Archive for the Box / Pack Break Category

“This is the first basketball I’ve opened since February!”

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’ll never forget the look of joy on my son’s face Sunday night when I presented him with a bag of unopened current product that we had been unable to find on store shelves.

2019-20 Panini America NBA Chronicles and 2020 Topps Chrome baseball have been two of the hottest sellers in recent weeks as they are some of the most recent retail releases. We’ve seen numerous photos on Twitter showing groups of people standing around the card aisles in retail stores just waiting to pounce on the shelves once items become available. The result has been the near impossible task of finding items “in the wild” and having to resort to the secondary market where items are priced out of some folks’ budgets.

For me as the father of a 9-year-old who collects it has left really two options: 1) Use this as a lesson in appreciating what we have and what we’re able to find. 2) Know to what degree we are willing to chase a product and how much we are willing to spend to get it.

To date we have found none of the aforementioned cards in the wild. Shelves here in the Bay Area have been relatively void of “new” product since at least February. We’ve found some Topps Series 2 fatpacks, and even a few Select baseball blasters on shelves, but certainly no basketball, which has been hot all season, but more so since Zion made his debut and the seemingly new interest that has entered our hobby.

It’s been frustrating, and in some cases maddening, but I really can’t blame folks when the profits are there to be had, especially on Chronicles. The blasters at one point were bought to about $20 and resold for seven times as much. If I saw a full shelf I’d clear the damn thing too.

On Friday night, I received a text message from a friend of mine who happened to find some of the aforementioned products near his home about an hour and a half away. I congratulated him and told him that if he ever found a stash of stuff, I’d be more than happy to pay above MSRP for a blaster or two of the products so that I could open with my son. It was a low key ask of a great friend, Rod, but told him I understood if that wasn’t an option as I would never expect anyone to turn away massive profits in a case like this.

My friend had some great luck. He and another friend split the findings of one of their local WalMarts and out of his haul he opened the cards — he’s a collector NOT a flipper — and pulled a Zion Williamson autograph from Chronicles. It’s like a $2,000 card.

The next day I was at work and received another message from Rod, he was telling me he was coming to town that day and he had a bit of a surprise — he had found a few more products at another store along the way and wanted to get them to me as I had asked.

I repeated my line about not wanting to be greedy, just wanted a few things to open with my son. At this point in my collecting career the experience I share with my son is worth more than anything I could get out of these packs. My friend showed up with a bag of unopened product and he agreed to sell me a blaster of Chronicles, a hanger of Chronicles, two fat packs of Chronicles, a Blaster of Topps Chrome baseball and a Value Pack of Topps Chrome baseball. There were three conditions: I pay him MSRP only; accept a second Topps Chrome blaster as a gift for my son; and if we pulled a $10,000 card we agree to kick him something. That last part was said as a joke, but if we did I totally would.

The boxes and packs sat at my place until Sunday evening when I got my kids back from their mother. I placed the bag on the table and pulled one item out at a time and explained how these came into my possession. The last item I removed from the bag was a Topps Chrome blaster which I told him was his as a gift from Rod.

Rod is retired. He and I became friends at work about eight years ago when he found out we shared a common hobby — sports memorabilia, specifically cards. He has told me about his father who used to sell 1986-87 Fleer basketball cards — yeah, the Jordan rookie year — from his ice cream truck and how he has found amazing items at thrift stores and flea markets, which is also a method I love doing during healthier times. He has two adult children, including a son who likes sports but never really expressed an interest in cards. Rod has said how happy he is to see my son interested in my hobby, his hobby, and loves the idea of growing it through the kids. And so this blaster was for my boy, free of charge.

The look on my son’s face when I showed him everything, and told him about the gifted blaster was priceless. He’s sort of a shy kid, just like I was and still am even at age 40, but he graciously accepted the terms of the break. He knows how hard this stuff is to find.

So we divvied up the products as follows: Each got one Topps Chrome blaster, each got two packs from the Chrome Value pack; each got a Chronicles fatpack and then I let my son chose the Chronicles blaster that contained 40 cards or the hanger that had 30. He chose the blaster, which I was more than happy with since I always let him keep whatever he pulls and the packaging method offered more excitement and 10 more cards that he’d appreciate more than I.

We opened our Chronicles fatpacks first and each took turns reading names. I got Lebron, Giannis and Steph, as well as a Zion Threads design rookie card. My son pulled the same stars except Giannis, as well as a Zion in Prestige design. We were off to a good start.

Next we opened the Chrome baseball. My son’s gifted blaster and two packs from the Value Pack collectively included a sweet Decade of Dominance die-cut refractor design Ted Williams insert, some second-tier rookies including Dunstin May, Nico Hoerner, AND Trent Grisham. His other inserts and parallels included a Christian Yelich base ref, Keston Hiura Future Stars and Shohei Ohtani and Pete Alonso 1985 inserts, and a Sepia Refractor of Albert Pujols.

My pink pack from the Value Pack contained two A’s rookies, and the blaster wasn’t nearly as satisfying, except for a 1985 Luis Robert, which of course is a great-looking card.

While the Chromes were fun, we both knew Chronicles has been the real unicorn product. As mentioned above, he chose the blaster, thereby leaving me with the hanger box. I opened the hanger first and netted two of the lesser Ja Morant rookies, a green parallel of Luka Doncic, and a great-looking Airborne autograph of Josh Okogie.

My son ended the session with a blaster that definitely lived up to the Main Event billing as he pulled a Luka pink parallel and four Ja Morant rookies from the box, including two from the same pack. The highlight of course is that flashy silver prizm parallel of the Flux branded card … copes of this have sold recently between $125 and $250 and reportedly are super tough to pull.

“This is the first basketball I’ve owned since February!” My son exclaimed.

So the boy did it again. With his somewhat limited opportunities, he pulled from a pack another great card for his PC, and we have my friend Rod to thank for this experience.

Kiddo has an epic Walgreens Update hanger

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Collecting With Kids, Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , , on November 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: My son had an epic pull last night.

For the second time in as many weeks, my son added a big pull to his fledgling collection and this time it’s one that has big upside.

Late Friday afternoon we made a run to the LCS because it was the only time we had available this week. My boy wanted to buy something and he purchased a blaster of NBA Hoops, which contained all of the good rookies except THE top rookie. For the record he was happy and he loves this year’s design.

After his purchase, I told him I wanted to check the Walgreens around the corner to see if they had the 2019 Topps Update Hanger packs with the exclusive yellow parallels. So we went in and they had three. I told him I’d buy all three and he could choose one for his collection. My treat.

Of the three hangers, one had a massive dent in the side. The cards looked safe inside but it was the type of damage that would likely turn some folks away. Of course my boy grabbed that one from the stack. I warned him about the damage but told him the cards were probably fine. He didn’t care. He wanted that one.

As we walked to the register I explained to him what we were hoping to pull (Vlad Jr or other top rookies) and told him how the yellows were exclusive to this chain of stores and on the grand scale they were much rarer than most of the other parallels.

We got to the car and I showed him how to open the hanger from the bottom of the box. He ripped the box, and opened the inner plastic wrap on his own. He could instantly see there was something thick (a relic) inside the pack so I instantly knew he was going to be happy with his decision.

He thumbed through the first 30 cards with typical reception (a few good rookie debuts, big name all stars) and got to the inserts and found a Vlad Jr. 1984 design — already a winner — and then uncovered a Max Muncy ASG relic. As he picked up the relic to read the back, the next card was revealed.

It was a damn Vlad Guerrero yellow, a parallel of his real rookie card!

I let out an expletive because I knew this was at least a $100 Card, easily my son’s most expensive card. His next card was no slouch – it was a Mike Trout yellow, which is probably another $10-$20 card.

I was shocked, he was stunned and could not stop smiling. We then darted back around the corner to the card shop to pick up a magnetic holder for his new addition.

I’m happy for my son. Way happier for him, than I would be for myself if I pulled it. Because I am at the point in my collecting career where I want my kids to have these wins, because it’s an experience they’ll never forget. Myself? I’m a jaded veteran collecting curmudgeon who has had nice pulls and at this point an somewhat jaded by dollar signs. Each nice pull is fuel to continue down the rabbit hole.

The Vlad pull comes on the heels of my boy beating the odds Last week when he pulled his first 1/1 (a DJ LeMahieu ASG printing plate) from a Topps Chrome Update Mega Box. (Here).

“Oh yeah! I got a 1-of-1!” –

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Commentary, Kid Collectors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Topps Chrome Update Mega Boxes are all the rage right now. And on Thursday night during a stop at Target to get groceries I lucked into a group of four boxes that were tucked behind some blasters.

This is my third time seeing them “in the wild” since their release. And even though I told myself I was done with them after buying a few last week, the fact that they were 10% off This week made me grab the remaining four.

I opened two in car — pulled a Vlad Jr. rookie and a green Refractor Hunter Pence /99 — and decided to keep the other two sealed until I picked up my kids. I figured I’d let me son pick one and open it if he decided to buy one with his birthday money.

I presented the option to him and of course he opted in at the $18 price tag. He looked at the two sealed boxes I had on the kitchen table and held one in his hand, looking at the odds. And then at the last second he switched the boxes with me … which I didn’t mind. This was about HIM, not me.

He used my keys to pierce the cellophane wrapper and then unboxed the seven packs. He grabbed the first one and ripped the back. It was at that moment — at about 8:50 pm Pacific on 11/5/19 — he had a monumental experience.

“Oh yeah! I got a 1-of-1!” he exclaimed as he pulled off the wrapper.

I was shocked. I stood up to get a better look — it was a yellow printing plate for Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu’s All Star Game card, #70 in the set. My son puts his cards in binders, sorted by team. Because that’s what you do when you’re new to the hobby — he’s only been actively involved for about a year.

“That’ll go in a holder,” he said as he looked at the metal card.

The moment got be excited, and damn near made my cry. Parenthood will do that.

We high-fived. We hugged. We talked about how hard it is to get one.

And not once — not even to this moment — did we talk about value, worth, resell price, etc.

I was 18 when I pulled my first 1-of-1. It, too, was a printing plate. It was a plate for a 1998 Topps Gallery Nomar Garciaparra that literally fell out of a pack I opened at the register at R&K Comics in Sunnyvale, Calif. I was in college at the time and sold it a few weeks later when I realized the card could net me enough to pay for a semester of books.

The market has certainly shifted over the last two decades — printing plates aren’t nearly as desirable, and more people than before argue against their 1-of-1 status since there are typically four plates for each card, even though they are in different colors thereby making them unique as the card states in the rear.

But the experience is what makes this a huge deal, and it’s these father-son moments of bonding that keep me excited about this hobby.

On a side note, I came home last week with a Mega Box of the same product for him. He opened it and also hit an autograph of Yankees pitcher Chance Adams. He was excited do that pull, but nowhere near as excited as he was in this night with his first 1-of-1.

200 1991 Topps Stadium Club packs for $16 shipped? Hell yeah!

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The other day a friend pointed out an item on eBay where a new seller was offering several lots of Medium Flat Rate boxes filled with 1991 Stadium Club packs for the mere price of 99 cents plus like $15 shipping.For a guy who collected when the product was brand new, and a person who loves the TSC line, you know I had to take a chance.

The box of packs arrived Monday night and the outer shipping box felt like it contained a load of bricks. And in a sense it did seeing as how many of these ultra premium, high-gloss full-bleed photo cards we’re stuck together.

No, literally, look …

There was very low expectation given the price point. And no, I’m not upset — the cards were practically free. Sure, it’d be great to build a high-quality set from the 200-plus packs inside the box (split almost evenly between the two series) but this was a cheap, fun way to experience a bit of my childhood that was ridiculously expensive at the time.

It took about four minutes to open and peel apart the contents of two packs. The first pack had a Nolan Ryan Tuxedo and I hit my first Frank Thomas only a few packs into it. But as I was reliving some of these memories, I decided to also have some fun.

First I stuck some packs in front of a space heater hoping that’d help loosen them up.

Nope. Didn’t work.

How about the old freezer truck?

Nope. That didn’t work either.

At this point I have opened about 30 packs of series one and have pulled two Nolan Ryan’s and four Frank Thomas cards, one of which came in an monster pack that also contained a classic Bo Jackson and a second-year Juan Gonzalez. Hell, such a pack in 1991 would have had about $50 worth of singles — remember, the Thomas was $25-$30, and Ryan wasn’t too far behind.

I plan to open the rest at some point this week. I still have low expectations, but if you’re so inclined you can follow the hashtag #91TSCBrickedBreak on Twitter to see some fun stuff. Perhaps I can build a set (albeit not even close to mint) and pull a half-dozen of each classic card from this iconic release.

The little things in collecting bring joy

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , on October 31, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I kind of got a kick out of something today and it was a reminder to me that I am indeed jaded.

I ran into a freshly stocked shelf at Target today, one consisting of the new Topps Update Chrome Mega Boxes. I grabbed a few for me, and one for my son. I opened mine and got some decent looking cards but nothing to really show off.

Then when my son got home from school he opened his Mega Box. And there in the last pack was an autograph of … Yankees rookie pitcher Chance Adams.

My son was enamored. There in his 9-year-Old hands was a rookie autograph of a Major League Player. It instantly became one of his favorite cards, even though it’s far from his best card. But all this kid knows is that from the box he opened he got himself an autograph card … and I wasn’t going to sully his thinking by telling him he could probably buy 15 of those autos for the cost of the Mega Box.

The joy on his face and in his voice when he announced it and showed it off to his sister is what the hobby is all about. It’s something that I and many others miss because we’ve all been jaded — whether we want to believe it or not — by the cost of products; the incessant complaining about lack of creativity, and the feeling that we need to get our money back in our breaks for any of this to make sense.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir. And I’m also sure there are some of you laughing that my kid is excited about a Chance Adams auto. But fact remains that we are all chasing that joy; we are all trying to recreate those fabulous feelings we all had whenever we pulled something that made us smile.

We don’t all collect the same. Hell, not all of us even participate in this hobby the same way. But whenever anyone is feeling joy about whatever they’re doing in this hobby, it is a great reminder of why some of us got into it in the first place, and I wish we — I — could feel more of that.