Friday, September 3, 2010

Topps T206- Retail vs Blaster Grudgmatch!

Last night I made a trip to Target. I wanted to get my hands on a few packs of Topps T206 and see if I could score myself a few new minis for the collection. I was also curious to see if Topps was loading up retail packs with unique cards like Ginter was this year.

When I got to Target I was presented with two options. T206 retail at $2.99 a pack, or a Blaster at $19.99. Firstly, I think that $2.99 is crazy-steep for a retail pack, but since these were all nicely organized and don't look like they had been ruffled through by pack searchers, I decided the right course of action here was to grab a Blaster and five packs of retail. Mathematically I guess I could have grabbed one more retail, but my grubby little paws only snagged five. Either way I thought it would be cool to compare the two products and see if either has the advantage over the other.

Today, lets take a look at the offering from the five retail packs

Pack #1

Bryan Anderson
Jacoby Ellsbury*NNO back
Brian Roberts Piedmont Mini
Cristian Guzman Bronze
Glen Perkins
Victor Martinez

Pack #2

Kick Strass!

Ben Zobrist
Gil Meche
Stephen Strasburg Mini Caramel
James Shields
Koji Uehara Bronze
Daniel McCutchen


Carlos Ruiz
BJ Upton
First pro (minor league) game played under lights mini
Ricky Nolasco Bronze
Miguel Montero
Tom Seaver


Johnny Bench
Worlds first female cop mini
Jackie Robinson Bronze
Travis Snider
Chad Billingsley
Hideki Matsui

Pack #5

Ryan Zimmerman
Ryan Howard
Ryan Dempster
Jon Danks Polar Bear mini
Todd Helton Bronze
Edinson Volquez

And here are the new minis for my collection.

So that was the retail break. I now understand people's comments on the "hat's off" cards. It is literally ALL the cards. Whether this is accurately representative of the 1910 counterpart I do not know, maybe I should jump in my son's matchbox DeLorean time machine and find out. When you look at the cards as a whole, it kind of reminds you of a bad high school yearbook.
I do like the looks of a few star players cards and a few of the legends cards, but overall nothing really jumps out at me about this set. It was cool to pull a SP Ellsbury out of the first pack and although the Strasberg hype has died down, I am happy to add his RC mini to the collection.
No hits out of the retail...not a huge surprise but I am sure they are out there to be had. White frames though?
Next post I will give the results of the Topps T206 BLASTER. Does it hold enough punch to challenge the retail Stras/Ellsbury pulls?
Also, I plan on only keeping the minis and the Ellsbury from this break, so feel free to stake claim on anything else you may like.

Whoa, what is this?????

It appears that Mr Sharpe is holding a code-cracking contest! Great swag at stake. Go check it out here!

Tally Ho!

Hunting for a cover model

Either tonight or tomorrow I will be heading out to the local neighborhood Target in search of some Topps T206. I am interested to get an up-close look at the new set, as well as add a few brand new minis to the collection.

In the meantime, the eBay hunt continues for lots, singles, players, oddballs...basically anything not regular-sized. I bumped into an auction for a single mini last week that I immediately knew needed to be lost in my collection. Not only was he featured in the 2007 Topps Allen and Ginter set, but he was also on the front of the box. The face of the product, the point of purchase display! Joey Chestnut?


Abe Lincoln?


Enter the Dragon!
Bruce Lee. Awesome card. I especially enjoyed the packaging on this card. I love the creativity that people put into justifying highly-inflated shipping costs. A top loader, a heavy chunk of cardboard, and some USPS packing tape...none of this can keep Bruce Lee down.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What I want to be when I grow up.

I recently dove into a fair sized lot of 2007 Ginter mini cards on eBay. a vast majority of them are base player cards, but there were a handful of oddball cards mixed in to the lot. The groundhog card is pretty sweet, the horse owner card is just pointless and then the card below...
Mike Aponte. I flipped it over and read the back and quickly realized that Mike is one of the MIT blackjack team (kinda like glee or chess club except you get to make mad mad money), that is a subject of the quasi-fiction/nonfiction "Bringing Down the House" about a group of MIT students that count cards and take Vegas and other casinos by storm.

I remember seeing the movie version of this, "21" a couple years back and just becoming enamored with the card counting system. Plus any movie with the Fishburne is worth checking out.

The system itself is pretty straight-forward. If the card count is high, time to bet, if it is low, time to seek greener pastures or order a drink and bet the minimum for awhile. Surely any ol schmo can do this, right?

My wife had a weeklong conference in Vegas coming up, and OF COURSE I had to tag along, so I figured between lounging around the pool and playing some 3-6 Texas Hold Em, that I can count me some cards and...........BRING DOWN THE HOUSE....YEEEEAAAAHHHH!

I practiced in my free time for a couple of weeks. It basically is learning how to flip though a deck of cards...or quickly as possible while keeping count in your head. In my own head I got pretty fast!

So I hop the flight to Vegas and take the cab to the MGM Grand. My wife is on the flight behind me because she is flying with her corporate cronies, so I have about an hour or so to burn. I head to the bar and order a drink, play a few round of video poker, and then decide its time to put my plan into action.

I head out to the Casino floor. With my luck it is the Country Music Awards weekend and there are 10-gallon hats everywhere. If there were country music stars around I would not know them anyways, though I did see Jason Alexander playing poker and I shared an elevator with Seth Rogan rambling about $1000 bottles of champagne...gotta love Vegas.

ANYWAYS, I head for a table and plop down just in time for a new shoe to start. A shoe contains (I think) about 10 decks of cards. The deal begins.

And I kid you not, no matter how fast I thought I was out counting, and no matter how fast I was was at flipping cards during practice, I guarantee that the dealer was 10 times faster! The table became a blur of cards, arms, chips, and some annoying heavy drawling country bumpkin roadie who was trying to impress the dealer with all of the country singers that he knew personally.

So while I came in guns-a-blazing and feeling like this , in reality it ended up more feeling like this and that expression on his face? yeah that was pretty much what I felt like after about 20 minutes of sheer terror, in which I had NO idea what the count was, I had NO idea when to bet up, and apparently NO warning system in my head that I should walk away quickly, nay, run away quickly.

All things said and done, I think I lost about 1/2 of my week-long allowance in just over 20 minutes. I quickly decided that my card counting days were behind me and stuck with the pool, Pai Gow Poker, nickle slots and LOTS of watching television in the hotel room to pass the time. Heed this advice, never stay in Vegas for more than a few days tops.

Nevertheless, A salute to Mike Aponte for getting a Ginter card, winning the 2004 Blackjack World Series, and being able to count much fasterer than me!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bamboozled! Pi

When the CEO of JD's Wildcardz decreed "We shall have minis!" (actually he probably said "ball ball" but being the President of the company, I am required to have a keen ear and I interpreted his statement as "We shall have minis!". Thus, minis we shall have.

I have been having a blast searching around the country for mini cards, ANY mini cards that are not dups to add to my ever-expanding mini-binder. No, it's not a really tiny binder, but a regular binder full of minis.

So what is the master plan with the minis? That's the beauty of it...there is none! Have you ever seen that episode of South Park where the underpants knomes come and continually steal Tweeks underpants? The business plan for the operation was:

Phase 1: Collect Underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

While step three is highly debatable, this is the general plan. I want Jacoby to some day look through the binder and be totally perplexed by the baseball card collecting hobby. "these are baseball cards??" I also want to some day make a wager with him that my name is on the back of one of those tiny little cards, have him take the bet, lose, and then have to paint the fence or mow the lawn!

Wanna know another magical thing about minis? The wife somewhat approves of collecting them. Wait.....WHAAA? Yeah, it turns out that Easter Bunnies, World's Tallest Tree's, sharks and Dennis Rodman are actually interesting to her! It makes it easier to justify the envelopes that litter the kitchen counter. "But look's the groundhog!"

JD and I thank everybody who has offered of a smattering of minis to help grow our humble and confusing collection. Please let us know if you have any mini-clutter that you would like trade. We would be happy to find something you like!

Here then is a tiny lot that I found on Ebay the other day. It was just four cards, but it was by far the most random offering that I have jumped on yet...

Pi! 1998 April Fools hoax claiming Alabama's state legislature had rounded the value of pi to the "Biblical value of 3." A nifty little card from a nifty little subset. Did anybody ever find a Madoff? There has to be a prototype out there somewhere!

Louis Braille. Inventor of...well...braille. Cool card, but totally off-centered as the scan shows.

Mark Twain. The artwork on the earlier Ginter minis is really amazing, and this is one of the best.
Have a great day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Topps Relief: 2010 Obak Box Break Highlights

Back from the land of San Jose, where taxi drivers make a killin'.

My wife and I flew back from seeing Dave Matthews Band over the weekend. We witnessed a really high-octane performance where the lights, drums, singing, and jams just beat our senses into pulp for over three hours. Highlights were a raging "All Along the Watchtower", a 17-minute jam of "Jimi Thing" featuring the opening act, and an encore finale of "Two Step" which is one of my favorite songs and one that I have always wanted to see live.

We got really lucky on the theme of the show. I have read some reviews of the show the night before in Concordia, and as can happen, Dave and his mates decided on a milder, more mellow set. The band definitely excels at both, but it was nice that the group decided to kick it into another gear for our show!

The only minus of the trip was that our hotel, while nice, was basically placed in the middle of a loop of freeways, so therefore there was really nowhere to walk to. So we were either at the mercy of overpriced hotel food, or a $15 taxi ride to somewhere else. We'll have to rethink that one next time. Regardless it was an amazing weekend.

Before we left on the trip, I had the pleasure of a dinged-up package appearing on our doorstep. Last week I jumped on Blowout Cards just in time to see that they had a new shipment of 2010 Tristar Obak re-appear in-stock. I happily jumped on the purchase. Obak is some different stuff, that much is certain. But after a Spring and Summer of Topps products and re-circulated images, it was high time to try something different. Right off the bat when you look at the packaging you know that you are going to be in for an experience. If you care to read about the history of Obak cards, it is right there on the package for you. Plus "hit" cards and parallels galore as well as a 1/24 chance at a "Hot Box" made me itchy to bust this thing open.

Here's a pretty cool feature of the box. This particular box is numbered 1935/3000. Pretty cool that only 3000 of these boxes were made. I wonder how that compares to Ginter?

Away we go, starting with the Heyward express. I am really excited to add a different brand of mini to my mini-madness binder that is taking shape. Always nice to add a few Heywards to the binder, but I do have some questions on these parallels...

The difference between the regular cards is pretty obvious, with a different photo and one referencing the Atlanta Braves. However, what is going on with the minis? I have a circle-backed mini and a....triangle-backed mini?? I don't really see any difference with the fronts. There is a different logo on the back, but I turn to my readers to help explain the variation difference on the these cards.

Here are a couple serial cards, Chicago rookie Starlin Castro numbered to either 50 or 75, and a Hank Greenberg numbered to 50.

Here was a nice little surprise to the box...

Here are the auto's for the box...

It's pretty cool to have a Jim Abbott and Don Baylor auto to add to the collection, but overall there is nothing too exciting about these. The autos kinda look like somebody scratched a blue pen through a thick chunk of white-out. There are some nice autos to be had in the set, but temper your expectations a little bit.

And we'll finish off with a couple nice minis

The Chick Gandil is a nice edition to the mini binder, and it was not until later review that I notice that there seems to be an alternate logo and back to this card. This is yet another unexplained mystery to this obscure baseball card box. It definitely makes the card feel unique though, and that I like.

This was a really fun break when you consider the wide-variety of subjects and stories that are covered on the back of each of these cards. I am going to definitely go back through these cards and discover the interesting stories that I may have passed over on first glance. This product is definitely a breath of fresh air after all of the same-old, same-old that has been passing through shops for the last few months.
I am basically only interested in hanging on to the mini cards, so if anything caught your eye or if you are curious about another base card that I might have, feel free to give me a shout!