Monday, October 26, 2015

A Big Black Chair and One Crazy Maze

I decided to move.

Apparently when I decide to do something life changing, it happens quickly.  Two weeks ago my cousin and I started looking around for an apartment.  As of yesterday, I'm sleeping in a new bed in a new town.  Granted, there are still plenty of things that need to be done to get the place in order, clean, and all set up, but I did sleep there last night!

I've been all over Connecticut these last two weeks for this reason.  Most of the travelling was for shopping for the new place, and I got got to experience some new stores.  Both my roommate and myself are moving from living with our parents to save money, so we're starting completely from scratch as far as the various sundries needed for a place.  Over these two weeks we've been to all kinds of stores, from discount bargain bins, to high end outlets.  It's been quite the adventure!

By far, the two most interesting stores were "The Pit" (owned by Bob's Discount Furniture) and IKEA.  The Pit is simply that... a cesspool of furniture that is usually ruined in some way.  I went there on mission to find some furnishings for the new place and found a lot of broken crap.  There are signs on all the pieces that state the price and then will sometimes have a description of a possible defect.  There were a few that had holes in them, a couple had some broken wood… you know the deal. 
Big black chair in it's new home.

In any case, I found a really nice looking black leather recliner that had an original list price of $650 (who knows how correct that is) and was knocked down significantly.  The sign had no other information on it as far as defects, so I went and tested it out.  Of course the automatic reclining part of the chair didn’t work and I let the salesperson know.  She proceeded to write the problem on the price tag.  I asked if the price was going to change because of the defect and she snottily replied with a “no.”

Naturally, I bought the chair (and a lamp plus end table) anyways.

IKEA was a far more interesting place.  I know that I've been into one of these furniture super-stores before, but it has been quite a long time since that visit.  I remember playing hide-and-seek once in one of the floors because of all the fun setups and alcoves it had.  I was certainly looking forward to seeing the place again (...well as much as any man might "look forward" to shopping).

In any case, the closest IKEA to where I formally lived was about 75 minutes away and I cut that time in half by moving.  I also knew exactly what I was looking for before I left.  I needed a storage shelf that would display nicely and be able to hold both board games and binders of baseball cards.  After a bit of online searching I found the KALLAX unit that IKEA sold and decided to traverse on over.

What a monster... When you walk into the place, they usher you up an escalator onto their display floor, and that's all it is.  Display.  You can't actually pick up anything to buy.  It's just all ticketed and tells you where you can buy it.  I was looking for "media storage" and I found the section on the convenient map (yes... there was a map).  The clever map told me that I was right next to the section in question.  I simply had to walk through a wall to get there.  Luckily, there was a cleverly hidden "shortcut" to get me there faster.  This is not the exact map, but hopefully you get the idea.

After you finished walking through the showroom, they ushered you to the ground floor marketplace where there were even more hidden shortcuts that you could only use if you had a map in hand.  I would say that we did a speed run through the place and it still took us 30-45 minutes to get through it all.  It definitely had us laughing.

I did get my storage shelves though!  I have to go and build them today!  I just wanted to let you all know what I was up to.  I have some trade posts to get up in the near future, but it still might be a bit as I have to go out and buy a brand new scanner.  MORE MONEY!

Oh, this also means I have a new address.  I almost forgot about that.  You're more than welcome to send to the old address if you wish.  I'll still be there 3-4 times a month.  Otherwise, feel free to reach out to me for the new one.  I'll still be more than happy to trade!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #86

Here's the second of the two blasters I opened almost two weeks ago now.

Set: 2015 Allen & Ginter What Once Was Believed
            Total Cards: 10
            Stated Odds: 1:2 (along with other full-sized inserts)

Bubba’s Derived Odds: 1:14
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 5.83

Favorite (Owned) Card:

In the past I've tended to enjoy insert sets that either teach me something new or make me go and look something up on the all powerful interwebs.  This 10 card set taught me a little bit, but in all honesty, I knew most of what this set covered already before even looking at the cards.

I chose this card as my favorite simply because it DID teach me something.  I found this cartographic error to be fascinating.  How does something like this happen???  Aren't maps supposed to be detail oriented?  How does a random strait get inserted into America's west coast?  Explorers probably saw the Sierra Nevada and said... "I give up, I just went over the Rocky Mountains and now I have to deal with these???  I have an idea!  Let's make believe these mountains are actually water... that way no one can blame me for not going any further."

Notes and Comments:
If you follow these Insert Set Review posts at all you'll notice that I've gone backwards a bit.  I decided I finally have a decent enough impression of the 2015 inserts that I can start including them in this series.  This brings our total insert set count up to exactly 100!

I would note that I'm probably pretty biased to these full-sized insert sets right now (in the negative sense).  I've seen far too much of them recently, they're far too common in this year's product, and I simply have an overall bad taste in my mouth (no explaination... it tastes like peppers though.  You know, like when you eat a philly cheese steak and then 2 hours later you only taste peppers???).  I think that their arbitrary scores reflect that.  Perhaps one day in the future I'll go back and revisit these  sets and re-evaluate, but for now, they can keep their horrible scores.

Every one of this year's full-sized insert sets has something that really irks me about it.  This particular one is full of cards that are complete snoozers.  The set is incredibly boring at face value.  When you pull a card from this set out of a pack, there's no semblance of excitement or intrigue.  The reason for this is simple: just like it's Great Scott! counterpart, the cards fronts are completely droll.  Don't get me wrong, the subject matter is there... these kinds of things are right up my alley as far as subject matter that interests me.  Topps simply whiffed again on the pictures.


Oh, card backs?  They're fine I suppose.  I don't remember seeing a Ginter card back that I really hate.  A&G backed minis are the closest to that status.  These backs are pretty standard Ginter which makes them okay, but there really isn't anything overly spectacular about them either.

Arbitrary Rating (out of 100): 48
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% of Set Completed: 100%

Missing Cards: NONE!!!

Extra Cards: All but WAS-5.

Friday, October 9, 2015

2015 Panini Donruss Soccer Box (it's here!)

I said I was going to break one of these so here it is.

Here's your base card, front an back.  I can't really say I hate the design and I wasn't really expecting much going into this, so I suppose this was a very "gentle" surprise.  I wouldn't go so far to say that I love it.  The card back is absolutely hideous...

However, my two main qualms of the base set is as follows:
  1. The set is 100 cards and you receive right around 150 base cards in a box.  ... ... ... WHY!?!?  This kind of thing confounds me.  Why would a person POSSIBLY want the same card over and over again in the same box?!?!
  2. This 100 card set only features about 15 clubs from across the world.  I would say that the vast majority of clubs were great picks, but there are no English clubs and for some reason Panini chose to include Club America (a team from Mexico for those of you that don't know) in this set.  Every other club is European... I don't get it.

The box also came with two short print national team variant base cards.  They aren't numbered or anything, but I thought these were pretty cool.

The box did, however, have plenty of inserts.  Here's some samples.

Every pack had 1.75 inserts on average so I ended up with quite the stack.

I got many and more of the most of the above inserts.  I simply picked out my favorites to show off.  If you notice, some of these inserts feature players from English squads, but they are in their International duds.  Panini must have had some type of licensing issue again... surprise, surprise!  

I'm not exactly sure why I scanned all four of this particular insert set.  While the players featured are almost certainly your more recognizable players, the design on the set is a bit underwhelming.  I did however, scan the back of this particular insert because I absolutely love it.

I can even forgive the duplicate photo on the back mostly because its cropped so tightly that it makes it look completely different.

My favorite insert would definitely have to go to Pitch Kings.  For some reason or another, Donruss always seems to save their sets with this iconic "Kings" insert.  All 6 of these cards are absolutely stunning and they certainly do feature the kings of the pitch... minus the English players of course.  The Messi pull is also pretty sweet!

Last but not least, I received 5 numbered parallels of various inserts or base cards.

I got pretty lucky and pulled some halfway decent names with these.

...but not so much these.

And finally, our 1 promised autograph from the box.  I was expecting complete crap for an autograph going into this.  I was beyond excited when I saw this come out of a pack.  Not only is Luke Shaw a name I recognize, but this kid plays for Manchester United... an ENGLISH club!  Heck yes.  I don't even care that it's an English club that I don't particularly enjoy.  Unfortunately for Luke, he broke his leg in two places last month and is probably going to be out for almost the entire season.

The video isn't that bad, I promise.  I mostly put it up to show how dangerous tackling can be in soccer.  A lot of people whine and complain about how the sport is full of babies going down at the slightest touch.  Granted, the above wasn't a love tap, but it certainly wasn't a dirty play.  In fact, it's borderline not even a foul because Moreno gets very close to getting the ball.

Anyhow... I'm very happy with that auto and I wish Luke the best in his recovery.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #87

I opened up two blasters of 2015 Allen & Ginter almost two weeks ago.  I was mainly looking for the Keys to the City inserts and I successfully got two brand new ones!  Other than that, there wasn't much else scan-worthy, so I'm just going to post the video (1 of 2), call it a day, and write about something else.

Set: 2015 Allen & Ginter Great Scott!
            Total Cards: 10
            Stated Odds: 1:2 (along with other full-sized inserts)

Bubba’s Derived Odds: 1:14
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 5.83

Favorite (Owned) Card:

This is far and away my favorite card in the set.  No other card even comes close, mostly because they're all pretty terrible.  I went into college my freshman year looking to be an engineer.  The classes filled up so I ended up transferring into Applied Physics.  I liked physics then and I still do to this day.  I simply felt that there were no great jobs in my future as a physics major, so I ended up focusing on Actuarial Science and minored in physics.  Well... I ended up with a job that has very little to do with any of those three fields (ESPN), yet I still appreciate what I learned throughout college and have used it at some points.

This card reminds me of one of my favorite classes in college; Quantum Physics.  I essentially audited the course as I really didn't apply myself on homework and exams, but I still really appreciated the professor and the subject material.  Before diving into teaching, he spent 10 or so years at CERN working directly with this massive collider and had countless numbers of really, really cool stories about his previous job.

This whole subset reminded me of that professor, and perhaps it is partly why I'm so hard on it.

Notes and Comments:
First and foremost.  Get better pictures... I mean common Topps.  Examples...

In my opinion, these are complete crap.  I get that some of these things are hard to photograph/represent, but I'm sure that Topps could've done better than these images.  I absolutely ADORE the set theme idea as its completely new to Allen & Ginter and no other set before this is like it.  I just think the execution was terrible.  Perhaps it would've been better to dive at it from a more historical type perspective... maybe have old black & white type photos, or maybe do something with newspaper articles about these discoveries.  In any case, ANYTHING would've been better than a picture of a URL from an old version of Internet Explorer (WHICH ISN'T EVEN A SEARCH ENGINE).

Enough ranting I suppose.  

Arbitrary Rating (out of 100): 47 (In some ways I feel like I'm being generous, and yet I still feel the superb theme saves this set a tiny bit)
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% of Set Completed: 100%

Missing Cards: NONE!!!

Extra Cards: All but GS-5

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #88

Set: 2011 Allen & Ginter Hometown Heroes
            Total Cards: 100
            Stated Odds: none stated

Bubba’s Derived Odds: 3:4
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 5.56

Favorite (Owned) Card:

I wouldn't say that this is my favorite card of this set, but it is the only player in the set that grew up in Connecticut.  Pavano apparently went to Southington High School which is a school I commonly visit to umpire other high schoolers.  Every now and then I think about this sort of thing while umpiring.  Will any of these players ever make it??? Not that Pavano really "made it" as he struggled constantly at the highest level.

As attested by this particular set, Connecticut is not exactly the breeding ground for future Major Leaguers.  I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of old-school work ethic up here, but it's also probably because of funding, family support, and general lack of interest in the sport.  Connecticut has become a cesspool individual living, grinding the 9-5 and leaving little time for those things that aren't strictly work or strictly relaxing.

Notes and Comments:
The set itself is not one I ever paid much attention to.  Because it showed up in nearly every pack, it was no better than a base card to me.  In addition, the design doesn't exactly catch one's eye.

The biggest problem with the set is that it is in many ways a copy-cat of the 2008 Allen & Ginter US States set.  It only features players born and raised in the US so it really narrows which stars can be shown off, and that's generally what people are looking for in a baseball-only insert set... star power.  Carl Pavano is a perfect example of a card that almost certainly wouldn't have made the cut of normal 100-card insert set with no limitations.

Digging into the design, I think the US map displayed on all the cards is somewhat cheesy.  In all honesty, if I had to design a US state based set I'm really not sure what I'd do.  The task seems extremely daunting and I think it's telling that Allen & Ginter failed miserably at it twice.

I do enjoy the card backs and I feel the horizontal orientation greatly helps in this case.  From the framed flavor text, to the pyramid based title text, everything seems to flow on this card back.  The only qualm I have with it is that the flavor text would get extra spacing to make it look better from a distance.  Here's an obvious example.

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% of Set Completed: 100%

Missing Cards: NONE!!!

Extra Cards: Too many to list.  Check out my Ginter Trade Bait if you're looking for specific ones!