Tuesday, December 23, 2014

So yeah, Topps just made this totally inapproriate Relic card.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's been a while. Most of my action has moved over to BaseballCardPedia and Twitter.  If you haven't already, I'd appreciate a follow.

I just wanted to post this card -- and yes, this is a REAL card that sold on eBay for $259 -- to preserve it for all posterity.

Greatest card since the Billy Ripken 89F?  Yeah, I think so.

Greatest Relic fuck-up since the ManRam "corked bat" card? That, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Box Break and Review: 2014 Donruss Series 2

My thoughts on 2014 Donruss Series 2 ...

1) The base set violates The First Commandment of Baseball Card Product Development.

(In case your wondering, Our Lord and Savior, Jefferson Burdick, was given these Commandments by God Himself one day while he was out on a stroll on the banks of Lake Onondonga.  It's in The Bible, trust me.)

The First Commandment of Baseball Card Product Development: Thou shalt not short-print thy base cards in a Flagship product.

Between the 30 Diamond Kings (of which there were already 30 in Series One), and 25 Rated Rookies, over a third of the base set is SPed.  And we're not talking one-per-pack SPs either.  You only get ten in a 24-pack Hobby box. Which brings us to point #2

2) The base set is way too small for a product like this.

155 cards (100 if you subtract the SPs) for a flagship product.  I mean, really?   Why even bother with it then?

MEMO to Panini: If you want collectors to keep ripping packs, don't gimmick-up the base set.  MAKE THE BASE SET BIGGER!

3) Haven't we seen these guys before?

As I document in the video, many of the same players who had base cards in Series One, also have base cards in Series 2 -- which kind of defeats the whole purpose of a second series, doesn't it?

Look, I see where Panini's thoughts were.  Series One was such a hit with collectors, it made sense for them to release a second series -- even though they had no plans for S2 originally.  And since there are only so many players who switched teams in the interim, and only so many rookies that got called up, they couldn't just fill out the rest of base set with a bunch of Ham & Eggers.

Hopefully for 2015, Panini will plan out their checklist better and avoid a repeat of this year's repeats.

4) Donruss Elite needs to come back as a standalone product.

In lieu of releasing it as its own distinct product, each pack of S2 has one card from a 100-card Donruss Elite set.  These foil-fronted cards are, hands-down, the highlight of Series 2 and it makes you wonder why Panini didn't release Elite on its own.  Maybe for 2015 we'll get a proper Donruss Elite Baseball.

Speaking of Elite ...

5) Did we really need four different "Elite" inserts?

In addition to the one-per-pack "Elites," there's also "Elite Dominators" and "The Elite Series" ( continuations of the Series One inserts), and "Elite Series."  I get that The Elite Series is the "Donruss" insert and Elite Series is the "Elite" insert, but come on!  They couldn't think of anything different?  And it's not as if there aren't any Donruss Elite inserts from the past collectors wouldn't want to see back again (Title Waves, Primary Colors, Passing the Torch, Back to the Future, et al), am I right?

6) Tracy Hackler is The Man, and you know it.

For one week, I want to be Tracy Hackler.

Or two.

Or ten.

Or 1000.

Don't get me wrong, I like this product.  It's not the "flagship" product I would have preferred -- it's more "Donruss Archives."  But for all it's faults, 2014 Donruss Baseball is still better then anything Topps has made this year.

RATING: 3 Gumsticks (out of 5).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Video Box Break: Four Six-Pack Hanger Boxes of 2014 Panini World Cup Prizm

Ever since it "streeted"* I've been wanting to get my hands on a box or two of 2014 Panini World Cup Prizm.  Little did I know that they made a retail version.

For the last month I've been trolling the Walmarts and Targets of the Mid-Atlantic region on a quest for the four-pack Hanger Boxes the retail edition was distributed in.  Here are the results of two such conquests.

Product of the year?  I think that's an understatement.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Well, I finally did it.

I did it.  After holding out for two years, I (willingly) bought 2012 Topps Baseball.  As much as I hate the insert bloat, bland design, and intelligence-insulting gimcracks, I just couldn't turn down a good deal; especially on a product that, for all intents and purposes, has become a Junk Wax product.

And so this past Saturday, at a cramped Days Inn ballroom in Lancaster, PA, I forked over $13 and bought 26 Hobby loosies of 2012 Topps Baseball Series One.

No, you are not seeing things.  I bought 26 packs of 2012 Topps One for a fourth of their $1.99/pack MSRP.  I suppose there wasn't enough "added value," huh?  Or squirrels?

Anyway, as feared, the product ranges from mediocre (base set) at best, to bland and soulless (inserts) at worst.  Take a look at the piss-poor design of these inserts.

You can tell that these cards are designed first as BIG MOJO HITZZZ!!!1!!, then retconned into inserts with a team logo and/or seal; and that big-ass logo/seal makes them look like shit.

And what's with all the "Gold" anyway?  Gold Standard, Golden Moments, Gold Futures, Golden Greats?  What's the point of having all these inserts anyway?  Just about every pack I opened had two inserts in it.  Does anyone at Topps seriously think that this "adds value?"  Do they understand the concept of Diminishing Marginal Utility?

I did manage to pull this purely Lagniappe Michael Pineda letter patch which, unlike most letter patches, is not manufactured.  It was cut out of the warm-up jersey he wore at the 2011 All-Star Game.  Not a manu-relic, but not exactly "game used" either.

So there.  It took me two years, but I've finally crossed over to the dark side and I feel a bit dirty for doing so.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to look up the nearest Free Clinic.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why Cee Angi Matters

Cee Angi represents to me the kind of "consumer" Topps ought to be marketing to: a fanatical baseball fan, who used to collect in her early years, went away for a while, and now wants to get back into collecting again.  

All of which leads me to a question I posed on Twitter last week.
Just imagine for a moment, that you haven't opened a pack of cards since before the 1994 Strike.  You probably remember parallels, but you'd probably wonder why a product has to have 14 of them.  You exited right at the peak of the "insert mania" of the early-90s, but what to make of all the hundreds of inserts?  How can you collect them all?  Is it even possible?

And we're not even at autographs & gamers, gimmicked variations, manu-relics, and other such lagniappe.

The number of collectors actually buying, much less collecting, their products is steadily declining, and it doesn't seem to me like Topps even cares.  It's easy to discount the wants of your customers when you're a monopoly.  In order to survive in the long-run, Topps needs to A) retain the collectors they have, and B) bring lapsed collectors back into The Hobby.  They're not exactly doing a great job with "A," and if you're not winning over people like Angi, then they're not doing such a great job with "B" either.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Broken Resolution, and a New Focus

My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to blog more.  Well, it's February 4th and I'm only getting around to writing my first post now.  I know, right? Sue me.

To be honest with you, I've been wondering what to do with this thing.  As you've undoubtedly noticed, the number of blog posts I've written over the last few years has declined, and I proportionally blame this, in part, to the quality of Topps' recent baseball products.  (If they don't give a shit anymore, why should I?)  But even if things were all hunky-dorey in The Hobby, I doubt I'd be blogging much about it.

About ten years ago I went through the same lull where I took a few years off from my "webzine" (remember them?).  I was burnt out and needed a break.  All life is cyclical; everything evolves from The Great Magnet.

(OBTW, if you actually want to read the "old" Stale Gum, and trust me you don't, you can find it if you know where to look.)

It was only after I discovered the blog format and began reading cardblogs like Ben Henry's Baseball Card Blog and the Cardboard Junkie that I was inspired to re-launch Stale Gum in the blog format; which, in turn, probably inspired others to start their own cardblogs.  (I shouldn't say "probably." The e-mails, personal messages, and cardshow shout-outs I've received over the years proves it.)  I'm not going to take the credit for the late-2000s boom in cardblogs, but if there was ever a "Golden Age" of card blogging and of Stale Gum, I'd say the years 2006-2010 were it.  For the first time since the days of Jefferson Burdick's mimeographed newsletters, the collector had a voice this Hobby; a voice that you just didn't hear all that much from in the Mainstream Hobby Media.  It also helped that most of the card products were still somewhat collectable.

I guess I'm in the same rut now that I was in 2002-04.  When the King of The Bloggers declares that "Blogging is Dead," maybe it's time to this puppy to sleep, give yourself a pat on the back, and move on.  Besides, the cool kids have gravitated towards Twitter doing when used to be called "micro-blogging."

Twitter is a great tool and had it been around in the early-2000s, I doubt this blog would even exist.  But there are some things you just can't compress into 140 characters -- or even a series of 140-character Tweets.  But then again, there are some things just not worthy of a traditional blog post.

So tonight, in this, the Fourth Day of the Second Month in this Foul Year of Our Lord, Two-Thousand Fourteen, I'm giving Stale Gum a new focus. The 800-1000 word blogposts won't be entirely gone, just less frequent.   In its place, I'm going to try to write a series of 50-100 word posts -- maybe once a day or a couple of times a week.  Or, like, whenever.

Always Be Collecting