Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Fleer Tradition

One Box of 2006 Fleer Tradition baseball (paid $55)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack ($1.49/pack)

The Details

Base Set: 200 cards (no short-prints)


  • Sepia: 200 cards

  • Black & White: 200 cards

  • Press Plates: 200 cards (four for each card)


  • Blue Chip Prospects: 25 cards

  • Grass Roots: 25 cards

  • Triple Crown Contenders: 15 cards

  • Diamond Tribute: 25 cards

  • Goudey Greats: 100 cards

  • 1934 Goudey Buybacks

* Odds of finding an insert or parallel (according to fleer.com): one-per-pack.


  • Traditional Threads: 42 cards

  • Signature Tradition: 16 cards

  • 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey, Jr. Autographed Buyback: one card

# Odds of finding an autogamer(according to fleer.com): "better than one-per-box."

The Pulls.

Base Set: One complete 200-card base set
122 doubles


  • 12 Sepias: T. Hudson, Halladay, Pujols, J. Aclardo, C.C. Sabathia, A. Beltre, D. Wright, J. Peavy, R. Howard, K. Millwood and C. Barmes

  • 4 Black & Whites: A. Rios, J. Schmidt, E. Bedard and A-Rod


  • 6 Blue Chip Prospects: Zimmerman, H. Ramirez, A. Wainwright, J. Johnson, K. Morales and C. Billingsley

  • 5 Grassroots: V. Martinez, M. Cabrera, J. Kent, C. Beltran and C. Carpenter

  • 3 Triple Crown Contenders: A-Rod, T. Helton and T. Hafner

  • 6 Diamond Tributes: Griffey, Thome, T. Hafner, R. Oswalt, R. Harden & B. Abreu

  • 1 Goudey Great: K. Johjima


  • 1 Traditional Threads: M. Young

The Review

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2006 National League MVP: Ryan Howard!Earlier this year, Upper Deck announced that they would release four baseball products under the Fleer name this season (Fleer, Ultra, Greats of the Game, and Flair Showcase). After breaking one box of Fleer Tradition, the fifth Fleer Set of 2006, UD probably should have stuck with four.

The 200-card base set feels a bit like an "Update" set. 26% of the base set (52 cards) are of MLBPA approved "ROOKIE CARDS" -- by far, the largest proportion of RCs in a product this year. (Of course, the vast majority of these are parenth-RCs.) Then again, with regular player cards of all the top stars (most of whom did not change teams) you can't really call it a true "Update" set?

No, '81 Topps did not come with UV coating.So what are we to make of 2006 Fleer Tradition? Well, like the Fleer Trad sets of the past few years, the design gives the appearance of an old-fashioned Topps set, in this case 1981 -- although I don't remember Topps UV coating their cards back in '81. When The Hobby is starting to recycle the designs of cards issued a mere 25 years ago for a retro themed set -- especially a lousy one like '81 Topps -- this proves that the "retro" fad has officially jumped the shark.

Not that you would know it by looking on the back of the wrapper, but each pack contains either a parallel or an insert. As usual, UD conveniently forgot to include the insertion ratios and checklist cards. By now, you should know the routine: go to their website, download and print.

Why yes, you have seen this before.  FOUR YEARS AGO!Standing out like the proverbial sore thumb from the rest of the inserts are the 100-card Goudey Greats. Done in the style and size of the 1934 Goudeys -- like we haven't seen that before (See: 1997 Fleer Goudey Greats inserts and 2002 Fleer Tradition base set) -- it appears that these undersized cards are inserted at the rate of one-per-box. Again, this is only a guess since the insertion ratios are unknown. Considering just how big a waxbox is (360 cards-per-box); how puny the size of the base set is (200 cards); and how relatively easy the other non-parallel inserts are to pull, the Goudeys seem out of place.

And yes, there are the standard one-per-box autogamers. According to Fleer's website, the 42-card "Traditional Threads" game used cards "(portray) what memorabilia cards would have looked like in the 1950s." They look nothing of the sort. Nice try though.

The Bottom Line:

For a set that really has no reason to exist, '06 Trad is about what you would expect. Now I don't know about you, but if I were in charge of UD, and management ordered me to produce a fifth Fleer product, I might consider issuing an "Update" set -- especially considering just how late in the season it is. Either an update of Fleer or Ultra, or even a multi-brand bundled update set would have made a lot more sense than this.

The box yielded a full 200 card base set and a stack of over 120 doubles. Each pack contained the promised insert, with a Goudey Great of Kenji Johjima and a gamer of Michael Young. Yawn.

Product Rating: 1.5 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?

Only if you're a Fleer Tradition set completist. Otherwise, save your money and skip it. If you absolutely have to build a Fleer Tradition base set the old fashioned way, buy loose packs. Better yet, spilt up a box with a friend and play pack poker with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What I got at the Card Show: 9/24/06

Site: Concord Mall; Concord, DE

A stack of 180 Topps Allen & Ginter singles and short-prints (Paid $50)

Total Spent on Cards: $50
Bridge Tolls: $3
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $53

Like I said in the review, "With so much of the wax being broken, singles are becoming easier, and cheaper, to acquire." Needless to say, I've decided against busting a second box of TA&G, and am buying singles. By sticking to singles, I was able to get just as many base set cards as a full waxbox, for half the price. Unless you're chasing after autogamers or a Rip Card, you might want to hold off on that second TA&G box.

Still working on that box break of '06 Fleer Trad. Hold your horses folks, it will come eventually. But to tide you over, I'll say this: '06 Fleer Trad sucks.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter

One Box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball (paid $95)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $3.99/pack)

The Details

Base Set: 350 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 300 cards
  • Short-Prints: 50 cards (odds not stated)
  • Short Set Minis: 300 cards
  • Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:13/packs)
  • A&G Back Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:5)
  • A&G Back Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:65)
  • Black Bordered Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:10)
  • Black Bordered Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:130)
  • Non-Numbered Minis: 350 cards: (1:60, limited to 50)
  • Bazooka Back Minis: 350 cards (1:125, numbered to 25)
  • Wood Minis: 350 cards (1:3100, one-of-one)
  • Rip Card Minis: 25 embedded cards
  • Press Plates: 350 cards: (1:865, four for each mini card)
* One mini parallel per pack

  • Dick Perez Sketches: 30 cards (odds not stated)
  • Dick Perez Original Sketches: 30 embedded cards (one-of-one)
  • A&G Postcards: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • N-43: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • Rip Cards: 50 cards (1:265, production varies from 10 to 99 copies)
  • Framed Originals (1:3227)
  • Framed Autographs: 54 cards
  • Red Ink Autographs: 54 embedded cards (numbered to 10)
  • Framed Relics: 52 cards
  • N-43 Autographs: 2 oversized cards (1:970 chiptoppers, numbered to 10)
  • N-43 Relics: 2 oversized cards (1:379 chiptoppers, numbered to 50)
  • Personalized Postcards: 15 oversized autographed cards (1:3000 chiptoppers, one-of-one)
# Stated odds of finding an autogamer: two-per-box.

The Pulls.

Base Set: 144 of 350 (41.14%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 132 of 300 (44.00%)
  • Short-Prints: 12 of 50 (24.00%)
  • 14 Short Set Minis
  • 1 Short-Print Mini: Queen Victoria
  • 4 A&G Back Short Set Minis: J. Kendall, K. Wood, J. Santana & H. Killebrew
  • 1 A&G Back Short-Print Mini: C. Lee
  • 3 Black Short Set Minis: R. Harden, S. Rolen & Wilbur Wright
  • 1 Black Short-Print Mini: J. Lieber
  • 13 Dick Perez Sketches
  • 1 A&G Postcard: M. Tejada
  • 1 Framed Autograph: D. Lee
  • 1 Framed Relic: M. Buehrle

The Review.

In what has become the latest in a string of products that have the appearance of pre-War (or in this case pre-20th Century) card sets; but in structure resemble more modern ones instead, comes Topps' latest "nostalgia product:" Topps Allen & Ginter. "TA&G" has been out for a couple of months, so forgive me for being a little late to the game, but the word on The Hobby street is that TA&G is one of the best (if not the best) products of 2006. Judging by the number of singles available, it's certainly the most broken-up product of 2006. With such praise, I finally had get in on the action, and while I wouldn't go as far as giving it the "set of the year" -- my money's still on Upper Deck's flagship -- TA&G is a pretty solid product, nonetheless.

More like 'The Worst Ratings in the World'For all intents and purposes, TA&G is same product as Topps 206, Topps 205, Cracker Jack, et al. Just like in the aforementioned products, you get an original-sized parallel in every pack, and every box contains two framed autogamers and an essay written by the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann. (No, that picture you're looking at is not Photoshopped, nor is it taken out of context. That really is the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann behind the O'Reilly mask giving it the ol' "Seig Heil!" to a recent gathering of TV critics. Infamous, deplorable? More like despicable. But I digress.)

The base set contains 350 cards -- 300 more than the original -- and as the case with the other "Topps nostalgias," there are some short-prints. Of course, none of the 50 cards are marked as being short-printed, and (as usual) Topps did not make public a list of SPs until well after the product's release. I will not reprint the full list here, but if you pulled a card with a "5" in it's number, chances are, it's probably short-printed.

The main draw to TA&G has been the inclusion of over fifty non-baseball related athletes and celebrities -- which is a bit ironic for a "Major League Baseball" card set. You all know about Danica Patrick, Hulk Hogan, and that Japanese guy who can eat all those hot dogs. But I found card #347, Billy the Kid, to be the most interesting. The back reads:
"William McCarthy grew up a teenage outlaw in the mid-19th Century Old West. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from cold-blooded killer to romanticized swashbuckler.

"Reputed to have shot dead anywhere from four to 21 men, Billy the Kid most famously headed a vigilante group called The Regulators. Once convicted of murder, he escaped, but was killed at age 20."
I can only imagine what the back of card #347 in the 2123 UpperFleerPlayoffDeck "Topps 2006" set will read...
"Usama bin Laden spent his formative years as a mujahadeen in the mid-1980s Afghanistan. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from a cold-blooded terrorist to a romanticized freedom fighter.

"Reputed to have been the mastermind behind the '9/11' terrorist attacks, bin Laden headed a jihadist group called al-Qaida. Once captured, he was convicted of mass-murder and crimes against humanity. He was publicly executed on September 11, 2011, by being thrown off the New York City's Freedom Tower by President Rudolph Guliani."

As for the inserts, each pack comes with an original-sized parallel, and they all come in a wide variety of flavors and scarcities (just like 20X, Cracker Jack, etc.). In addition in the regular "plain-vanilla" minis, there are: black bordered minis; minis without card numbers (neither sequential nor serial); solid wood, true one-of-one, minis; and my favorite, minis with a picture of the Quaker Oat Man on the back. (Actually, it's not the real Quaker Oat Man, but the original 19th Century Allen & Ginter logo.)

If there is one thing truly sucks about TA&G, it's the "Rip Cards." These allegedly innovative inserts are standard-sized cards with a mini-card embedded inside them. The deal is, in order to get the mini-card, you have to physically destroy -- or "rip" open, as it were -- the larger card. As previously mentioned, Topps ripped the idea off (pun intended) from equally infamous, deplorable, 1998 Zenith set, a.k.a. "Dear-to-Tear." As I said then, and continue to say now: "Dare-to-Tear was a lousy idea that no one in The Hobby took seriously, and should have died the same death as the company (Pinnacle Brands) that came up with it." But at least it's not soup cans!

Another thing about TA&G that sucks are the Dick Perez Sketch inserts. OK, "sucks" is a bit harsh. Disappointing is more like it. While, the set structure does duplicate the old Diamond Kings -- 30 players, one from each team -- unfortunately, Topps had Perez draw his sketches to scale, making it very hard to distinguish each player. (The 30 original sketches have been embedded into the Rip Cards.) Beckett says that if you cover of the player's name and hat logo, you can't tell who's who. I tried it, and I couldn't either.

Rounding out TA&G are the two-per-box autogamers. The demand for these cards, especially the "player-touched" autographs, is the driving force behind the wholesale pack-busting of this prodcut. Again, just like in the 20X products, all the autogamers are mini-sized, and come encapsulated in a 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" frame.

The Bottom Line:

Just about every pack contains something of value, which is why dealers and collectors are busting the bejesus out of TA&G. In my box I pulled 12 base set short-prints, ten "non-vanilla" parallels, 13 Dick Perez Sketch inserts, a framed autograph of Derrek Lee, and a framed Relic of Mark Buehrle. Throw in a Miguel Tejada chiptopper (see below), and that's 38 "hits" in a 24 pack box. A pretty good rip, if you ask me. With so much of the wax being broken, singles are becoming easier, and cheaper, to acquire. At $100 per box, TA&G isn't the most affordable product out there, so two waxboxes should be all you need.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of five)

...and another thing

The oversized chiptopper cards are, well, interesting to say the least. My box yielded an A&G postcard of Miguel Tejada. The front a nice team picture of the 1897 Batlimore All-Americans. The back has a Miguel Tejada postage stamp affixed to the upper-right corner and reads, "I love the players, I love the team, I love everybody here. -- Miggy." Yes, it's signed "Miggy." This has got to be the cheesiest concept for an insert I think I've ever seen. But, again, at least it's not soup cans!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 9/9/06

Site: Woodbridge Center; Woodbridge, NJ

One box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter (List Price: $99)
One box of 2006 Fleer Tradition (List Price: $58)

Both wax boxes were purchased from the same dealer, who charged me $150 for both.

A big ol' stack of set fillers and commons. (Paid $50)

Total Spent on Cards: $200
NJ Turnpike Tolls: $4.40
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $204.40

Stand-by on those box breaks.

The $50 worth of "set-fillers and commons," is a nice sized stack of over 120 '06 base set cards. You'll be thrilled to know (as I am) that I was able to complete the first series of '06 Upper Deck, and have put a nice size dent in the second series. I also finished off the '06 Bowman short-set ("Reds" and "Greens"), and have only four "Blues" remaining to dust-off the Prospect "inserts" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). There were a smattering of singles from Ultra, Fleer, Topps series 2 as well.

All of these singles were purchased from a New York area dealer, and as such, charges a "regional premium" for Yankee and Met players -- even the commons. He wanted $2.50 for David Wright's '06 Ultra card, $3 for Derek Jeter's '06 Topps, but only a dime for Ryan Howard's '06 Topps. Go figure.

Needless to say, the only cards now needed to complete my '06 Topps (#500, Jeter) and '06 Fleer (#394, J. Posada) base sets; and my '06 Ultra short-set (#93, D. Wright), are all Noo Yawkers.

Oh, and another thing. I found out what neat-o present Upper Deck is sending me for that Exquisite redemption card I pulled: A Jim Thome/Reggie Jackson dual-autographed card numbered to 20 copies. Hopefully, it's not a one of those cheesy "sticker autograph." I guess I shouldn't be complaining though.

In fact, some of the other "prizes" are pretty sweet: Low-numbered autogamers galore; an '06 Exquisite factory set (only 75 sets produced); tours of the UD facilities; and, my favorite, one wax box of every 2007 UpperFleerDeck product.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We don't need no domain name renawals, let the m*f*er expire!

Expire, m*f*er, expire!

So I forgot to renew my site's domain name. What's the worst that could possibly happen? Fortunately, this issue has now been resolved -- at least for the next three years anyway.

As you were.