Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2006 Bowman Originals; A Break From Yester-Year: Part II

Part II of III of this box is going to feature the glorious base cards from this box.  Up until about 2 months ago, I still had every base card from the box I had opened.  However, I traded with blogger Greg Zakwin over at plaschkethysweaterisargyle and included the two cards below as part of his bonus cards.  Aren't they beautiful?!?!

In any case, the set is fairly small (at least as far as I can tell), but features a metric ton of rookies and also has another base set that is just prospects.  So you're looking at typical Bowman here.  However, up until very recently (read: 2015) Bowman base sets have looked pretty miserable.  They usually aren't very interesting and simply have bad design, yet this set tickles my collectors eye.  I actually enjoy it quite a lot.  Here's a look at some of the better base cards I pulled.  You also get to see what the prospect cards look like:

 Pretty cool?!?!  I love the Markakis and Upton!  In any case, the packs didn't just come with base cards and autographs.  We also got our fair share of inserts!  The box yielded 4 blue parallels numbered to 249.

Hanley rookie, oh yeah!!!

All the card backs are the same (whether the card is a prospect, rookie, or veteran).  Here's the backs of the 4 blue parallels.  The stat line can be a bit confusing on some of the cards as they tried to fit everything on one line.  Some of the players have minor league stats, some career, and some just have one year... so that's a bit weird, but other than that, I like these backs a lot.  Everything is easy to read and it gives detailed information of each player with cool fast-facts.

Our very last insert was a hit of sorts.  We received a prospect magenta 1 of 1 printing plate of someone I've heard of!! 

NAME THAT PLAYER!  No cheating and looking at the set checklist!

Monday, June 29, 2015

2006 Bowman Originals; A Break From Yester-Year: Part I

I said previously that I'd eventually get to this, so here it is.  When I first started collecting baseball cards I tried my hand at a couple high-end products.  If you look at my non-Ginter hits page you'll see quite a few UD SPx cards floating around.  I'm not going to bother writing much on them as I certainly can't put the boxes that I opened back together and, to be honest, there wasn't all that much that was exciting.  The best hit I got was probably a Roger Clemens auto/relic who now has his name tainted.

I also opened up a couple packs of UD Sweet Spot where I got this really sweet Tori Hunter/Joe Nathan dual autograph on what looks and feels to be a piece of glove (but probably isn't).

However, by far my favorite high end product I ever opened had to be the single box of 2006 Bowman Originals.  Don't ask me how much I spent on it... I don't remember.  I do know that they’re going for around $260 now.  A box of this comes with 6 packs featuring 7 cards each and guarantying 2 autographs per pack.  Here’s a couple of the autos to get us started.

The autos are all similar; they are buybacks that the player signed and were then hand-numbered to some crazy number… who knows how they decided.  I’m not really sure how I feel about the buyback part of it, though I guess it does guarantee that the card designs are different which is good because I hate some of them…

That's Sean West numbered 57/70 if you can't see it.

I suppose buybacks also guarantee that you’ll get cards of players who existed in the past and in 2006 (so they’re likely to be better and not completely irrelevant).  Speaking of irrelevant...

I suppose you still get some doozies.  But I said this was not only my favorite box, but also by far my best box of high-end product I ever touched.  It must have someone good?!?!

Certainly!  How about this?!?!  Of the 6 remaining autographs, 5 out of the 6 players featured are still on a big league ball club today!  We're talking about a 2006 product buying back cards from previous years.  You can do the math... most of the guys coming up are reaching 10 year veteran status, if not more!  Oh, and that 1 player that isn't playing anymore?  I guarantee he's somebody that every reader out there would recognize if they've followed baseball even casually in the last decade.

But guess what... I'm going to make you wait for the rest.  I'll also be doing a post on the base cards and parallels because (at least until very recently) I still have all of them sitting in a box collecting dust.  Rest assured though!  They're quite intriguing!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #89

Set: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Uninvited Guests
            Total Cards: 10
            Stated Odds: 1/12

Bubba’s Derived Odds: samesies
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 5

Favorite (Owned) Card:

I've decided that I have to post my favorite card of every set.  This is the first set in which I'd simply rather not.  I don't really have a favorite as this set doesn't feature anything remotely interesting.  So I'm being patriotic today and we're going to show a crappy and grainy picture of Mr. Barack Obama's house... apparently a house in which they'd rather not live.

Notes and Comments:
I won't beat around the bush today.  This is flat out my least favorite mini insert that Allen & Ginter has created.  It's simply ugly.  In fact, most 2011 inserts were fairly ugly.  For some reason Topps decided to completely change up color schemes and started adding all kinds of clashing colors to their cards.

This set could have done without the blue on pastel grey title blocked onto the bottom of every card.  Not only does it look completely out of place, but it also simply isn't relevant and is FAR too big when we're already talking about a mini card.  The set title at the top of every card isn't exciting and it also isn't very thematic.  That title text doesn't really scream "spooky ghosts!!" to me.

What is actually thematic is the border around the front of the card.  Every card has the same shadowy tree type border and I actually think those are extremely creative and could've been an excellent touch.  However, the execution of it is pretty terrible.  With all that's going on with the front of the card I find that the very last thing I'm looking at is the picture... a picture that I seem to have to squint at to see.  Gross.

The backs of these minis are simple enough.  I would tend to prefer that Topps keep the card number at or very near the top of the card backs instead of at the bottom like this one, but I'm getting a bit picky at this point.

I will mention that I might be supremely biased about rating this set so poorly, but the subject matter here doesn't really entice me either.  I've never really been into or interested in any kind of paranormal subject matter and when it comes to picking between Braveheart, The Breakfast Club, and The Notebook the scary movie genre is all the way down at the bottom of the list.

Arbitrary Rating (out of 100): 38
I've finally gotten around to "rating" all of the Ginter insert sets.  You can now see where each of the sets fall in relation to others in the link above.  I'll include this link on every rating going forward.

% of Set Completed: 90%

Missing Cards: UG4

Extra Cards: UG2, UG3, UG5, UG6, UG7, UG8, UG9, UG10

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wonderful Weekend Wangles!

Technically the first of these isn't from this weekend.  I actually received them this Tuesday, but "wangles" was a word I could not pass up using.

Anywho, I work very part-time at my LCS (we're talking about 4 hours a week) and I basically take the money I earn there and throw it right back at the store owner, and there you have it... my baseball card budget.  It works out very nicely.  About $30 bucks a week to spend on cards, and if I ever cover a few vacation hours for him, I get to spend a bit more.  I enjoy the customers too which is good.

A while back I had asked the store owner to poke around his distributor and see if they had any of these 2014 Allen & Ginter binders floating around for a reasonable price.  I asked him to pick one up for me and I just received it this Tuesday.

I was very surprised at the quality.  I've seen and worked with themed binders in the past and there is always something wrong with them.  Some are flimsy, others simply tear apart at the binding with just a slight touch, still others have mechanical issues with the actual binder itself (like the metal part... no idea what its called).  This binder seemed to have none of those problems and looks nice to boot!

To be honest though, the binder was not obtained for the sake of the binder.  What we wanted were the exclusive mini cards that lay hidden within its depths.  The Topps ploy of the year (though admittedly not nearly as bad as this month's Archives SP's) involved insert sets that could not be completed unless you specifically purchased multiples of these binders.  Eww.  Here's the 3 minis I received.

What this scan doesn't show is the fact that I got DOUBLES of each of these in the binder.  I haven't seen other people open these binders, but the sell sheet clearly says to expect 3 unique minis... not 6.  So that's cool.  They sell pretty well on EBay too.  They're for trade if someone else is anal about their insert sets (I'm looking at you Chris...).

Said store owner is actually going to physically be at the distributor this week and he said he'll see if he can find another binder that has the other 3 minis I'm missing.  That's not cheating, is it??? :p

I also picked up some 2015 Bowman retail this weekend.  I absolutely love this year's base design so I'll be attempting to complete the 3 base sets.  I think I'm at the point where I'm going to stop buying the stuff and just try and trade for the rest, so I'll be getting a want list together hopefully this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon.  We'll see how tired I am after work today.

I opened 2 Wal-Mart retail packs (the big bricks of 40+ cards for 10 bucks), and 2 Target rack packs? (the packs with 3 packs inside... so 6 total I suppose).  They yielded a bunch of base cards I needed, a couple semi-decent inserts that I didn't bother scanning, and one autograph.

It's a sticker auto which seems strange to me for Bowman and its also on a paper card instead of chrome.  It actually took away quite a bit of the joy from opening an autograph in the first place.  I also have zero clue who this guy is (Luis Guillorme if you can't read it), but I suppose that's fairly typical for Bowman.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

That half-case that was just sitting on my floor...

Yesterday I was prepping to write my Ginter insert set review post and had to confirm my previous research I had done on odds.  Yesterday was my first post on any 2011 insert set and I wanted to make sure I was correct about everything I was writing.  The internet is usually your best friend for this sort of research, but surprisingly, individual set odds are quite hard to find efficiently and accurately in the cyber world.  I have a spreadsheet created that has general reference information about each set that I specifically created for these blog posts.  It has set info, my first impression of the set, and preliminary odds information.  I typically try to double-check the odds every time I post.
In any case, yesterday was taking far too long to check said odds… plus, I was getting some conflicting information.  I had this half-case of 2011 Ginter sitting unopened on the floor next to me… why else should it be there?

Let me tell you the REAL reason it’s there first… I feel I’m close enough to completing 2011 Ginter that breaking additional boxes really won’t help my quest.  I broke a bunch of 2011 retail.  I broke half the case 2 or so years ago and wasn’t impressed, so I stopped with the intentions of sitting on it and eventually selling it off if the price ever recovered.  I’m actually still convinced that the price will slowly start to rise over the next 5 years.

That’s not what my brain thought it was for yesterday… my brain told me that the best way to confirm my odds was to bust open a box and actually look at a pack.  I felt like I was living that new movie that Pixar just came out with, Inside Out.  I should go see it.  Maybe it would solve my problems.

I busted the box.  I confirmed the odds… I did actually make one change in my spreadsheet, but it wasn’t relevant to yesterday’s post.  I claim victory.

I now have an open box of 2011 Allen & Ginter in front of me.  It’s ugly… in so many different ways.  Gotta open a pack… right???

I did.  One pack.  Top pack… no digging or anything.  This is what I saw.

Okay, cool.  I’m no big fan, but I also know I didn’t have that relic yet.  One more pack. Yeah?


It’s kinda thick…

Couldn’t be…

I was so confused… if you can believe it, I wasn’t even really thinking about the duplicate relic.  I was actually trying to rack my brain for memories of breaking the first half of this case.  I don’t have any recollection of seeing two hits right on top of the box.  Actually, my first thought was more along the lines of, “did I just break into some ridiculously silly hot box that would only make Nationals fans happy?”  My second thought was more along the lines of, “Oh Topps… need we say more about your collation issues?”

Well, I had to open another pack… and surprise surprise!  Another hit.  And no, not a third Zimmerman.  I was actually quite pleased with this hit.

We got an autograph!  If you’ve opened any 2011 Ginter in the past, then you know how big of a deal that is.  As I said above, I’ve opened a bunch of retail and a half case of this product.  I have 3 autos from all of that and I know one was out of retail… so you’re looking at a pull rate of one in 3 hobby boxes before this… yuck.

Obviously, I proceeded to open the rest of the box.  No more hits.  Oh well.  I did get a different type of hit later on though.

This was one of the few insert sets that I didn’t have a single card of.  Now I’ve got one!  Nine more to go!

The box didn’t provide anything particularly special after that.  We got a good assortment of minis and our 3 code cards… some of which I needed.

Overall, I think I actually did fairly well considering we’re looking at the worst of Ginter.  I’m still not going to open another box… well, at least that’s what I’m saying.  I really do think that Inside Out is a must happen ASAP.

On a different note... anybody want a Zimmerman relic??? Hahahaha.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #90

Before we begin, it’s been quite some time since my last post and that is because I’ve been updating other parts of this blog (and reading other blogs… because I like them all better than mine).  So a quick plug for those said parts of this blog.  Look up.  There are some pages there.  Yeah, they’ve been there all this time, but they were kinda messy.  At least the first two are now super neat, organized and up-to-date.  I love trading, so if you have extra Ginter, Bowman, or Topps go check it out!

On to the Ginter insert of the day!

Set: 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Portraits in Penultimacy
            Total Cards: 10
            Stated Odds: 1/12

Bubba’s Derived Odds: I believe them.
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 5

Favorite (Owned) Card:

It took me a while to pick my favorite of this set… mostly because none of the cards are especially good.  I guess that’s why these guys are “penultimate”.  Some other noteworthy inclusions to this set are Toto, Sancho Panza, the Hare (and the tortoise), and Mike Gellner (who is only of note because of the interesting card back… take a look).

I enjoy this kind of creativity.  It’s the guy who helped break a Ginter Code.  Give him a card back with a code!  If you’re willing to spend 5-10 minutes, it’s only a substitution cypher.  If you’re lazy, the syntax is a bit weird but it says:

While starting a baseball card collection for his two-year-old son Jacoby, Mike learned about the Ginter Code promotion and teamed up to co-champion the 2009 Ginter code-cracking effort.  Mike and Jacoby enjoy rooting for the Red Sox and collecting cards from their home in Portland, Oregon.

Notes and Comments:
First, this is our first mini set that has shown up in our review series.  This is important because I tend to hold minis at a much higher standard than I do full-sized cards.  I know that this might seem counter-intuitive since there is simply less room to put a picture and information on the card, but I feel that if Topps is going to go out of their way to make different sized cards, well, then they better be good!

Second, as you’ll soon see, 2011 was not a very good year for Allen & Ginter.  The base set was not great, collation was bad, autographs were rarer than usual, and the vast majority of the insert sets were flat out ugly (especially the mini inserts).  This set wasn’t much of an exception.

The border coloring is hideous.  I honestly think that this set might be half-way decent if not for that fact… and it’s really not so much that I don’t like the color, it’s more that the color doesn’t work with the pictures involved.  It makes for very clashy looking cards and just a set that simply isn’t pleasing to the eye.

The subject matter is quirky which is usually a plus for me and I suppose this set is pretty good in that sense.  It got me to read all the card backs, but I almost always do that anyways…  What it comes down to is who really wants a set of cards featuring second tier nobodies???  That’s why I picked Kemo Sabe.  He’s got a cool name, but doesn’t matter at all.

The backs of these minis aren’t all that good either.  I suppose they get the job done, but they’re pretty bland as well.  I guess it’s hard to have a thematic card back if the set really doesn’t have much theme in the first place.

% of Set Completed: 100%

Missing Cards: NONE!!

Extra Cards: PP1, PP2, PP3, PP5, PP6, PP7, PP8, PP9

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Soft Spot for Breaking Boxes

I've always had a thing for opening product since I was young.  I thoroughly enjoy the randomness and risk associated with it and I'm sure the vast majority of people feel the same way.  In fact, working at a card shop, I have come to see this exact thing ruin some people.  It can become an addiction close to gambling.

I think the main reason box breaking hasn't grabbed me and pulled me into its depths is that I'm never making any money back.  I almost never sell anything I break.  Sure, I'll trade away cards to complete sets and such, but for the most part, I live with what I pull.  Because of this, I've become more and more picky about what I actually break.

I've stopped breaking Topps Flagship, I won't touch Panini, and I pretty much stay away from high end products.  I tend to like products with a fair bit of diversity associated with them.  I love insert sets (as long as they look nice) and I enjoy trying to complete them.  This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons I love Allen & Ginter so much.  There are very few "normal" packs... you're always pulling something different.

This brings me to what I still do break.  Earlier in the year, I did a box of the brand new Topps High Tek, which I enjoyed, but wouldn't break more because you simply don't get enough cards for my taste.  It feels too high-endy.  My go-to's have become all things Bowman and an occasional box of Topps Chrome.

These two products have become acceptable to me simply because of the promise of colored parallels.  I like serially numbered cards (and they tend to be fairly easy to trade away) and the prospect of pulling a star or great prospect that is numbered to 5 is enough of a thrill for me to keep on opening the stuff.

I've opened up a box of each of these in the past week.  Here's what I got in Bowman 2015.

Here's the 4 Bowman Chrome minis I pulled... and they scanned well too.  That's pretty much what they look like, super busy.

This Bowman insert set started appearing in 2013 and was absolutely stunning.  It's also pretty much the only place I actually read about prospects because rankings are super easy to digest as opposed to walls of text on prospecting sites.  Last year this set took a step back as far as design, but we've gotten back up to par again this year.  I like it.  Still not as good as this card I pulled two years ago.

Somehow, in two Bowman 2013 boxes that I broke I managed to pull Prospects 1, 4, 9, 20, 84, 97.  Three in the top 10.  Oh yeah!

We got two (standard) silver ice regular cards.  That's Bell and Walker if you can't read it.

...a Frank Thomas throwback.

...and some color!  Some REALLY NICE color!  Alcantara is the only Chrome card of the 3, but I don't mind.  We got a purple Ranaudo rookie and a red Bogaerts who is really starting to heat up!  Those are limited to 250 and 5!!!

Oh, but we aren't done!  Bowman promises 1 autograph as well!  Usually this isn't what I open Bowman for because who knows who I'll get.  I usually stow my Bowman autos away and pull 'em out 5 years later just to see if I even recognize anybody.  Usually I don't.

I already recognize this guy though!

Oh yeah!  That's Rafael Devers himself.  A recent addition to the Red Sox minor league system playing 3B and currently slashing .321/.361/.464 in Single A ball.  He's gonna be good.  Trust.

Not only that, but you can't tell from this scan that this is a regular refractor numbered to 499!!!  This easily pays for the box (Not that I'll sell it anytime soon...)!  One note about this auto.  I love how its off-center.  It reinforces the fact that its actually signed by a human.

I'll probably be getting another box of this sometime later this year so I can put together the base sets.  I enjoy putting them together and they're fairly easy to do if you can get a trade or two.  I don't think there's much of a way I can do better than this box though... Holy crazy Red Sox.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Allen & Ginter Insert Overview Series #91

Set: 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter World's Capitals
            Total Cards: 10
            Stated Odds: 1:10

Bubba’s Derived Odds: 1:10
           # of Hobby Boxes Needed to Obtain Set: 4.17

Favorite (Owned) Card:

I know... cop-out, but if some of my USMNT American Outlaw friends ever read this post and saw that I chose something other than a US card as my favorite, I could no longer be a true US fan.  That being said, I highly doubt any of my Outlaw friends would ever read this... so I'm basically just going to use this time to say:

Hey!  I like soccer as well as baseball.  I love going to USMNT games especially when they're around CT (which is actually surprisingly often).  I'm also a Man City fan and don't really enjoy the MLS at all, though I'm absolutely rooting for them to succeed.

Because this is also a card collecting blog, I wanted to mention that I preordered a single box of this.  We'll see how good it is, but I'm actually quite optimistic.  I'm not a big fan of Panini baseball products because of the licensing issue, but that isn't an issue in a soccer set!  The autos all look to be sticker autos which is a bit meh, but I'm not going to complain too much about it when these boxes are 65-70 a pop and they guarantee you one.

I'll be sure and post highlights once I actually get and break the box, but let me know if there are any other soccer fans out there that might want to help build this set (I'm sure I'll try and build it... it looks small enough).

Notes and Comments:
I sat down to write a post today and debated writing about *Spoiler alert* Bowman Originals, a recent 2014 Topps Chrome break, a recent 2015 Bowman break, further updating my Zistle collection and working on a have/want list for this blog, or this.  I chose this topic because I was able to map in my head exactly what I was going to say on this particular post the fastest and because it's been a week since my last post in this series.

It didn't really work...

You thought you were coming here and were going to read about yet another Allen & Ginter insert set.  The title lied.  Sure, all the same framework is here, but I decided you get to hear about different things today.

Of the 20 cards in this insert set featuring capitals around the world, I've been to exactly 1 of them... the place in the card above.  I've been all over the US from Maine, to Florida, to California, and Alaska.  Pretty much the only state I haven't been to is Hawaii (and I'm sure there's a couple in the Bible Belt that I haven't visited as well).  All that being said, I haven't been out of the country since it was legal to go to Canada without a passport.  In fact, I still don't possess a passport!

I'm not particularly bothered by that fact yet, as I have no plans to go anywhere outside the country in the near future, but I feel like I'd eventually like to visit other countries.  I decided to think about just that while looking over this insert set.  Given the 19 capitals I haven't been to, which of them would I like to visit most?

Here's a list I came up with containing many snide comments along the way (apologies for those International readers as this will probably be dripping in Americanized farcities).  Yes... I realize I made up a word... farce/fallacy, they're the same.  Mainly, I just wanted to make a great pun.

  1. Jerusalem - This is mostly #1 simply because of what I've heard.  Every person that has been here has come back with a positive experience.  I would very much doubt if this is the first place I'd get to, but if I could only go to one, this would be it.
  2. England - They speak my language, Premier League, castles. Yay. Oh, and crumpets... no idea what they are... I just want one.
  3. Rome - This would be an interesting one.  I enjoy art and architecture, but at my pace, which is usually pretty fast, yet I stop to enjoy strange things.  I'd have to go with the right person.
  4. Athens - Not sure why this is so high.  Haven't really heard great things.  Apparently the Parthenon isn't all that much to see...
  5. Taipei - Some of this desire is actually A&G's fault.  I'd enjoy seeing the lights, the world's second tallest building, and the governmental landscape.  I also think ignoring the Far East outright would be an oversight.
  6. Moscow - This city looks beautiful.  I also tend to like people that have Russian bloodlines.  They all tend to have a unique type of personality that I really get along with.
  7. Buenos Aires - So Madrid wasn't in this set... and Spanish was the language I learned in school.  Not saying I know much anymore, but I think it would be the easiest for me to pick up.  Madrid also wouldn't necessarily go ahead of Buenos Aires in this list as either this city or a trip to the Northern Andes and Galapagos Islands would be my choice visit to South America.
  8. Paris - This is about as low as I could put Paris on this list without sounding ridiculous.  I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to visit... I hate the French language.  And French people are the opposite of Russians.  Hooray ignorant statements.
  9. Berlin - Hasn't this city been burned to the ground countless times?  I suppose it would be an interesting historical visit.  Not a city that comes to mind as far as tourism goes for Central Europe.  I would think either other German cities, Switzerland, or maybe even the Balkans (though I suppose the Balkans are of the Eastern European ilk).
  10. Johannesburg - I have a friend that was born and raised in South Africa.  She said its very Westernized.  I suppose it would be interesting.
  11. Cairo - Egypt in general would probably be a very interesting place to visit.  I know absolutely nothing about it.
  12. Tokyo - No strong pull to this city...
  13. Brussels - Or this one... but I do want to visit Brugge.  The canals look awesome.
  14. Ottawa - This is really only this low because of how close it is.  I've also already been to Toronto, and not saying they're anywhere near the same, but Ottawa simply isn't near the top of my list.  I'm probably missing out.
  15. Brasilia - This particular city is borderline, but you'd probably have to pay me to have me visit the following four cities.  Brasilia simply sounds like a jurisdictional and financial disaster.  Rio could be interesting though.
  16. Beijing - I worked at a Chinese restaurant while I was at college.  The owners always had friends or relatives at their place (all Chinese).  I've experienced too much Chinese "culture" already... I didn't enjoy it.
  17. Bangkok - I knew nothing.  I read wiki article.  I know too much.  No thanks.
  18. New Delhi - NAH.
  19. Mexico City - HECK NO.  As much as a city on an island sounds cool, I've heard way too many horror stories.  No shfanks.

Arbitrary Rating (out of 100): 79
Fine... I'll say a bit about this set.  It's okay, hence the 79 rating.  Okay pictures, kinda a boring border this time around though.  The back is also a bit bland compared to some of the other designs.  The theme is decent and the blurbs are above average for Topps.

That's all you get.  If you really want me to elaborate say so... and I might, but I think that this set is a bit bland, yet not horrible.

% of Set Completed: 100%

Missing Cards: NONE!!!

Extra Cards: WC-04, 05, 06, 08, 09, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18