First up, the award for Best Thing About 2018 cards. The list of candidates wasn't huge for Product of the Year, so we generalized.
The winning answer is "Consistency". Which means that this year's stuff wasn't much different from last year, and it didn't totally suck. Stadium Club was good enough to dive into, A&G was pretty decent too, and flagship had a nice base set. Maybe it should be "Predictable", since those are the products that I forecast at the beginning of the year as being the only promising options for me, at least.
One of my major points of contention has been the lack of creativity in (Topps') insert sets. I boycotted all the flagship inserts since they didn't show any originality at all and discontinued a couple good ideas that had spanned multiple production years. I figured out where all the talent went though. The Totality Of Exclusive Innovation Award went to the Allen & Ginter team.
Apparently, there are completely separate creative teams that work on flagship and Allen & Ginter. And the A&G people have an exclusive contract for all the innovation that was promised with exclusive contracts. Ideas like Baseball Equipment, Superstitions, Exotic Sports, and even the star-laden World Talent and Fantasy Goldmine inserts explored some distinctive aspect of the game instead of just recycling ways to say "This star player is amazing 'cause he did this or that."
Moving on, the next, much more prestigious award goes to the Blogger Trader Of The Year.
Congratulations to P-Town Tom! Among several worthy blogger candidates, he had the most assaults on my critical wants. There are several posts where he killed a set or knocked off one of my most elusive singles.
Along those lines, we present the trophy for Blogger Commenter Of The Year.
With kudos to Jon and Night Owl, who probably ranked 2nd and 3rd, our winner is Fuji. He appears the most on my blog and so many others. Can't say enough about what he does to further the blogging cause.
On the Flip Side, it's the award for my Most Viewed Post.
I figured this would be one of the many offerings of a beautiful woman's image, but it actually turned out to be my burning question about when the next actual paper reference book documenting all the cardboard issued before 1980 would be published. Who's Cataloguing The New Stuff? soared off the charts in readership numbers. Not sure where that one got linked besides the blogroll and fellow supporters, but it went crazy. Haven't had three crooked numbers since.
Continuing that theme, My Most Popular Series award goes to...
The Cardboard OCD series. I wrote these tutorials about my little habits and preferences with the idea that they'd be good for a laugh and maybe give a fellow collector a little tip to make their collecting better. Must have worked out, because the reader numbers were pretty decent - even compared to the Leading Ladies customs. The comments were up too. The best posts are those that prompt interaction with others to tell how they do things.
Now on to the cardboard happenings of 2018. The next statue will be in honor of the Best New Shop Owner.
New Orleans native Bruce came to town this year and set up shop in central Frederick. He handles as much autographed memorabilia as he does cards, but it's all good stuff. PrimeTime Sports Collectibles has been open since September or so. It's so nice to have a local shop again. He's still building his inventory of singles, but has plenty of game-used, autographs, new wax, etc.
Staying in the favorite merchant category, next we have the Shop That Became The New Clio Award. (Pronounced kly-o). This is a tribute to the shop in Michigan with the most sheer volume of stuff that appeals to a set builder and player collector like me. They just have tons and tons to choose from (and dig out). I found one kinda like that a lot closer:
The newest incarnation is the booth run by Kevin and his Dad at Rocky Ridge Collectibles between Hagerstown, MD and State Line, PA. I found it via YouTube video. They have a huge inventory that is organized to some degree into sports, years, sets, products, etc. I've been twice and still haven't gone through it all. And I spent the better part of two days in there. Didn't even walk around the rest of the store yet. I'll be back soon!
Let's turn to the merchandise itself. The big idea is to show cards. Here are some categories that revealed themselves as the loot poured in.
Set That Signifies That I've Taken It Up Another Level goes to 1950 Bowman.
This set kinda landed in my lap. A friend's neighbor needed some cash and had a batch of these to sell. I looked 'em up on eBay and made an offer. That started me out. Then I was suprised to find that I could add singles for much less than I anticipated. There are several white whales in the set, but overall, it's really doable. I've been working my way back through the 60's and did '59 last year, but never thought I'd go back this far this soon.
One new development this year was obtaining several sets that you could say combined set building and player collecting. Most Fun Oddballs go to the multiple Cal Ripken sets that started with one and blossomed into a whole binder's worth.
Cal Jr. is a unique player in that there are so many tribute sets to him that no one else has. And they span several years instead of just being confined to the moment of his milestone. His career has become an institution of its own, complete with official logo.
Speaking of boxes and sets, I'll throw in a modest winner for Box Break How It Ought To Be.
I didn't actually buy an unopened box of this stuff, but it was confirmed by many sources. Not flashy or high end, but Topps did it right. 2018 Topps Opening Day yielded a complete set per single box. Any smaller set like this should be crafted this way. And I was able to snag most of the inserts in one shot relatively cheap too. Simple, painless, and won't haunt my want lists for the next several years. In gratitude, I won't go into them naming an insert in the main flagship set the same as this product....
The reverse was also true, when we discovered the Worst Collated Boxes Of All Time.
During the time when my trading buddy Stuart was here, we found several boxes of 1992 Ultimate World League football cards for five dollars or less. Unfortunately, even after four boxes at 100 card apiece, we couldn't finish his set (three cards left after several boxes previously opened) and collate another for me - only about 3/4 of a set - from 400 cards. (I ended up buying them on SportLots.) Complete sets are only 200 cards. This is probably why they were one and done. Not to mention that the league folded too.
Another adventure into minor leagues happened when, in the same SportLots buy that finished the World League sets, I found the Coolest New Player Collection.
With a name like Pookie Bernstine, how can I resist? The tough part is that all his cards are from the minor leagues. But I will prevail!
And rounding out the presentations tonight, the last award is not for something I started, but something I finished. Coolest Non-Sports Set Completed in 2018 is the 1969-70 Topps Man On The Moon set.
Thanks again to Stuart for putting the capper on this one when he went back into a shop we were visiting in the summer. This was the last card that I didn't have, though technically my set is a mixture of the two years' issue. I hope to expand the Apollo & Space binder in the coming year as well.
Homeward Bound is an appropriate card, as that is where we are headed. Good night everyone, and my all your want lists shrink farther than ever in 2019!