Saturday, 30 June 2012

Panini Past & Present Modern Marks: Blake Griffin & friends...

In the mail this week, were the first three cards for my 2011-12 Panini Past & Present Modern Marks set that I am chasing. The cards in-hand are as attractive as I hoped and I feel that Panini has done an excellent job with the clean and crisp design for these cards. Consequently, the on-card autographs do really jump out.

Whilst I have a couple of LaMarcus Aldridge autograph cards in my collection, these are the first I have of Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin. I am still on the look out for the remaining seven cards to complete the set, but they are turning out to be less prevalent than I thought. If anyone spots any for sale around the web, then do drop me a line!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball

Oh the mighty have fallen. Upper Deck yesterday posted some images of cards from their forthcoming release 2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball. Originally due to be released in April of this year, the released has steadily been pushed back and is now due to land in September. Whilst a five month delay could be regarded as an issue in itself, it is the above images that have caused the real consternation on my part.

I have long had a hatred of sticker autograph cards. Whilst, I understand the economics for card companies of sticker versus on-card autograph cards, I still think that they were one of the worst innovations that has arrived within the hobby over the last decade. I understand that players have numerous commitments and are not as accessible to both collectors and card companies as we would like, in order that they can sign sports cards. But, I personally would see a lower number of on-card autograph cards released, as opposed to see the flood of awful sticker autograph cards that are currently produced each year.

Upper Deck seem though intent on taking things to a whole new low. 'Autographics' cards that first started to appear in Skybox products in 1996-97 took official autograph cards to a whole new level. The first 96 card set is legendary and the releases of the next few years maintained that high standard; with an excellent array of on-card autographs from a host of then current players. As regular readers of this blog will know, I am still attempting to finish the 1998-99 version of this insert set!

So to see Upper Deck plan stickered versions of these classic 90s set, simply has me shaking my head. I was actually quite looking forward to this release and maybe adding another chase to my ever growing list. But seeing these images, I think it is fair to say I will stay away. When I consider some of the amazing basketball products that the Upper Deck was producing only a few years ago (Exquisite, Chronology, SP Authentic, Ultimate Collection to name but four), I do wonder whether we are really seeing the demise of this once great card company.       

Sunday, 24 June 2012

I genuinely do not like memorabilia cards

It is official; I do not like memorabilia cards. I have never been a fan, but over the last couple of weeks, I have come to the conclusion, that I genuinely do not like them. Two recent events have brought me to this conclusion. The first, was seeing some images on the Panini America Blog that pictured a number of hockey jerseys that had been cut-up, ahead of being added to cards that would be featured in the 2011-12 Prime Hockey.

Now I am not a hockey fan, but my instant reaction was 'What a waste of a good jersey!' It seemed such a shame to see patches from a game-worn cut up and in my mind destroyed.

The second, occurred upon receiving the above 2004-05 SP Game Used Authentic Patches card of Kevin Garnett. I have made a conscious decision to increase the number of Kevin Garnett autograph cards that I have in my collection and was able to pick this one up from eBay for competitive price. It would be described by most collectors as having a good 2-colour patch, but as I held it in my a hand, I was completely unmoved. In fact I concluded that the card would look better without the patch.

Now, I appreciate that amongst most modern day collectors, I am going to be in the minorty with the above view. But, the joy of the hobby, is that there is no right or wrong in determining what cards to collect. Consequently, with the exception of the existing sets that I am looking to complete, I will not be adding any more jersey / memorabilia cards to my collection.        

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Box Break: 2010-2011 Limited

Whilst, purchasing and trading for singles is the mainstay of my involvement in the hobby, breaking boxes every so often is something that I, like the majority of collectors, just love to do. So, ahead of the release of the 2011-2012 Panini Limited, I decided to crack open a couple of boxes of last years incarnation of this premium product.

Unless, I intend to put together a base set of a particular release, I have long preferred boxes which feature a small number of cards. With seven cards in each box, Limited certainly meets that requirement.

So without further ado, her are the scans of the cards that I pulled from the two boxes:

Base: Marcus Thornton (75 of 199)
Silver Spotlight: Rajon Rondo (105 of 149)

Threads: Karl Malone (117 of 119)
Trios: Kobe Bryant / Lamar Odem / Pau Gasol (42 of 99)

Next Day Autographs: Da'Sean Butler (83 of 99)
Team Trademarks Silver Spotlight: Lebron James (47 of 49)

Rookie Card: Quincy Pondexter (11 of 249)

Base: Russell Westbrook (183 of 199) 
Silver Spotlight: Jerry Lucas (133 of 149)

Gold Spotlight: George Gervin (49 of 49)
Retired Numbers Gold Spotlight: Hakeem Olajuwon (7 of 24)

Threads: Tyler Hansborough (180 of 199)
Freshman Jumbo: Luke Babbitt (24 of 99)

Freshman Jumbo Signatures: Quincy Pondexter (10 of 99)

Jumbo Jersey Numbers Prime: Carmelo Anthony (1 of 10)

OK, so I am not going to able retire with the proceeds when it comes time to sell the above cards on eBay...unless Quincy Pondexter has a huge breakout year in 2012-2013! But, the Kobe & Lebron inserts are not too shabby and I am sure a fellow collector will happily add the Carmelo Anthony patch card to their personal collection.

All of the cards are available to buy or trade. Although, if no interest in the coming couple of weeks, I will be sending them off to checkoutmycards.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Lebron James

Can we all move on now? I hope so, but based on the various posts I have been reading on numbers basketball forums, the 'love him or hate' debate surrounding King James seems unlikely to end anytime soon. It is apparent that the addition of a championship is not going to change the opinions of his haters. The shortened 66-game season is already being used as an excuse, whilst his fans clearly are looking to right the inevitable wrongs and settle as many scores as they can.

I have long stayed away from the James debate and the emotive language that seems inevitably seems arrive at the mention of his name. I do not support any one particular team or player and simply love to see great players playing the game at the highest possible level. There is little doubt in my mind, that James is a great player. His speed, finesse, strength & skill for of a man of his size are almost unmatched and he has been the dominate player this year - both during the regular and post-season.

No matter what you think of the man, if you love basketball, I can not see how you could not enjoy watching his performances during this postseason. The NBA Championship and MVP titles were all well earned. It has taken him nine-long years to get there, but the potential, that became expectation, has finally resulted in a victory.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Wanted: 2011-12 Past & Present Modern Marks

My three hiatus from the hobby, has resulted in my collection lacking any cards from 2010-11 & 2011-12 releases. This is not something I feel happy about and have decided to rectify. Although I fully expect to purchase some autograph cards from the forthcoming 2011-12 Panini Limited & Gold Standard releases, there is one small chase that I have decided to start on immediately.

The set in question is the ten card 'Modern Marks Autographs' insert set from the 2011-12 Panini Past & Present release. The autographs are all on-card, with a design that jumped out at me when I first saw it previewed by Panini earlier this year. The checklist also includes some younger stars (Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin) that are under represented in my collection.

I have already purchase two cards from the set, which I will showcase on their arrival, but I have eight more to go. So if anyone reading this blog knows of any cards from this set for sale to trade, then please hit me up via my Contact Me page.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

2000-01 SP Authentic - Sign Of The Times

I have been distracted today, both by a slightly crazy day at work and England defeating Ukraine 1-0 in the Euro 2012 'soccer' tournament. This victory (somewhat surprisingly) takes my home nation through to a quarter-final game against Italy on Sunday. Consequently, this is going to be a quick and simple post to show off a couple of 2000-01 SP Authentic Sign of The Times autograph cards that arrived in the mail today. 

DeShawn Stevens (Jazz) and Marcus Fizer (Bulls) are 19th & 20th additions to my collection from this 48 card set and so take me past the halfway mark of this particular chase. I have to admit that this particular set building exercise falls under the "I've started so I will finish" category. There has been more than one occasion, when I have pulled the cards out of the cards and wondered why I am attempting to complete the set.

The 2000-01 rookie class was pretty poor (with not a single player able to muster a scoring average above 20ppg), resulting in what can be best described as a pretty uninspiring checklist. The only stars to feature are Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller; none of which I currently have in my possession. 

But, the autographs are all on-card and I do like the design. So having come this far, I have now hit the point of no return and will eventually close this chase out. The 20 cards that I do own, can be found on display here in my Photobucket.  

Monday, 18 June 2012

An 'Exquisite Final' for King James?

We have been here before: Eastern Conference Champions and 2-1 up against the best from the West. But, will the result for Lebron & his Heat teammates be the same as last year? Possibly not. The first change is that the Heat have home court advantage for the next two games. But, as we saw in Game 5 of the Conference Finals against the Celtics, they are not invincible at the America Airline Arena.

More importantly, Lebron James seems to be on top of his game this year; whereas he under-perfomed in 2011. He is averaging 30.3ppg this year versus 20.3ppg against the Mavericks in 2011. If the memories from 12 months ago, continues to drive Lebron, Wade and Bosh forward, then they might finally be able to put the pain of that defeat behind them.

It will also mean that the torch held by 5x champion Kobe Bryant for the last 10 years will finally be handed to LeBron James. Whilst, it could be argued, from a hobby perspective, this happened a number of years ago, King James was in danger of being upstaged by the young Prince Durant. It will be intriguing to see over the course of the next few days, if the long-expected coronation does finally happen.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

1996-97 Finest set chase...second time around

I make no excuses for the fact, that my recent posts have been dominated by cards that were released in the 1990s. As I have returned to the hobby, I have concentrated on trying to complete the chases that I started but never fully completed. One set I did though complete back in the day was of the 1996-97 Finest base set.

This 291 card set, was released in two series and divided into three seperate tiers; the 'common' bronze, 'uncommon' silver and the 'rare' gold tiers. In the early days of the internet, putting together the whole set (which had a high book value of $1,300 at the time of its release) was pretty tough ask and a took good deal of work finding all of the cards. Consequently, I was pretty pleased with the achievement when I completed the set within two years of its initial release.
In early 2002, I made the decision to sell the complete set (along with a number of other cards) to help fund a round the world trip. I actually was out of the country for just shy of two years and had an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience, travelling through Central & South America, Australasia and Asia before returning to the rat race in 2004. So I can not say that I regretted the sale, or that the funds I received from it, were not put to good use.

But not owning the set grated. So much so, that a few years ago I decided to repeat the exercise! In my mind there is little fun in going and buying a complete set. I like to do things the old fashioned way. So I bought two boxes (one from each of each series) and busted away! This took me quite close to  completing the bronze common set and I have since been steadily adding the missing silver and gold cards ever since. The delivery that I took from yesterday, has brought me with 15 cards of finnishing the chase for a second time.

The standout cards (then as now) are the Kobe Bryant bronze RC #74 and gold #269 card, quickly followed by the Michael Jordan gold #291. With the the resurgence interest in his 1990s insert cards, the Kobe gold cards in particular has jumped in price of late and currently has a High BV of $150  - compared to $60 back in 1997. It is in the gold cards of other players where the set has seen a price reduction. Whilst the gold cards of Grant Hill, Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett once had a High BV of $60, they are now only listed with a value of $12, $20 and $25 respectively.

I should be able to complete the set relatively easily over the course of the coming weeks. I then need to decide if I want to take on the slightly harder (and significantly more expensive) task of chasing the refractor parallel set.

Finally, as you can see from the images below, I am very much in the 'do not peel' camp. Always have, always will be.  

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Check Out My Cards!

I recently decided to try out and placed an order for 100 lower price cards on their website. This morning the cards arrived and I have to say that I am very impressed with the website and its service offering. The site itself is intuitive and simple to use. I was quickly able to locate the cards I wanted, add them to my cart and make a payment via PayPal. 

My order was quickly acknowledged by the site and I received regular communication, prior to them being dispatched. I particularly liked the e-mail I received that provided a copy of my invoice and included a simple statement that read "your order is being packaged to....if this address is incorrect, please reply to this email". Simple, but a very nice touch.

The package arrived in the mail today and as you can see from the image above, was superbly packaged. Each card was in a soft sleeve and then placed into a standard 200 count card storage box. The box was then packed out with polystyrene foam. This box was then packaged in a second box and again packed out with polystyrene foam and my invoice. Perfect!

In short an excellent experience and one I will look to repeat regularly; particularly for lower priced cards which are not always easy to find. I am that impressed with their website, that in the not too distant future I am going to send in some cards to sell as well.

Thoroughly recommended on my part.

Friday, 15 June 2012

NBA 50 Greatest Players - Rick Barry

Although my focus is on players who starred in the 1990s, I occasionally find myself  drawn to the legends of the game who starred in the previous four decades of the NBA. The 50 greatest players in NBA that were chosen in 1996 to mark the 50th anniversary of the league itself is a list that I regularly referring back to.

Whilst I would like to add some vintages sets to my collection, I have enough chases going on to keep me busy for the moment. But every so often I do add do find myself drawn to a vintage card of an NBA legend. One such example is a 1971-72 Topps Rick Barry RC, that I picked up to recently. The thing that is unusual about this particular card from my perspective, is that it is graded. I am not usually one to buy graded cards, but this particular card was competitively priced, so I decided to make an exception. 

But now that I have it in my possession, I find myself wanting to remove the card from its 'slab'. I keep flipping it over in my hands, wondering if I should just go ahead and break it open. I like to (occasionally at least) hold the actual cards in my hands and it seems a little strange to think, that I will own a card never physically touch and remain encased permanently in plastic. It seems to detract from owning the card somewhat. Anyway, that is probably a decision for another day. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

1995-96 E-XL: Chase completed

Two weeks ago, I published details of the insert set, Natural Born Thrillers, from the 1995-96 E-XL release, that I had completed. In the mail today was the final card, that means I now own every single card from this release. So in addition to the 100 card base set, the Blue parallel version, I have also completed the four insert sets: A Cut Above, No Boundaries, Natural Born Thrillers and Unstoppable.

Whilst clearly not the most expensive set around, in total it only has a book value of $570, it is the first time I have completed a full release from the 1990s. So the addition of the final card result is a little personal milestone...which only took 16 years to complete!

Ahh well, I got there evenutally.

Pictured above is the the complete collection, whilst below is a close up view of the three main insert sets from this release. 

A Cut Above (1:130 packs)
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd

Natural Born Thrillers (1:48 packs)
Jordan McDyess
Hill Drexler
Garnett Hardaway
Stackhouse Finley
Pippen Kidd

No Boundaries (1:18 packs)
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd
Pippen Kidd