Archive for hobbies

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.

 

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.

 

I spent money to make my blog look/work better …

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , on July 30, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

You may or may not have noticed that since late December the look of my blog has been a bit off. If you view my site on your mobile device, you may not have even noticed a difference at all. If you view it on a laptop or desktop, you already know what I’m getting at.

You see, when I started this blog in 2008 I went with a no frills freebie package that allowed for me to have a small amount of media storage on the site. Well, things changed and I bought my domain name and blogged more and more.  The last few years have been somewhat infrequent, but I continued down the same path.

And then it happened:  I ran out of friggin’ storage!

So instead of uploading images to the site, I used Photobucket and then embedded the html coding. Which seemed to be working OK until I realized that the images were massive and the dimensions set by my layout with WordPress essentially cut off half of the photo. The full photo is visible of you click the image but that’s a pain in the ass.

Visually it was ugly which frustrated me and even stopped me from writing a few times in recent weeks

And so I decided to pony up and paid the piper and beginning with my next post, we’re back in business in terms of media files.  That said, the upgrade also presents other opportunities I may explore in the future.

Thanks for sticking around,

Ben, aka CardboardIcons.

  • You can reach me via e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com or on Twitter @cardboardicons

What’s in that box? “Basketball Floor Box” edition

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

By now if you’re a frequent visitor of the sports card aisle at Target you’ve seen these not-so-fancy looking repack boxes distributed by Fairfield. The boxes show you a piece of wood and boast that the lumber is a piece of game-used floor from the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.

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For $12.99 you get a piece of floor, three packs, a memorabilia card, a Kevin Durant rookie, and a pack of Teenymates. I’m not a basketball collector really, but I will say that the floor piece intrigued me. The Target I was at had two of these boxes, one of these had a plain piece of wood and the other had a two-tone piece that appeared to have some paint on it. I decided that I was intrigued enough to buy it and bring this post to you to share what was inside.

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We’ll start with the wood.  Funny enough when I opened the box the wood tumbled into my hand and I immediately thought it was a piece of a train track from my son’s toy bin. I wondered if there was any stamp of authenticity, but there was none.  Instead I later found in the box a small folded COA that spells out that the floor is from the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.  The COA references “nbalab.com” which is Web site I’d never heard. And even to this day if you type up the address, you get a stale home screen, the words “Coming Soon” in the corner, and some verbiage about what the site hopes to bring to the world. In short, I’m still not sure if there is a direct association with the NBA other than the use of the logo and the three initials in the name. What does this mean about the authenticity? Got me. I guess if we have questions we can just e-mail Bill, as it says on the COA. Personally, I’ll take it for what it appears to be: A unique piece of wood purported to be from the NBA all-star game and from the court on which legend Kobe Bryant played. What’s it worth?  Less than $12.99.

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My memorabilia card came in the form of a 2008-09 Upper Deck Ben Gordon white swatch, which feels like some sort of patch and not your basic fabric. That’s a win … I suppose.

The Durant rookie is a 2007-08 Topps Retail factory Set Orange exclusive. They can be had for about $4 on COMC.com … if they were mint, which this one is not due to the fact that it bounced around inside the package.

My three packs actually surprised me as two of them were 2014-15 Prizm retail. I was fully expecting three 1990-91 Hoops packs. Only one of those Hoops packs made it into this box and both Prizm packs had Prizm parallels, which is a win I suppose. The Hoops pack was what you’d expect — a bit of a memory flashback from when I was a kid. And while not much of anything in that set is worth anything, I did get a Michael Jordan base card, which is always fun to see.

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I’ll spare your time with the Teenymates. Move along, nothing to see there.

Would I buy another? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you should buy one if the piece of purported floor intrigues you.

So …. “Thrift Treasures” has been nominated for an award

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on January 21, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

ThriftTreasuresLogoTo say that this blog is what it was six years ago when I started it would simply be untrue.  The industry has changed. My life has changed.  I was married for a mere three years when I started this thing, and I didn’t have any kids.  I now have two kids who are 6 and 4 and my wife and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary later this year. Oh, and I had a career change some four years ago. Yeah, time flies.

There was a time when page hits were important to me; when I felt the need to publish something everyday.  But the more that I let that motivate me, the more this hobby became like work. Over time I did my own thing.  I branched out and got published elsewhere and used this site to do what I initially set out to do, chronicle MY collection and share MY thoughts.

One of the things that has developed through this site is ‘Thrift Treasures,” which has been my constant theme in which I chronicle sports items — usually cards — I find during trips to thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets, etc.

It came as a surprise to me this week when I learned that the “Thrift Treasures” series has been nominated for “Best Recurring Subject,” in the “2014 Bip Awards” as hosted by fellow bloggers over at A Cardboard Problem.

I’m humbled by the fact that I have even been nominated. The other candidates are among some of the stronger and more popular blogs in our hobby.  Anyway, I’ll quite rambling. If you’re so inclined go vote for somebody — even if its not me.

And in case you missed it or care to read them again, all of my Thrift Treasures posts can be read HERE.

Some of my favorites include:

* A 1971 San Jose Bees (Royals Single-A affiliate) signed baseball (read)

* Sealed 1984 Donruss set (read)

* A signed George W. Bush book (read)

* a Cal Ripken Jr. signed book (read)

* A signed Harry Caray book … which I returned to the owner (read)

* A full game-used bat that might be photo-matched to a card (read)

* a team-signed 1997 USA Baseball jersey (read)

* A signed Casey Stengel 1963 Topps card (read)

* And of course, the legendary find of a game-used Earl Weaver jersey (read) which has been the gift that keeps on giving. The find led to new opportunities within the hobby for me, including a chance to meet Earl and have his sign the jersey before he passed away in 2012. (Beckett first-hand piece from 2012)

Thrift Treasures 58: Romanowski signed book, SPs, and Money Ball

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

ThriftTreasuresLogoIt’s been three months since I’ve posted a Thrift Treasures entry.  That’s not to say it’s been three months since I’ve found post-worthy items.  I’ve probably got a dozen entries I need to write.  But we’ll get to those items in the future.  For now we’ll focus on items I found Saturday night while thrift shopping.

My family went to a shop in South San Jose, one I only happened to find about three weeks ago.  The store apparently had been there for years, but I’ve never stepped foot inside.  Reality, however, was that when I walked in the first time, I was short on time and was instantly turned off by the crazy prices.  They had baggies of cards (roughly 50 in each) priced at $7.99 to $9.99. Ugh.

But on Saturday, I decided that the family should make a trip to this location because my wife — who also digs thrift stores (she loves jewelry and clothes) — haven’t been there before.  Turns out this trip yielded a few decently priced treasures.

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First item is a promotional T-shirt for “Money Ball,” the flick starring Brad Pitt and featuring the Oakland Athletics.  In 2011 when the movie hit theaters, the A’s had a T-Shirt giveaway at O.Co.  This shirt, which is a size XL and bears the Pepsi Max logo on the back, was given to like 10,000 fans at a game.  This is the first time I’ve seen this shirt at thrift. And with the $2.99 price tag — which happened to be half off today because it’s been in the store for a while — it was a no-brainer purchase.

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So yeah, cards.  As I noted earlier, they had cards at this store when I first checked it out a few weeks ago.  And today they had even more.  Sadly it was a lot of the same — overpriced crap from the 1980s and 1990s.  Seriously, bags of 1988 Fleer baseball, 1992 Pro Set football, and 1991-1992 Fleer basketball for more than $7.99? Hell, no!

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But among the peg hooks I found a few smaller baggies priced more in my range.  This one caught my eye because I could see some 2012 Topps Heritage and 2012 Topps Archives inside, and I could see at least one SP cards. It was worth my while.

As it turned out there were two SPs within he bag (Heritage Kyle Seager; Archives Griffey), a pair of Matt Moore rookie cards, and rookie-year cards of Yu Darvish and Matt Harvey. No too bad.

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And then there was Romo …

Not Tony Romo.  Bill. As in Bill Romanowski.

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I’ve mentioned before my recent love for the book aisle in thrift stores.  I’m not a big reader, I have just had fantastic luck in finding signed books.

Here we have a signed — and non-personalized — copy of Romanowski’s autobiography

IMG_9316IMG_9317I’m going to be honest … I put this one back on the shelf and at one point left the aisle.  I saw that it was signed, but the $5.99 price tag was a bit steep for my penny-pinching ass.  Besides, I hadn’t even paid that much for any of my Presidential signatures. That said, I decided to buy it when I realized we had a 30% off coupon.

It’s a fun signature to own.  But it does remind me of the time that I passed — yes, passed — on a signed Ronnie Lott book last year.  Grrr …

Total cost for these treasures: About $8.80

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE

 

 

 

Cardboard Icons’ celebrates 5 years of “blogging”

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

It’s a milestone day. Today is indeed the fifth anniversary of this blog. And what better way to celebrate the day than to give you a very short update. I’ve been rather infrequent in posting over the last month or two; time flies. A day turns into a week, a week into a month, etc.

I’ve found that at this point, there are so many ways to express my thoughts or show my creativity, which essentially has been my objective of this blog. When I started, I tried to post something — anything — every day and it was fun. Then we had the addition of Twitter and Instagram to our collecting worlds. I tell you, its a lot easier to hammer out a few 140-character tweets from anywhere than it is to sit in front of a computer, write out a concise piece and then add pictures. Believe me, I’ve spent hours laboring over some of my posts in the past. (Like this one from earlier this week: The World is Your’s: The Life and Times of Lil B Weezy)

And personally, Instagram has been a God-send. I’ve always sought ways to show off my cards; using the Instagram app has made it fun and allowed for some interesting images.

Anyhow, I’ll wrap up this officially brief anniversary piece by saying that I plan to write more in the near future — perhaps this weekend? — but as is the case with everything, only if time permits.

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