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, or our COMC account ThePackGambler. If you are interested in any of the cards we have mentioned please send us an e-mail at

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. 

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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 We might feature you in an upcoming story. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

How does the Baseball Hall of Fame selection impact collectors?

January 8th 2014 Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were selected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. All three very deserving of this honor. The question we thought during this time was "Will this impact collecting cards of these players?"

All the time in our hobby we've seen a slew of cards hit eBay and other trading sites when someone has broken a record, dominated their sport or has done something in the public eye. Will the Hall of Fame selection be any different?

Lets look at each player within the hobby and see how this might impact your collection.

Frank Thomas;
The "Big Hurt" has been a hobby superstar since coming into the league. Most of his base cards are around the $1.00 mark with the serial numbered cards going for much high amounts. His 1990 Leaf RC is the most popular still (except for the No Name Topps). You can still find some good deals on them and even graded cards are decent prices to pick up for your HOF collection. Game Used Jersey and Bat cards are in the middle range depending on if it is a serial numbered card or not. You can find a Bat or Jersey swatch for around the $3-5 range and there are many to choose from. Autograph cards currently have been in the $30+ range and have been hitting $100+ for certain cards. His autograph cards are very popular and do very well in the secondary market. Since making the HOF, his cards have stayed in the same price range except for his autographs. They have jumped up a bit and are around the $50-$120+. A little surprised the 1990 Leaf hasn't gone up to the levels is was at years ago but maybe it will in a few more years.

Greg Maddux;
Maddux collectors have had it a bit easier than Thomas collectors over the years. His base cards have been really good prices at .50 cents or less on most. Even his RC cards from 1987 are in really good ranges. Graded cards have been around the $18 mark for some time for 9.5 grades which is a steal when your talking about a HOF player. Game Used Jersey and even some Bat relics are out there and are around the same as Thomas prices. There are fewer Maddux relics out of the three players so they are tougher to find a nice patch or multi-color jersey. As for Autographs, these are the toughest. prices start around $60 and jump up close to $200 on some cards. There just isn't a lot of his penmanship out there. The same holds true for Maddux since the HOF selection and his prices have been the same. Autographs continue to lead the pack with very strong secondary market. As for his XRC cards, they are still very cheap. graded or not try and pick these up for future value.

Tom Glavine;
Out of the three players, Glavine is the least expensive overall. His base cards are always in the "10 for a $1.00" bin or packaged in with commons. His RC cards from 1988 are always the cheapest as you can find a very crisp ungraded card for less than $1.00. Even the graded 9.5 or 10's are under $20.00 sometimes. Jersey and Bat relics are easily found and are consistent within the $3.00 range, but there are a number of really nice patch cards out there which fetch some decent money. Autograph cards are out there but can be scarce at times. They are in a nice $20-30 range with some hitting close to the $80 range for low serial numbered cards. The one difference between the three is that Glavine's autographs and patch relics have risen since being named to the HOF. not by huge amounts but you now find autographs hitting the $50 range and patch cards in the mid $20 to $30's. Most of the draw has been towards his Brave's relics compared to his Mets. His graded RC's are still affordable and could see some nice returns down the road.

Overall there hasn't been a significant jump in any prices among the three players. There has been an increase in listings overall which is very common right after this announcement each year. With the influx in listings your bound to find some decent prices on anything from base to autographed cards. Typically autographed memorabilia is where the increases are seen and you will see an increase in new items with "HOF" inscriptions. Card companies are not too often to jump on the inscriptions but could see this in the future with brands like Topps Five Star, Triple Threads and Panini Cooperstown. The three players will be showing up in more new card sets as HOF players which will increase the number of cards to your collection.

Next years ballot has another monster list of potential selections with the likes of Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Gary Sheffield. Lets not forget those who also could make it in that are close like Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, and Tim Raines. It may not be until the 2016 ballot when Ken Griffey Jr. makes his first appearance that we may see a bigger influx in prices after a selection. With a big name like him going in with cards already at superstar prices we could be in for a hobby boost.

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Make sure to visit our storefront at, or our COMC account ThePackGambler