Archive for the Commentary Category

Ever had a “I don’t want to look” moment after selling a card?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 19, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

At the end of the last NBA season I lucked my way into a stash of Prizm NBA at a local 7-Eleven at dirt cheap prices and the prize of the pull was a Pink Pulsar Luka Doncic /42.

About a month and a half ago I decided to sell the card for what seemed like a good price. There was some legitimate fear on my end that the Luka hype train had peaked and prices would come down as Zion and a new crop of rookies entered the league.

I got a fair price, and the sale came at a good time as I used the money for a vacation and more.

Fast forward six weeks and I am now legitimately afraid to see how much these cards are selling for eBay as Zion is out with an injury injured and Luka is tearing up the league with triple doubles almost every night. Have you ever sold a card and then a short while later found yourself afraid to see what the current market looked like for said card?

This is the second time for me in recent years. I sold my 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout for what I thought was also the peak and it’s now tripled in price.

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.

My son: “That’s probably my favorite brand this year …”

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

We’re coming up on about a year since my son has decided to follow in my footsteps and join the hobby.

On Thursday night before heading out the door to do some trick or treating, he sorted some more of his cards, including a blaster of 2019 Panini Chronicles he recently purchased. As he removed the cards from the packaging, I noticed he had a small stash of blaster boxes I’d grown immune to seeing.

I asked if the boxes were empty and he confirmed that they were. I then made a comment that he must really like them since he still had three boxes in the house. That’s when he made his proclamation:

“It’s probably my favorite brand this year,” he said proudly.

These three empty blaster boxes probably represent half of how many he has opened for HIS collection — some of them paid for by him, the others subsidized by me.

But it made me happy to hear him have such an opinion, and it wasn’t like he chose it because it’s the newest product on the shelf, or because he pulled an autograph from the packs.

I asked a follow up question: WHY do you like this brand?

His response is great:

“Because you don’t know which designs you’re going to get, or even how many. I like the variety. it’s not just base cards and autographs.”

Absolutely love his response. The cards don’t have logos and that will hurt long term value, but this hobby is about so much more than money. It’s about fun and personal enjoyment of a product which are contributing factors to perceived value.

With this product, every time he opens a blaster he’s getting 2-6 cards of top rookies, multiple parallels, and often a serial numbered card. And because of the configuration, the checklist is ripe with rookies of the game’s top stars.

I’ve watched my son actively pass on blasters with guaranteed hits in favor of Chronicles solely because he gets a bunch of enjoyment from the product. I personally enjoy the product a lot as well, mainly because of the variety and its a teaser as to what could be if Panini had a full license.

Returns in our hobby should NOT be accepted, especially without questions (New COMC policy)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on October 21, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Monday I returned home after a weekend getaway that capped off about six weeks of non-stop, non-hobby related stuff I’ll just call “Life.” I’d been thinking about getting back to my writing lately because I miss sharing thoughts and being involved. So when I opened my email this afternoon and saw a message from COMC advertising that it is now accepting returns “no questions asked” I knew I had to sit down and get my thoughts out.

I’ll say this up front: I love COMC. I love having the victual card shop open 24-7 and the idea of taking a break from every day tasks to so what I love — add items to my collection.

That said, I think this announcement Monday is really a step in the wrong direction.

In it’s email, COMC stated that it would accept returns from buyers within 60 days of the original date or purchase, or 30 days from the delivery date of an item, WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED. The site also says that if someone purchases an item and repriced it (i.e. tried to flip it on the site to no avail) then the returns cannot occur, so that’s good.

While I believe the site decided to do this to improve customer service and grow its footprint in the hobby, I think this advertised policy panders to the ever-growing issue we are facing on other selling platforms such as scams (i.e. cards being switched out), and other unsavory activity, and really opens the door for a lot of uncertainty.

We operate in a very fluid market. The majority of cards are not all that different from one another, with the exception that they may show a photo of a different player. What makes those cards different in value is the demand which is often linked to the player showcased on the cards. And those values fluctuate DAILY based on performance, changes in a team’s standing, any legal issues someone may be facing, and any other reason you can think of. And it is this fluidity that makes the idea of returns an absolutely horrendous idea.

A card that is bought for $100 today and then delivered within a week could lose half of that value by the time it is even in the hands of a buyer. And if that is the case, should that person be able to get their money back no questions asked?

Absolutely not.

When you decide to buy a sports card, regardless of whether you’re buying for your collection, or as an investment, you are taking a chance. Period. This is how collectibles work. You cannot simply just return them when the price dips below the price of what you paid. This creates a very unstable market, and it actually has an adverse affect as a whole because the sellers cannot simply spend that new income, they almost have to let it sit for a while — in this case up to 60 days — before they can be assured the money they are seeing in their account is actually theirs.

And it is at this point that I will point out that COMC is not the only reason I am harping on this topic because other outlets allow for returns, including eBay, which in its present state also fails to recognize the fluidity of the collectibles market as it strives to make buyers happy while not even considering the sellers.

Many sellers such as myself have fallen victim to return policies, and even had eBay FORCE OUR HAND to accept returns even when we check the OPTION as seller which says we do not accept them. I chose not to accept them because the market is fluid. If I offer you an hot item and you buy it at a high price, I should be able to celebrate the transaction without fear that the purchase will be reversed due to BUYER’S REMORSE.

COMC and eBay are not Target and Walmart, and we are not talking about a storage container that does not fit in our garages or a T-Shirt that is one size too small. We are dealing in small pieces of cardboard that appreciate and depreciate in value and if you happen to be on the wrong end of a deal that was done in good faith, then you should have to live with your decision.

As I said earlier, I am sure the return policies were enacted in good faith. And I absolutely believe that if a person receives a card that was improperly portrayed (i.e. a fake card or one in worse condition than described) they should be able to get their money back or be compensated. But such returns should be limited, and the time frame for such returns should be much smaller and ONLY ALLOWED on a case by case basis. Hell, even many big box retailers — which operate on a larger scale and have “loss” factored into their annual budgets — already know how volatile these markets are and typically do not allow returns on cards or collectible toys.

That said, when it comes to COMC’s policy, it really should also protect the seller from financial loss, and any money that is returned to the buyer should be paid for by the company and not the seller, especially if its due to condition reasons since COMC is the entity handling the cards.

I would implore you all to read the policy because the last portion also could have a weird impact for opportunists, The policy now allows sellers to GET THEIR CARDS BACK if they were claim they priced the card wrong and it sold within three hours of listing. In other words, if someone accidentally sells a Michael Jordan autograph for $129 instead of $1299 as intended, they can get their card back. This is insane to me because it takes away one of the charms of COMC, which is the ability to pounce on the error of a careless seller.

The way I collect is not the way you collect … and that’s OK

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Social Media is a funny thing. We all agree it’s not perfect, that it’s a time-suck and it causes a lot of stress for some of us

Yet many of us — specifically those reading this — can’t get enough of it.

Why? Because the various platforms give us a soapbox to share our opinions about everything, and in some cases it can be validating to have one or several people agree with you. It builds esteem. But all of this can also humble you if you’re proven wrong.

You probably knew all of that; you’re not necessarily here for my opinions of society, media and the influences they have in each other.

But what I do want to express is that social media within our hobby has had a major affect on how we view each other, our collecting habits and our collections. Sometimes it reinforces our habits, and in some cases it also can stir the idea that one way of participation in this hobby is the right way; and that others are doing it wrong.

We know that’s not the case. Yet here we/I are calling people out for doing things their way; for following a school of thought that we don’t agree with.

I’m guilty of this exact thing. I am a hypocrite at times. And I’m not the only one.

I dislike the idea of buying as an investment; the notion that “it’s so easy” to make money in this hobby. And often I vocalize (via Twitter) my displeasure for this. It’s the same reason why I still haven’t made up my mind on Gary V.

But is it wrong if someone wants to buy the hot prospect today with the idea of selling in the future?

No, not really as long as we’re calling it what it is. Because that’s not collecting. That’s a different form of participation in the hobby, or industry.

It’s easy to harp on nuance. Is the card mint or gem mint? Is it a rookie card or a pre-rookie card? Are you a collector or a flipper?

Bottom line: Who cares what others are doing. You can’t participate in this hobby wrong if you enjoy whatever it is you are doing. And so I plan to do a better job of filtering my thoughts in that arena going forward.

Well, that instantly made the work day better …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , on September 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I got to work this morning and a friend of mine had a surprise for me. He handed me a Rawlings Official Baseball box with the top taped shut.

What was inside?

A Buster Posey signed 2012 World Series ball with two authentication holograms.

It’s not game-used; but it is signed by the Giants legend and future Hall of Famer.

This is not the first time this friend has given me signed items. A few years back he gave me an early 1980s ball signed by Rickey Henderson and teammates.

As a side note, I do some photo-matching work for this friend who heavily collects game-used NFL uniforms. I recently matched a 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman jersey to almost every road game, including the AFC Championship game that year against the New England Patriots.

Maybe I’ll write about it this week since the season kicks off tomorrow.