Sunday, April 13, 2014

Retail Review #96 (Target Excel Re-pack)

A few people have been wanting to see another Target re-pack, so here it is! I haven't gotten these since they ran out of the Trilogy ones, but they are cheap enough and can be pretty fun to open. Usually there are some interesting cards to look at and enjoy. I'm definitely curious as to what will come out of this re-pack box.

Price - 

Packs - 4
1 x 08/09 OPC Retail Pack
1 x 08/09 OPC Rack Pack
2 x 09/10 OPC Retail Pack
50 random cards + one bonus

I chose this particular re-pack box because it felt a bit heavier than all the rest. The box itself was also sort of bulgy. Those factors prompted me to buy this box. This reminds me of those who pick a pack because it looks bigger than all the rest... of course, sometimes fatter packs just contain a decoy and no hit. Hopefully this re-pack of cards will actually have some good stuff in it.

Both sides of the box show O-Pee-Chee packs, so that doesn't bode well, but there's always hope! Even if it's just OPC packs, it'd be OK with that. They would be better than getting those old Hoops or Skybox cards from the early 90's in the basketball re-packs.

Let's find out what packs are in store for me inside this box:

Review -
Well, there really wasn't much to this re-pack box. As it turned out, all the packs inside were OPC packs. I think I was hoping that there would be an Upper Deck Series 1 or 2 pack inside, but that wasn't meant to be. Though they were all OPC packs, I was a bit surprised to find a rack pack. That was what made the box bulgy. Rack packs are cool because they give you so much more card content... but they popularity of the rack pack has gone down considerably.

All you really get in rack packs are a bunch more base cards. I guess if you're a set collector, that might be good. And for OPC, that makes sense because the set is so big. But for people who don't want base cards, rack packs cost more for things you just don't want. There was a time when card companies put rack pack exclusive cards in, and those cards carried a good value to them. But alas, that's not what is is now. Though they are big and giant and seem fun to open... I would pass on rack packs at the store now.

The rest of the cards in the box were a mixed bag of stuff. The bonus card turned out to be damaged, but that's not a surprise given this has happened quite often in these boxes. They should just put a random jersey or autograph in a toploader for the bonus card. That would makes these re-packs so much better!

Here's what I picked out as today's top three:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Select Super Bowl Records Card No. 389
This top 3 selection won't contain anything mind blowing. This first card gets the nod for the number three spot as it is an error of sorts. This card is a football card with statistics about the Super Bowl. Whoops! Isn't this a hockey product?

#2 - Rene Corbet Card No. 20
I chose this Rene Corbet card for the sheer fact that his facial expression is priceless. I see these cards all the time in the 50-card bonus box, and I have no idea how whoever made these cards chose these photos. They are some of the most awkward I've ever seen.

#1 - Pat LaFontaine Card No. 260
It's a bit sad when the best card of the box is a mass produced base card that can be found for less than a dollar. But I do like Pat LaFontaine, and I'm happy with this base card. He's a minor PC of mine, and getting cards of PC players is always fun.

Overall Value -
I didn't pay too much for this box, and I definitely didn't get much for my troubles here. Nothing came out of this box that was of any real consequence. The most interesting things came out of the 50-card bonus box... and when that happens, you know it was a weak break. I am a bit hesitant now to get any of the other re-packs on the shelf. They all have the same OPC pack configuration in the window.

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

2013-2014 Panini Playbook Hockey Review

Panini has once again crossed over a brand from one sport to another. Playbook, which has traditionally been a football product, has now come into the hockey world. Collectors will be treated to one booklet card per pack/box of Playbook. Let's take a look at what a box of the new Playbook hockey will bring us.

Base Card Design -
The Playbook base card is a thick, premium feeling piece of cardboard. The style of overall look of it reminds me a lot of Panini Prime - there is a familiar font and serial numbering that instantly makes me think of that particular product. Overall the base card is well done with bright and bold graphics. The card has the team logo implemented in a large way in the background. The Playbook logo sits in the upper corner along with the serial number to 249. The player's name and team are prominently foil stamped at the bottom of the card. The base cards are a mix of fun and premium. I find it interesting that Panini went for this look as it is a departure of sorts from the more 'classy/minimalist' designs for products such as these.

The back of the card card mixes some traditional Panini elements with some strong graphical ones. These backs are definitely more involved than some of the traditional backs I've seen from Panini. The back matches the front very well. I enjoy how the team colors continue to be a big part of the back's design. The player photo has been done in black and white - I thought that was a pretty artsy touch by the designers. Good job there! As for the stats, there is just one line done in the standard Panini way. Seasoned collectors of Panini products may notice that the stats portion of the card shares many similarities to other Panini product lines.

The regular set rookie cards are in booklet form. And that makes sense for a product with the name of Playbook. It's what sets these cards apart from the others. These cards feature a couple large pieces of event-worn cloth along with an on-acetate autograph. The card has a simple, geometric-pattern type design to it with a silhouette of the player on the left-hand portion of the card. I like the look of these cards, but the plain jersey swatches just don't do it for me. These large areas make me yearn for some crazy tangled patches. And those cards are out there, they are just in a different, much more limited, parallel variation. As for the 'cover' of the book? It's just white and gray. Book 'covers' have tended to be rather boring in nature... and these books don't do anything to alter that. Rookie booklets are numbered to 199.

Base Card Design Score:

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos -
I thought it was interesting that Panini went for the one big brick pack instead of what they did with football. In football, collectors got to open a few one-card packs. I thought it was sort of a waste of materials, but it made for a more prolonged opening experience. These Playbook packs will typically give collectors one base card, another hit, and a book.

Since my booklet was a rookie card, the only hit I got from the pack/box was this Breakout event-worn jersey card of Ryan Strome. The Breakout design is, like the base card, nice and bold and bright. These jersey cards are serial numbered to 199 and contain a relatively small piece of jersey. It's a card that you probably won't think too much about after you pulled it.

With only three cards per pack, collectors will not be able to get a good sample of Playbook in a single box. For me, I was glad that my booklet card was the autograph. I personally feel that booklets need to cram as much goodness in them as possible to make the extra effort in making them worthwhile. And I know that there are Playbook booklets out there that are definitely not really worthwhile. I definitely have mixed feelings about this as it looks like booklets will be the next big thing to be the next fading trend... and fast.

Inserts/Game-Used/Autos Score:

Overall Rating -
Panini Playbook hockey is an intriguing product. If compared to football, it is a steal! The price of the box is about a hundred dollars less. But when you look closely at the product, there are things that collectors need to be wary of.

First, there are typically only three cards per pack, though I've seen some breaks with four. For collectors wanting some awesome booklets... well... they are there in Playbook, but more often there are unnumbered booklets with just jersey pieces in them. And I know those are not the kind of booklets that collectors want.

My box budget is about $100/box. So Playbook fits into that rather nicely, but it will not give you a long and satisfying break. It's a hit or miss break that will end very quickly.

So overall, Playbook is a product that you need to think long and hard about before jumping into. If you're a collector willing to take the risk and jump in... then go for it! If you're looking for a product to be able to slowly collect and enjoy, this might be one to avoid.

Overall Rating:

Check out my break of Playbook from D&P Cards in Sacramento, Ca. below!

Cardboard Commentary #55 (LCS)

The local card store was once the 'home' of the card hobby. Years ago you could easily find at least two or three dedicated card shops in the bigger cities. Now... not so much. They are still around, but they are fewer and far between. I'm lucky that here in Sacramento, there are a few LCSs still around. It's a place that I wish was still in the forefront of the hobby. Will those days ever return? I have my doubts, but for now, it's a great place to treasure and go to find people who share your hobby passions.

The card shop that I go to is D&P Sports cards in Sacramento. It's a bit of a drive for me (30 mins), but it's worth it every time I go. This might sound weird, but there is a smell associated with unopened cards (and comics for that matter) that I really like. Haha, no, all the card shops that I have ever been too have not smelled like BO - all the owners were very meticulous in keeping their stores in order.

Besides going to the shop for the air quality, the LCS is a great place to meet and hang out with fellow collectors. I actually just went there today to get my box of the new 13/14 Panini Playbook Hockey, and there were a few guys just hanging out opening boxes of cards. It was great to just chat with them and see what stuff they got from their boxes.

Where else can you find actual people to talk to about cards? Well, of course you can hit up the forums over the internet (and those are great), but to find real people in a live environment is completely different and rewarding. One of the things I appreciate about D&P cards is their monthly trade nights. I haven't gone much recently because nobody in the area collects hockey cards, but that night is perfect to find people who have similar interests.

In the past, the hobby store was the place you went to trade and sell your cards. It was the place you could get all the specialized holders and binders. And nowadays, this still holds true. The hobby store is always stocked with things you find out you need when you get there.

I'd love to hear about your local card stores in your area. Do you even have any? Let me know about them in the comments section!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Retail Review #95 (2012 Leaf Pete Rose The Living Legend Blaster)

It's been a discount aisle spree recently, and that trend continues today. Today's retail product is purely baseball and comes from Leaf. It celebrates a player that baseball has tossed out of the game completely - Pete Rose. The box is guaranteed to either have an autographed card or a redemption for an autographed memorabilia card. Sounds like a good deal!

Price - 

Packs - 11
10 x Leaf Pete Rose The Living Legend
1 x 13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 Retail

I grew up in the 1980's, and I remember Pete Rose well. He was a tremendous competitor, someone who had a killer instinct. And that was a trait I really admired, and still do. Michael Jordan had that in him... and so did Pete Rose. Unfortunately, Rose was caught betting on baseball, and he was banned from the game.

You will not find any officially licensed products with Pete Rose. Major League Baseball will not allow it, so third party companies like Leaf step in and produce sets of his. Rose has signed for both Leaf and Upper Deck. I've always wanted his signature, and this was a pretty nice way to get it - and cheap!

Just for good measure I also purchased a single pack of 13/14 Upper Deck Series 2 hockey. There's always a chance that a Young Gun card is lurking inside.

Let's open both of these items up and see what comes out:

Review -
The Pete Rose Living Legend cards are nice. The cards are all black & white and come on a classic feeling cardboard. The set is very well done, and features some very unique photographs. For a tribute set, Leaf has done a wonderful job. The feeling it evokes with it's style - from the fonts to the photos - is perfect. Collectors who remembered Pete Rose from way back when should enjoy this set of cards.

With the Upper Deck pack, unfortunately there was nothing but base. I guess that's ok. You can't get something every time. I did, however, get a couple of San Jose Sharks... and that's always good. Upper Deck and Leaf both share something in common with these products - outstanding photography.

As someone who appreciates a good photo, both these products delivered well in that area.

Here are the top cards from this week's break:

Top 3 Cards

#3 - Brent Burns Card No. 259
This card is always a stopper when you pull it. It's such a fearsome card! I've spoken about this particular card before, but it has to be one of the best photos out of Upper Deck this year.

#2 - Pete Rose Card No. 4
Another photo that caught my eye from this break came from the Pete Rose break. Here we see Charlie Hustle in a more contemplative mood. He was always so intense, and this photo has that dialed down a bit.

#1 - Pete Rose Card No. AU-28
Of course the top card of this break had to be the autograph. Too bad it's a sticker auto, but that's ok... what can you expect out of a guaranteed auto box for the price it was at? The blue ink does work well with black and white though!

Overall Value -
For the price I paid, I think I did well. $12.99 was not the original price of the Pete Rose blaster. It probably was around twenty dollars. But at this price it's good. Pete Rose is a player that should be in the baseball hall of fame. One day he might actually be. Rarely do you get a guaranteed autograph of someone who was so good in a box at retail.

If I saw these again, I would actually consider getting another one as there are many different autographs to get... and of course there's the chance at a memorabilia autograph as well. I wonder if a big Pete Rose fan has put together then entire set of autographs. That would be something!

Let me know what you thought of my break in the comment section below. Have you ever pulled anything good out of one of these? I'd love to hear about it.

Overall Value Score:

Look for a new episode of Retail Review every Sunday!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cardboard Commentary #54 (Set Collecting - Autographed Sets)

Set collecting has always been a popular thing to do in the hobby. It provides a challenge for collectors that is both fun and rewarding. Recently, I've become interested in collecting smaller autographed sets. Card companies make small (and large) autographed sets in practically all their products. It's just a matter of finding the one you like and going for it!

I specifically mention smaller autographed sets because of their relative ease to collect. Smaller numbers means less cards to track down. I have collected larger autographed sets in the past, such as the SP Authentic Future Watch cards. That set was a huge time and money investment that I will continue to do, but I realize that set isn't for everyone.

I'm talking about little autographed sets that can go anywhere from 5 or so cards up to 10 or 20. Usually these sets mix in a variety of non-star players, stars, and super star players.

If you've been following my Youtube channel, one of the sets I've been really going for recently has been the 2010/11 Dominion Brass Bonanza set. This is just a 10 card set found in that product. I actually fell in love with that little set for many reasons.

The Brass Bonanza set, for one, was just a ton of fun. The Whalers were never really a powerhouse franchise, but rather a team that nobody seemed to really hate. They were kind of the little brother of the league. Plus they had the Brass Bonanza theme song... which is totally awesome. If you don't know it, shame on you. Pump up the speakers and listen to this:

Anyways, I thought that the 10/11 Dominion Brass Bonanza set encapsulated everything cool about the Whalers... and I wanted to get it. With only 10 cards, the set was small so I hoped getting all the cards wouldn't prove to be too difficult.

Well, as I have come to find out, the set was more challenging than I thought due to two short printed cards - Brendan Shanahan and Bobby Hull. Both of them were numbered to just 24. I recently just got Hull, and I'm hoping one day to find the Shanahan to complete the set.

Another set I've been really interested in is the Upper Deck Exquisite Old School basketball set. These cards have a very retro look to them. You can tell I really love the retro stuff! But the biggest hinderance has been the Jordan card. That card alone can go for over $400. I'm not sure if I want to go for that set at this time... but maybe in the future. We'll see!

So you know I've found the kind of set that I like to collect. You might want to examine the autographed sets out there and see what you like. If you're into rookies, finding rookie autographed sets shouldn't be too hard as they are plentiful every year. And in doing so, you might pick up a sleeper early on and have a very valuable card when that rookie breaks through.

Other autographed sets have veteran players. Often these sets will contain a few big names like Sidney Crosby or Wayne Gretzky that make the set harder to complete... but if you happen to already have the most valuable card, that might be a good starter for you.

It just really depends on how you want to start after you set your eyes on something. I think going for a smaller autographed set is a really fun idea to try out! Let me know if it's something you have done or that you do currently in the comments below!

PS: If you know of anyone who has a Brendan Shanahan Dominion Brass Bonanza card, please let me know!!!