Sunday, December 30, 2012

Panini America Ushers in a new Era of USA Baseball Cards

One of the biggest surprises at the Industry Summit in 2012 was the announcement that Panini America had become the new partner for USA Baseball.

They promised big things, exciting new ideas and now the time to see the efforts put forth by all has arrived.

The 2012 USA Baseball box set is here, priced at $100, the 63-card set features players from the 15U, 18U and Collegiate National Teams. There are 9 hits in the box, a combination of autographs and memorabilia cards from the next generation of baseball stars.

My friend the Voice of the Collector posted a video shortly before mine, so for you USA Baseball fans, collecting prospectors and anyone else that's interested in seeing what creative team in Texas has dished out for this new partnership, look no further.

Have a look at what you might find inside two USA Baseball box sets:

I am Absolutely ready for some Football.

Today marks the final week of regular season play for the NFL. I cannot believe how quickly it has passed. We've seen a lot of stellar play from rookies and one of the greatest returns to form in NFL history. The Andrew Luck/Peyton Manning saga has been one of the greatest stories in all of sports and it could come to a head to decide the AFC before it is all said and done.

Cam Newton got a case of the Sophomore Jinx, the Jets unraveled and Tim Tebow's Wildcat got cornered and skewered by the media, and its unfortunate because the guy didn't do anything wrong. The Jets are the plague of the NFL and need a massive change internally to move forward.

Who will come out on top? If you asked me now, I'd pick the Falcons and the Broncos.

As for NFL products, we're about to look at one of the top contenders for football product of the year...

2012 Panini Absolute Football:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baseball's Biggest Prospect Gamble is Back - 2012 Bowman Sterling Box Break

It's an expensive endeavor, nearly $300 to take a shot on the future stars of Major League Baseball.

Many will do it, many will success while many will fail. Are you up for the game, this one isn't for the kids, but then not to many products are these days.

With 18 or more autos in a box, surely something has to stick... or does it?

 Check out a box of Topps Bowman Sterling Baseball:

2012 Panini Black Football Box Break

Awhile back I was pretty vocal about my feelings on stagnation in the trading card industry. There are insert sets, products and themes that are very similar, if not direct copies from all companies. It's a beg, borrow or steal world, I just live in it.

Today I had the pleasure of opening Panini Black Football. It is an amazingly good looking product. Sleek designs, dark, ominous, but it is also so close to the Upper Deck version with the same name, its appeal is lost on me.

However, I can appreciate a card product if it is a good one.

Try as I like, it is difficult not to interject some opinion into my work. I don't want to sound like a fool, nor do I want you to be uninformed.

If this product had any other name, I'd love it. I didn't get the greatest box in the world either. I am basing my level of like for Black to the artistic characteristics of the product, and the possibilities it has. Even the packaging is slick, and I wouldn't usually care if it was in a spiffy package, wrapped in a piece of salami, or was simply in a brown box with no info on it.

Black is not without flaws, it is sensitive to chipping, the quality control on the autographs should have been better. Some players used pens that were far to light on ink, or not shaken enough before being used, and the cards in the product suffer for it.

While it has issues, it also delivers some of the best looking cards bar none of 2012.

Have a look for yourself...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Redemption Report - And the Winner Is...

About 2 weeks ago I once again expressed my displeasure at the inclusion of redemption cards in trading card products. On the same day, I took four different redemption cards, entered them into the Topps and Panini online redemption service, and decided to track them to see how long they would take to get returned. Of course, I also wanted to see what would come back; the actual card, a replacement or a long, long wait.

You can read that article here:

Well, the first card has been returned in less than 2 weeks time, and it's a pretty sweet card. Admittedly, Coby Fleener is one of many 2012 NFL rookies that have signed a significant amount of autographs this season. I've added another one to my collection (of many, too many), this one comes from Topps Prime. It's the Level 5, four swatch, gold parallel #'d to 25.

It's a stunning card and is exactly what you'd want on a card at this level. There are four completely different swatches of memorabilia, a piece of football, a patch, a white jersey piece and a blue jersey piece. The only thing holding it back from being perfect is the sticker auto, but still, it's a beauty.

Congratulations to Topps for being the first to cross the finish line. I'll continue to track the other 3 and provide updates as they come arrive, or if they don't.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brilliant Design, Familiar Tech, Big Set, 2 Autos Per Box -- Prizm Basketball Has Arrived

After a battle for the name Chromium, Panini selected the moniker Prizm for its new product line. It brings basketball collectors a 300-card set, limited parallels in both retail and hobby versions, USA Basketball cards and 2 autos per box $100 box.

After a 4-day litmus test I can also tell you that the cards do not curl. Repeat, the cards do NOT curl.

So far Panini has to excited about the buzz of Prizm, collectors in the social media circles have been singing its praises and the parallels are on fire on the auction circuit.

Have a look at our box. It wasn't the best box, but it has potential and definitely left me wanting more.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Redemption Report - The Race Is On

Run, Run, Run as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I am the redemption card man.

I have several redemption cards floating around with various companies. As I wait for the them to return, or not return, I find myself sitting on some of them for a tad before sending them in. I have no idea if it even matters anymore. The last few have been replacements, and I could wait until the final day to redeem if I chose to get some random card back instead of the one that was supposed to be in the product.

I was looking around my desk yesterday to put together the Cardboard Connection Radio Secret Santa prize package and I found 3 redemption cards in addition to the one I found in the box of Prime Cuts I opened live on the show.

I thought this could be a fun game, I'll call it, "Race for the Redemption".

I am going to input all four of these redemption cards on the same day, and I'll see and report on which ones return to me in the shortest span of time.

Here are the cards in question:

First up is a 2012 Topps Prime Football Prime V Autographed Gold Relic of my least favorite 2012 NFL Draft Pick Coby Fleener. All kidding aside, Fleener is a good player, it's just that with the exception of like two products, he's been the hit in nearly every NFL product I've opened this season. This one could wind up being a prize on the radio show or at one of my presentations.

Next on the list is a 2012 Topps Triple Threads Auto Relic Parallel of the Seattle Seahawks Robert Turbin. This is a card I actually want as Turbin is solid, and I collect rookie autos. Because of my Fleener mojo, he had eluded me to this point of pulling this redemption card.

The third card on the agenda is an auto of the A's Derek Norris from 2012 Panini Prime Cuts. Norris has cards as far back as 2007 Bowman Chrome, so this to me is a weird card to find as a redemption. I am actually curious to find out how this didn't make it back to Panini in time for the pack out. I am not an A's fan or a Norris fan, so this will probably make its way into a Cardboard Connection Radio listener's hands.

Finally we have a 2012 Panini Certified Freshman Fabric Ronnie Hilman card. I can't wait to see this card. Hilman is another 2012 rookie I look forward to adding to my 2012 auto collection.

So, who will win? It's up in the air, just like when we find one of these putrid excuses for an athlete not returning his cards on time.

Watch for updates on all four cards right here at the Manifesto...

Trading Card Companies...

on your marks, get set...


Update (2/4/2014): I thought that this would have been updated rather quickly, but it was not to be. So far of the redemptions shown above, I have received the Fleener and the Turbin from Topps and neither of the Panini cards have shipped. Time for a phone call to customer service for an update...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Caption This Card - You, Yes You, Did You Fart?

How long do you spend just looking at your cards? When is the last time you just picked up a handful of commons and really looked at some of the images on them?

I ask, only because I keep hearing that commons are garbage and it is all about the hits. Well, I don't buy that. I enjoy looking at ALL of my cards.

Often, I find cards that make my jaw drop because of spectacular photography.

Sometimes I see a card that has a horrible Photoshop or editing job that makes me cringe.

More often though, I find cards that just make me laugh. I wonder what the person putting the set together, that gave final approval for images was thinking (or not thinking) when he/she signed off on a certain card.

One of those cards is this 2003-04 Fleer Skybox Autographs card of Ron Artest. Oh, I'm sorry...

Metta World Peace.

In this photo, Ron... er, Mr. Peace looks very unhappy. He has a bit of a temper too, it appears that it was about to expose itself.

Was he angry at the photographer for sticking a camera in his face? Did Ben Wallace call him a bad name? Was it because he knew that no matter how hard they played, the Pacers were never going to win an NBA title?

In my twisted mind, it looks like someone farted on the court and Ron wasn't happy about it. He is simultaneously calling out the mystery flatulator and catching a whiff at the same time.

Remember though Ron, whoever smelt it, dealt it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nearing Perfection, Redemption Cards Take Away From 2012 Triple Threads Greatness

Redemption cards are absurd in any product, when they appear in one with a $200 price tag, it's not only absurd, it's insulting. That said, 2012 Topps Triple Threads is as near perfect a football set full of artistic masterpieces from players of many gridiron generations. A jaw-dropping design and impressive rookie class only add to the appeal.

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 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?


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.


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, 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:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 Topps Prime Football (Hobby) Box Break

Priced between $79 & $99 Prime seems to deliver some solid hits at a price more in line with what their previous 2012 NFL releases should have been priced at. Prime offers 2 relics and 2 autographs per box and multiple levels of parallels to enhance the fun.

Check it out!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Panini Prominence Brings the Element of Collecting A Base Set Back To High End Football Cards & The Hits Are Hot Too!

Finally a product that separates itself from the many other football offerings. Panini has taken5 fan-favorite rookie autographed variations and put them in one massive collection. Find low-numbered Autographed Nameplate Letters, Autographed NFL Team Field Plates, Autographed Team Logo Patches, Autographed NFL Team Helmets and Autographed Event-Worn Jerseys.

Another catchy element is the multiple base card variations. You can actually collect multiple versions of the 150-card set and have a chance to get them all. Knowing that the cards are sequentially numbered to 897 and that you only get 4 or 5 per box, this will be a massive chase and surely worth the bounty when completed.

Here's what we found in a box...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Triple Threads Video Box Break

Triple Threads turns heads. Bottom line, it's quickly become a product of legendary status with collectors. It's created a stir, brought some of the biggest and most exciting hits and it's back for 2012. Grab yourself a seat and see what I found in a box.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Caption This Card #2 - 2001 Fleer Focus Jeff Garcia

Ahhhh! This nuclear goop has made me invincible.
I can throw the ball through the earth and
it will wind up in Jerry Rice's hands for the TD.

It's time for another edition of Quote This Card.

This time we'll take a look at the 2001 Fleer Focus card of quarterback Jeff Garcia. Focus was a pretty good set and I really enjoyed a large majority of  Fleer products from 2001 to about 2005.

Focus contained 50 rookie cards #'d to 1850. So it's kind of like 2012 Topps Platinum. The rookie checklist includes LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees & Reggie Wayne. It had some solid inserts and autographs and it's only about $80-100 these days.

When I look at trading cards, the first thing I usually notice is the design. It's because I am a graphic artist. When 2001 Fleer Focus came out, I thought it had a pretty cool design except for one element, glowing players.

What is that all about? Are we supposed to believe that they were dipped in nuclear toxins like Chevy Chase in movie Modern Problems?

As if the hi-pro-glow wasn't bad enough, this photo of Garcia is ridiculous. It looks like he's trying to motion that he's #1 while his throwing arm is cocked to throw the ball not down the field, but directly into the turf. If that pass went 5 yards, I'd be shocked. If the result was a spike, I'd believe it. Garcia had a decent gun, but there had to be better photo to use than this one. Well just about any other photo would be better than this one.

What do you think? Am I too critical? I think not.

Have a quote for this card? Leave a comment below. I'll pick one that I like and send them a prize for their time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Presidents, Olympians, Astronauts, War Heroes and Women's Soccer? It must be Americana

It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that, it's 2012 Panini Americana, the pop culture, historical trading card set that also serves as a learning guide or Cardboard Encyclopedia for collectors. (I should trademark that shouldn't I Paul Lesko?)

Check out the Heroes and Legends in this set that contains one of the most important trading cards in the long history of the business, a General Dwight Eisenhower cut signature that includes an actual star from his military uniform!

2012 Topps Platinum Football - Shining Bright or Losing Its Lustre?

Ever say to yourself, I don't know what all of the fuss is about? That's the feeling I got with 2012 Topps Platinum football. There are elements that are stellar including a nice design, on-card rookie autos and patch rookie autos. At the same time there are some misgivings including astronomical numbered patch cards for this day and age, poor collation and over usage of the refractor.

Check out the results of a box and judge for yourself:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Look Inside A Box Of 2012 Panini Momentum Football

$200 per box, 10 hits, 135 rookie autos, and a lot of anticipation and fun come from this redux of an old Donruss/Playoff hobby favorite.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Unexpected Trip, Pudge and Some Bush

I dislike missing the Cardboard Connection Radio show. I don't make a ton of money from it, but I do love it. I set up Wednesday's show to be a forum, a soapbox if you will for us and YOU to voice your opinions about the recent allegations regarding phony memorabilia in trading cards. I chose to do an entire 90 minute show about it because it is important. Don't let the book fool you. It is time to sound the alarms. It is time to show some damn responsibility to their customers. It is time to fess up and let collectors worldwide know exactly what was tainted.

As a consumer and a reporter, I have lost faith. This is something that CANNOT be ignored. It will not just go away. I won't let it, our show won't let it, and clearly the Cardboard Nation of listeners will not either. To say I am highly disappointed in the companies for not responding to this confession would be an understatement. We used to social media to promote the fact that we'd have an open forum for anyone to discuss the topic. Collectors responded, corporate did not.

Have a listen: Cardboard Connection Radio - JerseyGate Edition

Unfortunately, I also could not respond. That morning I got news that changed the entire course of my week. I am currently married to the most amazing woman I have ever met. She's my rock. She makes me a better person and she's the idol of millions. She's Jill Cataldo -- the Super-Coupon Queen. As much as I love Jill, she wasn't the first person I married. On this day I got the news that my ex-wife had suffered a massive heart attack and brain aneurysm. Her condition is critical.

I have not seen her for almost nine years. I probably wouldn't have seen her again if she didn't give me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Together we have a daughter, and I took her to see her mom, possibly for the last time. She also hasn't seen her in nearly nine years. It was a bittersweet trip. We spent a lot of time at the hospital wondering why this happened, how this happened and why it took a traumatic experience to put aside bad feelings to get us all in the same room. Life is too short. I don't want drama, grief or nonsense getting in my way of living it.

This trip unfortunately had all of the above. The good part was that my daughter has a half-sister out there and they reunited too. It turns out she's an aunt and it was actually great to meet and spend time with her family. There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugs and a lot of worry.

As we rode the plane out there, I asked my daughter to make a list of things she wanted to do and places she wanted to visit while we were in Las Vegas. Most of her pit stops included food that we loved while we lived there that you just can't find in Chicago. When we got off the plane, she wanted a steak. I could understand that since it was 1 a.m. and we skipped dinner. When you are going through this kind of drama, it's always good to be surrounded by loved ones. I had remembered that my two aunts take a yearly trip to Vegas, and wouldn't you know it, they were out there when we arrived. We met up at Bally's and walked over to Bill's Gambling Hall (formerly the Barbary Coast) for their $6.99 late night Steak & Eggs dinner/breakfast. I figured it would be a good idea for her to relax before seeing her mother. Seeing my aunts definitely fit the bill and we were able to decompress.

After a couple hours of sleep, we headed out to the hospital. It was not good. It was very strange to see someone that you knew as a fighter become helpless. I can only imagine what it was like for my daughter. Luckily we have a good enough relationship that she talks to me -- a rarity from what I hear from my friends about their teenagers. There were tears, and plenty of them. We stayed for several hours reconnecting with a few family members, but eventually we had to leave. Again, food dictated our direction and we went to a great Dim Sum restaurant called East Ocean. After refueling, we decided to drive around and check out our old house, her old school, and visit a new friend.

If you've hung around this long, you've gotta be saying what in the heck does this have to do with trading cards? Well, occasionally I have a life outside of the trading card world; however this story does work its way back to them and collecting in general. The stop I wanted to make was to visit Jeremy Brown, owner of Ultimate Sports Cards and Memorabilia. We met Jeremy at the Industry Summit earlier this year and had him as a guest on the Cardboard Connection Radio show. I had wanted to visit his shop back then, but we ran out of time, so I made it a point to drop in. I am glad I did. I met one of his co-workers, and we all spoke for awhile, discussing the latest products, his upcoming Pawn Stars appearances, and the fact that his shop is moving soon. I look forward to having him back on the show. 

Usually I try to find an autographed card of the guests that appear on the show, Jeremy doesn't have one yet, so I opted to buy something at the store as a memento. I chose a pretty sweet card if you ask me; what do you think?

It is a 2006 Upper Deck Exquisite Endorsements autograph of Carlton Fisk. It's a beauty of a card, its only flaw is that it is a sticker auto. I don't think stickers should be used in a product with a price tag like Exquisite. Oh, it has another flaw, but that one I can live with... after all it IS Carlton Fisk -- he's in a Red Sox uniform. Only because I do not have his autograph in my collection, did I snag it.  As a White Sox fan, I thought that was a little deplorable I didn't have one, so I added it. 

After visiting the shop, we stopped in at Villa Pizza on Durango, a great NY Style pizza place that we always loved when we lived there. I love the food, but really love the cool mural of NYC painted on the wall by Frank Rao.A couple of slices and a couple of Zeppole later and we were ready for bed.

The next day we returned to the hospital for several more hours. On the way, we dropped into an old favorite called Harrie's Bagelmania. It's on Twain, and it used to be a decent area. Now this classic Jewish establishment is smack in the middle of what resembles scenes from movie Escape from New York. It made me sad immediately and I was worried if it was even still open. Luckily it was, the little plaza it is in was like I remembered. Driving through the area reminded me of another movie -- National Lampoon's Vacation. All I could think of was Clark Griswold saying, "Roll em up"! It was another difficult day, but we got through it. I'd like to think that little things help to ease the pain; in this case it was a not-so-little Black & White cookie that got us off to a good start. After many hours at the hospital and a few more reunions with family, we needed some down time. Yeah right, there was no down time. 

To take off some of the sting, we decided to make a couple of stops. The first one was to Count's Kustoms just off Highland Drive. Danny "The Count" Koker is one of the coolest cats on TV. Another guy that was showcased on Pawn Stars, he and his crew now have their own show on the History Channel called Counting Cars. It is just awesome. You see as much as I love cards, I also love cars. There's nothing like getting behind the wheel and seeing what a sweet machine can do. My first job was as a valet parking attendant, and I got to drive everything imaginable. I have always had a soft spot for the late 80s Camaro, but can appreciate just about vehicle from Chevy, except maybe the Volt. Of course I love foreign cars and odd customs too. Danny and his boys make em better than anyone, bikes too!

We got a tour of the shop from Rollie and also met Horny Mike and a couple of the other guys. Danny has several of his personal collection on display and it was amazing seeing them up close. Hot Wheels collectors will appreciate this shot...

My daughter is also a fan of Pawn Stars and wanted to visit the Gold & Silver shop in person after seeing my photos from my previous trip. I obliged and we headed back to the strip to check it out. They just finished filming and the place was packed. It didn't last long though as they emptied the store for another segment. We picked up a couple souvenirs and made our way to the airport. 

Our last stop before heading home was a sub shop called Capriotti's. This place is iconic to Vegas and Delaware residents. It's a small chain, that's expanded to Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida, Iowa and California, and they have the greatest sandwich you've never tried. It's called the Bobbie, it's a Thanksgiving dinner on a sandwich. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo, it is both exquisite and divine and I just found out there's one in Milwaukee, an hour away! I'll be right back.

I didn't get home until 2 am on Saturday morning. It was a long, but necessary trip with low-lights and highlights. I was craving a little rest and relaxation after the flight. When I got home, though, another addition to the collectors was waiting for me. I unwrapped the package and low and behold, I scored a little Bush! It's the only on-card autographed trading card featuring a United States President and it comes from the 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter set. It is a great looking signature on the small mini card and just an awesome collectible.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old School Box Break -- Panini Prime Hockey

Red Hot, Panini Prime is the talk of the town with hockey collectors right now. Boasting enormous patch swatches, the first sweater lace cards and a great assortment of on-card rookie autos, have a look at what I found in a $200 box.

Panini Prime Hockey Break- Broadcast your self LIVE

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Press Pass FanFare Racing Offers Collectors A Diverse Selection of NASCAR Memorabilia & Autographs At An Affordable Price

Just opened the brand-new 2012 FanFare Racing, truly the most diverse of the products developed by Press Pass. Check out what we found in this hobby box that contains 4 memorabilia and 4 autographs for a very affordable price.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Panini 2012-13 Hoops Is Hands Down The Best Value In The Hobby Today

Under $70, 36-packs, 72 rookies, 2 autos and a 300-card base set -- Panini's 2012-13 offers NBA collectors the best bang for their buck in the hobby today.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - 2011 Wheels Element Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stealing a win and the Nationwide spotlight is one Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. If there was ever a sport that I liked to follow the prospects, its NASCAR. With 3 series of racing at the NASCAR level you can really see who is going to make it and who isn't. Also the ARCA series breeds the next generation drivers that will eventually make an impact in NASCAR.

This past Saturday, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. snuck out a win in Atlanta and its part of a series of successes he's enjoyed over the past couple of seasons.

Stenhouse, 24, was the 2010 Nationwide Rookie of the Year and in 2011 he won the championship. He's poised to do it again in 2012 as he sits atop the leaderboard.

If you got a chance to watch Stenhouse race at the ARCA level, you knew he was a winner. As a rookie, he just drove with a swagger that made him standout. His success pushed him into the Nationwide Series and after finishing a partial 2009 season and overcoming getting replaced in his ride in early 2010, he rebounded and took home to Rookie of the Year honors.

That end of the year success continued in 2011 where he competed with a large amount of Sprint drivers at the Nationwide level. He drove to two wins and a championship. He literally raced at most times against the best in the world. With a rule change in 2012 where drivers had to pick one series to compete for, he's again finding himself on top. He's also gotten comfortable with a couple of Sprint Cup races under his belt.

It wouldn't surprise me if somewhere down the road, this Junior becomes a household name like the one driving the #88 car. With 4 wins, 3 poles and 14 top 5 finishes this year, he's on par with some of the all-time greats.

This card comes from the 2011 Wheels Element product. It was one of my favorite products of that year, and the only thing better than this particular auto would've been a 1/1.

Not long after I wrote this, it was announced that Stenhouse was going to get a full-time ride with Roush Fenway Racing for the 2013 season. He'll be sponsored by Best Buy too, quite an accomplishment for the young racer. Looks like this card is only going to increase in value.

2012 Topps Finest Football - 1997 Called & Wants to Have a Word With You

Numbers mean a lot in the trading card world. Collectors thrive on knowing their item are limited. You can just do a quick search on eBay and see for yourself that cards #'d to 50 or less are more desirable.

With a very populated NFL product schedule, there will be more rookie cards of the 2012 draft class than you would care to count. Topps just release Finest Football and while I praised the magic they put into both the Baseball and UFC versions of the product, the NFL one harkens back to the days before memorabilia and autographs became standard, and while the cards look terrific, the schematic of the set and the numbering used on the rookie cards fails to deliver what one would expect out of a product titled Finest.

See for yourself and you be the judge...


Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Smallville Adventure Finally Comes to A Conclusion

In July I made a decision to purchase a couple of Cryptozoic products. We've had  a few of the guys on our show a couple of times, but I had never opened a box of their product, just some packs here and there. I like what they do, but I made myself a solemn promise that I would play up or tear down a product on the air without opening more than a few packs.

I review and discuss a lot of products. However, I don't get them from Cryptozoic. My dilemma was that I am  diehard fan of Smallville. I never missed an episode. I go way back to the days of Pete and Lana all the way up to Darkseid and Clark finally putting on the suit and flying. It was a no brainer that I was going to buy a box or two.

When my box finally arrived (it came with a box of Fringe, my other favorite Sci-Fi show) it looked like any other box I've ever opened. There was  no noticeable damage It was shrink-wrapped, and I was ready to tear into it to sort a set and see who the memorabilia and autograph cards were.

When I picked out the first pack, I immediately knew something was wrong with the box. You see, each pack is supposed to contain 5 cards. The first one was extremely light. When I opened it there were only 2 cards. The next pack had 6 cards. The next pack had a memorabilia card and so did the next 6. Yeah you read the correctly, there were seven memorabilia cards in the box!

7 amazing hits in one box!
Unfortunately there was no autograph to be found. Also, the collation was off and I got about 15% of the base set. On top of all of that, two of the memorabilia cards and several of the base cards were damaged unlike anything I've ever seen out of a fresh pack from a box in my 35+ years of collecting.

The San Diego Comic Con was going on so I kind of knew I should wait a bit before contacting Cryptozoic customer service, so I gave twitter a chance and like I figured, they were all taking care of business at the con. After eventually contacting them about the box, I opened up a trouble ticket and told them what had happened and showed them the photos I took of the damage. After a couple of email exchanges, they told me to mail them the box top, the emails and my contact/mailing info, and they'd take care of it.

 I sent it all certified right before I left for a vacation on August 3rd thinking I'd come home to the replacements on the 14th. It didn't go as planned. I checked my mail once during my trip and saw that they were now requesting I send in the damaged cards. I thought it was a little weird that they didn't ask in the first place, so while I was a tad perturbed, I sent them in on the 15th of August. The customer service agent assured me, they'd make up the extra postage cost with some goodies.

 On August 29th I received a package from Cryptozoic. I was stoked. I couldn't wait to see what was inside. I can tell you they made it up to me. First off, the 2 damaged memorabilia cards were replaced with mint ones.

 In addition to the two replaced memorabilia cards, they also replace the many damaged base cards and the missing autograph. I was thrilled to get this Cassidy Freeman auto. Tess Mercer was a fantastic character and I didn't have her in my collection.

I was already feeling pretty good about the returned cards, because honestly, that's all I really wanted, but there was more. In addition to the returned cards, there were 7 fresh packs of Smallville cards. How did I fare? Quite well, I found these...

I have to say that Cryptozoic really took care of the situation. While it wasn't the smoothest transaction I've ever dealt with, the results were certainly worth the wait. Thank you Cryptozoic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5-Star, Black, Onyx what's next?

For years, we've watched some very creative people craft trading card set after trading card set. We've seen innovations such as game-used, acetate, wood, plexiglass, thick stock, autographs, die-cut, gloss ink on matte finish, video cards, scratch-offs, glow-in-the-dark, cloth and many, many more. They are all great but if you, yes you, were to pick up the phone and call your local printer, you could set up a meeting and they'll explain and show you all of the technologies that are at your disposal. Same goes for the packaging, but if you are really creative, you'll come up with ideas of your own. I always thought a product with the name of Ice for instance should have a clear box!

The other thing we've seen in the industry is a lot of theft. Yeah, I said it, theft. It happens. People shift from one company to another, or a technology becomes popular and others duplicate or attempt to duplicate it. It's happened forever, but of late, it's making news because some of the actions are winding up in litigation. There are only so many types of metal you can have you know!

In 2011 alone, three different companies used the title 5-star for a trading card product. Who does the research for these companies, Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder? Maybe it really was true when they said, "We don't really pay attention to what everyone else does." YEAH RIGHT!

I'd be embarrassed if I put out a product with the same title as another company. I'd also protect my brand better. If by some chance I crafted a set with the same title as another one, I'd change it to show that I was original.  Forget about firsties, it's about sales and providing your customers with the best you have to offer, anything else is just lazy.

It's happening again in 2012 and it just can't be a coincidence. First, we have the company Onyx Authenticated. That's their name, don't wear it out! They jumped into the card game this year after success in the game-used memorabilia biz. Their product Platinum Prospects delivered autographs and memorabilia cards of top MLB prospects.

Not long after, the specs for Topps 2013 Tribute became public and there are Onyx autographs in it. Now granted, Topps used the moniker Onyx long ago to describe black parallels, but now it's in a different product altogether. Even more recently Panini unveiled a new brand of football cards dubbed BLACK.

Are we experiencing deja vu? Wasn't there an Upper Deck product with the same name? Someone pinch me, is this happening? Okay... now that you know that tidbit, would you believe it if I told that within Panini Black there is an insert with the name, yeah if you have half a brain, you guessed it, ONYX!

Coincidence? Payback? Spiteful?


Unoriginal? Yep.

Rookies & Stars Brings the Gridiron Goodness

If you are looking for rookie autographs and rookie materials, Panini has something right up your alley. Returning for 2012 is Rookies & Stars football with a price tag just under $100. 4 hits per box and a plentiful assortment of rookie cards, parallels, and inserts featuring current and future stars is what you'll unpack from this box.

Here's a look at what we unpacked:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Redemption Report - Help! Have You Seen These Cards?

Supposedly, or is it allegedly pending shipment on 8/17/12 (they haven't shipped yet) these two gems came out of the same box. I just received an email alert that these two outstanding redemption cards that shouldn't have been in the product at all, are up for a possible replacement from Topps.

These are the culprits:

It was January when I added them to the other redemption cards I have received from Topps. That was 8 months ago. In recent redemption terms, that's actually not a very long time. I've had some out there for over 2 years, and that's being generous.

So if you were me, what would you do? Sit on them and wait it out or make the call and put it in the hands of the customer service roulette wheel?

Lemme hear your thoughts...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

There's Only One First Time -- Onyx Platinum Prospects

The box of cards arrives. It's larger than I thought it would be considering it contains only 6 packs. Wrapped in cellophane and looking smart with images of the product inside, and the new eye-catching logos Onyx unveiled earlier in the year, the time has finally come to rip into the companies first-ever trading card product.

And there is only ONE first time.

Think about it for a minute. Have you ever opened a companies first-ever product? Most of us are too young to have ripped into the first Play Ball, Goudey or Bowman products, Topps too for that matter. Even saying you opened Fleer or Donruss baseball in 1981 is pushing it, because both companies had many non-baseball releases as much as 25 or 30 years prior. Upper Deck, Inkworks, In the Game Inc, Cryptozoic, etc. are all more current opportunities for collectors to have experienced this rare treat. Upper Deck is usually the one that most people will claim as collectors clamored for their 1989 debut.

So it is a rare treat indeed to watch a company grow and craft a product that turned heads the second they showed off the images. We received a sneak peek of the cards at the 2012 Industry Summit and thought they looked amazing. Metallic ink signatures on black cards always have a soft spot with me and these were no exception.

I couldn't wait to dip into this box, and I wanted it to be special, so I opened it on twitter and did a pack-by-pack replay of the experience.

Interestingly Onyx was following the action and noticed that the box was heavy on Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez and Pirates sensation Jameson Taillon. It was not the best collated box to be honest. I scored 3 autos of Sanchez and a game-used card too. I also found 2 memorabilia cards of Taillon, an autographed memorabilia card and a gold autographed Taillon.

I'd say they were correct. It was horribly collated. But I got multiple autos of the hottest prospect in the product so can I really complain?

It's the first time, so I need to go a little easy, but that doesn't mean I won't point out some thing I believe Onyx can improve upon. Clearly the collation issue should be addressed, but there were some small quality control issues I noticed too. For instance check out these two base cards:

Can you spot the difference? It's not glaring but it is there. Josh Bell's card uses sentence text with capital letters at the beginning only, while Cabrera's is in ALL CAPS. Cabrera's is the exception, the base cards have regular sentence case. Small error, but it should have been caught before printing by the Onyx QC team.

The second flaw, and I think it's a pretty big one, is that while the game-used pieces have authentication info on the back of the cards, and the autographed cards do as well, the autographed memorabilia cards only authenticate the gear, not the graph. That's gotta change in the future. To me it looks like anyone could get one of these signed and pass it off as authentic from a pack.

While the collation was poor, the product has several strong points, especially at $70-$79. All autographs are on-card, the only redemption cards you'll find here are for full pieces of memorabilia that simply wouldn't fit into the box! 

Ok, so you know there were multiple autos of Sanchez and Taillon, what else was in the box?

13 of the 50 card set for 26%. Each base card is #'d to 500 and with parallels, there are only 800 cards of each player made. There were 3 base set duplicates and 2 Silver Series parallels #'d to 100.

As far as inserts go, here's the breakdown:

Platinum Prospect Game-Used Memorabilia Cards (Machine Numbered)
#PPGU04 - Jose Campos #'d to 100
#PPGU06 - Kaleb Cowart #'d to 150
#PPGU18 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 500
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500

Platinum Prospects Authentic Autographs (Hand Numbered)
#PPA2 - Eric Arce #'d to 145
#PPA14 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 150
#PPA14 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 150
#PPA29 - Shelby Miller #'d to 120

Platinum Prospects Game-Used Memorabilia Autograph (Machine Numbered)
#PPGU20 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 500

2 Executive Etchings (Hand Numbered)
 #EE3 - Jameson Taillon #'d to 25
#EE4 - Gary Sanchez #'d to 100

To close, I'd like to say bravo to the Onyx team. We knew you could do it and do it well. Great first effort. It took guts to use metallic (known for smudging) ink autos and take that care to put them in your products, especially the first one and force the hands of manufacturers to follow your lead. They know collectors love them and they haven't been done often if at all by some manufacturers. Also including the redemption cards for full pieces of memorabilia is something that should be done by all. It's the next logical step and provides something more tangible than the norm, which is where the hobby is evolving towards whether certain people want to admit it or not.

I can't wait to see more!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Retro Break - 2010 Benchwarmer Signature Series

In this retro box break I take a look at some nice cards featuring some lovely ladies. From actresses, models, wrestlers, and reality TV, Benchwarmer CEO Brian Wallos has put together an exceptional checklist.

 I pulled a total of 11 autographs from the box. Check it out...

Caption This Card #1

Ah, ah, ah... I vant to take a crap!
Every once and awhile I find a card that just makes me laugh. It could be a poor design or a bad photo. I am going to share some of the ones that I enjoy as I find them. I'll leave a quote and if you feel compelled, leave one too.

This one is from the 2012 Topps Football set. It is card #174 of the Buffalo Bills Linebacker Nick Barnett. The photo probably should not have been used, but it was and here I am talking about it...

In it, he's got vampire teeth and is grimacing like he's constipated or something.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 Topps Football Gives Collectors A Proper Kickoff to the Upcoming Season

Football is the sport I watch and collect more than anything. As a kid the only game in town was the base Topps set. In recent years, I stopped following it in favor of compiling autographed rookie cards of new draft picks. It's still my focus, but after seeing the sell sheet for this year's model, I was very curious. It appeared that the crew at Topps figured out that they really need the flagship to set the tone for the season. Of course that's always their goal, but this year they nailed it.

From on-card autos, to revisiting some of the Topps legacy through several insert set and creating unique and attractive chase cards for hobby, blasters, value boxes and HTA jumbos, they really delivered a spectacular assortment for NFL enthusiasts.

I created this video wanting the images to showcase how good it is. To do that, I show you every insert found in a single hobby box and at the end show the goodies you can collect at the retail level.


2012 Topps Finest Video Box Break

The Topps Finest brand is my favorite from the company. For some reason, they nail a great design and quality content with this one. A few years ago it was getting stagnant and ever since they restructured it, it's been a great product for all sports. It shined with UFC, Baseball is exceptional and Football is on the way in just a short time.

Check out what I found in a box of the baseball version:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gabe Kapler, Ball Boys and Booker T

It's been a fast-paced couple of weeks with the National Sports Collectors Convention, the NFL Hall of Fame and Chicago Comic-Con. Luckily I was no where near any of those places. I was catching some rays on the beaches of Kauai.

But as they say, the show must go on.

In my absence, the crew stepped up and took over the studio as the invited eGraphs spokesperson, and former MLBer Gabe Kapler to make a Cardboard Connection with the Cardboard Nation!

On the following show they welcomed one member of the ABC TV Show Ball Boys to do the same. The guys spoke with Shaggy about the show and the sports and memorabilia biz.

The frenzy continued as soon as I got back to the mainland as the crew got a little sweeter with the addition of Sweet Lou Brown, another member of the Ball Boys squad. Lou grabbed a hold of the Cardboard Connection Radio listeners and never let go, we went into OT and a lil' After Dark. We also got to talk a little vintage with The Bubble Gum Card Wars author Dean Hanley.

Tonight is another really big show (insert poor Ed Sullivan imitation here). Discussing his life before he ever entered the squared-circle is the current Smackdown GM and pro-wrestling icon -- Booker T. Booker's new career as an author is just getting started with his book From Prison to Promise and he'll be bringing it to the Cardboard Nation tonight! Can you dig that suckas?

Listen live at 11pm EST:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tonight on Cardboard Connection Radio: ESPN Mint Condition Host Michele Steele

When we heard ESPN was going to run a segment about collecting, we were overly excited. As you know one of our goals is to help propel collecting and trading cards into everybody's world. Host Michele Steele has been doing a great job lining up top industry pros to bring the hobby into the limelight.

Tonight, we get to do the interviewing as she joins us for tonight's episode of Cardboard Connection Radio.

Also joining us will be the staff from to discuss the popularity of Live Case Breaks.

Join us and listen in at 10:30 pm EST.

Use this link to listen live (

Another Item to Cross Off the Cardboard Connection Radio Bucket List - Thank You Jared Kelley and Sport Kings

When I created the Cardboard Connection Radio show, I made a bucket list of guests and things I wanted to see the show accomplish before it came to an end. Most of those things have happened believe it or not. Broadcasting from the National Sports Collectors Convention, the MLB All-Star Game, the NHL Draft etc., etc. were on the list and crossed off. Interviewing industry professionals, great athletes, entertainment stars, and collectors was the driving force  behind us creating the show, and on my list were Reggie Jackson, Gene Simmons and the Ultimate Warrior. Believe it or not those goals were met years ago. One that I wasn't sure would ever occur, finally happened and we didn't have a thing to do with it taking place.

I loved seeing the Upper Deck and Topps logos appear in video games. You know, like on the diamond vision, or as a stadium ad. I have always wanted our logo to appear on a trading card. Not as one that we created, though some day that might happen, but as a part of the actual card.

Well, thanks to our friend and CCR listener, artist extraordinaire Jared Kelley, I can now cross that off my list. Jared has produced an amazing assortment of 1/1 hand-painted cards for In the Game's Sport Kings redemption program at the 33rd National in Baltimore. On one of those cards, a great choice by the way, is the Cardboard Connection Radio logo. It happened to be someone that was on our list to hopefully interview someday, the legendary Dale Earnhardt. While we missed that opportunity because of his heart-shattering, and untimely passing, I could not think of a cooler thing that anyone has ever done for us in this hobby.

Thank you Jared and Dr. Price. Me, the man with the mouth that never stops, I am truly humbled.

If you'd like to see all of Jared's amazing art for the National redemption program, visit this link.

I hope you have a tremendous National Sports Collectors Convention outing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 Press Showcase Racing Revs Up NASCAR Collectors - Box Break Video

Before the rubber on the tires of Press Pass newest entry to the racing field, Redline cools, they are right back on the track for another lap with 2012 Showcase. Will the reigning racing card champ have what it takes to keep the new kid on the block in the rear view mirror or will Showcase eat Redline's dust? Find out in this video box break...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Topps Finest UFC Poised to Make Other MMA Sets Tap Out

Topps brings the Finest brand back for another run in the UFC Octagon and all signs say it is going run roughshod over the competition. Delivering 6 knockout hits per box for around $85, there's no stopping this juggernaut. The sheer star power that is included in each pack makes this a must have for the UFC fan base.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just When I Thought I've Seen It All... Blank Ginter Card Sells For $27

This has been a fun week for oddities. I had to laugh when I saw someone selling cut out cards from the box of 2012 Allen & Ginter. I mean some had really decent bids and I couldn't believe that someone was bidding on them. They aren't real cards. They aren't autographed as the photo would lead you to believe, and if someone doesn't really read the description they are going to get hosed big time. It's a shame that this kind of thing happens, but if you bid without reading, you are almost as guilty as the guy putting them up on eBay hoping someone bids on them.

Here, have a look for yourself at these cut out cards.

While it was interesting looking at those cards and even more enjoyable poking fun at them, today I saw something even worse. Someone paid $27 for a blank piece of cardboard.

This was brought to my attention by a listener of my radio show. When I clicked the link, I thought it was a joke. Misprints happen all of the time. You could have the wrong back or the wrong front printed on a card, or you might have the back be printed upside down, but whatever the case, lots of errors happen.

But this one, I mean look at that description, it's a 1/1, it's a SP, heck it is a SSP, and its not just blank on the back, it's TOTALLY blank on both freakin' sides. Someone call the card police, its ON!

Ok, this is where I get a little pissy. You see with all the gimmicks that Ginter has, and the fact that they made a card of the Invisible Man, is it really out of the question that this is legit? Will people be thinking it's a clue for the Ginter code, or printed using invisible or glow in the dark ink, or something else? No, I bet that's exactly what the people that bid this error card up were thinking.

Well, I went directly to Topps to find out about this 1/1 TOTALLY blank card and it turns out it's not anything they claim to know about and they questioned its authenticity. Here's a quote from the @ToppsCards Twitter account, "not sure its real, could be misprint, i know we did the invisible man auto, but this was not planned, assuming its real!"

Either way, this is what we're coming to. Paying 1/4 of the price of a box of cards for a blank piece of cardboard. I wonder if the buyer would be interested in a 500-count box of blocker cards?

What are your thoughts, love to hear em. Are you the completest that NEEDS this card, the collector that thinks it's a conspiracy driven by crazy gimmicks, the one that makes fun of stuff like this, or the one that doesn't give a crap?

2012 SP Signature Baseball - Worth It? You Decide...

We recently opened a box of Upper Deck's 2012 SP Signature Baseball. This set has had a tumultuous journey onto the shelf of your local card shop and has dropped in price in a short period of time. Here's what was inside a box. You decide if it was worth it. It's hard to judge a product from only one box, but at $300 if all of them don't have something of legitimate value for the collector, it's a bust.

I expect better from Upper Deck. How about you?

Mike Fruitman & This Week @ Panini on Cardboard Connection Radio

Another Friday in the books, except this one was different, I had the night off. But that didn't stop Russ and Rob from going on with the show.

They had on Mike Fruitman of Mike's Stadium Sports Cards who is the man that owned the Balloon Boy relics that appear in 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.

Mike's store is also located in Aurora, Co, the site of the Batman shooting. Mike had a special day at the store to help raise money for the victims.

Hear from him and get your weekly recap of the happenings at Panini America as they raise the bar at the 33rd National Sports Collectors Convention.

Listen to the replay:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Look Inside 2012 Topps Inception Football

For about $11 per card, 2012 Topps Inception Football has some BIG hits. Are you willing to take the risk of not getting one, getting a redemption card, or unpacking cards with jagged edges, corners and chipping? Lots have, and its paid off greatly for many, but there has also been some discord among collectors. Find out what we did when we open a box of 2012 Topps Inception Football.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Angela Cope Discusses Kevin Harvick Feud, Panini & Leaf Share National Plans

Did you miss Cardboard Connection Radio last night? We had a tremendous guest list for a special 2-hour show. NASCAR driver Angela Cope visited to discuss her sister Amber's incident with Kevin Harvick. We were also joined by Panini America's Scott Prusha for an all-new This Week At Panini segment, and Leaf Trading Cards President Brian Gray. Both shared their plans for the 33rd National Sports Collectors Convention.

Click this link to listen:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - 2011 Signature Impact Ms. Tessmacher

She's the current Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion. She's real, and she's spectacular. If you've watched pro wrestling for any amount of time, it gets to a point where you can figure out how stories unfold and where they are headed. Sometimes they get cut short because they don't capture the attention of fans or they just flat out suck. The story of Brooke Adams, A.K.A Miss Tessmacher has played out to perfection.

Brooke got her feet wet during the 2006 WWE Diva Search. She got a development deal and by 2007 was a part of the ECW roster. Just as she was hitting a stride as part of the group Extreme Expose, she was gone. I always wondered what happened, but somehow I knew she'd be back. It was nearly 3 years before she'd return to a major organization. TNA saw something in Brooke and she made her debut as Eric Bischoff's assistant, a spoof of the Lex Luthor assistant in the 1978 Superman motion picture as Miss Tessmacher.

While she might not have been wrestling, she was most definitely staying busy. Brooke participated in Hawian Tropic and Hooters swimsuit/modeling contests. She also honed her skills in the ring. Clearly teaming her up with seasoned veteran Lisa Marie Varon was a step towards improving her wrestling ability. Together as TNT they quickly won the women's tag titles and looked great together. Again, I watch Impact Wrestling for several reasons, but the #1 reason to watch are the knockouts. Their lineup of Mickie James, Velvet Sky, Winter, Tara, Sarita, Rosita and Gail Kim along with the champ are the best in the biz.

Brooke's beauty had won over fans,with a tag title win, it was time for the brawn to catch up. Slowly you could see her strides in the ring. Adding new moves like the Asstastic, the bulldog and Tess-Shocker (a facebuster) and a fantastic flying elbow drop were signs she was moving up the ladder in the knockouts division.

After a couple of tough matches with many of the fan-favorite and heel knockouts things turned around and she began winning. At first, lots of fans thought it was a fluke, but then she got the 3-count in a non-title match against Gail Kim who was then Knockouts champion. The build up was set, the PPV match signed, and eventually the hottest Hooters girl was the new Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion.

This card comes from the 2011 Tristar Impact Signature Wrestling set. I actually purchased it at the 2011 National from a fan that heard us speaking about the TNA deal at the show. He pulled some great cards from his box, but this was one he didn't mind parting with. I was extremely happy because even in 2011, I knew that Miss Tessmacher was going to be a star. Glad to know that while I don't watch wrestling nearly as much as I did when I was a kid, I can still see who is going to have success in and out of the ring.

This weekend, Brooke is representing the Impact Zone at the San Diego Comic Con. In full zombie attire, she's doing remote reports throughout the weekend and will be signing autographs with Jeff Hardy.

Check out this link to see the coverage from TNA:

The funny thing about this card is that it is signed Miss Tessmacher. I've always had a beef when they use a character name on a wrestling autograph. I've been hoping to catch her at an event like Wizard World or Comic Con to get her to sign her real name on a card for me, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe the excitement of Comic Con will prompt her do to more appearances including Chicago's C2E2. Then I can get the signature I really want in my collection.