Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look Back at 2011 and an Amusing and Sarcastic Look Ahead to 2012

Well collectors, another year has come and gone in The Hobby we all know and love, and per usual, not without its share of drama, intrigue, shenanigans, and surprises. Before looking ahead to 2012 let's run down a few of the events that garnered the attention of collectors in 2011.

Leaf Trading Cards acquires exclusive rights to Ichiro Suzuki
FBI indicts 6 dealers, including those contracted with MLB and NFL for fraud. They were accused of doctoring doctoring jerseys and selling them as game used. At least one trading card company was a victim, to date we don't know which one.

Sandy Koufax's inclusion in 2012 Topps products is a HUGE hit. Secondary market values respond accordingly and have not dropped despite numerous offerings.

Santa Claus attends his first National Sports Collector's Convention.

Check Out My Cards makes impressive gains in market share challenging eBay as the number one spot for collectors to sell cards.

Panini declares 2011 the year of the brick and mortar shop and puts their money where their mouth is with numerous in store promotions including NFL Player of the Day, NHL Player of the Day, Pepsi Rookie of the Week, and their tremendously successful Black Friday promotion.

Micro-manufactures continue to grow in their niche markets including ITG, Benchwarmer, Cryptozoic, Leaf, and Tristar.

All three companies finally have a grasp on social media and engage their customer base on multiple platforms on a daily basis. They even use the platform of Twitter to publicly take potshots at each other to the annoyance of may collectors.
Blowout cards and Upper Deck face off in legal action with Blowout claiming the recent changes to online distribution policies by UD amount to Anti-Trust Act violations.

Upper Deck sues itself. Upper Deck sues Upper deck International.

Topps sues Leaf for copyright violation.
Panini lands for UD talent in VP of Operations and Product Development creating UD South.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the recession, auction houses memory Lane Inc and Heritage have record years.

So what can we accept in 2012? Well it's really anybody's guess but here are somethings we might see, could see, or probably never see. Enjoy and please feel free to add your own in the comments. Happy New Year everyone!

With authenticity of game used items becoming a major issue,the result is that all game used cards developed here forward will be player acquired. Down side it's their underwear.

In an attempt to add innovation to hockey products, game used ice will be inserted into cards. Design flaw results in catastrophy

To once and for all clarify and finally eliminate any confusion caused by the "RC Logo Rule" in baseball, at birth, every child will have a rookie card created and it will officially serve as a prospect card for any future athletes. The cards will be called Baby Bowman and will replace 1st Bowman cards.

We see the inclusion of lesser used items- stadium plexiglass in hockey, endzone uprights, netting and pylons in football, broken backboard glass and netting in basketball. I honestly believe with the ambiguous language on card backs related to player cards could be partially alleviated by utilizing these types of inserts.

Pete Rose replaces Bob Feller as having the most over-saturated autograph market.

Upper Deck continues to attempt to maintain its viability by creating a line of memorabilia geared towards _______________ (please fill in the blank)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Panini Black Friday Packs!

A special thank you to Andrew over at Sports Card Info for the great giveaway!

I think I got hosed on the pack contents themselves so to all the other entrants, you didn't miss anything.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is There a Connection Between Jerseygate and Ambiguous Card Back Language

Over the last several years their has been a steady decline in the quality of the language used on memorabilia and relic cards attesting to their authenticity. Today, in the Chicago Tribune, further details were revealed in the ongoing "jerseygate" scandal* in which a memorabilia dealer, who has contracts with several NFL teams, knowingly doctored jerseys to make them appear game used and then selling them. The team approved contracts provided  an unwritten legitimacy to the dealer's unknowing customers, of which, at least one was a trading card manufacturer. The alleged conduct took place between 2004-2008. 

Take a minute to think about all the football cards in your collection from the beginning of that period to the present . . .  It's safe to say that their is a very good chance that even the cards that clearly state that ". . .the jersey material on the front of this card is certified to have been worn by player x in an official NFL game . . .", may be anything but. How does that make you feel? Me? It makes me angry.

While the proliferation of jersey cards has relegated them as just another insert in the mind of many collectors, I still value the ones in my collection which connects me closer to my favorite teams and players.

As of today, no trading card company has come forward to say that they were a victim of the scam.  While doing so might seem like a publicity nightmare, getting ahead of an issue that is sure to come to light at some point anyway (everything in this industry does) would seems worth considering.

What I find peculiar is the timing of the investigation and these alleged activities. It is during this time frame that full disclosure slowly went down hill regarding memorabilia card backs. It also coincided with certain companies losing league licenses. Now I have no proof, and I am not even speculating that these events are anything more than a coincidence,  but it certainly is worthy of some thought.

* (For a list of the dealers involved in the scandal, please see the previous post.)

Further Details Revealed and Names Named in Jerseygate

The investigation, indictments, and forth coming trial for two of the dealers accused of allegedly doctoring jerseys and selling them as game used continues to draw nation media attention. Unfortunately, none of it is good.
Here are some quotes from a recent Chicago Tribune article about OUR hobby that make me cringe, because so much of it is true:

"Now teams look at us as an industry and say this is a scuzzy industry," said Troy Kinunen, who in 2005 founded the prominent authentication firm MEARS Online Auctions. "And the collectors who continue to perpetuate this, to continue support people involved in this kind of stuff, they're not helping themselves."

". . .experts and collectors routinely cite how the industry is littered with hucksters and scam artists. There is no single regulatory entity with oversight. Third-party authenticators often serve as dealers as well, a potential conflict of interest."

"According to court records, Oldridge admitted that from 2004 to 2008, he and others doctored jerseys and then sold them to other companies, including trading card businesses. Five others were charged as part of a five-year federal sting. "

" . . .collectors and experts said it's essential to be knowledgeable on authentication — a complicated process where there is little agreement on what constitutes best practice."

"Photo-matching can be faked. It's a very amateurish way of authenticating," he said. "It's almost impossible to tell on a modern jersey if it's game-worn."

"There's a lot of bad anecdotal information that people have just accepted as fact."

"But collector Rick Moore of Florida, who said he has bought regularly from JO Sports since 2008, wasn't scared off by the federal case. "It makes no difference to me now," Moore said. "When you were a kid, did you ever steal money off your parents' end table to buy candy or cigarettes? Sure you did. All of us did." (Seriously, I think it's a little bit of a bigger issue than that you stupid buffoon)

"Peter Nash, a collector, blogger and author who has helped expose counterfeit items, said investing in memorabilia is always a risk for casual fans who don't do enough research. "It's a total minefield," Nash said. "You're going to get burned left and right."
Here are the accused dealers, some of which have already reached plea deals. Needless to say, steer clear.
Two men are charged by indictment with mail fraud:

ERIC INSELBERG, a resident of New Jersey, involved in the business operations of Taylor Huff, Inc. and Pasadena Trading Corp, from late 2001 through late 2009, in two counts of mail fraud. BRADLEY WELLS, a resident of Florida, involved in the business of Authentic Sports, Inc., and

Historic Auctions, LLC, both Florida businesses, from late 2005 through the middle of 2009, in two counts of mail fraud.

Four men are charged by information with mail fraud: 
BERNARD GERNAY, a resident of New Jersey, involved in the business operations of Pro Sports Investments, Inc., a New Jersey business;

BRADLEY HORNE, a South Carolina resident, involved in the business operations of Authentic

Sports Memorabilia, Inc., a South Carolina business; JARROD OLDRIDGE, a resident of Nevada, involved in business operations of JO Sports, Inc., a Nevada business; and,

MITCHELL SCHUMACHER, a resident of Wisconsin, using the trade name MS Sports.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Can Get Some .. Stratusfaction!

They got her intro perfect. Finishing move is killer. Could have done better on the face but overall really good likeness in mannerisms and movement.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Forget "Game Changing" It's Time for a Complete Overhaul

All Topps apologists should probably just skip to their next item in Google Reader as you won't like want I have to say. On second thought, maybe you should stay and hear it anyway. 

The fact of the matter is that I am no longer and never was  the Voice of the Collector. Reason being is that I am apparently in the minority on a number of issues and always have been. That's OK, I still believe that certain issues need to be addressed and this is one of them.

Topps flagship baseball is good for one thing and one thing only. Lining the pockets of their corporate executives and board of directors with cold hard cash. YOUR hard earned cash. 

When was the last time that a hot prospect or star RC card from any series of that product was worth more than the cost of the ink and card stock used to print it? 12 Years is the answer. With the insane phenomenon that was Pujols and Ichiro and they weren't even in the base product if I remember but actually Chrome so that doesn't even count. Next. The real answer is probably some 30 years ago when dealers sold rookie cards by the brick. Seriously though,  the Mike Trouts, Stephen Strasburgs, and Bryce Harpers, etc. of recent years, a few bucks at their peak, at the most, if that. You might argue that it has more to do with collectors wanting a more premium or autographed rookie card and thus kicking in supply and demand principles of Econ 101. I don't think so.

It has been several weeks since Upper Deck Series One Hockey released and last night I sold a base rookie card, of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for $91. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? $91!!!! No serial numbering, no memorabilia, no autograph, just a short-printed rookie card (inserted 1:4 packs).

This is not an anomaly based on the player, this year's particular release or any other flash-in-the-pan, one and done criteria, this is simply a winning formula that puts the best interests of the collector first.

Game changing?!? Really Topps, NOTHING, I have seen released about the 2012 product can remotely be described as "game-changing". But you know what would be? That's right, a complete and total remake of the flagship product from the ground up. I know set-builders will deride the notion of short-printing rookie cards and I have a solution for them that would come at the end of the year allowing the rest of us to actually earn some sort of return for the money spent on the base series attempting to complete it throughout the year.

I am thinking a combination of O-Pee-Chee meets Upper Deck Hockey. Go back to claystock, include gum for the kids, increase the actual size of the base set to 810 cards. 25 players from the 30 clubs plus 2 rookies per team. Short print the rookies. Forget the parallels. Limit the non-auto inserts to 90 cards total. A 900-card product that would fit into a 100-page, 9-up sheet binder. Instead of memorabilia cards, randomly insert a redemption card for a collector binder similar to the ones you charge for now. You save the cost of the memorabilia cards which no one cares about anyway and you encourage and throw a bone to your long shunned set collectors so just do it.

An Update set should still be produced. Limited to expaneded 40-man roster players, traded players, post-season highlights, award winners, and a rookie variation of all 60 previously released RC's. This product should release on Black Friday. This will allow plenty of time to turn around September call-ups and post season highlight and award winners. 

To add further importance to this set, get rid of regular Bowman, and Topps Chrome. Ahhhhhh!!! He's insane! Kill him!! What did he just say? You heard me. It's redundant. They both are. Prospectors and rookie collectors value Bowman Chrome over the regular version and set collectors value the regular over the Chrome version. Problem solved. Mission accomplished.

Seeing that simple, plain, no frills hockey card go for top dollar, thrilled me and then started my blood boiling at the thought of what Topps baseball could be and what it has sadly become. As the sole licensee of the league they have disappointed. Their releases have rested on their past laurels, have delivered little creativity or imagination and come off as simply a money grab.* 

"Buy it you stupid collecting suckers."  . . . and we do, with no expectation of anything better. 

I'm done. 

Fix it. 


(With the exception of Marquee, I was pretty happy with that product overall)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Friday Booty

When was the last time you spent $11.97 on this hobby and came away with 3 autographs, 1 rookie, and 3 serial numbered inserts? For me the answer was today after receiving one of three orders I placed during Blowout Cards overwhelmingly successful Black Friday promotion. They had some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G deals but I played it pretty conservative all-in-all. I had no problems with any of my orders unlike some people. I could be wrong but I think the trick is to use your cell phone. I think the mobile platform might reside on a different server thus getting less traffic and causing no hiccups or glitches. Anyway, I bought (3) blister packs of Upper Deck's 2006-07 Be A Player Hockey. Each blister had 2 packs and included one auto per. Here is a look at what I found.

For twelve bucks, how can you beat that?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming . . .

 . . . to bring you a series of musings, mayhem, and other random thoughts.

Stickers should NEVER, ever be graded.

When you call a product Gridiron Legends and the checklist contains more rookies than, you know, actual legends, that is called bait and switch and the equivalent of giving collectors the middle finger.

The current 900lb gorilla in the room is the fact that at least one trading card company purchased bogus game used jerseys as the result of an investigation and subsequent indictments of several memorabilia dealers. Have any of them "manned-up"? Of course not.

When In The Game, whose owner once swore he would never use stickers for autographs, now routinely uses them in almost EVERY product, has hell officially frozen over?

SA-GE may use sticker autographs but their last product had them inserted at the rate of 40 per box, 5 per pack with a value equation of $10 per auto. Take the price of any other product and divide by the number of "hits" and what do you get? Here I'll save you the trouble. The answer is . . . not even close.

The RC logo needs to go. It's confusing to novice and casual collectors and is meaningless, especially if MLBP is going to allow Topps to produce brands like the Bowman of family products.

The XFractor has jumped the shark. So have the rainbow of parallels.

A trademark application was filed for a product called Bowman Black. Really!?!? Another one. Seriously?!

Topps announced that it has dumped more money in another worthless virtual world called, fittingly enough, Topps World, a global alternate to the domestic Topps Town. Here's a clue, how about taking that money and beefing up your autograph checklists!?! Here's a quarter, buy a clue.

Just once, once, this year, I would like to open a product and pull an autograph of a veteran. I am unproven rookied out.

Only in an industry like trading cards are inaccurate sell sheets and redemptions not only tolerated, but accepted as standard operating procedure. If you can't secure a player's autographs DO NOT PUT HIM ON THE SELL SHEET OR THE PRODUCT. Can you imagine the outcry that would occur if all the gamers lining up tonight for COD MW3 opened there new game to find a slip of paper that said, "Congratulations! You have received a redemption for COD MW3. Our programmers are putting the finishing touches on the product and we'll mail it to you when we damn well feel like it, if at all. If that occurs we'll send you a game of equal replacement value."

PSA/DNA recently upgraded their LOA's. I wonder what prompted that? As part of a publicly traded company it seems odd that out of "the best interest of collectors" that they would increase their costs, therefore decreasing their profits without there having been a specific reason. Speculate amongst yourselves.

Since Upper Deck is so busy with lawsuits that they are even suing themselves, can we, as collectors, assemble a class action lawsuit and sue Richard McWilliams for screwing up his company? Punitive damages being he has to sell the company.

Small, micro manufacturers and independent minded entrepreneurs like Brian Gray (Leaf), Brian Wallos (Benchwarmer), Tom Giedeman (SA-GE), Lance Fischer (Onyx Authenticated) and Brian Price (ITG) have more passion for the hobby and their companies than all the other major manufacturers put together. When you talk to them you get the straight scoop even when the truth hurts instead of the company line.

While social media channels like Twitter have proven to be an excellent vehicle for manufactures to disseminate information, the petty name calling and jabs really need to stop. It's undignified and unprofessional.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. This has been a random rant by the Voice of the Collector.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greater Accountability/Oversight Needed in Sports Card Industry

It was with great dismay that I read the lead story at Sports Collector's Daily today. Titled, "FBI: Six Memorabilia Dealers Charged With Fraud Involving Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars". Another in a seemingly never-ending parade of news stories that delivered yet another black-eye to this hobby we love. Coming just a few short months removed from The National, an event that saw one of its very dealers arrested, and escorted off the show floor in handcuffs, six more dealers have been charged with selling bogus memorabilia as game used.

While this is troubling in and of itself, what was really bother- some about this particular story was that at least one of the victims in this fraud was an un-named trading card company. The result of this means that we might ALL be potential victims.

It's time for the licensing authorities of the major sports to mandate that all material to be used in the manufactuing and marketing cards of memorabilia and relic cards that will be categorized as "game-used" be purchased directly from the team, league or athlete ONLY and with strict guidelines on acceptable provenance.

The proliferation of relic and memorabilia cards, as we all know, has relegated them to common inserts, often times not even worth the paper they are printed on. However, there are still plenty of these cards that are in demand, carry a premium and have worth on the secondary market. The ambigious and at times, confusing language utilized on the backs of these cards carry no claim of responsibility or authenticity.

The fact that at least one trading card company has been fleeced by these crooks, means quite simply, that it is high time that someone step in and stop this insanity. The industry cannot police itself and it certainly isn't the government's responsibility. The weight of this issue lies directly at the feet of the leagues and player associations making millions in royalties and fees.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Now THIS is a Collection

The Other Side of the Mic

As a weekly radio show host for Cardboard Connection Radio, I've conducted my fair share of interviews.  This week my role was reversed as I gave an interview for WorthPoint's series of collector spotlights. Here is a link to the piece.

Monday, October 17, 2011

RIP Dan Wheldon and Death Profiteering

It was with great sadness as I watched the IZOD IndyCar race live from Las Vegas, NV yesterday to hear of Dan Wheldon's passing from injuries he sustained in the worst race crash I have ever seen. If you have not seen the video, it is truly chilling. As fans, we easily forget just how dangerous this sport can be.

As a lifelong race fan of multiple race series, Formula 1 and IndyCar in particular, Indy racing has always held a special place in my heart. Growing up with a Grandma who lived in Indianapolis, I have been to the International Motor Speedway on several occasions. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Dan Wheldon who is survived by a wife and two beautiful children, ages 7 months and 2 years. Their lives will never be the same. The racing community is a tight knit group of people and they are all suffering today. Two other drivers remain hospitalized, Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand.

Now, a subject I have discussed at length in the past, with much loathing, but for whatever reason, this reaches an all new low. Of the 583 Dan Wheldon items listed on eBay, over 520 of them have been listed since his death was announced. WHAT THE F@*& IS WRONG WITH YOU SICK PEOPLE!?!!? Is the need for some quick cash so great that you just wait for these opportunities to happen!?!?! Seriously! YOU ARE SICK AND DEMENTED!!! I own his rookie card and an autograph and the last thing I felt compelled to do was to rush to the keyboard and list them on eBay. I deplore the everyone of you, you sick bastards.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Great Moments in Bench Clearing History

With the surprise announcement last week that the Chicago White Sox had hired former 3rd baseman, Robin Ventura, and coupled with the constant camera shots of Nolan Ryan during the AL playoffs, I couldn't help but be reminded of this classic.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fun With Video and Baseball Cards

You may have already seen this on Freedom Cardboard, here is the link to the thread. But if not, this is good stuff. I guess he has other videos on his YouTube channel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Marshall Fogel Collection

You may have seen this already but if you haven't, you have to see this guy's collection. Talk about impressive. "Is it still a hobby?" he is asked by CNBC's Darren Rovell. (Smiles) "Probably not at this point." Referring to the fact that the collection has turned into a real life retirement plan. Watch.

Signed Football

Autographs on Demand

Autographs For Sale

I'm Starting a Sports Memorabilia Company

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Auction Kings Proves Bidders Overpay

I just finished watching this week's episode of Auction Kings on Discovery. This week featured a lot of baseball cards that included, amongst others, a '56 Mantle and a Satchel Paige RC. The clip below provides the experts appraisal. The results reiterated my experience at a live auction a few weeks ago where attending bidders overpaid and gave me further reason to believe that live auctions may maximize a collections value far greater than selling online. The gavel dropped on the lot for more than 3x the high range of the appraisal.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tommy Dreamer and My Indy Wrestling Experience

No longer living in the Chicago suburbs and being within a 45-60 minute drive of every major sports and entertainment venue you could ask for, I've spent some time this summer exploring smaller, regional venues. My new hometown in NE Ohio is the base of operations to MCW, an independent wrestling circuit. With a rabidly passionate fan base and a storied history of over ten years, MCW has had major wrestling personalities like Mick Foley, Jimmy Hart and most recently Tommy Dreamer, make appearances, to name a few.

Never having attended an indy wrestling event before, I really didn't know what to expect. Housed in the vacant storefront of a strip-mall, complete with blacked out windows, I was greeted by a friendly girl selling admission at the door. Upon entering the venue, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the crowd which I estimated to be close to 200 people. Quite remarkable for a town of 25,000, most of which were packed into the local university's football arena. Mount Union College is a 10x, NCAA Division III football champion, who at one time, and still might, holds the NCAA record for consecutive wins with 73.

As the ring announcer and MC entered the ring, the place went nuts. I was actually a little startled. It was obvious that I was in the midst of long time fans and attenders. I won't provide a detailed match by match report but I will tell you that the level of competition and passion displayed by the wrestlers themselves was spirited and genuine. You could definitely tell who had potential for a larger spotlight as there were clearly a couple of guys that had  the whole package; size, charisma, mic and promo, ring presence and athleticism.

As intermission started, former ECW, TNA, and WWE SuperStar, Tommy Dreamer took center ring, signing autographs and taking photos. $5 got me this sweet autographed Polaroid photo. He was friendly and gracious and truly enjoyed talking to his fans.

His match with a young MCW local Turk kicked of the second half of the show and didn't disappoint. Tommy got old school violent, at one point jumping out of the ring and running to the MC's table to grab the bell and hammer, which he subsequently laid in his incapacitated opponents crotch and then proceeded to smash with a wrench. A match that lasted, a good 15 minutes, saw Tommy the victor (was there ever a doubt?). The card ended with the bloodiest ladders and chairs tag-team match I have ever seen.  One of the best things about the night was the announcement of an after party at the local Mexican cantina where fans got to hang out with the wrestlers, including the night's main draw, Tommy Dreamer. A crazy fun night, I'm sure I'll go back sometime.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Shame of College Sports

The title of this post is the title of the feature article in the new issue of The Atlantic magazine. The subject of college players and the complicity of coach involvement and/or knowledge in areas regarding ill gotten gains as an amateur athlete is a ever recurring theme making front page news. Often times, it seems, traditional sports media outlets that have attempted to shine a light on this issue do so only out of lip service with no real sense to motivate change within the system. That is why the expose featured in The Atlantic struck me because it is really done from a true outsiders perspective with nothing to lose in the way of access, priority coverage, inside scoops, etc. I don't agree with every point the author makes, but I do know that schools make HUGE sums money on the names of student athletes, even when there collegiate careers have long concluded. Is it fair? You decide. Watch the video below, read the article, and then share your thoughts. It certainly is an interesting topic.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tristar- A Customer Service Report and a Question

A few weeks ago I purchased a box of Tristar's new 2011 Obak Baseball. I was disappointed that 50% of my hits were of the same player, Cole White. An interesting story, Cole White is a graduate of West Point, did a 2-year tour of service and returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the club he was drafted with in 2008. Now the cards were each serial numbered to different numbers, one to 50 and one to 75, but as you know, that doesn't make it a different card, and if you try to argue that, you are just wrong, but that is a topic for another day.

I contacted customer service via email and about a week later got a reply asking for proof of purchase and was told that they would then replace the duplicate auto with another randomly chosen autograph. Great! I forwarded a copy of my invoice (the product was purchased online) but then received and email asking that I first provide an image of the two cards side by side. Fine. No problem. Done. But then I get an email saying to mail one of them back. At that point I went, politely, ballistic. What!?!?!? Are you kidding me!?!?!? I have already wasted enough time on dealing with an issue that wasn't of my doing. All I did was buy your stupid product. No in a bush league move instead of just comping me another auto to make me feel that I at least got some value for my $100, you want me to send you the card!?!?!? Bush league bullsh*t is what that is.

Now, I obviously didn't say it in those words, with that tone but you get my drift. Well, anyway I got a reply saying that the customer service rep I was dealing with would talk to their manager and get back to me Monday. (This was a Friday). Well, I was happy to get a reply back saying that I would be receiving replacement autos in the mail. The plural of auto made me curious. As I felt one autograph would be fine. Instead today I received two autographs. A replacement for the Obak dupe, this one of Ron Blomberg numbered to 4/50 and the other from 2010 Pursuit of Matt Hobgood numbered 80/80. So all's well that ends well.

Now a question. Why weren't these cards included in the pack out. They are both on the checklists at those numberings. Does the company keep a handful of boxes and these were pulled from those boxes? Were they reprinted and the numbering added randomly? Did they go buy a box back and pull them from there. Remember all Tristar boxes are numbered as part of the overall security of their print run.

Any thoughts?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Waiting is Almost Over

One of the products I have anxiously been waiting the release of is Cult Stuff's WWII Military Propaganda Posters set. The poster medium of the WWII era were incredible works of art in their own right and served important functions in military recruitment, workforce motivation, conservation and more. The numerous pieces available to a trading card manufacturer and their easy reducibility make them a perfect subject for a trading card set. Instead of using full bleed, I like the way Cult Stuff placed the posters against a brick wall background. The images below are from their promo set limited to 500. The release date for the boxed set is mid to late fall.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is Target the new "Hobby" Shop?

I can already hear the collective gasp from the collecting universe. However, let me explain. This thought started when I posted a picture to Twitter last week of a recently closed hobby shop in my area and someone replied that whenever Chris Olds (famous for his Ripping Retail posts) or other collectors buy product from Target the sound you then hear is another LCS (local card shop) closing its doors for good. While to some degree I understand the sentiment, it's not quite that simple.

Read the rest.

In Honor of the US Open . . .

 You're welcome :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

When the Gavel Drops . . . You Bought It!

Actually they didn’t even use a gavel. One of the Midwest’s largest auction companies, Kiko Auctions runs several live estate auctions every month. I recently attended one at the Champion Event Center in North Canton, Ohio that featured an assortment of trading cards, including several vintage lots. Being my first time as a participant, complete with assigned paddle number, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Masturbation and Baseball Cards

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Takeaways From the National

Scott Prusha of Panini America

The 32nd National Sports Collectors Convention closed today after a fun, productive and successful week. Cardboard Connection Radio broadcast a total of 9 shows LIVE from the event floor and between shows I spent my time shooting pictures, handing out free cards with flyers and networking with industry professionals. Much like any trade show, its a lot of work but because I love what I do and do what I love, its well worth the time, energy and expense. 

The crowning achievement for our crew was the Santa Claus autograph signing. Making his first EVER appearance at a National and his only appearance until the holiday season, over 250 people had the chance to meet Santa, have their picture taken and receive a 5x7 autographed picture all for FREE. The looks on some of the kids faces when they saw Santa was absolutely priceless. The event coincided with Free Kids Day and it was great to see so many young children at the show. 

While I purchased almost everything on my want list the highlight of the show for me was getting to meet so many of the collectors I interact with online everyday. The National is also a great time to see old friends and the Freedom Cardboard Meet-and-Greet event proved to be a great venue to hang out with friends old and new. Here is the list of people I met for the first time.

David @LongFlyBall
John @Waxtopia
Chris @Project1962
Chris @sruchris
Sal @PuckJunk
Eric @ThosBackPages
Joe @HobbyKings
Wes @WesYee 
Adam @SCUncensored
Andrew @tolentinotweets

Other people I saw from meeting them last year:

Chris @Stalegum
Marie @baseballzoch
Sooz @yanxchick
Chris @FCBsportscards

My overall impressions and random thoughts of the show:

Traffic was significantly higher than the last National in Chicago. 

There were a lot of kids. Not just on today (FREE Day) but throughout the show. If this is a result of aggressive marketing to young collectors is anyone's guess but it was good to see regardless.

Dealers need to be incentivized to not pack up at 3:30. I understand why they do but it sends a bad message to show attendees many of who get there after 12pm because of church.

I applaud Panini for being the only manufacturer to not start packing early and to continue with their wrapper redemption program right to the very end of the show.

The TNA Signature Impact Championship Package, was the greatest value of the whole show. If purchased through Blow Out Cards, only cost $75. With that you received a box of the new TNA Signature Impact product, which will yield 3 autos, 1 memorabilia card, and 1 parallel, as well as tickets for a photo op and autograph from; Kurt Angle, Mr Anderson, Tara, and Ric Flair. In addition you received a bonus autographed card. However, they need to do a much better job of organizing the event. It was confusing and frustrating.

Single color jersey swatches have "officially" become just another insert. The number of dealers that I saw selling those types of cards for $1 and $2 proves that point. As a result, manufacturers need to rethink the "value" equation of their products and realize that collectors simply don't want them in anything other than low-end, entry level products.

Collectors of sports cards regularly use deodorant in greater numbers than those that collect comic books. Not to paint with a broad brush but having attended both the National and Comic-Con within a few short months of each other provides irrefutable fact.

There is still a TON of bogus autograph material on the market.

Onyx Authenticated is a newer company to pay attention to as they have a great product and solid authentication.

Leaf Trading Cards' Shoeless Joe Jackson Cut Signature promotion was one of the greatest start to finish marketing efforts I have seen put behind a singular trading card product.

Blow Out Cards is the best dealer on the planet. Dave and Adams runs second but Blow Out's massive raffle on Saturday had HUNDREDS of people gathered around their space and they gave a boatload of free product away.

If you want to "invest" in sports cards, buy vintage in the highest grade you can. The prices realized for some cards from the 50's and 60's never ceases to amaze me.
Topps Lineage is awful. What should have been something between Fan Favorites and Archives with the added bonus of every technology used to date in their storied history included as inserts was instead a bastardized version of base Topps at a much higher price point.

USA Olympian Mark Wells from the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, is a gracious and humble man, proud to have represented his country.

Grading costs a ridiculous amount of money.

Sports Collectors Digest is a shell of its former self who will not survive for much longer.
The Topps Vault Auction during the VIP Kick-Off was crazy. The color transparency used for Nolan Ryan's 1968 rookie card sold for $3,500 and the uncut sheet of 1977 Topps housing the Reggie Jackson card in his Baltimore uniform went for a whopping $10K.

The addition of the Olympic Pavilion to the National brought in a decent number of people who might not have been there otherwise.

Collectors from all over the country really do come to THE NATIONAL. I met people from Texas, Oklahoma, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado and Arizona to name a few.

People still like commons, base cards and parallels. In addition to the hundreds of game used and memorabilia cards we gave away at the booth we went through THOUSANDS of base card set out on a table allowing people to help themselves. Despite this, I was still a little dumb-founded by the number of people who refused a free stack of cards.

It doesn't matter how old you are, people still love Santa Claus

The guys at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting who were also broadcasting but with a straight sports-talk show, learned a few things from us on how to successfully market a LIVE, on location broadcast.

There are distinct generational divides amongst trading card collectors and it is difficult to connect with each one of them. I think it can be broken down by collecting type, ie vintage collectors tend to be middle age to older and don't care a hoot about anything the companies manufacture today.

It takes all kinds. The owner of Vintage Authentics was arrested, escorted out of the convention center in cuffs and charged with Mail and Wire Fraud for selling bogus game used jerseys.

Most of all, I was reminded of what great friends I have in Doug Cataldo and Russ Cohen, my longtime partners at the former

You can see a complete gallery of photos here and listen to all of the radio shows (scroll down to the On-Demand section) here and watch videos (many still to upload and edit) here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are Any of Your Signed Items REAL?!?!?

As you head to the National, remember, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fleer Greats of the Game- An All-time Favorite

As readers of this blog of the years know, my love for retired only player products holds no bounds. These overpaid primadonna of the game today bore me to tears showing up in one product after another. I like learning about and reminiscing about the players from the Golden and Dead Ball era and believe the rarity of their relic make their cards truly more valuable than secondary market prices currently indicate. Even the teams of my youth in the 70's and early 80's are the ones I think of when I hear the word baseball.

I am thinning out my personal collection as I continually define and refine what it is that I collect and came across several great cards from Fleer Greats, Donruss Greats and one of the first issues of Allen & Ginter. Up for auction via my eBay seller id: bargainbinsportscards and the widget below are what I found.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Only Constant is Change

To say that I have been busy the last 2 months is an understatement. Finally however, the move is over, everything is unpacked, all the rooms are decorated and organized even the garage and shed. Shed is an understatement as it is half shed half workshop which is pretty cool. The last thing I need to do is get the tools hung up on the pegboard. My family even managed to fit in a vacation we had planned since last year before an out of state move even entered the picture.

So as I settle into the new routine VOTC is at a crossroads as my sporadic posts over the last few months might have indicated. You may or may not be aware that the site I oversaw content development for over the last several years, Card Corner Club has been acquired by Cardboard Connection and I have joined their team as a staff writer. I am still the weekly co-host of the radio show, although re-branded, as Cardboard Connection Radio and will be putting further time into that venture regarding advertising sales and sponsorships. In addition, I will be aggressively ramping up my eBay sales as I have new vintage consignments and a massive ongoing consignment.

When I started the blog, my intent was to inform, educate and entertain collectors while at the same time, maybe, just maybe opening the eyes of those willing to see past the propaganda spewed by the self proclaimed #1 Authority. Over the years I have come to realize that while I still have questions and concerns about some of their ethics, (grading cards, price guides, loaded boxes) the company is separate from the people that work there and life is too short for any ongoing animosity. In the end I realized that there was just a single individual whose inability to separate themselves from their job that I had a dislike for, but hey I know some people don't like my online persona either.

As more legitimate news sites like Cardboard Connection continue to take center stage in the hobby media marketplace it seems there is less of a need for blogs to attempt to carry that load. Maybe even more importantly is the emergence of user generated content in the form of message boards and forums to quickly deliver timely hobby news and product information.

So what does this mean for the future of this blog and the VOTC persona? Honestly, I'm not really sure. It will be a work in progress. One of my thoughts was to replicate a daily feature we used at Card Corner Club called, The Card Corner Report. This was simply a means of aggregating all of the days sports collectibles news in a single location. I posted a version here on 6/27 but the lack of comments led me to believe that the interest level might not be there. Although I could be wrong. Is that something you would like to see? A daily summary of sports collectibles and trading card information? Sound off either way and stay tuned as the VOTC finds a new focus, direction, ceases all together, or something. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today in Sports Collectibles 6-27-2011

The Best There Is, The Best There Was and The Best There Will Ever Be!
Brett "The Hitman" Hart still draws a crowd.
Check it out.

Auction News
Imperial Sports Auctions, a vintage sports memorabilia auction house specializing in rare baseball memorabilia, offers its Vintage Rarities IV auction ending July 14th. Highlights include Babe Ruth Signed Photo, Thurman Munson & Walter Johnson Autographed Baseballs, Ted Williams Signed 1937 Padres Baseball As 18yr Old.
Complete details.

Super Bowl II Player's Ring to be Auctioned for Payment of Back Taxes
Fuzzy Thurston, 77, played for the Packers from 1959 to 1967. U.S. Marshals have seized his Super Bowl II ring, and authorities are trying to track down his other Super Bowl ring along with other sports jewelry and memorabilia.
Read more.

2011 NHL Draft Exclusive Hockey Cards, Collectibles and Giveaways Gallery
Cardboard Connection Radio's very own Doug Cataldo and Russ Cohen were broadcasting live from the 2011 NHL entry draft and returned with a great gallery of images and several videos including an interview with former Blackhawk and current Winnipeg Jet, Dustin Byfuglien.
Gallery. Videos.

How To Make a Custom Booklet Case with Ikea-Style Instructions
Ever wonder how to safely display your sick mojo hit from that new box of Topps Triple Threads?
Here's one answer.

Canada's New Sports Hall of Fame
Offers an intimate, insightful and interactive experience.
Check it out.

98-99 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Sells for $8,438.61

The forums react.

Newest Line of NBA Sportspicks Headlined by Steve Nash
Watch a behind the scenes interview with Todd mcFarlane.

Hobby Turns Into Business Venture
A Hobbyist openes a new store. While at least a dozen area sports cards shops have come and gone in his area this decade, the owner syas there is still a niche and still a need.
Have you had a similar dream? Think you could do it?

I'm Baaack!!

This is officially the longest I have gone without posting a blog since starting VOTC 3 years ago. Over the last 6 weeks I have prepped a MAJOR move out of state which included single handlily packing the entire house, loading a storage unit, prepping the existing house to be listed on the market, making two trips to the new house in Ohio relocating my collection, prepping the new house and finally overseeing the loading and unloading by our movers. Next came the unpacking and re-setting up of the new house. To say that I have had little free time is an understatement. I did my best to continue to generate content for Card Corner Club, host the weekly Card Corner Club Radio show AND aided in the negotiations of our recent merger and acquisition by The Cardboard Connection.

One of the first things that I was tasked with by our realtor was diassembling my mancave and putting its contents into storage to eliminate the risk of unscrupulous buyers pullling a 5-finger discount. This included a temporary stay in a climate controlled storage facility. Feeling like a fish out of water, in my own office, for the better part of 2-months was getting old but I am happy to see all is well with my collecting universe again as the pictures of the reassembled mancave below can attest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Event Used- Why Bother? Seriously

In case you missed it last week, highly touted New Orleans Saints draft pick, Mark Ingram, tweeted this nugget and accompanying photo from the Topps table at the NFL Rookie Premiere: "Haha I'm at the #rookiepremiere and I have on like 17 saint jerseys LMBO!"

Add ImageYeah, real f@%#ing funny. I REALLY hope he was exaggerating by like 16 but unfortunately I doubt that's the case. Even if it's only 8 or 6 or 4 it's way too many. I mean technically doesn't the material need to come in contact with the athlete themselves to be considered event used anyway? Apparently not.

Did you know that one jersey is enough material to make 20,000 memorabilia cards with a 1"x1" swatch? (I have it on good authority from another mfg)

I have long though that a rookie's second most valuable
card to their first base RC auto should be their first game used memorabilia cards issued their sophomore season because at that point the manufacturers will have had time to acquire legitimate rookie year used material. However, this recent stunt obviously isn't an isolated incident but sadly standard operating procedure and makes you wonder if any non-veteran relic card is EVER game used? WTF are they going to do with 340,000 jersey swatches? Sadly we know the answer and I better NEVER, EVER, EVER pull an Ingram card that says "Game Used" on the back.

20,000 memorabilia cards?!?!?! Shouldn't th
at be enough for an entire year's worth of product?!?!?! So what are the other "16" jerseys for?!?!?

Memorabilia/relic cards still have their place in The Hobby, but this is NOT it. This is exactly why the majority of these cards can't be sold for $.99c and are literally worthless.

I mean really, why bother? The thought t
hat somebody told him he had to put on all those jerseys so they could be officially called "Event Worn" is pathetic and no wonder Ingram started his Tweet off with a laugh . . . at us the collector, probably.

Wouldn't it be less embarrassing fo
r everyone to just put the jerseys on a table and have the athlete lay a hand on them and breath on them ,thus anointing them as "Event Used"? Or wait, why not just leave them in a big box, bring it to the event, leave them in the box and set a lamp on the box and then you could still call them "Event Used"

I'm sure Topps wasn't too happy with Mark In
gram but as a collector, I am disgusted by this practice and I am tired of constantly feeling that the manufacturers are always trying to "get one by us".

The last time I checked, jerseys weren't supposed to be the length of an evening gown either.