Thursday, 31 May 2012

Another long chase...

Whilst I am trying to urn over a new leaf, I probably still have way way too many chases currently on the go. As I have been sorting through my collection, I keep coming across partially completed sets, that I have started but not managed to complete. The challenge I have had this week has been in deciding which sets to try and complete and which ones should I simply throw in the towel and sell the partially completed set on eBay.

My 1998-99 Autographics insert is a perfect case in point. I have 88 cards from this set, which means, with 139 cards in the set, I have 51 more to find. OK so the good news is that I am nearly two thirds of the way there. But 51 cards? Without a concerted effort, that really could taken me an age to complete! And that is before I even consider the fact, that I am missing the really hard to find short printed cards - such as Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen or Dennis Rodman - from the set!

But it feels too late to turn back now and I simply cannot stop and leave a partially completed set in my collection. But, clearly my OCD tendencies prevent me from leaving a set partially complete! What would be the point of that?

So the only option is to keep pushing forward and get the missing cards loaded up into my eBay search tool (GarageBuy) and see if I can at least get a little closer to completing another loooong chase!
Ratcliff Rice
Stoudamire Fisher
Gugliotta Kerr
Kidd Mercer

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Decision made.

After much thought, I recently reached a conclusion on where my primary collecting focus will be over the coming months. Quite simply, I intend to concentrate on on-card auto cards of the great players from the 1990s. This was the decade that I first got into basketball cards and really started paying attention to the game itself. So it seemed sensible to head back to where it all began. 

In order to limit the players that I will concentrate on, the criteria that I have set myself is that the player must have been both an NBA All-Star and won an NBA Championship, as well either be in the NBA Hall of Fame, or pretty much guaranteed to end up there in the next few years. In essence, this means that I am looking at adding autograph cards from the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dennis Rodman, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and John Stockton. 

I will also include current stars such as Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce who were all drafted in the 1990s, have championship rings and will no doubt end up in the Hall of Fame. In theory it means I will be bidding left right and centre on Kobe & Jordan cards...but I think my budget will temper that approach!

First to land is a 1999 Upper Deck Legends Epic Signatures card of Clyde 'The Glide' Drexler. I vividly remember staying up to all hours watching Drexler win his first and only NBA Championship in 1995 alongside Hakeem Olajuwon, after being traded by the Blazers to the Rockets in February of that same year. 

The Epic Signatures card is a very simple design - just a head shot on white background - that works wonders in my book and a great way to get things up and running.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

2011-12 Panini Limited & Gold Autographs


As someone who has only returned to the hobby after a three year hiatus, it has been interesting to catch-up on the views of others regarding Panini's entry into the hobby and monopoly NBA licensing.

Three years ago the views of collector's surrounding card companies was often very critical. Product saturation, poor value from box breaks, unexciting graphical designs, sticker auto's and redemptions were just some of the complaints surrounding the output from the then two official licensees Upper Deck and Topps. 

Reading through various forums and blogs, matters do not seem to have improved much and Panini seem to be receiving as much criticism, if not more, from collectors as their predecessors. It is too early for me personally to see if the criticism is warranted. The shortened season and resulting reduced five product release schedule, has meant that thus far I have only witnessed the release of one low end product, Past & Present.

Whilst I found the design of some of the insert sets attractive, the retro looking base cards and plethora of sticker auto cards were never going to win me over. But then I am not really the target audience for such a product. My interest has and is always likely to be in the mid/high end releases.

The recent images posted by Panini on their blog of planned on-card auto's that will turn up in the final two releases of the 2011-12 season (Limited & Gold Standard) has though suggested to me that they are doing some things right. I fully expect to be buying some of these cards when they start to land in late June / early July.

You can seen more of the images here and here.  

Saturday, 26 May 2012

90s Showcase...E-XL Natural Born Thrillers

Jordan McDyess
Hill Drexler
Garnett Hardaway
Stackhouse Finley
Kemp Stoudamire

Up today is an 90s insert set, that has taken me just under 17 years to complete! My first entry into NBA cards was back in 1994 and by the 1995-96 season, I was fully established in the hobby, buying new releases at a rate of knots and even selling a few cards at card shows that used to take place in London. 1995-96 E-XL was a release that I remember breaking a number of boxes of when it first landed. It was pretty unusual at the time with cards that were multi-layered and a texture to them that I had not witnessed before. 

I quickly put together the base set  when it first came out, but then pretty much left it along. I have though off and on gone back to the set and added more inserts. This week the final couple of cards to complete the 'Natural Born Thrillers' insert set arrived in the mail.

This 10 card set was a pretty hard pull at one every 48 packs, which when you consider that there were 18 packs in a box, meant that one of these cards only turned up every third box. The set featured a mixture of established stars with Jordan, Kemp, Drexler, Hill & Hardaway being found alongside a crop of rookies from the 1995 NBA Draft in the form of Finley, Garnett, McDyess, Stackhouse & Stoudamire. 

Clearly in terms of value today, the Michael Jordan card jumps out. Looking through some old Beckett magazines, when originally released it was priced at $75 - $125. By 2008 the book price was down to $20 - $60, but with the recent spike in prices for Jordan inserts cards from the 1990s, it is back up to $75 - $150.

Fortunately I picked up the Jordan card a number of years ago and so not need to fork out $100 that collectors are now have to pay to win this card on eBay auctions. The remainder from the set can be picked up pretty cheaply. 

It is certainly nice to see this one complete after such a long time!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

2007-08 Chronology - Robert Parish

Work has been a little crazy over the last few days and I have not had a chance to post my thoughts on this blog as planned. Which is annoying, as I have a number of things I want to wax lyrical about!  Amongst other things, the new release from Panini (2011-12 Past & Present Basketball), sticker autographs, my recent experiences on selling some cards on eBay and as well as my conclusions as to the direction I plan to take my collection are all rattling around in my head!

But that will have to wait for a few days...but, in the interim, I had to share the above small addition to my collection, that arrived in the mail today. It comes from one of the best releases from the last few years (2007-08 Chronology) and is a superb looking canvas autograph card of Hall of Fame inductee Robert Parish.

More soon I promise!

Friday, 18 May 2012

'Team GB' Olympic warm-up...

By now most people will hopefully realise that the Olympic Games are coming to London for the first time in over 60 years this summer. They certainly can not miss will if they live in London as the media focus has been continues to grow each day. I for one am looking forward to the games, especially as I have been fortunate to obtain tickets to watch two athletics sessions (my father is a former three-time Olympic athlete) and two of the quarter-final basketball games.

Consequently, I have found myself on the look-out for some nice autograph cards from NBA players who will compete for Great Britain (or Team GB as they are known locally) in the summer.

First up is Ben Gordon, formerly of the Bulls and now of the Pistons. Although brought up in New York, Gordon qualifies for Great Britain by virtue of the fact that he was was born in London to Jamaican parents.

In 2008 I put together a complete set of the 2007-08 Ultimate Collection Virtuoso autograph set. The set consisted of 15 seperate cards, which were serial-numberd to 25 and featured a game-used patch and on-card autograph. The Ben Gordon version of the card from that set is shown above.

More recently, I came across an auction of the 'Gold' paralell version of this card. With the basic same design, but using gold as opposed to silver foil and featuring a slightly different colouring, the parallel cards were serial numbered to only 10.

It seem churlish not to add this to the collection ahead of hopefully seeing Gordon suit up in my home countries colours at the years Olympic Games!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mailday...the first in three years!

On Saturday morning, the first cards that I have purchased in just over three years landed on my doorstep. Now it is fair to say that the cards themselves are not particularly earth shattering, but they did only cost $25 in total after all. But from my perspective, it officially marked my re-entry into the hobby that is basketball card collecting.

First up is a Julius Erving (aka Dr. J) card from the iconic 1986-87 Fleer Basketball set. Pretty much all that needs to be said on this set has already been said, so I should probably quickly move on to why I bought this card myself. In Spring 2008, I purchased a partially completed set, that consisted of the majority of the common cards, but excluded the main RCs (inc. Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone & Hakeem Olajuwon) as well as a few stars such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson & of course the Julius Erving one. I subsequently then spent the next year steadily picking up the missing cards.

Whilst I also purchased a completed sticker set from the same release, the set was seven cards short of a complete set, before I took my hiatus front the hobby in mid-2009. The addition of the Erving reduces that number by one. Completing this set is top aims for the next few months.

The [almost] complete set, that includes a graded version of the Michael Jordan RC and the sticker set can be seen here.

The other three cards are lower end RCs from the 2005-06 SP Authentic release. Whilst on holiday in California in 2006, I bought a box of this release from a Los Angeles hobby store. The box provided me with a complete base set, but still a lot to do on the rookie cards, as there was over 60 short printed of them in the set. At last count I still have 20 left to find, so I probably need to make a bit more of an effort complete this set.

Of the three players, only Frenchman Johan Petro is still in the league. He seems to be carving out a steady career for himself as a back-up center and is currently with the Nets. I have seen little of him, but as I have tickets for one of the quarter- final days may get to see him first hand at this years Olympics representing France. Ike Diogu, a journeyman forward who played for seven teams during his seven years in the NBA, can now be found plying his trade in China. Finally, Arvydas Andreiuskevicius a 7'2" Lithuanian center, who was the 44th pick in 2005, has yet to make a start in the NBA. It also looks as though he has fallen out of the Lithuanian national team.

All of which I would not have learned, unless I had purchased the above cards. Clearly it is utterly useless information, but it is one of the reasons why I enjoy the hobby...reading up on players as their cards arrive on my doorstep!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Time to get things organised...

I have been collecting basketball cards on and ff since the mid-1990s. I first chanced across some cards when on a holiday to the USA (I live in the United Kingdom) and have been intrigued by them ever since. Having taken a three year hiatus away from the hobby, I have recently started to pay attention to it and decided to start collecting some cards again. 

At the same time, I thought that I would also start a small blog that is designed to cover my musings on the basketball card industry, whilst also showing some my collection as it starts to build again.

Before I can really get started, I need to first sort through my collection and make some decisions on the direction I want to take it.  It is fair to say that it is a little bit 'random'. There a number of incomplete sets ranging from the mid-1990s through to 2009, as well as the start of a couple of player specific collections. It needs sorting out. 

Apart from deciding that I want to focus on quality rather than quantity - I live in a pretty small apartment and space is at a premium - I have still not worked out exactly the direction I plan to take my collection.

So over the course of the next week or so, I will be sorting through above lot and deciding on what is staying, what is going and where next?