July 18, 2020

The End of the 7 Day Trading Card Challenge Road

Here I am, I've come to the end of the line for my 7 Day Trading Card Challenge. There have been twists and turns...planned and unplanned pauses, but the journey ends today. I really appreciate everyone in the blogosphere that took some time to engage with the idea and share their takes on these topics. I truly enjoyed reading everything.

When I first developed the list subject matter, I had a very specific idea of what I was going to write about for the final prompt: Best hobby trend to emerge this year. That being said, my thoughts have changed significantly on this since then. Many other great trends have been highlighted by other writers. I agree that at least 1 or 2 other topics are 'better' than what I'm going to write about. The resurgence of the blogging community would top the list for me. Whether it be the revival of long-dormant blogs, the birth of new ones, or the incredible generosity that has been flowing for months, it's all been a bright light shining through these dim times in which we find ourselves. However, there's no reason to fully rehash these ideas that have already been shared so I will stick to my originally scheduled topic.

Subscription/Club services are a relatively new concept for Topps. This started in 2018 with 582 Montgomery Club. I didn't know about is until early this year and have not paid for a membership, but I have looked into some of e Club's offerings. They include but are not limited to the following: a factory set with a silver foil Montgomery Club stamp on each card, several 'exclusive' mini sets inspired by some part of Topps' history(some including autos), access to purchase club only products, and early access to some other popular products. Since I am not a member, I'm not going to go into too much detail on this, but I feel that last perk deserves some attention. Especially in the current hobby climate, where product is scarce in the wild and trying to order exclusives online(Bowman First Edition or Sapphire for example) is impossible, having early access to the ability to order product is a huge benefit. I'd argue that it even shows that Topps is trying to take care of its customers(I know some may disagree, but I'm keeping it positive here folks). This is actually one of the reasons I am thinking about making an attempt to secure a membership for 2021. Heck, Finest Flashback just came into my awareness over the past few days and members had an opportunity to buy boxes before Topps employed a lottery system to offer purchase opportunities to non-members. That would have made membership all worth it for me this year. For those wondering what Finest Flashback is, consider researching it a bit, especially if you're a nostalgic collector and loved the 1993 Finest set, you won't be sorry.

The newest subscription offering(and the one I am familiar with) began in April this year. It is the Topps Future Stars Club. The premise is similar, but on a smaller scale. For $26.68/month, you are opted in to the club and will receive a blaster of product(TBD each month), an exclusive themed set(roughly 5 cards/set thus far), and a 'collectible' item. I am a sucker for some of the 'exclusive' sets that Topps has put out between this and Montgomery Club, so that is a nice perk. The real draw for me has been the blaster. Once again, in the current hobby environment, product is hard to find and no one in their right mind would want to risk trekking out to multiple big box stores just to find sports cards right now. Ordering blasters, hangers, fat packs, and the like is also next to impossible these days, so te fact that Topps is going to deliver a blaster a month along with a small, exclusive set, and a random collectible item for a little more than the cost of a blaster in the wild is very appealing to me. Since I've rambled for a while, let's just take a look at the inaugural box contents from April.

I was excited when this arrived in my mailbox(I was a bit surprised that it fit in there too).


Before you say it, I know that the Opening Day Blaster isn't really worth the monthly subscription cost. I agree. In May, they sent a Topps Series One. Going forward, it seems like the cost will even itself out. The collectible item for the month was that Future Stars Club patch. It's unlikely I'll ever put it on anything, but I still think it's pretty cool.

Here is a closer look at the 5-card set. Pretty vanilla design, but it's clean and I like the Club logo on there. It kinda reminds me of Topps Kids in a way.

...And a view of the card back which reveals that the theme of the month was left-handed, power hitting outfielders(while taking up a majority of the real estate). Kinda random, I know. At least they included a player specific trivia question. Overall, it's not a bad set in my opinion.

I may be in the minority on this trend as others may feel things like this are horrible for the hobby, but the collecting landscape is changing and evolving whether we like it or not. These offerings provide a unique way to experience our hobby and in the case of the Future Stars Club, a way to enjoy ripping some packs on a semi-regular schedule without having to leave the comfort and safety of your home. What else can you ask for in the middle of a pandemic? Thanks for reading.

July 17, 2020

My Favorite Non Sport Card - 7 Day Trading Card Challenge

Today's Challenge topic was probably the most difficult for me. I don't have a huge volume of non-sports cards to choose from. You'd think that would make it easier to pick a favorite, but for me it was the opposite. If you've read any of my other Challenge posts, you know that I have selected my favorites based upon the stories behind the cardboard and most of my non-sports stuff doesn't have much to tell about. I've really enjoyed writing those stories down and sharing them so far. Hopefully you've enjoyed them a little bit too. I had to dig deep for this one, but I definitely landed on the right one in the end.

Back in the fall of 2014, my wife and I took our 2 daughters(our third wasn't born yet) to Walt Disney World. Since the girls were too young for most of the rides, a lot of our time was spent on character meet and greets/autograph collecting. One day, while walking around Hollywood Studios, we stumbled upon the Wreck-It Ralph characters. They did a really great job recreating a space from the movie for the meet and greet area(see below).

My oldest daughter, Kara, loved that movie at the time(still does) and since it had so many retro video game references, so did(do) I. We stood in a relatively short line and she repeatedly told me how excited she was to meet them and add their autographs to her book. When it was our turn, she ran up to meet Ralph and Vanellope. I took a few pictures of her and then she asked for a picture of both of us with them. The cast member working the area took my phone and snapped a few for us in addition to the ones taken by their photographer for our PhotoPass. Once photos were done, we were informed that Ralph and Vanellope weren't able to sign autographs(the large costume hands made it too difficult to manage signing). Kara was so disappointed, for a split second. Then the cast member pulled a few cards out of a bag...

As these were handed to us, we were told that it takes Ralph and Vanellope a long time to sign autographs. Since they didn't want people to wait so long to see them, they 'signed' these cards before they came out for their meet and greet to make things go faster. Kara was so excited! We were given three(one for each of us and one for my other daughter).

Here is the back. In reality, these are PhotoPass code cards(used to access the individual character photos for the folks that hadn't already purchased the full service). Personally, I prefer the story told by that cast member. I love that these are standard trading card size and that all of the promotional info was squeezed into the bottom 2/3 which left room for 'traditional' card back info as well. I think back to the moment she was handed this card by that cast member often and it always brings a smile to my face. It is one of the best souvenirs I have ever gotten. Thanks for reading.

June 29, 2020

7 Day Trading Card Challenge - The Re-Write Edition

Wow, how time flies! It's been almost a full month since my last post. Initially, I took a few days to recover from the May posting schedule here and adjust to my girls being on summer vacation. Then, the real world went to hell. Since the blog and hobby play such a huge role in my escapism, I'm going to keep the discussion of those topics out of here for the most part. However, they somewhat inform the reasons for my absence so I'll allude to them briefly. I had planned to write about a recently acquired Negro League card sheet from a 1992 Tuff Stuff, but thought better of it. With everything going on right now, it just didn't feel like the right time. Then, my post for today's topic was about a wrestler/MMA guy that I had briefly written about in the past. It was written, proofed, and ready to publish... Unfortunately, this guy was source of alleged behaviors/actions that can be described as questionable(at best). These allegations surfaced as part of the #speakingout movement that has spread across Twitter during the past few weeks. Once again I thought it best not to post about that particular person's card, especially since my impression of this person is currently in limbo. If he ends up being innocent, perhaps I will revise that post and publish it sometime in the future.

Quite a bit of time and effort went into writing that one and now I needed to come up with another card to write about. The search for a new subject didn't last long. In fact, earlier this month I had considered putting my other planned post on the shelf in favor of this one but ultimately decided against it at the time. Like many of you out there who have been missing sports, I have been enjoying number of the recent ESPN documentaries that have aired. With that being said, I was anxiously tuned in on Sunday June 7th for the debut of the 30 For 30 episode 'Be Water'. If you haven't seen it, the focus was on the life and career of Bruce Lee. I've been a fan of his work and philosophy since I was young. First came my love of his films. I took Tae Kwon Do classes for around 2 years beginning when I was 8 or 9. What kid that age wouldn't be drawn to the fight scenes in his movies?

I've had this poster since way back then. At the time, it was just pinned up on my wall. It currently resides in a frame waiting to decorate the walls of a future entertainment space in the unfinished upstairs of my house.

As I got a bit older, I picked up a copy of this book. I've read through it more times than I can count over the years. It's not so much a 'how-to' as it is a collection of quotes and philosophical writing. It's true that these writings can be applied to martial arts training, but most of them are applicable to facets of daily life as well. Reading it as a teenager had a tremendous influence on my developing world view and flipping through its pages has altered or refocused my outlook on many occasions since. 'Be Water' was okay, definitely not exceptional in my opinion, but watching it brought this influence back to the forefront of my thoughts. I originally hesitated to write about all of this for today's challenge topic only due to the card itself.

Don't get me wrong, I really like this card and it did take me quite some time to actually add it to my PC. Looking at it, I can't help but see it as a reminder of how unlikely it is that I'll ever own the relic version of this which would absolutely be my favorite 'other sport' card though. Ultimately, this still takes the cake over all others because it represents such a huge part of my personal history. Thanks for reading.

June 8, 2020

7 Day Trading Card Challenge - My Favorite Basketball Card

Today's challenge topic is the favorite basketball card in my collection. It's kinda a tough topic. I have plenty of basketball cards accumulated over many years, but there's not really one that stands out from the crowd. Well actually there is, but it doesn't fit today's post. So, I'm cheating a bit on my own challenge topic. My actual favorite basketball card arrived a short while ago, but I'll be writing about it sometime in the future when I put together the second 'Personal PC' post. Therefore, today I'll be telling the story about why my favorite card pictures teams and players that I don't particularly care for.

I've never really had a favorite NBA team. Instead, there has always been a handful of players in the league that I've preferred to watch(and collect). I've definitely had teams and players that I really didn't care for though. Year after year, the Knicks and the Bulls were usually pretty high on that list. Looking back I see that the primary reason I disliked those teams was because so many others that I knew loved them. If there is one thing writing these Challenge post stories has made me realize it's how much of a contrarian I was in my sports opinions, but I digress. Today's card(s) come from a time when the Bulls were coming off of their second championship in a row. I was pulling for any team from the East or West to prevent a third. That year my two least favorite teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite the participants, game two produced one of my favorite basketball moments.

The Dunk! This was an iconic play. Of course we now know that it didn't lead to the Bulls losing, but this was one of the first 'posterized' plays I can remember.

I didn't have this hanging on my wall, but several of my friends did. Alright, let's bring it back to cards. I began collecting basketball heavily during the 1992-93 season while searching for Shaquille O'Neal rookies. My excitement for the 1993-94 releases remained high as I anticipated hunting for Pennies. I remember walking into my LCS one afternoon and being shocked to see that poster image on a basketball card!

This 1st Day Issue parallel was staring at me from inside the display case. I struck up conversation about that game with the shop owner. For the record, he was a Knicks fan. Even back then, I loved those 1st Day stamps and I knew I wanted to have that card in my collection. I can't remember what I paid that day, but I do recall not thinking twice. Over the next few years, I looked fondly at this card quite often. When I packed my stuff to move from NY to NC, it was tucked safely into a box. It stayed there until about 2 years ago. As this blog was heading towards its unintended hiatus, I was staying active searching for post topics. I remembered how much I loved this card and went searching with the intent to write about it, but it took quite some time to find. So much so, that I actually thought I had lost it somewhere along the way. As I hunted box after box, I started checking eBay to find a suitable replacement.

I picked up this Members Only version about a week before I found my 1st Day Issue. Since I had two copies, I figured I'd try to track down the rest of this 'old school rainbow'.

I quickly tracked down this NBA Finals version on COMC and followed it up with the base version.

It's kinda hard for me to believe his was one of the last versions I acquired.

I hunted and found someone selling the last copy I needed as part of a Knicks team lot in a Facebook group. I commented that the Knicks set was sold.  The seller replied that the set was available except the Starks(which was pictured, btw). I messaged back and forth explaining to the seller that the Starks was the only card I was after because it was going to complete my rainbow. There was silence for an hour or two. The next reply came and the seller told me the entire set was available. Turns out he had planned to set the Starks aside for a buddy, but he thought it was cool that it would complete my rainbow and sold it to me instead.

Technically, there is one last parallel that I know exists. Topps often did Master Photo versions back then and one of hose is floating around for this card. However, I'm not planning on adding it the collection since it's not standard size. So, I'm calling this one complete with the 5 versions I have. Thanks for reading.

June 1, 2020

Let's Send it Over to the Randomizer

I want to thank everyone that took the time to participate in any of the contests this month, I hope you all found them to be as much fun as I did. I'm especially thrilled that 'Anything Goes' week drew the biggest response of the month. At the close of the claiming window, we had 16 entries! I apologize for not getting to the randomizer right after 8pm.


Here is the entire list entered into the randomizer.

Here is the screenshot of the list after 7 rounds. The time stamp on the randomizer is set at UTC(Coordinated Universal Time) which is 4 hours ahead of EST. bbcardz, The Lost Collector, and Elliptical Man are the winners of this week's contest. Congrats! I'd appreciate if bbcardz and Elliptical Man could reach out with their address within 48 hours since we have not traded in the past(same to AJ if anything has changed since I last sent stuff your way). As advertised, packages will go to the post office on Thursday.

As a final wrap up on a fun month of contests, I'd love to hear feedback of any kind. Would you like to see these continue in some form? Was a month of this long enough? Sound off. Positive, negative, or completely indifferent I'd love to hear it. Thanks again for helping celebrate the blog re-launch and as always, thanks for reading.