Monday, February 18, 2013

Topps Series 1 Price Drops, Is It Loaded With Too Much or Not Enough?

I was looking over some products in hopes of picking something up at a good price while simultaneously putting together a video of 2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball. I recently opened a hobby box and a retail box of the first entry in the 2013 MLB collecting season. Needless to say, that when I saw Series 1 had dropped from $60+ to  $46 I was a little surprised. That kind of drop doesn't usually happen this close to the release date.

But it has happened, and while I am an avid fan of many of the manufactured relics that appear in 2013 Topps I can't help but wonder if there is just too much going on with the brand. I've heard commentary from all kinds of collectors. Some love it, some do not -- I get that.

You can beef about what you love and hate, it is a free country. When I look at what the flagship product has become, I see many of the traits that I loved about it as a youth. It still has the set building qualities I remember as I tried to collate a set.

I love inserts as much as the next guy or gal, but it seems excessive here. I don't need that bloat to keep me interested in the base product. Some of it I can handle, some of it I can even tolerate, and some of it I can really enjoy, but I guess my question is, when is enough, enough?

This hobby seems to be geared towards outdoing the competition and then outdoing yourself. I understand that competitive nature. I have it. I want every Cardboard Connection Radio show to be better than the previous one, but even I know that when you overdo things it seems forced. That's pretty much how I feel about this year's product. All of the gimmicks, followed by the biggest card promotion, the million dollar chase, etc, etc.

That's said, when it comes down in price to the point where it is $1.27 per pack, it is one of the best bargains in the industry. There is no product that can touch it at that price, and that my friends is why it's been around longer than I have and will probably be around long after I am gone.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What a week for collectors and Cardboard Connection Radio

It's been a great week for collectors nationwide and beyond. The NBA All-Star Game is going strong and Panini America is right in the thick of things in Houston rubbing elbows with the top names in the sport, past & present. They are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Contenders Football and waiting with baited breath on the conclusion of an Andrew Luck 1/1 from the 2012 product that's over 30K.

It was National Hockey Card Day in America, following a successful run in Canada last weekend and collectors got a treat from Upper Deck.

We announced the Scholarships that we are working with the Industry Summit to provide to Hobby Shop owners a few weeks back, and now you can get the details of our Media Partnership with this tremendous event.

This past week we had a couple of great shows. On Wednesday we were joined by Onyx Authenticated President Lance Fischer and Miami Marlins prospect Justin Nicolino. We got the lowdown on some upcoming Onyx products, and had a great conversation with Justin about being part of the blockbuster deal that sent Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes to Toronto and Nicolino to the Marlins. He was a great guy and hearing the story about his mother collection cards was priceless. You can listen to the archive of the show using the link below.

Cardboard Connection Radio with Onyx Authenticated and Miami Marlins prospect Justin Nicolino:

Friday was also a fun show. We had an appearance from one of the most beloved people in the trading card industry, and good friend of the show -- Tracy Hackler. Tracy phoned in for our "This Week At Panini" segment live from Houston, TX and the 2012-13 NBA All-Star Jam Session. Also, to celebrate National Hockey Card Day in America, we spoke with Upper Deck's Josh Zusman about the annual event and some upcoming UD products including Fleer Retro Hockey. We also asked if there will be a 2012-13 The Cup product. What did he say? You'll have to tune in to find out.

Cardboard Connection Radio with Panini America's Tracy Hackler & Upper Deck's Josh Zusman:

Enjoy the shows!

Reach for the Sky - A Look At My Velvet Sky Autograph & Memorabilia Collection

The art of building a collection can take many turns. If you are a player collector, it becomes a chase to get all of the cards of that particular player. If you open a lot of packs, sometimes you get into a rut. You might want to find a particular player and wind up getting another. This year I've been a magnet for the Colts Coby Fleener. It's gotten so bad that I've coined a phrase about it so that when I find one, I call it "Getting Fleenered".

Over the years there have been some players that have signed a lot of autographs for trading card products completely devaluing the worth of their signature. The big three that come to mind for me are Bob Feller, Pete Rose and Bill Mazeroski. This year, it seems that I could add Coby Fleener to that list. The guy has so many autographs in the overabundance of 2012 football releases that there is no way it'll attain a solid value unless he sets a bunch of records and notches a Super Bowl or two. It's a shame too, because with Andrew Luck as his QB, he has a chance to enjoy a great NFL career.

Anyway, I am rambling, and my point was that sometimes pack opening dictates what or who you collect. As an avid fan of TNA Impact Wrestling, I was drawn to the Tristar products when big names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Sting, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Kevin Nash and Mick Foley graced the autograph checklist. However, as much as I loved those guys during their careers, I've had the opportunity to interview and interact with several of the TNA Knockouts. Traci Brooks, Gail Kim, Tara, and some past Knockouts including Trinity, Chelsea, Goldy Locks & Lollipop all have appeared on Cardboard Connection Radio. All were incredibly fun and passionate about their craft.

I'll tell you that the fact that I helped write card backs for the very first TNA Trading Card set from Pacific Trading Cards made me want to see what was next for the card line. Tristar has done an awesome job with them and I own every single set they've produced. My only beef with them is that they need to do an ON-CARD set. It seems they only deal with stickers and it's just lame that they can't do one series on-card after all this time.

That said, they have really nailed the autographs. They have gotten just about anyone that laced up the boots, or spoke a word on TNA television or PPVs to be a part of one or more of their sets.

Back to the Knockouts... I was already a huge fan of Tara, Traci and Gail Kim. As the Knockout division has grown, I also became a fan of Mickie James, Brooke Adams (Tessmacher), and Velvet Sky. Honestly, I was shocked when she disappeared from the Impact Wrestling scene for a tad last year. You could see that beyond her beauty, she had a relationship with the TNA fans that was unparalleled among her peers. The Knockouts are the main reason many people watch Impact Wrestling in the first place. She was one of the biggest draws for the company and quite frankly her Beautiful People gimmick with Angelina Love is arguably the best Knockout angle to this date. She returned in late 2012 and it was evident that she was missed by the crowd reaction.

As I've opened a lot of Impact Wrestling product, Velvet became the wrestling version of Coby Fleener for me. Like I said, it's not a bad thing. I always enjoy adding new cards to my collection of people that are great at what they do. Unlike Fleener, and yeah I get that its Sports Entertainment, in this case though she is a proven commodity, and has a Knockouts Championship on her resume. I imagine she'll add several more before her career is over. Here's to hoping both of them have stellar careers, then they benefit, and my collection does too.

All of these cards with the exception of the personalized one came out of a pack of cards, I didn't get any on the secondary market. The personalized one was a purchase I made when Velvet offered them up to assist her friend and fellow wrestler Daffney, who was involved in a car accident (another reason ya gotta love Velvet).

I'm hoping someday we'll get Velvet on Cardboard Connection Radio. She's a bit of sports fan herself, a Yankees fan and it would be cool to hear her perspective about being on trading cards and signing autographs.

Here's a look at a few cool cards from my Velvet Sky collection:

Knockout Signature Curves Auto
TENacious Velvet Sky/Gail Kim
Reflexxions Personalized
OBAK NSCC Exclusive
TNA Xtreme Velvet Sky Auto
TNA New Era Auto/Memorabilia
Signature Impact Quad Memorabilia

Reflexxions Quad Memorabilia

Xtreme Beautiful People Dual Auto

Celebrating 20 Years Of Contenders Football - Congratulations Panini

Bringing the rookies since 1993 has been one of the hobby's favorite products -- Contenders. It's back and collectors and Panini America have a lot to celebrate. An outstanding response to 2012 products, an amazing rookie class, 14K Golden Tickets and more should fire up the football category with this season finale.

One note: Panini needs to do a football update series for 2012. It is a necessity. They've missed the boat on getting some key players on their checklist including the 49ers Colin Kaepernick, and it would be a great opportunity to get a little more mileage out of the amazing rookie crop.

Topps Serves Up A Little Magic To Close Out The 2012 NFL Season

Abracadabra! Topps hits collectors with some Magic as the 2012 season comes to a close. The set harkens back to the designs of the early 80s while paying homage to a vintage brand. It is a set builders series with lots of great incentives including memorabilia, mini-booklet autos, coin cards and much more.

It's a simple, yet fun and enjoyable foray compared to the many exorbitant releases this season. Refreshing and full of tricks -- Magic delivers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Totally Awesome - Press Pass Brings The Memorabilia!

Last year, I was very vocal about how bland some of the NASCAR checklists have been. Not only were the same guys in set after set, it became difficult to tell some of the cards apart from one another. Clearly Press Pass felt the same way as they dropped several lines and incorporated news ones into their release schedule.

Bolstering products like Showcase made a big difference too, but the introduction of Total Memorabilia and Redline were the kick in the pants the category needed. Total Memorabilia not only provided a big assortment of gear from top drivers, but it also contained autographs, many fresh faces to the NASCAR scene. Young Guns like the Cope Twins, Ty Dillon, Maryeve Dufault, & Harrison Burton made their debut on Press Pass cards.

The 2013 edition follows up with more rookies including Kyle Larson, Brian Ortiz, Nicole Lyons and a few others. It also contains tire swatches from several drivers that notched 2012 Sprint Cup victories, and the tires come from those particular races.

Priced at $100, it's one of the better products and the racing season hasn't even started!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What better to follow up a break of Marvel Beginnings II? A Break of Marvel Beginnings III

I really did enjoy Marvel Beginnings II, enough so that I went back and purchased the original product, and am now going to try and build the entire collection.

I love comics more than cards, but the combination of both is even better! Here, Upper Deck shows they have mastered this formula, and one can only hope they deliver more quality Marvel products.

Find out what I found in a box of Marvel Beginnings III


Upper Deck Unleashes Marvel Beginnings II Trading Cards

Over the years Marvel Comics have introduced some of the most popular comic-book heroes. From the core Avengers including the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man to Wolverine, Spider-Man, the Punisher and many, many more these fictional figures have become part of pop culture. For every one hero or villain that the average person would know by name or photo, there are 20 that they probably never heard of.

Marvel Beginnings gives Marvel fans the best of both worlds. You'll get profiles and a variety of characters from The Red Skull to the Skrulls, from Squirrel Girl to Spider-Ham, from the Taskmaster to Thanos.

A rub to some Marvel card collections of the past revisits hologram technology, and die-cut cards. You'll also get a look at some of the most important Marvel Comics covers from their most storied, well... stories.

Catapulting it into a league of its own are the Comic Panel cards where vintage comic book panels are placed into a super-thick, framed card. Along with a massive selection of sketch cards from top artists, and the inclusion of creator autographs including Stan Lee, there are many reasons the collection will resonate with the masses.