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...