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...