January 31, 2018

Happy Topps Release Day!!!

To be fair, I was able to find the cards I'm going to share here on Monday this week but haven't been able to write about them yet. Today is the day that so many collectors anxiously await, the release of the year's first baseball card product. It's Topps series one release day! As mentioned, I was happily surprised to start my week by finding some new cards sitting on the shelf at Target on Monday.

I decided to try a blaster and a hanger box to kickoff the new collecting year. I was happy to see the 'Target Exclusive' Derek Jeter Highlights cards advertised on the front of the blaster. Others may be tired of new Jeters or new Yankees in general, but I'm excited to chase more cards of the Captain. I was just hopeful that the card design would look nice. I guess its an added bonus that there are also some coupons to use later. I decided to rip into the blaster first.

Here is a representation of the different subsets to be found. Future Stars, League Leaders, World Series Highlights, and team cards are all available. I scanned the Hosmer and Ozuna because I thought they were some of the more interesting photos from the blaster. I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about the design this year. I've heard some people refer to it as the 'Aquafresh' set or the 'wave' set. So far, for me, the design element that my eye tends to be drawn to is the effect found on the right side of the player and team name bars. It reminds me of the movie 'Pixels'. The more I look at it, the more it grows on me.

Here is a smattering of different inserts that I found. We've got Award Winners, Opening Day, Topps Salute, Superstar Sensations, 1983 35th Anniversary, and Legends in the Making. I was really happy to pull two Judge inserts after not having much luck pulling his RCs last year. I love the early career photo of the Straw-Man they used on the Salutes card. Across the bottom row, I scanned Verlander and Darvish because they show them in their new unis. While they may not be the first pieces of cardboard to do so, I still thought it was nice to see. I pulled 4 of the 1983 cards. I decided to scan Devers(despite being a Red Sox) because he is one of the most exciting young players to have RCs in series 1. I really like the way these look. However, they used a more modern card stock which leaves them a bit too slick feeling for my liking. I'm not sure if I'll make even a half hearted attempt at putting that set together. I feel like it would have been a real winner if they had used the same 'old school' card stock they used on the 1987 set last year. 

The Captain!!! I was thrilled to find 4 of these Derek Jeter Highlights cards in the blaster and I'm really happy with the simple, jersey-inspired design. I will definitely need to track all of these down.

While I was excited to be opening packs of the first set of the year, the blaster had left me a bit underwhelmed until the second to last pack I opened. I had only pulled a single gold, a single rainbow foil parallel, and only a few rookies(none of which were the ones I really wanted to pull). However, right in the middle of that second to last pack was a card that helped redeem the box.

Willie Calhoun has been a pretty highly touted prospect in the Dodgers system over the past few years. The Rangers acquired him in the Yu Darvish trade and he was one of their September call-ups, playing in 13 games. This is the Mother's Day Pink parallel and is #/50. I beat pretty astronomical odds finding this in my blaster as they fall 1:694 packs. I still had the 'relic' pack to go too. This year, series 1 includes Manu-relics featuring the altered MLB logo that was used during Players Weekend. I thought this was a pretty fun idea for a 'relic' set which is the main reason I opted to go for the blaster and not just multiple hangers.

I still like the design of the card and I have no issue with pulling a Josh Donaldson. I do have an issue with their photo selection though. One of the most fun aspects of Players Weekend was the use of nicknames on the jerseys. Why have a set that is supposed to highlight Players Weekend if the photo selected doesn't showcase one of the main aspects of said weekend? I just don't get it. I have yet to  see the Yankees from this set, but I sure hope that their nicknames are visible, especially since there is the added novelty of the Yankees never wearing names on their jerseys. I'm hoping they'll be really cool additions to my collection once I track them down. Let's move on to the hanger box.

Ahhh, finally a few of the RCs I will be chasing made an appearance in the hanger box brick. Since I'm a fan of any WS Highlight cards, I had to scan the WS MVP. As I'm sure anyone reading is aware, Kiermaier is one of my favorite players in the league. Robbing HRs has become fairly common for him, but I never tire of seeing photos of him in action. This particular one looks like he is doing his best MJ 'Jumpman' impression. I decided to include the newest Yankee for exactly that reason and I love the gritty detail on that Tapia. It's just a great baseball card. There were no inserts that I felt the need to scan, but there was one card I thought looked a bit different as I flipped through the brick of cards. A quick scan of the minuscule codes on the card backs confirmed my initial suspicion that I had uncovered one of the lower tier photo variation SPs.

I can't even put into words how thrilled I was that I had pulled an SP that would immediately slip into my PC. This is the variation on card #1 in the set. Obviously I love Judge(otherwise this wouldn't be his third appearance in this post), but am I the only one that can see Cameron(Alan Ruck) from Ferris Bueller's Day Off here?

It's not too much of a stretch, right? Anyway, to all who are searching for new product, I hope you find some and have great luck as you rip into the first cards of the year! I think I'll go searching for some loose and fat packs so I can use some of my coupons from that blaster. Thanks for reading.

January 28, 2018

It's Royal Rumble Sunday!

In honor of 'the Road to Wrestlemania' officially kicking off tonight at WWE's Royal Rumble, let's take a look at some Topps Road to Wrestlemania that I was lucky enough to find earlier today.

I was able to find a blaster and decided to add a Fat Pack because it promised a Randy Savage Tribute card. Let's take a look at the Fat Pack first.

Like years past, there is a highlight set and a separate roster set. These are some favorites from the highlights set. I'm a sucker for the cards that show off Championship gold. I love how the cards can tell the story of the past year. The top row tells such a story. Harry's return at Wrestlemania and win the tag belts. Cesar's and Sheamus fight to a draw in their best of seven series-eventually they are put together as a team, they beat the Hardy's for the belts. Along the bottom are some of my favorite moments of the past year. If The Revival can stay healthy, I look forward to seeing them make an impact in the RAW tag team division. I was never a big Bray Wyatt fan, but I thought it was very entertaining when they briefly put the title on him. I think ey should have given him a longer run with it. Instead, we got stuck with several months of Jinder Mahal as champion. AJ Styles is probably my favorite performer on either roster right now and I particularly love the final card of the scan because it highlights his US title win over Kevin Owens at Madison Square Garden at a live event. Great performer, great venue, reminder that a title can change hands at any event...this card represents it all.

This is perhaps my favorite card from the pack. I love the design of this tribute set! It is so 'Macho Man-esque'!!! I think I'll have to build that set. On to the blaster highlights.

Here are a few from the roster set. Backgrounds come in one of those three colors and don't seem to have any rhyme or reason behind which superstar gets which color. The bottom row are three of my favorite current stars.

Here are other high points from throughout the past year. Though I didn't get to watch any of the CWC, I did have high hopes for the return of the division. Here we are over a year after the crowning of its inaugural champion and the division seems to be without direction, excitement, and most recently(due to the release of reigning champ, Enzo Amore) without a champion. I hope WWE can turn things around for the cruiserweights. The KO/Jericho friendship and subsequent feed was definitely one of the most entertaining storylines of the last year. I love anything pertaining to Alexa Bliss. What she lacks in ring skills, she makes up for on the mic by playing the perfect manipulative/conniving heel.

The blaster contained two of the Andre the Giant Tribute cards. I was happy to pull them, but if I'm looking at design, this set pales in comparison to the Savage set. I'll have to build it nonetheless, because Andre is one of my favorites to watch when I first got into wrestling. I really like the manu-relic with the faux Andre the Giant Battle Royal trophy, but pulling Tyler Breeze really made the blaster fall a bit flat. I'm not a fan of the Fashion Files and I probably would have been happier with almost anyone else I could have pulled from the set. Also making an appearance in the blaster/fat pack were bronze parallels of the highlight set. I chose not to scan any of those because I wasn't overly impressed with the moments I pulled parallels for.

This was a fun break of a product I was actively searching for all week and served as a great appetizer, leaving me Rumbling for the Royal main course tonight! Anyone else looking forward to the PPV? Thoughts on who wins the Rumble or the first ever Women's Rumble? Hoping for any particular 'surprise entrants' to make an appearance? Thanks for reading.

January 5, 2018

My Favorite Card of the Year - 2017 Edition

I originally started this post on 12/3/17 and had to quickly put it in the shelf. Then I heard about P-Town Tom's 'Favorite Card of 2017' contest currently going on over at Waiting 'til Next Year... Check out the contest here: http://tilnextyear-tom.blogspot.com/2017/12/contest-favorite-card-of-2017.html There are still a few days to enter if you haven't already! I figured it was the perfect motivation to resurrect and repurpose the original post. So, here goes.

This story begins way back at the end of February and wrapped up just as the baseball season was entering the dog days of summer(in the midst of my unintended blog sabbatical). On the day I found Heritage on my Target's shelf a day early, I also picked up a free pack of Topps Series One(courtesy of a coupon on the Heritage hanger box). That free pack would provide me with my favorite card of 2017.

This SSP of Kris Bryant was an awesome surprise out of that retail loose pack! It's got a great photo of a key World Series winning contributor and is a really tough pull but I don't specifically collect SSP cards or Kris Bryant and it doesn't appear to be directly tied to the WS like the Highlight cards I tend to gravitate towards. So, why did I choose this as my favorite card of the year(especially with all the excitement over Aaron Judge this year)? Well, it's because of what I was able to turn his card into. Yes, I immediately posted this gem on eBay and it fetched a good amount. For months I debated internally what I should spend my new found hobby funds on. Then I found it.

I'm really not sure what to say about this card other than I am awestruck every time I look at it. This is one relic card that will never lose its luster or its feeling of being something special. The Kris Bryant SSP allowed me to add an incredible card that fits into my collection, has become an instant favorite, and, I wouldn't have been able to add without the help of my free pack windfall. For that, it is truly my favorite card of 2017! Thanks for reading.