Sunday, October 31, 2010

TWOT- This Week On Twitter 10/22 - 10/30

This week's highlights include:

Sports- World Series Starts, NBA Season Opens

The Hobby- Stalegum writes a term paper, Panini rolling in new product, Topps Chrome contests continue, Top 10 Football Cards, FCB Hot List and more

Photography- Galleries of Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman, Women of Punk, All-time #1'a in Women's Tennis, NFL Cheerleaders, 1955 World Series (never seen images)

Movies- Early details on Avatar 2, Transformers IV and Dark Knight 3

Gaming- XBOX Kinect launch

and lots more!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Rack Pack and the Quest For Calvin Edward . . .

. . . Ripken Jr that is. I have been waxing nostalgic lately. Ha ha ha, I crack myself up. You see, I've been in a tad bit of a hobby rut when it comes to baseball cards. Topps proving me right, for the most part, with their exclusive licensing trifecta of mediocrity I believe is mostly to blame. I think this year has been a classic case of how exclusive licensing is bad for The Hobby, period.

That said, I have been craving, I don't know, not a return to simpler times per say, but a means of recapturing that feeling. You know the one? Not the one that comes from a "killer" hit, but the one that comes with the elation of finding an elusive card to complete a set, or the discovery of a previously unknown (to you), obscure insert for your player collection, or the feeling of finding your favorite player when you were a kid and first discovered the addiction of cardboard.

So I started thinking about the products that would potentially be able to recapture that seemingly long lost magic. The chosen product had to meet two specific pieces of criteria. The first, obviously was to be affordable or rather very affordable. So while I would love to crack a pack or box of 1969 Topps, that just isn't realistic. The second, the product has to contain a rookie from a player or team I collect.

After some research I settled on a rack pack of 1982 Donruss I found at Dave and Adams for $8.95 with the obvious intent of finding card number 405 Calvin Edward Ripken Jr. My man, Cal Ripken Jr.

Damn it!!!!!!! I am so pissed!! I just went to grab the link to the video from the live break I did on Ustream only to discover that while the video was broadcast live, it failed to record. Crap, damn it, bon of snitch!!!! A moment in collecting time lost forever.

Oh well, what can you do. Anyway, going through the first 2 packs brought back some great memories. One of which was seeing those "they are so ugly they're beautiful" Houston Astros rainbow striped jerseys. Fielding a veteran pitching staff anchored by Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton I got to see a lot of them living in Chicago and playing my hometown Cubs.

The next memory was conjured up by this card of Bill Russell, SS for the Los Angeles Dodgers who in 1981, the previous year, finally got over the hump and beat the Yankees 4 games to 2. As a kid the Dodgers were my 3rd favorite team because my Grandma, of all people, really taught me how to watch baseball and was a Dodger's fan. Although I think it had more to do with the fact that she REALLY hated the Yankees. Anyway I still remember as clear as day the starting line-up of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Kenny Landreaux, Dusty Baker and Steve Yeager. A pitching staff that included Jerry Ruess, Fernando Valenzuela, Burt Hooten and Steve Howe. In addition, a key player coming off the bench at the time was a young Mike Scioscia. All these years later and I still remember that dugout, in a blink without even thinking.

I had to laugh when I pulled this card of Dave Kingman, a Diamond King no less. King Kong. His home runs onto Waveland Avenue at Wrigley Field where epic. So were his propensity to do either that or strike out.
Opening the 3rd pack, there it was the unmistakable bottom card of Calvin Edward Ripken. Nothing more than an acne plagued young adult with a dream and a desire to play the game the only way he knew how, The Ripken Way. I was ecstatic. I'd done it. Chasing a rookie, albeit one I already own but that wasn't the point, I found it, the Iron Man himself.

My additional (albeit distant second) goal of this exercise was to take that Ripken (if discovered) have it graded and "flip" it. Why? To recreate an experiment first made famous, at least archival, by Bob Brill and The Brill Report with his $10,000 project. I thought it would be cool to take the money invested in the pack and grading, sell it and buy something else to "flip" and so on and so one. Now, Bob had the advantage of owning a shop and having items walk in off the street that he could low ball people on who needed the money but in the age of eBay I bet I could replicate the exercise on a smaller scale.

Unfortunately, upon closer examination, I discovered this:

Yep. The unmistakable presence of a fricken corner ding, and a good one too. Looking at the cards in the rest of the pack, they were all dinged too. The rack pack had obviously been dropped at one point in time.

My emotions went from ecstatic to bummed. But that's when I remembered the real reason for this exercise. It was to recapture that lost feeling. NOT cash in BIG TIME!! So I settled down and with my primary mission accomplished, I'm happy. Thanks Cal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Video Highlights: Absolute Memorabilia

Panini's First Hockey Release Delivers Decent Value But Has Room For Improvement

With a non-autograph/memorabilia checklist consisting of 182 cards, collectors will need to look else where for base RC's of this year's top draft picks. Relegated to Freshman Fabric Signatures and Freshman Signatures I find it a little bit difficult to swallow autographed and autographed memorabilia cards being numbered as part of the base set. These cards will command top dollar on the secondary market but I find it potentially confusing to collector's in the long run.

What is a plus, is that those same cards are signed on card, which as you know is a logistical challenge for the manufacturer an yet a highly demanded commodity for the collector. Serial numbered in several colored parallels, a Certified hallmark, versions can be found with numbering ranging from 250 (Mirror Red) down to the elusive 1-of-1 (Mirror Black). On design flaw to the Freshman Signature cards, in my opinion, is the area designated for the player autograph itself. Instead of color scaling the player image in the background (like a watermark) so that the area to sign still shows the player image in the background, their is no opaqueness to it at all and looks to cut the player in half. The problem is compounded with the addition of a memorabilia swatch which, again, in my opinion makes the card overly busy and crowded looking.

With a current SRP of $80 per box (10 packs per box) and $10 per pack(5 cards per pack) collectors will find the following:
  • 1 Autograph
  • 2 Memorabilia Cards
  • 1 Additional Auto or Memorabilia Card
  • 1 Mirror Red Parallel
  • 4 Additional parallels or inserts
So on the surface, you can see that for $80 the value is right in the wheelhouse for a product that delivers a "hit" almost every other pack.

This is what my box yielded:

53 Total Cards- 43 Base Card, 3 inserts, 2 Parallels, 3 Memorabilia Cards, 2 Autographs

Mirror Reds- Phil Esposito and Sam Gagner #'d/ 250


Collision Course- Daniel Carcillo #'d/ 250
Throwback Threads- Dennis Maruk (Cleveland Barons) #'d/500
Masked Marvels- Mike Smith #'d/500

Freshman Signatures- Nick Spaling, Brandon Yip both Mirror Reds #'d/ 250

Fabric of the Game- Nathan Horton #18/25

Shirt Off My Back Dual- Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos #'d 15/50

Unlike Absolute Memorabilia Football which went to great length to detail the origins of the material used in the memorabilia cards with specific language on the card back, this important component is missing from Certified. Particularly I'd like to know what's with the red swatch on the Nathan Horton card? It is such a glaring distraction from the card and should be black or yellow to color coordinate the whole card appropriately.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Banned From Baseball Loved By The Hobby

One of the things that make this hobby so great is knowing that tucked away in attics, on book shelves, dusty cigar and shoe boxes, even wall paneling, across the country are tiny pieces of cardboard treasure just waiting to be discovered like this remarkable discovery earlier this week.

Follow the link to Sports Collector's Daily for a truly captivating article.

TWOT- This Week On Twitter

This week's highlights include:

The Hobby- Panini launches a blog, Certified Hockey goes LIVE, new Shoeless Joe Jackson RC discovered, Young Gun hockey preview, changes to Topps Chrome Wrapper Redemption Program and much more.

Music- The Cars reunite, Rhapsody comes to Blackberry, Amazon $5 CD's include My Chemical Romance, Green Day and more

Movies- Jackass 3D a hit, Angelina Jolie cast as Cleopatra in James Cameron next venture

Lots more. Check it out!

Friday, October 22, 2010

FRAUD ALERT!! Auctions A Dumping Ground For Forgeries?

You didn't know had auctions or carried Sports Cards and Memorabilia? Either did I until tonight. Sports Cards is one of my daily Google Alerts I receive and one of the links directed me to a listing on the sight under the subcategory:

Home > Sports Cards & Memorabilia > Cards > Football-NFL > Other > Uncertified Signatures

Well it was obviously the "Uncertified Signatures" that caught me researching various listings on the site. For example, how is it this seller has managed to obtain in person autos of some truly dynamic pairings and has dozens of them?

Or this piece? Which I would LOVE to own were it not for its dubious COA from ProSignedSports.

Now I am admittedly not the expert at spotting forgeries that Gellman from Sports Cards Uncensored is, but I do know that the age old saying, "If it looks to good to be true, it probably is?" carries tremendous weight when it comes to autographed items.

What do you guys thinks?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Facebook Conversation on Trading Cards, Design, and the Future of the Hobby

Here is a recap of a interesting thread on Facebook today.

Doug Cataldo- Random thought for the day and a topic for this week's show...

Is it time for a new hobby entity to enter the fray? One that can have the impact of Upper Deck's entry in 1989? One that will focus on the collectors? One that will take all things into consideration from design, to content, to cost, to secondary market, to... the future? Because from all I am seeing, a lot of those things are being sacrificed at the expense of the collectors who are sick of the same old same old. I think that creativity is truly the key to the future of this hobby & it's time for a reboot. Just because someone can do a job well doesn't mean they are the right person for the it, if they just deliver the norm day in and day out. It's time to shake things up & get new blood at some of the trading card companies. Stop consulting with dinosaurs & fossils and look towards the future or their will be no future.

Jon Waldman- Doug, I agree with you. The problem that exists though is finding that new blood. The traditional path was finding people in hobby media, like Jeff Morris, Fabio and Baron -- guys who learned all the ins and outs about the hobby or as much they could while on the media side. Could a couple of the elite bloggers be recruited (ie those that don't just use their space to piss and moan)? Sure; but a lot of these writers are still relatively fresh (for comparison sake, I was working in hobby media for 5 years or so). Two years down the road, if a blogger is still committed, then I expect them to start getting headhunted.

Jon Waldman- As for other creativity, there are some great home-made designers out there who could be recruited, similar to the guys who customize McFarlanes.

Doug Cataldo- Yeah but it's a pretty secluded club. The media part of it gets you ready for some of the work load, but you have to know and love the hobby and the subject be it sports or non-sports to do a product development job. Having a team that's open to both suggestions and criticism and also bosses that will let you break the mold sometimes. Because from what I see, product development all falls on simple formulas and no one is adding any new elements to the mix...

Jon Waldman- Depends how you define development Doug. There have been some great concepts that have come out, such as the 1972 series that ITG did last year. Some, however, would say it was similar to Franchises or Original Six. I agree though that it has to be guys and gals around the table that will listen, but that is the same as any business and comes down to a CEO or director that will have his or her ears open. Sometimes it's personality, sometimes it's training.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TWOT- This Week On Twitter 10/9 - 10/15

This week's highlight's include:

New Products Galore

MLB Postseason

XBOX Gamer News

Netflix News

and more!!

Check it out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Opportunities Missed

Exploring affiliate advertising opportunities through entities like Commission Junction, Link Share and Amazon, I found a glaring lack of involvement from high profile hobby entities. Whether that was online retailers like Blowout Cards and DA Cardworld, or manufacturers retail channels like The Upper Deck Store and Shop Topps, it would seem that obvious that affiliate advertising programs would be a natural fit for these companies.

Paid advertising models are something that companies like these tend to shy away from for the understandable reason that they have other means of promotion and advertising available to them that are less expansive than traditional banner advertising. The cost savings comes with the sacrifice of measurability which is why setting up affiliate programs would seem to be a cost-effective alternative. With hundreds of blogs and YouTube channels, dozens of forums and countless other online Hobby information dissemination resources, I hope to eventually see The Industry's major players share a small slice of the pie with the publishers of the content that generates so much PR for their products.

In addition, many people find these sites through search engines and providing these sites affiliate programs would possibly generate sales and click thru's from non-traditional users, outside the collecting mainstream.

This is an idea I have thought about on and off and am not sure I have articulated it well. Most likely because it is an idea that I have not fully wrapped around in my own mind so sorry for me thinking out loud. Do any of you know what I'm saying?

Product Review: Topps Pro Debut S2

2010 Topps Pro Debut Series 2 understandably picks up where Series 1 left off, with an additional checklist of 220 cards. The sequential numbering continues for a combined master checklist of 440 cards. That is a LOT of prospects. At first I struggled to figure out the significance and/or purpose of this brand. Upon the products’ original release earlier this spring, I originally thought it was redundant and seemed to potentially be a product that would cannibalize a Topps collector favorite in Bowman and it’s sister brands Draft Picks & Prospects and Chrome.

Read the rest.

The Cup- Video Highlights

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Card Corner Club Radio Guest Line-up

Guests scheduled to appear on upcoming episodes of the Card Corner Club Radio Show.

Friday October 15th
Tracy Hackler former chief editor of Beckett and new Marketing figure at Panini. We'll ask Tracy what he is doing at Panini, what his role is, how he came to the decision to leave Beckett and get an insider's perspective on how those Magic Johnson autograph stickers ended up on Jordan Swagerty baseball cards.

In case you missed our interview with Tracy at this year's National, you can see that on Card Corner Club's YouTube channel.

For those of you wondering, I am able to seperate people from the businesses they work for. I have never had a personal problem with Tracy in anyway as evidenced by the interview at The National.

October 22nd
MR. GEM MINT 10!! GEM MINT !!ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? Don West joins us to talk about his new resurgance in the sports collectibles market, and getting his own trading card from tristar in TNA Icons.

Join us! It's going to be fun.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Beckett Blog Struggles With Writer's Block

How else do you explain this less than original thought.

I find it quite the compliment that less than 48hrs after announcing our guest for this week's episode of Card Corner Club Radio that the #1 Authority on Sports Collectibles, Beckett (Sucks), themselves, suddenly found it news worthy to post a piece about the very company (That's My Ticket) that we are interviewing on air tonight.

It really validates the credibility we (Card Corner Club) have achieved over the last 10 years that the mainstream hobby media feel the need to outright steal content in order to get the "scoop" on us little guys. It's a shame that the so called experts and hobby insiders, WHO GET PAID, to deliver noteworthy content to collectors, need to look outside their own understanding of the hobby for inspiration.

It's hardly surprising really. When you do it for a job, it really becomes, well just that, another job and I imagine with that, part of the passion for the hobby dies as a result. I guess it's really no wonder than that the minute a credible idea is promoted outside their sphere of influence, they feel the need to leech onto it.

Thanks guys, at least I know you're listening and paying attention. We'll be sure to keep you abreast of future guests in case on any particular day you are feeling too uninspired in the routine of your day to day lives in Dallas to think for yourselves. Writers block is a bitch, glad we can help.

OMG, He's Back . . . .

Saturday, October 9, 2010

TWOT- This Week On Twitter 10/2 - 10/9

This week's highlight's include:

Video Games: XBOX gets ready to go 3D, NHL '11 Review

Comic Books: DC lowers cost of continuing series, NY Comic Con

Sports- MLB Post Season!!, Puck drops on 2010-11 NHL season

The Hobby- Late season releases hurt LCS, Topps Chrome, EEE, The Cup

Check out these stories an many more . . . NOW!!!

When Hobbies Collide

Two stories caught my attention this week that blend two of my favorite pastimes, sports and comic books. The first, was the announcement that Bluewater Comics will be releasing a biographical comic book featuring Indy and NASCAR diva, Danica Patrick. Penned by CW Cooke, with art done by Valerio Giangiordano, the 32-page book is slated for a December 2010 release with a cover price of $3.99. In this excerpt by Bluewater's publisher and editor, Matt McGloin, he provides a glimpse of what to expect from the book.

[“We've all seen the pictures and heard the gossip about her,” Cooke said. “But digging into her story and learning about her really focused me on the fact that she's a real person and not just a pin-up model or a one-note person.” Cooke hasn't created a white-washed version of Patrick's NASCAR performances, either. The comic covers the critics who say that Patrick hasn't had enough success on the track to deserve all the attention that she gets.]

Readers of this blog know I'm a Danica fan. I know she has had more resources thrown at her then she probably deserves, particularly on the NASCAR circuit but she is a consistent top-10 finisher in the IZOD Indy Racing League and she is good for the sport and good for the trading card hobby. So suffice it to say, this book will be on my Christmas list.

The other story that came out this week had me even more intrigued. The NHL website released details of a seemingly odd pairing in superhero creator extraordinaire Stan Lee and the NHL which "announced Thursday their unprecedented partnership to form Guardian Media Entertainment LLC. This partnership creates the platform from which to launch Stan Lee's vision for his latest superhero franchise, The Guardian Project, which will encompass the creation of 30 Guardians (one to represent each NHL team) as a new series of superheroes, with a creative concept that organically and authentically incorporates various NHL elements but is not set in the world of hockey."

This seems bizarre yet strangely intriguing at the same time. The full transcript of the press release can be read here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

2010 Topps Finest- The Current YTD Football Product of the Year

The title isn’t a fabrication. In addition to being, in my opinion, the best football product of the year, thus far, I believe 2010 Finest Football will also be a contender for Football Product of the Year. Yeah, it’s that good. There is no argument that collectors love all things shiny and Finest doesn’t disappoint. However, unlike its cousin, Topps Chrome, the card stock used in Finest doesn’t cause any fuzziness to the images and lettering to which Chrome is susceptible.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!

I was due for a contest win and thinks to the great guys at Cardboard Connection I came close, as their Runner-Up in their 2010 Topps T206 Contest. The question was, “which past sports card sets would you most like to see revived”.

My answers by the sports asked;

Baseball- Upper Deck Authentics for the simple reason is that I loved the 16" x 20" framed pieces.

Football- Fleer Authetix because while I think the product itself missed at the time, I think incorporating tickets into cards, when properly themed and designed is a still relatively unexplored area of product content.

Basketball- Topps Tall Boys circa 1970. I think the oversized cards would be able to do wonders for the modern day sports photography of this sport today.

So while I lost to a guy who honestly thought that one of my most hated card designs of all time should be brought back (1987 Topps "woodies") I was very pleased with the package that arrived for me yesterday. In addition to some Chicago teams base cards, Gridiron Giveaway code cards, and a Gridiron Giveaway Rookie Redemption, the guys sent me these three "hits".

From top to bottom; 2010 Panini Epix Jay Cutler Jersey, 2010 UD NCAA Sweet Spot Matt Forte Dual Jersey, 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Jared Mitchell Auto.

Thank guys!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

eFee (eBay) Sticks It To Sellers . . . . Again

It's fair enough to say that without sellers, eBay ceases to exist. The argument could be made for buyers as well I suppose. However, the key difference is that a consumer is going to buy what they want to buy, where they want to buy it, and at the price they want to pay. So the idea is simple, "List It and They Will Come". Which means in order to have listings, you need sellers and it seems at every turn, or at the very least, 1x per fiscal quarter, eBay has apparently changed the seller rules . . . again. This time without even the common courtesy of being notified beforehand.

Today I received my September 30th invoice. Five days late but that's another story. I immediately noticed something drastically different. In the past, eBay has provided a 21-day grace period from the date of invoice to the time the prior month's invoice will be debited from your account. Today's invoice said my bank account will be debited for the due amount "sometime within the next 5-7 days". First of all, when did this change take place? Well looking back at my eBay invoices, it appears the practice took effect with the July 31st invoice. Having bought and sold on eBay for so long, I don't know what made me actually open and read this invoice. So while apparently this isn't current news, I certainly don't remember reading about it in the monthly eBay Feedback & Updates Newsletter, which I do read, or seeing it as a direct message or anywhere else they communicate user announcements, LIKE WHEN I LOG IN.

They built the sandbox I know. I get to play in it as long as I play by the rules, which is fine. However, not being taken for granted and shown the common courtesy of being communicated to of pending changes, and certainly those involving issues of banking and cash flow, would seem to be the least they could do.

Fortunately for me, I'm a small player whose livelihood isn't dependent on my eBay sales. I feel sorry for the guy who does and somehow, like myself, missed the memo.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Players Poised for a Post Season Uptick- Part 1

They say you can't script October but you can certainly predict which players might see some Hobby love with a memorable performance. Fresh teams in the post season is always good for The Hobby and with the Rangers and Reds joining the fray, their is plenty of players on both sides to speculate on. Here are a few to keep an eye on as well as their key rookie cards.

A quick note, due to the fiasco that has come as a result of the "Rookie Card Logo", there are often wide discrepancies in the years from the cards collectors refer to as a player's RC and the year the MLB says is their rookie card. For the purpose of this post I will be referring to the player's first recognized card and making a note, when applicable, of the year the player's RC logo card appears.

Joey Votto- Coming off a Triple Crown caliber season Votto has the rare gift of being able to hit for average and power. A few timely hits, a couple of majestic home runs and a good team showing could push his cards up 20-30% short-term and 10% long-term.

Key RC- 2002 Bowman Chrome #BDP44
Rookie Card Logo Year 2008
Notable Game Used Auto-2008 SP Authentic

Buster Posey- Collectors are already very high on Posey having made his pro debut earlier this season. A catcher many compare to the Twins Joe Mauer he hits for average and shows flashes of power which he is expected to grow into. With his cards already trading at a premium, collectors should expect a 25% to 50% spike in prices if Posey breaks out with a memorable post season run.

Key RC-2008 Bowman Chrome Draft BDPP128 Auto #'d/500
Rookie Card Logo Year 2010
Notable Game Used Auto- 2008 Elite Jersey Auto RC /100

This is Why I Don't Gamble

Well, I suppose every time I purchase a pack of sports cards I am gambling a little bit but that's besides the point. April 2nd of this year I offered my MLB predictions and boy did I screw this up. Let's take a look.

My 2010 MLB predictions are as follows.

AL East- Yankees
AL Central- White Sox
AL West- Angels
AL Wildcard- Red Sox

NL East- Phillies
NL Central- Cardinals
NL West- Rockies
NL Wildcard- Dodgers
World Series Match-up - Boston vs Phillies with Boston in 6

The only thing I got 100% correct was the Phillies winning the NL East. The Yankees made the post season but as the wild card.

I honestly didn't see the Braves giving it the run they did or the Rangers to skate in the AL West. My Chicago White Sox, on paper, looked like the team to beat but they never hit on all cylinders following the All-Star break.

What I really want at this point is to see something fresh for a World Series match-up. TV ratings and the suits at MLB be damned I am rooting for a small market and smaller market World Series in the Reds vs. the Rangers which is probably a pipe dream. While it's true that Bud and his cronies would much prefer to see the 1st and 4th largest markets in NY and Philly in a rematch, most of the rest of the country doesn't. So while there are certainly plenty of people in those respective metro markets, do they out weight the rest of the country? Perhaps.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Topps Platinum Under Review

Guest Review: Russ Cohen

Whenever there is a release that costs around $82.00 that’s enough of an investment that the collector is expecting some instant value and value down the road, this set offers the value down the road but I’m not sure about the instant value.

I managed to get 43 rookies cards, which means they are falling almost at a rate of two per pack. If you are looking to get a Sam Bradford or Golden Tate then you will, but it won’t have a lot of value on the secondary market.

Read the rest.

TWOT- This Week On Twitter 9/25 - 10/1

This week's highlights include:

- Topps News
1952 Mantle Redeemed from MCG
New Customer Service Procedures
Topps Chrome Incentive

- Movie News
Paranormal Activity 2
Star Wars 3D
The Hobbit

- And More

Check it out now!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Lingering Effects of Operation Bullpen Continue

The link below leads to a disheartening article that further reveals the staggering amount of fraudulent autographed memorabilia on the market and also provides insight into the depths that crooks will go to when dealing in supposedly "unopened" vintage wax packs.

Buyer beware. Read more.