Saturday, June 30, 2012

Revisit the Year In Panini Hockey With Rookie Anthology

With several solid Hockey products in a row, Panini keeps the streak going with 2011-12 Rookie Anthology. For $100 you can expect thrills in every pack and a true lamplighter in a special bonus box topper.

Racing Fans, Redline Is Here

Press Pass has a new product ready for collectors. It's a premium card set that delivers 2 memorabilia cards and 2 autographs per box for about $175. Check out the video to see what I found in a box!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Redemption Report -- Special Edition Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk

So today, as I do every day, I read and re-read twitter posts from within the trading card world to see what's topical, what's hot and what's not. Today I saw a post from our friends at Upper Deck and it made me cringe. It was a post that promoted this link. The post is about upcoming product with redemption cards that are about to expire. EXPIRE! Think about that for a second, please. First, as collectors we are expected to shell out big money for products that MAY or MAY NOT have the cards that are supposed to be on the checklist. That is WRONG in so many ways it is not even funny. Do you buy video games with the premise that it is only 3/4 complete? Do you by a gallon of milk and only get a quart? No. In fact this is about the only industry where such a crappy, unacceptable standard is accepted.

I don't care if a guy/girl doesn't sign. I don't care if he/she returns autos late. I don't care if they are smeared, cut off or horrible signatures. If they aren't ready or not up to standards when the product is packed out, then replace them with something else. Period.

Now, not only has the redemption card become a standard, it has a second tier issue that seems to be ok with collectors too. Now, you might get the card your redemption card is for, or YOU MIGHT NOT! That my friends is nothing more than a bait and switch. A false promise, a cardboard ponzi scheme. Shame on any company that uses them. To give credit where credit is due, some companies have worked diligently to make sure the collector gets something better if their original card never becomes available, but for crying out loud, it should NEVER, EVER HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE! Also right after I wrote a snide comment, Panini America stated that if they have the cards, they'll ship them, if they don't, they will issue a replacement. That's at least an effort, and a step in the right direction.

Are you with me so far? You may or may not get the card(s) solicited on the sell sheet and the checklist. Then to add more fuel to the fire, you may not EVER get the card you were supposed to, and may or may not get something else in return.

Now let's move on to the next phase of the ultimate rip off...

Most redemption cards have expiration dates. Can you believe it? Yes just like the milk in your fridge, the bread in your pantry and the meat in your freezer. I didn't think cardboard would deteriorate much unless you stuck them in your spokes, flipped them, left them in the sun, or ran them over with your car. Once again, I was proven wrong and collectors ACCEPT THIS!

Now we're getting warned when certain products redemption cards expire. Warned! It's like the butcher telling you, if you don't cook up those ribs soon, they are gonna rot and get covered in maggots, or hey eat that cottage cheese quickly or it will get more moldy than it already is. In other words, we've already screwed you by not getting all of the cards on the checklist into this product, but if you buy it after this date you aren't getting squat. Nada, nothing.

I am a grown ass man and I know not to eat moldy bread, spoiled meat and now I know, I won't spend a dime on Upper Deck products that contain any redemption cards. The real problem is that you don't know what's actually in the product and what's a redemption. Sounds like something my friend Paul Lesko should allegedly look into.

To my knowledge, the only company that doesn't EVER have redemption cards is SAGE and they never have, unless it was for an item that was too large to fit into a pack. That I can understand. What I cannot understand is how can it be friggin' legal to say something is included in a product when it is not. I cannot understand how it is legal to put an expiration date on something that is supposed to be part of the product in the first place, and if someone was to purchase it with the intent and hope to find said something, they are wasting their hard-earned money because the time to find it has expired, and they have no shot at all of finding or receiving it.

Wow. Astounding. 

And people wonder why there aren't as many collectors today...


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Spectacular Weekend at the NHL Draft

I love taking our show on the road and I hate taking our show on the road. I love being around people, especially sports fans and collectors that really have a passion or interest in the hobby. I don't like driving or flying and being away from my family. So I loaded up our equipment and drove to Pittsburgh, PA for the 2012 Draft. The NHL knows how to do an event. The draft has gotten better every single year. It's become one of my favorites.

The interaction with the players just minutes after the biggest moment in their lives takes place, makes the trip worthwhile. Being able to broadcast from the trading card and memorabilia show is just icing on the cake. Both Panini America and Upper Deck did a great job with collectors, producing nice looking, exclusive sets, and making them easy to acquire. Panini even made them available to collectors online. For us, handing out cards to kids, well that's priceless. We brought a lot of trading cards and gave them out to attendees. It's funny because it is people's nature to question the gesture when someone gives them something for free. It is sad to me that the notion that a string is attached has become the nature of people's thought process. Not with us. We like giving cards away. Always have.

The one thing about doing a show like the draft is that you never know what to expect. Sometimes we get a jump on things and can take time to schedule guests and prepare segments, sometimes it is an unpredictable mess. We got lucky this time around. We actually had time to prepare two shows worth of content and blew through most of it on the first day. The second day, we fit four guests on a 90-minute show. It was fast and furious. We closed out the event with a rookie, an icon and a hall of famer and it was a blast.

On day 2 the picks are roaming the arena and are more accessible. We snagged Nashville Predators 3rd rounder Jimmy Vesey and Russ mistook him for another of the Preds picks, Colton Sissons. If I was Jimmy, I would've told Russ to suck it, but Jimmy was a class act and sat down with us for a few minutes.  He was followed by one of the true icons of the NHL, the Keeper of the Cup Phil Pritchard.

Last but not least, and thanks to Hersh from Frozen Pond, we were able to have a few minutes with one of the NHL's all-time greats, 7-time Stanley Cup winning player and coach Bryan Trottier.

To say I had a spectacular weekend would be an understatement. Our goal was to bring the excitement of the draft, along with some of the collectibles you can find only at that event, home to the collectors. I hope we accomplished the mission.

Here's a link to the Saturday show if you'd like to listen:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flea Market Fun

I've heard it all over the years. I've been accused of being a shill, I've been told I wasn't a real collector because I receive product for review, and I've even had people tell me that some of the things I suggest either in an article or on my show are outlandish, impossible or too expensive. I just shrug most of it off because I don't like narrow-minded or closed-minded people.

I have to admit it though, the one about being a real collector has always bothered me. That's a load of crap. I have been collecting trading cards since I was 4 years old in 1974. I have a vast collection of Reggie Jackson cards, and constantly continue my pursuit to get them all. I have purchased cards in some of the strangest places including hardware stores, garage sales, swap meets, estate sales and flea markets.

I've also slowly been introducing my kids to cards. They've opened boxes of comic ball and Topps BIG baseball. They horde my duplicates of NASCAR and sets with superheroes, but they don't have a lot of interest in Baseball, Football, Hockey or Basketball.

Having just returned from a long weekend at the NHL Draft, I thought it would be good to have a guys day out. I also wanted to let my wife have a little quiet so she could write up her blog in peace, after holding down the fort. We got out of the house early, and planned a day out. It included mini-golf, lunch, and some shopping at the local flea market. They wanted to look for some video games, I wanted to look for some deals. They got some Mario Bros. games and I found some cards. I spent half as much just to get into the market than I did on the cards I picked up. The Jeter was for my boys.

I think for $2 I did pretty darn good. Here's my haul...

 How do you think I did?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - Belated Father's Day Edition

I didn't get cards from my family this Father's Day. I couldn't believe it. I dropped hint, after hint, after hint about the Panini America promotion and just thought I'd score huge. Apparently my kids don't listen to me. I should have figured that out when I look around and see toys on the floor, cereal boxes on the table etc, etc.

Well, I took Father's day by the throat and said, "this is my holiday, and if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself". I logged into the Panini site and purchased a box of Prime Signatures that would assure me at least one autographed card and 4 packs of their Father's Day promotion cards. My package arrived tonight. In fact it came while I was doing the Cardboard Connection Radio show.

We had a great show too. The return of Law of Cards with Paul Lesko was great, as was the segment with a young collector by the name of Salvatore Cerilli who is the winner of Upper Deck's Draft Runner Contest. We'll be meeting him in person as Cardboard Connection Radio will be broadcasting live from the event.

Anyhow, without straying too much, I pulled a great card out of the box of Prime Signatures, it was an Irving Fryar auto #'d to 20. Fryar was amazing. His time with the Patriots, the Skins, Dolphins and Eagles was well spent adding accolades and records to his resume. He holds the distinction of being the first Wide Receiver ever to be drafted #1 overall. An auto of a 5-time Pro Bowler and New Jersey native is a great addition to my collection. For my purchase of the Prime Signatures box, I received 4 packs of Father's Day cards. 3 packs included cards to the base set, and then I found this... I LOVE IT.

Growing up in New Jersey and New York for the first two decades of my life, I was deeply affected by the events of 9/11. Sports played a huge role in providing entertainment and an escape from the profound sadness that overcame me after seeing the horrific events unfold on September 11, 2001. On the 10th Anniversary (I hate using that word in this instance, as if we celebrate it) the NFL honored the fallen with a moment of silence and Panini has included some of the gear from those games in cards found in Father's Day packs. This Ryan Matthews insert contains a swatch from a ball used in the Chargers 9/11 game and the back of the card shows a photo of the actual ball the swatch was cut from.

As for the rest of my Father's Day, it was pretty good. I took the family to a water resort to celebrate the 5th birthday of my son, I got a couple of cool videos including the origin of the feud between Spider-Man and the Lizard that sets up the new Amazing Spider-Man movie and among other things, a box of Everlasting Gobstoppers. If you know me, you know I love those Wonka spheres of goodness.

How was your Father's Day?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

SNAPPED! A SIGnificant Card Quickie - 2010 Press Pass Showcase Dale Earnhardt Jr. Auto

The drought ends, here's to hoping it's
 not so long for his next victory.
In my opinion, well, because yours doesn't really matter to me (unless of course you want to buy all of my cards for me), I think that Press Pass Showcase is the best NASCAR product ever made. Every year has been a home run release filled with amazing autographs, memorabilia and magic that isn't really found in any other racing product.

It's expensive, yes, but the results have usually been worth it, at least in my case. I've pulled some true gems out of the product including this one.

It's been 4 years and 143 races since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a Sprint Cup race. He wasn't just hungry for a win, he's on a drought that would make the Mojave Desert look like the great lakes. He's been abused by the media, race fans, and collectors who doubted his greatness. At the same time, he arguably has the most dedicated fan base in the world of sports. Today, that drought ended and the losing streak has been snapped.  Ironically his last win was also in Michigan. While Earnhardt is time and again the popular fan favorite because of his deep family roots and good-guy persona, I always feared this card was going in the toilet because he just couldn't catch a break or win a race.

Glad, I don't have to worry about that for awhile. He's having an excellent 2012 season.

This is card #EEI-DE from the 2010 Showcase set and is one of my favorite autographed card series. I have an affinity for acetate cards and this happens to be one of them. I also love silver ink signatures. Not only is it a clean sig, it also has JR's authenticity sticker on it!

Great card, great day of racing. Congrats Jr.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Are you listening?

Cardboard Connection Radio Logo
One of the best things about doing a live radio show about trading cards and collectibles is that anything can happen at any time. We talk about a lot of things, sometimes it spins wildly out of control, and sometimes it is controlled insanity.

Recently, as part of the 2011 Industry Summit, we decided to add a new segment to the show. It's focuses on Local Card Shops and their importance to the trading card industry. We've dubbed it -- LCS Spotlight. It is a fantastic source to find out information about opening a store, tips and tricks to help your shop succeed and a whole lot more.

I encourage anyone to listen that has thought about, is currently operating or just ready to open up a shop. The information from past guests including Alan Narz, Wayne Frazier and Mark & Donna Rubin is priceless. Their years, and experience in this business are a blueprint for success.

Check out the Cardboard Connection Radio archives to tune in.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Lifetime Ago - Hot Comics Premiere #1

Hot Comics Cover
I was a punk at age 24. I thought I could take on the world and knock it flat on its ass. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a living from the time I was 4. I began drawing and writing comic books before my first day of Kindergarten.

I took a majority of art classes and went to the Joe Kubert School to learn from the best. Some unfortunate family issues forced me to not finish and graduate, but I felt I learned enough to land a job. My dream though was to self-publish a comic book.

I didn't know all of the things I needed to, and learned while doing it. I also didn't realize how much it cost in 1994, when I wasn't making a great living. I did the best I could and surrounded myself with some incredibly talented people. That year, I lived out my dream and published Hot Comics Premiere #1.

It's not the best comic I've ever read, it's not the worst. Either way, I'm darn proud of doing exactly what I set out to do. A few people have asked me about it because I discussed it recently so I thought with the technology available today, I could put together an eBook version of it.

Here it is for you to enjoy, free of charge... Just click the cover image.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

3 Things I Like About 2012 Topps Series 2 Baseball

Are you one that's on the fence about checking out Topps Series 2 baseball? I hear you. I'm still working on my Archives set, so this is way too soon to be refocusing on another product. Unfortunately it's my job, so I can't get caught up on one product for too long. Series 2 is one of those sets you either love or hate, especially this season with a lot of extras and variations to chase. I can tell you three things I do like about the product and I am going to let the pictures do the talking...

2012 Topps Golden Giveaway

Ichiro 2012 Topps Base Card

Mickey Mantle 87 Topps Mini

Upside Down, Inside Out, An Interesting Error In Topps Series 2 Baseball

I've been reading a lot of comments about 2012 Topps Series 2 Baseball. Like just about any product, you'll find people that love it, and loathe it. I haven't opened up enough to make that decision yet. But I have opened some, and know at least 3 things that I like about it.

As I was sorting a box of it, I enjoyed what I was finding, and questioned some of the content too. To me, Topps flagship is always a fun break, but not a very exciting one. You get a lot of cards, you get a lot of inserts, and you get to build a set that still has some stroke with long-time collectors.

This year there are all kinds inserts to chase, some short-printed cards with great, and really funny photos. It's a lot to take in, especially for those that just want to put a set together and not have anything get in the way.

Topps has finally found a way to add some extra value into this line that collectors have been complaining about for years. In this industry you can never please everyone. It's nearly impossible. Collectors are all different, but many dump their base cards and this is a set made up of mostly base cards. Hit seekers generally stay away from it, while at the same time bashing it. Then you have the set builders that are a tad anal, and they just want a big set to build. Adding SPs, memorabilia and autos is the last thing they want to see. Guess what they do? Complain about it.

Well, after sorting, I found some of the surprises that collectors are either happy or bummed about, but I also found a couple of surprises that I am pretty sure Topps didn't intend to be in the set.

Pirates catcher Rod Barajas is supposed to be card #391 in the series. The two cards of Barajas that I found in my box are a little different than the regular card #391 in the set. The first card of Barajas is indeed #391, but when you flip the card over, the number is in the upper left corner instead of the lower right corner. In other words the back is printed upside down.

About 7 packs later I put card #395 of Jonathan Lucroy in order. Lucroy is #395 in the set. About 2 packs later I found out that Barajas is also card #395. I pulled this second version of Barajas that is numbered incorrectly.

Now the question remains... is it simply an error? Is it a planned error/variant? It made me wonder how many people even look at their base cards anymore? Do you? Did you find any unreported variations or errors in your packs of Series 2? Be sure to share them here!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - Johan Santana 2005 Fleer Skybox Autographics

Pitching a no-no will certainly garner you some headlines. Making it the first one in the often comical NY Mets fabled history, that's huge. If you take a look at some of the aces the Mets have had on their roster since their MLB debut in 1962, it is more than a little surprising that it took through 2012 to achieve this feat.

Here's a short list to peruse:
  • Nolan Ryan 
  • Tom Seaver 
  • Jerry Koosman 
  • Warren Spahn 
  • Dwight Gooden 
  • Tom Glavine 
  • John Candelaria 
  • Scott Erickson 
  • Sid Fernandez 
  • Orel Hershiser 
  • Mickey Lolich 
  • Bret Saberhagen 
  • Frank Viola 
Amazin' right? You'd think one of those guys could pull off the feat, well maybe all of them except Spahn who was 210 years old when he joined the team as a player/coach.

So what does Santana's feat mean for the Mets? Well, to say it is huge is an understatement. The team needs some good mojo this year. They have been so sporadic and have taken a tremendous amount of flak for signing poor players, having bad management, overspending, etc. Right now they are only 1/2 a game out of first and things have turned around.

The night of the no-hitter I was preparing for an episode of Cardboard Connection Radio and knew one of my co-hosts Russ Cohen was going to be giddy about it. Ironically I was going to use the 2005 Fleer Skybox series as the Set of the Week to discuss on the show. I knew we'd be talking about the no-no, but at the last minute, I chose to have our listeners select the set of the week so I could save this card/set to discuss here.

Pictured above is the 2005 Skybox Autographs Johan Santana auto. It is card AG-JS and one of my favorites in my collection. I loved Fleer. Still do. At the bitter end, they were riddled with redemption cards that went unfulfilled for most collectors and buying those products now is a real gamble, but if you were lucky enough to get what was supposed to actually be in the packs, you did pretty well. Here's proof. This card comes right after his stellar breakout campaign in 2004. I had my doubts about holding on to it, but am glad I did. Other autographs that could be found in the set included Justin Verlander, B.J. Upton, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Greg Maddux, and David Wright. I also pulled the Wright out of the same box. That's what you could expect from those last few Fleer products though, they were loaded. When I see them today, I walk away with a few boxes or some regret for not purchasing them. Usually they are priced fairly making me think YES-YES instead of No-No.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Autograph University is Live!

Do you collect autographs? Do you have a story about getting one that you think others would like to hear? Do yourself a favor and check out Matt Raymond's free eBook Autograph University. The free eBook is a compilation of stories of collectors getting autographs and it resonates with me on many levels, because over the years, I've chased down some autographs and have some really good memories to go along with them.

Here's a link to Matt's page. Enjoy!

Read Autograph University

Redemption Report Jimmy Howard by way of Cam Fowler - Mail Day

I'll take a card of a Red Wings player over a Lame Duck.

Playoff Contenders Hockey has delivered strong two years in a row. Last year I opened a phenomenal box that included Rookie Tickets of Jeff Skinner and a redemption card for Cam Fowler. The Skinner was a great addition to my collection as he is a Gold Medalist, and Calder Trophy winner. I thought equally high of the Ducks Fowler who was once touted as a possible top 5 draft pick.

I'm thinking part of the reason he dropped to 12 is that he can't sign his name. It's either that or he has some issues that pushed him down the list a bit that may be reliability related. I mean nearly every one else signed their rookie tickets for 2010-11, and superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Sydney Crosby have signed thousands of cards in the past couple of years. So have NHL icons Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, so why hasn't Mr. Fowler? One can only guess that he believes he is better than those aforementioned players, right? Why else would he not be able to sign a few measly trading cards?

Whatever the reason is, it makes Fowler nothing more than a lame duck. Collectors may never get to enjoy his premiere autographed rookie card because he is a slacker! I waited patiently too. I submitted the redemption card to Panini on 8/23/2011. I actually sat on it awhile hoping he'd get his signatures back to them so I wouldn't have a long wait. Well, Cam... it's nearly a year later and longer than that for you to have actually signed, and guess what, you stiffed em'. So thanks for nothing!

I thought I gave him enough time, and Panini had just launched their Twitter customer service account, so I reached out to them. Within minutes I had a response and an inquiry of my favorite team. Within a day I had a choice for a replacement and within a week from that time had a new card in my hands. This awesome Jimmy Howard (thanks for signing on time), is a Mirror Gold parallel auto out of the Certified product. It is #'d to 25 and a more than suitable replacement. Major props to Panini for handling the issue so quickly and major gas face to Cam "I can't sign my cards" Fowler. 

The lesson for the day? Cam Fowler like other athletes that don't live up to their contractual obligations get the gas face!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - 2011 Angela & Amber Cope Goodwin Champions Auto

Sunday mornings during my youth were spent watching Football in the winter and baseball and NASCAR in the summer. I wouldn't miss the STP car of Richard Petty race against the likes of Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Davey Allison and others. in fact as I am writing this, a major wreck just took place in the 2012 FedEx 400.

NASCAR has come a long way since I was a kid. Sponsorship is a huge factor and the sport has become more diverse. Women also have made a strong impact in what has primarily been a male dominated sport. Danica Patrick has gotten the most attention for sure, but you can trace the 1st woman driver back to 1949 when Sara Christian drove at Charlotte.

Since Patrick has come aboard, other female drivers have made their presence known. Racers like Jennifer Jo Cobb, Johanna Long, Maryeve Dufault have all found their niche. Last year, I took notice of two other women drivers that I felt in my gut were going to be just a little different. We live in a world where reality TV, gimmicks and marketing have proven time and time again that talent sometimes gets overshadowed by hype. These girls have proven that their hard work is resulting in them getting over with fans and getting slots to compete on the Nationwide circuit.

In racing, family is everything. We've seen it many times over the years with the Petty, Bodine, Earnhardt, and Wallace clans, along with many others. Derrike Cope, a former Daytona 500 winner and long time driver at both the Sprint and Nationwide series has 2 twin nieces and they are looking for a family dynasty. The girls have followed in their uncle's footsteps and they are amassing a strong following. The girls have a team that is delivering for them. It consists of a plan with solid marketing, bringing in unique sponsors, and the fact that they are smart, gorgeous and good at what they do most definitely helps their cause. As a result, I started paying attention!

Angela and Amber Cope made NASCAR history when they became the first twins to race at the Nationwide level. If you want to get picky, it was the first time twins competed at ANY level of NASCAR. When I got wind of them, we immediately reached out to them for an interview on Cardboard Connection Radio. I am a huge Press Pass trading card collector and thought they'd be a perfect fit for their sets, especially riding off the popularity of Danica and her first autographed and memorabilia trading cards. We were fortunate enough to get an interview with the twins on several occasions (listen), and they are extremely passionate about becoming successful race car drivers at the top level.

Needless to say that as someone who has collected cards for over 35 years and reported about them for more than a decade, I was floored when I found out that Upper Deck has one-upped Press Pass and delivered the hobby the first autographed trading card of the Cope twins. The card comes from the 2011 Goodwin Champions set. There is a regular base card featuring both blonde bombshells on the same card in their racing gear. A variation of the card also appears on the autograph checklist. The card is unique because it is signed by both girls where many of the Goodwin cards were single signatures. it goes to show you the lengths Upper Deck will go to deliver a quality set. A lot of that can be directly attributed to Grant Sandground who is the mastermind behind the Goodwin revival.

If you are a loyal listener, you know I seek out autographed trading cards of guests that appear on my show. This was a no-brainer. I bought it the day I found out about it. Later, Press Pass issued autographs of the twins along with one of Maryeve Dufault in their exceptional Total Memorabilia product, but those will have to wait for another SIGnificant cards post.