Archive for the Box / Pack Break Category

An ode to 1998 Crown Royale Baseball, and a box break too.

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , on November 14, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Quality was the name of the game for baseball cards as we approached the end of the 1990s. Multiple companies were still in business putting out countless products each year for consumers. Sure, some were content on the basic formula of picture and design on front, and stats on the back. But some desired more. Some desired innovation. Some desired … royalty.


Pacific, a baseball card company based out of Lynwood, Wash., was a suburb of Seattle. The company started mainstream products at the beginning of the 1990s with several mediocre releases. By mid-decade the company hit it’s stride with flashy Prism — the ORIGINAL Prism brand — and then continued its craftsmanship with the Crown Royale brand, which debuted in 1995 as a football-only product and eventually crossed over to baseball in 1998.

During the decade, I was very much a collector of four sports. And when it came to football, Crown Royale and Prism were my staples. I always hoped that Pacific would cross the brands over to baseball. And in 1998 the company brought us the first Crown Royale baseball release, which featured holographic backgrounds with a gold crown die-cut design laid on top of that, and then a single-shot action photo atop all of that. To put it simple: It was gorgeous in terms of baseball cards.

But, quality doesn’t come cheap. These definitely wasn’t a $2 a pack release. Or $3. Or $4. Or $5. I recall seeing the packs upward of $6, and one Twitter follower even recalls seeing them at $9 a pack. His recollection wouldn’t surprise me. The cards were than damn good. Looking at the Beckett Almanac, it confirms the MSRP was $5.99 for the 6-card pack. Each box had 24 packs, so that would bring a box price into the $150 range.

As a teen collector I may have opened a handful of these packs, but I know it wasn’t much. By 1998 I wanted the quality, but all I really could afford was quantity that Bowman afforded me — after all, by 1998 I had started my chase for rookie card greatness.

Overtime, collecting interests changed and I went full bore into rookie cards. Anything marked with the Bowman name was mine. This was before the rookie card autos of Chrome, by the way.

Fast forward to about a week ago when I visited Peninsula Sports Cards in Belmont, Calif. This is a sibling store of my two really local shops, South Bay Sports Cards (Sunnyvale, Calif.) and Stevens Creek Sports Cards (San Jose, Calif.). Belmont is a bit of a trek for me, but the shop there recently moved into a larger space and I wanted to see the shop. Also, I wanted to see if they had any old wax for me to rip. I’ve been heavy on nostalgia recently, especially since my 6-year-old son is slowly working his way into the hobby.

I spoke with one of the main guys at the shop and told him of my interests after a lengthy discussion about other items. He took my name, e-mail and phone number and said he’d have someone check the warehouse. He called me about three days later telling me they got some stuff in. Among the items was this box of 1998 Crown Royale. The price? Less than $2 a pack, or merely a third of what the packs cost some 18 years ago.

I half debated opening this product alone as I was sort of fulfilling a card collecting dream of mine. Instead I decided to include my son. What better way to bring this all full circle. Right?

This was the best decision ever.

I told my son of the crown die-cuts and explained that the basic cards in this set were all special in that way. I showed him the crown design on the cover of the box and he was intrigued. As we ripped into each pack he said “this is fun, the design is cool!”

Hell yeah! I’d won him over. This wasn’t about hits (autographs and relic cards, which drive prices through the roof these days). Hell, I suppose it really wasn’t about the cards either. It was about living a hobby dream through my son and he appreciated the product just as I did. Sure, I kind of showed him the path, but the comments came willingly and without provocation.

So, what’s in the box?

Each box contains an over-sized Cramer’s Choice Award box topper — the large version of the ultra-premium insert for Pacific brands — and then 24 packs in each box. The packs contain six cards, including two inserts of different themes and four die-cut base cards. In some cases, one base card was subbed out for an additional insert.

The chase cards include die-cut All-Star cards which were seeded 1:25 packs (usually one per box); Firestone on Baseball 2:25 (or typically two per box), and Race to Record 1:73 (serial numbered to 374 copies each and about 1 in every three boxes).

We opened the box and found our box topper resting comfortably flat. I opened the topper and saw the name “Ken” in the large text on the reverse of the card and knew we did well. It was indeed a large, flashy card of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.


In the very first pack that my son opened he pulled a base card of my favorite player Roger Clemens; meanwhile I hit a basic Griffey.In my second pack I hit our die-cut All-Star card, that of Cal Ripken Jr. Not too shabby.


We took turns opening the remainder of the packs and we got many of the big stars of the day on the Crown base cards including Derek Jeter and Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, but failed to pull Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds or Cal Ripken. We also pulled three of the four rookie cards in the set — “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez, Masato Yoshi and Rolando Arrojo were in it, David Delucci was not.

I’ve yet to actually sort the base cards by number, but I’d say we’re about half way to a base set. One day we will complete it.

A special thanks to the chain card stores in my area for 1) being there, 2) providing fantastic customer service and 3) making old products available at decent prices.

 

 

 

The Joy of Sets

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Kid Collectors, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

We did it. My son and I completed our first baseball card set.

There is something special in this hobby about a parent collector who is able to pass down the hobby to their child or children, and at times I wondered if my children would ever be into the same hobby that i have enjoyed for almost 30 years.

I mean my kids (ages 7 and 5) have always been around my stuff, and at times they’d ask about why I collect cards, but when I’d offer to buy them sports cards they often pass, or ask for some cartoon cards, comic cards or something else.  It’s cool; I get it. I’ve always been of the mindset that if my kids didn’t enjoy my hobby then I would not force it upon them. But I’ve always been willing to support whatever hobby they decided to take up.

And then just a week ago my son asked me about baseball cards. He wanted to know more. He wanted me to buy some. He wanted me to buy some for him.

insert tear drop.

img_1851Without hesitation I bought a blaster of 2016 Topps Bunt. He enjoyed it (and so did his cousin). I told him about Hank Aaron — one of the first cards he pulled — and how at one point Aaron had the most home runs in baseball. And when I said the name he remembered a conversation we had a few months ago about a signed 16×20 photo of Hammerin’ Hank that I have hanging on the wall. “That’s him!” he said pointing to the photo and then looking at the card.

So yeah, proud Dad moment for me. Anyhow, a day after we ripped into those packs, we went to a different card shop to pick up some supplies and he asked me about buying a few more packs of Topps BUNT.

For my readers who don’t know much about BUNT, it’s a price-friendly product that features a great 200-card checklist that mixes old and new players.  In my opinion it has been Topps’ greatest effort to bring in the new collectors as the set is based on the popular Topps BUNT digital trading card app.

Anyhow, I looked at my son and he was genuinely excited. At that moment I decided just to buy an entire 36-pack box as it was only about $30.  I figured it’d be something we could open together and maybe put the set together.

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It took us a few days to open all of the packs, even with the assistance of his cousin. We could have rushed through it, but I wanted to take time and look at each card and read the player name and the team, in a way I was hoping that I was laying the ground work for future endeavors and the foundation of baseball knowledge. So when he started to get tired of opening or reading, we stopped for the day and later picked it up.

After a few days we finished going through the box. We separated all of the base cards from the inserts and then separated the code cards — which can be used to unlock packs of digital cards in the phone app.

The next step was to see if we had a complete set. I grabbed a stack of 9-pocket Ultra Pro binder pages and used a black marker to number each of the pockets. I figured this would be a simple way for my son (and his cousin who helped us at times) to see where the cards go. In a round about way this was another school lesson for them as they are in kindergarten and still learning some of their numbers.

img_1745And so we spent maybe a total of three hours over two days taking turns reading the card number and then finding its location in the binder. And by the end we had a complete 200-card set with 22 cards left over.

I’m sure some of you — if you’re still reading — are wondering what the entire set is worth. Honestly, not much in terms of actual money. I mean while there are some big names in here and some decent rookie cards, the set could probably be bought in its entirety on eBay for about $20. And yes, it’s easier to just buy an entire set, but what’s the real fun in that?

While not worth much money, this product just got my kid into the hobby, gave him a task to complete — which didn’t involve pixelated pick axes (yes, I’m speaking of Minecraft) — taught him some organizational skills;  involved reading words, names, logos and numbers; involved hand-eye coordination as we placed the cards into binder pages, AND was definitely quality father-son time.

Never again will I call a low-priced baseball card set worthless as it can be priceless for others.

Thanks, Topps.

 

Target run reminds me WHY I collect

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on September 2, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I made a brief Target run late last night to grab some necessities and made the obligatory stop in the card aisle. There wasn’t anything “new” to buy, but there was a Fairfield repack 20-pack box that intrigued me. There were a handful of 2014 Prizm Draft Picks packs inside, some 2015 Topps Series 2 packs (Think Kris Bryant rookies) and what was clearly two 1991 Stadium Club packs, along with other stuff.

I’ve opened my fair share of 1991 Stadium Club, but I was still feeling nostalgic about cards at the time. You see this week I think I finally got my son into the hobby; earlier in the day we went to the card shop and he had a blast. (*Side note: A big thank you to Kevin at Stevens Creek Sports Cards for the stack of free commons you gave to my son. He loved them.) I digress.

The Prizm packs, the jumbo 2015 Heritage and Topps Series 2 packs seemed to make the box worth the price, but the two 25-year-old packs really set the hook in me.

For the uninitiated, 1991 Stadium Club was quite possibly one of the finest card sets released in it’s time. Sure, we remember 1989 Upper Deck for the premium Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  And we recall 1990 Leaf for having another iconic rookie card in Frank Thomas, as well as dozens of other rookie cards of stars from the time. But 1991 Stadium Club was THE premium baseball card. Every card featured full-bleed photographs, gold foil and high gloss that got you high (read:not really, but if you opened this stuff as a kid, the scent is one you’ll never forget. Packs were several dollars each upon release and star cards — not rookies — were in high demand. Griffey and Thomas were each well over $20 for a while.

My guy at the time was Roger Clemens, the flame-throwing perennial Cy Young award candidate. I couldn’t afford these packs when I was a kid, but I distinctly asking my dad for $5 and then riding three miles on my bike to the local card shop to buy one card — the Roger Clemens 1991 Stadium Club that had been sitting in the show case of Brian’s Books  in Santa Clara, Calif.

Flash forward to last night.  I worked late and then made said Target run.  When I got home I took the above photo, opened all of the packs save for two — the 1991 Stadium Club. Whatever lurked inside these packs was surely worth nothing more than a few pennies. But the nostalgia is everything and that can be priceless. I tore opened the first pack, flipped card by card and then it happened — the second last card:

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There is Clemens is all his glory. That pose. That glove. That spring training uniform. Just like I remember it. True, I could probably get a brick of 500 of this exact card for like $10 because no one cares about him or this card anymore, but none of those would be as valuable as just this one card, for at last I had pulled something I could only dream of as a kid.

Someone asked me recently: WHY do you collect baseball cards?

This is why.

It’s not really about the money. It’s not really an investment because cards rarely appreciate with time under normal circumstances.

It’s about the memories. It’s about how in an instant single worthless card can transport you back a quarter of a century to the moment when you asked a parent for money and trekked clear across town to buy a card of your childhood sports hero.

I have other reasons for collecting what I do. And sometimes I can’t fully explain it. But THIS is probably the strongest reason why.

Topps BUNT blaster stocked with Trout; creates fun break for kids

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on August 30, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

My kids know the drill.  When we need something, anything, for the house we’re making a Target run. And the first thing we do there is make a b-line for the baseball card aisle.

IMG_1490Tuesday was no different as my son and I went to gather some items for he and his sister’s school lunches. And when we got to the card aisle, my 5-year-old son pointed to a blaster of Topps BUNT and said,”Look, Daddy!”  He remembered the packaging from a few packs of the product that we bought last week at our local card shop.  In all honesty I wasn’t planning to buy the blaster, but I’m not going to say no if my son is showing an interest in my hobby.

So he picked the blaster as we carried one with our shopping.  When we got home, he and I started opening packs, and then my nephew of the same age came over so I let him wrestle his way into a few packs. No, seriously, look at that effort! (I got his parent’s permission to turn it into a meme.)

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It was fun watching the boys work their way into these wrappers. I’ve opened thousands of baseball cards packs in my near three decades in this hobby. I miss the old wax packs as they really weren’t a problem at all. I even remember the Sportflics brand that had wrappers similar to those used on Pop Tarts — the noise those wrappers made was weird. Upper Deck’s foil wrappers were always a treat because in their early days, the product was considered premium. The worst by far was Score — it was like someone took a plastic shopping bag and just heat-sealed a stack of 15 cards inside. I digress.

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The kids seemed to get a kick out of opening the packs. My son has a little experience with this but it still learning. But he figured it’d be best to put his knowledge to use and he tried to teach his cousin: Pinch at the top with your left hand, used your right thumb and index finger to pinch the flap and pull.

Now once the wrapper was started, the process got a little more tricky. The kids seem to think it’s cool to open the wrapper like 20 percent of the way and yank the cards out of the packs.  A few corners did not survive, but I looked to change that behavior real quick. And but the time we got through the 11 packs (remember, it’s 10 packs plus ONE bonus pack for $9.99) the boys had it down pretty good.

We went card by card; naming the player and the team. We also kept tabs of “special” (insert) cards and the code cards, which I explained were for the app on my phone. And when they hit a big name, I explained who they were/are and what that have accomplished.

My nephew managed to pull a Ken Griffey jr., a Roberto Clemente and Kyle Schwarber insert in his packs — as well as a Babe Ruth that somehow got stuck to another card and I didn;t see until I sorted the cards later. And my son reeled in a pair of keeper-size Mike Trouts, the base and a sweet “Unique Unis” insert as well.  He also nabbed a Corey Seager rookie, which was cool to see.

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I’ll be honest: I love this brand. I bought a blaster for myself about two weeks ago and knew that it was a perfect set to share the collecting experience with my kids. It’s cheap, has a loaded checklist of current and legendary players, and offers a super long shot at ink, which is appealing in that when/if you hit one it’ll be akin to finding a Elite Series insert in those early 1990s packs. I see many more packs and/or blasters of this and more in their futures.

 

Blaster Break: 2016 Topps Olympics/Paralympic hopefuls (2 hits)

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

IMG_0351Topps Allen & Ginter baseball has been out for nearly two weeks, however I have not seen a single pack of it at retail. What I did find, however, was a single blaster of Topps Olympic and Paralympic Team Hopefuls. With the Olympics kicking off this week in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, I figured now was as good a time as any to bust one of these blasters. And as it turned out, I defied the odds greatly with two hits in just eight packs.

Here’s a breakdown of each pack with a few takeaways at the end.

 

Pack 1

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Parallel: Bronze Kami Craig; Insert: Kim Rhode

Base: Gabby Douglas (Gymnastics), Claressa Shields (Boxing), Nathan Adrian (Swimming), April Vioss (Volleyball), Adeline Gray (Wrestling), Diana Taurasi (Basketball), Sam Mikulak (Gymnastics), Candace Parker (Basketball)

Pack 2

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Parallels: Silver Candace Parker (Basketball), Bronze Perry Baker (Rugby)

Hit: Bronze Relic Paige Selenski (Field Hockey) 64/75 (odds: 1:132 packs)

Pack 3

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Parallels: Silver Phil Dalhausser (Volleyball), Bronze Leo Manzano (Track & Field)

Base: Matt Stutzman (Archery), Jake Dalton (Gymnastics), Claressa Shields (Boxing), Danell Leyva (Gymnastics), Tatyana McFadden (Track & Field), Summer Ross (Volleyball), Kim Rhode (Shooting), Ryan Lochte (Swimming)

Pack 4

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Parallels: Gold Sam Mikulak (Gymnastics), Bronze Brittney Griner (Basketball)

Base: Alana Nichols (Para-Canoe), Lex Gillette (Track & Field), Cullen Jones (Swimming), Nathan Schrimsher (Modern Pentathlon), Bob Beamon (Track & Field), Madison Hughes (Rugby), Jenny Thompson (Swimming), Carly Patterson (Gymnastics)

Pack 5

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Parallels: Silver Tom Shields (Swimming), Bronze LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field)

Hit: Bronze Commemorative Olympic Medal (1:122 packs)

Base: Conor Dwyer (Swimming), Brad Snyder (Swimming), Margaux Isaksen (Modern Pentathlon)

Pack 6

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Parallel: Bronze Jake Gibb (Volleyball) Insert: Sam Mikulak (Gymnastics)

Base: David Boudia (Diving), Brady Ellison (Archery), McLain Ward (Equestrian), Haley Anderson (Swimming), Joe Kovacs (Track & Field), Merrill Moses (Water Polo), Galen Rupp (Track & Field), Courtney Mathewson (Water Polo)

Pack 7

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Parallels: Gold Nathan Adrian (Swimming), Bronze Emily Day (Volleyball)

Base: Aly Raisman (Gymnastics), Missy Franklin (Swimming), Ryan Lochte (Swimming), Megan Rapinoe (Soccer), Abby Wambach (Soccer), Carlin Isles (Rugby), Elena Delle Donne (Basketball), Sue Bird (Basketball)

Pack 8

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Parallels: Silver Abby Wambach (Soccer), Bronze Gary Hall Jr. (Swimming)

Base: Steven Lopez (Taekwondo), Simone Biles (Gymnastics), Jake Dalton (Gymnastics), Natalie Coughlin (Swimming), Mariel Zagunis (Fencing), Kayla Harrison (Judo), Paige Selenski (Field Hockey), Rulon Gardner (Wrestling)

Takeaways:  It’s not every day you nail two hits in a single blaster. This feat seems even more improbable since you are not “guaranteed” even a single hit. What’s interesting to note is that the relic card of the Field Hockey player is like twice as thick as the Bronze Medal card.  It just seems like it would have been the other way around since the medallion is heavy and the relic seems to be a piece of a T-shirt.

Also, look at the star power in pack No. 7. That’s a star-studded Olympic lineup right there from across all sports at the Olympics.

I posted briefly on Twitter about this blaster and someone wrote back they they didn’t have much luck in theirs. My response bears repeating: The product is always hit or miss. The key is to limit how much you buy. Even though it’s not mainstream sports cards, it’s enjoyable in small portions.

In case you’re wondering, here are the posted odds for these blasters:

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’16 Stadium Club & ’15 Prism box breaks

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

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I won a gift certificate from Blowout Cards earlier this year and it’d been sitting in my account for months.  I decided to use it last week and just a few days ago the boxes arrived. I love Stadium Club and Prizm offered two autos per box at a discounted price so it seemed like a decent buy.  Here are the results.

I’ll say this upfront. Panini America’s Prism is always fun to open, although I think we’d all like it more if the cards had logos. I like the design,  the quality of the cards and I the parallels. These boxes have two autos and four numbered parallels per box.  I did OK given the price point.  My autos were James McCann and Addison Russell, which was a parallel. My parallels included a Barry Bonds /125, Stephen Strasburg /99 and Cole Hamels /42.

 photo 1FDB2955-9BBF-4EA4-835C-9DC814AC92ED_zpsey0opswu.jpgThe real reason I decided to order the cards was because I really like Stadium Club. I love the photos, which is what brings be back to the product every year that Topps decides to bring it back.  As you know, each box contains two autographs and a slew of parallels and inserts.  My haul wasn’t half bad.  The autos included one of a young Mets pitcher Steven Matz whose signature I didn’t already own, and my parallels were solid — black parallels of Corey Seager and Babe Ruth, gold Mike Trout.  And I pulled one of those tough (1:256 packs) Triumvirate Illuminators (Prince Fielder) and a photo variation of Greg Maddux.

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Two packs of WWE Undisputed 2016

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve caught the wrestling bug again in the last few years and along with my enjoyment of sports (entertainment) comes a love for related cardboard. In 2015 I bought a box through an online breaker of Topps’ first “high-end” wrestling product. I enjoyed it quite a bit. This year I decided to try my hand but on a lesser scale. I bought into two separate breaks.  Both were 10-spot hit draft style. Here are my results:

The first break I wound up dead last in the draft, so I wound up with these:
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The hit here is the Bray Wyatt relic, which isn’t a huge draw for many.  The remainder of the pack was OK quality wise.  The Ultimate Warrior is serial numbered /99.

In the second break I believe I placed 6th in the draft order and ultimately had to choose between packs containing a Nia Jax NXT Autograph or Xavier Woods Autograph. I chose the Woods, whom I actually enjoy and feel has solidified himself as somewhat of a social media star with his video game work.

 photo 8D69B5C6-5E5C-4FA6-96B4-34813932512C_zps80e1uxi1.jpgAside from Woods, it’s not a bad pack.  That Diesel/Shawn Michaels tag team insert is pretty sweet, you get two “King” in Macho Man and Wade Barrett, and of course the Jim Ross is serial numbered /99.

Do you see something you like here?  I’m willing to trade any of these — except probably Woods — for 2016 Undisputed Ted DiBiase base and parallels, or Tag Team inserts and parallels of Money Inc. (DiBioase/IRS) or Mega Bucks (DiBiase/Virgil/Andrew The Giant).

Reach me on Twitter at @cardboardicons or e-mail cardboardicons@yahoo.com