Apologies For Lack of Posting

Readers and partners,

I wanted to take the time to apologize for the lack of posts that I have been making over the past couple of months. This trend will continue until around Christmas due to a change in current focuses in my life. As we all go through things from time to time, I know most of you will understand these issues. I wanted to lay them out as communication and transparency is always important to me.

The first thing is I am finishing up my Master’s degree in December. I am currently in my last term at George Washington University and finishing up their Security & Safety Leadership program. This term includes a massive Master’s Capstone project with lots of research and writing, plus two other courses. This accelerated program has kicked my ass in terms of how fast it has progressed and keeping up with the work while…

Working 40+ hours a week. I never thought I could go to school full-time and work over 40 hours a week during the same period. Luckily, I have a job that has some down time so I have additional time to work on school work. But that may change soon as…

I’m trying to upgrade in the job department. Being highly overqualified for my current position has put me in a predicament where I am trying to find more of a “career” job or at least something I’d really like to spend some time doing. I’ve been applying for promotions internally as well as outside jobs in the hope of finding something. The economy still isn’t great, but it is something I spend a lot of time doing. I also have been spending a lot of time…

Figuring out what I have to do to be a good parent. My wife and I aren’t pregnant yet, but it will be happening in the very near future. That being said, it is a time for self reflection and understanding what I can do to improve my life and the future life of my family. As someone who likes introspection, I have a lot of personal things I would love to improve and I’ve been working on those things as well.

So yeah, I have a lot on my plate coming up. The one thing that takes the most time, school, will be done in December. Hopefully by that time I will have a better job and maybe even might have a child on the way. My New Year’s resolution is to have many of these things taken care of so I can go back to enjoying one of my favorite hobbies that has been on the back-burner the past few months…collecting cards! I can’t tell you how much I miss just writing and learning about new products coming out and sharing it with people. If I happen to continue to get products to review or buy a product here and there, I will be doing those posts, but for now everything has slowed down to a crawl with the website.

I will continue to put a couple posts of things I find interesting or funny, like that last autograph post, but things will be popping back up for 2014 on a more regular basis.

Thanks for sticking around and all of the messages on Twitter. I still do post and check out the tweets from time to time @SportsCardBlog. I also love my COMC store as well and will be getting more into that in the future (I’m still accepting all offers of 15% off, cheap plug).

Stay tuned, there is still more to come on the blog. It isn’t dead yet!

Sincerely,

Kevin

Card of the Day: 2013-14 Upper Deck Trilogy Charlie Coyle RC Auto

Who is Charlie Coyle? Just a guy drafted 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. A decent Center prospect who was traded to the Minnesota Wild and scored his first NHL goal last season. He isn’t one of the stars of the rookie class, but he is making a name for himself in other ways.

Behold.

charlie-coyle-boner-auto1

Sorry for the terrible grab there. But the scan sucked.

Well now I’m not sure who Charlie Coyle is even more. Do his teammates call him “Dick”? Is this an homage to recently deceased Richard McWilliam? That can’t be you real autograph, can it be Charlie?

Charlie is obviously a jokester or a collector himself knowing that this would go into collector’s hands and could be worth a bit more than his usual autographs.

How Upper Deck Quality Assurance missed this? We will never know.

Update: Upper Deck states that the autograph is fake after contacting the athlete in question. Should you believe them? If you were the athlete, would you confess to doing that? Another thing we will never know.

Review: 2013 Panini Prestige Football

The second NFL product of the season has been upon us from Panini and it is ready to grab the headlines showcasing the new rookie class. Prestige is one of those products you see year after year, but you get excited for it as it signifies the beginning of the season. Usually one of the first products with autographs, memorabilia, and players in their new uniforms, it is a great time to begin prospecting for the upcoming season. Want to see what you can pull in a box? Let’s check it out.

Design:3 and half stars blue

Pros: Inserts look great. Great use of acetate. Nice use of foil.

Cons: Same designs as last year. Huge lettering. Rookie photo choices (Just home jerseys?).

Ideas: I’m looking for something more innovative nowadays. Collectors have seen the same thing over and over again, and in some cases repeats from last year. The diecut acetate cards were awesome. Some of the foil techniques were great. I’d like to see a more innovative base card in a product like this.

Checklist:4 stars blue

Pros: Rookie in their NFL uniforms. Updated roster information.

Cons: A ton of cards of the same rookies. A lot of rookies, period.

Ideas: Knowing the rookie class wasn’t as good this year, it would have been a great time to expand the checklist with some left over inventory from last year.

Value:4 stars blue

Pros: $82 at DA Card World. Four hits per box. Top rookies and still some veterans sprinkled inside. Leon Sandcastle autographs.

Cons: Four hits per box may be all rookies. The checklist is rough for a non-hyped rookie season.

Ideas: Knowing the rookie class wouldn’t be as good and in the interest of trying to sell more product, the Leon Sandcastle gimmick was nice, but not enough. A more veteran laden product might be beneficial until the rookies can showcase themselves on the field and develop a following in a year like this.

Overall:4 stars blue

Overall, the product is interesting this year from Panini comparatively to last year. Much of that comparison lends itself to the rookie class which prospectors deem to be sub-par. However, that can still change as soon as the season starts and into the season. However, that does not bode well for early season products. Perhaps product order could have changed a bit. But there are some things I didn’t like and some that I loved. Everyone is different, but I think my thoughts have some merit. The repetitive designs and the “all rookie” hits are a couple things. I also found some nice surprises like the acetate inserts and the price of the product. To each their own.

Thanks to Panini America for providing this product for review. You can find them online on their official site, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can find the full checklist of this product at Cardboard Connection.

I don’t think I made a video of this break as I was traveling, but subscribe anyway for break videos.

And here are some of the cards. Buccaneers heavy because I can!

 

Interview: A Day With CheckOutMyCards (COMC)

As most people who follow the official SportsCardBlog Twitter feed, I recently spent some time up in Seattle at some Red Sox games. Upon deciding that I would base my stay out of the nearby city of Redmond, I decided to shoot a message over to the fine people at CheckOutMyCards (COMC) to determine if I could get some face time over there. Well, the answer was, of course, yes!

COMC

And the time couldn’t have come any more perfect. I wanted to start selling some inserts and lower end cards on there to see how it all works, so I was able to drop off 300 cards (currently processing). It was also during that time in which COMC changed their policy on Beckett prices. I was also able to chat with Jeremy Williams, Strategic Projects Manager for COMC. He invited me out for a hot cuppa’ tea and we chatted…and chatted…and chatted. For about three hours we chatted about the industry, cards, COMC, my blog, and everything in between.

I wanted to spend the time learning more about COMC and how it worked. I wanted to learn some things people may not be aware of or know about COMC. I also wanted a tour, but I wasn’t able to secure that deal due to proprietary issues (I still won’t tell, I promise!) So let’s talk about what I learned:

Beckett Pricing

I want to start, first and foremost, with the ongoing issue with COMC that is on everyone’s mind. Beckett pricing is no longer available for free. Personally, I knew this was a long time coming due to my past involvement with Sports Card Forum. Beckett owns the rights to their pricing and giving it away for free became too big of a price for COMC. With 7 million cards (and almost 2 million different cards), I’d imagine that tag was getting pretty high. In order to financially feasible, it was important to change how that worked. And based on what little I do know about business and what I know about the legal issues behind supplying this information, it was inevitable. However, I do like COMC’s solution of paying for it when you process a card with them and seeing past sales history on the site. Personally, I don’t think Beckett value really matters anyway, but it is a decent gauge. One could argue COMC may have gotten the short end of the deal with the new contract with Beckett, but would you rather have the information or not have it?

As far as their communications went about announcing the changes. They do realize the mistakes they made and are already working on improvements on that front. I think the latest post on their apology was a big step forward for most collectors and they are continuing to try and improve their process.

I also want to mention, technically, purchasing a Beckett subcription is 20% cheaper with COMC credit because you would have to “cash out” to pay for it normally and get that 20% taken off. Just a thought.

New Ideas

One of the big things I was interested in was “What’s next for COMC?” I got a large number of answers. COMC has continued its evolution as quickly as Tim can churn out the programming for what he wants to implement. From what I can see, he has the vision for a lot of things and his staff really supports his work. So what is coming up?

Base cards – While I can’t go into much detail, as I couldn’t get much detail myself, COMC is working on a way to buy/sell base cards as effectively, efficiently, and most importantly cheaply as possible. Set builders can start rejoicing now.

Trading – I’ve made this apparent in the past that I would love to see this implemented. Tim has the same thoughts as well. Trading, at some point, may be implemented into COMC. It all depends on how the service works, how tough it is to code, and all that other fun stuff you have to strategize about. Imagine the possibilities of a 5 person trade or trading your cards online where you can see just about everything about the card you want, including pictures. Yes!

Shipping – One of the things COMC is trying to improve on is how the product gets to them and how they get it back to you with minimum fees. As far as I was told, and I fully believe them, COMC makes $0 on shipping. In fact, they have in the past lost money on shipping. In order to increase survivability of COMC, they have tried to create new ways to ship to them and receive your cards. Basically, it is their new Mailbox program on steroids. COMC is working on teaming up with local card shops, card shows, and other trusted individuals to ship items for you up to Redmond, and back to you. Imagine your own little mailbox at your favorite card shop or card show. It will save you some good money on shipping!

Final Thoughts

Everything about COMC is revolving around the customer, whether you choose to drink the Kool-Aid or not. You can tell by their constant innovations on the site, trying new ideas, taking customers thoughts on ideas to improve the site and the hobby, a lot of things. Me? I’m drinking the Kool-Aid as I firmly believe they are looking out for the customer first. I thought that before my meeting, and my meeting reaffirmed those beliefs.

Is it your best option for selling? It depends on what you are selling and why you are selling it. Quick flip on a hot player on cards that just came out yesterday? Yeah, might not be the best for you right now. But you know what? They know that and are working on ways to help you get the maximum amount for your card. The entire staff has all the faith in the world in Tim and the company, and from talking to Jeremy I can see why. Tim is meticulous and plans everything. Every contingency, every thought, every piece of information that comes to mind is thought through. The hobby needs someone like him to be a visionary of the future.

One of the last questions I was asked is “Where do I see the hobby going in the future?” My answer? I have no clue. And from the clues I see today coming from the depths of the hobby, I’m not entirely optimistic. But I think Tim, Jeremy, and the rest of the COMC staff do have a clue and they want to be the innovators who change the hobby for good.

Some fun facts:

– Up to over 50 employees!

– Want to know why items get shipped so efficiently? They are right next to a USPS warehouse! (Planned when new warehouse was bought.)

– The company with the largest number of SKUs in the world! (Unverified, but likely.)

Review: 2012-13 Panini Brilliance Basketball

Yes, I’m a bit behind. Graduate school and working 40 hours is catching up to me.

Panini is still bringing out all the stops with this year’s full year of basketball, and the “new” Brilliance basketball is another example of what is on the plate for the future at Panini with their basketball products. Will this rookie product shine in the lineup, or is it destined to be trade or relegated to the “second team” of products for your buck. Let’s check it out.

Design:4 stars blue

The Pros: Good looking designs when you can see them. Some old school themes with inserts. Good use of etching and team colors.

The Cons: Oh. My. God. So shiny. I know Panini loves the foilboard, I get what Brilliance once was, but when it is hard to make out the writing sometimes, you need some contrast in the colors. I had the same issue with Certified. Contrast please! Huge fonts.

Ideas: Tone down the shininess a bit with contrasting colors. Maybe change the fonts around so they don’t take up so much of the cards on the bottom half. Definitely keep the thoughts for inserts as they remind me of past products.

Checklist:4 stars blue

The Pros: Double rookie class. Interesting group of players in autograph checklist from past years. Really good checklist of players for memorabilia cards.

The Cons: Double rookie class. Are the players or fan favorites too obscure? I mean, I loved Dana Barros growing up. I love seeing his autograph in the product.  Is he worth being in the product though? Basketball is a strange mistress when it comes to cards.

Ideas: Well the double rookie class is almost over. I feel like it took over basketball products this season, so we won’t have to worry about that. I have a thought for autograph checklist of older players. Remember the Panini “Design a Card” vote? How about “Design a Checklist”? The logistics may be difficult due to contracting and such, but a post on the blog about players that people want to see would be interesting, and eye opening.

Value:3 and half stars blue

Currently, this box is sitting at $75 over at DA Card World.

The Pros: 3 hits in a box. Top rookies of the past season. Top autographs available at low print runs. Large memorabilia pieces.

The Cons: Double rookie class. Obscure players on the checklist that don’t bring value. Non-numbered cards. Memorabilia cards.

Ideas: The three hits in a box is a good start, however, two autographs and a memorabilia card isn’t the best Panini has done. The names on memorabilia are always solid, but we all know the value of the cards. Why not lower the print run on memorabilia cards in a product and have a larger checklist. I know it increases costs, but there needs to be something done with memorabilia card values. I know Panini has made great strides in increasing autographed content, we just need to figure out something to improve value in memorabilia cards now.

Overall:4 stars blue

Oh Panini. Brilliance was interesting to say the least. In the beginning, I was sort of expecting something retro. I was kinda hoping to see the late 90s Fleer product redone by Panini. Instead it is a bit overly shiny and needs some more contrast. But the cards that are done right look awfully good. The checklist could use some work and I think some tweaking in how players are decided could yield interesting results. Finally, the value can be there with the right box, but the checklist is a bit rough so it is almost there. Maybe we can also find a way to increase the value of these memorabilia cards while we are at it.

Thanks to Panini for providing this box for review. you can find them online on their official site, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can find the full checklist on Cardboard Connection.

Subscribe to us on YouTube to view the break video.

And here are some of the cards. (I’m a Trailblazers fan, sorry!)