Friday, May 31, 2013

1993 Topps Finest Baseball

Today I break a pack of one of the most coveted sets of the 1990's...the inaugural Topps Finest.

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This was one of the first smash hit high end hobby sets...the refractors being the most coveted hits, falling at 1 in every 15 packs and a print run of just 241 each.

Here's what we got!

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Chad Curtis won 2 World Series and is currently awaiting trial on some pretty unpleasant sounding charges.

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Sandy Alomar is one of the all-time great Cleveland Indians. He currently serves as a bench coach for the tribe.

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Ryne Sandberg is obviously a legend...despite the green color this is not a refractor, just a subset falling at about 1/pack.

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Bip Roberts! In true Bip fashion, I found him in two of the three finest packs I opened.

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The multi-sport superstar Deion Sanders.

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And here is Mike Stanton, the non-Giancarlo edition.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2012-13 Fleer Retro hockey

Well, the final playoff series between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings (unless they meet in the Stanley Cup finals in the future) concludes tonight. Who is going on and who is going to the golf course? Let's post a pack of Fleer Retro. This is sold by the box, but for my LCS pack wars, they included packs for each participant. Which was nice, cuz I cannot afford a box of these. Upper Deck nailed it with this product, though. If you are going to honor the past, get it right. Upper Deck did.

From the get go, UD gets the pack right. I ripped myself plenty of these plain-ish wrappers. Granted, the autograph reference is not retro, but the rest of the pack is a great match. Five cards in the pack.

Old time hockey. Dig the wooden stick in Kurri's hands. I believe this is from the Fleer Flair set, but don't hold me on that. Nice look to the card with a classic uniform and NO STUPID STITCHING!

Going to show a lot of the backs here, since the base set is a mix of styles. So 90's.

Ovech Skybox Metal. The foil didn't scan well, but this is a really nice card in hand.

More 90's look. And check it out - a different back picture. Holy crap!

Jon Tavares in the Ultra I remember. It screams Nagel painting. Compare the original - it's perfect.

Even the back is a great match. Except for the duplicated rear image. The original had a different full body picture on the back. I'm deducting points, but still a fine homage to the original.

Pulled a nice Cujo. The Blues need to dump the current pieces of crap they wear and go back to these. One of the finest sweaters ever worn.

And Lars Eller rounds it out. I didn't get a hit in my pack, but I hope they crack more of these for the next pack wars - maybe I will get lucky.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2012-13 Panini Past and Present Basketball

It seems like hardly a week goes by that there isn't a new Panini NBA release on the shelves. This latest endeavor is an attempt at a Heritage style set that makes use of both current players and players of the past, which is surely something no other NBA set has ever attempted. The cards are given a faux-retro design and a cardstock that reminds me of something you would have seen in a product 5 to 10 years ago, which is actually a good thing in this case.

101 - Doc Rivers - Rivers is currently the Boston Celtics head coach, but is shown here in his playing days with the Hawks.

62 - Jodie Meeks - This set employs a few different card designs, and while I like the design on Doc's card a bit, this one doesn't quite work for me. It's not helped by having a lousy Laker on it.

18 - Kevin Garnett - Garnett has been around so long that I clearly remember Craig Kilborn fawning all over him. I think this design is a little better than the previous card, but not quite as good as the Doc Rivers card.

23 - David Lee - The Warriors were this season's Cinderella/darling team type, but that usually fails to work out well in the end. The Spurs/Heat Finals matchup that virtually nobody wanted is looming.

4 - Pau Gasol - The backs of the cards all have the same simple design, eschewing the typical Panini design for something with a little more brevity.

156 - Festus Ezeli - I thought about making a Festivus crack here, but I won't. Ezeli started a bunch of games for Golden State but barely played any minutes, something that seems to be a strange phenomenon reserved for centers that have limited offensive skills. I'm not sure if all rookies use this same design.

7 - Paul George Treads - George has been one of the breakout starts of this NBA season. This insert is a really nice work of art, using thinner cardstock with some fancy glossing that accentuates the "treads" on the design pattern.

70 - Russell Westbrook Rise 'n Shine - This is another insert, but it's a very large insert set at 100 cards if I'm not mistaken. It's also quite cartoonish. The Thunder certainly missed Westbrook when he went down in the playoffs, but they sealed their fate before the season even started by trading away James Harden. Just sayin'!

103 - Mitch Richmond - Fans of Mitch Richmond are probably happy that the Sacramento Kings are staying in town. I guess?

118 - Gary Payton - Here's a good way to end the pack, with former Oregon State star and recent Hall of Fame inductee Gary Payton.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2003 Topps Total


Hope everyone is enjoying the Memorial Day weekend.  Unfortunately, I have been dealing with allergies, and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there.  It's bad times when you're looking forward to some good times this weekend, but then can feel the allergies coming on.

Came across this pack during my (never ending) massive card reorganization project.  We have 2002, 2004, and 2005 here; let's fill in the gap with a pack of 2003 Topps Total!

What the blaster box looks like.
What the pack looks like.

Just like the other Total sets, the goal of Total is to get as complete of a team set as possible, with 990 cards making up this set.  10 cards per pack and this one's from a blaster box.  Here's what I got:

#408 – Gabe Kapler (Parallel)
#50 – Curt Schilling
#667 – Jon Rauch

The Kapler card is the parallel card referred to on the pack.  I believe the parallel card was the top card in each of my packs.  My apologies for the scanner eating the gray border. 

#349 – Alex Rodriguez
#883 – Corey Shafer (First Year Card)
#502 – Keith Osik
#548 – Orlando Hernandez

The design of the cards is essentially the same from year to year.  It's not bad considering the set's purpose and price point.

#508 – J.J. Davis
#748 – Jesus Colome
#TT42 – Brian Giles (Total Topps)
No # - 2003 World Series ad

Wait, what?  A Topps Total insert set is called Total Topps?  Way to use those noggins, 2003 Topps designers, I hope you got an extra long break for that one.

Here's the backs for those who just gotta see 'em:

Notice the brief stats, useless Tracker notes, and the team card number.

Anyway, that's the pack.  More later on.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and make sure you take a moment to remember the purpose of Memorial Day to begin with.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2009 Donruss Americana

A couple years back, a pack similar to this was opened. The cards are the same, but the pack is different. Maybe we need to write a letter to Donruss about this.

Dear Donruss,

What is with your 2009 Americana packs? You seem to have different foil packages.

Why does the retail version talk about movie poster materials when a pack sent to a dollar store does not? Are the cards and the sets different? They don't seem to be.

I pulled a Denzel Whitaker. He has a name like Denzel Washington, and the card back even says they both worked in the same movie. Why have a celebrity card of someone so young?

I am not familiar with Sofia, but she supposedly works on CSI:Miami. Why are the card fronts so bland? I like the Americana logo, but otherwise the card is boring.

I am worried you put someone on a card like Yancy who appears to have an eating disorder. Please be considerate about the young girls today and their body image.

My biggest concern is this: who are most of these people? I have never heard of Mr. Duval? The card back talks of him being in a bunch of cult hits, but is he "celebrity material"?

I am not sure small roles in Independence day or Gone In 60 Seconds warrants a card in a set like this, unless you consider Americana the "Bowman Prospects" cards of celebrities. Please consider what I have said. Also, please excuse Juan from being late to class today.

Epstein's Mother

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Upper Deck Football

Baseball season is in high swing, hockey and basketball are in the playoffs, so let's rip some football. I normally collect just baseball and hockey, but at my LCS's pack wars, you rip everything. Here is Upper Deck's football offering for this year. No NFL license, so UD is releasing cards through their license with the NCAA

Upper Deck wanted you to be sure you knew this was a hobby pack from the designation in the upper left. Six cards in the pack and we are looking for rookie autographs. Umm....UD? This is college - everything will be a rookie autograph, unless you are sneaking in some ex-NFLers.

Guess we have a nice start. Again - I do not collect, so I don't really know who the heck I pulled. But I know the name of Geno Smith. Ugly as hell gray uniforms. Simple card design with the gold foil. Name not in foil is a plus. It's so easy to read.

Another name I know. I guess this is what the reference to "Star Rookies" was, as Ty left college in the early 90's for a journeyman career in the NFL. Currently he is the coach of a high school team.

Maybe I know more bout football than I think. Lack of borders looks so very nice on these cards, as does the lack of foil. If you notice on Drew's card (and Ty's), the only foil is that line between the team and player's names that runs to the right until you get the football with the position notation.

Alright - cancel my invite to the MNF booth. I have no idea who this guy is. Plus we are back to ugly as hell uniforms. Why can't the colleges just stick to tradition? Dig those uniforms that Ty and Drew are sporting. GORGEOUS!

Here's some insert card. No idea how they fall - probably 1/1 or 1/2. Think of UD Black Diamond - same hashing in the background. I will not beat the dead horse about what he is wearing.

I know this dude! But what I did not know, until this post, is that he played college for the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils? That's a real college?! First look at this card and I thought Jerry attended Univ. of Miami.

Card backs. You get their entire college career on the back. Guess since the standard lately is 5 year on the back of cards, there way no way UD could screw this up. Leaves all the open space for a nice bio. This works. When you don have a lot of stats to post, this view works really well.

Monday, May 20, 2013

1996 Fleer Retail

We've already seen the hobby version of this product, but 1996 Fleer is such a weird bird that I figure everyone deserved another look. This time, that look is in the form of a retail pack. Sadly, I paid nearly 8 cents more than the price on the sticker for this batch of fun. Inflation, I guess!

- Official Game Card - We start off with an official game card. Did I win? Maybe? The Thanks a Million! contest ended before Bill Clinton was reelected, though.

364 - Darren Holmes Tiffany - In my day, glossy Topps cards were "Tiffany" and glossy Fleer cards were "Glossy".

4 of 12 - Ken Griffey, Jr. Lumber Company - Right off the bat, it's an insert card and a pretty good one at that. I know Griffey still draws some interest in the card collecting world.

37 - John Valentin - So about these cards... they're crazy thin, right? I love that they are matte finished and, while I'd probably reduce the size of the gold block lettering, the design works for me. The problem is that these cards are basically the same thickness as an index card. Fleer did something radical that I really appreciate all these years later, but I can't imagine the reaction to it was very good and I'm sure the whole thing was a major cost reduction run through a marketing person's filter.

327 - Rey Sanchez - Lots of stats on the back and a big brand new picture.

 121 - Alan Trammell

350 - Jose Rijo

416 - Orlando Miller - I get a bit misty-eyed when I see Astros players in the old orange rainbow jerseys. I can't say the same thing about these jerseys.

575 - Melvin Nieves

396 - Marc Valdes

 441 - Raul Mondesi - Mondesi was coming off of his only All-Star season.

507 - Curt Schilling - Apparently this guy did something somewhere for someone at some point. I wonder if anyone DNA-tested that sock.