Friday, November 30, 2012

Tune In For An All-New Cardboard Connection Radio Show

It's Friday night and that means you can tune in to another live episode of Cardboard Connection Radio. It should be a good one. We have lots to talk about. The hobby always offers up information for some solid card chatter.

Tonight we'll be joined by Panini America's Tracy Hackler for our weekly installment, "This Week At Panini America". We'll try to get in as much as possible including Prizm, Totally Certified, Black Friday and his take on the autopen/stamp issue with hockey player Devante Smith-Pelley. 

Then we'll tackle a story that's been speculated for some time, the alleged trimming of the world's most famous trading card -- the Honus Wagner once owned by Wayne Gretzky. 


We'll do a live box break of 2012 Topps Triple Threads Football and discuss some of the short prints, variations and interesting cards from the series. 

We also will announce the winners of two contests from Wednesday. 

Join us live at www.cardboardconnection.com/listen beginning at 9pm EST.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Panini Signature Series Baseball Box Break - Welcome Back Old Friend

Signature Series makes its return to the hobby in a big way! With a variety of different autographed cards ranging from manufactured Rated Rookie patches to Sweet Spot Game Balls there is a lot to offer baseball collectors looking for a little change or pace from the norm.


The Redemption Report: What? What? What?!?

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get the card you were supposed to get and sometimes you don't. Sounds like fun doesn't it? I mean who doesn't absolutely love getting a trading card product, opening it in the hopes of building a set, getting a couple of fun hits, and actually enjoying the process. That's the way it is supposed to work right?

Wrong.

That's because unlike any other industry, with trading cards, you can say specific cards are in a product and, actually release it to the public without them, but its OK because a worthless card is inserted in its place that lets you know that you may, or may not actually get that card.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Yay! So inviting for new collectors to rejoice with the utmost faith that the hobby is still FUN.

NOT!

Before I go any further, I have a question for you collectors reading. Why on earth do you accept this? Why? Why? Why?

Ok, rant over... maybe.

Let's go back to 2011. Topps Finest Baseball, which I think is one of the nicest looking baseball card collections made in the modern day, hits stores. Somewhere collectors do a jig, feign happiness, spend cash, and start busting boxes,or maybe they didn't.

I opened a box and you can see it right here:



It was a pretty good box, at least I thought it was. The cards really looked great and for me, that's a huge factor. I love the design elements of trading cards. I even found a Mike Trout rookie card! The Eduardo Nunez auto was also a welcome addition to my colletion. The guy has been groomed to be Derek Jeter's replacement since he was a kid. Seeing him go deep off of Justin Verlander in the 2012 playoffs only made me appreciate this card that much more.

Unfortunately for me the big hit in the box was a redemption card for a refractor autograph of the Royals top prospect Mike Moustakas. I say unfortunately because I really wanted the card. At the time Moustakas was touted by many as the top prospect in all of baseball. Apparently all the hype went right to his head because he didn't return his signatures. In that respect, I could care less what he does on the field, it shows he could care less about signing autographs for collectors or fans. It's no surprise. When you make big bucks, signing cards isn't even the equivalent of beer money for these guys.

So it was October of 2011 when this was submitted to Topps. I sure wish that the date, and some additional information about your submission could be found at redeem.topps.com, but when you log in the only thing you can see is the redemption code, the product it is from and the description of the cards. The status is usually incorrect, and good luck seeing any tracking information -- EVER.

Last month, yes, October of 2012 I received an envelope from Topps Duryea, PA fulfillment center with a card in it. I sure hoped it was the Moustakas, or at least one of the other 5 or 6 cards I have sitting in limbo. It wasn't. Instead it was a replacement for the Moustakas, a 2011 Bowman Sterling autograph of the Arizona Diamondbacks Tyler Skaggs.

Talk about a card I could care less about...

What's even more special about this card is that I specifically spoke with a Topps Customer Service rep. After it took 10 minutes to get an actual person on the phone, and another 10 to pull up my account, we finally talked about the Moustakas card. At the time of my call, it became known that some Mike Moustakas autographs had been finally returned to Topps. How did I know? I read forums, talk to collectors, and stay in the loop. I politely asked if my card could be replaced by any other Moustakas autos received, which at that time, happened to be Sterling and Platinum according to the collectors that had been waiting for their redemptions to be returned.

I was told that my request was an option if they were available. That sounded good, but I also asked that if Moustakas autographs WERE NOT available that I'd like to wait it out until they do become available.

So why did I get the Skaggs? Good question. I'll let you know when I call back Topps customer service. You see this card had a expiration date of 10/31/14. So wouldn't you think I had at least until that time to wait it out? Apparently not.

So let's talk about Skaggs for a minute. He's another prospect that's touted highly. He made his MLB debut in August of this year with a win. Was the swap out an even deal? Was it a fair trade out? That depends on what kind of collector you are. If you collect Royals the trade sucked. If you collect Moustakas, the deal was poor. A set builder? Now your set is incomplete and may never be completed...

On the other hand, if you are looking to make money, it could pan out for you. If you were gonna flip the hit for a few bucks, that's about all you'd get right now.

Are you asking yourself what I am ranting about since it was a pretty fair trade value wise?

 I wanted the specific card I was promised. I don't think that is too much to ask. I wanted the card that was supposed to be in the box to complete my set. I wanted the card that was listed on the redemption card because that's what was supposed to be in the box and the product.

When will this madness end?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SIGnificant Cards: 2012 Leaf Originals Wrestling Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

Growing up in the Tri-State area, the REAL Tri-State that includes NY, NJ & Conn. I enjoyed a variety of sports including Baseball, Football, Basketball, and eventually Hockey. Being so close the mecca known as Madison Square Garden, it was only natural that I'd become a fan of Boxing and was exposed to Pro Wrestling.

Cable TV hit when I was about 9 years old, yeah that's right we didn't ALWAYS have cable youngsters. When it was installed you had this ancient box that was wired, and there were three levels of channels to choose from. You had to push different buttons on the box to get to each channel instead of simply entering the number of the channel. I was a couch potato explorer and went though every channel looking for something to watch. I'd go through junk just to find something worthy of watching, if there was nothing, I'd just go outside and play wiffle ball. One day I found the channel that I never seemed to change, it was the MSG Network. This channel showed the awesome events that took place at MSG, and once a month the WWF rolled into town.

For a kid that watched the slick production of WWF TV with ring announcers, interviews and promos it was interesting to see the difference in a live production. For these events they had someone like Gorilla Monsoon do some commentary and they featured matches you'd never see on regular TV.

It was around this time that Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik and I don't know what it was, but I just never cared for Hulk Hogan as the WWF Champion. I thought he was awesome as Thunderlips in Rocky III, but just never got the appeal for a giant balding guy with limited moves and an obviously fake Irish name. So anytime Hulk would fight I'd root against him.

Over the years he vanquished most of his opponents including the Sheik, Volkoff, King Kong Bundy, Macho Man Randy Savage, Harley Race, King Kong Bundy, Roddy Piper, Adrian Adonis and countless others. It got old fast. The one guy that I always wanted to see become WWF Champ was "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff. The guy was the consummate heel wrestler. He had the look, the talent, and the ability to make you believe in his character. Orndorff was an egotistical, narcissist. Everyone gives praise to Hogan & Piper for making Wrestlemania 1 so big, i can tell you that I continued watching because it was Paul Orndorff that made the event great.

From the ridiculous promos where they'd beat people up for simply walking by when they were getting interviewed, to Orndorff carrying the actual wrestling part of the match by attacking Hogan after he manhandled Piper, you got a peek at how devious Orndroff could be. His antics after the match also set the tone for future WWF PPVs and events. Getting clocked by Bob Orton's arm cast, and pinned by Hogan was a perfect end to the match and Orndorff played it perfectly. He woke up and didn't know what happened. He was mad because they lost, mad because his team left him hanging and acted like it. Simply classic.

Here, watch for yourself:



From there Orndorff's career skyrocketed. From a face turn becoming the #2 guy under Hogan to one of the greatest heel turns in pro wrestling history, fans were treated to some amazing matches involving Piper, Hogan and others along the way. The match that made me an Orndorff fan was the one above, the one that made him one of my top ten wrestler personalities ever, was this gem from Saturday Night's Main Event (fast forward to the 33 minute mark).


An arm injury derailed Paul's career, but that didn't stop him. He went to WCW and found moderate success in a company that had no idea how to use any wrestler, in any capacity, if they weren't Ric Flair or Sting. Somehow Orndorff found a way to have fantastic matches with Arn Anderson, The Great Muta, and some decent Tag-Team matches with Paul Roma as the team -- Pretty Wonderful.

When I saw the tentative checklist for Brian Gray's Leaf Wrestling Originals and Paul was on the list, I had to add that card to my collection. It was the first item on my list when I recently attended the fall Mounted Memories/Sun Times show.

For $10 I picked up the blue parallel autograph #d to 25. It's easily one of my favorite cards not only from a fantastic card set, but one of my favorites in my entire collection.

Putting Leaf Originals together had to be a true labor or love for Gray. He individually dealt with all of the personalities to accumulate this awesome collection of wrestlers in one set. It's mind boggling that it hasn't been done before, but a daunting task to undertake in the first place.

When Fleer brought WWF/E cards back to the hobby in 2001 they had the right idea. They added autographs and memorabilia to wrestling cards. Fans loved them and it was a big blow when Fleer folded. I had always hoped Upper Deck would pick up that license. I don't think Topps gets wrestling fans at all, and haven't been a fan of any of their releases. If it wasn't for the fact that a friend of mine works on the card backs and products as a consultant, I wouldn't even pay attention to them. Compared to the amazing job Tristar has done with the TNA/Impact Wrestling sets, WWE cards have a long way to go.

That said, neither one of the two wrestling card rivals have produced an extensive lineup of wrestling icons, and for years I have talked about trying to do a set like this myself. I don't think I could have invested the time and money into it, and I applaud Brian for making it happen. With names like Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, George "The Animal" Steele, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Bruno Sammartino, Scott Hall and countless others, it is THE wrestling autograph set to collect. I can only wait and see if he can follow this up with a more modern looking product with memorabilia too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Leaf Originals Wrestling Video Box Break

Finally, there is a set that doesn't ignore the history of professional wrestling and offers more than a small checklist of autographs. Leaf delivers 5 autos for $65-75 and names include mid-carders to the biggest names ever to grace the squared circle.

From Hulk Hogan to Leaping Lanny Poffo, if you watched wrestling anytime during the past 35 years you will be enticed by the latest Leaf entry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Certified Certainly Has The Hits, Needs A Little Facelift For The Future

I usually look forward to Panini Certified. It's always been one of my favorite titles, especially the NFL version. It usually delivers value, good looking cards and a quality checklist. This year, 2 out of 3 ain't bad, but it could be better.

The base set looks like a recycled 1997 Fleer Flair Showcase design and it wasn't a memorabilia design to begin with. We've seen evidence that Panini can deliver great looking cards of late and they need to bring that magic to this long-running brand.

See for yourself:

An Inside Look at Panini Threads

The NBA season is underway and already there is plenty of drama from Kobe and Company in LA. With supposedly the next franchise dynasty on their minds, the Lakers dropped 4 of 5 and panic set in. What will happen for the remainder of the season? Only time will tell.

For now, check out this break of Panini Threads. It's gonna need a new name for 2013 if they continue to bring the autos and lower the amount of memorabilia in the product. It has a nice mix of  players, inserts and hits. Check out what we found:

A Few Football Breaks From Press Pass & Panini

Football is THE sport collectors are buying right now. I'm amazed at how many stores are telling us that Football is even stronger than baseball, but with great performances from Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, Chandler Jones, Trent Richardson and more, it is easy to see why collectors are drawn into the NFL collectibles. Here's a couple of breaks featuring a few of the rookies collectors crave:




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