Thursday, November 15, 2012

Product Review: 2012 Topps Chrome Football Hobby Box

Late last week Topps Released their 2012 edition of Chrome Football. As soon as it hit the shelves boxes were bought up. Collectors wanted to rip these open and in volumes. The demand for the product still a week later is still as high when the product came out. I really enjoyed the Chrome Baseball this year and decided to be one of the many interested in buying this product.
So the run down for 2012 Chrome Football is as follows; 24 Packs per Hobby Box, 4 cards per pack which include at least 1 Rookie per Pack. The configuration of the Hobby boxes are that you will receive 1 Rookie Autograph, 1 Prism Refractor, 2 Tall Boys, 1 Quarterback Rookie Reprint, 1 Red Zone Rookie, 4 1984 Retro Rookie Reprints, and 2 1957 Retro Rookie Reprints. Parallel's are plenty as well with all the colors of the Chrome Rainbow along with new Camo, Pink and Prism Refractors. These are subjected to odds of 1:3 for the basic Refractors to1:5165 for the Non-Autographed Refractors.

With the Rookie crop this year and the way autographs of Griffin and Luck have been hitting this is a very big product to try and obtain any of them or the top picks playing well currently. The cost of the average Hobby box is anywhere between $69.99 - $99.99 depending on where you buy it from. Still looking at under $100 for the box, but this could go up due to the demand for the rookie autographs in this product.
Most of the Rookie Autographs I've seen have been on-card which is great, however I have seen a couple with sticker autographs for the duals and some of the relic/auto cards. And yes Topps has added in some relics to the rookie autographed subsets to chase down, so lots of rookie product in this 2012 edition.
The Base cards follow the previously released 2012 Topps set and provide 220 cards including the rookies to collect. This design along with the chrome technology really provides a quality product to the collecting community and should rank up with one of the best of the year. As for how I did with my 1 Hobby box as are the results:

Base cards: 34 (no duplicates)
Rookie Cards: 37
Refractors: 9 (4 RC's)
1965 Tall Boys: 2 - Jeffery, Pead
1957 Retro: 2 - Randle, Hill
1984 Retro: 4 - Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, Osweiler, L. Miller
Red Zone Rookies:  Michael Egnew
Quarterback Retro Rookie: Frank Tarkenton
Prism Refractor: Chandler Jones /216
Camo Refractor: Ryan Fitzpatrick /499
                                         BCA Pink Refractor: Vernon Davis 399
Black Refractor: Ryan Broyles /299
1957 Retro Rookie Refractor: David Wilson /99
Rookie Autograph: TJ Graham (on-card)
I have to say I am very pleased with this 2012 Chrome product. The design, Refractors, the cards coming out of the packs in a normal shape and not bent anymore, things are looking really great for Chrome products going forward. I did pretty well for my box overall. The T.J. Graham Autograph is not the best pull for this year and was hard to even know it was an autograph on the card with his signature. I love the Refractors from this box, Black, Pink, Camo and Prism are all extremely nice on this design and make me want to try to obtain more to build a set. The Retro Rookies look even better in the Chrome product than they did in the Regular Topps series. The Red Zone Rookie Die-cuts are great as well, very sharply cut and set off the product in a great way.

I think it goes without saying that I'm a very big fan of this product. It really is a great mid-value product that compares to the big boys as a top contender for Football line of the year. Topps has again stepped up with their Chrome products and made this 2012 Football edition one of the best in recent years that will be hard to beat going into 2013. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a box yet you better do it soon. The stock will run short in no time on this product and make sure to pick one up and enjoy ripping open the packs like I did.

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Cost: 5/5
Autographs: 4/5 
Parallels: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Rookies: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 5/5

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Product Review: 2012 Topps Five Star Baseball

So you want to go big? Than go 2012 Topps Five Star! This is the products first year in Baseball coming from a successful 2011 stint with their Football product. This Baseball product is different from the Football and carries a heavy price for it. First off, if your purchasing this product you are buying one pack containing Six cards. Yes only Six cards are in this packaged product. And the price tag has been around the $475-$525 tag at pre-sale, so your ending up with paying $100 per card (give or take). This is a big gamble to take on for Six cards and might be the reason we haven't seen this for this sport in some time.
2012 has been a big year for Topps in Major League Baseball. They introduced some new products, loaded up on relics and autographs, and brought back in grand style the Bat knobs. This all while leaving the biggest product till last with Five Star. Of course this had a lot to do with having every autograph signed on-card, but it might also have to do with the amount of content going into this product. It will include Relics, Jumbo Relics, Patches, Batter Logo Patches, Bat Knob, Bat Plates and Jersey Letters. All this coming along with Autographs all on-card and could have anywhere from Singles, Cuts, Dual, Triple, Quads, Five, Six and Eight autographs all on one card or booklet! This product really packs it in there, and why shouldn't it for a price around $500 it should.
 Not to scare anyone off of this product but unless your willing to let go of $500 for a chance of a few really great cards I don't see you buying into this product. This is mainly due to the cost aspect and not the product itself. The product looks great and has everything you would want from a high end brand, however the price is the sticking point for a lot of us. Even myself thought about holding onto the $500 and waiting for the cards to be sold online and spend it there on 1 or 2 cards I really would want. However the gambler in me decided to order 1 box/pack of this high end product to bust open and take a chance on maybe something cool coming out of it.

So here are my results from the bust:
Base Card: Robinson Cano Rainbow Parallel #/10
Autographed Active Player: Ryan Zimmerman #/150
Autographed Retired Legend: Al Kaline #/208
Autographed Relic: Giancarlo Stanton Silver #/97
Jumbo Jersey Relic: Carlos Gonzalez Gold #/25
Autographed Jersey Book: Don Mattingly Gold #/10

So first thoughts? Wow that is a lot of money for these pulls. Now of course I knew this going in and had very low expectations on this break. Even my LCS owner Glen was a little sorry I didn't pull a big card out of this box. However I must say I did not too badly compared to other breaks I've seen. The Cano Rainbow #/10 is very nice and was a surprise to pull out since we fully don't know the entire parallel ranges yet. The Gonzalez Jumbo is nothing special and reminds me of the Museum Collection, but was nice to be a lower number than what I've seen online. The Stanton and Zimmerman are a little disappointing but again not the worst players I could have pulled. Kaline has a nice autograph and is a popular player within the community. And finally the Mattingly, when I saw the booklet saying signature triple booklet with the Yankees logo on it a million things came to mind. Jeter, Cano, Arod, and on it went. I was happy to pull the Mattingly booklet and for it to be numbered low at #/10. The jersey pieces are the away grey but still a nice card overall.

As for the quality of the cards I was a little sad to say they are a little dinged up. Knowing that Topps has sent these out to players to hard sign them gives me reason to believe that all players aren't collectors nor would take care of them the same way you or I would. I do believe it is hard for Topps to police this from happening but could have maybe took a little extra time in reviewing them before sending them out in a $500 hobby box. For myself I noticed the Cano with a ding that I wish wasn't there, but at least the other cards aren't too bad with some chipping and the back of the cards having some wear. Looks like this product was handled a lot between Players, maybe their friends/teammates, and Topps employees.
 I do hope this product continues on for the next few years. As you know I love hard card signed autographs and this product packs it in there. I'm sure Topps had a heck of a time getting this all resourced out in order to provide us this product and I thank them for it. With all new things in life everyone has their flaws, and this product would be in the Mint side of the product. The designs and concepts of a product this type really is great and I can look away from the small dinged card that I received and appreciate the other aspects on what Topps took to provide this to the collectors. Baseball being my main sport of collection I truly love the cards I've seen live of this product and will continue to buy this product in the future. The Fun Aspect of this product is lower compared to other products because of the amount of money your paying for a gamble of cards in this product. Seemed more nerve racking than fun for me at least.

Gambler Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5
Cost: 3.5/5
Autographs: 4/5 
Memorabilia: 4/5
Design: 4.5/5
Concept: 5/5
Fun Aspect: 3.5/5

Sunday, November 11, 2012

43rd Sports Card and Memorabilia Expo Review

Twice a year us Canadians have our big card show to attend in Toronto. This being the 43rd show it goes without saying it is always a great turnout and great place to find anything sports related.

This November's show again proved the collecting industry is still hot. People from around the world come into Toronto to be apart or experience the show that happens once in the Spring and once in the Fall. This includes companies within the industry like regulars Upper Deck, In The Game and Panini.

For the 43rd Show Upper Deck had a promotion involving expired Redemption cards in a "Trade-in and receive" program and their Priority Signings. Panini had a few promotions with a 4 card exclusive pack and a wrapper redemption exclusive for the Fall Expo.

With the Dealers, you can find anything you can think of at the show. From display cases, autographs, jersey's, goalie masks and of course cards. To top off the shows there are always autograph guests scheduled during the 3-day event. This Fall was the 1972 Team Canada Reunion along with other retired hockey stars and sports related guests.

This was my 12th show and I was excited to be apart of another promising event. I made it out on Sunday (final day of the show) and after hearing and seeing the highlights from Friday and Saturday it sure couldn't come any sooner.

I arrived when the doors opened and started my first of many rounds through the dealer rows. I noticed a lot of newer dealers throughout the show and some familiar dealers no longer there. The consistent on everyone's table was Panini Certified Hockey, Panini Score, and Upper Deck Series 1 for the wrapper redemption. I noticed a lot of unique items at a majority of the tables which included game used pucks, jerseys, sticks and even baseball bats which are rare at the expo since it being mainly hockey.
I did notice that a lot of the Football products were missing from a lot of tables. With the products being so strong this year I was hoping to grab a few but nothing really there to be found.

By the time I hit the middle rows, the autograph lines were packed. A lot of the focus seemed to be on the players coming today rather than searching for deals at tables. I for one was mainly there for the wrapper redemption from Panini and also to have a couple of cards authenticated by JSA, and to hand in a shipment into COMC (Check out my cards).

JSA was great, they handled authentication so quickly and efficiently. Both my Patrick Roy cards were completed within an hour and were both certified as authentic.

COMC was hard to find in the corporate area. They were on the end beside the Beckett tables. I met Geoff Holland from COMC. Great guy to talk with and was nice to discuss COMC and them working now within Canada. It was a super plus to be able to hand in my shipment and not worry about shipping it down to the US and adding that extra cost. I really hope they do well with the Canadian expansion and continue to provide a great service for collectors.

I had a great time with the Panini team. Really great guys and they have just as much fun about the product as the buyers ripping into the packs. I bought a box of 2012-13 Panini Certified Hockey in order to receive the 6 Expo Redemption Packs. I ripped through the box pretty quickly and did ok on the box bust pulling 3 relics (2 of which were numbered to /75 from the Kings) and an autograph of Peter Holland.

I started into my 6 Redemption Packs and came out pretty good. I managed to pull a Brett Lawrie Hot Rookie /399, Ryan Broyles Relic and a Cracked Ice of Sven Baertschi with an announced print run of  /25 or less. The Base cards are nice as well and with only 2 cards per redemption pack these cards will be hot.    

The best deal of the show that I saw for boxes was 2011-2012 Panini Rookie Anthology for $70!! Crazy price so I had to buy at least one of these boxes. On top of that Universal (distributor for Panini) had a Wrapper Redemption for these boxes where as you would receive 3 packs from the 2011-2012 NHL All-Star Game Wrapper Redemption packs from Panini. So I sat down with a Universal representative and ripped open the box. As you know I hold Rookie Anthology in high regard as one of the best products of the year, so I was thrilled to rip into another box of it. After the ripping was done I pulled an Autographed Jimmy Hayes, Dual Jersey Autographs of Erik Condra and Jake Gardiner, a Starting 6 of the Red Wings and the bonus hit was a two color patch of Erik Gudbranson. A very nice box to say the least.

I wasn't expecting much from the Redemption packs but I did manage to pull a Jason Spezza Certified numbered 4/5!
Now what would be said if I went to a Expo and not come away with at least something Baseball related. I didn't really see much in the way of card products for Baseball that were decent deals. I did however notice that a few dealers had some Bats for sale. Some were official bats, autographed bats and some game used. Being a lover of baseball, the history and the Blue Jays, I was able to find a very nice piece to add to my collection. I went to the "Everything Blue Jays Dealer", he had some nice autographed balls and some other oddities from the Blue Jays. This though was the first time I noticed he had Game Used Baseball Bats from previous years players. A lot of the bats he had were role players from teams past, but he did have a 1985 Game Used bat of Willie Upshaw. As soon as I saw it I had to have it. It has a little crack in the handle and is a great and very hard memorabilia piece to find of the Blue Jays former 1st basemen. It came from a Blue Jays executive who had a personal collection that he recently sold off after he had moved into a smaller residence.

Overall I found my experience at the show pretty good. The attendance might have been a bit slower on Sunday but talking with the dealers it seemed to be really good on Saturday with selling products. I think the Hockey Strike has effected the overall excitement of the Expo and it seemed to also take a hit on some of the dealers as well with Rookies not making names for themselves and nothing to cheer or really search out for. However I think the Panini Wrapper Redemption was HOT, HOT, HOT!!! It brought me to the show and I'm sure others as well. If you've never been to the Expo it is a definite must for anyone living in the area or close enough to take a trip to visit. The organizers always do a great job with the customers and dealers alike and should be for the years to come.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

1st Edition; The Pack Gambler Followers: "What are you collecting?"

As you know, The Pack Gambler is all about providing insight and opinion on sports cards within our community. What we also strive for is to have The Pack Gambler Followers on Twitter and Facebook involved into our blogs, reviews and news. So the idea of writing a blog/article on our Followers was an easy idea and would also provide other collectors some thoughts about what others within the community are collecting or investing in. Hopefully this will be our 1st of many more to come along.

We recently asked our followers within the Facebook community to tell us what they are currently collecting. The question was at a time where the World Series was in full swing, NFL just finished Week 7, NBA Pre-season was under way and the NHL continued to stay in a lockout. Lots of things happening within the sporting world which was the perfect time to ask about what you were collecting.

With the MLB season almost ending I knew a lot of collectors would be still focusing on their projects they started this year within some of the baseball products.

Like Tracy L."Trying to complete my 2012 Triple Play set but most people don't have any cards to trade from it. Difficult set to complete." 

Other collectors like Jonathan H. and Justin W. whom try to narrow their collecting to baseball have on-going projects that carry over each year:

"I'm currently running down the Boston Red Sox Unity Jersey cards from 2012 Topps Triple Thread. Finding them on eBay is easy, winning them on the cheap is not. Outside of that it's Red Sox cards in general. Trying to collect all of them is a chore but it's a fun chore, I guess you'd call it a hobby." said Justin W.
"I collect mostly baseball, all Pirates, especially HOF and prospects. This year was good to me with prospect and RC autos. Got 2 Starling Marte RC Auto Relics, 2 Geritt Cole autos, and a Jameson Taillon auto. Also hit a nice Andrew McCutchen redemption." says Jonathan H.
As for myself in the Baseball collecting, I too am continuing with my on-going search for 2011 Topps Jose Bautista Parallel Rainbow of Chrome and Regular Topps. In addition to the Bautista 2011's I'm always in search for BlueJay Rookies along with Lawrie, Arencibia, Romero and Drabek cards.  

With the NHL still in full lockout mode with no light at the end of the very dark tunnel, fans are still seeing new Releases out on the market. Upper Deck and Panini both have continued with their plan for 2012-2013 products and haven't disappointed. This is one of the reasons for Hockey collectors to try and find new avenues to collect within the sport. Rookie cards being pulled in packs right now still hold some value, but nothing like they would if the season was in full swing.

Collectors like Matthew S. are just an example of how some NHL collectors are trying new things. "I've always leaned towards collecting rookies but with the lock-out I've become more interested in the classic players. Right now it seems that there are quite a few Brett Hull auto and memorabilia cards out there, unlike previous years. Hull has always been one of my favorite players so I've been trying to track down a few of his cards in the secondary market."

I'm not a collector of Hockey any longer but if I still was this is a very good way of tailoring your collection during a sad time of a lock-out. Most of the products coming out this year are including a lot of retired players in the product and like Matthew stated above, your going to be seeing a lot of older players cards showing up in new and previous years products like you never seen before. 

On the flip side though is the unfortunate part of any lockout could be the loss of collectors in the industry. Even for a year or a bit during a lock-out can effect the hobby in many ways. For instance Andrew M. has turned his collecting habits into Baseball; "I mainly collect hockey but this year because the NHL season is looking more and more like it is going to be lost I have returned to collecting baseball. There are some very cool products and cards out there that have been released so have been chasing the Blue Jays cards from several of the sets as they are released." he states. 
This could also continue to be a trend in the industry and could turn collectors even away for good depending on what happens with the lock-out and the future products coming out. 
As most of us we do dabble into other sports and mix and match with cities or certain players. Jamie B. has been focused on Football and Basketball; "Collecting football and basketball. I have great luck with Panini football grabbing a jersey RGIII and his auto/jersey but no luck getting any hit with Andrew Luck. Basketball I collect Bulls!" 
While Matthew G. is into Baseball and Football; "Been trying to chase down a Bryce Harper and Trout rookies. I also collect Yankees and have been putting a binder of cards together. And for football, anything especially NY Giants I collect. Been trying to put together a Giants collection and sorting them by player in binders.

Then you have some collectors that take on everything like Brad J. who is not only working on his collection, but a future project for his little one to continue; "I am doing a lot of any kind of card collecting. NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL I'm doing all of them but mostly football and baseball I wouldn't mind start more on the NHL ones so when I get older my son can have all my cards and collect mine."

With collecting cards it never gets old, and if you happen to stray away for a bit and come back into the hobby (like I have) you can get right back into the fold without missing a heart beat. Laurie G. is currently starting this up again "Football then baseball, basketball I don' t have much of but would like to add to. Getting back into collecting so I'm like a little kid all over again happy with whatever I get my hands on!" she states.

Hearing back from our Followers you can see that there are always going to be various ways of collecting during certain times of the year. The NHL Lockout has proved to somewhat hinder the hockey collecting for some but has given others another outlook to run with. Baseball and Football seem to continue to be the strength of the hobby, with collectors looking for certain players, teams and products. 
Current day the MLB season completed with the Giants sweeping the series, the NHL lockout still continuing, the NFL moving into Weeks 8-9 and the NBA about to start the Regular Season. There are collections starting, ending or continuing in some fashion with the change in the sports world all the time.