Preview: 2011 Topps Inception Football

It may be the middle of the Major League Baseball season, but football products are coming out like hotcakes. Topps Inception football is just as the name implies. Topps is welcoming the top drafted rookies this year in their own focused product with Topps Inception. Chock full of rookies, if you’re a rookie collector or looking to try and prospect some football players before they take the field this year (hopefully) this product is for you.

This product is full of great things. I’ll start with the rookie autographs. Every rookie autographed card is hard signed. Topps has done a great job getting these done in this department. It shouldn’t be a selling point more than it should be a requirement for autographs, but Topps is making the necessary steps. There will be dual, triples, and quad autographs all on card. This is shaping up to be a monster rookie product. There is also a black version signed in silver ink which looks awesome.

The second great thing is the design. These cards look great. Sure, the jerseys on the players are photoshopped on, but the look of a very realistic painting looks really good. But the overall design of the cards makes that seem like a non-issue. The players look like they are coming out of the smoke from the tunnel for their first NFL game. Instead, they are coming out for their first high-end rookie trading cards.

The final great thing is the price. What would you pay for a rookie product with a ton of autographs, great looking design, and a ton of relics? You would need to know what you get per box. Each box comes with one pack. Inside each pack is 2 autographs, 1 relic card, 2 parallels, and 2 veteran base cards. Every card is numbered. Sounds like a lot of other products out there that cost $150+. Try $90 for this product. The lack of veteran and star autographs drives the price down to an affordable level to pick up some of the hottest rookies of this coming season. With all the low serial number possibilities, you can find some real value in this box.

The only thing I kind of don’t like about this product is the relics. Now you need to understand where I am coming from with this. Every relic is just event worn from the NFL Rookie Premiere. Worn for two seconds or worn in multiple layers, these are not game used. I don’t like event worn memorabilia. BUT! I understand the need for event worn memorabilia when there hasn’t been a game played yet. If you want to get products out before the season starts you need to use the event worn jerseys, I understand that. I just like my stuff game worn, it means more to me as a collector.

But I can’t complain about how they use these relics. Shields, jumbo relics, jumbo patches, letterman, laundry tags, autographed versions of all of those…great use of the memorabilia. They are really using every bit of the jersey for this product and for that we do thank you. So honestly, I can’t not like it that much. It’s more of a preference I guess.

Either way, this product is looking good. Right now the release date is set for August 10, 2011. It will definitely be a favorite of the rookie collectors out there and with more people getting into prospecting in football, it looks like it will do well. If you want star autographs or legend autographs, you will not find it in this product, however.

Here is one of those sweet silver signatures:

My Favorite Themed Set – 2009 Press Pass Wheels Main Event

Themed sets are kind of hard to come by nowadays. I do enjoy a themed set where every card base, insert, game used, autos, are all based off of one central theme. My favorite themed set actually came from 2009 and came from Press Pass. That set is 2009 Press Pass Wheels Main Event.

When you think “Main Event” I hope your minds go to the place mine does. Poker. I love poker. Maybe because I’m actually good at poker. In 2008 I came in 4th place in a poker tournament with the top players in Oregon. I haven’t played much since then because I met a lady I really like spending my time with, but I still love playing poker.

The design by Press Pass really incorporated poker and it really stood out as the main theme. I’ll admit I don’t watch racing that often, but I will watch the big races of the year. I use to go to Stafford Speedway in Connecticut every once and awhile to watch the races when I lived back there. I know the big names and which cars to watch. I just can’t sit still and watch racing. But when I saw this set came out, I knew it had to be my first box of racing cards.

Here are some of the designs from this set.

This first design is really a great idea. Put drivers on 52 cards and insert them into the set. Collect the whole set and you have your very own NASCAR deck of cards to play with. Everyone loves playing cards and has at least a deck of cards in their house. Having a poker game with your beer buddies who love NASCAR? Bring out this deck of cards for your high stakes games and it’s time to rumble.

Jackpot is what it felt like every time I pulled one of these beautiful insert cards. I believe inserts were one a pack so I had a ton of Jackpot moments. These cards highlight those who won races in 2009 with pictures of them holding up their hardware for turning left the most times in the fastest amount of time. Jimmie Johnson has quite a few Jackpot moments and I love the look inside the poker chip with quad aces.

High Rollers are the ones with most money and play for keeps. This card exemplifies that. It has somewhat of a Chrome finish to it with the chips and driver raised off the card. The reflective surface looks awesome and it isn’t overpowering like foil board. This is really a nice looking card. I love the poker chips dumped everywhere across the card. Reminds me of the movie Rounders when he’s throwing some chips up in the air.

What’s a poker themed set without poker players? Phil Ivey is in this set amongst other top poker players. Also randomly inserted were poker player autographs. If you found a redemption, odds are it wouldn’t get fulfilled though. I pulled a Chris “Jesus” Ferguson autograph redemption. I subsequently lost the redemption as Press Pass makes you actually mail it in. I can’t keep track of things. But it’s okay, as Jesus never actually signed the cards. Neither did Phil Ivey. It’s sad for a poker fan like me.

But I love this set. The theme used throughout was amazing. A lot of Press Pass NASCAR fans weren’t happy with the theme that year, but I believe Press Pass uses a new theme every year for this Wheels series. Although I’m not a huge racing fan I think Press Pass did a great job with the design and execution of this set. There are even more great cards in this set as well, I just didn’t take a photo of them as they are in a set box sorted away somewhere. These were duplicates. If you are into racing even the slightest and love poker, this is a great set to see if you are interested in collecting racing cards.

Stanley Cup and NBA Finals Champs Collectors Rejoice

With both the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals completing in the same week, that leaves us with only baseball for the time being. A lockout looming for the NBA and a continuing lockout for the NFL makes baseball the only major sport we have left to watch. Unless you are one of those few American soccer fans, in that case two sports.

First I am going to show what you collectors can get for your team winning the ultimate prize.

Panini America will have for sale the official 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks commemorative box set available soon.

This set will feature 36 cards and will have one card for every player on the NBA champs roster. It will also have a highlight card of all 16 Dallas victories this postseason, a card of Coach Carlisle, and a special Dirk Nowitski MVP card. Maybe a Dirk “OneRingSki” we should call it now.

Upper Deck will also be releasing a 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins commemorative set in a few weeks as well.

This box set will feature cards for 25 players that helped make it happen this year and bring the Cup back to Beantown. There will be a jumbo card, a shot of the whole team with the Cup, and 5 season highlight cards of highlights that propelled them to the playoffs and eventually the Cup!

You can find out more about Panini’s 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks Commemorative Set here and Upper Deck’s 2011 Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins Commemorative Set here on the Upper Deck Store site. Sorry, I can’t post a link directly to the product as doesn’t like that on their hosted blogs. Apparently, if I didn’t make the product myself I can’t post a link to buy it. A reason why I’m looking to move to either my own host or a different host. But if I review the product I am allowed to link to it. Weird. So since I am unemployed currently, I can not be paying for hosting (it would be from my box breaking fund) but may consider moving to Blogger. I know you posted that on your blog just for me Upper Deck.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say that I am appalled by the acts of the people in Vancouver. I have always had a favorable view of the people of Vancouver but that view has gone down slightly. I understand that these actions do not speak for all the people of Vancouver and their surrounding suburbs. However, the actions put on by the rioters after their team lost a SPORTS EVENT is despicable. It is a sports event people. There are much more important things in the world going on than the Canucks losing in the Stanley Cup finals. To the people who kept it civil, I’m sorry your beautiful city turned into a war zone for a night. I hope you all stayed safe away from the rioting.

Preview: 2010-11 Panini Totally Certified Basketball

What is the difference between last year’s Certified basketball and this year’s Totally Certified basketball? Obviously this one is totally better then last year.

This product is coming out with 6 packs and 5 cards per pack for around $120. That’s $20 a pack and each pack will yield a hit with at least 2 autographs coming out of a box. There will also be 6 inserts so I am guessing there will be an insert in a pack as well, all these being serial numbered from 599 to 1 of 1. This price point is very similar to their other hit per pack products so let’s hope the 2010-11 Panini Totally Certified checklist gives us great value for the money.

Panini has always done great making sure there are multiple possible case hits to bring value to your boxes. I love how they have a list of possible case hits and the number there will be in a case. Each case will include one or more of an autograph from Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin, John Wall, a 1 of 1, or an autograph numbered to 5 or less. I think Panini has been over doing their legends recently so it’s refreshing to not have any case hits of them in this product.

Next, all rookie autographs will be on card. Panini again is listening to the consumer to bring on card autographs and we couldn’t be happier.

But what really makes this product stand out is finding Panini’s newest technology. You will find Panini HRX video trading cards in these boxes. Now I have not seen these up close but I have a feeling they will do better then Upper Deck’s video cards. You know why? Some of these will be autographed! I’ve always wanted to see one of these since they came out, so I’m hoping to find one if I buy a box. I’m not sure how often these will be seeded but I’m excited just for the chance. Having a video trading card with highlights and seeing the player sign the card is awesome. The autograph sweetens it to the point where it’s not just a gimmick anymore. Even though 1 out of 5 of these video cards are signed, it’s still great some are going out signed. These will be redemptions so there is no pack searching the box for heavy cards. Here is Blake Griffin talking about the new Panini HRX technology.

Here are some production floor images from Panini’s Official Blog so you can check out some cards from the set. I’m not sure how I feel about the “mirrors” this year. Being called “Totally Green” or “Totally Blue” just sounds weird to me. I like that the colors are vibrant though and the player stands out but just the naming seems weird. Then again the name change to “Totally Certified” seems weird too. As it wasn’t certified before? Why the change? I understand Panini needs to transition from Donruss to their own identity but just adding an adverb before it doesn’t make sense to me. At least the cards look nice. Kind of reminds me of a mixture of Certified and classic Pinnacle/Zenith mixed together at times.

You can find this product out on July 6, 2011. And I’m seeing prices less then the $120 on the Panini sell sheet so pick them up via preorder now!

(SCB Note: Want to see what Panini pulled in their World Premiere box breaks?)

My First Red Sox Game

October 4th, 1992, was my first Red Sox game I ever attended. I was 6 years old and still remember enough of it that it’s great to look back on. This was also my first experience trying to get autographs of my favorite players. That part isn’t a fun thing to look back on.

We were in the midst of trying to sell our house and my dad told me we were going to a real estate place out in the city that had a baseball field across the street and we could go play catch there so he told me to grab my glove. I was excited as I was just about to start Little League and needed to practice as much as I could so I would make a team as I wanted to join the league early. We drove off from our house in Connecticut and 20 minutes later we hit the Massachusetts border. I was wondering why we were going to Massachusetts to check with real estate people but I didn’t care.

My 5 year old sister had a bloody nose on the way, right before we reached the Mass Pike and blood started flowing everywhere. We had to stop and grab some napkins to clean up and then finally hit the Mass Pike. We get to the first toll booth and grab our ticket. My dad very loudly yells, “Which exit is Fenway Park?” Well that ruined the whole surprise. All of the sudden a huge smile came over my face as I knew where we were headed. He tried to play it off like I misheard him but my mom knew the jig was up. I was going to my first Red Sox game.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon in Boston and we got their early enough to see some batting practice. My dad gave me a ball and said to go down towards to dugout and try and get some autographs, he followed shortly behind me. Our seats were great, row GG right behind the dugout. We weren’t a rich family, turns out my dad got them from his job in Hartford for us to attend the last Red Sox game of the season. It wasn’t an important game as they were out of the playoff picture, but the place was busy.

I went down right in front of the batting circle and just held out my ball and a pen. I had no idea what to do. Everyone around me was yelling for the players warming up to come over and sign. I just stood there with my ball and pen held out. Mike Greenwell, who I thought the Green Monster was named after since he played left field, came over and started signing autographs to my right. He stops one person short of me and then stops as my dad yells, “Sign one for this kid!” He looked at my dad and turned and walked away. I was devastated, so close to getting my first Red Sox autograph and Mike Greenwell stopped at a 6 year old kid.

The rest of my time down there no one else signed. John Valentin was running out to do some stretches as my mom came down to console me and her and I waved to him as he ran out. He just smiled and blew a kiss at my mother. My mom was happy, but I wasn’t! I wanted an autograph! I remember looking over at the batting circle and one of the player’s kids and wife was there. The kid had to be 2 or 3 and pretended to swing a bat and run in circles on the dirt in front of me.

Needless to say I didn’t get my autograph. But the game was next. It was against the rival Yankees. I don’t remember much about the game besides Mo Vaughn had a big double and Tom Brunansky came in as a pinch hitter. I loved Bruno as a kid, he was my favorite player so being able to see him get a hit was the highlight of my day. I also remember a foul ball landing about 3 rows in front of me and I was so excited I was almost able to catch it.

Finally, I remember a Red Sox win. 8 – 2. After the third out was caught, I remember the Red Sox throwing all their batting gloves and sweat bands over the dugout for the fans. I was a few rows too far away.

It would of been a let down except I had the most fun that day. I was able to see the team I loved for the first time. I was able to watch them win. I was able to see Ted Williams famous home run seat in right field before the game from my seat. I was finally able to say to my friends at school that I went to a Red Sox game. I will never forget the sights and smells from that first game in Boston.

It was the best experience a 6 year old Red Sox fan could ever have.