Friday, September 16, 2011

2011 EA Madden 12 Hall of Fame Edition

I have a bit of an odd relationship with Madden (the videogame; I don't know the man personally).  Much like the El Niño weather pattern, my playing time with a particular version of the game flows and ebbs every couple of years or so.  I last dabbled with Madden using the 08 Edition (Favre Cover) on the 360, and last played it with any real amount of time, using the 07 edition (Shaun Alexander cover) on the PS2.  I thought the 08 version was pretty weak, so it turned me off for a good long while.

So, upon hearing the news that Madden 12 (Kelly Peyton McGillis Hillis cover) has "a new collision system", I put on my special faith underwear and headed on over to GameStop, hoping that "new" equals "better". When I arrived at the store, I noticed that EA had released two versions for the PS3 and the Xbox 360--a standard edition, and a Extra Money from Your Wallet Hall of Fame Edition.

EA, in the past, have released a Special Edition (05 - Ray Lewis cover), a Limited Collector's Edition (08 - Dos Equis cover) and a previous Hall of Fame Edition (07 - John Madden cover).  However, there seemed to be an interesting difference with this most recent HOF version, other than the $30 price difference at retail.

Guaranteed to be included in the package is a autographed Panini football card of the HOF Edition's cover boy, Marshall Faulk.  I had never purchased a "premium" version of Madden before, so I figured, why not?  I'm interested to give this version of the game a try, and I get some extra DLC; plus I get to treat the game box like a guaranteed Faulk-jo auto hit card pack!

The back of the box goes on to describe that there are four different designs of cards that have been randomly inserted into Madden.

Much like a turducken.
Out of what would ostensibly be a four card set, there's a Panini art style white card that somewhat matches game box art, there's a photo card of Faulk while he was with the Colts, a photo card of when he was with the Rams, and what appears to be a sketch-type card variation of the Rams card.

Since scans of the cover don't look so hot, I thought it might be appropriate to show a photo of the game case / unintentional card pack:

Not too shabby.  It became time to crack this this case. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that not only is the game case wrapped in its usual plastic, but on either end of the slip cover, the game case is taped to the slip cover oh-so-subtly.  Observe:

Interesting that EA would want to prevent casual (or even concerted?) efforts to take off the slipcase.

So after removal of the first layer, we have a normal game box, but missing Ms. Hillis, and featuring Mr. Faulk:

It's actually nice to see that the insert on the back of the game case is different from the rear side of the slip case.  Apparently not everyone (EA) recycles an image from everything else they've done previously (Panini).

Upon opening the case, I finally discover my prize (besides a game disc, a DLC code sheet, and a legal disclaimer sheet); I received one of the "common" auto Marshall Faulk cards (#1 of 4).

It's also nice to see that the card is hard-signed.  I was impressed with that, actually. I started thinking about it: EA usually sells 2 million-ish copies of Madden annually. Even accounting for some smaller fraction of that to be the HOF Edition, that still had to be a serious boatload of cards.

So, I did some searching, and it appears that there are 125,000 or 150,000 of these HOF Editions of Madden.  However, there's no particular way of knowing if the split is 50/50 between PS3 and 360 versions of the edition.  Upon checking Marshall Faulk's Twitter feed, he made a couple of posts in late August that are pretty funny:

Wow.  Really, wow. Even in the deepest Days of Junk Wax, most of the biggest autograph quantities were on the order of 10,000; not at least 12 times that.

Now, taking a quick look around eBay, there are plenty of Box Art cards (like mine) and Rams photo cards available for sale.  Here and there, there are one or two Colts photo cards at any time.  It appears that there are rarer versions of the four cards in the set than others; especially since I haven't yet seen a listing for the sketch version of the Rams photo card at all.

All I can say is that if anyone pays over ten bucks for the box art or Rams photo cards on eBay, you are seriously overpaying for what is a fantastically overabundant autograph, overnight.

Here's the back of my auto card for the curious:

Incidentally, these cards are quite large. Their rough dimensions are 5½" by 7 11/16". It's almost sized like a postcard; it's not that much smaller than the game case.  Below is a photo of the two together for scale:

One thing that is disappointing is that the card just rattles around loose inside the package.  No pouch, no inner sarcophagus pack, no wrapper. Naturally, I wasn't particularly rough with my copy bringing it home, but that probably didn't matter.  My card got some minor dings on the corners.  I imagine that there could be a premium someday on gem mint copies of the card, given how many are going to get banged up before anybody even sees them.  Of course, that premium is predicated on enough people caring to move the market needle upward.

According to GameSpot, somewhere out there are two 18 karat "solid" gold versions of this card, autographed by Faulk.  Makes me wonder how well a Sharpie inscription holds up on a gold surface.  Of course, there's one each for Xbox 360 or for PS3.

I'm not going to show the game disc, the DLC code sheet (duh), or the legal sheet.  A notable missing item is the presence of any manual.  Aha! A closer look at the legal sheet offers this:

How nice.  EA is thanking their customers for not complaining about supporting their efforts to significantly reduce costs paper in their products.

Giant Creepy Madden Face Says: "You will buy special game of me, today!"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1987 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Series 8


If you grew up as a kid in the 80's you had to have a few Garbage Pail Kids stickers.  While doing some cleaning I ran across a whole box of series 3 and inside the box were a few packs of series 8.  I didn't even know I had these random packs!  Let's open one up and see whats inside.



I loved the themed backs of GPKs.  While some of the cards featured a simple puzzle piece others had comic strips such as this.  The fake ads were just as entertaining.





How you can you not like these?!  I hope to share more once I get the time to open the series 3 box so stay tuned!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Bowman Platinum Retail

Overall, I'm a fan of Bowman Platinum because it gives you the chance to get some shiny chrome-like cards that aren't just reprints of the basic Topps flag ship set.

Matt Cain has had another solid season with a 2.84 ERA...although his 11-10 record might now show it.

#54 Matt Cain

Jose Bautista was a Kansas City Royal for 13 games in 2004 before being traded to the Mets...yet another star that you can file into the "This One Time, I Was A Royal" file.

#51 Jose Bautista

Dummy Card

Domingo Santana was recently traded to the Astros as part of the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies...this means that the Astros were able to get the Phillies best pitching, position, and outfield prospects in exchange for Pence.

#BPP31 Domingo Santana Green #581/599

Kyle Russell is in AAA and awaiting his call-up to the Dodgers...he's not the most anticipated prospect but he's not the lowest...
#BPP76 Kyle Russell

Friday, September 09, 2011

2010 Bowman Chrome Retail

Last year I never actually found Bowman Chrome in the stores and so I was surprised to find this pack at a steep discount...

Lance played in 20 games in 2010 but he spent the season in AAA, not making it back in 2011.

#220 Lance Zawadzki

Rawley is still with the Tigers and has progressed to AA ball.

#BCP167 Rawley Bishop
And my last card is a Justin Verlander refractor.  Over the past three seasons Justin is 59-23.  "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams thinks Justin will win the Cy Young but not the MVP...good call Mitch since only two pitchers have won the MVP award since 1986.

#87 Justin Verlander Refractor

Saturday, September 03, 2011

1990 Pro Set Hockey

It was a little more than two weeks ago that some hockey was opened up, so here's a look at Pro Set's 1990 NHL offering.  The design echos the football offerings from Pro Set, only with a curved border at the bottom of the card, likely to represent the puck.

I've read elsewhere that 7-8% of the cards contain an error.  Actually, most player cards contain a language error, that other figure represents an additional error in either fact or spelling.

If there is one nice thing to be said about Pro Set 90, it's that the card on top of the pack is identifiable.  I just grabbed one but it turns out this pack has a Wayne Gretzky.

Card 118 - Wayne Gretzky.  This card has some damage from sitting in a wrapper for 21 years.  I estimate this downgrades its value from "fire starter" to "blemished fire starter".

Card 113 - Jon Casey.  Wikipedia says he is most remembered for giving up a couple of game-winning goals in the playoffs.  I like the art on his mask.

Card 382 - The William M. Jennings Trophy.  I had no idea this award even existed until seeing this card.  Pro Set included a lot of filler cards like this but since it taught me something I can't hate on this particular card too much.  The award is given to the goalies on the team which allows the fewest goals. 

Card 64 - Trent Yawney.  Apparently he played portions of 12 seasons in the NHL and the Canadian national team at the '88 Olympics.  Now he coaches with the Sharks.

Card 246 - Paul Gillis.  There's nothing all that interesting to say about Gillis except for what's on the back of his card, so this is as good a time as any to show it off.

It might be a bit hard to make out, but if you can read the name, birth date, height and weight in the bottom left hand corner, they are listed in French.  The entire rest of the card is English, but each and every card has the player's vitals in French.

Card 398 - Mike Richter, Rookie Goals Against Average Leader.  Richter was a top goalie of his time and now he runs marathons and triathlons.  This card has a printing error on the back where the word "plays" is missing its "p".

Card 272 - Rich Sutter.  One of the many Sutters to play hockey, but the only one of his generation never to cash a cheque from the Calgary Flames.  Note the bored looking people in the crowd.

Card 173 - Janne Ojanen.  He played 98 games in the NHL, all for New Jersey.  He had more success in his native Finland.

Card 305 - Jim Sandlak.  The back of Sandlak's card says he hoped to become a fireman once his hockey career was complete.  Plans apparently changed because now he has a landscaping firm in London, Ontario.

Card 143 - Larry Murphy.  He's the fifth highest scoring defence man in the history of the NHL.  and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Card 119 - Kelly Hrudey.  In 1990 Hrudey's nickname was apparently "Mattress" so I guess it was sometime thereafter he was dubbed "Hollywood."   Now he's a commentator for Hockey Night in Canada.

Card 236 - Mario Lemieux.  Anyone buying this pack in 1990 would have been stoked to get Gretzky and Lemieux.  This card also has an error as it lists Mario as missing 11 games when it was in fact 21.

Card 345 - Steve Larmer.  He was a good luck charm for the teams he was on - any time he played a full season his team went to the play offs. 

Card 211 - Mike Bullard.  He played professional hockey from 1980 through 2003 including 11 years in the NHL.  He was the first round draft pick of the Penguins the year before Rich Sutter was the Penguins first round draft pick.

Card 21 - Phil Housley.  Housley is one ahead of Larry Murphy in all-time blue-liner scoring and was the top U.S. born scorer until Mike Modano came along and broke that record.  

Every pack of Pro Set also came with this 10 cent off coupon.  I'd love to know why Kansas, Washington and Wyoming didn't qualify for the offer though.

All in all, a pretty good pack from a pretty dreary set.  Nobody in the pack was completely terrible, and most had distinguished careers.  Plus a few of the all-time greats. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

1995 Fleer Update

Here's one more pack from my free group break. This box was the most exciting (to me) thing to be had at the junk wax box card show table and its purchase eventually led me down the dangerous path of buying even more junk... and, hence, the group break ensued. Let's see Night Owl try to "Define the Design" of this one. You can't! There's like... six designs!

4 of 10 - David Cone Diamond Tribute (This is an insert set only featured in "regular packs". I believe "regular packs" in this case means hobby packs.)

U-129 - Tanyon Sturtze (Sturtze pitched for a lot of teams in a rather unsuccessful fashion.)

U-175 - Hideo Nomo (Yes, this is also a base card. Apparently all of the various designs were dependent upon which division the player's team was in. Six designs for six divisions. There's no way baseball card companies ever use focus groups, or else you'd never see anything like this.)

U-125 - Frank Castillo (Fleer stuck to one standard with the card backs.)

U-103 - Shane Andrews

U-178 - Reggie Williams (NL West again. Yuck.)

U-127 - Jaime Navarro

U-79 - Bob Wells (How could this guy not be related to David Wells? Someone please look this up!)

U-107 - Roberto Kelly

U-173 - Dave Hansen

U-77 - Alex Rodriguez (The AL West looks positively normal compared to their NL counterparts, but that's not really saying much.)

U-70 - Jim Corsi