Archive for hobbies

Priced out and pissed off? Perhaps its time to pause and appreciate what we’ve had all along.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Three years ago there was a belief this industry was dying. Cards were not holding their value; ingenuity seemed to be fairly low, and if you spoke to non-collectors about our hobby there was some sort reaction akin to someone asking if you’d even had your first beer.

Alas here we are in 2020 — amid a pandemic, a time of social justice advances, and intense politics — and this card hobby grabs headlines and is hotter than ever.

If you’re like me then you’ve been around cards for a while, and even those of us who have lived through three decades of cards — and some of you much longer — you thought you had seen it all. But this current climate is proving us wrong.

Base cards are relevant again; early non-rookie releases of sure-fire hall of famers are commanding a premium, and parallels — not necessarily autographs — are what’s drawing folks to products. In short, history is repeating itself to an extent but I’m not sure any of us could have predicted anything to this level so quickly.

But when a hobby or market runs hot, demand for products are through the roof and with it go prices. And this is where things get super wonky for the die-hards because … suddenly nothing is easy to find, and most sealed products are carrying insane premiums.

Some have said — or at least thought — that they are priced out of the hobby. This would include me. And honestly, there has been a struggle about how I feel about this. In some ways I’m pissed. I mean how dare this rush of “new” type of consumer rush into this hobby and change the landscape for me and everyone else who has called this their own for years. But … BUT! … how can I/we really be mad when we have bitched and moaned for years about this industry dying; about the lack of respect; and it’s lack of … value.

If you’re in a place where you’re feeling priced out and pissed off, it might be best to pause and think about where YOU fit into this hobby. This, again, includes me.

I know that I cannot hang with the guys who buy into breaks seven days a week constantly gambling their money away until they hit big … and then sell the prized hit and repeat the pattern hoping lightening strikes twice.

I also know that I cannot justify spending $7.50 for a pack of flagship Topps baseball Series 2 — I saw that at an LCS this weekend — and maintain any sort of happiness.

I for damn sure won’t spend $80 to $120 on a blaster knowing that it cost $19.99 when it’s found in the wild. And yes, I know the blasters are impossible to find at times, which is why they command a premium, but I’m not your huckleberry at 4x or higher.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This is a time for us longtime collectors to realize how good we actually had it all of those years. The times when we were tasked with a milk run at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night and wound up at Target buying the milk and a blaster or two. Those trips to the LCS when we walked in with $20 or $100 budget and walked out with a smile on our face and cards in our hands. The special feeling we had when you found out a distant relative, neighbor or co-worker collected cards and it felt like you were part of the same secret club.

Now is the time to look at your collection and appreciate what you already own. A time to remember why you got into this in the first place. Was it the actual cards? The thrill of the chase? The gambling element? Does the hobby give you a sense of inclusion? Are you carrying on a family tradition or looking to start a new one? The answer is personal for each of us.

I cannot control your feelings about the cards you possess, nor can I contain the emotions you may have for the ones you do not own. But I hope this time of change in our hobby — whether it be short term or not — isn’t pushing you out of the hobby. Because while packs are at a premium, singles are still as available as ever and you can still build a kick-ass collection without having to succumb to the notion that the only thing that matters is the shiniest card released this week of the hottest rookie.

I bought the whole lot for one card…

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

You know you’re a player collector when you buy an entire lot of a player’s cards solely because you thought you needed just one of them.

Such was the case last week when I was conducting an open-ended search on eBay for Roger Clemens cards. I came upon a lot of 43 Clemens cards that initially looked like the majority of lots that hit eBay — full of standard issues from 1987 to 1998.

But this is why I try to check every single lot of Clemens cards when I do these searches — you never know what may be within the lot that was not mentioned in the title.

In the fourth image attached to this lot was a shiny blue die-cut 2000 Pacific Crown Royale Platinum Blue serial numbered to 75 copies.

The seller knew the card was special; they even show cased it on its own in the fifth and final image of the auction. But it was not listed in the header, so any person who was looking for this specific card would not have seen it. It also was not specifically listed in the description, just described as a die-cut card serial numbered 23/75.

The remainder of the lot wasn’t terrible. As it turned out there were five other cards in the lot that I did not have: 1995 Upper Deck Electric Diamond, 1998 Fleer Decade of Excellence, 1998 Ultra, 1998 Skybox Dugout Access, and 1998 Upper Deck All Star Credentials.

As far as the dupes, there was a 1997 Fleer EX-2000 – another reminder of the 1990s being full of cutting edge stuff.

Not a bad haul for under $6 delivered.

eBay selling frustrations – The NPB

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Non-paying bidders/buyers on eBay is not a new trend for our hobby. We deal largely in commodities that fluctuate in price with any given day; and we know that buyers run hot and cold. Some people buy with emotion and make a purchase when they think they’re getting a good deal. And then afterward they back out of the purchase agreement with a myriad of excuses …

-My son bought this with my credit card – I did not approve.

-My child has a birthday coming up, I need to sell some other stuff first.

-I thought this was for a whole collection, not just one card

… you get the point.

Personally, I had a pretty good track record in this arena. Most of my buyers came through and made their payment within the first 24-48 hours, and sometimes it would drag to three days. But for whatever reason, I’ve had three of the last five items I’ve sold end or appear to be heading toward NPB status.

One of the excuses above was actually used 6 weeks ago when I sold a Chris Sale 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects auto. The buyer claimed to be a “breaker” from the east coast and appeared to be putting together a buy-back product when he made the purchase. I accepted his offer and then I waited … and waited. I hit him with two reminder notices via eBay and then he shot back that he’d be paying at the end of the week, which of course came and went. I hit him with a third reminder and then came the the most ridiculous excuse I had heard to this point. In summary it went like this:

His daughter was having a birthday soon, and he was trying to sell some items to make sure she had a present. He was asking me if he should sell his gold chain so that he could pay me for my Chris Sale card.

I stepped back from my computer when I saw this and laughed because the scenario seemed so far-fetched. I mean how did we go from him being a breaker, to not having enough money for the card right now, to needing money for a birthday gift AND he was adding a guilt trip of asking me if I wanted him to sell his gold chain. I should add that this was a base Sale Chrome AUTO under $100 at the time.

I digress, the reason this came up today is I am dealing with a new NPB who has not even responded to my two reminders. This buyer has some 1,500 positive feed backs and made an offer for one of my items; the offer was for $200. I pondered it for 30 minutes but ultimately accepted. This was on Dec, 29, a week ago today. I figured the buyer would pay Sunday, or Monday. Then realized me might be waiting for his eBay Bucks to kick in, which as most of us know happened on Wednesday. And when no payment came then I figured he might be waiting for Friday, Jan. 4 for payday.

But here we are, Jan 5 and no payment or communication. So frustrating.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with this: If you’re buying something from someone and need an extra day or two, communicate that to the buyer. Don’t leave them in the dark — I mean we all love when eBay throws us a bone with special deals. But also don’t be one of those guys who makes an offer or hits a Buy It Now knowing you can’t pay for the item within two or three days.

How long have you been writing this?!

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story. Yesterday I wrote a blog post on my laptop while sitting at the kitchen table and my son saunters over after I am done and asks what I’ve been doing.

He recently showed interest in the hobby, so he notices when I am looking at cards, or reading about them. So he wanted to take a look at what I had just done. I let him sit in my chair and have a look. He starts paging down, looking occasionally at the words, but focusing mostly on the pictures of cards.

I explain that this is my blog/web site.

“How long have you been doing this?” he asks as he scans over the fourth page of posts, pointing out some cool images I have posted.

I reply: “Ten years … but I haven’t been writing much in recent years.”

Astonished, he says, “Ten years?!”

And it was at that moment that it really hit me that I have owned this domain and used it for longer than both he and his sister have been alive. I actually started this blog some two months after my ex-wife and I learned that we were having our first child. And next week, that oldest child turns 10.

People often call music the soundtrack to their lives. For me, baseball cards are essentially my timeline.

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.