Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball Break and Review - A Jumbo, a Blaster and a rack pack

Well I couldn't wait and I ended up going home from work early on Tuesday, because I wasn't feeling good so I stopped by the local Wally World and picked up a blaster and a rack pack to help me heal.  I also ended up staying home from work yesterday feeling like ass, but made it down to my LCS, to pick up my Jumbo box.

So without further ado lets dive in shall we?

First here's the box label I made up for those of you who like to store your sets in boxes.

Here is this years base design.  I think most of you have already seen this, Topps did release it a while ago.  I like it.  Not as much as the last couple years, but it's not bad.  It does seem to have an unneeded amount of wasted space on the bottom, especially with the team logo goes. I was a little worried Topps was going to over foil the cards as the swoops and diamond around the base of the photo would have been easy targets, but Topps held back and only the player name and Topps logo have foil.

Here's a  look at the back.  I don't know why I have such a fascination with the backs of cardboard, but I do. Fairly basic design, but I like that they have a fairly large number in one of the upper corners.  Each back features a little Chase blurb, as that's Topps theme this year. And as always full stats, and some nice filler.

Like Topps did with last years football. There will be an in-store giveaway at the start of Spring Training.  You have from February 20th to the 27th to pick up packs.  If I remember right both my LCS had a ton of these so I'm not too worried.  I ended up pulling only one of these pack redemption cards.  Last years football they were falling about 3 per jumbo box.  So maybe there willl be better odds of getting something.

There's also another contest.

The idea for this one is to beat the all time hitting streak by unlocking players with codes, picking which player will get a hit that day and building a streak.  Like the last couple years Topps has voided me out of there contests so all my codes will probably be going up on ebay.

There's also a Chase to the Pennant contest card.  But these code cards are have some crazy insertion rate of something like 1:2000 so if you get one good job!

This year there's lots of parallels to chase.  We all like colored parallels right?  This year we have a few new colors to chase our favorite players in.  The sparkly unnumbered emerald parallels are the most common this year, unless you are buying retail from Wal-mart or Target and then you get Blue and Red parallels respectively in abundance.

I haven't bought any retail from Target (yet) but here's what a blue Wal-mart parallel looks like.  Yes I know Harper again.

Here's a close up of a sparkly emerald.  The backs are the same for all the unnumbered parallels, gold have black numbering and Black parallels have silver, I'm not sure what the other flavors have.

Here are all the Emeralds I pulled.  You get one per Jumbo pack

I also pulled 3 out of my retail. I got two Brewers Gonzalez and Ishiikawa (not pictured) they're already in my Brewers binder.

Sorry I didn't scan all the Blue parallels I got.  I'll have a trade post up later this week probably tomorrow with all the inserts and extras I have available.

Camo makes the jump from football to baseball this year.  I didn't get a camo my Jumbo but I did manage to pull one from my retail.  I can't remember if it was in the blaster or rack pack, but it's a good one.

I did end up getting one black from my Jumbo box.
I do like that Topps has started doing the foil numbering on the lower numbered parallels.

And lets not forget the golds.  Topps isn't going to hold them back for Update series this year.

I ended up with 6.  I pulled 4 from my Jumbo and 2 from the retail.  That Detroit Team card is going in the Fielder collection.  All the rest are up for grabs right now.

On to the inserts.
This year Topps is doing the Chase theme.  And true to the formula, Topps usually does one big regular size insert set.  This year that set is Chasing History.
These cards have a very 5 Star look to them.  You get one per Jumbo pack and close to one per retail pack as well.

Here are the ones I've got.
All except that Thomas card are up for trade.

There are parallels of these cards at are one Foil board.  I'm not sure if the foil or gold parallels are retail only but I didn't pull any from hobby and the two I got from retail were in the same rack pack.

And supposedly there are also gold parallels where the banner is gold instead of silver.  These are unnumbered.

The next big inserts set is the Chasing the Dream set.

I think these cards would look great chromed out.  And if Topps carries this insert to Chrome well see if I'm right.  This insert reminds me of Topps Finest of years past, but I'm not a big fan.

You also get one of these per Jumbo pack and I picked up a few more from retail.

Next up we have Calling Card.
I wasn't too sure about these when I saw them in the sell sheet, but in person they have grown on me.  I'm debating whether or not to complete the set.  The back is a matte cardboard and I think it would have been nice if the front was more like that too.  As it is the front is glossy.

I did pull an extra RA Dickey if your interested for now I think I'm going to hold on to these.

Next up are the Greats.  These cards are thick and have that Topps Tier One look.  They also remind me of that 2005 UD Pastime Pennants and I think there was a Fleer set that was similar too.
Either way I only pulled two and both from my Jumbos.  I think the set is 25 deep so this one is probably going to be a little harder to put together, but a really nice looking set.

Next we have the die-cut Cut to the Chase inserts.  You all know I'm an oddball lover and these cards look great all chromed out.  I however am not going to be putting the set together so these three are up for grabs. I think the Cruz might already be spoken for, Brian?
I ended up pulling 4 from Jumbo and 1 from retail so these aren't too hard of a pull. My other was  Ted Williams. Both Williams and Ruth are up on ebay right now though.

And of course we finally get to this years mini offering.  Topps 1972 mini's.  I'm not sure why they opted for 72 over say a year that had a mini like 75, but the cards look cool and being a mini and oddball collector I'll have to try and put this set together of course.

Sadly I did get 3 extras out of my hobby and retail so I have an extra Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Kemp up for trade as well.

Now onto the hits. The retail blaster promises a commemorative patch card and there are two different kinds this year.  The one I really like was the rookie patch cards that feature a patch with the players Topps rookie card on it.  I'm hoping Robin Yount gets one of these in Series 2 or Update.  I ended up pulling a Player Patch Card and I think I did all right.

Chipper!! It won't be the last time we see Chipper either.  It seemed everything I opened favored the Rangers or the Braves.

I'll say this right now I actually like the way these relic cards look.  And while Topps tends to design the inserts to be relic and auto cards making the base inserts look kind of lacking these are alright and I look forward to adding a few Brewers one's to my collection.

Topps also has numerous manufactured "relics" this year.  All pretty much centered around baseballs big awards. Cy Young, MVP, and Silver Slugger awards, as well as, Proven Mettle cards.

I ended up with an MVP card.
Chippa again!!  Nice to get another well known and loved Brave.

This card is really heavy.  The award in the card is made of metal.  I think these and most of the manu-relics would be easy pickings for pack searchers, but these are hobby only cards.

But I've saved the best for last and it kinda floored me to pull it.

Bam!!! Wow, holy crap.  Sadly there was some edge damage. The bottom left hand corner had a small crease or line though the top layer and there are some chipping and edge lifting issues.   When Topps released actual photos of some of these the one thing I and a lot of people noticed was the chipping on the edge.  It is most likely a defect from the cutting process, but you kinda figure with 62 years of experience making baseball cards Topps would realize black card fronts on white card stock don't mix.  Ahem 1971 and 2008 are really good examples.

I had thought about sending this in to Topps, but what are the odds I get a card in better shape?  Anyways all my hits are up on ebay right now. Got to try and fund this crazy hobby.  All the inserts are up for trade and I should have a trade post up with scans and numbers available.  The Ranger and Giants cards have been claimed though.

Over all not bad.  Again pretty par for the course.  I am probably a little skewed having gotten a case hit in my Jumbo box.  There are of course a few stand out inserts and a few inserts that well just seem to be filler.  I'm glad Topps got away from those awful duo cards they put in the sets for years.

Per Josh's request if your interest in anything I've got here up on ebay here is the link to my auctions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Topps Series 1 Wrapper Redemption announced finally!

We are almost near the flood.  Retail Series 1 is already live on ebay and on the message boards.  I even saw some last night at Wal-mart and controlled myself.  I've got a jumbo box with my name on it come tomorrow anyways.  But I had been wondering if Topps was going to do another wrapper redemeption this year.  And now that we are one day away from the official release of hobby Topps has annouced that they are!!!

This year it only takes 10 jumbo wrappers or 50 regular hobby or retail wrappers to get a pack.  This years theme for the redemption is the Silver Slate and there will be autos mixes in again as well.  You can see a full write up over at Cardboard Connection.

Topps says you can bundle your wrappers together for multiple packs.  Limit 10 per household and there are only 10,000 packs.

Here's the address to use when you get your packs ripped tomorrow.

Silver Slate Wrapper Redemption
PO Box 2008
Duryea, PA 18642

No word if there is an expiration date it'll probably run till the packs are gone and Topps has promised to put out updates on its Twitter page.  The only stipulation is you can't send wrappers in till after Jan. 30th.  

I'll be featuring my Jumbo break here probably Thursday after I get done ripping.

cb out

Monday, January 28, 2013


Cheap Group Break Pimp here again. Pimpin the same CGB's I did last time, but seeing as they still ain't filled it's time to do it again.  

Colbey over at Cardboard Collections is holding two. One baseball and one football.   The football one has only 3 slots left and the baseball 12.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

CaptKirk42 has been trying to host his first group break over at his blog, CaptKirk42s Trading Card Blog.  He's got a nice selection of 2007 products up for break and only needs 5 more people to sign on.  You get a team of your choice and 2 randoms to keep or trade!!

I know for a fact that two of these breaks are ready to happen when filled and Colbey's baseball break should happen later this week or early next so you don't have much time.

pimp out

Friday, January 25, 2013

A letter to the Commissioner of Baseball -A look back at Topps Exclusive License Part 4

I've been slowly working on this letter.  Crafting it.  Rewriting it.  Trying to sound halfway coherent.

If you enjoy the hobby of baseball card collecting I encourage you to take the time to pen a few lines for the Commissioner yourself.  While I have no illusions that my letter more than likely will never be seen by Bud Selig, I know that my silence most definitely will.  I've also sent an almost identical letter to Tim Brosnon, the Executive Vice President of Business for the MLB.  Send them a note, email, whatever.  Let them know how you feel.  Even if you liked the Topps deal.  This is about feedback and the one person they never asked about this exclusive deal was us.  At least I don't ever remember being asked.  And I'll state again that this is not done as a hatred toward Topps.  This is done for choice, for creativity, and most of all for the future generations of card collectors. Lets look at these last three years as an experiment.  Was that experiment a success?  For Topps pocket book I'm sure it was.   For us fans, well that's a bit more muddled.  And for the MLB?  Who knows?  I just know for myself I was unsatisfied and found myself getting kinda bored with the hobby.  I know I'm not alone here either.

Here's the address for the Commissioner

Commissioner Bud Selig
245 Park Ave., 31st floor
New York, NY 10167

Anyways here's what I wrote. It ended up being two pages sorry for the formatting issue on the second page and I tried to be formal yet conversational and didn't bad mouth Topps, but tried to lay out the facts and my opinion on the matter.

Page 2

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read the series, I know it wasn't the most organized and I tend to ramble.  I want to thank Ryan Cracknell over at Cardboard Connection for posting links to the posts too.

TTM Success Olympic Weightlifter Sarah Robles

I was surprised the other day to find one of my return TTM envelopes in my mailbox.  There was no postmark on the envelope so I had no idea who it could have been from. I still have lots out in the world, but haven't sent any TTM in a couple of months.

So I was glad to see another one of my Olympic TTM's come back.

Olympic Weightlifter Sarah Robles!

Sarah ended up getting 7th in the +75kg wieght class in the 2012 Olympic games.  She has a very nice blog called Pretty Strong and is hoping to qualify for the 2016 games as well.

I looked back at my notes and I got the address I used from her blog.  That address has changed so I'm going to post the new one instead of the one I used, as it is most likely not current.

Date sent
Oct 10, 2012
Date Recieved
Jan 22, 2013

Address to use:
Sarah Robles (Pretty Strong)
1515 S Extension Rd. #2064
Mesa, AZ 85210

A great addition for my 2012 Topps Olympic autograph quest.
Thanks Sarah and good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What's next? Looking Back on Topps Exclusive MLB License Part 3

I won't lie, we are less than a week from the release of 2013 Topps Series 1 and I'm kind of excited.  I always get excited for the launch of the new flagship set.   And I also won't lie, I'm a Topps collector, have been since I started collecting way back in the 80's.  Something about that first series.  It's new, there are new inserts and a base set to put together.  I'm less excited about Series 2 and Update, mainly because it's just an extension of that first series.  I still want to put the set together and my Brewers team set and have a few extras to send out for TTM's.  That being said looking at this years cards it's pretty much more of the same.  Topps was talking a big game posting on Facebook the last few days and releasing actually photos of some of the hits, which look nice, but looking at the inserts there's really nothing new.  I already did a review when the sell sheets went live, but basically it's 4 main inserts again, a mini (1972 this time), and a die-cut insert.  All will have relic and auto variations.  There will also again be manufactured "relics" as well as Topps Ultimate 1/1 Chase cards featuring cut signatures and relics of the greats and lots of parallel cards.  And some kind of contest or giveaway. Like I said nothing really new.  Sure the theme is different, but the basic outline is the same.  And for some that's fine.  Even for me that's sorta fine.  It's always nice knowing what to expect and what your getting.  But will there be a surprises?  That's  why I like Allen and Ginter.  Topps usually has a surprise in the set.  An unannounced insert or gimmick.Well we know that A&G, Gypsy Queen and Achieves will be back.  But yes there is a new gimmick coming out in May.  Topps Chipz. Which appears to be some sort of game featuring players on poker style chips, with relics, autos, and of course parallels.  That's nice, I love odd ball stuff and more than likely will be picking up a few and at least a set of my Brewers, which from the preliminary checklist there are three.

But nothing like Topps TEK, Fleer Metal Universe, Topps Gold Label, ect.  At least not yet. Remember when Topps Chrome came out in the late 90's?  There was some great attempts at innovation made between  1996 to 2003.

I had popped into Don's Sportscards the other day.  I ended up putting a huge dent in a few sets I was trying to complete and I wanted to ask the owner of the only pure sports card shop in Anchorage what he thought about the Topps Exclusive Experiment.  Don told me he'd love to see another company get a full MLB License much like the way the NFL split it up with Topps and Panini, but he wasn't to keen on seeing Panini get the other MLB license.  But he also made the point that he really like Topps high and mid range NFL stuff this year and that probably has something to do with the fact that Topps has competition in the market. So that begs the question.  If we want to see another company or two get a full MLB license who would that be.  Well obviously it would be Panini the other big boy on the block.  I'm sure a few of you would say Upper Deck of course, but with UD's recent money and legal problems that doesn't seem too likely, plus I doubt the MLB would even want to deal with Upper Deck after Upper Deck's blatant 2010 baseball release.  Leaf? ITG? Some new kid on the block?  There really aren't too many options.   And while I'm not a huge fan of Panini cards, mainly because they all seem to look the same and rookies always tend to be short printed making set building a pain, I am a huge fan of their customer interaction and support.  They have a great website, blog, and social media presence.  And for as much bitching as I seem to do about Topps I most certainly do not want them to go away.  Topps still puts out sets and products that I love.  I just really wish there was a better selection in the market place.  And while Topps in putting out about 20 products a year, basically the same number it put out in the nonexclusive times there just seems to be a huge lag between products I want to buy.  Not everything Topps puts out is geared toward every collector.  Would I love to open a case of Five Star? Absolutely, but it's way out of my price range considering I could buy a full case of Topps or Allen and Ginter for the same price of a couple boxes of the super premium stuff.  And let us not forget.  Topps didn't start a new collector's club last year for the ordinary collector.  No Topps started an exclusive club for the super spender.  Which I doubt anyone who reads this blog could join.

So if Topps gets another exclusive license will it be the end of the world?  No.  But I've seen a trend in the last couple of years that I'm not buying as much.  This also has something to do with my disposable cash, but last year Topps pissed me off with their wrapper redemption.  The year before you just had to keep all the wrappers from your box and send them in.  Last year Topps upped the wrapper requirement to about a box and a half.  I had been buying 2 Jumbos a release and putting two base sets together.  But that ended last year when Topps got greedy.  I bought my one jumbo and then yes 4 more packs so I could get in on the wrapper redemption and that was it.  I had my set and my free pack.  Any of the inserts I wanted I was going to chase on the secondary market.  I haven't heard if there's to be a wrapper redemption this year or not.

Alright, I think I've gotten this out of my system, well almost.

cb out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's for the Kids Stupid - Topps Exclusive MLB Deal part 2.

In this installment of our look back on Topps' 3 year exclusive MLB deal I want to look at the what was said  3 years ago and what actually came to pass.  The deal was first reported in the New York Times back in August 2009.  From what I could find almost every other entity that reported on it used the Times as their source, at least at the start.  So if your interested where I get my quotes and other talking points it's from that article by Richard Sandomir.  You can read it HERE.

First lets start with a little more history.  This time with the Topps company.  I'm not going to go back to the start of Topps. You can read the full history here on the wiki page.  No we start with Topps as a publicly traded company that soon found itself in financial trouble and along comes Michael Eisner, yep that guy, and his investment company Tornante with Madison Dearborn Partners,  in 2007, they were able to acquire Topps.  I've really glossed over the history here, but the point is now we have Topps as a privately held company, headed by Michael Eisner.

 The article is full of pomp and pride as Eisner and Tom Brosnan, the Executive VP for Business of the MLB try to sell us on this great new transpiration.

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” said Eisner, “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store.It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.  ”

First off how condescending is this quote.  Kids aren't stupid.  Trust me if a kid is interested in something, they know all about it.  Trust me, ahem dinosaurs.

What gets me from this Eisner quote is just how blatantly false it is or was or is. Let's dissect it.

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids."  What category is that? Baseball card?  OK lets say Baseball cards.  Now how is it Topps having the only license redirecting baseball cards to kids?  Especially the entire category?  By offering $300 packs of cards?

"It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original."  Because you've been making cards for 60 years!!! And lets face it the last 3 years has really shown nothing unique or original.

Let look back at 3 years of Topps products and see how they redirected the entire category to kids.

In 2010 the first year of their exclusive deal Topps put out about 20 products not counting eTopps,  Minor League sets, or other online exclusives.  I'm not sure how many products Topps was allowed to produce or if the Flagship, that's broken down into Series counts as one or two, or if the Update series is rolled in with that as well.  I've divided Topps products into 3 categories.  Low end under $3.00-3.50 a pack (remember when jumbo cello packs were 75 cents or less?), mid end $3.50 to about $10.00 a pack, and High end anything over $10.00 a pack.  I'm going to use estimations and current pack prices on Blowout.  Due to the lack of product in 2010 a lot of hobby packs when through the roof with Strasmania hit.

Bowman - Mid
Bowman Chrome - Mid
Bowman DPP - Mid
Bowman Platinum - Mid
Bowman Sterling - High
Finest - High
Topps - Series 1 Low
Topps - Series 2 Low
Topps - Update Low
Topps 206 - Mid
Topps Allen and Ginter - Mid
Topps Attax - Low
Topps Heritage - Mid
Topps National Chicle - Mid
Topps Opening Day - Low
Topps Sterling - High
Topps Tribute - High
Topps Triple Threads - High

Low end: 5
Mid-end: 8
High-end: 5

2011 Topps sets.  There really wasn't too much change in 2011, but we did see the start of a new brand in Gypsy Queen  which was immensely popular and under ordered, so box prices skyrocketed after it's initial release. Topps didn't release another 206 or National Chicle.

Bowman - Mid
Bowman Chrome - Mid
Bowman DPP - Mid
Bowman Platinum - Mid
Bowman Sterling - High
Finest - High
Topps Series 1 - Low
Topps Series 2 - Low
Topps Update - Low
Topps Allen and Ginter - Mid
Topps Attax - Low
Topps Chrome - Mid
Topps Gypsy Queen - Mid then High( I still put this in the Mid category as Topps released it as a mid priced release and the secondary market took it up to high-end)
Topps Heritage - Mid
Topps Lineage - Mid
Topps Marquee - High
Topps Opening Day - Low
Topps Stickers - Low (I was torn to include this one, but it is a Topps baseball product geared toward kids)
Topps Tier One - High
Topps Tribute - High
Topps Triple Threads - High

Low-end: 6
Mid-end: 9
High-end: 6

2012 Topps sets. The only thing that really changed here was the Lineage was replaced by Achieves and Topps replaced Marquee with 5 Star and just got rid of the Attax line.

Bowman - Mid
Bowman Chrome - Mid
Bowman DDP- Mid
Bowman Platinum - Mid
Bowman Sterling - High
Finest - High
Topps Series 1 - Low
Topps Series 2 - Low
Topps Update - Low
Topps Allen and Ginter - Mid
Topps Archives - Mid
Topps Chrome - Mid
Topps Five Star - High
Topps Gypsy Queen - Mid
Topps Heritage - Mid
Topps Opening Day - Low
Topps Stickers - Low
Topps Tier One - High
Topps Tribute - High
Topps Triple Threads - High

Low-end: 5
Mid-end: 9
High-end 6

But let's look at what was offered in 2009 the last year of multi-company card manufacture. I won't list all the different sets, but using the same critirea here is the break down of Topps offerings in 2009

Low = 5
Mid =11
High= 4

So basically what we can see here is that Topps thinks that redirecting the hobby towards kids involves offering packs of cards that go for more than $3. As a matter of fact instead of raising the number of affordable packs they raise the number of higher end cards, of course they didn't really decrease the  number of low end offerings, just mid-level.

  I have no idea what a kid gets for an allowance in this day and age, but I will tell you that spending it on a couple of packs of cards probably rank really low.  And we've already had this discussion about the trends in the hobby.  But the simple fact it kids aren't going to save the hobby or the industry.  At least not right away. Because kids don't have money! Kids get  money from their parents or whomever and then spend that money one all sorts of things and maybe a few packs of cards, but the majority of baseball and other sports cards are bought by adults.   It's getting these kids interested in trading cards that might bring them back to baseball cards in say 7 to 10 years though.  Think about it.  A kid collects with his dad or brother, or even on his own, but eventually other interests more than likely take precedent.  Girls, cars, college.  But what I've seen from a lot of stories about the blogosphere is that eventually a guy or gal might pick up a pack on a whim, finds his/her old collection, or some other catalyst gets them back in the hobby.  This is where the getting kids interested now, might pay off down the road.  But even Topps gets it.  While they might say it's for the kids, from looking at what's offered it's most definitely not.  I don't think kids today would be happy with what's offered in their price range.  Not when you can look on Youtube and see box breaks of these $300 packs and what's inside.

Alright I've rambled and bitched enough for one post.

Next up I'm going to talk about the lack of innovation that Topps calls progress.

cb out.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

3rd Annual Almost the Easiest Super Bowl Contest on the Web - Championship Weekend Aftermath

Wow, I was wondering if we would have a major upset this weekend.  And honestly we almost had two.  The Falcons came out so hot, but true to form blew it in the end.  Sorry Falcons fans I was rooting for you.

But the Ravens spanking the Pats was our big upset and took our the majority of the field.  With that said we will have a winner this year for picking the right team!!!! Which remember is all I asked for, but again we had no one pick the right opponent so we'll have to go to points.  And remember everyone who entered is still in for the door prize.

So we are down to 5.  Two for the Ravens and 3 for the Niners.  Good luck you guys.  I'll have the Pre-Super Bowl Tail Gate post in about 2 weeks.

Shane P. - Ravens over Falcons , 39 points, 5 TO

Adam E - 49ers over Broncos, 48 points , 2 TO

Wilson - Patriots over Seahawks, 63 points, 4 TO (pimp)

hiflew - Falcons over Texans, 41 points , 3 TO

Jeff Wilk - Falcons over Pats, 38 points, 4 TO

Brian Conrad -  Patriots over 49ers, 52 points, 2 TO

arpsmith- 49ers over Broncos, 36 points, 3 TO

The Diamond King - Patriots over 49ers, 49 points , 3 TO

Skroeker - 49ers over Patriots, 45 points, 3 TO (pimp)

Chunter - Patriots over 49ers, 42 points, 4 TO (pimp)

Brads Blog - Patriots over Falcons, 56 points, 3 TO

Robert - Ravens over Packers, 47 points, 3 TO

daddyohoho - Patriots over 49ers, 49 points, 2 TO

Richard Nebe Jr - Falcons over Redskins, 35 points, 3 TO