Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jumbo v. Hobby OR What is a Relic?

I got two boxes of 2015 Topps, one jumbo and one hobby, with the express goal of finding out which is a better box for my busy collecting lifestyle. Both boxes had their pluses and minuses (lots of pluses, actually, but one BIG minus). Let’s take these one-by-one:

The Jumbo

I'd never busted a jumbo in my life, so there was a lot to discover here.

The first thing I learned is that the nature of the jumbo packaging is physically bad for the cards. A little shy of half of them had a soft corner or two and a lot of cards had that ribbing embedded in the short edge from the packs being sealed by uncaring machinery. The bottom card in every pack was always an insert, too, so I pulled a lot of damaged inserts. Nothing of significant value was lost, but I was a little annoyed.

The jumbo box promised three relic/auto hits, at least one of which was guaranteed to be auto. In reality I pulled TWO autos and one relic. Great start.

The jumbo box produced 76% of the base set. Having read that buying a jumbo practically guaranteed a full base set in previous years, this was disappointing. I also got a healthy stack of dupes for trades and keepers.

At the time I busted this box the Jeter base card was selling on eBay for five bucks, and I was disappointed that the Jumbo box gave none. Luckily the hobby box would not disappoint on this front.

The Hobby

The most amazing thing about the hobby box was the collation. I got 87% of the base set and ZERO dupes. Exactly zero. Impressive! There was a moment when I thought I had a dupe, but it turned out to be a Kennys Vargas SP. After busting it I expected I could potentially end up with two base sets by the time I finished with the jumbo if it had comparable collation, but it wasn't even close. I am very close to two full base sets, though.

People went all apey for this card
Vargas here is an SP

So, the big minus? I pulled zero relics and zero autos. In one of the packs was a Yadier Molina Commemorative MLB pin, but that is not a relic. It’s manufactured, the same way the cards are. I mentioned it to Topps a few times on Twitter but got no response. I've got to admit I’m still pretty raw about it.

I mean, are manufactured relics actually relics? Let’s talk about that word for a moment.

Sorry to get all high school graduation speech on you...

Okay, does this fit that description?

It's a great card, but is this “an object surviving from an earlier time?” Yes: a few months ago. It was made in a factory then glued to this card before being sealed in mylar and bought by me. This is from an earlier time in the same way that every photograph is of you in the past.

I also have a Blu-Ray “relic” from an earlier time: the heady days of early March, 2015. I got it at Best Buy. I mean, in this sense everything is a relic because everything is “from an earlier time.” Shall we exploit that definition until this word ceases to have meaning?

You know, I just so happen I have a real relic – like, really real:

This is a medal given to me by a nun when I was in the 7th grade, and it contains an honest-to-goodness relic. It’s a tiny piece of the clothing of San Enrique de Osso y Cercello. This is what you would call a religious relic. He was canonized in 1993. Sadly, I have very little information on his baseball career.

I have another relic, too:

That’s a relic. Its two relics, even. THESE ARE RELICS.


Ok, see? Not a relic, but this comes from a blaster which is something we buy knowing we’re not getting a relic. It is not represented as a relic. On the other hand, according to that hobby box, the definition of relic is “something attached to a card that isn't card” as in “This card has a relic on it,” or “This card contains a relic.” It can't just be anything. So why the sudden double-standard?

That metal thing glued to my Yadier Molina card is shiny and cool and fun to pull, but the fact remains there were zero relics in that hobby box, my friends. Zero.

I should clarify that I really like manu-relics, provided you don’t call them relics. So ignore the little advertisement on the hobby box guaranteeing you one autograph or relic card per box. It is possible to not pull any at all. It happened to me.

In summation:

Jumbo Pluses: lots of duplicate base cards, three hits, more autos than expected

Jumbo Minuses: some damaged cards, far short of a complete base set especially compared with a hobby box, higher price

Hobby Pluses: huge chunk of the base set with no duplicates, SP pull

Hobby Minuses: Topps counted a manu-relic as a relic

If circumstances had been better hit-wise, I would be gung-ho hobby here. Unfortunately I’m a little soured on the whole idea of trusting your sole hit will be just that – a hit. I typically buy only one hobby box of flagship per year (this year was the exception), and while my 2014 hobby box was fun and value-packed, this one was kind of disappointment. The SP helped, but this year the Jumbo came out on top.


EDIT: 4.26.15

The Bautista is spoken for, everybody. Sorry!

Friday, April 17, 2015

I Wallet Carded a Kris Bryant Home Run

See that guy jogging home after a three-run dinger? That would be the much-hyped Kris Bryant. Kris played what may be his last minor league game in a while last night against the New Orleans Zephyrs just a few blocks from my house. And despite balancing a big basket of chicken fingers on my lap, I was able to squeeze the ol' Wallet Card in there for his trot home.

I knew he was getting called up very soon, but I had no idea it would be so soon after his last AAA game. Kris played today, going 0-4 with three K's, I would not have expected such an outcome as that home run last night was on the very first pitch of the at-bat. He made it look really, really easy.

Happy Kris Bryant Day from Boudreaux and Clotile Nutria.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Busting Packs in Poughkeepsie

I took a trip to Poughkeepsie, New York a few months back to visit friends; and yes, I dragged them to the only card shop in town, Champion Cards. Here's a scan-heavy post of all the wacky stuff I brought home.

The place is loaded with paintball stuff, board games, card supplies, a strange mix of old and new wax boxes, a bunch of bizarre packs, and a small table with a bunch of single cards in boxes. Here are a few of the ones I flew home with.

Do you think Fred Thompson knows he has a card out there?

Now I know what you're wondering: were there any Griffeys?

Indeed there were. Not many, but I was able to unearth a few from the pile of boxes. All dupes for me, but I had to give them a home.

The real treat of this particular card shop was the plethora of packs to be had, one of which contained this beauty:

Yes, I pulled this. No, I didn't have it before. It's pretty rare that I get to pull a Griffey I need from an old pack. I nerded out pretty hard in front of my friend and her significant other.

This pack of Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee actually came from Toys R Us at Times Square, but I snuck it in here because this pack is not getting its own post. That Toys R Us had the greatest Lego section I've ever seen (Nachos Grande - you need to go check it out. Seriously, I teared up a little and spent a lot), but the card section was pretty neglected not to mention buried in the video game section on the lowest of the store's four floors. Hey, I remember that Sweeney...

Back to the card shop. There were dozens of 25-cent packs to be had, and I cleaned them out. Here are a bunch of Batman cards from arguably the worst Batman movie ever made. Two words: bat nipples.

Ugh. I mean they're kind of cool I No, they're not. Never mind.

Oh, man. Now we're talkin'.

I hate to say it, but these two Maggie Smith Hook cards are worth far more to me than any Batman Forever cards ever could. She's amazing in Downton Abbey and, of course, the Harry Potter movies.

Here is every card I pulled with Rufio on it because Rufio. 'Nuff said.

I hate to say it, but this movie does not hold up. It was awesome when I was a kid, but I tried to watch it recently and lost interest really fast. Except for the food fight imagination scene. That was the bomb.

Anyhoo, Dustin Hoffman was definitely the bright spot in my adult Hook-viewing experience. Smee was also perfect. I was kind of rooting for the bad guys the whole time.

So was the croc alive or what? Does he actually swallow Hook at the end? So many unanswered questions...

Stickers, though!


My favorite packs of the trip! This movie absolutely holds up. In fact, it's funnier than ever when I watch it now. Even the sequel has a lot of great moments. How did that happen?

I was really excited to pull George Carlin cards. I wasn't even thinking about that possibility when I bought the packs. They're pretty much as legit if not more so than Bill Murray cards.

I honestly could watch the mall scene with Extreme's "Play With Me" once a day every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it.

I bought a LOT of these packs, but I was still far enough away from completing the set that I've never revisited even trying. Maybe one day.

Let's get back to baseball for a sec:

They had a bag containing 100 sealed 1-card packs like this. These were the bags sent to Denny's for the Grand Slam promotion. The whole caboodle was only five bucks.

I busted every last one. I was looking for the Griffey the entire time. After about 60 packs I decided to look it up and found that there is no Griffey in this set. Jay Buhner was the Mariner in the '96 Grand Slam set. Hm.

After that I decided to build the entire 28-card set. After opening every single pack, I was still one card short: Jay freakin' Buhner. I had to buy the thing on COMC. I did, however, pull this:

Apparently they had an insert in this set, and lucky me, I got the Bonds. These were 1:56 packs, but I got only one. There is also an Artist's Proof parallel for these cards, but those were 1:360 packs. I've never even seen one.

Anyway, for five bucks I would say it was worth it just to open all those packs.

I would also say this was a pretty solid 25-cent pack of Sportflix. Check out Mo with the big bat.

This is a set of cards made by Topps that featured Yo Mama jokes. Apparently it's a game of some kind. They are horrifyingly inappropriate. I have a half dozen problems with that one on the right.

Ha ha ha ha ha! Parental suicide! AHHHHH-HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Frickin' Topps, man.

This was one of the big treats: a Topps pack from National Trading Card Day 2004! Check these out:

Not bad, right? Wait...there's more!

Here's another!

I honestly wish they'd had 100 of these. I would have bought every one.

The biggest baseball card success came from the trove of '97 Leaf packs, all still a quarter each. Here are the highlights:

Nothing crazy valuable, but some solid serial-numbered cards. I only bought a dozen or so packs; but with all the hits I pulled, the insertion ratios looked awfully foolish.

Sadly Series 2 (which is also the uglier of the two series) was the one with the Griffey base card, but these were still a blast to open. That remains one of my favorite Mark Grace cards ever.

I also ended up buying a card game called "Love Letter" from the game guy. He assured me it was an excellent small-time group game, and he was right. We play it all the time now. Highly recommended.

So that was the cardboard leg of my New York adventure. It made me excited to check out more small town card shops in search of old discount packs. Plus I got to drink in a hotel room, and isn't that kind of the point of going trips?