Archive for the Box / Pack Break Category

2019 Topps is like 10 days old … now what do we buy?

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny thing happens every year. The new Topps flagship hits stores and we buy like crazy.

Then the newness wears off and some of us are left wondering what else we’re going to buy.

My son and I just went to Target to get some groceries and I grabbed three 2019 Topps Series One packs and put them in the cart.

Then something happened. I started thinking that I was going to spend about $9 on three Topps packs when I only need like two cards for the set, and I’ve been buying Kershaw parallels on eBay. In short: I didn’t NEED these packs.

As we returned to registers to pay for our items, I told my son we’d put one pack back and then he and I could each open a pack and then make a trade. However, when my son learned a pack was for him and not for me, he asked for a pack of Prizm basketball instead. I wasn’t too keen on spending $2.99 on four Prizm cards from a loose box that likely had been searched in some fashion.

So we talked and I wound up putting my Topps pack back, talked him out of the Prizm — we opened a fair amount during the holidays — and grabbed a Panini Contenders blaster instead. He remembered these cards were designed to look like a ticket and we hadn’t opened any this year.

I let him open the blaster and keep everything. He didn’t do too bad; he even pulled two Steph Curry cards, which is perfect timing because I’m taking him to his first Warriors game tomorrow against the Miami Heat.

That moment when you buy a blaster … and instantly feel shame

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Commentary with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I made a Target run this morning for a few grocery items and while there I found a blaster of 2019 Topps. I’ve already bought a hobby box and a few extra packs on the side. But the newness of the product has triggered my addictive state so I “had” to buy the blaster.

As soon as I cracked the seal on the blaster I instantly felt shame. I knew I should not have made the purchase.

It wasn’t a bad blaster. I Got a Max Scherzer patch relic (1/blaster) Shohei 150th parallel (1:8 packs retail) and the allotted inserts.

The cards bring me shorterm pleasure, but the shame in knowing that I didn’t “need” these cards is tough to deal with sometimes.

The one saving grace mentally is that the blaster did have 17 of the 19 cards I needed for the set. So I suppose I could “justify” the purchase, but that is a slippery slope.

The struggle is real. Gotta do better tomorrow. I’ve got to stay the hell away from retail.

2019 Topps Hobby Box and more purchased; the results.

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Welp, the streak is over. My month-long hiatus from buying or opening packs is done, and let me say that it has been a tough month.

I’ve checked the card aisle at Target looking for something, but have staved off the real urge to buy anything.

I’ve checked Dollar Tree for some cheap thrills … I’ve even grabbed a few of the Hoops packs they have there and headed to the check stand before thinking better of the situation.

I even had two unopened 1990 Fleer baseball packs sitting in my trunk that I had forgotten about until a brief discussion with CardJunk from (Twitter). I grabbed those with the idea of opening them before remembering that their value to me as an unopened pack is greater than another stack of cards.

But as most of you know, Jan 30, 2019, was the release date for Topps Baseball Series One, and it effectively marked the beginning of a new card year. Earlier this week I wrote about the anticipation, and wrote some words of encouragement (mainly for myself) to help guide me in the right direction.

I was absolutely going to open some of the new product — there was no contention about that. But the point I wanted to make to myself was that it’d be best if I purchased a hobby box from my Local Card Shop and made it an event; that’s to say open the box with my son.

And so we did. I got the heads up from my LCS that the cards arrived at noon — an hour after the store opened — and then we went as a family to the shop after the kids got off of school. My daughter and nephew — whom I bought cards for Christmas but has yet to open them (WTF!) — decided they were too cool for the shop and stayed in the car while my son and I went inside.

We met with Tom at South Bay Sports Cards who gave us the quick rundown on the change in box/pack configuration, which then made me think I needed to buy just more than a single hobby box to be close to a complete Topps Series One set.

After 10 minutes, my son and I walked out with a Hobby Box (and the one 1984 Chrome pack), a single Jumbo pack, and five loose packs from the box on the counter. The idea was that with any luck we’d have fun ripping these, and then be somewhere around 20 cards short of a set when factoring inserts, duplicates, etc. 

OUR FIRST CARDS OF 2019

I grabbed one of the loose packs and opened it in the car. The first card on the back of the pack was Mike Zunino of Seattle Mariners. When I flipped the stack over, the first card facing up was Atlanta Braves pitcher Kolby Allard. I chuckled when I realized cards in my first pack were stacked A-Z.

On a side, note, what do YOU consider to be the first card in the pack? The one you see on the back when you open the pack, or the first card that is facing upward? It’s a fun discussion that carried on Twitter, and was even continued on the About The Cards podcast.

As for my son, he managed to mix up some of his cards before I could get a chance to see who was on the back and front of his pack. But he assures me that Clayton Richard was the first card front he laid eyes on. Good enough for me.

WHAT WE PULLED

I’ll give you the quick version:

-Jumbo pack: This contained my first Clayton Kershaw card of 2019, and as noted earlier this week — he does in fact have his zipper down. The pack also contained one of the thickest cards in recent memory: a 150th Medallion card of Reggie Jackson.

-Five loose packs: I opened two of these and let my son open three. My son proceeded to pull three serial numbered parallels, which was insane considering the odds. The Gold is easily attainable at 1:5 packs (serial numbered /2019); but he also pulled a Black seeded at 1:122 packs ( /67) and Advanced Stat back inserted at a rate of 1:75 packs (/150) made those packs amazing. Hell, any ONE of those inserted into a hobby box would have made it a win in some people’s eyes. Oh, and he pulled a Home Run Challenge Freddie Freeman (1:24 packs or 1/box). I pulled 1984 Designs of Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz, as well as a Topps Now Review featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Shoei Ohtaini.

-Hobby exclusive Chrome pack: The four guys we got were Ramon Laureano, Manny Machado, Noah Syndergaard and Kyle Schwarber. Laureano made me smile because aside from a 2017 Topps Heritage Minors and a Topps Now card from 2018, I do not think the Athletics outfielder has any other cards. This one was special to me because my kids and I saw Laureano hit his first major league homer.

Hobby Box: This was above average IMO: Relic (1 per box) was Miguel Cabrera Home Run Challenge (1 per box) was Rhys Hoskins, Short Print (1:15 packs) was Justin Turner; Golds (5 – 1:5 packs) were: Kevin Gausman, Andrew Heaney, Jon Gray, Brandon Lowe, and Clayton Richard; Rainbow Foil (2 – 1:10 packs) were Adam Jones and Trea Turner; 150th Anniversary Stamp ( 5 – 1:6 packs) Oakland A’s Team Card, Houston Astros Team Card, Alex Gordon, Sean Reid-Foley, and Josh Harrison; 1984 Design inserts (6 – 1:4 packs) were Eddie Rosario, Mark McGwire, Trey Mancini, Whit Merrifield, Bo Jackson and Jeff McNeil; Iconic Cards Reprint (1 – 1:21 packs) Roberto Clemente; Iconic Cards Reprint 150th Anniversary stamp (1 – 1:144 packs serial numbered /150) Jackie Robinson; Evolution Of (1- 1:42 packs) Memorial Stadium/Camden Yards; Revolution of the Game (1- 1:104 packs) Joe Torre; Greatness Returns (1-1:42 packs) Ty Cobb/Bryce Harper; 150 Years of Professional Baseball (4 1:7 packs) Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Juan Marichal and Harmon Killebrew; and Topps Now Review (2 – 1:18 packs) Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna. Jr.

We need 22 cards for the set … and any Clayton Kershaws you’ve got

I sorted all of the base cards from the packs and paged them up and determined that as of this initial writing we needed 19 cards to complete the 350-card Series One set. See the photo below and let me know if you have any of these. We have about 40 duplicates available.

Also, at this point I need all Kershaw inserts and parallels; and probably will take any base Kershaws you have.

Got something I neeed? Hit me on TWITTER (link), or via email at cardboardicons AT yahoo.com

Breaking a lonely 2017 TSC Baseball Value Pack

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve always been a fan of Topps Stadium Club.  You can count me among the collectors who paid through the nose for singles of our favorite players from the original release in 1991. True story, I once road my bike three miles to drop $5 on a single Roger Clemens card from this set. Yes, that’s how it went when I was 11.

I digress, this year’s Stadium Club has been nearly impossible to find at retail. And I have not had time to hit my Local Card Shop to buy a hobby box.  Like most 2017 products that contain Aaron Judge, TSC has flown off the shelves.

But while shopping at WalMart with my son I managed to find a lonely Value Pack hanging on a peg hook. I had to snatch it up as it could be the one and only TSC pack I break this year.

And so, here are my results.


I did not pull any Aaron Judge cards, BUT I did pull a Andrew Benintendi rookie card, which features a cool photo of him robbing a homerun.


Other rookies in the pack included ones of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Renato Nunez of the Oakland Athletics.


Baseball legend Ted Williams always manages to find himself in this set, which is great because I love me some Teddy Ballgame. That said, the image used on his card this year made me stop immediately. It’s fantastic. Ted seemingly is doing push-ups in the outfield and there is a building in the background, making him seem larger than life. Great photo choice.


My lone insert in the pack is a “Scoreless Streak” Justin Verlander. Ho-hum, in my opinion. The reverse of the card mentions several dominant streaks by Verlander but doesn’t touch at all on anything from 2016. Go figure.


The remainder of the pack features a random mix of players, including Salvador Perez, Joe Panik, Trayce Thompson, Albert Almora, Adam Conley, a random appearance by Derrek Lee and a gold parallel of JJ Hardy.

It’s probably a good thing there was only one pack on the shelf. I have a tendency to mark out for TSC and likely would have bought more.  If I see some in the wild, I’ll probably consider purchasing more, but it’s not exactly something I’m going to go way out of my way for right now.

If anyone has any Clayton Kershaw cards from this set or any others, I’m openly trading for them — just don’t ask for any autos or hits in exchange.

Blaster Break: 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when the brand name “Allen & Ginter” set off all sorts emotions for me as a card collector. I would get caught up in the craze that seemingly came with the set.


What major non-sport stars would have signatures in the set? What weird relics would Topps include this year? Would there be a Ginter Code, or any other secrets such as the time Topps embedded unannounced 1/1 parallels within the panels of some hobby boxes?

I’d buy one or two hobby boxes, and then do damage at buy ripping blaster after blaster.

But those are emotions and actions of yesteryear. For me, the appeal of Ginter has waned. I no longer feel the need to hit the Local Card Shop on release day, or do an online break, or even hit retail stores with a fervor. Instead it’s become a product that I open every year in lesser quantities, partially because I feel the quality and bang for the buck has diminished, but also because my interests as a collector have changed.

I know some have argued that the product has jumped the shark and call for its dismissal. I’m not one of them. I’m just saying that I personally consume less Ginter each year.

That said, here I am with a blaster and “fat pack” of this year’s version in my hands and I am going to break it here, show a few, and share some opinions. It’s a bit of an old school ‘Icons act for a pseudo retro product.

I’m not going to do a product break down, link you to checklists and try to act like I am the greatest source of your information. I’ll spare you the bullshit. I bought a random blaster and a fat pack that had my favorite player (Roger Clemens) clearly visible through the front of the wrapper. These are my results; your’s will vary.

The Fat Pack:

Yes, I looked at the front of the packs to see what players were visible. No there was no Aaron Judge otherwise I would be showing that here.  Instead I saw one with my boy Clemens on top and decided to rip it. I don’t care if you consider that unethical. Really. I don’t.


From the moment I opened the pack I could see the middle was a bit different. I had two minis in this pack (which I think is typical for the Fat Packs) and I could see a wood grain border, which turned out to be a 1987 Topps Tom Brookens (silver stamp) buy back. At least this card was mint. I did pull an ’87 buy pack from a Topps Series One pack that was creased across the middle. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m glad I locked down the Clemens base card for my collection; an SP of Seung-Hwan Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Mini SP of Willie Stargell, and a Required Reading mini that are seeded 1:30 Fat Packs.

The Blaster:

There are eight packs as usual in the blaster and when I opened the first one, there was clearly a framed hit inside. This has been one of the joys of this product over the years.  It’s also been fun to see the shiny frame of a mini hit in the middle of a desert of white base cards. 


As my luck had it, the first single pack of the year held a Framed Mini Relic of Rockies star Nolan Arenado, which to my surprise is a tough pull considering the framed mini relics are seeded 1:733 packs, almost four times HARDER than a framed mini autograph. It’s an interesting ploy by Topps to make these mini relics appealing to some collectors by making them more scarce.  But let’s face it … unless you’re a master set collector, or in dire need of a framed mini relic of Arenado, it’s not paying the bills, not even for this one blaster.


In the third pack I hit an Aaron Judge rookie card, which could be one of the most boring looking rookie cards of the game’s hottest player. But, it is what it is — read: in demand and not something at which to scoff.


In Pack Five I got a rookie card of Mitch Haniger the Mariners’ prospect who hails from my home town.


In Pack Six I got a base card of Clayton Kershaw — the only active player I actually collect — and another one of those Required Reading minis, which are seeded 1:50 regular packs.


And Pack Eight held perhaps one of the coolest Ginter cards to date, that of my friend — and that of like 8 million others — Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the photo chose for this card. So so good. It deserves a thumbs up, honestly.


Final Thoughts:

Even though I’d heard some people say this year’s design wasn’t good, I actually disagree. It feels like the base cards are spin on Transcendent, which if was by design, is smart because it plays on the subconcious of those seeking high-end stuff. The brand itself needed something new, and I think this portrait frame design look does it.


I actually dig the fish and fishing lure set — because I like fishing and this is somewhat of a proper homage to the early Ginter sets. And while I applaud Topps for including a slew of other random inserts celebrating animals and events of the world, it all just gets lost in the shuffle for me. Like I said, my personal tastes have changed.

Oh, and I still dig the minis. The design actually looks really good in the minis.


Would I buy more? Probably. But as has been the case in recent years, it’ll be less. I’ll likely steer entirely clear of hobby boxes — if for no other reason it’s already crazy expensive.

 

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.

img_1852

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.