a large number of base cards to start and to include photo variations of anywhere from 20-50 different cards with variations. Doesn't make it too fun to sort through each of these cards to ensure you don't have a variations or if you do in order to not trade or sell away the wrong one. I have also heard of 2012 Topps Update running with Photo variations as well, but hopefully not too many.

Hopefully the run of photo variations will end at some point (sooner rather than later). Of course the next new variation or gimmick that is put into the future products could be worse, but hopefully they will be a better idea or concept to run with to please all collectors.