Friday, January 30, 2009

Cardola: 2008-09 Topps Hardwood Basketball

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cardola: 2008 Topps Mayo Football

One Hobby Box supplied to me for free by Topps of 2008 Mayo Football (street value: $100)
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set: 144 of 330 (43.64%)

19 Minis
2 Yale Minis (1:13) E. Sims, D. Northcutt
1 Princeton Mini (1:24) T. Brady
1 Harvard Mini (1:50, numbered to 25) J. Gage

2 Mini Famous Ships (19 cards, 1:12) Andrea Gail, RMS Carpathia
22 Super Bowl Logo History (33 cards, one-per-pack)

1 Mayo Relic (43 cards*) C. Henne
1 Mayo Americana Relic (18 cards*) W. Haynes

* Odds of finding an autogamer: 1:12/packs

Box Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of five)
Product Rating: 4 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What did we learn today?

Ten years from now, we'll look back at the events of today, January 27th, 2009, as the day that changed The Hobby forever. Much like that day in 1980 when Judge Newcomer broke up the Topps monopoly; that day in 1988 DeWayne Buice went searching for Chinese food, and walked into The Upper Deck sports card shop instead; or that day in 2005 when Donruss's MLBPA license was revoked; the day MLB properties filed suit against Donruss on the same day Panini acquired the exclusive rights to produce NBA cards and stickers will be, I believe, a turning point in the history of The Hobby.

First off, the suit was something Donruss should have seen coming. When the sell sheets for Donruss Threads were first issued, and showed most of the logos weren't completely airbrushed out, in my mind a lawsuit was inevitable. It wasn't a matter of if D'russ would get sued, but when. But even if Donruss eventually wins or settles this suit, they've all but lost any chance they had (however remote) of ever getting their MLB license back, and they only have themselves to blame.

As for Panini, most collectors probably remember them from their late-80s sticker books, or from their European soccer cards. So what can NBA collectors expect? Their primary business is still in stickers and collectible card games (both sports-related and non-sports). It should be a given that they'll try to import both into basketball. What they've never done before is an "American" style sports card set. Panini has never made an autographed card; nor have they made a game used card; and most of their existing products sell for less than $1/pack.

Can Panini adapt to the tastes of the American collector with more upscale products? Or will they stick (no pun intended) with what works in Europe? We won't know until the first sell-sheets come out, but judging from this quote from Sal LaRocca, Executive Vice President of the NBA's Global Merchandising Group, we can expect basketball cards to go down-market.

“Our exclusive partnership with Panini provides us with the best opportunity to recreate the trading card market by developing the key retail channels with a variety of products and promotions geared towards all consumer segments.”

"Recreate the trading card market." That's a interesting choice of words, eh? And Mr. LaRocca may have a point. Over the past decade-and-a-half, as the price of a pack of cards has skyrocketed past the $5, $10, $20, $100, and $500 price-points, total revenues have plummeted, and that is no coincidence. It's a trend that started in the mid-90s across all sports, and despite the best efforts of the existing manufacturers (or perhaps, because of them), shows no sign of letting up. So maybe the NBA giving an exclusive license to a company with a track-record of affordable and collectible products, might not be so bad for basketball collectors.

"A variety of products ... geared towards all consumer segments." Again, an interesting choice of words. The NBA has given Panini the right to produce anywhere from 15-20 card sets per year, so variety should not be an issue. With that many products, there ought to be something for every collector. However given Panini's efforts in European Soccer cards, I have a feeling that the era of the $100/pack product may be coming to an end -- at least in basketball.

Here's one thing that should give basketball collectors pause. Although an established company in Europe, Panini hasn't had a US presence since the early-90s. They are, for all intents and purposes, a start-up company. The first basketball sets are traditionally released in the late Summer/early Fall, which is six to eight months from now. Will Panini be able to get a product out the door by then? And will it be any good? Or will they half-ass it like 2001 Donruss baseball?

And what about Topps and UD? Will they go the unlicensed route and produce sets of retired players and draft picks? Considering that they still have Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and others locked up to long-term exclusive contracts, Upper Deck might issue single-player sets. However today's lawsuit against Donruss may put the kibosh on that idea.

Finally, it will be interesting to see if Panini will be content with just an NBA license, or if they'll try to acquire another sport's license. Both Topps and Upper Deck's MLB licenses expire at the end of this year, and if Panini makes the kind of offer to baseball as they did with basketball, 2009 may very well be the last year for Topps and/or Upper Deck baseball.

Cardola: 2008 Triple Threads Football

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Spent $15,000 on Yankee Tedium Lunacy Cards...

... and all I got was this lousy baseball card.

Yeah, I'm jealous.

And yeah, Yankee Tedium Lunacy is still stupid.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cards that will be in '09 UD.

This card will be randomly inserted into packs of 2009 Upper Deck Series One.

Yes, that is a card of a hockey game, in a baseball product.

But wait, there's also these...

And you thought UD wouldn't issue an Obama card?

It's all part of a ten-card, 1:6/pack, insert in Series One called "2008 Historic Firsts." They're also putting in that guy who wasted $15,000 to build a complete set of Yankee Tedium Lunacy, those two pitchers from India that signed with the Pirates, as well as "the first athlete to win eight gold medals at a single Olympiad." (Hmmmm, I wonder who that could be?)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Guess That Gimmick!

We're just a few weeks away from the first series of 2009 Topps baseball. And we all know what that means....

So what do you say we have some fun with it. In the comments, take a guess what the gimmick in 2009 Topps Series One is. If you can accurately guess what it is, you'll win...

... something. (Prize to be determined at a later date.)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

1994: Last Great Year -- Score Rookie/Traded

Last time, we took a look at the best of 1994: Fleer. Now, we take a look at the worst: Score Rookie/Traded. But before we continue, a clarification.

For the purposes of this feature, traded sets will be treated as an extension of their appropriate base set. (This is why Fleer Update was lumped in with Fleer.) But Score Rookie/Traded -- and Sportflics 2000 Rookie/Traded, which will be featured later -- gets its own entry. Although the composition of the 1994 Score Rookie/Traded base set is similar to traditional extended sets for some strange reason Pinnacle Brands decided to give it a new design. New design equals separate product in my book; ergo, a write-up of its own.

There aren't many red-bordered trading card sets. 1914-15 Cracker Jack immediately comes to mind, but I don't think there's ever been a card this red. It's a bright, loud, almost angry shade of red that certainly gets your attention -- and if that's what Pinnacle's design team had in mind, consider it a job well done.

Unfortunately, the other design elements are just nauseating -- and it's not just one nauseating design either. In something that (thankfully) has not been repeated since, Pinnacle gave separate and distinct designs to the rookies and the traded veterans. But even if Pinnacle kept the design of '94 Score, '94SR/T is not a good extended set.

1994 Score Rookie/Traded is to the 90s, what 1984 Topps Traded was to the 80s. While Topps could have included XRCs of Kirby Puckett and Roger Clemens in '84TT, but didn't; Pinnacle could have included a true RC of Alex Rodriguez, but didn't. Yes, there is an A-Rod card in '94SR/T -- which we'll get to a little later -- but he's not in the base set.

The set itself consists of 165 cards (70 traded players, 93 "rookies," and two checklists), and the only rookie cards of note are of Chan Ho Park and a Jose Lima -- a card with a back story of its own. We'll get to that card, and what Lima-Time's RC has to do with Alex Rodriguez, later.

'94SR/T was released in 10-card wax packs to both Hobby and retail in October 1994, and the sole difference between the two is that Hobby has an extra insert set that retail doesn't. Both Hobby and retail have a one-per-pack Gold Rush parallel and a 1:36/pack Changing Places insert. The other insert, Super Rookies, was exclusive to Hobby and was also seeded into packs at the rate of 1:36. So if you're dying to bust a box of this stuff (and after reading this, I know you will) you might as well go for the one that has the additional insert.

Alright, so here's the story of Jose Lima's short-printed RC, and the mysterious Alex Rodriguez redemption card. During the production process one of the press plates shattered and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, Jose Lima photo was accidentally deleted from Pinnacle's computer files. To rectify this, Pinnacle double-printed John Mabry's card. Very late in the production run, the double-printed Mabry was replaced with an exchange card.

Originally, the exchange card would be redeemed for a card of the first player from the 1994 Draft to make his Major League debut. But, because of the player strike and the subsequent cancellation of the last six weeks of the 1994 season, Pinnacle announced that the exchange card would be fulfilled with a card of the first overall pick of the 1993 draft. And that, of course, would be Alex Rodriguez.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Base Set: 165 cards

Gold Rush (one-per-pack)

12 Changing Places (1:36)
18 Super Rookies (1:36, Hobby only)
1 September Call-Up redemption (1:240)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Full list of 2008 Gummie Winners.

Product of the Year, Set of the Year, and Best Retro-Themed Product: Topps Allen & Ginter.

All of these were runaway winners, and neither should come as a shock.

Card of the Year: Donruss Threads Bats #9, Shoeless Joe Jackson

This was the first surprise result. The smart money was on the Topps Obama, but it could only muster 25% of the vote. Meanwhile, the Shoeless Joe Bat card from Donruss Threads received 41% and won in an upset.

Rookie Card of the Year: Topps Heritage #650, Evan Longoria

It wasn't much of a shock to see Longoria get this award. What was a shock was that it wasn't the one with the cut/sticker autograph, swatch of jersey fabric, and serial numbering that won (SP Authentic); but just a humble base card (Heritage).

Best Insert Set: Topps Trading Card History

Trading Card History got 56% of the vote, easily defeating TA&G's Mini World Leaders.

Best Autogamer Set: Topps Allen & Ginter Framed Relics

The TA&G Framed Relics got 45%, while Stadium Club Beam Team beat out Topps Heritage A Real One for second by a single vote.

Also, Razor Signature Autographs did not receive a single vote.

Best High-End Product: Playoff Prime Cuts IV

This by far, was the most competitive category.

Topps Triple Threads 21.7%
Upper Deck Premier 14.5%
Topps Finest 20.5%
Topps Sterling 19.3%
Playoff Prime Cuts IV 24.1%

Best Prospect Themed Product:
Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects.

If I were a betting man, I'd have placed my money on Razor to win, and BDP&P to finish last. As it turns out, BDP&P won and Razor got the wooden spoon.

Best Unlicensed Product:
Playoff Prime Cuts IV

Donruss took the Win (Prime Cuts), Place (D'Russ Threads), and Show (DEEE) positions.

Worst Overall Product:
Upper Deck X
Most Disappointing Product:
Stadium Club
Most Meaningless Product:
Upper Deck Documentary

All three were shoo-ins, and all three carried at least 40% of the vote in their respective categories.

Worst Gimmick:
Topps #661, Johan Santana "No-Hitter"

I really thought it was going to be the fake Japanese ballplayer (Uzuki). But you chose the fake no-hitter.

Best Hobby Blog:
Cardboard Junkie

This was a two-horse race between The Junkie and.....

Best Hobby News Source:
Wax Heaven

Mario received over 65% of the vote.

Best Video Box Breaker:

I mean, come on! It's Tom the Ripper. Everyone else was competing for second place -- which, by the way, went to Dr. Wax Battle.

Hobby Rookie of the Year:
Evan Longoria

77% of the vote. Nuff said.

Hobby MVP:
Josh Hamilton

This was a battle between Hamilton and Albert Pujols, but in the end, Hamilton won with 39% to Pujols's 27%.

Hobby Top Prospect: David Price

Another no-brainer.

Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to The Hobby:
Ben Henry

I thought you'd give it to Sy Berger, but Ben Henry pulled it out with his Casey at the Bat farewell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008 Gummie Awards: The Winners

And here they are, the best and worst of The Hobby as selected by YOU!

Friday, January 09, 2009

A View from the Inside

The one thing that's been missing from the cardblogosphere is someone from the inner sanctum of The Hobby; someone who can look at The Hobby not just from the collector's side, but from the business end as well.

Steven Judd is such a person. He started out at Beckett as an analyst and has spent the last seven years in product development for Donruss, Topps, and most recently Upper Deck. (Among the products he's worked on for UD include Sweet Spot, Spectrum, and UD Masterpieces.) Now out of The Hobby, Judd has taken his unique insights to the internet with The Sports Card File.

You won't find wantlists, box breaks, videos, or any of that kind of stuff. What you will find is a side of The Hobby that most collectors don't understand and doesn't always get enough ink. TSCF is a fascinating read, and I urge you to check it out.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Come on Topps. Jeff deserves to be on a card. And what better way to honor the greatest card collector who ever lived, than by putting Jeff Burdick in 2009 Allen & Ginter.

Monday, January 05, 2009

White Plains Winter Show Meet Up.

Hey, did you know that the White Plains show is in a couple weeks?

Are you going?

Would you like to meet an actual cardblogger/minor internet celebrity?

Did you answer "Yes," "yes," and "yes?"

Well then, have we got great news for you! Stale Gum's Chris Harris will be attending the White Plains show on Saturday January 17th, and you can meet him!

Where and When:

The Westchester County Center (google maps for directions)
Saturday January 17th from Noon until ??? (depends on traffic)
Admission: $7 (kids under 12 free!)

Over 300 tables, and Bobby Valentine and Willie McCovey will be signing autographs! Oh, what fun we'll have!

For more information on the show, and autograph guests go to JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions' website.


Friday, January 02, 2009

1994: Last Great Year -- Fleer

Since I already wrote about it as part of the "Always Be Collecting" Fleer tribute, I'll kick this love-fest off by reprinting my 1994 Fleer blog post from last March.

1994 Fleer

Base Set: 720 (one series)
  • All-Rookies: 9 cards (complete set available via a 1:200/pack redemption card)
  • All-Stars: 50 cards (1:2, wax exclusive)
  • Award Winners: 6 cards (1:37)
  • Golden Memories: 10 cards (one-per-"Blue" pack; jumbo version numbered to 10,000)
  • League Leaders: 12 cards (1:17)
  • Lumber Company: 10 cards (1:5, jumbo exclusive)
  • Major League Prospects: 35 cards (1:6)
  • Pro-Visions: 9 cards (1:12)
  • Rookie Sensations: 20 cards (1:4, jumbo exclusive)
  • Tim Salmon: 15 cards (cards #1-12: 1:30; cards #13-15 available via a wrapper redemption offer)
  • Smoke 'n Heat: 12 cards (1:30)
  • Team Leaders: 28 cards (1:6)
Autogamers: Tim Salmon Autographed (total of 2500 cards)

Packaging: 36 pack, 15-card waxboxes; 24 pack, 21-card jumbo boxes; 24 pack, 23-card Wal-Mart exclusive "Blue" packs.
Notable Cards: Nolan Ryan Smoke 'n Heat, Pro-Visions set.
Other Notes:
  • Hands down, the greatest Fleer baseball set ever.
  • The Gold Standard of what a base-level baseball card product should be.
  • Classy and clean white-bordered set.
  • First year of UV coating on both sides of the card, and gold foil stamping on each card.
  • Over 200 inserts, each seeded at the rate of one-per-pack.
  • Complete Pro-Visions set forms a nine-card mosaic.
  • Debut of fin-sealed foil packaging.
Full Set: $50 (NmMT)

1994 Fleer Update

Base Set: 200 cards
  • Diamond Tribute: 10 cards
Notable Cards: Alex Rodriguez's second best RC (enough said).
Other Notes:
  • Last Fleer Update factory set for four years.
Full Set (factory): $50 (NmMT)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

1994: The Last Great Year.

1994 was the last truly great year to be a card collector. And with 2009 upon us, Stale Gum will take a look back at what made that year so great.

One-by-one, I'll be taking a second look at some of the greatest (and no so greatest) baseball card sets of the era.

So that's something to look forward to.