Monday, December 12, 2022

Everybody's Favorite Blog Trader

Got a "sheet strip special" (one row from a page in an envelope) from Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown on the 12th.  Typical bunch of eclectic want list hits.

Brockum Rock cards series 2 of "Farner"...

Last All-Star insert from the bright yellow '91 Fleer set...

And a montage of the rest of them - 2004 All-Time Fan Favorites.  Harold got hung up coming out of the scanner, so his image was distorted at the end (didn't hurt the card).  I just ran them through and slapped 'em together in a few minutes.  These were a good 30 - 40% of my needs.

Thanks Gavin!

Another Nice Ms. Andrews

Allen & Ginter typically features a variety of celebrities, sportscasters, musicians, athletes from other sports, and even objects to go along with the current and retired baseball players.  And several of their subjects are usually women, and deservedly so.  

Especially appreciated are the really attractive ones.  I usually designate a "Babe Of The Set" each year and sometimes will go after the minis and parallels.  Started that with Erin Andrews and Mrs. Verlander, Kate Upton.  They are so popular that I've not found too many and have only done a few others, including Paige Spiranac, who has some cards in other sets like Upper Deck Goodwin Champions that are even better shots than the usually conservative A&G.

This year's candidate is Malika Andrews.  She's the former sideline reporter for the NBA on ESPN who now hosts the NBA flagship show on the channel.  Her card is #258 in this year's set.

Not bad, but again, the conservative image.  She's got such a bright smile that this shot doesn't quite bring out with the impact it should. 

So I made some custom alternatives.

Now, my image editing program has been around as long as the WNBA, so I don't have the tools to match the painting-like images on Allen & Ginter cards, but I tried to mimic the faded backgrounds as well as I could. 

That's better, but the background was so bright that it looks like she's in a lava lamp.

This one's cute, and is really close to the actual card image.  Much better smile though.

I like this one the best.  She doesn't wear her hair down too often any more (at least in the few times I've caught the NBA show, which is almost never.)  But this one captures her the best IMO. 

Which one do you like?

Thursday, December 08, 2022

I Am Now A Scanning Machine

OK, not quite like that...

I recently upgraded my ability to contribute images to the Trading Card Database as well as this blog and any other endeavors that use images of trading cards. 

Before, the normal method was a flatbed scanner, which in my case is the top half of my Canon inkjet printer.  Up to about nine cards would be loaded onto the scanner surface face down, covered with a piece of foam to darken the background, and then the lid is set on top. 

Then I use my Paint Shop Pro program from 1996.  Hit one button and it quickly sweeps the scanner bed and gives you a preview of what you've got set down.  Hopefully they stay aligned to the edges of the bed.  Then the scan area is designated, the picture mode selected, and the Scan button clicked.  A minute or two goes by while you wait for the scan to complete...bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Now you get the group image.  Each card you want to separate must be cut or copied and pasted into a new image file and cropped down, resized, and tweaked.

Quite often even when they don't move, the images are just so slightly rotated (shown by red area in picture) that it's only correctable by overcropping the image.  The Database is a bit picky that you don't leave any space around the edges.

So I've contributed a decent number of images to TCDB, but it's not an efficient operation.  Until now.

I have seen several videos about Fujitsu scanners and their use for trading cards. Now I don't sell singles on any sites that I need to scan, so I don't upload to services like shown in these clips, but it works for manually putting images on the Database too.

I got the Fujitsu fi7030 scanner.  They retail brand new for around $550.  I was hoping to find one for much less on a Black Friday deal.  No dice.  Then I realized that this model has been around a while, so there should be some on eBay!  From a quick Google search (initially from any store), I found one on there for just over $300.  But a lot of the cheap ones are missing the feeder tray and/or the AC power adapter - and that's a deal breaker.  I found one that was complete and tested by the store that was selling it - for just over $275 - but with a Best Offer option.  They accepted my $250 offer!  So I basically got one for half price! They're about the size of an average fax machine if you're old enough to relate to that.

You simply call the program up to scan and load some cards in the feeder.  Set off the process by clicking the button on the configuration that you set up initially. Pardon my quick & dirty phone videos...

The scanner starts feeding cards and is done in mere seconds. 

The images of both front and back are captured for each card as it passes through the machine.  Sometimes it flips them around, but that's correctable with a couple clicks.

Then you "release" that batch of scans into the folder you designated, and voilà!  Your images are there.  For the most part, they are cropped right down to the edges.  (I have my scan area set to exactly 2½ by 3½ inches, so there's little margin left.)

You can now go to the database or wherever you need the images and upload them into place.  The whole process takes less time than the first page of flatbed scanning typically would!  Plus, you can add batches to the ones you just scanned and get hundreds of images in just a few minutes!  Unfortunately, this model only really does regular base cards.  I tried a thicker jersey card and it wouldn't make it through the feeder.  I did confirm with a few junk cards that it doesn't leave marks on cards from the feeder rollers or anything.  I might be able to set it to mini size scanning in order to do those. They'd just have to be done separately.  The bulk of what I need to do is regular stuff anyway.

Watch out database!  Here I come!  I bet Database champions like Billy K have something like this...

Monday, December 05, 2022

Holo Back Y'all!

Was trying to reclaim some floor space in the card room this past week by cleaning up the 2/3 dozen boxes of hockey cards that make up my extras.  I ended up sorting them by company and then by year since I always tend to screw up putting all the '94-'95s together, e.g. there's always a few '93-94s in with them somewhere.

Anyway, I have a whole five row box of early 90's Upper Deck hockey that I was hoping to pull some complete sets out of to sell off, but it didn't work out.  The largest lot is '91-92, which is two and a half rows, but it's really only repetitions of about 40-50% of the set - there are sometimes dozens of copies of one card, but only about half of any group of ten sequential numbers and almost no big stars.

As I was going through them, I was tracking the hologram variations.   

Oh, you don't know about those?  

These are the kind of little details that give junk wax overproduction era stuff a little more interest.  I've spent a few days squinting at the backs of OE cards in the name of the hunt.  Same goes with Pro Set football variations, but that's a whole other thing...

Early 90's Upper Deck baseball, football, and hockey came with different holograms on the backs of the cards.  Apparently, they had some issues with consistency producing cards from a given year and getting the same hologram on them.  I won't go into a complete breakdown of all the sports, that has been done already.  

Here is part of the overview page from the TCDB:

Basketball was arranged in the same way.  I think the text here is incorrect when it says (1-700) for the high series.  I'm guessing that should be 501-700.  But I digress...

Football and baseball add a third variation.

So there are holograms from 1991, 1992 and 1990 on 1991 card sets.

The link above for the Junk Wax Gems page has some photos of the actual holograms, but I've only found a couple really good images of what they all look like.  So while I was fooling with these hockey cards, I then went to my other Washington team collection for football, I took my own shots of the holograms close up with my relatively new phone.

Here's what they look like with some magnification.

The actual colors differ a bit when these are turned in the light, so your results may vary.  For instance, the lettering on the '92 diamond logos will turn orange if tilted just the right way.  The others will turn shades of blue at the proper angles.  

Of course, the "16" seen in the middle one is an upside down "91".

These are actually the football versions - hence the shape.  Baseball primarily uses the home plate shape.  Basketball is a triangle that resembles a basket (maybe?).  Hockey is what I imagine is a puck, but reminds me more of a cheeseburger.

You get the idea.  All the diamond logo ones actually look like the football version, as do the "UPPER DECK" ones, etc.  I guess I might have committed myself to digging out my baseball sets and taking better images of those at this point.  I'm not going to have any basketball, so that's out.

But as far as the hockey box I started with...(yeah, I took the long and winding road around this post...)

So I managed to find all my Capitals in the diamond pattern out of that box lot except one.  And now I separated all the "UPPER DECK" ones from the diamond logos ones.  And then I put them back in the box.

If anyone is looking for older hockey...hit me up...

Saturday, November 26, 2022

2022 A&G Final Review

Got my base cards sorted Friday.  Ended up with about 37% duplicates from three hobby boxes.  Seemed a bit much since I need 88 to complete my set and had triples of several.  But, I'm much happier that the inserts really didn't duplicate.  I can live with having to find base cards.

I find it amusing but somewhat disappointing that Topps skipped two numbers in the base set (167 and 181) and then duplicated two numbers in the short print range (337 Juan Gonzalez/ Manny Ramirez and 344 Lou Piniella / Luis Castillo - the latter two are not marked as SPs).  Who knows if this is a gimmick or just incompetence? 

Other than the high base double rate, I didn't end up with many SP or insert dupes.  Had ten extra SPs (that inludes two Manny's) and five inserts - three Pitching a Gems (Verlander, Greinke and Berrios), a Nurses' Day, and Joe Morgan Banner Season.  

Like I mentioned, all my player minis are available.  As are the two box loader jumbos I got that you might not have caught on the last post.  Vlad Jr. and deGrom were the ones I pulled.  I might try to do the N43s, since I blew away the odds and pulled a Jeter!  If I can find Judge, Trout etc. for cheap, I'll go for it.  

There are a lot of food-themed inserts this year.  I'll finish them, but they don't excite me as much as the Baseball Lexicon and Time Out! minis.  The Famous Rivals, like the above Jersey vs. Everyone (now that's funny) even included two of the Get That Bread sandwiches in the list.  Which I would say was a bit much.  They got Yankees/Red Sox, but didn't include Dallas/Washington (or any of the other NFL matchups), Republican/Democrat, USA/USSR Cold War, Notre Dame/USC, Duke/UNC, Ford vs. Chevy, Coke/Pepsi (ok, trademarks), or any of the other hundreds of college, soccer, political, social faceoffs that are recalled much more than many of their choices.  

And I won't even speculate on the Special Days they appear to have made up in their offices.  There are only about four of those that seem legit actual holidays.

These Inside The Park minis are nice looking, but most of them look the same - a landscape with mountains and trees, so they're rather indistinguishable without squinting to read the names.  And there are 32 of them, which I think lends to the theme this year of baseball terms in real life - there are 32 ballparks, (Editor's note - hmmm, there are only 30 - never mind).  That feels like too many.  Unless I find most of them really cheap, I'm on the fence on completing them.  I only got four of them out of all three hobby boxes.

Didn't get any Still Searching's - mystery creatures of lore, or What A Steal!'s - famous theft attempts.  These could be retail exclusives.  I won't know unless they sell blasters for $20.

Hit me up if you need some base or player minis.  I still have some from the last couple years A&G sets too.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Got In Early On The Ginter

Just opened three boxes of 2022 Allen & Ginter, which will probably be the only new product I buy this year (or many of the following years.)  I like the base design a lot, and some of the inserts are really original, but those are the ones that are harder to pull, apparently.  It's nice that some of the insert sets are only 10 cards, and the biggest one is only 50.

Here's a couple shots of two of my boxes right after opening.  At least you can get an idea what all the different things look like.  Don't worry, I have closeups and scans of all the hits.

Unfortunately, the shots of two of these laid out so you could see the names of the inserts came out like this:

This one came out OK...

But anyway, each pack generally had six base (or five and a short print), a mini, and an insert.  I got worried in box #2 when a few packs came out with less:

A few had one or the other between the mini and the insert...

But then in the last box, I got a few bonus cards in some packs.  I counted the full size inserts from each box, and they were all around the 23-24 count range, so it all works out in the end.  I was afraid I was missing a hit, but got three from each box too.

As usual, all my player minis are for trade.  And now, here are the hits...

Got a bunch of Yankee-centric stuff in these.  I have a Yankee collector that I trade with regularly, so he gets first dibs.  Might keep the Rachel Balkovec jersey, she's an historic manager in the minors.  Have no idea who the Twins pitcher guyer is, but was cool with Captain Cheeseburger.  Bonus points for no white swatches.

Acuña came out first.  It's a nice bat piece.  Reminded me of the Stadium Club auto I pulled a few years ago.  Then I got the "other" Rivera. (stay tuned for more on that).  Ended with a bang with the Senior Yastrzemski.  That's definitely a keeper!

Ended with Hosmer, Verlander, and the big time Rivera.  (Only one better would have been the coach of the Commanders for me, but not likely)  Again, no white swatches and some very big names.  I could part with all these for the right ones.  Looking for Autos or GUs from Fisk, Palmer, Bo Jackson and Malika Andrews.

I have my insert wants posted on my site, but haven't yet set up the magnifier and sorted my base and SPs.  Those card numbers are microscopic this year!

I'm looking for all parallels and minis of Lou Piniella from this set.  He's the only player collection guy in it this year.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Collecting, ripping and hunting!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Ginters & Other Goodies From Greg G.

Was at a card shop over by Baltimore today, and when I came home, I had some bonus cards in the mail from Greg (Night Owl).

Four 2021 Allen & Ginter short prints to bring my list down to the three that no one will ever get.

A Steve Garvey insert to 2008 Donruss Threads.  

A Bull Shark insert from 2008 A&G that has an imprint of a binder ring on it, but you'd never know it from how it looks in my set binder.  Can't even tell....

And finally, two bonus Nationals that usually get filed with their sets, but in the case of the Big League black & white parallel (numbered to 50!), there is no set to put it with - from 2022 at all so far.  I'll stash him somewhere...very nice card of probably my favorite National who's still playing for them.

Thanks Greg, I'll get the stuff I picked up for you out ASAP...

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Well, At Least Dusty Won

In celebration of the World Series Championship, here is my Dusty Baker collection, since he (and maybe Trey Mancini - who I had forgotten was on that team), is the only one I'm happy for.

Pardon my streamlining the scans by leaving them in the pages.  I blacked out the empty slots and a few areas of annoying shine. 

That rookie is one of three I have - one for Dusty, one for Baylor's PC, and one for my '71 set.  Got most of them back when they were $8 or so.  Remember, in my binders, O-Pee-Chees come after Topps base cards until 1981.

My collection is pretty basic for a lot of his playing career.

'81 gets fun with Fleer Sticker, Topps Scratch-off, and Squirt, which has same basice back as Topps flagship.  I also have the full bottle hanger version of the Squirt.  I didn't get either one with the drink initially, but I do really like Squirt soda.


Here's the full panel Scratch-Off (with Vida Blue, another PC), the '84 Donruss Action All-Star, and the Squirt hanger.  (Not to scale, of course)

Perma-Graphics 'credit card', and his first and only Kellogg's.

The first of many Tiffany versions in the last slot.

Double shots of Traded and Tiffany here.  The '85 Traded has the bright back like the Tiffany's, but it's not shiny on the front.  I may flip the Topps A's with the OPC above to get three in a row.  Something might push them forward eventually.

Several nice pairings on this page.  The '86 Donruss is an in-person auto that I picked up somewhere cheap.  Always love those Mother's Cookies.  Everyone seems to have more of these than I can ever find.

And now we jump into post-career cards.  These pages are always a bit volatile when I find things from the years in between.  Definitely want the '06 Greats parallels...

This is the only useful place for parallel inserts like this black bordered Rivals from Hometown Heroes, since they're just annoying if you're collecting the regular set.  I don't usually try to cram more than one mini in a slot, but Dusty's are so far between, I don't have enough to quite justify a 15-pocket page...yet.

Although these Golden Age minis may help when I get more sets of all five for the other PC guys, then I'll take 'em out of the oddball binder and put 'em with each player.  The backs are in reverse order.  The Hindus are easier than the Monos, and the Croft's is the tough one.

The last player page.  These are some of my most recent pickups.  The one next to the '78-ish X Super 70's is the Aaron Judge authored set from this year.

The rest of the unusual issues.  All-Star program stamp and three (consecutive?) years of Dodger Police cards.

And now the manager cards.  Those Micros fortunately sit well with their regular-sized counterparts and don't cover up too much, especially oriented like this.  I wouldn't try to put them in a slot by themselves unless it's a 15-pocket mini page.  Oh, and another Mother's...

Subtle parallels in the early 2000's. 

I had the two Ginters together on this page, but had recently rearranged them and just left space for other parallels in between the '04's and '06's.

Heritage is the saving grace for manager cards in this century.  The last '64 design is a black back.

So that's what I have.  

At least the Astros did something right: