Monthly Archives: March 2015

How Ahead of Its Time Was Pinnacle Brands?

So I’ve been back in the hobby for about 3 months now and what I’m seeing is a lot of old ideas being rehashed for an easy buck. There are several companies specializing in repack products (some as high as $7,000 per box), while Brian Grey essentially put 1992 Leaf back on the market with tiny additions (stamps, serial numbering, autographs). Panini America is pushing old designs from Donruss, while Topps Company is still feeding on 80s and 90s design for the sake of nostalgia.

Trust me, I’m not “that guy” living in the past or hating every product out there but I miss card companies who consistently thought “outside the box”, such as Skybox and Pinnacle Brands. Below is a front and back scan of Pinnacle’s Aficionado brand, which lasted just one year. It didn’t feature any autographs or game-used relics but what it lacked in “hits” it more than made up in design. We know Panini owns the Pinnacle name but even with logos, they could never do anything like this.

In 1996, these cards were out of this world bizarre but as you can see, they have aged like fine wine. There were also parallels (just one) that fell at about 1 in every  2.1 boxes in ratio, making them a lot more desirable on the second-hand market. To put it into perspective, there’s not a single one of Jose Canseco on eBay. There is also one unofficial parallel, which was given away by calling a phone number and those are even more rare as it’s believed the print run is around 50.

The truth of the matter is that this product is light on gimmicks, which is why a hobby box of 16 packs sold for well under $25 recently. It’s one product I need to get my hands on and quickly. If you’re about more than just autographs and worthless memorabilia cards, it’s one line you must experience before this decade is done as it is just a year away from its 20th anniversary and eventually boxes will dry up. I’ll keep my eyes open for another hobby box for an upcoming break at Wax Heaven.

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Categories: eBay Treasures, Pinnacle Brands | Tags: | 1 Comment

This Is a Sad (Hobby) Sight

This card showed up on my Twitter feed this morning. It’s some kind of Upper Deck card featuring an awful photo of the “Texas Expresss”. However, without a classic photo all I see is a 70 year old man with a bad ticker. If I wanted a baseball card of my grandpa, well, I don’t. No one does.

I feel awful that Upper Deck lost its baseball license but it’s been years now, time to walk away with some dignity. Don’t be Willie Mays with the Mets stumbling around in the outfield. Who knows? Maybe one day we will see licensed Upper Deck cards and not dinosaur cards and whatever this thing is.

The reason this card made waves today, though, is not for the awful photograph, terrible design, or out of date Upper Deck logo. The reason why this card is here is because that autograph sticker is that of Mark McGwire, not Nolan Ryan. Both have beautiful penmanship but do not look anything alike.

In the days of 2015 Tribute, we know mistakes happen. Tony Gwynn stickers on worthless Tony Gwynn Jr. cards. Ryan Braun, the meathead, stickers on Ryan Braun cards, the non-famous one. But this mistake is pretty huge and also, to be completely honest, kind of cool. Error cards used to be a big thing.

It should be noted that for about 4-5 years Upper Deck has made some pretty awful Nolan Ryan cards, all out of uniform and one from Goodwin Champions in full rodeo clown garb. My suggestion is to avoid that garbage and find one of the original autographs found in 1990 Upper Deck. No one needs to see this.

Much like my feelings with Jose Canseco and those awful Leaf cards in plain clothes (as plain as a Canseco will wear), we collect BASEBALL cards, not men cards. Yes, baseball cards have men on them but without the bat, glove, and field … just what the hell are we doing with our lives? I don’t want to think about it.

Categories: The Hobby, Upper Deck Company | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Curse You, Topps Company!

Why am I the very last person to find out about 2014 Stadium Club buyback autographs? I discovered the first one this morning (of Mr. Canseco) while checking out some eBay completed sales. It’s absolutely gorgeous, has an on-card autograph, and is serial numbered to just five copies. After searching them out specifically, I found recent sales of other greats that have worn green and yellow. As you can imagine, they sold for considerably more than the tarnished Canseco card, which hit a respectable $150.

I have to say, right now my very favorite gimmick in this hobby is buyback autographs. I hope other companies take note to Topps’ effort to not flood the market with them (looking at you, Leaf & Panini) because these cards are truly special and create a unique type of nostalgia that no other card gimmick comes close to. Seeing these 1991 Stadium Club buybacks brings me back to the days when Topps was sweeping the floor with the competition and I’m glad they are so hard to find. I may never own one but I can appreciate the image just as much.

Now, one has to wonder if 2015 Stadium Club will also feature buybacks from the 1992 release, which featured key cards of Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez and many more. It’s still a good three months away but cases are already online for around $1,000 a piece. That of course will bring you lots and lots of goodies and just maybe a shot at something truly special, like one of the cards below. Let’s just hope Topps Company is very selective about what subjects are given the buyback treatment. For those who forget or weren’t around in 1992, Stadium Club was a three-series, 900-card set. That was a record held for biggest set for quite some time.

Categories: eBay Treasures, The Topps Company | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

The “Good Old Days” Are Long Gone

It takes a lot for me to come out of lurk mode in a card forum. However, recently, one topic did just that as it posed the question, “what does our hobby need?” There really is no simple answer. Today, baseball cards are obsolete. I began collecting in 1990 when things were a hell of a whole lot different. We didn’t have Internet, modern gaming machines like we do today, or anything close to smart phones. Times were so different that a hobby like collecting pieces of cardboard could blow up and boy did it ever. In my city, there were 4-5 card shops within a 7 mile radius. There were card shows every other weekend. Non-traditional stores even carried all major brands, like 7/11 and Walgreens.

Unfortunately, the card industry saw nothing but green and over-saturated the card market, first with millions of cards and later with several dozens of new products, each getting more and more expensive until they flat out pushed the kids out of this hobby. Today, there are even boxes that cost $7,000+ dollars. What kid is really going to spend that much when that kind of money could get you an automobile? Sure, the older collectors will have no problem if they are in that tax bracket but how long before they get married, have children, go through divorce, or have other more important affairs change their life completely? We have collectors coming and going at the speed of light.

I’ve seen it happen over again. Jose Canseco “Super Collectors” who spent upwards of $10,000 on cards within a couple of years and then are forced to unload collections at 1/3 the price. I had one collector and friend who one day surprised me with a box of 400 Jose Canseco cards filled with Refractors, game-used cards, and much more, choosing to sell the high-end stuff to help pay his mortgage. I’ve often been jealous of these Super Collectors any time they show off those amazing cards that I don’t even bother bidding on. I’ve obsessed over the 1998 Donruss Crusade but to this day have never even seen it in person due to outrageous prices but if you play the waiting game, the collections are always broken up.

Back to the innocent early 90s. We were absolutely clueless. We didn’t have preview images, let alone full checklists available months before a product was released. Most times, if a shop didn’t have a pack sample somewhere, we basically went into a product blindly hoping for the best outcome. Today, we have the Internet where everything is made available and we no longer have to buy a pack of cards hoping our favorite player is in it. When Topps Heritage was released, I checked the list of players and when I saw my guy missing, I took my money elsewhere. We have a choice today that we didn’t back then and it killed the card market, while eBay killed the brick and mortar card shop.

Then of course, there is “high end”, which looks amazing but unless you’re an absolute card addict, no box of cards will ever compare to say, a brand new Xbox 1 gaming system. This is coming from a hardcore collector who doesn’t just buy cards but reads up on them for hours and hours on end, who studies cards, and who spends years writing about them for FREE. The industry needs to find a way to bring back the youth but without bullshit products like Donruss’ Triple Play or Topps’ Bazooka. You can’t unring a bell. The hobby of collecting has been turned into a business thanks to grading companies and high-end products but there is still hope.

If MLB is really serious about saving the hobby, limit card companies to 7 products per year. That could give us, say, 2 high-end, 3 mid-end, 2 low-end products per company. How about giving limited licenses to Leaf, Upper Deck, and Panini America? Again, maybe 5 products per year with all sorts of products to choose from. The problem of course is no company wants restrictions. Topps wants to put out as many products a year as possible. Maybe they have no choice in order to survive. What’s survival without a market, though? When will the industry realize that it has chased away 90% of their customers? You can’t blame the 1994 strike or steroid scandal any more. It’s 2015!

In closing, below is a Bowman Draft Picks Red Refractor autograph of Mike Trout with an asking price of $55,000 dollars. For those considering any card for that amount, ask the previous collectors who purchased similar Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg cards how they feel today? Or how about the guy who paid $5,000 for a Joba Chamberlain Superfractor? No baseball card of a 23 year old is really, truly worth that kind of money but if you want to learn the hard way, by all means, be our guest. This hobby of ours will never truly be dead but until Major League Baseball realizes it, there will never again be a popular era or bubble, if you will. Everything will continue to slowly die: collectors, card shops, and the companies themselves.

If you have an opinion on how to bring our hobby back to its glory days, spread the hashtag #SaveBaseballCards.

 

Categories: The Hobby | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

A Great Day at the Big Top Flea Market Card Show!

Last month, I wrote my review of the Big Top Flea Market Card Shown which was nothing short of raving with joy over finally finding some kind of card scene in Southwest Florida. Currently, I live in a city with over 3 million and there are zero card shops. It’s depressing and leads me straight to eBay only territory.

Last month, I spent a good 2 hours scouring through boxes trying to find a single Canseco and failed miserably. Today, I went with my hyper-active 4 year-old daughter. I was expecting disaster but instead, I was surprised as almost every vendor had one or more Jose Canseco cards on their tables!

Below is my score, which I overpaid for but I had no problem with because it’s great to be able to talk with other collectors in person and not through PayPal complaint forms or in forums full of angry, bitter card addicts. I’d gladly spend a little more to avoid that.

Cards picked up:

2003 Topps 205 – $10 for a relic card, I must be insane. What really worries me is that the more I look at it the more I get this sinking feeling that I already own it. It’s not just that I may already own it but that’s it’s really unattractive as cards go.

1995 Pinnacle Artist’s Proof – This is a big card, which was in a .50 cent box. This card probably has a ridiculous Beckett “book value” but let’s get real, it’s 1995 Pinnacle. I was happy to hand the vendor a dollar bill for it. It’s my favorite card of the day and a card that is not easy to come by.

1997 Donruss Press Proof – I hate this card and photograph. However, I only have the base version and needed it for my collection. I overpaid dearly for it as it cost me $5 dollars but again, I was happy for a little interaction and every Canseco I snatch up means more on tables for next month’s show.

2015 Topps insert – I can’t say much about this card, which I paid a dollar for. It’s lazy and the photo is embarrassingly blurry for a product from 2015. I couldn’t see myself paying more than a dollar for this thing and with eBay + shipping I was looking at close to $4. This is a huge win for me.

*Bonus*

1996 Emotion – This card came from an eBay win. It’s just a base card despite its beautiful appearance. I had this card, pulled from a retail box of Emotion in 1996 but unfortunately it has come up missing so I had to replace it.

There you have it, five new cards added to my collection of over 1,100 and for less than $25. I could have spent the money a little more wisely but I am happy with my experience and I’m dying to see what I find next month. If you live anywhere remotely near, stop on by.

So after leaving the card show in Tampa, I did a quick little search and found out that the house and neighborhood that was used for the motion picture, ‘Edward Scissorhands’ was just 17 minutes away. I couldn’t resist seeing the house used for one of my all-time favorite films.

The house is located in a development called ‘Carpenter’s Run’ in Lutz, Florida and is very easy to find. There was a community yard sale going on which made it easier to snap a quick picture of the iconic neighborhood made famous by Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.

Overall, it was another great show. I am definitely coming back next month and will hope to find even more Jose Canseco treasures. It’s an hour an fifteen minute drive but thanks to the friendly vendors and positive attitude, it’s quickly becoming a favorite hangout for me.

Categories: The Hobby | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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