Friday, December 30, 2016

Collecting Goal 2016: Set Completion

I'm not much of a set collector.  When I was a kid, the only thought I gave to completing a set was when my parents would give me a sealed factory set for Christmas.  Even then, I often broke the set apart and used cards from it for trade fodder with my friends.  I got back into the hobby in 2012 and adult me saw a certain value in set building.  A more mature me, with a little more money, saw set building as a worthy goal, something to give me a sense of accomplishment.  And it does, really.  Those numbers on the back of the card actually begin to mean something.  Checklists actually gain a purpose.  My need to organize and know what I have receives some clarity.  So this year, I set a collecting to goal to knock out some of the incomplete sets I had begun.  This seemed perfect for me.  I sometimes obsess over goals, and I love the feeling of a completed project.

With that in mind, I focused my end of the year card purchases on set completion.  All of these cards came from Sportlots and represent a set need.

So let's see how I did this year.  I now present to you the sets I completed in 2016.  (Note: Not all of these sets were begun in 2016.  These are just the sets which I acquired the final card in the past twelve months.)


2015 Topps Chrome (Final Card: #3 'Scooter Gennett)
2012 Panini Cooperstown (Final Card: #148 Ferguson Jenkins)
2014 Donruss (Final Card: #61 Billy Butler)
2008 Upper Deck X (Final Card: #27 Jim Thome)

2016 Topps Opening Day (#161 Stephen Piscotty)
2016 Topps Opening Day Heavy Hitters (Final Card: #HH13 Joey Votto)
2016 Topps Bunt (Final Card: #6 Evan Gattis)


1994 Classic NFL Experience (Final Card: #55 Dan Marino)
1997 Pinnacle Zenith (Final Card: #150 Dan Marino Checklist)

 2014 Topps (Final Card: #140 Philadelphia Eagles Team Card)

2015 Topps Platinum (Final Card: #10 Tony Romo)

 2016 Donruss (Final Card: #49 Jay Cutler)

So by my count, that's 12 sets that I completed this year.  However, there are a few more that should have been completed this year, but just didn't get done.  I'll do a post on my "almosts" a little later.  That's a disappointing post for me.  But I know one thing: I won't be pursuing too many new sets in 2017.  I learned this year that set building gets to be a little expensive for me, especially when I'm spending my limited budget chasing cards like Jay Cutler.  Ugh.  Or actively trading for players that I absolutely no connection to or even a liking for.  Plus, I don't the storage space for a bunch of random cards.  I learned that some smaller sets, like Opening Day and Bunt, could provide me a both a box break and a complete set for a price tag under $30.  I'll probably continue that method when I can.  Other than that, I may just find some smaller insert sets that I like to build.  I don't know.  But I don't think I have the money or storage to continue building a ton of sets.  I'll continue working on knocking out the ones I'm currently working on, but I won't too many more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Great Collecting Mind, Round 2

A couple of months ago, Greg from The Collective Mind blog contacted me about a trade.  About a month later, he sent me a surprise package with some more cards. 

We'll start with some vintage Packers.  According to the back of the card, Ken Bowman was a practicing lawyer in the off-season.  Something tells me that he would have been an intimidating presence in the courtroom.  Willie Buchanon was a two-time Pro Bowler and 1st Team All-Pro in 1978.  This is his rookie card.  And John Brockington was one of the lone bright spots for the 1970s Packers.  He made three consecutive Pro Bowls, from 1971-1973 and was an All-Pro in that span as well.  All three cards are in pretty good condition, but a little off-centered.

Now a little more modern, here are two inserts for my Jordy Nelson PC.

2014 Topps Valor is a beautiful set, and here are two numbered parallels for my PCs.

Here is a new type of card that I've never had before.  This team helmet is raised rubber.  It's kind of interesting.  Even more interesting to me, though, is the fact that the subject matter (Devante Adams, if it's too blurry) has largely overcome his drop problems from last year and has become a dependable receiver in his third season.  He is a large part of the late season surge that could very well end up with the Packers running the table from 4-6 to the playoffs.  To any Lions, Vikings, and Bears fans out there, I apologize.  Sort of.  Sorry, not sorry.

Greg also sent a little set help and a promise for a third round coming soon.  I'm trying to pull some cards for him to cover Round 2 and Round 3.  Thanks for the pleasant surprise, Greg!  I'll take unexpected cardboard in my mailbox any day.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wishing All a White Christmas

By now, everybody has seen the Topps Holiday cards.  I've heard a wide array of opinions, but I've loved the looks of these cards from the beginning.  It's just plain fun, I think.  Now, I didn't hate the smoky design of this year's flagship as much as most; in fact, I'll take this design over anything Topps offered between 2012-2014.  But the snow is definitely an improved.  I know it's gimmicky, but it's a fun gimmick.  And because there is no baseball in the snow, I feel like it really sets these cards apart as something special and different.  If I saw the same design on football cards, I would just think of it as a cheesy design.  But baseball and snow is obviously meaning something special and different.

I bought my box last week and decided to wait until a snowy day to bust it.  I didn't have to wait long; it snowed two days later.  I'm not going for the set, but I do want my Cubs.  Given the cheapness of the box (about 20 cents a card) and the relative expensiveness of secondary market Cubs singles, I thought I may as well buy a box and get a whole bunch of snowy cards.  Here are my pulls.

Of the 12 Cubs on the checklist, I pulled 7.  I would still like the others, if anybody has them available.  I have most of my box that I am willing to trade, but I'll have to post a list of tradebait for anybody trying to complete the set.

A couple of additions to my All-Star MVP collection.

Some former Rookies of the Year.

Including the two newest additions to my binder.

My promised relic was one of my ROY collection.  Not a bad hit, I've got to say.  Again, $20 for a box of cool cards and a promised relic is good for me, and it's rare for me to pull a hit that actually fits into my collection.  I'll take it.

One of the reasons this product is so affordable is that it is basically just base and one parallel.  The parallel is not nearly as cool as the base, I think, as it is just sparkly snowflakes.  Any of these "metallic" flake cards is up for trade.  None of these fits into my collection.

I'll get a tradebait list up for this set to see if I can pull in some more Cubs I need.  In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Ultimate Box Break

Box breaks are a rich collector's game.  On a budget as small as mine, I simply cannot afford to throw money on the chance that I might get a card.  Box breaks have their place, and I'll admit, I've gotten some pretty good hits from products I would never have afforded to buy otherwise.  But on the whole, I'm a low-end, low-budget collector and I don't chase after hits much.  Case in point: my Packers collection includes a whopping four autographs and three memorabilia cards.

But every once in awhile, I get the itch to gamble a little.  Black Friday was one of those times, when my favorite breaker was offering some bonuses, including Black Friday packs, along with the breaks.  My go-to breaker is Ultimate Box Breaks because Brian, the guy who runs it, is the most entertaining breaker I've seen out there and his prices aren't extraordinarily high.  Plus, I like his system of "drafting" teams and then he offers you the opportunity to trade your teams and picks from various breaks with other people.  So, I got sucked into a couple breaks on Black Friday.  And, this time at least, the gamble paid off.

The first break was a 2016 Panini mixer, and I drew the Packers.

My team collection additions of these three rookies.  Kenny Clark comes from Infinity, Blake Martinez from Panini's new incarnation of Playoff, and the Trevor Davis cards from Elite.  And make that 5 autos in my Packers collection.

I also joined a Spectra break.  This break was buy one entry, get two teams, and I drew Cleveland and Dallas.

The first card in the box was this filthy Joe Haden patch.  Yes, I mean literally filthy.  I've never seen a patch that dirty before.  This beauty is already claimed, and will be heading out in a trade package shortly.

Then things got interesting.

This sweet Tony Dorsett is numbered to 60.  Dorsett is one of those guys who I don't overtly collect, but I tend to hold onto any of his cards that come my way.

It turns out that I drew the Cowboys in a high-end product Cowboys hot box.

ZEEEEEKE!  The top card is a neon green parallel, numbered to 25.  The second is an auto patch numbered to 99.  I'm not sure if you have heard of this guy, but he is a pretty decent player.  Oh, who am I kidding?  This is big-time hit!  I may not be a Cowboys fan, but I definitely got my money's worth. 

I forget what the bonus was for, but one of my breaks earned a Cyber Monday pack for everyone. 

Here is my Cyber Monday pack.

Well, I'm not excited about either card, but I won't complain about any bonus that comes my way.  Is anybody interested in either of these Cyber Monday cards?  Let me know.

In all, it was a great break.  Still, it exemplifies the very problem I have with box breaks--I could have easily come away with nothing.  Sure the gamble paid off, but in the end it was exactly that: a gamble.  And I can't afford to be a high roller. 

COMC Black Friday (Set and PC Building)

This year, I did most of my Black Friday card shopping comparing Sportlots and COMC prices, and came away with a larger purchase from Sportlots than COMC, even with COMC's free shipping.  I didn't buy any boxes to crack, due to a need for more hobby-related self-control this year, financially speaking.  My main focus was completing sets, which was my collecting goal for 2016.  I'll write more about set completion in a future post, but let me share my modest COMC haul. 


Let's start with some set work.  This purchase left me just a couple of cards away from the 2015 Topps Platinum set, which was my favorite product of last year. 

The other set I'm still building from 2015 is Prestige.  I've said it before, but I'll mention again that I think Panini has a done a great job melding their NFL license and NCAA license into products.  I really like these rookie cards, with college unis, NFL team logos, and draft position front and center on the card.  Well done.  And this set will be done, too, as soon as I get my latest order.

Now we're stepping back in time (about 22 years) to finish a set.  This card represents the last card I needed for 1994 Classic NFL Experience.  Set completed! 

We'll take a quick football break and hit only my 2nd basketball purchase of the year.  Grant Hill is my all-time favorite player, and I love these two inserts.

I don't collect much basketball, but the collection I do have revolves around College Players of the Year.  Joe Smith is another of my all-time favorites.

Now back to the football PCs.  This Curtis Martin is numbered to 250, with the old dot matrix style numbering on Collector's Edge.

As much as I love the feeling of completing a set, these next few cards are my favorites of the order, and possibly my favorite pickups this year.

A couple of 2006 Police Set Packers.  Very cool oddballs, and my first Chad Clifton.

I've decided to step up my BYU game, and I've found a few cheap autos of BYU legends.  Luke Staley won the Doak Walker Award in 2001 after rushing for nearly 1600 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 8.1 yards per carry.  He had a history of injuries, however, and when he declared early for the 2002 draft, he lasted until Detroit drafted him in Round 7.  True to his history, he hurt his knee in training camp and never even played a preseason snap.  This is my first Luke Staley card, and first auto. 

Kyle Van Noy was a BYU fan favorite for his off-the-field story, but he cemented his legendary status as a junior in 2012 when he became the first player in NCAA history to record a stat in every defensive category (tackle, tackle for loss, sack, pass defensed, interception, touchdown, forced fumble, fumble recovered, blocked kick, and safety) in two straight seasons, and then single-handedly won the Poinsettia Bowl by forcing a fumble and recovering it in the end zone and then returning a pick for a touchdown.  This Panini Hot Rookies Refractor is my third Van Noy auto.

And here's the biggie.  I did not collect during the early 2000s, so I bought exactly zero cards in 2005.  Therefore, I missed out on Aaron Rodgers's rookie year.  And I'm cheap, so I've never spent more than $5 on a single card.  But when I came across this on COMC for $2.62, I jumped on it.  You are looking at my first Aaron Rodgers rookie.  I'm a happy Packers fan.

The rest of my Black Friday was set building on Sportlots, and I'll update you on that later.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sportslots Football

Do you know what football collectors need?  A Just Commons website.  As far as I have been able to find, we are limited to COMC and Sportlots, and while I use both, neither provides the extreme cheapness for base cards that's available at Just Commons.  I tend to use Sportlots more, because it's usually a hair cheaper.  I recently, or maybe not so recently, placed an order to help fill out my collection.

Let's begin in the 80s.  Since it's hard to see the names on those Upper Deck cards and you may not be familiar with these players in their college unis, I'll clue you in: Roger Craig, Steve Largent, and Kellen Winslow.  I love that picture of Roger Craig, launching through the line.

Here's a trio of Mike Singletarys.  I was unaware that he had worn #63 at Baylor, and it caught me by surprise.  Largely thanks to that '85 team, there are far too many Bears on the 1980s All-Decade team.  These All-Decade players are the only time that I specifically seek out Bears cards for my collection, but there are four on the 80s team: Singletary, Dan Hampton (as shown above), Jimbo Covert, and Walter Payton.

I love these two shots of college-aged Jerry Rice.  I'd imagine that usable photos from Rice's college career are harder to come by because he went to such a small school, so I'm glad to add these to my collection.  All of these cards are from players who spanned the 80s and 90s teams.

My first reaction upon seeing the 1989 Score Tim Brown was, "There is no way that is Tim Brown."  Well, unbeknownst to me, this is the error card featuring a photo of James Lofton.  There is a corrected version, as well.  I don't mind error cards, but it was confusing when I didn't know it existed.

By now, you've quite a few of the 1990 Fleer Stars 'n' Stripes.  I never even knew that this set existed before I bought a bunch of it in this lot.  At first I thought it was an insert set, but it is actually set.  Beyond that, I don't know anything about it.  The 1989 Topps is Atwater's rookie, and my favorite of this set.

Now we get into the more recent players.  I've noticed as I've tried to put together these All-Decade teams that it is getting harder and harder to find cards of offensive linemen.  As a former offensive linemen, that's disappointing.  But even if I had never played along the line, the men in the trenches deserve much more cardboard credit than they receive.  Nowadays, even the best linemen are featured as rookies and then never again.  Take Alex Mack, for example.  He has a slew of 2009 RCs, but only 16 total cards after that; 2011 National Treasure and 2014 National Treasure are the only two sets with Alex Mack cards, and he is one of the premier centers in the league.  Some of these players, like Jonathan Ogden, I would really like to collect more of, but can't find them.  It's a shame.

Here are some of the premier pass-catchers of the 2000s.  I've never cared much for T.O., and the trajectory of his career, as shown in the top three cards here, tells you about all you need to know about him.  A few years ago, I opened a pack of 2008 SP Authentic and pulled one of the Pro Bowl Performers inserts.  Hines Ward, I believe.  I loved the look of it, and every time I've had a chance to pick up one of this set that fits in my collection, I go for it.  Maybe after I pick up all the guys I specifically need, I'll shoot for the full set.  Maybe I'll even put up a wantlist for it.  Maybe.

Here are some fearsome defenders.  I love this Strahan.  This to me is everything a good football card should be: great action shot, beautiful photography, a simple, yet attractive, design, easy to read, etc.

We'll finish up the All-Decade players with some all-time great DBs.  Here is another Pro Bowl Performers insert of Ed Reed.  Unsurprisingly, he has the ball in his hands.  Reed was one of the biggest ballhawks I've ever seen.

We'll finish this post with a couple of Lambeau Legends, including Mr. Lambeau himself.  This is only my second card of Curly Lambeau, and the other is part of a box set I have, so this is his first representation in my Packers binder.  In hindsight, the binder felt incomplete without it.  Now I'm trying to think if there is any other iconic figure missing, and immediately I realize I need Don Hutson and Ray Nitschke in the binder.  But Lambeau was definitely a must-have.

In all, this purchase was under $15.  It's not a bad price, but if I were buying similar cards from Just Commons, I estimate that I would have saved $5 or $6.  Sportlots kills me with the cost of shipping, and it's hard to find what each individual seller has on the site so you can make your purchase from one person at a time.  However, this drawback is not keeping me from buying off of Sportlots, and you'll see some more of my purchases coming soon.

Straight Outta the Burbs

I've never met famed blogger Tony Burbs in person, but I imagine he looks something like this. I hope his neighbors are a little better, though.  Or at the very least, better neighbors than I am a blogger.  As I was going through my blog pics, searching for my next post topic, I found these cards that Tony sent me a few weeks ago and I never posted.  I may not post too often, but I usually try to stay on top of things when fellow bloggers send me things.  I want to give credit where credit is due.  Well, here is some belated credit for a nice little PWE from the Burbs.

Here are a couple Update Series that Tony posted on his own blog and I asked if they were for trade.  He set them aside for me, and here they are.  That Hosmer is the perfect card for my All-Star MVP collection.  Holding the MVP trophy with his new ride in the background, parked at second base. 

Now for some Cubs.  Strain, Borowski, and Happ are all new players to my collection, so they are much appreciated.  If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be more excited about Albert Almora than Jorge Soler, I would have thought you were crazy.  But here we are and only one of them is still a Cub--and I'm glad it's Albert.  Best of luck to Soler in KC, though.  I hope he gets through those injuries and fulfills the enormous potential all of us Chicago fans saw.  This Heyward was on my list of most coveted cards when it was released earlier in the year.  After a season watching Heyward's struggles, I'm far less enthusiastic about the signing, but his defense is still incredible.  Even more incredible is the fact that he is still only 27 and has years to bounce back.  It seems like he has been around forever.  Even the grizzled vets of this Cubs team are still youngsters.

A couple of mini here, from two different products.  I may be in the minority here, but I think I consistently like Gypsy Queen more than A&G.  Allen & Ginter's designs have gotten a little stale, and while they look nice, they tend to be difficult to distinguish from year to year.  Both of these minis are nice looking cards, though.

We'll wrap it up with some Packers.  Ken Ruettgers started for more than half a decade in Green Bay and was pretty underrated.  His last season in the NFL was the year the Pack beat the Pats in the Super Bowl, so he got a ring for his years of service.  Ironically, it was also the only year Ruettgers wasn't a full-time starter.  Then there is the legendary Bart Starr...horribly off-center with perforated edges!  It's a perfect oddball!  This one comes from Sports Illustrated for Kids.  Confession time: back when my school (the one I where I teach, not when I was a kid) had a subscription to SI for Kids in the library, I would take back issues and remove the cards if they were still there.  Most of the time they were, but sometimes somebody would beat me to it.  The final two cards are two great Antonio Freemans.  I've never seen this eX set, and I think it looks really good.  The 2000 Topps, though, is especially awesome because it features a snowy Lambeau field.  That is football at its best.

I may late in posting this, but thanks for the cards, Tony!