Archive for basketball cards

“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.

Embrace these times; things won’t always be this good

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

For about 20 years, we’ve been talking about the rise and fall of the hobby since the days of the Junk Wax Era. We have shared and embraced story after story discussing the great times we had during the 1980s and 1990s as this hobby rose to stardom.

We discussed the simplicity as well as the ingenuity of the time. We discussed chasing rising stars who eventually flamed out on the big stage, or never even got there. We discussed a time when base cards and simple parallels or inserts carried massive premiums only to be forgotten as interests shifted to relics and autos.

Then of course we discussed how that all attention had waned, and how seemingly almost everything from our youth became worthless. Simplicity was for the most part thought of as over-produced rubbish that many discarded at thrift stores, or even burned in their backyard bonfires.

But due to various influences (both people and circumstances) here in 2020 we have arrived at the summit of the collecting world again. Business is booming — it actually has been fairly healthy for the better part of a half decade or longer — and now our hobby has national eyes on it again. The folks who collected in their youth are returning to recapture the feelings they left behind when they discovered other interests, or because life took them in a different direction. And then of course there are folks who see dollar signs and view cards as an area for investment.

Like many collectors, I cringe when I hear that folks are treating these cards as investments. I don’t have an economics background, but I know from experience that the investment piece of this hobby/business is real, but also is an area that is ripe with scams, con-artists and really is something built on the notion that others believe in the idea that “he’ll only get better” and plays on the character flaw of FOMO, the acronym for “fear of missing out.”

Where things have changed recently for me is a shift in mindset about these so-called newcomers. It’s still frustrating and mind-boggling at times to see the big numbers thrown around at cards we considered to be forgotten or relatively worthless, but I’ve been trying to be more accepting of these folks. In reality, this isn’t all that different that the boom that many of us 30- or 40-somethings had a part in when we joined this world of baseball cards. I mean it’s not like folks were always spending hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars on cards, let alone a singular card.

Instead of pushing back against this new type of hobbyist, we should to some degree be embracing the voracity with which folks are enjoying ANY aspect of this hobby. I don’t chase prospects anymore and can’t see the allure to spending hundreds of dollars on unproven players, but others do. And it is because of their dedication to breaking that stuff that small businesses (online breakers and even some brick and mortar stores) are enjoying success; it is also why other cards filter to different types of collectors at prices that don’t always make sense. Their “loss” is other persons “gain.”

At some point we can expect there will be some sort of regression, and with it a lot of finger pointing and laughing because that’s just how some folks are, but for now we should understand that this hobby/business/market is no longer just about the old school curmudgeons who love splitting hairs about hobby definitions and can’t see past the idea that folks with different mind sets might also enjoy cards, even if their type of enjoyment or their reasons for being involved is not the same as our personal reasons.

There isn’t just one way to sort a stack of cards; to organize your collection; or to protect your cardboard assets. Then it is wrong for us to assume there is only one way to participate in this world of sports cards.

Panini Points ARE Poop … but at least we got this basketball HOF Auto

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Last year I ran into a deal of a lifetime when I came up on a stash of 2018-19 a Prizm basketball at a discounted price. The boxes yielded an epic Luka Link Ouksar rookie, a silver Trae Young and a slew of other good stuff.

But one of my favorite memories of that break was when my kids and nephew broke out into a “Points are Poop” chant.

We were set to get an auto or relic in each box, yet in three boxes we wound up with three 150 Point Panini Points cards.

I checked the site and didn’t see anything worth obtaining immediately so I let the points sit. I hadn’t really checked the stock on the site in a while but would up looking about two weeks ago when I logged in to enter a Kevin Durant redemption card that my son pulled from a 2019-20 Donruss blaster.

Among the cards we saw on the points site was that is Golden State Warriors Legend Chris Mullin. The card came from Immaculate, so in my mind there was already some build in value given that the price point for that product is pretty high.

So I snapped up the Mullin, paid the shipping — which is an asinine practice if you ask me — and yesterday the Mullin arrived.

Points are STILL poop, but at least it helped facilitate a deal that brought home a Warriors HOFer.

Second round of discount Prizm NBA from 7-Eleven leads to “Points are poop” chant from kids

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , on May 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A few weeks ago I scored big time when I stopped at 7-Eleven and located a ton of retail NBA Prizm prices at 99 cents a pack and nailed a Trae Young silver, Trae Young auto and a Luka Doncic Pink Pulsar, which has since been sent off to BGS. (See post here.)

Today, I went back to the 7–Eleven to pick up a case of water and much fo my surprise and delight, they found more Prizm in the back room. You know I had to buy it all. I again left the Hoops behind.

Well, I had my kids and my nephew with me, so I decided to turn this as an opportunity for a family #PrizmRipParty

I couldn’t pass on these at 99 cents a pack when that’s like a third or even a quarter of what these would cost online or even at the card shop.

We all took turns opening packs, one at a tome. I’m a collector, my son is new to collecting, my daughter (the oldest of these three kids) has been opening packs and and off with me for years and my nephew? Hello, he STILL has not opened the half box of 2018 Topps Big League I gave him for Christmas hoping that he and my son would start trading cards. Nonetheless, I included in this family break. I really didn’t care what I pulled from these proverbial lottery ticket packs, this break was all about the kids and their reactions.

And as it turned out, my nephew actually did really well. In terms of notables, he pulled a Malcom Brogdon auto pretty early (I believe it was his first hit ever) and ended up hitting a Luka Doncic Base Prizm Rookie.

My daughter participated for about half of the break and didn’t pull anything of real note other than this Trae Young insert silver.

My son was acting the whole time like a jaded collecting veteran, I really think he was expecting us to pull another Pink Pulsar Luka. His big hits were a green Derrick Favors (numbered 15/25 — his jersey number) and a Panini Points Card which actually has now become a priceless peace of Cardboard Icon’s collecting history. (See below)

As for me, I’ll hang my hat on a green Prizm Trae Young Rookie parallel, a Joel Embiid Pink Pulsar /42, and a Purvis Short autograph, which promoted a second classic reaction.

But that just PART of the story. Remember the Panin Points listed above?

I explained to the kids what the appoints program is and how instead of an actual autograph in a our, the company put this Points Card inside so that we could go choose a hit from the Web site. Their reaction?

“Points are poop!”

I had to break out the phone to record the second wave of chanting, but I had NOTHING to do with their reaction. They were very disgusted with the idea of points, so much so that when we were opening the last of the boxes I explained there should be one more autograph and they collectively said “Or more Points!” Then the chant continued again. And because of their reaction, ’tis card shall remain in my collection forever. Seriously.

Another giant take away from this break was my daughter’s reaction to my Purvis Short autograph.

Daughter: “Wait, does that mean the player actually held that card?!”

Me: “Well, no. This is a sticker autograph. They signed the sticker, and it was put on the card.”

Daughter: “That’s just dumb!”

Again, I did not prompt this response. I As a seasoned collector know why the sticker autographs exist, and can understand to some degree why the points could be appealing. But, it should not go unnoticed how innocent people who do not know the intricacies of the hobby react to things. As a friend of mine said: “Thats some great market research!”

So, overall how was this break? In a vacuum it was kind of rough. But you also have to realize this was probably the remainder of the case of blasters and retail packs from my break a few weeks ago, and THOSE packs yielded some great cards.

It sounds silly to call this a priceless experience, but in many ways it was. Now if only I can get my nephew to open the damn cards I bought him.

And lastly, don’t go hunting at all your 7-Elevens for these cards, almost every store will have. I idea what you’re talking about. Most don’t sell cards.

What The Luka?! Pink Pulsar Prizm /42 unwrapped from discount packs at 7-Eleven

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , on April 21, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Two and a half months ago I stopped at a 7-Eleven half way between my house and the home of my ex wife and was surprised to find the retail hotness that was 2018-19 Panini Prizm.

I had picked up my kids for their days with me and we stopped there for milk. I managed to fight off the urge to buy any packs — at the time the packs were $2.99 each and Blasters were $19.99 — so it wasn’t a tough decision.

I hadn’t returned to that particular store since that day. But on Easter Sunday I again found myself in a similar situation as I needed milk whilst taking kids to/from their moms house. I decided to stop at 7-Eleven as my brain began wondering if the Prizm packs ever sold; and if they had not had the store discounted them?

Well, by now you know the answer.

They sold some of the stock that was there in February, which I documented in a post. (Here)

But there were three blasters, seven sealed retail boxes and some 20 loose packs sitting around. After confirming the price — 99 cents for each retail pack and $9.99 for the blasters, we were off to the races.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

After the clerks settled their confusion as to how to ring up the sealed boxes and stopped asking why I wanted all the Prizm, the transaction was done — they had their money and I scored a great price on a product that remains in demand from basketball fans.

Now before you go stopping at every 7-Eleven looking for the same deal, I am fairly certain this was an anomaly. The store manager told me that her son used to collect — “he was always buying cards looking for a Michael Jordan…”– and explained that these had been sitting here for months.

And as you may know, each 7-Eleven is franchised so there exists some opportunity to sell some site-specific merchandise. That’s why some stores carry knock-off hats and other kitsch items and others don’t.

I brought the Prism packs home, occasionally ripping into a pack at each red light. And when I pulled into my parking garage I decided to open a few more of the loose packs — that’s when Luka (/42) appeared, like the prize of an Easter Egg Hunt.

My son and I had bought a fair amount of Prizm blasters — he has really taken to basketball, almost the way I had baseball when I was his age. And to date we had not pulled a basic Luka Doncic Prizm, let alone any sort of color. So when the Pink Pulsar Prizm Luka showed from behind a common, I was completely taken aback.

I had thoughts of reselling the retail boxes and basically accepting the double profit before even contemplating what to do with the Pink Luka. But I decided we should just open it all — besides, my boy was still working on the Prizm set, the cost was relatively cheap and I figured we’d never had this opportunity again.

Luka was clearly the prize here, but there was more good stuff to be had. We picked off a pair of Luka base Prizms; a Trae Young auto, a Young silver Prizm, and more. I did laugh at the 150 Panini Points though — that was a first for me.