Friday, September 30, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Inkworks Family Guy Erik Estrada

As a child of the 70s I was exposed to some of the best and worst television had to offer. I was there for the beginning of many explosive starts to what have become mainstream pop culture phenomenons. Big budget movies, video games, etc, etc. were all in their infancy stages when I was a kid, yes I am old. Not that old, but old enough. TV in the 70s was the very best IMO. Sitcoms ruled like All in the Family, MASH, Good Times, Different Strokes. Family shows like the Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Courtship of Eddie's Father were also pretty strong. But I liked action the best. I was glued to the TV set on Saturday mornings for the Shazam/Isis power hour and I wouldn't dare miss an episode of CHiPs.

I used to draw superheroes and cars and I loved a good chase. CHiPs had some of the best on TV. They were always the same too. Someone would have a hit and run accident or they'd commit a robbery with a hot getaway car but Jon and Ponch always got the bad guy in the end. After an hour, all was good with the world. I also thought actress Randi Oakes (Bonnie) was pretty hot.

The one thing that stuck with me though over the years was that while Erik Estrada never really kept a big profile in America, he was huge in Mexican soap operas and the guy doesn't even speak Spanish! His lines were fed to him. That's simply classic. Also, he was never afraid to poke fun at himself making many appearances over they years as a "Ponch-like" character in sticoms, and cartoons.

When I really gained some respect for him was when he was a member of the cast on season two of the Surreal Life. Surreal Life was one of my all-time favorite shows (you can watch many of them on Hulu). This poor guy was a saint and he had to live with Tammy Faye Baker, Ron Jeremy and Vanilla Ice. It was truly must see TV.

Anyhow, I was already a fan, but for all of the reasons above, I remained a fan. Then Erik played the Friendly Officer (again a Ponch-like character) on Family Guy and he cemented his greatness.

In 2005 Inkworks put out Family Guy Premium Trading Cards and the only autograph I cared about was Erik's. Unbelievably, I pulled it from the only box I ever opened of the product. It's an awesome card and an excellent conversation piece. The set was also very good and I am happy that Leaf is bringing us more Family Guy cards, the autograph potential from the iconic prime-time cartoon is endless.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TriStar TNA Knockouts Autographs

I've been a wrestling fan on and off since I was a little kid. Heck, one of the first dates I ever had with my wife was at Wrestlemania X8. We watched the Rock vs. Hogan live at the Skydome. It was unreal.

I never really watched for the wrestling though. I liked the funny skits and angles they'd run on shows, especially when new wrestlers made their debut and they were ridiculous like Skinner, or the Shockmaster. It was truly like a male soap opera. Skits like Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper and Bob Orton beating up a guy and making him cry on the streets of NY were classics. What made it great was that Gene Okerlund pretended to be serious, while you could clearly see he was about to burst out laughing.

I didn't really care about wrestling though unless Ric Flair or the Ultimate Warrior were wrestling. With Flair you could truly appreciate the story he told in the ring. He was so good, he made anyone he got in the ring with look like a million bucks. Yeah he took the same bumps over and over, but it didn't matter who was on the other side of him, they looked like and eventually became a star. Heck even at nearly 60 he is better than some of the younger guys.

The Warrior was a different animal. It wasn't about the finesse, it was about the sheer energy and the beating he would lay down. You knew when that pounding music hit, someone was going to be a quick and decisive beat down. He was my favorite to watch, and I truly admire that he left the sports entertainment world on his terms while others became slaves to drugs and other vices and unfortunately are no longer with us.

As I got older and the WWF introduced Divas such as Sunny and Sable, and as a red-blooded male, I started paying a bit more attention to them as opposed to the dudes running about the ring in their Speedos.

But then something else happened. Really good female wrestlers started making their way onto the show. Wrestlers like Lisa Marie Varon (a.k.a Tara/Victoria), Lisa Moretti (a.k.a. Tina Ferrari/Ivory), Amy Dumas (Lita) & Chyna. They changed the game and created a whole new reason to watch the show. Chyna was so good that she crossed over and effectively competed in the men's division.

After WCW was purchased it seemed to be more about getting nice-looking divas to be eye candy for the show, that was until TNA (now Impact) Wrestling came along. TNA put together a very competitive women's division and they just kept adding talent. I have to be honest when I say that I watch the show for the knockouts. It's much easier on the eyes to watch them wrestle. Another reason I like Impact is because I tend to favor the underdog. I despise monopolies and think without competition things grow stale.

When I heard that TriStar was going to begin making TNA Wrestling trading cards I was hooked. They did a great job out right out of the box. I purchase and collect all of their TNA products. As TNA kept adding top notch talent to their roster, TriStar has been stellar at getting them into a product as soon as possible. From Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Mickie James, RVD, and Mr. Anderson, Tristar made sure that they all were in sets shortly after they were signed by the company. It has made each set they release more impressive and collectible than the previous one.

One of my goals is to complete the basic autograph checklist from each of their sets. One of the more unique sets they've released came out in 2009 and it is titled Knockouts. The set is all about the women of TNA and there are two versions to collect. The basic version contains a 90-card set and several autographs. A second variation is available in hobby only format that includes some additional more revealing images, extra autographed cards as well as autographed and lipstick print baseballs and lipstick imprint cards.

Below are the autos I have collected as I attempt to put the complete set together. All of them are pulled from packs or acquired via a trade. The Angelina Love is a 1/1 and the SoCal Val is #'d to 75. The remaining cards are all the basic autographed versions. I do have a few duplicates if anyone is up for trading. The ones I need are KA-3 Christy Hemme, KA-4 Dixie Carter, KA-5 Jacqueline, KA-7 Madison Rayne, KA-8 Raisha Saeed, KA-9 Roxxi, KA-10 Sharmell, KA-14 Traci Brooks & KA-25 ODB.

SIGnificant Cards - 2005 Upper Deck Albert Pujols Fabric Reflections Auto Patch

It took 5 years, but I finally got a
Pujols auto. Persistence is the key.
In 2001 the baseball card market was pretty sad. There wasn't a dominant rookie card that captured the attention of collectors in awhile. As the landscape of the rookie card changed from a simple base card to an autograph or even and autographed memorabilia card, the hobby was in desperate need of a new hobby hero. Two players made their stake to become that hero, Ichiro and Albert Pujols.

Collectors truly got the best of both worlds as both players are surely headed to Cooperstown. As a fan of both players, I loved the fact that I had to actually chase down two potentially huge rookie cards. I have no team loyalty anymore, I root for players. Don't get me wrong, I still like some teams, but free agency and trades always left me sour when my favorite players would have to pack up and move.

Like everyone else, I wanted to get my hands on the best rookie cards of both players that I could. I didn't even come close. The best I did was getting their base cards in Upper Deck baseball, both of which are still noteworthy and nice looking cards.

Sure I could've purchased either one on eBay and ended the chase just like that, but what fun would that be? I wanted to pull one out of a pack. As you can see by the headline, this card is from the 2005 UD Reflections set. So I am pretty patient as it took me 4 more years to pull a Pujols auto. This beauty is numbered to 50 and also contains a small patch.

It's now 2011 and I still haven't unpacked an Ichiro auto. I find it interesting that neither Pujols or Ichiro autographs are available in current Topps products. I want to personally thank MLB for assuring that collectors have the very best baseball cards to be had. MLBPA obviously saw a gap that needed to be filled by giving Panini a license, maybe they will be the company that cares enough to bring the best players in baseball to sign for their products.

Recently Leaf's Brian Gray signed the Mariners hitting sensation to an autograph deal. I finally have another shot at getting an Ichiro autograph out of a pack. Call me stubborn, but that's the best way to get a card, buying it secondary is kinda like cheating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SIGnificant Cards - Jose Canseco 2001 Upper Deck Vintage

While it looks like the regular UD Vintage Card,
notice the small hologram on the bottom left.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done for an autograph? When I was a kid, I did a lot of odd things. I remember going to men's clothing stores just to meet ball players. I had the good fortune of meeting both Joe Torre and Hank Aaron that way. I am always respectful and don't interrupt them, it usually pays off.

Have you ever gone to an event though knowing you would be able to get autographs but were in such a hurry you forgot to bring something to get signed? That happened to me at the 2001 Big League Challenge in Las Vegas.

The Big League Challenge was the home run derby contest. It took place at Cashman Field, a minor league ballpark. At the time Jose Canseco was still in baseball. There was no steroid scandal and everyone's secret was safe. Jose had bounced around from team to team and at this time was on the Yankees. Other players in the tournament were Rafael Palmiero, Barry Bonds, Troy Glaus, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas and many others. The big boys came out for the event and so did the trading card companies. That year Upper Deck had a big presence and there were autograph sessions too.

I did not have a Jose Canseco autograph in my collection at that time. I had his Bash Brother teammate Mark McGwire on a card I got him to sign for me during Spring Training and because I was in a hurry, forgot the card I wanted Jose to sign. As I am driving to the event, I kept thinking to myself, I'll pick up something there for him to sign.

I brought my daughter along for the event. She was 5 at the time. And just as I was about to pick something up, she had to use the bathroom. They were handing out the tickets for Jose and I got mine and rushed her to the restroom. The tickets were sweet, they were 2001 Upper Deck Vintage cards with a numbered hologram. When I got back to line it was moving steadily and I didn't have squat for Jose to sign. My daughter sees my panic and says, "Daddy have him sign the card in your hand." Out of the mouths of babes...

There was only one problem, when it was your turn to get your autograph you were supposed to give the guy watching the line your ticket. I was screwed. Then something magical happened. Jose saw my daughter and saw she was little timid. She was a fan because her daddy was a fan, but yeah she was shy. Jose, and yes I know he spouts off on Twitter like he's crazy. Yes, I know a lot of players hate his guts for ratting them out. I also know a lot of fans love him because he told the truth. I am one of them. Back to the story...

So Jose sees my daughter and starts talking to her and telling me about his little girl. He calls her Angel without even knowing that is her name and she said, "how did he know my name?" (Her name is Angelica) She immediately softened up. The usher walked us up and Jose cleanly signed my ticket/card. I had a great conversation with him about his career and we even talked about him hitting his 500th homer, which sadly never happened.

So when anyone says anything derogatory about him, I have this story that I tell and while it might not make them change their mind about him, it did happen and I have continued to be a fan ever since.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SIGnificant Cards -- Reggie Jackson 1994 Upper Deck Buyback

This is the start to a feature you can expect on a daily basis from me. I know others have done the, "Card of the Day" to death, so I am trying a different take on it. These are cards that I have acquired, that are important to me and why.

I am kicking it off with one of my all-time favorite cards.

Backstory: As a kid I grew up in the New York area. For most of my life I was shuttled back and forth from NY to NJ because my parents divorced when I was 3. I was really a resident of both the Garden State and the Big Apple for most of my young life. I had a choice to make, either the Yankees and their storied history of winning or the Mets and their storied history of sucking.

Television really made the choice for me. WPIX hosted the Yankees and had way better programming than WOR who played the Mets games. So I started at a very young age watching the Yankees. I watched in 1975 when they stunk, in 76 when they almost took it all, but I was captivated in 1977 by the awesome play of Mickey Rivers, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent, Thurman Munson, Roy White, Willie Randolph and Reggie Jackson.

There was unreal talent on the team and it showed. Getting Reggie from Baltimore put them on a whole different level. The friction between Reggie and manager Billy Martin is legendary. Ron Guidry had a terrific season and as a lefty myself, he became my favorite pitcher.

I would go to the stadium before the games and wait for the players to arrive. I will always remember the yellow police barricades that were supposed to hold me back. I could easily slip under them to get close to the players.

One particular incident is what makes this card so special to me. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for Reggie Jackson to show up. I hadn't gotten his signature yet and desperately wanted to add it to my collection.

Autograph from the great Mel Allen circa 1977.
Famed announcer Mel Allen walked out of the stadium and was heading to his car. I practically grew up listening to his voice on "This Week In Baseball". I caught his attention and I asked him for his autograph. He was an amazing guy. He tells me to follow him, so I did, right into the player parking lot. Mel signs the autograph for me and starts asking me questions about the Yankees. Of course I answer them all. Then he sees a bunch of players walking towards the stadium and calls them over to sign for me. Ron Guidry was one of them, Fran Healy, Ed Figueroa and Fred Stanley were the others. I was absolutely jazzed. I still to this day have the autos.

Ever see a Reggie Jackson autograph in pink?
When I got back to the barricades, I was discussing what had just happened and these two gorgeous ladies informed me that I missed Reggie coming in while I was gone. I was devastated. You want to talk about going from a high to a low with no drugs ingested? My sadness didn't last long, the women gave me a gift. I am pretty sure it is one of very few, if not the only Reggie Jackson autograph signed in pink ink.

Reggie went on to be a Hall of Famer. His three homers in the 1977 World Series made up one of MLBs most unbelievable moments. The Yanks repeated in 1978 and well you know the rest...

This Reggie Jackson card contains the auto of my favorite baseball player ever. Reggie and the Yankees got me into collecting. When he was with the A's I followed his career and their championship runs. The first library book I ever checked out was a short kids biography about him. This card epitomizes how autographed cards should be handled today. It comes with a certificate of authenticity, it is hard-signed and it contains a clean, full signature. Full disclosure, it's called accountability. You don't see it much in the hobby today. Companies should demand these kind of sigs from today's stars. Of course I grew up to do a collectibles radio show and the first guest on my show bucket list was Reggie. I got to do that interview at the 2004 National Sports Collectors Convention.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Video Box Break - 2011 Topps Finest UFC

Those of you who have followed me for the past 10 or so years whether it was at www.sportsology.net, Card Corner Club or now at www.cardboardconnection.com, you know my favorite Topps brand is Finest. For years it always seems that Finest lives up to its name with spectacular designs and solid content. Now for the first time, Topps brings the UFC to Finest.

For around $90 a master box contains 2 mini-boxes, each with 6 packs. You should find 6 big hits among the 12 packs and you get a mix of former and current champs and plenty of top contenders.

Take a look at the video to see what you can expect in a random box.


Video Box Break - 2011 Press Pass Wheels Main Event

Today I take a look at 2011 Press Pass Wheels Main Event racing cards. I caught wind of the changes to the set at the 32nd National Sports Collectors Convention when they showed collectors the sell sheet. I was immediately drawn to the black and chrome design elements and the studio photo shots are exceptional.

For $85-$90 you'll get 2 memorabilia and an autograph in each box and a solid start to compiling a 90-card base set. A great mix of Sprint, Nationwide and Camping World series drivers is combined with some great racing gear including race-worn gloves and shoes. Check out the video for more details about this red-hot, new set.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Video Box Break - 2011 Topps Marquee Baseball

9/23/2011 - Cardboard Connection Radio Show

Last night was another lightning fast 90-minutes of trading card and collectibles chat. Our guests were Bob Zimmer founder and director of the Baseball Heritage Museum http://www.baseballheritagemuseum.org/, Jason Johnson- Product Development Manager www.Cult-Stuff.com and casebreaker Brent Williams.

Products discussed were 2011 Topps Marquee Baseball, 2011 Press Pass Main Event Racing, 2011 ITG Canadiana, and 2011 Panini Dominion Hockey.

Give us a listen, you won't be disappointed.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cardboardconnectionradio/2011/09/24/cardboard-connection-radio

Video Box Break - 2011 Topps Chrome Baseball

Video Box Break - 2011 Topps Finest Football Cards

Win A Box of Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball Cards or High-End Hockey Cards -- Two Contests at our Facebook page

Want to win a box of 2011 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball Cards or a high-end hockey card? Check out the Cardboard Connection Radio Facebook page for two awesome contests and the details. Visit www.facebook.com/CardboardRadio and best of luck!

Everybody needs an outlet

Every Friday I spout off about the trading card industry on my radio show Cardboard Connection Radio (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cardboardconnectionradio). For 90 minutes, Rob Bertrand (aka The Voice of the Collector - http://www.voiceofthecollector.com), Russ Cohen (http://www.sportsology.net) and I discuss what new sets are out, what ones are coming out and bring on athletes, industry pros and entertainment stars.

Sometimes 90 minutes just isn't long enough, so here I am, ready to either excite you with my verbal prowess, bore you to tears with empty rhetoric, tickle your fancy, or tick you off with my opinions on the things I experience in life.

You'll see things posted here including ridiculous rants, custom Star Wars figures, cards from my collection and other musings...

Enjoy the ride.

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