Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Set So Nice They Made it Twice: 1995 Collector's Choice SE

1995 Collector's Choice SE #125

In my collection: dupes of all but the gold signatures

Griffey looks: tongue-tastic

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  A rare mid-baserunning portrait from a fan favorite set of the '90's.

The set: I know I usually poo-poo sets that seem indulgent and unnecessary.  I'm not getting soft, I swear.  There are plenty of sets out there that just didn't need to be made and they will have my ire.  But this is not one of them. 

That being said, this is the second set in the same year released under the Collector's Choice banner, and it is perfectly awesome.  Perhaps it had to do with the strike or perhaps the brand's inaugural '94 set was a big commercial success because Upper Deck added this Special Edition with a slightly higher price tag and a little bit more foil for the kids.  They also expanded the silver/gold signature parallels to incorporate the border which looks pretty cool, especially on the golds.

They also kept the stellar, often quirky photography to which we collectors had grown accustomed.  The card back design is nearly perfect and the simple two-level parallel and low price made CCSE a joy to buy and a breeze to collect.  Everything about this set is fun and easygoing.

Here are a few from my personal keeper box:

If that Randy Johnson batting card alone doesn't make you make you love this set, you don't like baseball cards.  The one-armed Maddux is framed beautifully as is Buhner in the outfield.  The Fantasy Team subset is pretty cool, too, despite the fact that Griffey is not included.  And that is, admittedly, one of the ugliest A-Rod "rookies," but the Rookie Class subset itself isn't half bad.  I remember pulling a dozen or so of the Jason Isringhausen.

Here's the Griffey:

This photo reminds me of an old joke: a guy walks into a bar hoping to meet a lady, but he quickly notices that all the women in the bar are crowding around one man at a table in the corner.  So our guy goes to the bartender and asks, "Hey, what gives?  How does he get all the ladies?"  Then the bartender says, "I don't know.  Every night he just sits there in the corner, licking his eyebrows."

Despite how tongue-tastic this photo is, a shot like this is uncommon on a Griffey card.   It's so up-close for a running shot and can almost be described as a portrait.  And is he stealing a base?  I mean the guy's no slow-poke, but we just don't get to see that very often.  Well done.

1995 Collector's Choice SE #125 Silver Signature

The card backs of the parallels are identical to the regular base cards.

While not making an appearance in the Fantasy Team subset, Griffey is the first non-rookie card in the set in the Record Pace parallel:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #26 Record Pace

Bright primary colors made these cards appear to explode out of the pack.  It's a fun design with multiple action shots per card, but only five players were given cards in this subset for some reason.  I would like to have seen more.

Here is the parallel:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #26 Record Pace Silver Signature

A well-designed checklist rounds out the Griffeys of this base set:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #126 Checklist

Since Griffey got one of the borderless All-Star cards, this is the only one of his cards with a blue border (and silver and gold, if you're lucky).  All three look amazing with the grainy black & white photo.  These are among my favorite checklists ever made.

The silver signature looks even better:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #126 Checklist Silver Signature

That's a pretty nice checklist card, huh?

According to the checklist, there are only nine total Griffeys to be had here, but you know I'm not one to stop at the regular checklist.  Like a truffle pig I nose out my quarry and unearth those obscure Griffeys that the checklist omits.  Don't get too excited, though.  It's just a promo:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #125 Promo

They got it pretty close - just remove the border and add the little All-Star box and there's the base card.  The regular Collector's Choice Promo wasn't even close:

I'm still looking for the three Gold Signature parallels:

1995 Collector's Choice SE #26 Record Pace Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #125 Gold Signature
1995 Collector's Choice SE #261 Checklist Gold Signature

Everybody loves the Collector's Choice brand, particularly from '94-'96.  I would like to see another quirky, low-cost brand with different photography (looking at you, Topps).  Let's get a petition started or something.  Come on, card makers!

Now in the interest of my own anal-retentiveness, here are a bunch of side-by-side comparison scans.  Enjoy!

#125 Promo, Silver Signature, Regular

Promo back, Regular and parallel back

#26 Silver Signature, Regular

#261 Silver Signature, Regular

Six Rack Packs of 2014 Topps

Today is my first ever snow day.  People are calling it "sneuxpocalypse."  Not good people, but people.  So, I ran to Wally World this morning to pick up some beef jerky and to check for early stocking of 2014 flagship.  And wouldn't you know it?

No blasters, packs, or hanging boxes; but plenty of these.  Here's what I got, starting with the base cards:

A lot of celebration and autograph shots in the new set.

Sure that Kendrys Morales card is not showing his face, but it's a great shot.  And how great is that Rivera card?

I really like the return of the Future Star stamp.

I'm so used to a line of text below the names - these seem empty without it.

Here's a few double-play cards...

...and some excellent plays at the plate.

I don't know what the SP theme is this year, but I'm hoping it's tongue-shots.  If that's the case, here are three.

Wal-Mart blues - no surprise here.

A couple of serial-numbered golds, too.

Plenty of limey parallels, too.  I didn't know this was a thing.

These sparkle pink parallels look to have replaced the spinach of 2013.

I love the Super Veteran insert, but I seem to remember the original '83 SV cards featuring players that have more years under their belts.

Good-looking insert.  I like the color-coding here which is repeated on the backs.

This year's rookie insert looks like Gypsy Queen.

That blue is the border.  It's die-cut with rounded corners and that swoosh on the bottom right coming off the card a bit.  Not sure how I feel about these yet.  I guess I like them.

Only pulled one each of these inserts, but I love the Mattingly.  I assume there's a Griffey of that Rookie Cup Team?

This has a game code on the back I'll probably never use.  It must be pretty rare because I only pulled one out of all those cards.  Apparently there are 110 of these in each series, and they want me to get them all.  I don't see that happening...

Hope you enjoyed the fruits of my scanning.  I'm off to....what do people without jobs do all day?  Nap?  Blog?  I'll probably do a little bit of both.  Stay warm!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Guys' Night In

I write this from a city in panic mode.  The reason?  It's going to be 33 degrees tomorrow in New Orleans.  It might even snow.  There are a few things that we do really well here in the South: cooking, eating, sweating, crowd control, and holding our liquor.  But cold?  This is not in our skillset.  People are losing their minds, including the folks at my wife's place of work. 

You see, she works on the other side of this body of water called the Mississippi River around which all the places we know and love are built.  There's no doubt in anyone's minds that the bridges will close, so she is at her parents' house so she will be able to get to her job (she's a chemist, and her lab never really closes).  She brought the dog with her, so tonight it's just me and thousands and thousands of cards. 

There's also a distinct probability that my place of business will be closed tomorrow, so I may have a day off to blog about baseball cards.  In case that doesn't happen, I need to take advantage of tonight's alone time to get a few posts started.


You can't tell, but it's now been a few hours since I wrote that sentence above, and guess what I've been doing? 

Having a damn blast, that's what.

Actually it was very dorky.  It wasn't any one thing, but more of a symphony of dorkiness.  For example, I wore the Adventure Time Finn onesie with attached feet my wife got me as a joke for Christmas - incredibly warm though socially unacceptable.  I listened to the latest Chvrches album (shamelessly catchy Taylor Swiftian teenbop nouveau with big electronic balls and sporadic cursing).  And dorkiest/awesomest of all, I had me a Griffey sort.

This was not your average Griffey sort, either.  As you can see on the right side of this blog page, I surpassed the 7,000 Griffey mark. 

The best thing about tonight's sort apart from the milestone is the duplicate ratio of this particular group of new Griffeys.  The final counts put it at 142/82, that being 142 total cards, 82 of which are new adds.  That's a dupe ratio of 1.731, well below my average.  This is true despite the addition of 37 specimens of a card I didn't need in the first place:

They were cheap, shipping was free, and I am hopeless.

Remove that admittedly unwise purchase from the equation and the dupe ratio drops to 1.28.  This is the result of more disciplined buying on COMC and, to a far lesser extent, eBay.  There's more money changing hands per card than the eBay lot purchases of yesteryear, but the benefits are obvious.

I also got another post started tonight, a return to form of sorts where I show all the Griffeys from a particular set/year.  Excited about getting back on track.

Here's to a warm night indoors with a nice scotch and a favorable Griffey count.  What more can a dorky man ask for?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Howard Makes Like a Tree and Leafs: a Trade Post

I am most decidedly not a set collector, but there is one set that has had me smitten since I opened my first pack at the card stand in Lakeside Mall 18 years ago.  Readers of this blog may already have an idea of what set I'm talking about.

While far from the most popular set of the 90's, 1995 Leaf is the bee's knees in this guy's humble opinion.  They came in and classed up the joint with their lovely gold foil script and holofoil elements on every base card. 

I never considered building the set as a kid, but that changed when I purchased hobby boxes of both series 1 and 2 last year.  I guess I was trying to recapture a bit of the pack-busting fun I had in my youth, but a side effect of that is that suddenly I was only 11 cards short of the entire set.  As a collector, it became my responsibility to complete this thing.  That's where Howard comes in.

Howard runs the blog Wanted: Baseball Cards and is in the process of re-entering the online trading community.  He e-mailed me out of the blue offering the remaining cards from my '95 Leaf checklist.  How nice is that?

I didn't need anything particularly rare or expensive, but sometimes those weird common cards that nobody held on to can be the toughest to find.

Howard must have had a whole box of them laying around in reasonable order, though, because he locked down every one.

Lucky for me he has a list of '74 Topps needs on his blog which is something I could actually help him with.  I have a couple of those on their way to you now, sir, along with a couple of other cards you may like.  Thanks so much for the help!