Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Racers & Scooters For Skaters & Shooters

The first batch of cards to find a new home from the vintage lot that I scored from Bruce at Primetime were an odd selection of racing and motorcycle cards.

I knew immediately who I thought would like them and contacted him through the Trading Card Database.  Billy Kingsley came right back and said they were right up his alley, or drag strip, in this case.

He sent me back a selection of Washington Capitals cards.  A nice mixture of eras, with a bunch that I'm pretty sure I can use.

Packed flawlessly, like a good trader should.

 Ultras, Pro Sets, and O-Pee-Chee Caps in all their (now) retro finery.  Turns out I needed a few of these even!

And some of the new guys.  Probably only have the Victory Bondra already, since I bought a bunch of that, but most of the others will probably find spots in my collection.  The Caps are one of the few sub-collections that I actually don't track at all (yet).

I appreciate the trade, Billy!  Might get on the database and contribute some more scans from the "almost done" list this week.

Monday, February 25, 2019

What's Your Hobby / Industry Score?

Great post from SumoMenkoMan at his Sumo Wrestling blog.  He's come up with a scale that illustrates everyone's motivations in the card hobby, and how much value and profit are involved.

In my initial comment on the original post, I said I figured I was an H9.5 or so.  Mostly because I have sold a few things on eBay and tried to set up a table at a show one time.

But the more I think about it, and reread Ryan's post, the description of an H10 is totally me.
H10 Pure Hobbyist: This is the foundation of the hobby.  These are the set builders, blog content creators, TCDB scanners, traders, and pure enthusiasts.  Profit is not in their vocabulary and they do it for the love of sorting, cataloguing, and collecting.  Part of the Hobby Base.
I'll try not to completely rehash my activities, philosophies, and motivations here, but that description fits me to a T...

I've been a set builder since 1978.  Back then that's what most people did, since there were no inserts, hits or parallels.  I originated some player collections then too, which started out as extra cards of interesting players that weren't part of a set build at the time.  I've branched out since then to a 60+ player collector, football (and casual hockey) team collection, astronaut and space non-sport collection, and a few other small projects along with building a couple baseball sets annually (not necessarily the same ones), and occasionally a football or hockey set along the way.  The latter two haven't been happening very often lately.

This blog has been chugging alond steadily for just over two years now.  I can't say it's grown exponentially, since my average view count is still around 50, but it does make most of the major blogrolls and the occasional mention on more famous ones.  Guess I have my moments.  Not sure how much social media helps people know about it.
I do wish I was better at eloquently expressing the aspects of the hobby that I enjoy and find in common with other collectors and explore them on a deeper level.  But most of what I put out is complaints on designs and bloat, and much more shallow ideas.

I do enjoy contributing to the Trading Card Database.  It's such a valuable resource to me that I almost feel compelled to give back in any small way I can.  To improve the content of what I think is the definitive reference for the hobby is very important.  The only thing that would surpass helping other collectors with information about cards is to be able to send them cards myself.  I've been at this a long time, and have accumulated so much - both in cards and knowledge about them - so it's nice to be able to pass that along to others.

As for the money side, I remember the days of looking up every card in Beckett's guides, rejoicing about picking up new stars for bargain prices or pulling that hot card out of a pack.  Now that I'm not limited to a $5 allowance, or a part time income, I'm pretty much over the price guide thing.  Over the years, I've become a good bargain hunter, and can usually find that vintage high number for well under book value.  Any time a dealer pulls out the Beckett magazine these days, I know I'm probably not buying much at his table.  My price reference is COMC, mostly because you can look things up so quickly, but even then, you have to ignore the ones in the dark framed images, because those are marked up by the cooperating dealer.

I am truly blessed to be able to basically spend what I want on cardboard for the most part.  (Or cursed by addiction to have little resistance to doing so.)  I'm not at the level of buying cases or high end boxes, and don't drop more than double digits on any one card most of the time.  I still buy singles and boxes of junk wax just because I like the set.  I'll readily select a big name star card that's got a few imperfections to finish my set and save money rather than holding out for a pristine specimen.  If old cards are too perfect, they look fake.  I'm only after an example that looks good and fits with the rest of my set and don't care if it's only resellable for a fraction of whatever number.

$107.50 for a plastic prison and a label???

As I've said repeatedly, grading has its place in sight unseen transactions and verifying the authenticity of an item, but shouldn't inflate the price beyond the Hi column in the guide for a raw card.  Who cares how many people have decided to submit that card for grading and have recieved that rating?  It's all dependent on the whims of the people involved.  Why would you wildly increase the dollar value based on that?

This casual attitude carries over into trading too.  I don't actually mind if someone wants to make an even trade, that makes sense.  But it's too much work to me to look up every individual card and tally the guide price and then add and subtract to hit an exact number.   I guess it works much easier for high end traders since they're only dealing with a few cards at a time.  But if I've got a stack of cards for you, and you have some for me, then unless there are some high dollar items involved, it's all good, right?  Quite often, I'll get a request that a trader has several cards from my lists and references their wants site.  I'll go and start pulling whatever I have for them.  Sometimes, I'll end up going through a large set list and when I'm done, I'll have twice the number of singles that they started out with for me.  We'll either add on or go to a second round a bit later.  Sometimes, if they're not especially valuable, I'll just send the whole stack the first time.  Better you have them to finish your set than just sitting in a box here.  I'm not out to "win" every trade, and get annoyed at those who do.  I've got such a volume of extras, that it's better to me to move out more than I take in when I can.

Even with all this volume, I still enjoy managing it.  I can no longer keep it all in my head, so I'll find stuff I didn't know I had all the time.  I actually don't catalog what I HAVE in any central form.  I do intend on counting everthing and arriving at an approximate figure sometime soon.  It probably wouldn't take much to create an inventory, since most of it is sets or teams that are catalogued elsewhere, but I really don't have a need to know what's here.  I focus on what I still want to add.  A want list is basically the opposite of an inventory, and it shrinks instead of grows when you get stuff, so isn't that better?  I have my central wants on a Google site, and then many other lists, most of which are physical printouts of electronically created inventories.  I do like creating charts and image enhanced lists.  Before the Database was around, I used to offer to other player collectors to make them comprehensive lists by pulling data from the Beckett site and then cleaning it up in Word with columns and color to condense it by several pages and make it pretty.

used to be faster

That's what makes the hobby enjoyable to me.  It gives me little projects and keeps my mind working.  So does sorting.  That's the real relaxing part.  For a while, I could sort a box or two of flagship in record time.  The need for a magnifier hinders my speed on some sorts nowadays, so I've slowed down in general.  But it's still cathartic to put order to the chaos of a stack of random cards.  Some collectors think sorting is work.  I like it, it's part of the fun. 

I think that's one of the main reasons I like collecting.  Putting order into chaos, completing a list, expanding your scope.  It's like solving puzzles, or creating art.  The process is interesting, and you feel a sense of accomplishment when you're done.  And the interaction with other collectors is the bonus benefit.  (Not to mention the fitness effect of lugging montster boxes, but I digress.)  I'm definitely not in it for the money.  Value seems to get less and less as time passes anyway.  It's more like it's in my blood to need these little cardboard slices.  It's almost a hormonal effect when I sift through a box or peruse a binder - the serenity and feeling of contentment.  I just love the dang things.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Sick Days, eBays, and Maildays

The big snowfall that hit the eastern US this past week (from Oklahoma to Ohio and east to DC and Baltimore, down to Tennessee) brought early closings to Maryland schools, including the district I work for.  So I was excited Tuesday night to stay up late and have the next day off to catch up on laundry and card business, including blog posts.

Well, that all went south when I woke up Wednesday morning with what I guess has to be called "flu-like symptoms".  Basically, I couldn't sit up or move around for very long without feeling sick and having to lie down.  That lasted into Thursday, though it had subsided enough that the sick feeling went away for the most part.  I made it to work today (Friday), and still felt a trace of it until after lunchtime.

So I haven't done much of anything for a few days.  I did manage to pack up a couple trade packages, and am waiting on a couple more addresses.

Meanwhile, the loot keeps rolling in.  I'll post a couple blogger packages in the next couple days.  Today I'd like to show off a minor eBay purchase.

At one point, I had COMC, SportLots, and eBay all open at the same time last weekend, or maybe it was Monday the holiday.  Anyway, I have a COMC order coming, which I finally managed to fill out with oddball stuff that was more expensive on the other sites.  Of course, I ended up filling out the SportLots order too, after a few items of similar subject matter turned up there.  And in between, I picked up these things...

The first is set #34 of 1989 Topps/LJN Baseball Talk cards.  If you don't know these, they are oversize cards that have a circular etching of sorts pasted on the back.  This etching is like a phonograph record (millenials will have to Google it) that plays back audio when inserted in the custom player that was sold separately.

Found the set for the same price I was seeing Fisk for by himself, so I went for it. The others in the set are available as trade bait.  Pete Rose, Dave Parker, and Rick Sutcliffe are on the block.
Then, of course, you have to add items to ease the shipping cost.  So I picked up a cheap baseball auto for a player collector I know, and then found these...

That's Gus Frerrotte, Heath Shuler, Mark Moseley, and Skip Hicks.  Redskins veterans from pretty much the 80's through 1999.  They aren't certified, except for Hicks, but they looked fine to me.  And the price was right....

With combined shipping, they weren't even close to a buck apiece.  Sorry vine_jay, you did everything right, but didn't make a whole lot of profit on that one.  But I thank you.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Collector's Log: Stardate 198204.05

"When we last left our heroes" back in 1982, they (my friends & I) were sorting and underpricing our extras to sell in the neighborhood, and making room for the new '82 cards that were coming out.

Something a little different in school on the 26th, got to watch 'em rehearse the school play.  Even though I got into filmmaking in school, I was never interested in drama (stage or otherwise).  But it was better than pep rallies.  My lack of enthusiasm probably comes from about third grade, when I had the lead role in "The Little Prince".  I knew my lines cold from the second reading and it was going fine until I leaned a little too far in and bumped into the microphone.  The only memory of that experience is the entire crowd breaking up into laughter.  Guess that was the end of my acting ambitions.

My stepsister was over for the weekend again.  Her brother lost interest after a while, so he stopped coming.  I still laugh at my comment.

Anyway, the main highlight of this entry is the trip to the Hanover card shop.  I imagine we were sorting and making lists the day before, and then made the trip.  I didn't realize I had started my Pumpsie Green "supercollection" (he has a total of ten active career cards, and fifteen more post-career issues) that soon.  Got the brand new (and now rather ubiquitous) KMart MVP set.  That little set is nice and still stands out to me from all the other - mostly later - box set issues.  Also added some more '81 Fleer stickers - another one of the "original" non-standard issues that came out in that time period.

Not sure what that mining operation was all about, except kids thinking that shiny rocks are somehow valuable gems.

I can't believe I don't have the original entry for when I was presented with the collection from a nephew of my stepfather.  It was several hundred cards, most of which were 1970 Topps - which of course, is the design of the pending Heritage release.  They were generally in decent shape, but had been handled a lot, so there weren't many with four sharp corners.  But most of the stars were there, and in multiples.  I took the first starter set, and then passed it on to a couple of my buddies, and then kept what was left.  That's probably still the source of the row of dupes in my vintage monster box.  I would go on to round out the set in similar condition along with a batch of '72s from the card shop I patronized for 20 years when they closed up.  Both sets are now complete, but the high numbers are in better shape than a lot of the rest.

April brings us back to the Putt-Putt arcade and my killing it on several games.  Of course, there were no deals running that day to reward me.

(not my ticket)

Opening Day 1982 started off with a win for the Orioles.  Eddie Murray had a Grand Slam in the third inning.  In the inning before, the new kid socked one over the fence too.  He ended up with 431 homers in his career, so it was a decent run.
The dude in the middle was pretty good.
They got more packs of '82 Topps.  I had bought that set as well as Donruss, I think, so I was only building Fleer at the time.

Ran out of space in the entry, so I abbreviate "Twice" as "2ce".  I had so much better writing style back then. 😁

Next time, the Fleer build continues, one of the guys narrows his collecting focus, and we learn of things that will bring a whole new aspect to our collecting!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Winning Isn't Everything, But It Sure Beats Whatever's In 2nd Place!

I actually won something!

I casually put my 2¢ into CynicalBuddha's Almost the Easiest Super Bowl Contest on the Web this year with a heavy dose of cynicism.  I really wanted to see Saints vs. Chiefs play the game, but figured the Patriots would win because it feels like it's dictated by the league.  So I picked Patriots over Saints and guessed four field goals and a middle of the road total score number.

By gosh, my cynicism paid off.  I've had Brady on my fantasy team for the last two years, and he scores OK, but my team ends up dead last both seasons.  I've mentioned many times that he makes good decisions, and is an accurate passer, but nothing else justifies the idol worship that everyone seems to have for him.  So I'm not a fan.  But this time I got rewarded.

I actually skipped over reading the post when it was first put up.  I thought "I'm sure I didn't  come close."  It wasn't until a day or two after that I pulled it up and saw my entry highlighted.  "NO WAY!!  What the heck did I win?"  I didn't even know.  I hadn't looked at the prize post either.

Well, they showed up today.

I won't reproduce the images for the prize pieces.  He did that in this post.  The best part for me was the stack of Redskins I got on top of those.  I figured it would be some shiny serialized singles and a pile of base and inserts.  I was pleasantly surprised to find several higher end jerseys and autos among the Washington faction.

There were some regular and parallel rookies.  All of which I needed except three older ones.  Sweet!

A nice 2005 UD rookie piece of Jason Campbell...

A Momentum jersey (/99) and a serial numbered (/100) Prestige of Santana Moss...

A very deep blue and shiny Spectra jersey of ol' Hank, also numbered out of 99...

And a crazy shiny Unparalleled autograph of defector safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens (/199).

All told, I got some great additions to the Redskins collection.  The type of stuff I saw at a recent trade night at my local shop, but wasn't equipped to trade for.  Nice to get some anyway. Thanks CB!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Inserts Into The Sky!

Back when 2017 Topps Series 1 came out, I did a post on the escalating number of inserts that have been included with the flagship set.  I just updated those charts to include the complete offerings of 2017 and 2018, and now Series 1 in 2019 Topps.

It's not getting any better.

The truth is, since my post in mid-2017, inserts have just about DOUBLED in total quantity.  Instead of inserts totaling half the base set, they have now EXCEEDED it.

                    Base                Inserts
 2015           1100                   562
2016           1000                  574
 2017           1000                 1100
 2018           1000                 1203
                                2019           1000*               1500+???*      *-projected

In the original chart, you can see that since 2008, total inserts had risen and floated at about 600 plus or minus, for several years.

The same chart, updated for the last few years, shows the explosion.  The same 600 card level is now dwarfed by the totals for 2017 & 2018.

The number of insert sets included with flagship & update have been rather steady since 2015, hovering between 20 and 25.  Topps could cut this number down a few more if they would have made the Salutes and the 80's tributes separate products like they should have been, but then the tributes would have competed directly with Archives and Heritage and become totally pointless.

The average cards per insert set has also leveled off at just over 50.  This doesn't really show the real story, though.  It's the first few largest sets that have been growing.  With a few exceptions, 100 and 150 count inserts were commonly the highest per year, with only one or two examples in a typical issue.  The last two years, the largest sets have been 250.  And in 2019, we already have one that will be at least 300.

The insanity doesn't end there, though.  Oh no, my friends.  The other development that has made the potential totals increase exponentially - INSERT PARALLELS!

In 2015 and 2016, Topps made First Home Runs and MLB Debuts - in three different colors or foils.  So a true master set may technically consist of all three colors.  This adds another 210 cards to 2015, and another 160 to 2016.  (They didn't repeat the MLB Debuts in Update.)

Then, in 2017, they added Blue, Red, Gold, and maybe even Silver as parallel sets for the inserts.  The Gold parallels were generally serial numbered to ten, so I didn't count them in this survey.  That's just way too scarce.  And the Silver only shows up once in the list on TCDB, and I haven't seen any, so I let them go too.  Blue & Red were enough to triple the numbers by themselves.

2018 even surpassed those numbers.  Blue, Black, Gold, and Red appeared.  Reds were again numbered to ten.  Golds went up to 50, and Black was /299, but from what I've seen, this is not consistent.  Some inserts sets have both blue and black unserialized parallels, like the LIM's above.

So basically if you add up all the parallels to the regular inserts, the 2017 totals go from
1100 to 1392

for the unserialized colors, and then if you add in the ones that are serialized to 299, 50, or 10 you are at a grand total of

2018 starts at 1203 (again on top of only a 1000 card base set), and goes to

when you add the unnumbered parallels.  If you go for all the serialized ones too, you'd have to put together
4902 cards!

I've gotten used to storing my flagship sets and inserts in a two row shoe box.  I think I'll give up before I'd ever think about amassing the entire master set and having to put it in it's own 5000 count monster box!

And I would guess that it's just going to continue into 2019.  The numbers will probably be even larger.

But guess what?  Now Topps isn't putting as many inserts into their packs!  I don't know how the ratios compare between the same packaging for this year versus the last few, but you're going to have to buy more to get the same numbers - which have now increased again!  Whether it's boxes and packs, or just dropping cash at dealer secondary market tables, it's going to cost more to finish the Topps set.

Set collectors are in the minority.  There aren't many customers that are willing to do this.  So why is Topps bloating these out so much?  What part of the collector audience are they thinking that they're attracting by making more and more parallel inserts and making them harder to get?

I know I'm not it.

Well, maybe just for my couple collected players....

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Leading Ladies Of Sports Broadcasting #11

And now the final card in the series.  Maybe I'll make a checklist for fun.

I don't watch a lot of NFL Network because I see a lot of it being just hype and rhetoric to support the few teams that they seem to favor all the time.  But every now and then I'll tune in, especially when I see this analytics angel.

Cynthia Frelund was born and raised in Okemos, Michigan.  I still can't believe she's almost 40 years old.

She got her BS degree in Biology in 2005, then moved right on to Northwestern for a Masters in Predictive Analytics and an MBA in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Finance.  That's quite a foundation.  She's like the Numbers Geek's Dream Girl.

She worked at the NFL in Finance Strategy a couple years after a stint as a Financial Analyst for a private company.  Then went to Disney/ABC Television, not in front of the cameras, but in Business Development.

Then in 2012, Cynthia moved to ESPN as an Associate Director of Technology Development.  She later became a Producer of Next Generation Content, and finally got on screen as their Predictive Analytics Analyst in 2015.

In 2016, she came back to the NFL to her current roles as Predictive Analytics Expert on Gameday Morning, Fantasy Live, and podcast Game Theory and Money.

Frelund keeps in shape by running marathons (20 so far) and teaching Pilates classes, including at her own facilty.  She's involved with Bright Pink, a non-profit that aids women in the prevention and early detection of breast cancer.  She's also an animal lover and includes pics of her beloved bulldog Bodhi on her Instagram.

There is little information about her personal life on her social media pages.  She's very private about that.  All this and maybe single too?

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Spot Of Tea And A Look To The Stars

More progress on the Astronaut / Space binder this past week.  Another eBay arrival.  This time it was from across the pond in Great Britain.  Seller grahame_ing has what appears to be all the different non-sport sets from Brooke Bond Tea.

Here is a scan of my Race Into Space set all paged up.

These sets all have corresponding album books that the cards can be attached to.  I'm still looking for an empty book.  Don't actually want to paste the cards in it, but there is a lot of background info in the book.

The cards are standard mini size, but the stock is rather thin.  Kinda like '81 Donruss.  I got them in five stacks of 10 folded in a blank piece of paper in a plain envelope.  They were perfectly fine and it made for cheap shipping, even from overseas.

I love the detail in so many of these artist renderings.  The scans don't do the color justice because they're scanned through the plastic pages.

The set is from 1971, so some of the text is very speculative about future NASA projects.

Above are the backs for the last five cards.  One is about basically what amounted to the Space Shuttle that wouldn't fly for another ten years or so.  It's really interesting that they must have planned to do a lot of this stuff so far in advance.

These are really cool, being vintage-y and still so affordable.  Too bad they didn't do American sports.  But if you're into history or nature, check out the set site and then find them online.  (See links above)