Archive for rookie cards

What message am I sending to my kid collector

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Over the last year and a half I’ve enjoyed perhaps the greatest thing any card collecting father could want: My son enjoys and wants to participate in my hobby.

There was a point where things were a bit touch and go early. I was not sure that my hobby, one I’ve enjoyed since I was 7 years old, would be one on to which he would latch. But here we are in 2020 and at age 9 he is learning things I am teaching him.

But this learning point is exactly what’s concerning me at the moment about the relationship between cards and my son and I. I came into this hobby with no hobby role model. My dad wasn’t a big sports guy during my youth, and while my mother is the one who really introduced me to collecting in general, she did not really provide a structure. All I knew is that she would buy several boxes of Topps Garbage Pail Kids — I have this vivid memory of us plucking boxes off a pyramid dysplay in the center of an aisle at a store like Woolworth — then we’d sort them and put them in a box. I never learned why we did that, or what we would do. In fact, I later took them (without permission) and traded them for baseball cards.

With my son, I feel I have this opportunity to present him with a foundation for a collection. To this point I have introduced him to cards in general, taught him all about the rookies and prospects, how to store the good cards and how to sort his other cards by team and store them in binders. This kid is organized and that is lightyears ahead of where I was when I was 9. But I am wondering what MY actions with my collection are teaching him.

I have a bad habit of buying too many baseball (and now basketball) cards. It’s a problem a lot of us have. Over the last year and a half, however, I have reconciled this in my brain as being OK as long as its an experience I share with my son. We open together, announce the player names and share excitement (and disappointment) together — it’s an experience. And the way it works with us, any base cards we need for the set are for the set, but anything else he pulls from packs are his to keep if he wants. He’s hit some big cards (relatively speaking) and usually accepts them, but every now and again he refuses … it’s not that he doesn’t want them, it’s that he’s being modest.

I digress. Over the last five years I’ve had a lot of fluidity in my collection. Don’t get me wrong, I have my foundation of stuff that I do not intend to move unless circumstances dictate. But I am always selling and sorting stuff. And over the last year specifically I have been liquidating (or preparing to anyway) a lot of items that I have deemed as items I no longer have a desire to keep.

This is important for me as the sheer amount of cards I own often put me in a place of depression. The volume alone can be daunting and overwhelming and can actually cause me to not appreciate any of it. And so I have been pillaging box after box for items to send to COMC to re-purpose, and then sorting other stuff to sell off in team lots (look for an announcement soon).

Having said all of that, I am not sure what message my son is receiving through all of this. I talk about moving items out, but am constantly bringing stuff in. Am I doing this wrong?

I’m pretty open with my son about this hobby. He knows this hobby is expensive, but that we can enjoy it even on a small scale. He knows there are terrible people in and around it, but knows there are some great ones as well. He also knows it takes a lot of work and desire to keep things organized and has seen first hand (read: me and my mess) what happens when you let things overrun your life.

I am a sentimental guy and can find a reason to keep just about anything, especially when cards are involved. Hell, cards are what kept my head straight when my parents split; when I witnessed ugly domestic violence; when my friends got caught up in drugs and other nonsense. The cards are also what’s kept me connected to sports at times, what’s helped me remember not only the aforementioned bad things, but also the great things.

That said, we cannot possibly keep everything. And so it has been a constant struggle lately to purge things and almost hit the reset button in a way. With these actions my son has been involved — he’s helped me sort teams in recent months — and has heard me say things like “It doesn’t matter,” “I don’t care,” “I don’t need it in my collection,” and “I want them out of the house.”

These phrases are a coping mechanism for me to sever ties with items that I really don’t “need” with hopes of being able to remove some of the weight from my shoulders. I explain to him my thought process. I just hope that he understands, and that these help shape his future in the hobby to determine what he enjoys. As I’ve said already, his collecting skills and collection are advanced for his age.

Topps Project 2020: The product I never thought I’d chase

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’m not going to pretend that I am an art expert. Hell, I passed my Art History class in college 16 years ago by showing up exactly five times — which is to say I was there for the first and last days of instruction, for the mid term and final exam, as well as a spot in between to turn in a term paper. Not that I am proud of it, but that is solid C work.

So yeah, art and I have a history … but I don’t have in my brain the history of art, ya dig?

That said, you don’t need to have a degree, special training or any other skill to be able to tell when you like (or dislike) a certain piece. When you look at a design, a drawing, painting, photo, or other type of creation does it make you think or feel a certain way? Do you like it, do you not, do you not care?

Art is subjective. There’s no right or wrong way to create, or appreciate. I don’t always seek out art, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate talents that I do not possess.

When Topps launched the Project 2020 line a few weeks ago, I admittedly did not do a lot of research. Hell, I had no intention to buy anything. The first wave came and went and I thought nothing of it. The second wave brought a controversial version of Mike Trout’s 2011 Topps Update rookie card as re-imaged by Ermsy. It appealed to be on some level — I enjoyed the odd comic-style and the color scheme — so I mulled it over and then pulled the trigger the next day when King Saladeen’s take on Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 Topps Update was released. That Saladeen hooked me immediately; and to this point his art in this series has become ones that I will absolutely buy, regardless of who is being depicted.

I suppose it was at that point the Project 2020 release became must-see morning viewing for me. It’s not that I had this idea of collecting every card, but it was really a test for my senses. Would there be a piece today that would evoke an emotional response from me? Seeing as how I own(ed) the original copy of almost every card used as inspiration in the series, I wanted to know how each artist was going to interpret the card/image and present a new version to the world.

I had no clue how the secondary market would take to this, and honestly I didn’t care. This wasn’t a money-making venture on my part; this was a if-it-makes-you-happy-then-acquire-it type of situation. And at the price point of $19.99 in this time in history, there was a direct correlation between blaster money turning into a limited edition personal collection addition.

And now as the weekdays pass I check out the Topps.com site each morning with high anticipation to see if the mood strikes me; will there be a design that speaks to me, or not?

As it turns out, I’ve found myself being infatuated by everything King Saladeen has done in this series. For one reason or another, I’ve decided that I will own a copy of each of his pieces. And I’ve also taken a liking to Blake Jamieson, Mister Cartoon, Ben Baller and Matt Taylor — although I probably won’t buy them all. Those are the five artists to whom I have gravitated, but that’s not to say the others aren’t good in their own way.

I try to refrain from saying certain piece aren’t good. Few things bug me more than when someone just says “the piece sucks.” They may not evoke emotion for me or you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good to someone else. It merely means that the piece isn’t for us.

The one artist in this project whom I think got a raw deal early on was Joshua Vides, whose first piece was not explained and merely looked as though he took a black marker to hard edges and added a few scribbles. I know I mocked it early on, and as it turns out, it was indeed more than what was shown and I was wrong. His pieces are textured, and that is not just black marker on a copy of the card, it’s akin to puffy paint on a plastic coating over the top. I wish I knew this before hand because that, to me, changes how I can appreciate his work. If I had known that before hand, I would have purchased his first piece, the Rickey Henderson, and others might have as well.

At this point more than 60 cards into the set and I’ve got six in hand, two in the mail, and another 8 or 10 that should be shipped soon. This is not something I imagined I was going to embrace in the way that I have, but it’s certainly given me something to enjoy each weekday in a time where we are seeing almost no new card releases due to the ongoing issues regarding Covid-19.

It’s worth nothing that the sales figures for everything in this project are starting to increase as the project gains more attention. That Ermsy version of Mike Trout as mentioned above eclipsed the $500 mark earlier this week — which is a hell of a return on the $19.99 investment — so its hard to not let some resell talk enter your stream of consciousness.

Finally, I will say this: If you like these cards I recommend you BUY THEM DIRECT FROM TOPPS. Look, I enjoy saving a few bucks here and there — and that is possible if you buy them from a bulk re-seller on the secondary market. (Hint: They’re buying in bulk at like $15 each and reselling for $18, which is good money when doing bulk sales.) But when you buy direct from Topps you are giving yourself a chance — a chance! — at receiving a special 1/1 version, which can be re-sold for thousands of dollars. When you buy on the secondary market, you’re saving about $5 in some cases, but you also give yourself no chance at that receiving the lottery ticket. Additionally, buying on secondary market will certainly add an extra few days to your delivery time as your seller is essentially a middleman. If neither of these latter points bother you, then by all means do your thing and support the resellers and save a few bucks on a piece you’ll enjoy. Its a personal preference, just like art.

2020 Topps Rookie Logo ManuRelics have won me over

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 13, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’m really not a huge fan of Manufactured relics. Hell, I don’t think anyone is. But the 2020 blaster-exclusive Rookie Logo medallions have won me over.

I enjoy the simplicity of the card; it’s not some wacky design with a chunky piece of metal or rubber. It’s essentially a reprint of a rookie card with the small Rookie Card Logo embedded within and honestly I’m kicking around the idea of working on this set.

I’m drawn to them like no other ManuRelic I’ve seen in the past; maybe it’s my affinity to rookies. Rookie card reprints have been used as ManuRelics in the past — I believe Topps did them as silk patches in 2013 (I did NOT like them) — but the 2020 cards really are gorgeous, even more so when you hold them.

I enjoy the matte finish and the fact that even though the card is thick and has a piece of metal in it, it’s weight is not grossly imbalanced. And while the stock is thick, it resembles something I’d expect to see on a high-dollar release.

We know why ManuRelics exist — it’s an incentive to make people buy blasters; to help consumers feel as if they’ve received something special. And for the first time in a while — maybe even ever — I do feel that way with these.

If you’ve got any you’re looking to unload I’m interested. I’ll be seeking the regular versions of everyone on the checklist; and then variations of the Clayton a Kershaw and Roger Clemens cards from the set.

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).

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.